From The Far Side to The Flintstones to The New Yorker, the popular imagination puts the invention of the wheel back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. (Uphill both ways, in the snow, same 3rd grade teacher as your parents, etc.) The Paleolithic Era, the actual stone age, starts rougly 63 million years after the last of the Cretaceous dinosaurs. It spans 2.6 million years from when early hominids began to use stone tools to the end of the last ice age. But stone tools are not good for precise stone work, and did not advance much beyond hammers, axes or spears, and needles during this period. Stone wheels are out. The earliest wheels were almost definitely wood.
Continue reading Stone Age Thinking
It’s appropriate to roll a movie preview first. Grim Fandango is deeply influenced by classic films. From a structure in multiple acts, to the characters, to the title cards, the story and settings have references and influences coming out of the woodwork. But that’s the only reverence found in the Land of the Dead. The plot unfolds like a free-wheeling conversation that leaps from the Aztec afterlife to Art Deco to film noir to hotrodding to carrier pigeons to beatnik poetry and riffs on all of them with wry criticism, jokes, and fine threads.
Continue reading Slow Dance – Grim Fandango Retrospective
Aside from the radio, I don’t even know where to start.
The greatest spectacles in sports and competition have the most talented people doing the most extraordinary things. Part of the delight is relating back to games we played as children. We know the goals, but professional players show us what we didn’t know was possible. 
Continue reading Like A Duck Taking To Baseball
Huron 4A Cosworth DAF Variomatic, by Wouter Melissen, via UltimateCarPage
It was a rainy Tuesday when I got a tip from Monkey10is that DAF had a history of racing. A machine I’d never heard of called the Huron 4A Cosworth DAF Variomatic. A quick search turned up an article by Wouter Melissen. Real enough. That’s where I found the first picture. Seems DAF already had some experience in Formula 3. Never mind their reputation for making innocent-looking two-cylinders named Daffodil. Wikipedia noted, quote ‘interesting’ low speed behavior when ice was around. And it’s an open secret that at top speed, slowly releasing the gas will make Daffodil go faster instead of slowing down. But I was more interested when Wouter mentioned an AWD DAF 555 prototype in passing. As if such a thing can be mentioned in passing.
Continue reading The badge says DAF Variomatic. It’s a racing transmission.
Still need to try this with Dark Side Of The Moon.
My mom looked forward to the Wizard of Oz coming on TV once a year, never knowing that the land of Oz changed to color, because they only rented a color TV once a year for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. I came along well after VHS defeated Betamax. She would tape Sesame Street to play on Saturdays, because I didn’t understand weekend TV schedules. It was no use arguing with me.
Continue reading Home Movies, Now In Theaters
Here at Atomic Toasters, we follow a rigorous schedule to make sure that all news that reaches you is old news.
Continue reading Finally, A Flying Bicycle.
Drive to any point you can see.
It’s been sitting on my shelf since it came out. Along with a backup of the DLC. Seven years later, I have a graphics card that can run it. Perversely, I couldn’t test drive the first car I bought in Test Drive Unlimited, but after that I can drive down any road I can find, and I can jump in any car at any dealership and see how much ground I can cover in two minutes.
Thousands of miles and tens of hours into the game, there are still long stretches of road I’ve simply never driven, never gotten to. The scale is a huge leap over my last point of reference, Midtown Madness 2, where I paced off the environments at roughly two miles in each direction.
Continue reading A Glimpse Of Life Inside The Matrix
A galaxy of stars is mostly empty. And in the emptiness of space, even the scale of a galaxy is nothing by comparison. And I thought about how unlikely it is for two objects in the universe to ever meet, how all the infinitesimal points that make up a galaxy will mostly pass […]
I’ll have a splash of everything.
I have never liked fizz. My experience with fountain machines usually involves the leftover residue of pink lemonade enveloping my cup of water like Saran Wrap. Still, I’ve held on to a childlike fascination for far too long. Two flavors from one nozzle! Syrup that reacts with water and makes it fizzy! How do they do it?
Continue reading The Soda Fountain Of Civilization
Meanwhile, in the Ukraine, in September, the world’s only production-ready unducted-fan aircraft resumed its test program. The on-again off-again political history of the Russo-Ukranian transporter, and the similarly parabolic story of unducted-fan engines is far more complicated than any of the concepts behind the technology. Unducted-fan engines can be properly thought of as special-case turboprops; the only real distinction is the unducted-fan propellers are optimized around slightly supersonic tip speeds. Regardless of the label, all but a small percentage of thrust comes from the propellers.
Continue reading Meanwhile, in the Ukraine…