Just Interesting

The “glossy magazine” category. Nothing too deep.

Itchy and Scratchy, 3000 years ago. Fragment depicting an anthropomorphic cat making an offering to an anthropomorphic mouse. Context is unknown, but it might have been part of a story illustration or a satirical piece. Egypt, 19th or 20th dynasty. 1295 to 1075 B.C.

Treaty of the Great Peace of Montreal, signed in 1701 between France and several Amerindian tribes. The chiefs signed by drawing the symbol of their tribe.

Cartoon workers with speech bubbles. Aramaic using Greek letters

Doodles created by future sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, aged 10 at the time. Year:1442

Onfim. a 7 year old boy from Novosibirsk 700 years ago. Drawing on birch bark.

Manuscript with excerpts from the Satires of Juvenal, decorated with a student drawing. 15th century document preserved in the Municipal Library of Carpentras.

Medieval scribes tested their pens by writing short sentences and drawing doodles. The pen trials above are from Oxford, Bodleian Library, Lat. misc. c. 66 (15th century)


I’m not showing the RIGHT way to do this, just the way that appealed to me. There’s a lovely subtlety and dignity of age in the originals, I’m just having fun with my updates..


I have a (hopefully short) fascination with selfies and the templated, iconic  poses that people use like symbols. I scanned a whole bunch using only black and white to see how simple the image can get and still easily be understood. The answer is pretty damn simple. These things are branding or logos to make us  instantly recognizable to the “customers” browsing and swiping.

(Blue steel, Ferrari, Le Tigre, and Magnum are the names of poses from Zoolander.)


The Landlord’s Game is a board game patented in 1904 by Elizabeth Magie. The game was created to be a “practical demonstration of the present system of land grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences”


Presented as a public service: Know the signs!

Icelandic Magic: Is it Weird? Yes.

Sexualizing an innocent strawberry.




The blessing of Saint Doggo be upon ye.

I suspect there are interesting things behind some of these.

It’s not hard to figure out what I’m feeling.


And now, this.



Probably 1800-1899, Europe. This whistle bears the inscription: ‘Siffle un deux trois / Vient au Sabbat / Sorcier larva Rat’. In the event of a rat plague, one called on a ‘shipper’ who possessed the magical power to move the rats to another place. The rat plague could be the work of a witch or a wizard. In French, it means : “Whistle one two three / Come to Sabbath / Sorcerer malicious spirit rat


I could happily sit on the floor playing with magnets for a couple of hours. I have never outgrown the delight of feeling invisible forces at work, all the more because magnets almost seem to possess some agency and a playful nature. Like baby monkeys, they snatch things that get too close and the next minute freak out and run away. If you look back a couple of posts at the one called ‘magnets sorting themselves out’ they move like highly trained but bumbling soldiers racing to stand at attention, and in formation. They show what feels like certainty about their destination and they seem to clamber over each other to get there.

The thing about invisible forces is how difficult it is to properly imagine what is taking place. If we never saw air moving through smoke or mist, the wind would be a similar mystery to our imagination. 

The only way to see the shape and force of a magnetic field is similar to seeing the wind act on smoke. We can’t see the force in a pure, abstract way… we need to see it acting upon something. We need a material the magnet will engage with, but not a large, lumpy object like another magnet. We need something like a cloud, made of tiny, reactive particles.  To the right is a familiar image of light iron filings scattered like sand on paper lying atop a horseshoe magnet. A little gentle tapping on the paper and they line up cleanly along the magnetic field lines. If you want a better look, it’s linked to a full-size version.

This is a rather static vision of the effect though. Below is a slightly more dynamic way to see it. Rather than paper, it’s a clear acrylic box with a liquid suspension of iron filings.

It’s better, we can even get a little taste of the three dimensionalities of the effect.  Remember though, we never see a magnetic field acting in a vacuum. Iron filings don’t show the truth of magnetic fields, they show that truth as applied to iron filings.


Ferrofluid shows that truth acting on a rather dense liquid. There’s an earlier post on the composition and history of Ferrofluid. Take a look if you need a touch more foundation. Basically, it’s a colloidal suspension of magnetic nanoparticles. Ferrofluid breaks the “fourth wall” of being demurely flat and passive. It’s often in a bowl or other container, open and available to us. The very different physics of a liquid and a powder are instantly apparent. Ferrofluid makes one think of an alien life form or some stylish evil entity. It undulates, it climbs up and down surfaces like sentient oil. It even leaps. It appears to have moods, and rather peculiar ones.

While this view of magnetic fields is not truer than the behavior of iron filings, it’s more dynamic and thrilling. It’s truer perhaps in that way. From the point of view of magnetic energy, peaks and valleys are energetically favorable. In the corrugated configuration, the magnetic field is concentrated in the peaks; since the fluid is more easily magnetized than the air, this lowers the magnetic energy. In consequence, the spikes of fluid ride the field lines out into space until there is a balance of the forces involved.

At the same time, the formation of peaks and valleys is resisted by gravity and surface tension. It requires energy both to move fluid out of the valleys and up into the spikes and to increase the surface area of the fluid. In summary, the formation of the corrugations increases the surface free energy and the gravitational energy of the liquid but reduces the magnetic energy.

Just for fun, ferrofluid mixed with glow-stick liquid:

And finally, with some awesome coloration in the mix.



With President Trump!

We know he never tells the truth about anything but lying doesn’t get to the root of what is wrong with everything he says. Under every lie, there is a deeper shade of bogus. This is the KungFu of duplicity and misdirection, The bullshit magic of bullshit smoke and bullshit mirrors. And this is the first draft of something I admit is incomplete for now.

“Bill McRaven, retired admiral, Navy SEAL, 37 years, former head of U.S. Special Operations, who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden, says that your sentiment (Trump’s attacks on the news media )is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime,” Wallace said, as Trump interrupted him to call the former top commander a “Hillary Clinton fan and an Obama backer”. 

  • Irrelevant conclusion: Irrelevant conclusion, also known as Ignoratio Elenchi (Latin for an ignoring of a refutation) or missing the point, is the informal fallacy of presenting an argument that may or may not be logically valid and sound, but (whose conclusion) fails to address the issue in question. “Your attacks on the media are dangerous for America!”  “Hillary Clinton!”
  • Ad Hominem: Rather than refuting an opponent’s argument the person attacks the individual instead. This can be directed towards their character, morals, intelligence, reputation or credentials. The main thing to remember is that they are not addressing the actual argument being presented but relying purely on feelings and prejudices to win their case.  Guilt by association is the specific Ad Hominem fallacy here. “Your attacks on the media are dangerous for America!” “This guy likes Hillary Clinton!”

“Every single Democrat in the U.S. Senate has signed up for the open borders, and it’s a bill, it’s called the ‘open borders bill.’ What’s going on? And it’s written by, guess who? Dianne Feinstein,” Trump said Oct. 6 in Topeka.

  • Strawman: Substituting a person’s actual position or argument with a distorted, exaggerated, or misrepresented version of the position of the argument.
  • Alternative Truth: (also, Alt Facts; Counterknowledge; Disinformation; Information Pollution) Ths is pushing your Strawman so hard that he turns inside out. You can’t lie if there aren’t any facts!

“Our press is allowed to say whatever they want and they can get away with it… I’m a big believer, tremendous believer in freedom of the press. Nobody believes it stronger than me. But if they make terrible, terrible mistakes, and those mistakes are made on purpose to injure people … then yes, I think you should have the ability to sue them.” Trump in 2016

  • Inconsistency: A person commits the fallacy of inconsistency when he or she makes contradictory claims. “I fully support a free press and it must end now!”

Continue reading


Background story from the photographer, Ormond Gigli:

“In 1960, while a construction crew dismantled a row of brownstones right across from my own brownstone studio on East 58th Street, I was inspired to, somehow immortalize those buildings. I had the vision of 43 women in formal dress adorning the windows of the skeletal facade.

We had to work quickly to secure City permissions, arrange for models which included celebrities, the demolition supervisior’s wife (third floor, third from left), my own wife (second floor, far right), and also secure the Rolls Royce to be parked on the sidewalk. Careful planning was a necessity as the photography had to be accomplished during the workers’ lunch time!

The day before the buildings were razed, the 43 women appeared in their finest attire, went into the buildings, climbed the old stairs, and took their places in the windows. I was set up on my fire escape across the street, directing the scene, with bullhorn in hand. Of course I was concerned for the Models’ safety, as some were daring enough to pose out on the crumbling sills.

The photography came off as planned. What had seemed to some as too dangerous or difficult to accomplish, became my fantasy fulfilled, and my most memorable self – assigned photograph. It has been an international award winner ever since.

Most professional photographers dream of having one signature picture they are known for. “GIRLS IN THE WINDOWS ” is mine.”


Pareidolia: A sensory stimulus which is interpreted by the mind as something else. Most famously the faces seen in teapots, trucks, garbage cans and clouds; Jesus on a piece of toast, the cloud that looks like a bunny etc, etc. But also such experiences as being in the shower and in the sound of the running water, hearing your phone or the doorbell ringing.

Besides being funny, these pictures are evidence of two things about us.

  1. That we all do this, at all times, using whatever sensory data is in front of us.  Therefore we are screening all incoming data through a human flavored filter. The sense info here is almost aggressively packaged in human frames. None of us are objective observers, none of us ever will be.
  2. That it’s similar enough between the random millions of us that we see the same visual punchline almost effortlessly. This automatic consensus supports theories about inner archetypes and symbols, about universals of expression, posture, and gesture. They suggest that the architecture of these inner libraries is innate.

Ferrofluid is a liquid that becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field. A grinding process for ferrofluid was invented in 1963 by NASA’s Steve Papell as a liquid rocket fuel that could be drawn toward a pump inlet in a weightless environment by applying a magnetic field. Ferrofluids are colloidal liquids made of nanoscale ferromagnetic, or ferrimagnetic, particles suspended in a carrier fluid (usually an organic solvent or water). Each tiny particle is thoroughly coated with a surfactant to inhibit clumping.

When a paramagnetic fluid is subjected to a strong vertical magnetic field, the surface forms a regular pattern of peaks and valleys. This effect is known as the Rosensweig or normal-field instability. The instability is driven by the magnetic field; it can be explained by considering which shape of the fluid minimizes the total energy of the system.

From the point of view of magnetic energy, peaks and valleys are energetically favorable. In the corrugated configuration, the magnetic field is concentrated in the peaks; since the fluid is more easily magnetized than the air, this lowers the magnetic energy. In consequence, the spikes of fluid ride the field lines out into space until there is a balance of the forces involved.

At the same time, the formation of peaks and valleys is resisted by gravity and surface tension. It requires energy both to move fluid out of the valleys and up into the spikes and to increase the surface area of the fluid. In summary, the formation of the corrugations increases the surface free energy and the gravitational energy of the liquid but reduces the magnetic energy. The corrugations will only form above a critical magnetic field strength when the reduction in magnetic energy outweighs the increase in surface and gravitation energy terms.

Ferrofluids have an exceptionally high magnetic susceptibility and the critical magnetic field for the onset of the corrugations can be realized by a small bar magnet. – Wikipedia


Trump kept the book ‘My New Order,’ a collection of Hitler’s speeches on his night table for years.

It all starts to seem a little too on point.


A ‘star drop’ refers to the patterns created when a drop, flattened by some force, is excited into shape mode oscillations

Abstract: “These patterns are perhaps best understood as the two-dimensional analogs to the more common three-dimensional shape mode oscillations. In this fluid dynamics video, an ultrasonic standing wave was used to levitate a liquid drop. The drop was then flattened into a disk by increasing the field strength. This flattened drop was then excited to create star drop patterns by exciting the drop at its resonance frequency. Different oscillatory modes were induced by y varying the drop radius, fluid properties, and frequency at which the field strength was modulated.”

Shape oscillation of a levitated drop in an acoustic field,” by W. Ran & S. Fredericks (Clemson University, Department of Mechanical Engineering)


These images were taken with a Scanning Electron microscope (SEM). The surface of a specimen is scanned by a beam of electrons that are reflected to form an image. Color is added later.

“Plenty of Room at the Bottom” is the title of an article written by the American genius, Richard Feynman in 1959. He worked on the Manhattan Project that delivered nuclear weapons to our military before the end of World War II. In the 1980s he was the scientist who figured out why the space shuttle Challenger exploded. In “Plenty of room at the bottom” he visualized the core ideas of Nanotechnology 2 or 3 decades before it became a widespread big idea.

“It is a staggeringly small world that is below. In the year 2000, when they look back at this age, they will wonder why it was not until the year 1960 that anybody began seriously to move in this direction.” Richard Feynman


We’re talking about a bustling industry where objects are measured in nanometers and micrometers.

  • A nanometer =1 billionth of a meter and is represented by the symbol ‘nm.’. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.
  • A micrometer = 1/millionth of a meter (symbol: μm) A sheet of paper is 70 to 180 μm thick.
  • One millimeter is equal to 1000 micrometers or 1000000 nanometers. A millimeter is equal to approximately 0.039370 of an inch. (mm)

In this video, we begin focused on a shrimp at a scale of 1 mm. We zoom down and in toward the top of the head where we see a microscopic sea plant, which eventually fills the screen. We close on a single bacteria, atop the seaweed zoomed from 1mm to 0.5um.

The remarkable chain drive below was built by the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories.  The distance between chain link centers is 50 microns. The diameter of a human hair is approximately 70 microns. This is one example of thousands of separate projects and experiments laying the foundation of Nanotechnology.