All posts by Mata

The boss.

Funny reviews

There really is some pretty random stuff out there in the internet, even on generally serious websites. You will probably have seen the Three Wolves Moon T-shirt reviews on Amazon. You may have seen the reviews for uranium ore on Amazon too (best title for a review ‘I’m so glad I don’t have to buy this from Libyans in the parking lot anymore’). Another slightly obscure one is for the Bic Crystal medium point pen (known to the rest of the world as a completely normal biro), the chief point of the humour there being why would anyone buy a biro online? Even on the less mainstream sites you still get some lovely little flashes of humour. I found this review of a Samsung PS42C450 television – now, for a 42 inch HD TV you’d think not showing full-HD resolution would be the biggest downside, but apparently it’s not. In the pros and cons section of the review, the number one ‘con’ of the TV is ‘doesn’t dust itself’.

Maybe I’m a grammar geek sometimes, but I love the way unordered lists can create something funny.

Burning Man 2010 photos

Over the years I’ve regularly collected links to some of the best photography from the Burning Man. Most of my links come from the Burning Man’s mailing list, so if you enjoy these then you might want to look that up over on their site.

The Burning Man festival happens once a year in Nevada. It’s a crazy mix of performance art, dust, nudity, music, love, more dust, fire, self-revelation, and even more dust. It also is reasonably dangerous in that you are camping in a desert, which is not a friendly habitat. I was over there in 1999 and 2002, and I hope to go again someday.

In the meantime here are some images you might like to browse. Warning: there is some nudity (though not of a sexual nature):

A set of photos looking mostly at the attendees of Burning Man 2010, taken by Pedro Sagüés.

The essence of Burning Man in a single photo – two firespinners kissing mid-performance.

A fantastic set of images by Mr. Nightshade showing a mix of the art, sculptures, and the people of the burn.

A fun display of how one person’s art can become everyone’s canvas as a ‘Harveywood’ sign gets subverted. (The Burning Man festival was started by a man called Larry Harvey.)

And finally, if you’ve ever wondered what 51,000 people camping in a desert look like from space, here’s the answer!

Burning Man earns you education credits & the first, obvious, target for iPad hacking

How cool is this? A bunch of architecture students are getting university credits by going to Burning Man and building a structure there. Frankly, I think that’s pretty damn awesome – it gives them all the design side of the process and then the practical experience of making sure the damn thing stands up when the desert wind blows up. What a great way to get through university!

In other news, Apple released the iPad and were trying to keep it free or ‘adult’ material. Guess how long that lasted? Less than a day. Oops. The internet exploded into popularity as soon as you could put pictures on it, and guess what those pictures were of? The home video camera became popular because people could use it to video themselves in private moments. Why did Apple think that they might be able to keep the iPad smut free? On a more realistic level, a good business model should take a realistic approach to human desires and respond to them, and so tech will only succeed if it can support people’s needs.

Searching for aliens on earth

By ‘aliens’ the writer of this article is talking about a species that has evolved independently of known life.

The basic idea is this:
Nonlife can turn into life.
If life can appear on earth once then there’s no reason that it can’t have happened twice, or still be happpening all around us.
If we can prove it’s happened twice, that tells us that it’s a relatively common event (on an astronomical scale).
If the beginning of life is a common occurence then that significantly increases the chances that it has happened in many other places.
… But first we have to find life that hasn’t descended from the same ancestor as all of the rest of us!

This little article is about the search for life that is descended from a fresh ancestor – life with which we have no common living ancestry. ALIENS! Click here to read it!

The Muppet Wicker Man

I know what you’ve been thinking. No, not that thing, the other thing. No, not the one that’s red and pulses, the other one…

Yes! That’s it! You’ve been thinking ‘I wonder what it would be like if the Muppets featured in a remake of the horror classic The Wicker Man?’. Well wonder no more, instead just revel in the glory of The Muppet Wicker Man.

How long did it take to fill the Mediterranean Sea?

Between a couple of months and two years, apparently. That’s a lot of water, very fast.

So, interesting stuff to think about, but the best bit has got to be in the comments when the Christian who posts saying that geologists could save a lot of time by starting from the Bible and working out from there. Religious extremists: as long as you lock the weapons away, then they’re a constant source of amusement.

Largest explosion ever witnessed

What’s bigger than the sun exploding? Well, an object with the mass of eleven suns exploding. Astronomers have witnessed an antimatter supernova. There are many complex things going on inside the whole mess, but the result is this – compared to the scale of this release of energy, our lives are absolutely nothing at all. Now, you could use that as a reason to feel down about our insignificance, or you could turn it to think how lucky we are to even exist in the first place, how incredibly unique we are, and how amazing the universe is that we live in. Seriously. It’s a wonderful and awesome world out there.

Matazone supporting teachers around around the world

There’s a festival called Burning Man that I’ve been to a couple of times in America, but beyond being a cool get-together, there’s also an agenda of ‘leave no trace’. The idea is to make sure that you leave places in as good, or better, state as the one you find them in. I like to apply this to as many activities in life as is practical, and one of the ways of doing this is to support renewable energy sources.

A little while ago I sent a donation over to a small town in Lovelock, Nevada. Due to budget cutbacks, they were having to lay off some of their teachers. The organisers of Burning Man stepped in and asked the world if we could send a donation to build a solar array. By removing their electricity costs, they could afford to save jobs, keep teachers, and be environmentally friendly too.

The project has come to fruitition, and there’s even a lovely plaque with ‘Matazone’ on it, listed among the supporters.

I went through some hard financial times over the years, and it was thanks to the support of the visitors to this site that I got through them and I’m now in a position to help others. Keep passing on the favours and we’ll make this world a better place for everyone.