Wheelchair backflip: Hardcore sitting

Aaron Fotheringham is 16 years old and has been in a wheelchair since he was eight years old, as a result of spina bifida. But he didn’t let that stop him from attempting, and successfully completing, many of the stunts that his older brother and friends performed on their BMX bikes and skateboard at the local skate park. That includes what appears to be the first example of a wheelchair backflip — something that has landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records. Aaron, who turns 17 in a few days, has also performed a number of other stunts, including a 180-degree aerial, and you can see some of them here and here. He refers to what he does as “hardcore sitting.”

Click through to watch a video…

Geek Alert: The Archimedes Palimpsest

I just love the Internet sometimes. Thanks to a link at Metafilter, I just found out that the entire text, data and images from the Archimedes Palimpsest have been released on the Web under a Creative Commons license. Palimpsest is an odd word that refers to a manuscript that has been scraped or wiped clean and had something else written over top of it, and that’s exactly what the Archimedes manuscript is. It’s actually what’s known as an “euchologion” or prayer book from the 11th century, but in order to save money the authors reused some parchment they had lying around — and that happened to include a copy of a manuscript by the Greek scholar Archimedes, including several treatises that don’t exist in any other form. It took four years to dismantle the manuscript and prepare it for imaging, something that was done with some help from the Canadian Conservation Institute, and then to scan and use optical-character recognition and translate the text. All of that material is now online.

Video: Performance art with crutches

I don’t know why I like this video so much, but I just had to post it. It’s a short clip featuring music from a artist known as RJD2 (who also appears in the video — he’s the man with the beard at the beginning who tries to help the man on crutches), and it features a man with a specially modified set of crutches who does a kind of acrobatic street dance down the sidewalk. Watching some of the looks he gets from passers-by is part of the fun. The video was filmed by Ghost Robot director Joey Garfield, and there’s also an alternate version, which you can watch side-by-side with the original. For some reason this reminded me of another of my favourite videos: Christopher Walken doing a dance he choreographed himself in the video for Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice. (link via Neatorama).

Captain Caucasian and the Google Trends game

So how can a band get some positive attention in these multi-platform, attention-deficit times we live in? You could try what Captain Caucasian and the Raging Idiots did: they asked their fans to make them the most searched-for term on Google, and it seems to have worked, if only briefly. Captain Caucasian was the top Google Trend search term for part of Friday, until it was finally overcome by other important topics, such as GM’s stock price and pictures of Angelina Jolie breast-feeding. Some sites tried their best to suck in traffic by mentioning several topics at once, like the site with the headline “Captain Caucasian on the W magazine cover?”

This kind of Google-gaming isn’t new. It even has its own name: it’s known as “Google-bombing.” In most cases, it consists of people trying to rig the search engine so that the number one result for the term “miserable failure” is a photo of President George Bush (for example), by mentioning and linking those things in as many blog posts as possible. In the case of Captain Caucasian, the lead singer of the band happens to be a DJ in Austin, Texas who goes by the name Bobby Bones, and he mentioned his desire to be the number one search on the radio. Apparently some fans heard his plea.

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Jay Walker’s incredible geek library

I must have missed this one somehow, but I just came across a Wired piece by veteran tech journalist and former Newsweek staffer Steven Levy, in which he describes — complete with some amazing photos (I only wish they were bigger) — the incredible three-storey library that entrepreneur and uber-geek Jay Walker (the guy behind Priceline) has constructed to hold all of his various books and other keepsakes. The list of things in this library will make your jaw drop open. It includes:

  • a small earth globe signed by 9 astronauts
  • rare books bound in rubies and other precious stones
  • an early edition of Chaucer
  • the chandelier from the Bond film Die Another Day
  • the Bills of Mortality from London in 1665
  • an instruction manual for the Saturn V rocket
  • a 300-million-year old trilobite fossil
  • the original hand prop from the TV show The Addams Family
  • a hand-painted “celestial atlas” from 1660
  • an original copy of The Nuremberg Chronicle, from 1493
  • a working version of a Nazi-era Enigma machine

That’s apparently just a taste of what Walker’s 3,600-square-foot library contains, according to Levy, who says he is the first journalist to get a tour. I would give my right arm to have a few hours in there.