Eli Whitney and the “Mandela Effect”

Listen: I, too, am one of those dumbasses who got it into his head that Eli Whitney was black (although, my hand to God, I swear I saw this on a sign in the African-American History Museum in Detroit when I was a grade schooler–although that itself seems problematic, as it’s highly likely that the time period I’m remembering was when the museum was closed for construction )–and had also dwelled on the irony that the cotton gin (which I believed he invented to ease the labors of enslaved persons) single-handedly invigorated the slave trade by making it massively more profitable.  I’m chagrined to admit that I may have even taught this “fact” at some point.

But that’s all trivia; read all the way through this article and meditate on the Mandela Effect, extraordinary popular delusions, and the madness of crowds—because apparently there was never any Sinbad movie titled Shazaam!

What

the

FUCK

A Grab Bag of Human Music Technologies

Girl totally rocks the original “Super Mario” medley (complete with coins and power-ups!) on a sheng, sounds like she totally belongs in the Mos Eisley Catina Band:

A robot plays a pop hit (I love the rhythmic element that the robot’s motors and gears bring to the song):

Props to Arthur Lacomme for pointing me to this one featuring “Mr. Curly” (which is the instrument, not the dude playing it).  I love that watering-can clarinet Pollack demos around 1:45! 

(Arthur also recommends the open-source Rakarrack software package, which he uses when he rocks his Mr. Curley.)

This one is pretty interesting if you stick with it; what you no doubt initially take to be a precursor to the 8-track is playing cartridges loaded with ribbon-based analog records(!!!).  The macro-lens bit at around 5:20 gives you an example of both the sound (pretty damn solid) and the mechanism (OMFG! Wünderbar!)  Hilarious remote control, too.

And then there’s this guy:

chordophone-lyre-plucked
My beautiful picture

(FYI, that caption was Wordpress’s suggested—and I love it!!!)

o_O  The thing that makes this one, for me, is how the strings are anchored in the eye sockets(!!!)  The Met has several of thesefrom different generous donors and almost certainly different artisans—and they all use the eye sockets and brow ridge as a saddle and bridge.  Humans, amiright?

N.B. that, according to current expert opinion, this thing—which is indeed from Central Africa, where it was crafted in the 19th C by a native artisan—was produced for no other purpose than to sell something fantastically “primitive” and “savage” to European tourists/anthropologists (and thus inform European opinions of these nations and, in all likelihood, form the foundation of the moral justifications for brutal colonialism).  I invite the reader to meditate on their own how this might mirror our current situation with imported polarizing/fake news, and who the greater savage might be: The supplier who makes the ersatz evidence, or the customer who furnishes the demand and shells out the cash?

FREE FICTION FRIDAY: Part Three of “The Faster Horse” is champing at the bit! @motor1com

Installment three of my alt-reality horses-and-highways serial story for Motor1.com pounding headlong toward destruction!  DISASTER TIME!!!

"The Faster Horse" art by Jesse Glenn
(art by Jesse Thomas Glenn)

In Part 3 of our alternate reality, everything goes to shit.

Blood on the highway!  “The Faster Horse” (part three of four)

Catch Chapter 2 of “The Faster Horse” for FREE on motor1.com!

Installment number two of my latest alt-reality serial story for Motor1.com is now up and ready!  Learn what crazy contraption could possibly replace the huge, angry highway horses we all know and love—and how they hell you’d make the damn thing move!

the-faster-horse-part-2

 

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said, ‘Faster horses!'”

—attributed to Henry Ford

The Faster Horse” (part two of four)

 

 

Quick! Catch “The Faster Horse” (chapter 1) for FREE!

Installment number one of my first serial story forMotor1.com is now up and awaiting your perusal!

"The Faster Horse" cover artIf you’ve ever wondered “What if we all had to ride angry mutant horses to work instead of driving cars?”—well, then this is the story for you:

Our alternate reality tale begins with a familiar name, some sharks, and a train wreck.

The Faster Horse” (part one of four)

Prepare Your Brain for RAZZLE-DAZZLE: Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s “Writer”

If you’re at all mechanically minded, you’re going to start our sort of underwhelmed, since the solution seems pretty transparent: Any determined craftsman could get similar results with a homebrew pantograph and template (hell, you could do it in LEGO).

But keep watching.  You’ll get more impressed around the 2-minute mark when you see the mechanism, and more so around 2:40 when you see the cams and realize that the device isn’t tracing letterforms, but rather, in a mechanical sense, understands a series of modular strokes than can be built up in different arrangements to form different letters. Finally, you’ll totally shit yourself at 3:55 because this damned thing—built in the late 1700s—was programmable.

0.o

Absolutely stunning.

The Art of the Not-Making-a-Total-Putz-of-Yourself

If nothing else of substance, the last couple days of RNC Trump Speech brouhaha have offered a pair of very important business lessons.

art by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/
(art by DonkeyHotey)

My initial impression was that we were looking at this kind of fantastically gobsmacking paradox:

A candidate renowned for his wealth and business acumen is either unable to afford or incapable of selecting competent help.

But according to this article, that doesn’t seem to be the case.  Skilled workers are perfectly happy to hold their noses and accept Trump dollars, but their employer is totally unable to actually use the tools he purchases.

This puts me in the mind of a business aphorism (which I believe I first heard from Ramit Sethi):

A students hire A students; B students hire C students.

To mansplain: An A student knows what good work looks like, that good work is hard, and is confident that they can reliably produce good work through the judicious application of hard work.  A students want to see good work, and do not want to look like putzes, so they choose subordinates who are as capable as themselves (if not more so).  B students may occasionally do good work, but since they don’t know this other stuff (about how to judiciously apply hard work to reliably produce that good work), they can be pretty insecure.  They hire down the ladder to shore up their ego.

But, of course, Trump is proving to not even be a B student; the B student is insecure and frustrated because he or she knows what good, consistent work looks like—they just can’t produce it.

Trump is a C student wallowing in the depths of Dunning-Kruger Syndrome.

So, to revise:

A students hire A students; B students hire C students.  C students hire an A student, a B student, two C students, a guy on Craigslist, their cousin, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Mike Tyson, six doctors, and a personal trainer, follow none of their advice, and then scream at them when they get the C they earned.