06 Mar 2015

Fox to Film Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”

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Heinlein1
Robert A. Heinlein

The film version of Atlas Shrugged was financed by outsiders and made, despite Hollywood, which did everything it could to suppress and bury it, as a small-scale, noticeably inexpensive production.

Now, another major libertarian classic, Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, portraying a lunar revolt against earthly big government has been scheduled to be made by a major studio with a name director.

Bryan Singer is tackling an adaptation of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, based on the classic sci-fi book by Robert A. Heinlein. Twentieth Century Fox recently picked up the movie rights.

Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim will adapt the book for the project, which will be titled Uprising. Singer is producing with Lloyd Braun of Whalerock Industries and Thor Halvorssen. Executive producers are Andrew Mittman and Jason Taylor, and Alex Lloyd and Richard Martin are co-producing.

Heinlein’s 1966 sci-fi novel centers on about a lunar colony’s revolt against rule from Earth. The novel was nominated for the 1966 Nebula award (honoring the best sci-fi and fantasy work in the U.S.) and won the Hugo Award for best science fiction novel in 1967.

An adaptation has been attempted twice before — by DreamWorks, which had a script by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, and by Phoenix Pictures, with Harry Potter producer David Heyman attached — but both languished and the rights reverted to Heinlein’s estate.

Several of Heinlein’s novels have been adapted for the big and small screen, including the 1953 film Project Moonbase, the 1994 TV miniseries Red Planet, the 1994 film The Puppet Masters, and — very loosely — the 1997 film Starship Troopers.

moon-is-a-harsh-mistress

05 Mar 2015

Flatiron Building, NYC

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FlatironBuilding

Ten Interesting Facts About the Flatiron Building. Untapped Cities

04 Mar 2015

Sweden Changing Racist Names of Birds

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Herons

The Washington Post reports the latest case of European PC insanity.

Bird watching has long been a popular and seemingly harmless weekend activity in Sweden. Its innocence, however, came to an abrupt end when many of the country’s bird lovers were suddenly confronted with allegations of racism.

For centuries, it has now been revealed, the Swedish had given birds some names that now could be considered offensive to certain groups. One species, for instance, was called “gypsy bird,” whereas another was named “negro.” The insult “caffer,” which was used by white against blacks in South Africa, also resembled a Swedish bird species called “kaffer.” There were other offensive bird names in Sweden, such as “Hottentot” — apparently inspired by the name of the language of an indigenous southwest Africandem Changi tribe called Khoikhoi, yet also a derogatory term for that tribe.

Despite the prominence of bird watching among Swedes, the existence of these names and others like them had sparked little outrage and publicity until recently. When Sweden’s Ornithological Society completed its first-ever global list of all 10,709 Swedish bird names two weeks ago, the organization also announced some awkward name changes.

In the process of categorizing the names, staffers had raised concerns over some that had a potentially offensive nature. As a result, several of them have now been changed: “negro” bird, for instance, will now be called “black” bird. “When working on the list, it became obvious that some older names no longer were appropriate,” Anders Wirdheim, Communications Officer at the Swedish Ornithological Society told The Washington Post.

04 Mar 2015

Photo of the Day

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EagleFace

From Veterinaria [FB].

04 Mar 2015

Canadians Are Spocking Their Fives

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SpockingFives

Dangerous Minds reports:

Bank of Canada is pleading with Star Trek fans to stop “Spocking” its five dollar bills. Since Leonard Nimoy’s death, Canadian folks have been “Spocking” the hell out of the five dollar bill that features a portrait of Canada’s seventh prime minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Sir Wilfrid now sports, on certain bills at least, pointy ears, the signature Vulcan haircut and eyebrows and Spock’s mantra “Live long and prosper.”

According to Bank of Canada it’s not illegal to do this but:

    “…However, there are important reasons why it should not be done. Writing on a bank note may interfere with the security features and reduces its lifespan. Markings on a note may also prevent it from being accepted in a transaction. Furthermore, the Bank of Canada feels that writing and markings on bank notes are inappropriate as they are a symbol of our country and a source of national pride.”
04 Mar 2015

And Now It’s a Meme

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The weasel-riding-woodpecker photo first went viral, then it inspired Photoshopped variations.

Weaselpecker1

Weaselpecker2

Weaselpecker3

03 Mar 2015

Sweet Briar To Close Next August

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SweetBriar2
Sweet Briar students traditionally liked to sit outside by the Bell Tower.

Sweet Briar College is a 114-year-old liberal arts woman’s college located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge a little north of Lynchburg, Virginia.

Although Sweet Briar was always a small school, it was, back during my pre-coeducation freshman year, socially well-connected enough to participate in mixers with elite New England schools like Yale. My memory is that Sweet Briar’s echt-Southern girls dressed better, had livelier personalities, and were typically more friendly and conversable than the representatives of Vassar, Smith, and Holyoke whom we previously had entertained, and we were decidedly impressed that Sweet Briar girls managed to be so soigné on their arrival in New Haven after a God-only-knows-how-many-hours-long bus ride from deep in nethermost Virginia.

Sweet Briar girls seemed to us representatives of Yankeedom like exotic specimens imported from a distant, more tropical habitat. But, though they were obviously the offspring of wealthier and more socially prominent families than most of ours, they were also clearly the products of a rural culture, and were more interested in talking about their horses and sport than in calculatingly sizing you up, in the manner of Vassar, as a potential husband and breadwinner. I remember having more fun at the Sweet Briar mixer than at any of the others I attended that year.

Sweet Briar takes its name from a 3250-acre plantation, left along with an endowment to create a woman’s college by one Indiana Fletcher in 1901.

One reads today in the Washington Post the sad news that the Sweet Briar board has voted to close the school down next August, being apparently unable in a time of declining enrollment when fewer women desire single-sex education to make end’s meet. I think that is a shame. There ought to be a place like Sweet Briar where young ladies can major in horsemanship along with the liberal arts in preparation for an adult life spent hunting three days a week somewhere in Virginia.

SweetBriar1
Sweet Briar was renowned for its opportunities for equestrian instruction and activities.

03 Mar 2015

5th Century Amerindian Pendant Discovered in Ohio

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CincinnatiPendant1
The gorget found February 13, 2015, in Newtown, Ohio is engraved with an image that appears to be half bird and half cat.

WVXU reports the recent discovery of a rare Native American pendant dating to the 5th Century A.D. in Ohio. Only 8 examples of the same style and period have ever been found.

Contractors digging a trench for a fiber optic box north of Newtown’s administrative hall earlier this month found human remains. They called police who quickly realized it was a burial site and not a crime scene. They, in turn, called the Cincinnati Museum Center. …

“When the police department actually called us, when I talked to them, he said they found some human remains and he said there was a plate with it. And I kind of knew exactly what he meant because we had found these other two back in 1981,” says Rieveschl Curator for Archeology Bob Genheimer.

Genheimer says the plate is actually a gorget, a decorative seashell, with the image of an animal carved on it.

“A gorget is an ornamental item. These gorgets have three holes in them. They have two at the top for suspension and there’s one in the middle where they possibly could have been attached to clothing or something else,” he says. “And on the inside, they are engraved.”

Two other gorgets found in Newtown had images of an opossum and a panther carved on them. This one had a hybrid: part bird, part cat.

“Anywhere else in the world, you would refer to this as a griffin. But that’s not something that’s very viable in the Americas.

“We believe that the bird may be a Carolina Parakeet. Which, as many people know, is now an extinct bird, but used to be prevalent in the southern United States and as far north as here,” Genheimer says.

03 Mar 2015

Vive L’Empereur!

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ViveLEmpereur
Jean-Baptiste-Édouard Detaille, Vive L’Empereur [Charge of the 4th Hussars at the battle of Friedland], detail, 14 June 1807], 1891, Art Gallery New South Wales.

Via Ratak Monodosico.

03 Mar 2015

Photo of the Week

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WoodpeckerWeasel

This photo of a weasel (looks like Mustela nivalis) riding on a Green Woodpecker (Picus viridus) is going viral.

Buzzfeed:

East London resident Martin Le-May captured this incredible photo of a baby weasel on the back of a green woodpecker in Essex, England, on Monday

As much as we’d all like to believe this is a wondrous tale of friendship wherein two mates go on an epic adventure featuring a baby weasel and his magnificent flying steed, sadly it’s NOT.

It’s a photo of a weasel trying to kill a woodpecker. …

Le-May, a hobby photographer, was taking a walk with his wife through the Hornchurch Country Park in east London in the hopes of her seeing a green woodpecker for the first time. …

    “As we walked we heard a distressed squawking and I saw that flash of green. So hurriedly I pointed out to Ann the bird and it settled into the grass behind a couple of small silver birch trees. Both of us trained our binoculars and it occurred that the woodpecker was unnaturally hopping about like it was treading on a hot surface.

    Lots of wing flapping showing that gloriously yellow/white colour interspersed with the flash of red head feathers. Just after I switched from my binoculars to my camera the bird flew across us and slightly in our direction; suddenly it was obvious it had a small mammal on its back and this was a struggle for life.

    The woodpecker landed in front of us and I feared the worst. I guess though our presence, maybe 25 meters away, momentarily distracted the weasel. The woodpecker seized the opportunity and flew up and away into some bushes away to our left. Quickly the bird gathered its self respect and flew up into the trees and away from our sight.

    The woodpecker left with its life. The weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry.”

02 Mar 2015

Digging Out Today

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SnowBison

Hat tip to Madame Scherzo.

02 Mar 2015

The New York Times Readership, In a Nutshell

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NYTimesReadership

A tweet from Gavin MacInnes via Vanderleun.

02 Mar 2015

Bill Clinton’s Presidential Portrait Contains Reference to Monica Lewinsky’s Stained Blue Dress

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clintonportrait

The Philadelphia Daily News learns a secret about Bill Clinton’s presidential portrait from the artist Nelson Shanks.

The reality is he’s probably the most famous liar of all time. He and his administration did some very good things, of course, but I could never get this Monica thing completely out of my mind and it is subtly incorporated in the painting.

If you look at the left-hand side of it there’s a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things. It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there. It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him.

And so the Clintons hate the portrait. They want it removed from the National Portrait Gallery.

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01 Mar 2015

How Do You Like the Global Warming?

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HawaiiSnow
Mauna Kea summit road near Hilo on Hawaii

Daily Mail:

All 50 states of America will see snow this week as the nation is plunged into the coldest month for decades.

For the first time since 2010, meteorologists predict two snow storms barreling through the country in the next seven days will engulf Florida – a usually snow-less state.

It comes as cold weather records continue to fall across the country, with February declared the coldest month in New York for 81 years.

The average temperature in the Big Apple over the last four weeks has been 24F – 11 degrees below normal. New York joins other metropolitan areas such as Chicago and Pittsburgh, which have also experienced their most frigid February in decades.

As the mercury continues to plummet, ice breakers are being deployed by the US Coast Guard to create ferry and shipping lanes along the Hudson River in New York and the Delaware in Philadelphia.

Read the whole thing.

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