Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It's a mystical sort of weekend coming up, depending on your faith and location, with Beltane and May Day and Walpurgis and Ascension Day all happening on more or less the same day. Spring is here!

Spring is also here because the Great Steamboat Race is going on this weekend, as is the amazing Maker Faire (which I am going to miss again, sadly) and the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race. I think the Spooky Librarians should make a documentary about all the weird vehicular/sculptural races that take place each summer. Do you think we could get a grant?

I don't think Padre Pio's recent exhumation has anything to do with the holidays or the festivals, but you never know. His skull was in bad shape, so it's been replaced by a waxen facsimile. (Another option: a chocolate skull. But that would probably melt too fast. Best to stick with Tussaud's contribution.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Datamancer's latest creation has swept the internet, and also revived several "what is steampunk?" arguments. I do like the term "electro-anachronism," however. The more I read these sorts of semantics debates, the more I'm reminded of the old days on usenet with alt.gothic - is XYZ goth? Can ABC be goth? What IS goth? Am I not goth if I like EFG? (What's really fun is that I find myself running into alt.gothic regulars in today's steampunk communities. Someone should do a study.)

A robot from eighty years ago used inflatable rubber tubes for movement; it's been updated with a pneumatic system and still works!

Meanwhile, some gorgeous jellyfish and mantra ray robots are fwipping about the planet. Oooh, ahhh.

As a direct result of Freakangels, I'm now keeping up with Warren Ellis's website, and even checking out his Twitter updates. (I do have a Twitter account, but like my Facebook profile, it's pretty minimal...)

You still have time to drive Jeff and Ann VanderMeer bonkers by making them draw blimps, by the way.

And finally, here are some random steampunky goods found around the web. I think the Otokibako has some great potential for decoration and alterations. The Raku Ray Guns are technically extraterrestial in origin, but they look as if they could fit in quite well in Victorian battles. Black Phoenix has a "steamworks research facility" lab these days which manufactures steampunky scents, and even though I rolled my eyes at first, I have to admit I'm curious about "Smokestack," which apparently smells like "creosote, coal, and industrial waste." Really? Do tell!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Today is Links from Others Day, and first off, Cassandra has a great contribution on Christian comedians and also one on calculating your psychic and destiny numbers (I am 7 and 9, respectively).

Then I found this via Jere, and think it's worth spreading the word:

Go and learn, and I will be back next week. Have a spiffy weekend, everyone (and psst, congrats, Holly!).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It's library day here on Folderol, and also Earth Day/Week, so what better combination is there than a public library made from local timber and stone? It's in Colombia, and it's beautiful. Second Rotation is another environmentally friendly business - you can recycle your old electronics, and even get back some money for your efforts. And if you're involved in education or libraries, you might be interested in Room to Read, which helps children around the world by partnering with communities to build schools and libraries.

A new Flickr group offers its photos for free use! Hooray!

A UK library has been offering their "check out a person" program for a few years now, in an effort to debunk stereotypical thinking (the various people who serve as "books" represent the disabled, the immigrant, the gay/lesbian, etc.). One man participated in the program writes about his experience. It sounds interesting, if slightly dangerous.

Steven Cohen has a neat post which points out how much librarians can do in the corporate world. It's all true, too! Consider us for your company's needs!

The Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System Online compiles a truly mind-boggling amount of information on the Soviet era, and it's in English to boot.

Tomorrow: links from others!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Edward Lorenz, the man who gave us the chaos theory, has died. I had no idea this was such a recent concept.

It may still be April, but the festival and random event season is well underway, from the country (time for the Smoky Mountains Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage!) to the city (get your New York City bicycles blessed this weekend!)

If you're staying inside, however, you can put on a ghastly puppet show with Lovecraft finger puppets. I suggest adding some pipe cleaners for pseudo-tentacle action. Along the same vein of monsters, Cracked has their 30 most ill-conceived movie monsters up, and their current contest- recruitment posters by video game villains - looks just as good.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The steampunk festivals are coming! If you're near Arkansas this summer, the Ravenwood Festival will be something to see. (As an aside, it's interesting to see just how goth the steampunks are becoming. It was always a component, but this festival has Voltaire as a top performer!)

Steampunk improv, on the other hand, sounds like something completely new. I wish I could just pop over and watch a performance of The Journeys of Professor Pleasant Pennywhistle and his Spatial Relocation Portal firsthand; if anyone does (or has), let me know!

'Tis the season for anthologies; Cory of Voyages Extraordinaires has an anthology available for the downloading at his excellent website.

For the tinkerers and the artists alike: it's not too late to enter the Artbots 2008 competition!

I think the iTea would make an excellent part of a steampunk party or living environment. The tea cups and table could be embellished, and the technological spiral of information that the device emits could become part of the design as well.

I also think that Wirepod would be a wonderful addition to a steampunky library or study. Some commenters think it's too much, but I think it's a great - and elegantly Victorian, especially if decorated - solution to ugly wires. Apparently this is going to be part of a Wiremore product line, but I don't think it's available just yet.

I can't believe I haven't heard of Adele Blanc-Sec until now. A feisty Victorian-era woman who fights monsters and then goes into cryonic hibernation for a few decades? Wow! Rumors are swirling about a possible movie in the works.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Crayola's box of 64 crayons turns 50 this year, and they're celebrating by adding new colors no sense, really. "Famous" is a color? At any rate, there are quizzes and trivia relating to the iconic box of crayons.

For the mathematically inclined musicians: you can now compose music based on the first 10,000 digits of pi. What will they think of next?

It's the 21st century, and graffiti is created with laser pointers. Woot!

Remember when airports were meant to be futuristic and amazing? Some architects are getting back to that idea.

And finally....when you dance, you don't think about how old you are.

Friday, April 18, 2008

So apparently there was an earthquake. We missed it, darn it all. (I remember the one from 1980, though!)

Links from others today - thanks, all!

From Bunny: Lasagna Cat thinks you should read. (You should really check out the rest of the series, too. There are some truly inspired musical choices.)

Swiped from Ookee: the Magic Pen game, which is frustrating and fascinating all at the same time.

From Cassandra: Confidential blueprints for the Freedom Tower are found in New York City's trash; scientists find a rare giant turtle; the pope's visit spurs a new marketing initiative among the priesthood; it's almost time for the London International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film; and maybe a supernova did in the dinosaurs after all, not an asteroid.

From Nicole: ridiculously gorgeous offices. I wonder if Pixar or Three Rings hires librarians.

Tomorrow is Record Store Day! Are you ready? Go support your local independent record store!

And lastly, your moment of Zen: here's a video of a cat discovering a theremin (and another cat being completely freaked out by the experience). Have a spiffy weekend, everyone. See you Monday.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

As previously mentioned, it's National Library Week, hooray! Libraries are celebrating in all kinds of ways - from customized READ posters in Austin to Wii bowling for senior citizens in northern Kentucky - and the Library of Congress has a revamped website with new interactive exhibits. Entertainment Weekly looks at libraries in film throughout the years, and news librarians are thrilled that the Pulitzer-winning Washington Post is recognizing one of their researchers as part of the reason they won.

The Library Society of the World is now on Facebook. Are you on the membership roster? I'm not, because I'm a slacker, essentially, but with this society it's okay to slack.

And finally, just how attuned to internet pop culture are you? Take the test and find out. I got 207 out of a possible 260, which means I know way too much about these here internets.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A leftover from yesterday: if you're in England right now, you could go and frolic at Blenheim Palace and play Victorian games! Sounds like a nice spring day to me.

Other events you could see this weekend include the North Carolina Gold Festival (who knew there was gold in North Carolina?) and the Rotary River Rally in Tempe, where participants make cardboard boats and then see how long they last.

The powers that be are thinking of turning New York City's famed psychiatric Bellevue hospital into a hotel. Then it could be a haunted hotel! Think of the marketing possibilities!

Also, a new archaeological dig at Stonehenge has some people theorizing that the structure was rehabbed by the Romans. (Best quote: "Were the Romans rather like English Heritage, people who abhor untidiness, and when they came to Stonehenge, they found a somewhat decrepit monument in need of tender loving care, and said: Oh these wretched druids, they never look after their ancient monuments properly – we had better send along a gang to tidy it up and pay due respects to whatever gods were originally worshipped there?")

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Not only is it National Library Week (more about that on Thursday), today is National Library Workers Day! Buy your favorite librarian a drink. Thanks to Cassandra for the reminder.

I think that these Retropolis shirts should appeal to anyone, steampunk fan or not. There's even a shirt for the environmentalists (aka the Civilian Conservation Corps) and the the feminists (aka the Ladies World Domination Society).

The genius behind the steampunked Justice League turned his attention to Star Wars. The stormtroopers look amazing, and I covet Princess Leia's outfit.

Thanks to Nathan Myhrvold, Charles Babbage's second (yes, second!) Difference Engine has finally become a real, tangible object 150 years after its conception. Very cool.

Soon, the UK will have new coins, and they look very nifty and neo-victorian! I absolutely love that they can be configured to form a composite image.

And finally, those of you who remember me babbling about a steampunk anthology arriving on my doorstep last week will be interested in the discount offer the editors are making - the full announcement is over at the Steampunk Librarian.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Art in Vegas is on the wane. That seems a little odd. Perhaps they're all moving to Paducah, Kentucky, which is the new mecca for quilting! (Incidentally, quilting is a $3 billion industry, according to the article. Wow.)

Synethetes, unite: Guitarati categorizes songs by color!

Laurie Anderson seems like someone who would perform songs by color, but instead she's doing more politically charged work these days.

Museums are jumping on the green bandwagon and getting environmentally conscious. Hooray!

And finally, baseball season is off and running (although the Reds are, typically, not doing too well), and Mark Penxa has a great online exhibit of drawings of old-time players, called Stealing Signs. Go check it out.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday links from others! It's an all-female contributor entry today. Thanks, everyone.

From Cassandra: the 2008 Pulitzer winners, an interview with Moby, a thought-provoking look at the way Hillary Rodham Clinton's been treated by some of the media during her campaign, some news about the mysterious men in blue who have accompanied the Olympic torch in its increasingly bizarre journey, and a detailed look at French philosophical theory in America, with a huge and equally detailed comments section.

From Nicole: the pros and cons of being a librarian, as seen in McSweeneys. All of these are true, by the way.

From Holly: the odd and mystifying website of Graham Hancock, and a new, completely automated restaurant in Germany (video included).

Have a spiffy weekend, everyone! See you Monday.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

This week marks Folderol's eighth birthday. Yes, this has been around (in various forms) since April 2000. Yikes! Many thanks to everyone who has read, contributed, and encouraged the weblog and its writer over the years!

More and more institutions are getting into the concept of putting materials online for the common people to see. The Boston Public Library has a Flickr site, and the Scottish Screen Archive is filled with weird wonders.

Georgia Tech has put up some great old ads from its student publications and yearbooks. Looking at the book ads, some textbooks could put you back as much as $2.00. Heavens!

The Silent Era celebrates the films that the Georgia Tech students (along with everyone else) saw, back in the day.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame has announced its 2008 inductees. Random factoid: I used to live near this particular Hall of Fame.

Silobreaker is another news aggregate site, like Google News or Yahoo News, but what makes it different is the graphical representations. I really like the network search interface in particular.

Tomorrow: links from others!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

It's travel day, and spooky day for those of us not traveling.

If you're on the road this weekend, there are all sorts of things to see. In New York City, it's the weekend of the Coffee and Tea Festival! Farther east, the Finns go for the stronger drinks with the Helsinki Beer Festival (I am listing this primarily because one of the bands playing there is called the "Flaming Sideburns," which I think is hilarious). The serious athletes will be at the Dead Sea Marathon, and the serious eaters can head to South Carolina for the annual World Grits Festival.

Meanwhile, for the spooky and the homebound, check out Madame Talbot's site for several hours' worth of fascinating stuff. No, really, you will spend hours there. It's wonderful.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

If you have ever considered starting up a weblog or a website for something that particularly interests you, and then thought that perhaps it wasn't worth the effort, I offer a reason to go on and do it: you may just end up with something really cool arriving in the, say, an advance reader copy of a steampunk anthology! Many thanks, Matt! (Also, if anyone out there is looking for a good PR guy, Matt is available.)

Jess Nevins writes one of the stories in the anthology, and if the name sounds familiar, that's because Jess is also the author of the unofficial guides to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen publications, along with several other works. (Jess is also a librarian. See, librarians rock.)

Now that absinthe is legal in the U.S., the sky is the limit. Absinthe lollipops? Sure, why not?

A current problem crying out for a steampunky solution: the London Tube needs a better cooling system. I had no idea that it heats the surrounding earth so much.

And lastly, via the always-great Brass Goggles: a game titled "Dirk Valentine and the Fortress of Steam." I tried it out and ended up slinging chains all over the place, which looked cool but were not terribly efficient; I'll give it another go soon!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Why haven't I heard of Powerpoint Karaoke until today? We'll have to try this out sometime.

Cassandra remembers the films of Charlton Heston. They were definitely influential films on us youngsters, regardless of his eventual politicking.

Last week, I talked about the UNIMA puppet festival. This week, there are photos! I love the gecko puppet.

A local art announcement: Jase's "Rock n' Rollergirls" photos are on exhibit at the Southgate House art gallery this month - go and see them!

Luminous Media presents the 21st century version of neon signs. They look very cool.

I love the idea of sidewalk psychiatry. I hope it spreads to other cities!

Friday, April 04, 2008

*Updates: as of this afternoon, access to all information is being restored to Popline. Hooray! Also, Brendan would like me to clarify that Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist, not an evolutionist. Although he might be that, too. But he is, first and foremost, an evolutionary biologist.*

First off, I am livid this morning because Popline, a federally funded research database, has suddenly decided that the word "abortion" is a stopword in searches. This means that if you run a search for abortion (pro-life, pro-choice, medical statistics, anything at all related to the word), you'll get no results. The Librarian Activist is on the case, and now Wired has noticed, too. Regardless of one's views on the subject, arbitrarily deciding on stopwords in research databases offends every librarian sensibility I have. This news has been burning up the librarian weblogs and mailing lists since late yesterday.

Ahem. Okay. We will now move on to the links from others. Thanks to everyone for sending them in!

From Cassandra: daily caffeine intake may lower the risk of dementia later in life. Hooray!

Also from Cassandra: can you tell the difference between Jesus and Obama? (I got 7 out of 10 right, so I guess I can, indeed, usually distinguish between the two.) And finally, Bette Davis would have turned 100 this Saturday. Go watch one or more of her films and celebrate.

Both Satori and Bunny emailed me links having to do with puppets and animals, but they were very different. Satori sent a video of an elephant painting a self-portrait and a video by They Might Be Giants in puppet form (they're introduced as "They Might Be Puppets"); Bunny contributed PuppetVision and a news story on a drunk man calling the police about a wombat.

Swiped from Brendan: a hilarious video featuring evolutionist Richard Dawkins...or, as the song says, Dick to the Dawk to the Ph.D. (Interesting sci-fi factoid: Dawkins is married to Lalla Ward, best known for playing Romana in Dr. Who. Douglas Adams introduced the two. Now you know!)

Have a spiffy weekend, everyone. See you Monday!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The National Museum of Health and Medicine has an unofficial weblog with the best title ever: A Repository for Bottled Monsters. And it's really interesting, too!

Some new twists on old research favorites: Northern Light now has a free business search engine available, and Worldcat lets you create tailored lists, which are not only useful but also a great way to browse subjects, like history. (There's even one for steampunk!)

Some brand new library bits: document the insanity at your library and win a prize! Also, there are a zillion library-related Facebook apps out there, and if you don't see one you use, add it to the list. I have finally caved in and joined Facebook, albeit at a very minimal level, so this is all new to me.

The Doe Network is a volunteer-driven project that helps track down missing people and solve cold cases. Put your spare time to work for a good cause! Another spare-time project is going on at Brijit, where you can summarize articles in under 100 words and get paid for it.

And lastly, it's not just professional athletes and musicians who go for artificial "enhancements" - researchers use pills to help their performance, too! I can't vouch for the effectiveness of this method, but I will say that I got a lot more efficient at reference once I took up drinking coffee...

Tomorrow: links from others!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

We begin with an administrative announcement of sorts: You can now keep up with Meet Cleaver Theatre through the wonder of Blip TV! We put up Subatomic episodes every week, more or less, so there's always something to watch. Go, subscribe, and be entertained.

Now for the spooky links! Did you know that there's a huge shipwreck with millions in treasure at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean? Well, a recent court ruling has deemed it okay that you not know where it is. Pah! (Spain, in particular, is ticked off. Doubloons are difficult to come by these days.)

Meanwhile, Jedi masters are being attacked unexpectedly in British gardens by Darth Vader lookalikes! The nerve of those Sith!

The Black Vault is a repository for all conspiracy/paranormal/odd happenings; you can find yourself spending hours there. No word yet on this new Sith-Jedi conflict, however.

The enemy of the Black Vault: Captain Disillusion! This is a great series which debunks UFO sightings, ghosts, and other phenomena that digital special effects can so persuasively create.

I'm not sure what Captain Disillusion or the Black Vault would make of street animals made from plastic bags. They're surprisingly cute, though.

The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors is an amazing gallery and space for contemplation, with the mystical art of Alex Grey. (I have to admit that if I lived in NYC, I'd be there all the time!)

More spookily beautiful art: the work of Alexander Jansson. I am seriously considering buying these prints when they're available.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Happy Poisson d'Avril, everyone! This was a fun holiday when I was in France. Here, it's not quite as absurdist, but the internet has made it more entertaining. Some examples are flying penguins, Google's new custom time email, and a collaboration between Virgin and Google called Virgle that promises to take us all to Mars. I took the questionnaire to see if I would qualify and got the following: "Well, you're distressingly normal and could conceivably adjust to life as a deep space pioneer, though we recommend instead that you leave the Mars missions to the serious whack jobs."

Also: Squidpunk.

Which brings us to steampunk! No April Fool links here, although it may sound like one when I go on about Tesla towers and self-propelled Victorian houses...but both of these and more will be at the Maker Faire in May.

The Cabinet of Curiosities has an all-steampunk edition; go and peruse!

Will nanotechnology and body modification lead us into a second Enlightenment? We can only hope.

Questionaut is an educational game that is not really Victorian at all...but as the main character wears goggles and travels in a hot air balloon (a DIY one at that), I'm going to say it fits. It's fun to play, too, and takes some problem-solving brainpower to move up the levels!

If we get rid of trucks to save the environment, we still need a large-scale delivery system. Why not consider the underground pipeline? (Better yet, let's make them all pneumatic. Zoom!)

And finally, not steampunk, not an April Fool, but just plain good news: Fafblog is back! Hooray!