EATR: The Robot That Can Survive on Corpses

guest post by Jackson West

UPDDATE: Turns out this was an elaborate hoax.

EATR

The Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot, or EATR, from Maryland’s RTI is a fully autonomous robot that can actual forage for combustible, organic material to fuel its steam-powered engine. And by “forage,” I mean “eat corpses.” And since the project is being funded by the Pentagon, and potential uses include “mobile gunship,” it could operate indefinitely — or at least until it ran out of ammunition (then again, it could just switch to the included chain saw and hobble any live “fuel” with a whack to the shins). Your tax dollars at work, America.

Japanese Lunar Satellite Kaguya Lands on the Moon, Sends Back Beautiful Photos

guest post by Jackson West

A Japanese satellite Kaguya, named after the alien visitor in an ancient folktale, has like its namesake character, finally found its home on the moon. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, (JAXA), has decommissioned its lunar orbital craft Kaguya by sending it spinning into the great green cheese in the sky. Thankfully, it was equipped with the latest in hi-definition camera technology, and sent back some beautiful photos as gifts to remember it by — much like the robe Kaguya-hime left for her adoptive parents before returning home.

via Burrito Justice

Abstract Map of Interstate Highway System

guest post by Jackson West

Interstate Highway System

Boulder, CO artist Chris Yates created an abstract, London Tube-style map of Dwight Eisenhower’s Interstate highway system which you can buy as a print for $12 plus shipping.  You know, in case you’re planning to defend the United States from a full scale ground invasion and need to move tanks from Butte to Buffalo as Eisenhower was.  Otherwise, it brings to mind history, geography and transportation into one thought-provoking image.

Via Mark Schoenveld of The Poverty Jet Set, who also included another fascinating and beautifully designed illustration showing estimates of when worldwide mineral resources will be exhausted by industrial production.  According to that graphic, key components in the cars that travel the aforementioned byways, including silver, aluminum, chrome and platinum may run out before even world oil reserves.

I don’t think Ike ever imagined building the world’s largest, national, paved bike trail network, but according to these maps that seems to be where this road trip is headed.

Reddit Users Test Automated Google Voice Transcriptions

guest post by Jackson West

Google Voice Test

A Reddit regular with the handle HolyJuan posted a phone number and asked folks to leave messages to see how well the Google Voice computer transcription service works.  Everything from the theme song to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to tongue-twisters like “unique New York” were tried.  Hilarity ensues.  The only one that came through 100% correctly?  “Hi honey.”

The Rumor of Leon Trotsky’s Ashes Stolen & Baked Into Cookies Was A Delicious Hoax

guest post by Jackson West

Trotsky Chip Cookie

Earlier this month, a note purportedly detailing a break-in to the former residence of Lev Davidovish Trotsky (née Bronstein) in Mexico, the theft of his cremains and the subsequent baking of said ashes into cookies was posted on Infoshop.  In a few days, it had circulated among related news sites, blogs and message boards

It smelled like a hoax (and cinnamon) from a mile away, so I gave the cookies a little time to cool off.  The Village Voice, after a little online research, pointed out that whatever was left of the bearded and bespectacled hero of the Russian Revolution (and villain of the Kronstadt anarchist uprising) was buried, not placed in an urn.  Still, nice to see a new generation of revolutionaries still honoring the factional divides of a century ago.

Che Guevara Graphic Novel by Spain Rodriguez

Che: A Graphic Biography

“I’m surprised it took this long,” Mike Gold declares in his ComicMix review of legendary illustrator Spain Rodriguez and his decision to ink a graphic biography of revolutionary socialist Che Guevara. While the ubiquitous tees silk-screened with Alberto Korda’s iconic photograph of Guevara are often derided as a facile display of misplaced idealism, by deposing U.S.-backed military despot Fulgencio Batista, Che’s historical legacy serves as a continually relevant counterpoint to the imperial ambitions of American leaders in Latin America and beyond. “Che: A Graphic Biography” is available through Last Gasp.

Spain Rodriguez’s powerful artwork illuminates Che’s life and the experiences that shaped him, from his motorcycle journey through Latin America, his rise to prominence as a leader in Fidel Castro’s revolutionary movement, his travels in Africa, his involvement in the insurgency that led to his death in Bolivia, and his extraordinary legacy.

Editor Paul Buhle has also contributed to graphic histories of Emma Goldman, the Wobblies and the SDS.

Revel in New York posted an interview with Spain where he talks about Che.

via Last Gasp

Rental Car Rally II: San Francisco to Yuma

guest post by Jackson West

The Rental Car Rally is a race that pits costumed teams in rental cars against each other on a point-to-point race. The last course took teams from New York City to Montreal.  This time the race starts in San Francisco at midnight on May 15th and ends in Yuma 650 miles and 18 hours later.  Originally the destination was Tijuana, but nervous nellies probably cited that whole “Mexican drug war” thing (though considering recent requests by the Governor of Arizona for national guard troops, not sure the dusty border town will be that much safer).  If any team is looking for a navigator, holler at me — I’ve seen Cannonball Run I-III, both versions of Death Race, and all the Smokey and the Bandits.  And I have an EVDO modem.

via Fimoculous

MakerBot Industries Launches With Cupcake Frosting Robot

guest post by Jackson West

MakerBot

Bre Pettis along with friends Zach Hoeken Smith and Adam Mayer have started a new company, MakerBot Industries, “to bring rapid prototyping and 3D Printing to the masses.”  Here’s more on the launch from Bre, NYC Resistor and investor Jake Lodwick.

MakerBot Industries creates open source robot kits that transform your digital designs into physical objects automatically.

The kits are modular, modifiable, and built to be hacked.

The initial product: The CupCake CNC for the incredibly precise, computer-controlled frosting of cupcakes.  And if buttercream isn’t your sculptural medium of choice, there’s a plastic extruder as well .  The bot takes up as much desk space as a printer, and can make stuff about the size of a Rubik’s Cube.  The company plans to start shipping next month, though pre-orders are available, and it’s priced at $750 (with discounts available on bulk orders).  Though individual parts can be ordered if you want to hack together something yourself.

Jonathan Coulton and Makerbot

Jonathan Coulton posing with the MakerBot at SXSW Interative 2009.

illustration by James Provost & photo by Bre Pettis

Chase Scene Filmed While BART Was Under Construction

guest post by Jackson West

While checking for new movies added to Hulu, I stumbled across the 1971 film The Organization. It stars Sidney Poitier reprising his role as Lt. Virgil Tibbs from In the Heat of the Night.  Except this time he’s on the trail of a bunch of heroin smugglin’ honkies with the help of some concerned Teamsters in San Francisco (including a very young Raul Julia).  It’s standard seventies caper flick fare, though with a  multi-culti cast, funky electro-jazz soundtrack and of course great views of The City.  The highlight is the final chase scene, which takes place underneath Market Street while the Muni and BART tunnels were still under construction. It’s the equivalent of a full-nude peep show for public transportation fetishists.

See Previously:

John Law on The History Channel’s Cities of the Underworld

The Times of Harvey Milk Documentary Now on Hulu

7th Annual No Pants! Subway Ride by Improv Everywhere

Give Blood, Get Burger at San Francisco Blood Drive Tweetup

guest post by Jackson West

Blood Drive Tweetup

While Keith Olbermann and other newsy types love Twitter because it saves them from having to send reporters or camera crews out for obligatory “man on the street” comments (not to mention gossips who may or may not have contributed to Valleywag and were constantly surprised at what people felt was appropriate to post publicly in an easily archived and searchable format), there are socially responsible uses for the short-message service. Case in point: The phlebotimists at Blood Centers of the Pacific and the Social Media Club are hosting a Blood Drive Tweetup on Tuesday, March 3rd at the Elephant and Castle pub in downtown San Francisco.  Anyone who donates some of their precious bodily fluids will get a voucher for a free hamburger and a legitimate excuse to take a nap.  Do good, get fed, and score some well-deserved @ reply props — what’s not to like?

See Previously:

GETV on Hot & Scandalous Twitter Habits

David Lynch Confirms Twitter Account