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The Blue-ringed Octopus Masquerade

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The Blue-ringed octopus is going out to trick or treat. Maybe it will wear a Blue-ringed octopus hoodie and be a work of art! 'Better to stay out of spitting distance.

This concludes #inktober2017.






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Michdevilish
23 days ago
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The Last Invention of Man - Issue 53: Monsters

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The Omega Team was the soul of the company. Whereas the rest of the enterprise brought in the money to keep things going, by various commercial applications of narrow AI, the Omega Team pushed ahead in their quest for what had always been the CEO’s dream: building general artificial intelligence. Most other employees viewed “the Omegas,” as they affectionately called them, as a bunch of pie-in-the-sky dreamers, perpetually decades away from their goal. They happily indulged them, however, because they liked the prestige that the cutting-edge work of the Omegas gave their company, and they also appreciated the improved algorithms that the Omegas occasionally gave them.

What they didn’t realize was that the Omegas had carefully crafted their image to hide a secret: They were extremely close to pulling off the most audacious plan in human history. Their charismatic CEO had handpicked them not only for being brilliant researchers, but also for ambition, idealism, and a strong commitment to helping humanity. He reminded them that their plan was extremely dangerous, and that if powerful governments found out, they would do virtually anything—including kidnapping—to shut them down or, preferably, to steal their code. But they were all in, 100 percent, for…
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Michdevilish
49 days ago
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Underwater Belle

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I doodle incessantly. But I am very bad at labelling and tagging and sorting, which means I need to dive athwart ...

(Wait, where did that iBook go??? Oh noes, it has mysteriously been replaced by "inter alia" ! I have a terrrible, bad, no good feeling that the entire year of 2015 just got etherized. I am so demoralized that I’m not even going to fix this sentence.)

... my many storage methods, or rely on an increasingly poor memory. Well, maybe just an overloaded memory. As I do the loony dive, I need a bloodhound's abilities to sniff out tidbits long forgotten.

But I digress. I came across an Afghan hound diving: a thing of beauty. Also a sight-hound, I think - not a smell-hound. But a true belle. It is the inspiration for today's digital #inktober cartoon. Update: It's actually from here: Long Haired Creature Gliding Smoothly Underwater



 Here is another beauty: a jaguar; found on You Tube (uploaded by Woodland Park Zoo)



and from The Guardian (YouTube/Vince Pinto):



Then there's the real diving bell, as seen by moi in The British Science Museum! Maybe it's one for a mouse.

Mmm, the boneskipper fly is bemused. Where is the corpse of 2015?
Keep diving, sweet loon: I see you on p. 36. I hope you haven't been eaten by a diving bell spider. Maybe you are just wrapped in a gentle web-bubble somewhere that involves an old computer and a back-up disk.





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Michdevilish
50 days ago
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Swift Sunday : The Art of Seeing

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Swift for #inktober2017
Swift

Swifts are not the fastest birds, but they can stay in the air for long times.
I love this:




Swift-growing-, and swift-shriveling now- fungi.







swift bird for #inktober2017

That swiftest and largest landbird: the ostrich!
Alas, no matter how much it flaps, it will never lift off. I remember an ostrich picture book  I used to read with my children on this topic...it's probably in storage: Why Can't I Fly? by Ken Brown. (He just needed lots of wing-friends.)

I have started my #inktober with following Jake Parker's #inktober2017 prompts!

Another swift, the fence swift. (Click for attribution). Probably not a flier either - it's still on the fence about that activity:

Lizzard 1 Shawnee NP

Beautiful bones from an extinct swift runner, picture from around 1825 (American Museum Journal, via flickr):

Image from page 23 of "The American Museum journal" (c1900-[1918])
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Michdevilish
53 days ago
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Encounters

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The Hound, The Holy Mackerel and Quiet Time cross paths
Last night saw the opening of Encounters in the Fourth Dimension, curated by Virginia Trieloff in Toronto. Yay for the Holy Mackerel (which swims upstream); the Hound (the unpalindromed dog) and Quiet Time, which is a frozen-in-time representation of the human Theseus’s ship. The cat was not let out of the (para)box!





H/T to the eponymous Dali’s cross; Math Encounters

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Michdevilish
55 days ago
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Perhaps You’d Like to Purchase Art Sculpted by a Cow

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Back in 2007, Whit Deschner was hanging out with a friend in his hometown of Baker City, Oregon, kicking back and looking at the scenery. There was his friend's cabin. There were the grass, the clouds, the trees. And there was one of the town's ubiquitous salt blocks—lunchpail-sized cubes of salt and minerals, set out regularly for local deer and livestock.

As always, animals had licked this formerly boring salt block into a much stranger shape, carving out whorls, curves, and concavities. "We'd had a couple of beers," Deschner remembers. "I kept looking at [the salt block]. I thought, 'You'd give an artist $100,000 for one of them if they blew it up.'"

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Eleven years later, Deschner's dream has nearly come true. On Saturday, September 16, Baker City will host the 11th annual Great Salt Lick Contest, in which ungulate-tongued salt blocks are displayed, judged, and auctioned to benefit Parkinson's research. Over the past 10 years, Deschner and other volunteers have raised $92,000 for Oregon Health & Science University by auctioning the accidental artworks. If all goes according to pattern, Deschner expects to send the total over $100,000 this year, he says.

The artists' process remains simple. Human patrons provide participating animals with 50-pound blocks of salt, which can be found at feed stores for about $6.50. The blocks are left outside, and the artists go to town, licking them for hours and producing intriguing scoops, divots and swirls.

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Then, it's contest time. The best works receive cash prizes, which range from $50 to $150. They do even better at auction: one year, the grand prize winner fetched $1800, the current record. Related categories—such as "Best Forgery," which once saw a sugar cube called "Sweet Deception" sell for $270, and "Michael J. Fox Lookalike Block," which asks human sculptors to do their best to honor another spokesman for Parkinson's—are also lucrative. "The community really gets into it," Deschner says.

Deschner himself owns a bunch of the works, some of which he has even had cast in bronze in order to better preserve them. Over the years, he's noticed that different species fall into different schools: "Goats and deer are more realist," he says. "Cows are more impressionist. The horses aren't artistic at all."

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He leaves the actual judging to a panel, which generally hews to a particular theme. This year's judges are all brewers, vintners, and distillers. In past years, Deschner has successfully recruited local clergy, as well as city council members. "They couldn't agree on anything," he says. "So I had them do the salt lick judging, and they finally agreed."

The contest has proven so successful that last year, the other half of Deschner's original vision came true: a four-foot-tall, solid bronze replica of a salt lick sculpture was installed in Baker City's downtown.

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If you'd like to score a high-saline artwork for your home, keep an eye on the Great Salt Lick's Facebook page, where Deschner says they may set up a system for online bids.

But if your favorite goes too fast, or sells too high, never fear: it's a flexible medium, and you may get another chance. "Some people just throw ‘em back out," Deschner says. "And if they’re there next year, they bring 'em back in and sell 'em again."

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.

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Michdevilish
67 days ago
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