World’s Strangest

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Embrace the Remix

In this ten-minute video, Kirby Ferguson explains how the basic elements of a “remix” are actually the core parts of all creative work. Ferguson uses Bob Dylan as a case study — and he’s right to do so. Dylan’s early work was clearly based on other folk tunes, and there’s nothing wrong with [...]

10 Places With Strange Names (and How They Got Them)

What’s in a (bizarre) name? Here are ten strangely named places and the stories, legends and theories about their origins. 1. Santa Claus, Indiana In 1854, a group of pioneers settled in southwest Indiana and established a small town called Santa Fe. But when they applied to get a post office two years later, they were turned [...]

Everything is a Remix: “Kill Bill”

In this video, the second part of the Everything is a Remix series, filmmaker Kirby Ferguson explains how Hollywood films are now overwhelmingly based on existing properties — almost everything that comes out these days is a sequel, remake, or adaptation of something else that was already successful. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing [...]

Ken Jennings: Watson “has never known the touch of a woman.”

Above: Watson as “Turd Ferguson.” In the days since IBM’s Watson defeated Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on Jeopardy!, Jennings has written several articles about his experience — they’re funny, personal, and a bit technical. In other words, required reading. Here’s a roundup. My Puny Human Brain In this Slate article, Jennings discusses his matches against Watson, and [...]

Everything is a Remix Part Two: Movies

(vimeo link) Kirby Ferguson’s series Everything is a Remix started with a look at how songs are recycled from past tunes. This second installment is about movies, and how everything old is new again. Among other movies, you’ll see visual illustrations of the influences you read about in the article In The Beginning: Star Wars. Note: [...]

The Lesser-Known Namesakes of 4 Selective Schools

You know the schools, but do you know the names behind them? 1. William Marsh Rice (Rice University, Houston, Tex.) Wealthy Houston merchant and investor William Marsh Rice planned to leave most of his fortune to the development of a new university. But in 1900, he suffered a demise of the untimely variety when he wound up [...]