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Harry Houdini

In 1904, the London Daily Mirror newspaper challenged Houdini to escape from special handcuffs that it claimed had taken Nathaniel Hart, a locksmith from Birmingham, five years to make. Houdini accepted the challenge for March 17 during a matinée performance at London's Hippodrome theater. It was reported that 4000 people and more than 100 journalists turned out for the much-hyped event. The escape attempt dragged on for over an hour, during which Houdini emerged from his "ghost house" (a small screen used to conceal the method of his escape) several times. On one occasion he asked if the cuffs could be removed so he could take off his coat. The Mirror representative, Frank Parker, refused, saying Houdini could gain an advantage if he saw how the cuffs were unlocked. Houdini promptly took out a pen-knife and, holding the knife in his teeth, used it to cut his coat from his body. Some 56 minutes later, Houdini's wife appeared on stage and gave him a kiss. It is believed that in her mouth was the key to unlock the special handcuffs. Houdini then went back behind the curtain. After an hour and ten minutes, Houdini emerged free. As he was paraded on the shoulders of the cheering crowd, he broke down and wept. Houdini later said it was the most difficult escape of his career.


Arts / Technology / Videos22.08.2014

Sixteen Colors: Archiving the Evolution of ANSI and ASCII Art

ANSI (and ASCII) art dominated online communication for a short time. However, in that small window the medium evolved from a necessary function of early online systems into an art form on its own. Sixteen Colors was created to keep a history of the art form as seen from the production of the underground art scene that began in the 1990′s and continues today. Learn what it takes to compile hundreds of thousands of pieces of artwork and how that artwork has changed over two decades.


Crimes / Drugs19.08.2014

Kid Cannabis: The Wild Rise and Violent Fall of a Teenage Weed Kingpin

Nate Norman was hanging out with his buddy Topher Clark when he came up with The Idea. The two friends were sitting around Nate's house, a dumpy little place near the cemetery, and both of them were extremely stoned. And yet The Idea had more legs than your typical pot-inspired idea. It did not involve a second Twinkie inside the first one. It did not involve genetically modifying the bugs so their blood would not be blood but windshield-wiper fluid. It was, in fact, based on a practical application of global economic theory. That, and cheap weed in Canada.


Business / Internet / Science14.08.2014

A Chinese Internet Giant Starts to Dream

Dig into the history of Baidu, however, and you’ll find it has Valley roots of its own. CEO Robin Li cofounded the company in 2000 with biotech salesman Eric Xu, after a stint as an engineer at the Sunnyvale-­based search engine Infoseek. Li was armed with a patent for a way to rank sites in search listings by the number of incoming links—filed in 1997, a year before Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page patented their similar PageRank algorithm. As China’s Internet population grew, so did Baidu, enough to attract a $5 million investment in 2004 from Google itself—which later tried to buy Baidu for $1.6 billion in an attempt to head off the Chinese company’s IPO, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Instead, Baidu went public in August 2005, and shares rocketed 354 percent the first day. Much as Google had done in the United States, Baidu quickly solidified its hold on China’s search market and used the profits to expand into a range of other online services.




Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant, a form of apophenia. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse. The word comes from the Greek words para (παρά, "beside, alongside, instead") in this context meaning something faulty, wrong, instead of; and the noun eidōlon (εἴδωλον "image, form, shape") the diminutive of eidos. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia, seeing patterns in random data.


Basketball / Business / Sports10.08.2014

District judge: the NCAA cannot stop colleges from paying football and basketball player

The National College Athletic Association has violated antitrust laws and must allow colleges to offer student athletes a limited share of revenue, a U.S. judge ruled on Friday in a lawsuit that seeks to redefine traditional notions of sports amateurism. More than 20 current and former athletes sued, saying that players should share in the profits of college athletics, a highly lucrative business in which universities reap billions of dollars from men’s football and basketball.


Business / Internet08.08.2014

The Most Fascinating Profile You’ll Ever Read About a Guy and His Boring Startup

He admits that if the right offer comes along, the kind of offer that only three or four companies in the world could come up with, he would have to jump. But what is that? Five billion? Seven? Ten? It’s hard to know, because in Silicon Valley today, money has lost all meaning and value. It is an abstract construct that can be exchanged for homes and Teslas and handmade selvedge denim jeans flown in from Japan, but nobody really has any idea what constitutes “a lot” anymore. At some point however, he would be obligated to all those who’ve stuck with him and to all those who have given him money.


Business / Internet / Technology / Wikipedia08.08.2014

List of mergers and acquisitions by Google

Google is a computer software and a web search engine company that has been acquiring, on average, more than one company per week since 2010. The table below is an incomplete list of acquisitions, with each acquisition listed being for the respective company in its entirety, unless otherwise specified.

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Business / Interviews / Science / Technology18.07.2014

Laboratory-grown beef: meat without the murder, but would you eat it?

Growing meat in labs could cut hunger, tackle climate change and end animal slaughter, but creator Professor Mark Post says the biggest beef will be convincing consumers.


Crimes / Politics / Riots17.07.2014

S21 – Video-Schocker vom Wasserwerfer

Fünf Prozesstage lang haben die beiden angeklagten Polizisten ihre Sicht des Polizeieinsatzes am Schwarzen Donnerstag dargestellt. Am sechsten Tag genügten zehn Minuten auf Video, und alle Aussagen waren Makulatur. Im Gerichtssaal herrschte Entsetzen über das Vorgehen der Wasserwerfer.


Business / Conspiracy Theories / Internet / Technology17.07.2014

A detailed exposé on how the market is rigged from a data-centric approach

We received trade execution reports from an active trader who wanted to know why his large orders almost never completely filled, even when the amount of stock advertised exceeded the number of shares wanted. For example, if 25,000 shares were at the best offer, and he sent in a limit order at the best offer price for 20,000 shares, the trade would, more likely than not, come back partially filled. In some cases, more than half of the amount of stock advertised (quoted) would disappear immediately before his order arrived at the exchange. This was the case, even in deeply liquid stocks such as Ford Motor Co (symbol F, market cap: $70 Billion, NYSE DMM is Barclays). The trader sent us his trade execution reports, and we matched up his trades with our detailed consolidated quote and trade data to discover that the mechanism described in Michael Lewis's "Flash Boys" was alive and well on Wall Street.


Business / Internet / Science / Technology / Zahlen26.06.2014

2014 Internet Trends

Mary Meeker, the former Morgan Stanley analyst and current Kleiner Perkins investor, has built a personal franchise around her annual Internet trends report. She delivered her latest at the Code Conference this morning. Meeker and her team have a knack for pulling together data that speaks to both the specificity of what’s happening right now and how it fits into the larger context of the past and present. This time around, Kleiner Perkins built a site for the reports, which date back to 2001, available here.


Business / Internet / Technology26.06.2014

The Inside Story of Oculus Rift and How Virtual Reality Became Reality

... the expectations surrounding the Oculus Rift have always been huge, ever since an 18-year-old named Palmer Luckey hacked together a rough proto­type in his parents’ garage in Long Beach, California, in 2011. In June 2012, John Carmack—the legendary founder of id Software, the company that created Doom, Quake, and the entire concept of 3-D gaming—brought that early proto­type to the E3 videogame show, reintro­ducing VR to the popular conversation for the first time since The Lawnmower Man. A year later, Oculus brought an HD proto­type to E3 and blew minds all over again. Then it brought another, even more advanced one to CES this past January. Then another unit to the Game Developers Conference in March. And finally, the $2 billion purchase by Facebook. All for a company that doesn’t even have a commercial product yet and is chasing a dream that most of the tech community had seemingly given up on decades ago.


Business / Music26.06.2014

The Couple Behind Odd Future’s Unlikely Empire

While Odd Future are the face of hip-hop’s DIY audacity and Frank Ocean is R&B’s most compelling ascendant superstar, their managers (and guardian angels) are making the most of the music industry’s slow implosion.

Soviet Union erotica 2

Sex / Society25.06.2014

Inside the Soviet Union’s secret pornography collection

How did Skorodumov amass such a collection when owning a foreign title could result in a Gulag sentence? First, he was careful to frame it within the discourse of communist ideology, receiving documents from a variety of organisations attesting to its scientific value. Ivan Yermakov, the director of the soon-to-be-disbanded State Psychoanalytic Institute, provided one such letter in 1926: Sexuality demands serious and rigorous scientific examination, particularly as it has played such an extensive role in the evolution of culture and daily life,” wrote Yermakov, who published many of Freud’s works in Russian for the first time. “It is highly important to preserve the collection in unadulterated form as a socially valuable work.” There is also a second theory. Stalin’s secret police chief Genrikh Yagoda, a pornography aficionado whose apartment reportedly held a dildo collection, is said to have enjoyed viewing Skorodumov’s holdings. Librarians believe that he personally ensured the latter’s safety.


Business / Interviews / Movies / Society24.06.2014

Playboy Interview – Gary Oldman

"I look at the world, I look at our leadership and I look at every aspect of our culture and wonder what will make it better. I have no idea. Any night of the week you only need to turn on one of these news channels and watch for half an hour. Read the newspaper. Go online. Our world has gone to hell. I listen to the radio and hear about these lawsuits and about people like this high school volleyball coach who took it upon herself to get two students to go undercover to do a marijuana bust. You’re a fucking volleyball coach! This is not 21 Jump Street."


Arts / Berlin / Business23.06.2014

Pixel perfect: The story of Eboy

As professionals, the "eBoys" seem to have found the holy grail of graphic design. Their work is instantly recognizable and consistently relevant. It’s paid off, too; the group’s client list reads like a primer in 21st-century consumerism: Coca-Cola, the New York Times, Paul Smith, MTV. When I met them for the first time in Berlin last fall, they were working on a campaign for Xbox. In the world of digital design, their mark has been indelible. "eBoy are the originals," says Jürgen Siebert, CEO of FontShop, a Berlin-based typography company that the eBoy founders collaborated with in the early 1990s. "Of course there are some more pixel wizards, and there had been before eBoy. But eBoy developed that discipline to perfection."

Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts during their  King's Cup final soccer match against Real Madrid in Valencia


The Burden of Being Messi

Last month, I spent time in Buenos Aires and in Rosario, Messi’s hometown, where I heard versions of this critique nearly everywhere I went, from cabdrivers to coaches to professional commentators: Messi left Argentina too soon; he didn’t come up through the club ranks and play for a first-division side in Argentina, as other heroes like Diego Maradona and Carlos Tévez have done; he hasn’t sung along with the national anthem before games; he has no passion, no personality; he doesn’t “feel the shirt” of the national team the way other players do. The attacks have at times been so personal that Messi has reportedly considered quitting the national side. But the one thing nobody has ever denied is that when he speaks, Messi still sounds as if he’s from Rosario, and this small fact has kept the fragile connection alive. An Argentine soccer journalist, Martin Mazur, said: “The greatest gift for Messi during these years is that he never lost the Argentine accent. You can’t imagine what it would have been for him if he hadn’t had it. They probably would have killed him.”

Terry Richardson

Photography / Sex18.06.2014

Is Terry Richardson an Artist or a Predator?

The scene at his studio back then was a blur of Beavis and Butt-head jokes, Jackass pranks, and goofy porn shoots. There was a penis in a hot-dog bun, a guy lighting his fart on fire. Steve-O, a member of the Jackass cast, recalls in his memoir an afternoon when Johnny Knoxville called and said, “Hey, I’m at Terry Richardson’s studio. He wants to do a bukkake shoot, and we’re just a few cocks short. You game?” Richardson photographed it all. He wanted Steve-O “pulling a girl’s hair while I shot a load on her face and someone else pointed a gun at her head.”


Business / Politics / Science / Society14.06.2014

Neuro-enhancement in the military: far-fetched or an inevitable future?

Different forms of neurostimulation in humans have now been shown to boost our ability to learn and perform motor actions, to pay attention to events in the environment, to recall information in memory, and to exercise self-control. At the same time, evidence is mounting for more complex effects on cognition. For instance, stimulation of the human prefrontal cortex can enhance or inhibit our tendency to lie, improve ourability to lie successfully, and can encourage us to comply with social norms that carry a punishment for disobedience.


Conspiracy Theories / History / Internet / Politics / Society / Videos05.06.2014

Prof. Dr. Josef Foschepoth: Überwachungsstaat Bundesrepublik Deutschland?

"Überwachungsstaat Bundesrepublik Deutschland? Historische Grundlagen und notwendige Konsequenzen." Vortrag zum Whistleblower-Preis 2013 - Verleihung an Edward J. Snowden


Internet / Technology28.05.2014

Everything is broken

It’s hard to explain to regular people how much technology barely works, how much the infrastructure of our lives is held together by the IT equivalent of baling wire.  Computers, and computing, are broken.

Exhibition of the ashes of Chilean student loan papers burned by artist Francisco Tapia

Arts / Business25.05.2014

Chile students’ debts go up in smoke

For a whole year, a Chilean artist using the name Fried Potatoes (Papas Fritas) planned his revenge. Saying he was collecting material for an art project, the 31-year-old visual artist sneaked into a vault at a notorious private, run-for-profit university and quietly removed tuition contracts. Fried Potatoes – whose real name is Francisco Tapia – then burned the documents, rendering it nearly impossible for the Universidad del Mar to call in its debt – which he claimed was worth as much as $500m (£297m). "It's over. You are all free of debt," he said in a five-minute video released earlier this month. Speaking to former students, he added: "You don't have to pay a penny."



Jack Churchill

Lieutenant Colonel John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming "Jack" Churchill was a British soldier who fought throughout the Second World War armed with a longbow, and a Scottish sword. He is known for the motto "any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed." Churchill also carried out the last recorded bow and arrow killing in action, shooting a German officer in 1940 in a French village.