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A human harp, terrifying sinkholes and more in this week’s Staff Picks

Andrew CoutsAndrew Couts: Trolling Congress

Global warming is real, and is caused or exacerbated by the inconceivable amount of crap we’ve pumped into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution. Don’t take my word for it, take NASA’s. “The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years,” writes the U.S. space agency on its website. Despite the overwhelming evidence in support the phenomena of global warming, a shocking number of people in Congress – the people with power to curb some of the destruction – deny that we humans have anything to do with the spike in the Earth’s temperature.

Which is why the latest campaign from environmental group 350.org is so freakin’ brilliant. Dubbed “The Climate Name Change,” the campaign seeks to name hurricanes after “climate change deniers,” like House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) or Republican Minnesota Representative Michele “Crazy Eyes” Bachmann. The video the group produced to exemplify its idea is pro-level trolling. Even if you don’t “believe in” global warming, you have to admit that the new naming scheme is hilarious. So sign the petition – support it for the lulz.

amir iliafarAmir Iliaifar: One way to ruin a party

What you see here is not a summer sci-fi blockbuster filmed on hand-held camera. No, it’s Mechnikovo beach, near Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea.

It appears these sunray-seeking Ruskies were busy enjoying their day out when a 500-ton Zubr-class military hovercraft landed on the beach, unloaded a cadre of Russian troops, and promptly asked people to scram- crapping in everyone’s proverbial cereal.

I mean, how would you feel if a massive hovercraft capable of carrying 400 armed troops, missile launchers, and God only knows what else, stormed the beach while you were in your speedo and asked you to split? And you know they would be the revealing kind because hey – it’s Europe!

Apparently, Russian authorities were more than a little surprised that the hovercraft incident pissed off so many people. According to the Russian authorities, Mechnikovo beach is government property and the Zubr landing was merely a tactical exercise. And, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry, people shouldn’t have been on the beach to begin with.

But you wanna know what I think, comrade? Somehow Miley Cyrus snuck aboard and couldn’t stop twerking and sticking out her tongue, forcing an emergency landing and everyone to GTFO. Yeah, that must have been it.

Les ShuLes Shu: When the Earth opens up and swallows you whole

You know what has been freaking me out lately? Sinkholes. What we assume to be solid ground suddenly collapses in and bringing down whatever was sitting on top of it. We’re not talking about a couple of feet either, but thousands. Sinkholes happen when cavities beneath the surface are created from things like broken water mains, erosion, or even a collapsed mine (those aren’t natural and aren’t classified as a sinkhole, but whatever, semantics).

Because a sinkhole can occur out of nowhere, we don’t often get to see one actually happening, just the scary aftermath. But the Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness in Louisiana was aware of one developing in Bayou Corne, a town that’s being swallowed by the ground due to collapsing mines caused by the operations of a chemical opearation. The Office shot a clip of trees being pulled right into the ground. For photos, check out this gallery from The Atlantic.

caleb-denisonCaleb Denison: Somebody get Don Draper in here, stat!

Today’s tech ads are terrible. If it isn’t one company taking pot shots at its rival, it’s a barrage of banality disguised as something warm and fuzzy. Why is it that ad agencies can make deodorant ads so freakin’ hilarious, but we can’t get anything better than “your phone sucks” out of Samsung? (To be fair, Samsung does have some pretty funny ads prepped for its Smart TV’s, but they’re still nauseatingly formulaic from a marketing standpoint. Anyway…)

Apparently, the jesters over at College Humor feel my pain. This parody on every tech ad ever produced in this century kind of nails it on the head.

jennifer-bergenJen Bergen: The Human Harp turns bridges into instruments

Google Glass, the latest in wearable tech, has everyone talking. But another kind of wearable tech is here, and it comes in the form of the Human Harp. Created by sound artist Di Mainstone, the Human Harp allows users to strap on a harness and create music with their movement. Mainstone first got the idea after walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and fantasizing about what kind of sound installation she could make on it.

The Human Harp, a “kind of parasitic instrument,” as Mainstone calls it, magnetically attaches to the braids of the bridge, allowing users to play music with the bridge itself. “Essentially the bridge is a giant instrument with these kind of steel cables under stress and tension in the same way as a violin…” Mainstone explains in the video below. According to The Creator’s Project, the body holster “has custom made modules with digital sensors that detect and measure the vibrations of the suspension cables, harvesting the sounds so people can remix them through movement.” 

The whole thing is pretty cool, and Mainstone plans to take the installation to bridges all over the world. Check out the video below to see the Human Harp in action