Saturday, March 28, 2009

Nitrate film - hot stuff!

One of the film collecting forums I frequent included a link to a fascinating training film that's been preserved via Google Video.

It was made in the mid-1960s in Luxemberg to demonstrate how firefighters might deal (or not deal) with flammable nitrate film.

It's fascinating to see them dipping the stuff in water or covering it with sand and chemicals and it just continues to burn - it sets off a chemical reaction that provides its own oxygen to fuel the fire.

video at Google video

There's also an interesting article by one of the forum members about a nitrate film fire that happened in one movie theater.

article at

Friday, March 27, 2009

David Horsey on 401Ks

A great cartoon from David Horsey, editorial cartoonist with the Seattle PI.


Solitary confinement

The New Yorker has a lengthy piece this week that tackles the issue of solitary confinement - the psychological implications of solitary are quite serious and the article questions whether this type of punishment is humane. The British experiences with alternatives to solitary are intriguing.

article at New Yorker

Resetting the reset button

Recently, Hillary Clinton presented the Russians with a little gift - a red button marked "reset" in both English and Russian - to highlight a "new start" in our international relationships.

There was only one problem.

Staff in the State Department mistranslated the word.

blog post at NYMag

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Trapped in "The Room"

A strange thing is happening in movie theaters - it appears a new "cult" film is being born.

"The Room" is an indie produced little drama that is so bad that audiences are flocking to it at midnight showings, mocking it and turning the showings into one big party like "Rocky Horror".

article at EW

And your bird can sing?

What if a group of volunteers had assembled data on birds and other natural observations for 90 years in various parts of the country? Think that might be useful to research climate change?

Indeed, it is.

A new crop of volunteers are digitizing the data, held on index cards.

article at

Monday, March 23, 2009

Of cows and robber barons

The Times profiles a dairy co-op that recently suffered an all to common problem - their CEO took off, apparently absconding with funds. The article shows how interconnected all these small business interests are, from the farmers with cows to companies that sell lids for milk cartons.

article at NY Times