In 1954, 23-year-old Jack Fletcher showed off his new home to the media. Reporters called it the "house of the future" because of all the unique features he had designed into it. The windows closed by themselves when sensors felt rain. Lights came on automatically when someone entered a room. The phone had a speed-dial feature. The lamps didn't need cords. Instead you just placed them over induction coils installed in the floor. And strangest of all, electromagnets caused pots and pans to float over the stove (which also used induction coils to heat the food).
The house was in West Covina, CA (in the LA area). I wonder if it's still standing? I don't see why it wouldn't be, but I haven't been able to find an address for it. Read more about it here and here.
Until I saw the title of this book by Ben Critton, it hadn't occurred to me that villains do often live in modernist homes in movies. Why is that? The book isn't available on Amazon, so if you want the answer (or, at least, Critton's answer), you'll have to get the book from Printed Matter, Inc.
The book blurb:
Printed in a tabloid format in red and yellow ink Evil People in Modernist Homes in Popular Films offers a serious but lighthearted investigation of the representation of Modernist architecture in popular film, reflecting on the convention of associating evil characters and events with Modern buildings, and also, more generally, on the relation between cinema and architecture. A series of texts point to examples in the James Bond films, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm, and many others, accompanied by plentiful film stills.
Residents of the English town of Castleford in Yorkshire were probably delighted to hear that UK TV station Channel 4 was to film a documentary of the ongoing urban regeneration scheme, up until their local council decided to rename a local landmark ahead of filming. The popular local landmark had been known as “Tickle Cock Bridge” since Victorian times - probably due to its popularity as a trysting place according to one local historian – but prudish council members decided to put up signs for the more polite “Tittle Cott Bridge” for the cameras. However local objections have been so vocal that the officials have been forced to back down and restore the feature’s original “rude” name (Metro).
And if you fancy taking a trip to Tickle Cock Bridge, why not make a grand tour of it and take in some more of Britain’s rudest place names (Telegraph).
It’s always worth making sure you have plenty of the local currency on holiday, but for one German tourist this became more of a life-saver than a simple convenience. Dominik Podolsky was just riding the ski-lift back down in Hochzillertal in Austria as darkness fell when it was suddenly switched off, as it is every dusk, leaving him stranded. As temperatures dropped to minus 18° Celcius (0° F) Mr. Podolsky began to set light to whatever was to hand to attract attention, starting with paper napkins and some business cards before in desperation he was forced to set fire to his money. He had just burned his last euro when he was finally spotted by a cleaning crew and rescued (Orange).
Perhaps he would have done better to visit the Swiss side of the Alps instead. If not on the mountains, at the very least he would have been better looked after in that country's brothels. Principally because, with an increasing number of elderly clients packing a well-known anti-impotence treatment, Swiss brothels are training their staff in the use of defibrillators in an effort to stop the pill-popping pensioners become clog-popping corpses. "Having customers die on us isn't exactly good publicity" said one sex-club owner. Funny, I would have thought the opposite was true (Telegraph).
But trained as they may be, Swiss working girls will never have the edge on their American competitors. At least that’d be the conclusion you might draw from the results of a recent poll which placed America at number one on the list of countries with the most attractive people (Switzerland didn’t even make the top 20). So rejoice America, from the wild and wanton women of Walmart to the sultry street-girl sirens of Chattanooga, your beauty is unsurpassed (Herald Sun).
I just love this house. It's like Dr. Seuss meets Willy Wonka. Designed by architect Javier Senosiain, from Mexico, the home is named "Nautilus House" and was built in 2006 in Naucalpan. I think it's a stunning building, both inside and out, but you be judge.
Problem: Desertification (when viable land is encroached upon by desert) threatens the lives of millions of people in Africa. Solution: Build a wall to keep the desert from spreading. According to architect Magnus Larson, it is not as difficult as you might imagine. Take sand dunes at the edge of the desert, combine them with a mixture of water and bacteria, let dry and you've got an instant sandstone wall! Read all about it at BBC news.
The historic city of Bath in England is famed for both the Roman spas that gave the town its name, and for the wonderful architecture of the Georgian houses that were later built to take advantage of them. These homes were all the more beautiful for being built from "Bath stone", a richly honey-coloured limestone that was quarried from mines in nearby Combe Down, now a thriving suburb of the City of Bath. And therein lies the problem. The limestone mines have been abandoned for over a century, and the Georgian miners were none too careful to begin with, meaning that much of the 9 miles of mineshafts are unstable, and some are barely 6 feet below the surface. With over 700 homes at risk of disappearing into the ground with no warning, the local North-East Somerset Council has spent £160 million ($260 million) stabilising the mines and filling them in again with concrete foam in a 10 year project that comes to an end today (BBC News).
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.