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25.02.2013

In this weekly column, filmmaker Danish Aslam will be your purveyor of the finest quality random facts, useless trivia and other esoterica from the world wide web. He lives mostly behind a keyboard and may or may not be a wizened old green man who speaks in grammatically incorrect aphorisms. You can find more on his home page http://pictually.me/dontpanic

Google Glass: It's Almost Here

Google Glass. Yes, I have been really excited about this "shape-of-things-to-come" technology for a while now. But the news that it will most probably be available for consumer use at the end of year is cartwheel-inducing. The fact that it'll retail for USD 1,500, not so much. But while some us are saving up (or figuring out what to sell, whatever works), any motivation required comes to us in the form of the newest demo video released by the good people over at Mountain View. Shot entirely using The Glass (I foresee a whole new lexicon of tech slang in the near future), this is pretty much as close as you'll get to trying it out in the real world. Unlike Joshua Topolsky over at The Verge, who did. And had a blast, an experience he's detailed in this piece.

Brain Damage & The Genius Within

Falling on your head and getting a concussion, being struck by lightning, being beaten by muggers, a stroke: not exactly a laundry list of 'things with positive effects on humanity'. However, in the case of people affected by Savant Syndrome, that's pretty much exactly what they are. This is a condition which causes people who are mentally impaired (usually due to extraneous circumstances like the ones listed above) to develop remarkable creative skills.This article by Adam Piore at PopSci lists several of these cases, which include a man who never played an instrument in his life and is now a virtuoso piano player. A fascinating look into what is probably the most poorly understood part of the human body: the brain.

Oscar Oddities

By the time you read this on Monday morning, the more enthusiastic among you will already know the results of the 85th Academy Awards. And kudos to you. Somehow, waking up at 6AM to stare bleary-eyed at a TV doesn't quite hold the same charm it used to a few short years ago. But, in honour of the only award show that the entire world has been tuning in to for many years now, here's a piece put up by TIME listing out the more unusual Oscar records over the years. Like this one: the longest movie to win an Oscar is the original Russian version of 'War & Peace' with a run time of 431 minutes. And the number of people who've sat through the entire thing is probably around the same number too.

PS: For the hardcore fans, or just the nostalgically inclined, here's a little something more: a retrospective of the Best Picture winners compiled by filmmaker Nelson Carvajal.

 A kind soul on Reddit helpfully scanned and posted a collection (http://imgur.com/a/v95aq) of Indian school posters from back in the day. 

The Top 10 Brazen Heists

And since TIME does such a great job in compiling lists (they even have an app for it), here's another one. Everybody loves a good con, but the best ones are always the spectacular ones, the ones that involve grand tales of derring-do (I've always wanted to use that word in a sentence). And since spectacular diamond heists seem to still be in vogue, TIME has compiled a list of the ten best stories that fit that criteria. From the infamous Mona Lisa robbery of 1911 (which involved the extremely complicated method of ripping it from the wall and stuffing it under a shirt) to a Swedish cash depot raid involving helicopters and bombs, this list is proof that Ocean’s 23 may not be that far-fetched a possibility after all.

The Best Bus-Stop Ever

A well-thought-out and well-executed ad is always a pleasure to see. Especially if it involves real-life situations. One of my favourite ads in the recent past has been TNT's 'Push To Add Drama' series. But this recent effort by Qualcomm isn't too shabby either. It involves a bus-stop, a hoarding and a url. And dog-sleds. Enjoy.

The Man Who Shot Bin Laden

Osama is dead and Zero Dark Thirty has already made over a $100 million at the box office. But the person who actually pulled the trigger is now retired with arthritis, tendonitis, eye damage, a broken marriage and no pension. And his story of the entire operation leading up to what is probably one of the definitive moments of the decade (if not more) is the subject of this extensive piece put up by the Centre For Investigative Reporting. Phil Bronstein did a series of interviews with 'The Shooter' (as he is referred to) and this is a brilliant look at the workings of an elite force that was tasked with the most monumental missions in recent history. And if you're one of the whiny "I can't be bothered to read anything that's over a 1000 words" types, there's a helpful animated video on the page as well that will only take up 18 minutes of your time. Captivating stuff.

Indian School Posters

And I leave you with a little trip down memory lane, at least for those of you who've studied in the Indian school system. A kind soul on Reddit helpfully scanned and posted a collection (http://imgur.com/a/v95aq) of Indian school posters from back in the day when you apparently needed to be told how an Ideal Boy "brushes up his teeth" and "joins N.C.C." and "playing with tools" was a bad habit. Mostly published by Indian Book Depot, this fairly politically incorrect collection is a reminder of simpler times. And probably now falls under the category of "retro chic". My personal favourite: the 4-panelled 'Moral Stories'.

 

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