Self-aware. Self conscious. Self induced.

Weekend Links, 7-8 Sept, 2013

Fall seems to have arrived rather abruptly after only two really solid days of August heat this past week. Unlike many other parts of the States, Chicago has had a very temperate summer so far. Our latest director also seems to be keeping us on a sane schedule – twelve hour days??? The paycheck after a mere 4-day week is going to seem super-small next week, but it’s kind of nice to wake up in the morning and not feel beat up. We all complain on set about how tired we are, but I’m guessing we’ll grouse next about money. I wonder if there’s a magic middle where we’d be happy. Still – had some fun days this past week, and now we’re in the long haul until our next Big Weekend, which won’t be until Thanksgiving. Working this job is like going to school. All we think about are weekends and days off. Links! From It’s Okay to Be Smart, one man’s quixotic attempt to make education seem fun (“okay” is a pretty low bar, don’t you think?), some lovely photographs of auroras on other planets in the solar system – everybody gets northern lights! Even if they’re not in the north.

Auroras

Another use for maps. Someone in the Netherlands has created a map that uses the data showing when all of its structures were built. Red are older, blue are newer.

Dutch maps of building ages

Amsterdam here – you can tell by the canal shapes. Click on the picture to go to the actual map page and you can zoom in and out, swipe, just like any other interactive online map. Very cool.

The stepwells of India are an architectural and water-conserving solution unique to that part of the world.

Stepwell at Chand Baori - photo by kou5oku

Stepwell at Chand Baori – photo by kou5oku

I only ever saw these for the first time a few years ago in the Tarsem Singh film The Fall (which is a lovely piece about storytelling), and came across it again on Atlas Obscura the other day. Click on the picture for a story at Amusing Planet, or on this Atlas Obscura link for some other images.

Gender and photographs. I’ve never come across the term burneshas before, though I’ve read about some shamans in Native American cultures who’re allowed to be kind of “third-gender” in a way. This is different. Burnesha is an Albanian word for a woman who has become a “sworn virgin,” which allows her to live as a man, with all of the rights that accrue therein. Smoking, voting, car-driving… The tradition dates back a couple of hundred years and now in the 21st century is waning quite quickly, apparently. Photographer Jill Peters has a photo essay of a number of burneshas who look strikingly masculine. I don’t think you’d guess most of them were women at all, in fact. Not gratuitous and quite remarkable.

Lastly (I’m all over the map this week), a short behind-the-scenes video on the mechanics behind the chest-burster from Alien by special effects and make-up wizard, Stan Winston. Only about 3 minutes, and very interesting.

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