things magazine

Tumbling into tomorrow

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Recently, an image or two on the things tumblr set off some kind of internal chain reaction, causing the archive to get thoroughly dug over by a host of sites previously unknown to us, the bulk of which we’ve set out below. This sudden delugy of imagery-driven sites set us thinking about not just the future of print, but the fluid relationship between print and digital aesthetics. As things nudges ever closer to publishing a physical issue for the first time in many years, we’ve spent a lot of time exploring the new worlds of print on demand and how it might interact with the old world of traditional methods. Because of its emphasis on the visual, tumblr has a far greater relationship with the visual culture of magazines than weblogs ever did. Every blog was a diary or journal, whereas every tumblr is akin to a fanzine.

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Even popular tumblr themes tend to err towards the style of laid out print pages, whether one-hit articles or grids and columns. Put a bunch of print alongside the above – NoLayout.com, for example – and the differences melt away (it’s also fascinating how the low tech gif has become a way more expressive medium than any number of plug-ins or pads or streams). This romantic relationship with print is akin to the romance of the internal combustion engine, something evocative, glorious yet also the representation of a used finite resource (from here, via: ‘When the new issues arrive at the London HQ, they all stand around plunging their noses deep into the binding for a whiff. Some issues have eight or nine different paper stocks, each with its own distinctive smell, and so they sometimes smell each section on its own’). So do the following tumblrs (to name just a few) represent a nostalgic hankering after a print-based medium they will never be able to replicate, or are they a bold new means of self-publishing?

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Little Thoughts / 529 / -3.00 -2.75 / Two Birds on a Branch / dance, dance, dance, dance, dance to the radio / imagine a room, a sudden glow / Les grandperes ont toujours tort, art / robots n friends, photography / An Epicure’s Garden, activisim / Central Unit, gifs and art / La Perfieria Domestica, architecture and interiors / in the forests / iconic image / Coalesce / les printemps / dreamless dream and nameless name / Um… Yah / L’Eugenio Tascabile / espacegeneric / consciousness is a congenital hallucination / rommy / A reminder / love at the end of the world / I’ll be your mirror / Max Von Sydow / Cool Anxiety is about to die / notes et documents / it’s always sunday afternoon / ablaknaplo / Design Design / heksenhaus (nsfw) / Whatevs / Fostercare / Love Crumbs / Lyssa Humana / oh, anayatzin / Blogthoven / The Metropolitan Line / Polio Nomio / Turmoil and Tranquility / Make someone happy. NB Some of the above are nsfw on random and unexpected occasions. Be warned.

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Other things. More well organised American architectural conservationists: Neutra Lives, ‘a forum… created by Neutra residents to head off disasters like the wanton destruction of the Maslon House in Cathedral City’ (via AR) / So, Why is WikiLeaks a Good Thing Again? / In search of lost Paris (via tmn) / San Francisco: The City as it Was / it’s been a while since we visited mp3 blog Said the Gramophone, but their Best Songs of 2010 is a good place to start.

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Vintage British Argos 1985 Catalogue, via me-fi / see also Men’s Adventure Magazines, another cascade of old-school illustration, exaggeration and imagination, also via me-fi. Both seem to conform to Phil Gyford’s recent assertion that if you “scan and upload any pre-Internet artefact … people will go ‘Wow!'” What is this about? A hankering for the pre-digital era? / related, The First 1500 Covers Of 2000AD, via haddock / a list of online encyclopedias.

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Julinjallo asks How exactly do Roombas go about their work? / in-contro, ‘a series of seven images from the industrial area of Kalasatama, close to the city centre of Helsinki, where spontaneity and planning are meeting in a built environment’ (via SpaceInvading) / what is the name for the genre of YouTube post that puts the score alongside the music? / Back of the Envelope, the British Council’s Architecture, Design and Fashion blog.

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War on the Motorist is an ironically titled weblog that aims to divert from tabloid hysteria and instead ‘to add to the many little people who are trying to tell politicians and planners that people want an alternative to roads and cars, not more of the same mess that we have now.’ The site’s occasional forays into history and speculation from times past are very welcome, e.g., Where’s my self-driving car?

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December 14, 2010 at 00:54

Posted in magazines

Imaginary places and empty spaces

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Wilkmanshire, a weblog devoted to ‘the mapping of the form of the city as it develops’ / Hairy Sack of Magic, imagery, mostly culled from elaborate magazine shoots, occasionally nsfw / It’s a vision, complete illusion, a cascade of imagery / Public Imaginarium, a window on the world of publically available images / Etsy pick of the day.

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Fragments, a tumblr. Not much more than just cars and girls / el colectivo futuro!, yet more imagery / rare Bill Watterson art / the Society of Wood Engravers / After the Art Fair, photographs by Jacob Krupnick of the demounting of Art Basel Miami Beach: ‘It’s that rare moment when lots of valuables are at risk and in motion. The amazing piles of crates and packing materials make it hard to pin down what, exactly, an art piece is.’

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Fuck Yeah Cartography, a mapping tumblr / related, Ogle Earth, which examines ‘how internet mapping tools like Google Earth affect science and society.’ We haven’t had a chance to check out Google Earth 6 yet (3D trees! Seamless street view!) but suspect some kind of computer upgrade will be required to use it / related, sort of, ‘Winy Maas of MVRDV talks to Second Life creator‘ / Seattle Hologram.

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Spatial Disruptions, a project by Jennifer Mason / Animal Crossings / great rock star car crashes, part XXIV / a clip from From A to B: Tales of Modern Motoring, a classic slice of 1990s Modern Times documentary from the BBC. There’s a cracking shot of Doncaster Central Library at about 1m41s, which predicts the imagery of Parr’s Boring Postcards, published five years later / Space Jam, a tumblr / Structo, a fiction and poetry magazine.

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December 9, 2010 at 14:06

Posted in architecture

Here be dragons

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Recycle: Joy Division and New Order – the Factory years, an almost forensic reconstruction of a back catalogue. ‘All tracks were taken from the best/earliest possible sources to avoid modern mastering techniques which crush the dynamics.’ We especially like the way new box sets are being designed and made to cater for this ultra-low volume production, all very much in the spirit of Factory’s house style (and presumably just as labour intensive) / related, the Factory Records Archive and the very welcome counterblast of FUC51, ‘Madchester deniers’.

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A steampunk record player / X-plane-O-rama, all the X’s / the latest blog into book, David Horvitz’s everything that can happen in a day / tomblr, a tumblr with a focus on the architectural model / qualis artifex pereo, a tumblr of things / dj misc, a site of quotes and clippings / the Map of Metal. Here be dragons. And dragon-themed, bombastic symphonic grindcore / an absolutely colossal page of car cutaway drawings (via me-fi). See also Automotive Illustrations / the World Telephone Numbering Guide, including a history.

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Some websites are a bit like stumbling over an old magazine at the bottom of a box or the back of a cupboard. Merzhase is a case in point. Abandoned for three years, the archives bring up all sort of forgotten memories as well as fresh things we were unfamiliar with, like the imaginary dioramas of Josh Keyes and the art of Antony Micallef (occasionaly nsfw) / the blog at Mark Batty Publishers / Boiteaoutils, ‘architectural political narratives’ / This City Called Earth, a tumblr / Cognitive Cities, a weblog and Conference / a shrine to Jonathan Meades.

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41Latitude asks Why Do Google Maps’s City Labels Seem Much More “Readable” Than Those of Its Competitors? (via kottke) / related, new Google Maps for Mobile includes 3D cityscapes / launching ships sideways / Sequence-non, a tumblr / darkwave surfer, a tumblr / Recollexion, a tumblr / Letter to Jane, a digital magazine / animated films for grown-ups.

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Fake concept art, but fun all the same, a Russian Flying Fortress, vast aerial structure inspired by the real-life (and still remarkable) Kalinin k-7 / see also modelling at kampfgruppe144 and Fantastic Plastic, ‘Amazing Aircraft and Spacecraft Model Kits from the 20th and 21st Centuries’, including Norman Bel Geddes Airliner No. 4. Along with Luigi Colani, Bel Geddes was utterly cavalier about practicalities like realism and physics.

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December 7, 2010 at 15:42

Posted in collections, ephemera

Train and shipwrecks

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A Horse of a Different Color Divides Denver, on one of Denver Airport’s many unusual works of public art / polis, ‘a collaborative blog on urbanism with a global focus’ / Whitechapel Ghost Style posts about the photographic ghosts of London / sex and chocolate propoganda research, a guest post at Sociological Images. Could be longer / its his and hers, a weblog / ‘X-37B US miltary spaceplane returns to Earth… after seven months in orbit.’ / visual effects design Doug Drexler has a weblog, the Drex Files / Syd Mead should get a blog too. We haven’t seen his Doha imagery before.

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Sidebar, a weblog with a media slant / Glorious Trainwrecks, the very worst of video games / 8-bit graphics at The Spriters Resource / the New City Reader Classifieds, a project that ‘sets out to map longing, desire, guilt and regret in the city, as well as the city’s losses and desires through the classified section.’ A project of The New City Reader, ‘a Newspaper Of Public Space’ / South Willard sells things and has a store / Kssk, a tumblr from Japan / French artist Julien Berthier has designed a fully functional boat to look as if it is sinking.

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Urbex Barrie, abandoned East Coast America / what if Lego was smaller? Introducing Nanoblock, via The Living Brick. It splices retro-pixel art with physical models, as per the examples shown in Mameblog and Nanoblog / Rinspeed BamBoo, a Citroen Mehari for the 21st century / Betonbabe, a tumblr ‘collecting lost and found pieces of architecture, urbanism, art and design’ / Metropolis II, via Kottke, the freeway city in miniature. A bit like GM’s Futurama but stripped of any utopianism.

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December 3, 2010 at 14:32

Posted in architecture, linkage

Odd links, squonks and curation, still

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Other things. Boston Public Library’s photostream, home of the great Tupper Scrapbooks Collection / related, The Most Beautiful Public Libraries in the US, via archinect / many of the preoccupations of the global news machine can be boiled down into a succinctly-named tumblr. Vis: Uncomfortable Moments With Putin versus kim jong-il looking at things / Cathy Shive – who the hell wants to read anything when you can just look at pictures?

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Interesting roadscapes, a flickr group / The Hobbit, a walkthrough. See also these hints and this place to play it / 8-bit Pixies / Tanks!, old school mobile gaming / other stuff goes here, a tumblr / Thulium, a tumblr / Beranger, a weblog / Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods, 1910: ‘Few people outside of Pennsylvania have ever heard of the quaint beast, which is said to be fairly common in the hemlock forests of that State’.

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Blueprint has finally posted the piece entitled The New Establishment on its website, a few weeks after its appearance in print triggered some heartfelt criticism of the nature of weblogs, criticism, cabals and curation. Our earlier response, rather sarcastically titled an approach of upbeat curation, still stands. Although we will note, rather unfairly, that both the
things and BLDG BLOG have grown their traffic in the two weeks since the article was published (in print only), whereas Blueprint’s has fallen. Something their publisher might take into account when considering the strategy of leading only with print a full two weeks ahead of online. Otherwise the debate would have been opened up right at the start.

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December 3, 2010 at 00:15

Posted in ephemera

Wishful thinking

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The utopian vision above would have been delivered by Ringway 1, the abandoned scheme to bludgeon an elevated motorway across south London / related, some scans from ‘Traffic in Towns‘, showing the different levels of urban redevelopment on offer / the Last Word on Nothing, a weblog by science journalists / Personified, a photography project about personal objects by Jason Travis, via Coudal / The Daily Grind, a weblog / sculpture by John Powers.

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Modern Architecture, Heritage and Englishness (pdf), Nigel Whiteley’s 1995 essay makes us nostalgic just for the idea of nostalgia about modernism. It’s amazing the things we can, collectively, get ‘nostalgic’ about (a B-29 daylight raid on Kobe, June 1945? (larger at Melisaki, frequently nsfw)), implying that nostalgia is actually more of a core part of the modern being, an emotion that informs the way we respond to everything, new and old.

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The Happy Pontist, all about bridges / Sabrina Campagna, a tumblr / a small set of Pelicans, kindly sent in to us. The logistics of integrating the main Pelican Project have defeated us / abandoned City Hall subway station / a selection of tumblrs: Fuck Yeah Science Fiction; Other Stuff My Kid Loves; Endaism / The Stuff Drawer / Nostalgia / Morph-O / Sebastian Fatale / The Authentic 1:48 Scale Roller Coaster.

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TwentyFourBit, a music weblog / via Unreliably Witnessed / Phantom’s Reel To Reel Tape Recorder OnLine Museum / Japanese Vanning Madness / more speculation on the origins of Stuxnet / Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might be a regional pariah, but he had a lovely car / more Iran: Google Earth reveals Star of David on roof of Iran Air HQ. See also our favourite piece of wishful thinking, the Iran Air Concorde.

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Escape into Life, an online culture magazine / ‘Some 140 ships are powered by more than 180 small nuclear reactors and more than 12,000 reactor years of marine operation has been accumulated.’ / Curtis tackles Mad Men, illustrated with footage and diagrams from the era, telling the story of USP versus ‘Motivational Research’ / Concentric Londons, 16 ways in which London is defined. At husk, in response to Where is London? at Suprageography

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Cologne, the city without a memory. Last year’s collapse of the Cologne Historical Archive saw the destruction of tens of thousands of documents: ‘The archives included the minutes of all town council meetings held since 1376. Not a single session had been missed, making the collection a remarkable resource for legal historians.’ / No Mean City, architecture in Toronto / Daniele Delnero’s After Effects project; mouldy buildings (via Space Invading) / Eichler Homes Ephemera.

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December 1, 2010 at 16:48

Boot sales, slums and hand-made railway lines

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From a history of Suck.com: “HotWired had this crazy policy where they didn’t allow tertiary links, is what they called it. A tertiary link was when you linked to something that wasn’t explicitly referred to in the text. If I said, ‘Proctor & Gamble have a policy against suffocating infants,’ and I linked on ‘suffocating infants’ to the policy page on Proctor & Gamble, and it said, ‘All our products are tested for the risk of infant suffocation, and we have a strict policy,’ that’s a primary link. If I linked ‘suffocating infants’ to Dave Winer’s column, that would be a tertiary link. That was, by policy, not allowed at HotWired.” It was absurd, with a medium so new and unexplored, to establish such rules regarding what was and was not allowed. The lack of established rules was what made the web fun.’

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The Evolution of Snake, the story of a mobile game / ‘Alexander Gronsky’s “The Edge”, a series of shots taken along the outer boundary of Moscow’ at Mammoth / see also Siberian Ghost Cities, a collection of amazing-looking photographs that don’t necessarily tally with their captions (DRB isn’t exactly the National Geographic when it comes to reportage you can trust).

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Underground, by David Macaulay / Tarnow: 1000 years of modernity / Disasterville in the Cotswolds, ‘the Fire Service College where fire brigades from around the UK can go for training… Facilities include a ship, a high-rise, a stricken Boeing 737 and the M96 motorway- a fictional motorway for “simulated large vehicle incidents.”‘ At Markasaurus.

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What is proto:87 (via me-fi): proto:87 uses true to scale wheels and much narrower, almost true to scale width, turnout frog and guard rail flangeways… but you must have both the wheels and flangeways matched together, in order to run proto:87 trains!’. See also A Gooey Bowl of Rail, hand built points system at Bronx Terminal.

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The work of Dionisio Gonzalez at Subtopia. Slums as photoshopped slices of architectural deconstruction, their socio-economic betrayers confused by design complexity / new work by James Medcraft (a slice of whose Anatomy of Mainland Britain hangs on our wall): Car Boot Sale and Changing Landscape. We’d take issue slightly with his characterisation of the boot sale (‘Middle classes looking for a vintage bargain, working classes hunting for essentials; this project is a humanistic study of the cultural and social scales within this sub culture of trade.’)

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November 30, 2010 at 00:05

Posted in ephemera

Things that might or might not work

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Why the iPad newspaper might not be doomed versus Why the iPad Newspaper is Doomed. An ongoing debate. From the latter: ‘Since The Daily is an iPad app, there will be no inbound links, and reportedly no outbound links to the web, either. And there will be no web version. That isolation instantly kneecaps the paper’s ability to promote itself; the web will convert The Daily’s big scoops into blog summaries, tweets, Facebook rants and even iPad screenshots — but not into traffic for the publication that generated the buzz in the first place’.

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Finding an interesting blog just as it goes on indefinite hiatus: My Love for You. There is also a tumblr / office notepads by Andrew Maynard Architects. Inspired perhaps by Field Notes? / I’m learning to share, a weblog about pop culture / cubical furniture and lighting from Clemens Tissi / the full text of Tower Block, Miles Glendinning and Stefan Muthesius’s epic piece of post-war architectural scholarship is now online (via Nasty Brutalist and Short).

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Better Places through active participation, a weblog by Soundings, an architecture studio / Use and Habit, a new issue of The Generalist: ‘What happens to the architecture after it has left the architect’s office, when the tradesmen are gone, when the photographers have completed their task? What happens to the architecture when it is handed over to its true destiny – when, to put it quite simply, it is used?’

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Driving the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport: ‘”A minor shunt in this will likely cost €500,000 (nearly $700,000 USD). You would feel very bad to be responsible for such a thing.” Raphenel continued darkly, “The people here are not used to seeing these cars on the road, and you become a target as drivers fixate on you.”‘

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The Spontaneous City / Nemesis Republic, on urbanism, trams, heritage and development. All fascinating stuff / Tom Phillips’ The Humument is now available for iPad: So, safely delivered it shows, in colours more glowing that my pens and paints could achieve, almost like church windows at times, the whole of A Humument, including very recent pages / Vulgare, a weblog about artificial landscape and gardening, which has no room for this fantastically Minecraft-esque piece of sculpture in Singapore.

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November 26, 2010 at 14:48

Highs and Lows

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The American Way of Death versus the Danish Way of Death, Blueprint on the Diamant coffin designed by Jacob Jensen, ‘a cut and polished gem that [the company] hopes will lay to rest the traditional, kitsch, grotesquery of the faux-brass and silk casket’. Despite the rhetoric and the impeccably tasteful origins, the Diamant is simply another form of what Jessica Mitford was railing against over a decade ago, only presented from a far more ascetic angle. It’s still not hard to find funerary tat (‘Astral products are available in multiple colors and a wide variety of price ranges and can be easily personalized, helping to make the funeral service more meaningful.’), but the Jensen approach is simply to add noise to the signal.

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Mitford noted back in her revised 1998 edition that: ‘The method hit upon by the casket makers to solve this knotty problem of [demand for cheaper products] is essentially the method used by furniture manufacturers (whose direct descendants they are): that is, to make the cheaper lines so hideous that only customers who can afford the barest minimum will buy them.’ (page 71) When it came to revise her book, the 520 casket manufacturers that existed in 1963, at the time of the original edition, only around 100 remained in 1998.

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That number is probably lower today, although the big three Mitford cites – Batesville, Aurora and the York Group – all seem to be still around. Indeed, they hold a grisly fascination for the living (and also for those of us who don’t come from an ‘open casket culture’). But browse we must. Prices are very hard to come by, with extras lists that would shame most auto makers. Batesville’s ‘MemorySafe® drawer can be used to display your cherished keepsakes during the visitation, or to secure private mementos and farewell messages’ while Aurora goes for the image-conscious funeral director with the FamilyTouch Selection Center (‘Today, we can have nearly everything just the way we want it. From sandwiches and coffee to shoes and automobiles, we’re accustomed to “having it our way.” So why not funeral products?’).

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There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Jensen offering, though it is rather a case of tilting at windmills. For every casket maker that offers gleaming beauty and optimum protection, there are now equal numbers of Eco coffins, nice, ugly, disposable objects that are designed to biodegrade calmly and quietly. This kind of thing was barely in extant during the writing of Jessica Mitford’s last revision, and has since gone on to upset funeral directors around the world. Nordic birch ply isn’t cardboard, but it is certainly tasteful. The statement funeral will probably never disappear.

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An incredibly detailed post chronicling the interior of the Hindenburg at Airships.net. Most of the furnishings would not look out of place in a contemporary office or hotel – all lightweight tubular metal construction and drilled aluminium, including ‘a small grand piano that weighed only 162 kg (356 lbs). The frame, rim, fallboard, and top lid were made of duralumin, and the legs, back bracing, and lhttp://www.airships.net/yre were made of hollow duralumin tubing.’ We never need much of an excuse to wheel out our Zeppelin fragment, supposedly found in the English countryside during the First World War. Or so family lore has it. It’s possibly from the Zeppelin L32, ‘shot down by Frederick Sowrey RFC, aged 23, and crashed near Snails Farm, South Green, Great Burstead, Near Billericay‘.

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‘By 3 o’clock that night, not only had the local people rushed to see the wreckage but cars full of Londoners started to arrive to view the wreckage of twisted and broken aluminium struts. Access to the area was limited by a narrow country lane and by 8 o’clock it was reported that the lane was blocked with “motor cars, motor-cycles, bicycles, traps, tradesmen’s carts, and pedestrians, all jammed together”. By far the most popular transport was bicycles with hundreds laying abandoned on the fields. Souvenir hunting was prevented by a cordon of soldiers armed with fixed bayonets, and police, but this did not deter the souvenir hunters who scoured nearby potato and mangold fields looking for debris. Even lemonade sellers set up their stalls in an attempt to profit on the spectacle.’ Or perhaps the L31: Decisions at Potters Bar.

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November 26, 2010 at 00:08

Posted in esoterica

Random links and things

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Anathema Delights, a tumblr / Singer Vehicles re-engineer and rebuild old school Porsche 911s (via Autoblog) / Stuxnet worm ‘targeted high-value Iranian assets’. Worms as economic warfare / the Bookie, a contemporary update of the classic Isokon donkey / nk91, a hipster-y tumblr / the new Hermes campaign has a certain charm / been before, will visit again, art by Patrick Hruby / Utrophia, cultural projects in South London and beyond.

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Art Solutions from the James Cauty Design Solutions (UK) Ltd Online Catalogue / There are no cats in this book, the movie. Book by Viv Schwarz, film by Grangousier. See also things I threw away / gif-focused tumblr archive pages are quite the experience / The London Tube Map Archive. We were going to do this, but there doesn’t seem to be much point now / She Who Laughs When She Oughtn’t, a weblog.

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Remnants of a Disappearing UI at Design Language News: ‘Because the primary input method of the iPad is a single piece of multitouch glass, developers have incredible flexibility to design unique user interfaces. It’s hard to appreciate the variety of UIs though, since turning the screen off removes virtually all evidence of them. To spotlight these differences, I looked at the only fragments that remain from using an app: fingerprints’.

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The Thundercats action figure guide. See also Transformerland / Annual Zombie Apocalypse Safe House Competition (via BD), a nice piece of viral marketing / PrintCollection sells historic prints / artist Oliver Michaels makes films. See Museum Postcards, Train and the ten-year long Re-Write: Back to the Future / alechsml, a tumblr / illustration by Kerry Hyndman / creative shopping at the Big Cartel.

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SkyScraperCity’s ongoing thread on the Shard (including a link to this construction simulation video. The site as it was) / Theory11, a magic forum / Space Station Ground-Based Movie (via dvdp) / F.lux ‘makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day’.

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November 24, 2010 at 15:33

Posted in linkage