From Hell To The Podium

модаThis is man’s attire from the  winter collection of a fashion designer Phillipp Plein. Tattoos are  optional, I think.

Fashion is the venue I’m the least familiar with, and, generally, have very little interest in high couture, fashion designers, trends, fashion shows and such. However, I found the blog post of a Russian movie costume designer about the latest trends in men’s fashion and a accompanying pictures most entertaining.

KTZ

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Here’s what vita-colorata has to say in her overview of this year man fashion winter designs:

[…] It  is difficult to explain the desire of many designers to shock the audience at the podiums of men’s fashion shows this year.  Some stitch shockingly extravagant clothes, others concoct creepy makeup and disheveled hairstyles. The choice of models is also clearly made with a preference of faces hardly to be considered handsome or cute. Plenty of gruesome realistic looking wounds and proliferation of tattoos on limbs and torso complete the picture.

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Ami&Samмода9Yohji Yamamoto

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Thom Browne

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Ghosts inhabited the podium, vampires and otherworldly entities, men, even if attractive, displaying the signs of decay.

Givenshy

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Are those affects the war, constantly running in the world? Is that the reason why there are so many army clothes, khaki and security patches in the collections? 
Perhaps, the fear in society is reflected is these designs. Such are not designers — such is life. 

Rick Owens

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Katie Eary

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Meet The Artist: Valentin Rekunenko

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rekunenko92Valentin Rekunenko was born in 1955, graduated from the Dnepropetrovsk Art College in 1974, member of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine since 1987.

Member Triennale Art in Kiev in 1998, 2001, participant of a number of national and international art exhibitions. Works in oil, gouache, pastel.

His artwork grace private galleries of Russia, Poland,
Germany and the United States.

Never heard of him or seen his artwork before. Glad I finally did.

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Read My Mind

read My MindNeuroscientists from the University of Washington have decoded brain signals in real-time and with astounding accuracy, as revealed in a recent study published in PLOS Computational Biology. Researchers attached electrodes to the temporal lobes of seven epilepsy patients for roughly one week. The implants were part of a program that aimed to locate the sources of these patients’ seizures, but while the electrodes were active, the patients also participated in this brain-wave study. read My Mind

The participants viewed a series of houses and faces that appeared on a screen for 400 milliseconds at a time, and were instructed to look for the upside-down building. An algorithm tracked the brain waves of their temporal lobes. (Temporal lobes in our brain deal in sensory input.) By the end of each session, the program was able to pinpoint, in real time and with roughly 96 percent accuracy, what images the patients were observing.  Within 20 milliseconds of actual perception, the program was capable of determining the exact objects patient was seeing, be it a house, a face or a gray screen.

“Clinically, you could think of our result as a proof of concept toward building a communication mechanism for patients who are paralyzed or have had a stroke and are completely locked-in,” UW computational neuroscientist Rajesh Rao said.

At about the same time, Russian scientists from the Moscow-based company Neurobotics created and tested technology that allows to do the household chores with the help of the power of thought. The project “Smart Home” introduced technology that allows a person to turn the lights, TV set or a tea kettle on and off, using only the power of thought.

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According to the official representative of the organization Christine Utkina, the technology works on the principle of neurointerface.

Researchers call the process  brain-computer interface. The principle is rather straightforward: electromagnetic sensor reads and amplifies brain waves and then a special devise converts those signals into commands to operate various Smart Home gadgets or robots. This technology will be particularly useful to people with disabilities and patients who are recovering from injury, enabling them to operate electric wheelchairs and other electronic rehabilitation equipment.

The Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta ran an article about the Neurobotics  reserch. Read it here, in Russian. It is titled Московские ученые вскипятили чайник силой мысли” (Moscow Scientists boiled a tea cattle using power of thoughts.)

Teatro Dei Piedi: Feat Of Feet

sonata-a-quattro-piedi1Laura Kibel is an artist from Rome, Italy. Her ‘Teatro Dei Piedi’ (Theatre of the Feet) is unique in many ways.  True to her group’s name, Miss Kibel demonstrates a unique style of puppetry, which involved her whole body, but most impressively, her legs and her feet.

Laura Kibel is  a multi-faceted artist — a musician, a costume and set designer for theater and cinema, a specialist model-maker, a sound composer, who not only made her puppets and designed her show, but also used her limbs with great skill and agility to display the puppets of her little dramas.

LAURA KIEBELThese little dramas appear from animated and brightly colored trunks — all arranged around Miss Kibel, who displayed her virtuosity from the center of the stage. More than being stories, the little situational pieces or rather the protagonists of these pieces — in the form of a variety of puppet-characters are simple, funny, and readily identifiable. The themes range from two men fighting to a man trying quite unsuccessfully to soothe a bawling child. In one of the sketches a group of musicians attempt to play different kinds of music. Clearly meant to showcase Miss Kibel’s skills and dexterity with the puppets fixed on her feet, knees, thighs, the characters emerging  from the trunks are simply charming.

There are little surprises hidden away in the costumes of the puppets and in the props that were dramatically revealed at different times in the performance, while a small portable CD player is a key accompaniment to Miss Kibel’s legs and feet acrobatics.

A tad repetitive with the initial ‘wow’ element becoming familiar mid-way, Miss Kibel’s show is nevertheless remarkable. Her legs create magic and an ingenious language of performance.

Cover-up! #statuenude

coverupAs of today, these demure but solid white panes fence many sculptures at the Rome’s Capitoline Museum to obscure nudity. The action was taken as a sign of respect for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose country is a strongly conservative Islamic republic, according to Italian news agency Ansa.

It was Italian PM Matteo Renzi’s order to hide all the nude sculptures on display at Capitoline Museum, so as not to offend Iranian President.

Mr Rouhani arrived in Rome on Monday to sign contracts, summing up to €17 billion ($18.4 billion).

It’s not the first time Italy has covered up artworks to avoid misunderstandings with Muslim guests. In October of 2015, when the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, visited Florence, the “Gazing Ball” statue by American sculptor Jeff Koons was covered up to avoid the sheikh’s blushes.

Gazing Ball (Barberini Faun) (2013), Jeff Koons, in the Palazzo Vecchio. Photo: Pietro Savorelli

Gazing Ball (Barberini Faun) (2013), Jeff Koons, in the Palazzo Vecchio. Photo: Pietro Savorelli

Many Italians responded with barely concealed irony over the covering of the sculptures. Some responded by sharing images of statues with exposed genitals across various social media platforms under the hashtag #statuenude. coverup

Many people also shared a seemingly doctored image pictures similar to the official photo of the delegation against the backdrop of a different painting with no nudity in it.coverup

An article in the Independent,  Italy covers up naked statues for Iran President Hassan Rouhani’s visit has a tiny video clip from the hallways of the museum and, more importantly, an indignant reaction of some Iranians to the Italy’s bending down to the “Islamic values.” Most harsh and outspoken is a statement issued by Iranian women’s rights campaign group My Stealthy Freedom.

In Science Veritas

veritas77.jpgThe film Martian, based on the book by Andy Weir, boasts about its accuracy in showing details of a mission to Mars. How believable is the movie Martian from the standpoint of science?

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Astrophysicist Alexei Varenikov next to the rover Curiosity

Russian astrophysicist Alexei Varenikov, who participated in the management team of the rover Curiosity, watched the movie and explained what is plausible and what is not, from the point of view of science.

Please note: the text below contains movie spoilers.

Photo from the archives of NASA

Photo from the archives of NASA

Landscape: Martian landscape in the movie looks rather close to reality. However, there are some nuances: for example, in the past few billion earth years to a large degree smoothed the Martian mountains. The film shows a beautiful vertical cliffs and walls of rocks — it is, in fact, a very rare occurrence on the Martian surface.

Verdict: fairly plausible.

Photo from the archives of NASA

Photo from the archives of NASA

Sunset: The sunsets in the movie are reddish-orange in color. However, the sunsets on Mars are depressingly greenish-blue because of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Verdict: implausibleveritas3

Storms and winds: Storms on Mars are seasonal, frequently occurring and thoroughly studied phenomena. In the movie storm serves to create dramatic plot twist. On Mars, where the atmospheric pressure is very low and the atmosphere is thin (like on top of a 20 km high mountain.) The wind is really strong there, but it does not blow objects away. The only unpleasantness is a small specks of sand that are flying at a speed of 100 meters per second. From this the lenses of rovers often sustain scratches. But Martian winds cannot send rocks flying in the air. Therefore, the antenna could not just come off and fly away blown by the wind. Also, the sky does not darken in a storm — because the atmosphere is rarefied the sky become red rather than dark.

Verdict: implausible.  veritas4Tornadoes: Tornadoes is a fact of Martian climate. The so-called “dust devils” leave marks on the surface of the planet, visible on many images of Mars. In the movie the tornadoes  are not quite as tall as in real life. On Mars, they can reach a height of 30 km. It is a pity that the movie doesn’t show the Martian snow. The snow really falls on Mars, however, it is not made of water but carbon dioxide (CO2). There exist amusing pictures from Vikings of carbonated drifting snow.

Verdict: plausible. veritas6Gravity: Gravity on Mars is slightly lower than on Earth — about 40% of the Earth’s gravity. At the beginning of the movie, to show the difference in gravity, the frames are barely slowed to achieve realistic effect. 

Verdict: plausible.veritas7Radiation: Mars’s surface receives more radiation than the Earth’s but still blocks a considerable amount. Radiation exposure on the surface is 30 µSv per hour during solar minimum; during solar maximum, dosage equivalent of this exposure is reduced by the factor two (2). If the settlers spend on average three hours every three days outside the habitat, their individual exposure adds up to 11 mSv per year. 

Verdict: Largely implausible.veritas8Living Quarters: The base is realistic. It would have been more realistic if the structure  were buried 2-3 meters into the ground to protect from radiation. On the other hand, NASA is constantly developing new high-tech materials (that is why the American “machines” are so expensive).

Verdict: plausible.veritas9Water, oxygen production and potatoes growing: I’m not a biologist, but growing of potatoes as shown in the movie is quite believable. The soil on Mars contains iron oxide, which is rust. In fact, the same sand can be found, for example, in the Death Valley, USA.  Oxygen for breathing was derived by using closed-cycle generator  — they are very effective and are used now quite extensively.

Verdict: plausible.veritas91The total loss of communication with Earth: Usually NASA duplicates channels of communication, and even the failure of the two of them shouldn’t necessarily lead to a complete loss of contact with the mother-planet.  But in reality anything could happen, including damage to the antenna. Should the loss of communication happen, the astronaut might have to act in much the same manner, if he or she knows what to do, which is go straight into the hexadecimal code. The programming at NASA, by the way, done mostly in  assembly language.

Verdict: plausible.veritas92NASA Offices: Very believably depicted. All these brilliant “lunatics” who “calculate  trajectory” etc, actually work in this manner. No matter where or how you live or how you look like, the important thing is what you can do and how you do it. Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is one of the best places on earth to be a scientist.

Verdict: plausible.veritas95


The Book Of Wonders

human-rabbit-1Alfred Brehm wasn’t the first to use the title  Life of Animals — Brehms Tierleben (English title: Brehm’s Life of Animals.)

Approximately in 1371, a book with the same name (Haiyat al-Haiyawan حَياة الْحَيوان الكُبرى or Lives of the Animals) was written by the Egyptian author Muhammad Ibn Musa Kamal Ad-din Al-Damiri (1341-1405). It is a compilation of works by many authors on the 931 animals mentioned in the Qur’an, including folklore, proverbs, lawfulness of hunting and eating, medical uses and meaning of names, the interpretation of dreams about each animal, and often a quirky miniature painting of one or many of the creatures in question. Some are recognizable, such as the foxes, cats, dogs, rabbits and goats, while others are wildly imagined and intricately depicted.

‘Island of Tin, plagued by dragons,’ from 17th or 18th century manuscript copy of “The Book of Wonders of the Age” (St Andrews ms32(o))

‘Island of Tin, plagued by dragons,’ from 17th or 18th century manuscript copy of “The Book of Wonders of the Age” (St Andrews ms32(o))

The library of the University of St Andrews has a manuscript (ms32(o)) known as Book of the Wonders of the Age, lavishly illustrated, packed with mysterious monsters and people doing strange things… The XVII – XVII (?) century manuscript is actually incomplete parts of 2 works, bound together, the first being an abbreviated section of Haiyat al-Haiyawan by Al-Damiri, translated to Farsi (Persian) from Arabic.

The illustration on top of this post is a rabbit with a human head from  “The Book of Wonders of the Age” (St Andrews ms32(o))

circle-of-elephants-1The circle of elephants depicts the attack on Mecca by Abraha, king of Yemen, around 570, who brought his war elephants intending to destroy the Kaaba.hoopoe-1

The hoopoe, or huh-hud in Persian, introduced King Solomon to the Queen of Sheba and represents virtue. The snake wrapped around the world was evicted from paradise and can never be trusted.people-with-animal-heads-maybe-jinns-1

Jinns from 17th or 18th century manuscript copy of “The Book of Wonders of the Age” (St Andrews ms32(o))al-buraq-1Some animals are clearly imaginary or exist only in Muslim tradition, such as al-burāq, the famous mount with human face, horse’s mane, peacock tail and camel’s feet on which Muhammad ascended to heaven; the simurgh, a mythical bird with the head of a dog and lion’s claws; and the jinns with wings or with elephant, cat and rabbit heads.

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Island of Cyprus

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Island of giant bird

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Island of long beards

There is so much more wondrous things in the St Andrews manuscript…

To be continued.

 

Ballet On Paper

CalligraphyJake Weidmann  is the world’s youngest known Master Penman, an honor for which he learned to perfectly execute 15 scripts—yes, as in pen and paper—from Old English to Spencerian cursive.

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In 2013, Jake Weidmann has written himself into history books as he penned the preamble of Colorado’s Constitution in handwritten ink for the first time since it has been machine-printed in 1876. His work has a permanent home in the new Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial CenterCalligraphy2Beyond that, Weidmann  is the self-taught calligrapher, illustrator, painter, and sculptor.

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Isis Beamer

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Seven month ago, a maintenance worker found this 19-pound shiny object in a building of an unidentified Jerusalem cemetery that serves as an important archaeological site. Previously, the site has turned up remains from Roman, Byzantine and Crusader periods. The mysterious object was promptly turned to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“To tell you the truth I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Amir Ganor, head the authority’s robbery prevention unit, told NBC News.

After seven months of trying -– and failing –- to determine the identity of an object that resembles a gilded rolling pin, experts at the Israel Antiquities Authority decided  to hand the task over to “the wisdom of the masses” on Facebook.

Within hours and after hundreds of contributions, “the intelligence of the masses has done its work,” the authority reported on Facebook. “It has solved the puzzle of the gold-covered object.”

And no, it isn’t a foot massager, a currency maker, a huge honey dipper, or a meat tenderizer, as some Facebook users have guessed.

mystery object

The object, identified by an Italian man named Micah Barak, is an energy equalizer meant to be used by naturopaths and healers. It’s called an “Isis Beamer,” according to a German company that sells it, named after the Egyptian goddess of medicine, magic and nature, and it “can create a protective field of the type generated by spirit energies or meditation.”

 

Wiki Is 15

llustration by Mun May Tee, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

llustration by Mun May Tee, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

On January 15 of this year Wikipedia turned 15. A virtual teenager. Wikipedia was born in 2001. Its major appeal lies in the fact that anyone who accepts Wikipedia  Foundation Terms of Use  can create and edit articles.  By adding the information from competent and reliable sources, the editor gradually forms its reputation. Currently Wiki is available in 276 languages.

Unscrupulous editors happen anywhere, in any publication, and Wiki, for obvious reasons, is wide open for such transgressions. In September of last year, for example, hundreds of “black hat” English Wikipedia accounts were blocked following investigation, according to WIKIMEDIA blog.

After weeks of investigation, volunteer editors on the English Wikipedia announced today that they blocked 381 user accounts for “black hat” editing.  The accounts were engaged in undisclosed paid advocacy—the practice of accepting or charging money to promote external interests on Wikipedia without revealing their affiliation, in violation of Wikimedia’s Terms of Use. The editors issued these blocks as part of their commitment to ensuring Wikipedia is an accurate, reliable, and neutral knowledge resource for everyone.

Wikipedia is now equipped with tools to parse its articles for bad edits. See Artificial intelligence service gives Wikipedians ‘X-ray specs’ to see through bad edits.

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If you don’t know yet but curious enough to know what are the most edited Wikipedia articles throughout its 15 year history, click on either one of the two links below.

What are the most-edited articles through Wikipedia’s history?

The Most-Edited Wikipedia Pages Over The Last 15 Years

 

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