By Rob Walker
As the work-week winds (or crawls) to an end, we’re all looking for ways to look busy, or kill time. As always, I’m here to help.
Armchair Traveler, Fukushima Edition: As a rule, Google Street View strikes me as a poor substitute for exploring the physical world. But I admit that since physically strolling around an area near a nuclear disaster isn’t a practical idea, the Google Street View tours of Namie-machi, a presently abandoned city in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture, are better than the real thing. The Google Lat Long blog offers several starting points for wandering this now-haunting cityscape from afar, with context in a guest post written by Nami-machi’s mayor. Via Google Sightseeing.
Not a Tree: Wired’s Raw File finds cell phone towers disguised as trees, as documented by photographer Dillon Marsh, “puzzling.” I think they’re kinda cool.
What’s New With Robot Snakes? According to The Verge, they now have “the ability to hug things.” This brief video from the Carnegie Mellon Biorobotics Lab demonstrates “snake robot perching”: Robot snakes are tossed at lampposts, trees, and goalposts, which they coil about and grasp. Thanks for that, Science.
Dumb, Officially: Next time you make some foolish, drunken boast about how many McRibs you can eat in one sitting or some such, you can define the terms and conditions for your regrettable wager, thanks to SpitShake.com. This helps you “make your ridiculous idea a reality,” a promo video promises. I bet. Via BoingBoing.
Idealized Scenes, From Prison: A fascinating photo project by Alyse Emdur documents painted optimistic backdrops created by prisoners for portraits intended for family and friends. The always surprising Venue project, devoted to exploring overlooked features of the American landscape, interviews Emdur and shares a number of her images.
Bruce Willis: Survivor: Footage from 39 movies gets diced into a 10-minute supercut quasi-narrative video called "Everybody Wants To Kill Bruce Willis." There’s no dialogue but—spoiler alert—Bruce is still chuckling manically at the end.
Non pet Sounds: On a more soothing note, here is a pleasant collection of field recordings of whales and elephants on SoundCloud, courtesy of "On Being." Have a relaxing weekend.