It’s the roundup—all the happenings that sparked enough of my interest this week to inspire a blog post. I wage a constant battle NOT to notice things so that I can get more novel-writing done, so this list represents a tragic defeat by the forces of fascination. The war against distraction is real, my friends.
Walking Stoically Through a European Rave
I saw the new Mission Impossible. I think this installment is called…Falling from High Places Really Fast While Fighting? It was fantastic, a great time, highly recommended if you are a fan of fun.
I like fun.
The film hooked me early on with a very specific type of scene I’m a real sucker for: the giant European rave. They pop up in Hollywood cinema from time to time, especially spy or thriller movies (the John Wick films love them), and I’m transported every time. I’m not sure why I love this very specific cinema setting so much, but I desperately hope all attractive continental Europeans are constantly attending giant raves held in old churches under roving amber lights.
I’ve never been to a true rave, but even crowded clubs (back in days when I would occasionally get dragged into one) were miserable experiences for me. I’m not built for them—not as an attendee, anyway. Too loud, too sweaty, and I can’t dance. But to be the spy/agent/criminal/cop that is fleeing or pursuing someone else in the middle of one? Please and thank you. Just once, I’d like to carefully make my way through a rave of oblivious European dancers, eyes roving for my target or pursuer, from entrance to exit.
I walk in, illuminated by the trippy lights, bathed in ambiance, make my way across the dance floor, then I’m out the other side. That’s it. Done. Content.
Cat Photography: No Higher Art Form
This is JOY. I like cats. You like cats. Hisakata Hiroyuki, the hero photographer who took the following photos, really likes cats. He’s captured a series of cats in ninja-like poses and managed to discover the pinnacle of cat photography in the process. Enjoy.
Goodbye, Jetpacks: We Hardly Knew Ye
We’ve been waiting for a workable jetpack to destroy commute times and free us from avian jealousy for over a century now. Maybe we’ve been waiting for the wrong thing. Based on these new personal flight designs from research teams competing for the GoFly prize, what the world ends up with may look more like a motorcycle than a jetpack.
All the designs look unquestionably dorkier than the classic Rocketeer-style tech of our movies and sci-fi fantasies, but if it gets me up among the clouds, I’m game.
Sea Potatoes Au Gratin
I love when something biological washes up out of the ocean and we can’t figure out what it is—especially this time, when the subject is “sea potatoes.”
I like potatoes, and I like the sea, so this is a win-win for me.
Crow for Cleanliness
In case you didn’t know, corvids (crows, rooks, magpies, and ravens) make most other birds look like dunces. They’re highly intelligent, capable of complex tasks, and most important—they can remember and hate specific human beings. Birds with grudges—love it.
Now they are helping to keep our parks clean (well, one French park on an experimental basis). A researcher has trained captive rooks to pick up trash and put it in a specific receptacle that will dispense a treat each time.
Honestly, this sounds like a pretty good human incentive to clean up as well. I’d spend an hour each day picking up public trash if I got a treat for each item. My preferred formula: one piece of trash = five Reece’s Pieces OR three Skittles OR 1/5 of a glazed donut.
Robots Make You FEEL
We’re making more advance robotics at a wild pace but doing relatively little research into how people will react to them. This is a bit of a problem. But some are taking on the task and turning up some interesting results. Researchers in France (first the trash-cleaning corvids, now this? go France go) have been exposing poor humans to “rude” robots (also nice ones) and measuring the human reactions.
The interesting takeaway for me: humans seem to care what a robot “thinks” even when they know the robot isn’t sentient. If the robot acts mean or threatening, the human seems to interpret the behavior as if it comes from a real place of malice (and vice versa for kindness). It’s another example of our ingrained instincts overpowering our rational intellect and a further promise of how seamlessly robots—even ones that don’t look human—will eventually be able to integrate themselves into our daily lives.
Have a great week, all, and remember: if a robot is rude to you, it’s probably a trick. Researchers are watching. Don’t give them what they want.