mixtape: hell’s kitchen apocalypse, no. 8 - blurry humid memory.
the largest predatory dinosaur ever found terrorised the water more than the land, according to remarkable fossils dug up in the Moroccan Sahara.
the bones show that the meat-eating spinosaurus spent most of its time in water, making it the first known dinosaur to have adopted a semi-aquatic lifestyle.
it had small nostrils far back on its crocodile-like skull which allowed it to breathe when its head was partially submerged. it had stubby legs, long feet and large, flat claws, leading experts to suspect it had webbed feet.
the teeth are not the sharp steak-knife weapons seen in land predators, but conical ones better suited to impaling soft prey such as fish.
“the animal we are resurrecting today is so bizarre, it is going to force dinosaur experts to rethink many things they thought they knew about dinosaurs,” said nizar ibrahim, a palaeontologist at university of Chicago. “so far, spinosaurus is the only dinosaur that shows these adaptations.
an adult spinosaurus weighed up to 20 tonnes and reached 15 metres long, making it longer than the largest tyrannosaurus rex specimen. in the water, much of the beast would have been submerged, save for the two-metre sail on its back.
many experts have long believed that spinosaurus lived in water, based on studies of its anatomy and habitats. the idea was boosted by Chinese scientists who found that spinosaur teeth carried the chemical signature of a marine diet.
spinosaurus was first identified from bones dug up in the western desert of Egypt in 1911. the bones, dated to 95m years ago, were described by the German palaeontologist ernst stromer, but were destroyed when the raf accidentally bombed Munich’s state palaeontology museum in april 1944.
now 69, kiefer is the subject of a retrospective at the royal academy, where he is an honorary academician and which, through its summer exhibitions, has done much to bring him to the attention of the British public. this show is part of an extended German moment in UK galleries: gerhard richter and georg baselitz have both had exhibitions recently, while sigmar polke comes to tate modern next month. it is therefore a good time to judge kiefer’s standing. such is the scale of many of the pieces in the exhbition, 40% of which are new, that the ra is leaving more time to hang them than it did for the anish kapoor show in 2009, wax-firing cannon and all.
kiefer’s germanness is different from richter, baselitz and polke’s; they are of a slightly older generation and from the Protestant east of Germany rather than kiefer’s catholic west. unlike his peers, kiefer has no personal memories of the war but only of its aftermath. he is a child of the rubble and of the national silence about hitler’s atrocities that settled on Germany after 1945. it was here that he formulated his idea that “creation and destruction are one and the same”. whatever else is going on in his pictures and sculptures, history is always present.
the weight and seriousness of his art can perhaps be traced to the day of his birth, two months before ve day. kiefer’s mother was living in the Black Forest town of Donaueschingen, where the rivers Breg and Brigach converge to form the Danube. thanks to its military garrison and rail hub it was a regular target for allied bombers. on the day he was born, 8 march 1945, the house next door, belonging to his parents’ landlords, received a direct hit. the only thing that survived was the couple’s singer sewing machine, which was blown into the street where it landed upside down amid the debris and dust. this lump of metal set into crumbled greys and earths was a prototype kiefer, fashioned by high explosives.
kiefer is a great revisitor of themes. his art is best seen not as a progression but as a cycle, and as such a reflection of the way he sees the present and the past. “no atom is ever lost,” he points out, and so, for him, the atoms that surround him and make up his work are the tangible remains of former times and long dead people. an atom or two that are now part of anselm kiefer himself, he believes, were once a part of shakespeare, nietzsche and indeed hitler.
"welcome to mcdonalds. my name is hal 9000. may I take your order?”
mcdonalds recently went on a hiring binge in the US, adding 62,000 employees to its roster. the hiring picture doesn’t look quite so rosy for Europe, where the fast food chain is drafting 7,000 touch-screen kiosks to handle cashiering duties.
the move is designed to boost efficiency and make ordering more convenient for customers. in an interview with the financial times, mcdonald’s Europe president steve easterbrook notes that the new system will also open up a goldmine of data. mcdonald’s could potentially track every big mac, mcnugget, and large shake you order. a calorie account tally at the end of the year could be a real shocker.
the touch screens will only accept debit or credit cards, adding to the slow death knell of cash and coins. this all goes along with an overall revamp of mcdonald’s restaurants worldwide aimed at projecting a modern image as opposed to the old-fashioned golden arches with a slightly creepy (to my taste anyway) clown guy hanging around the french fries.
this puts mcdonald’s one step closer to opening up its first alphaville location. at least our new computer overlords will be nice enough to serve us a filet-o-fish. ,aybe they’ll even throw in an iPad with the happy meal one of these days.
nato is to create a 4,000-strong “spearhead” high-readiness force that can be deployed rapidly in eastern Europe and the Baltic states to help protect member nations against potential Russian aggression, according to nato officials.
leaders from the 28 Nato countries are expected to approve the plan at the alliance’s summit in Wales when the Ukraine crisis tops the agenda on friday.
the nato secretary-general, anders fogh rasmussen, said the force, drawn on rotational basis from nato allies, could be in action at “very, very short notice”.
rasmussen described it as a mixture of regular troops and special forces that could “travel light but strike hard”. it would be supported by air and naval forces as needed.
he declined to say how many troops would be engaged but nato officials said it would number around 4,000 and would be expected to deploy to any alliance member country within 48 hours.
"it is so that we are ready should something nasty happen," a senior nato official said.
Russia is likely to view the creation of the high-readiness force as an aggressive move.
nato has struggled to find a response to Russia since the Ukraine crisis began in february, beyond increased military exercises in the Baltic states.
i’m one lucky bastard. during my early acting years i was told that to succeed you needed personality, talent and luck in equal measure. i contest that. for me it’s been 99% luck. it’s no good being talented and not being in the right place at the right time.
the saddest thing about ageing is that most of my friends are now “in the other room”. i miss david niven the most. i still can’t watch his films without shedding a tear. there’s a bronze bust of him in my study, given to me by his son, david jr.
women have played a big part in my life on and off-screen [moore has been married to fourth wife, Swedish socialite kristina tholstrup, for 12 years] and i think i’ve finally worked them out. i always make sure i have the last word. that word is “yes”.
intelligence is my most endearing quality, according to kristina. that’s her Swedish sense of humour.
being eternally known as Bond has no downside. people often call me “mr bond” when we’re out and i don’t mind a bit. why would i?
ba granted a bbc documentary crew unprecedented access for a new series, a very British airline, to broadcast next week.
the cameras film a training session dealing with medical emergencies, attended by applicants hoping to join the airline’s cabin crew.
the lead trainer says that managing a fresh corpse during a flight is a “grey area”. she tells the trainees: “you cannot put a dead passenger in the toilet. it’s not respectful and it’s not strapped in for landing.
“if they slid off the toilet, they would end up on the floor. you would have to take the aircraft apart to get that person out. imagine putting someone in the aircraft toilet?”
she admits that ba used to simply prop up dead passengers in their seats and pretend they were asleep. “it’s what we used to do many years ago – give them a vodka and tonic, a daily mail and eye-shades and they were like, they’re fine. we don’t do that.”
swarms of small robots in their thousands that collectively complete complex tasks are now possible – and could be the future of robotics, according to researchers.
the kilobots are a team of 1,024 simple robots that operate as a collective, much like the borg in star trek or termites in a termite mound, and been shown to demonstrate the ability to swarm together to form complex shapes like the letter “k”, or a starfish.
“the beauty of biological systems is that they are elegantly simple — and yet, in large numbers, accomplish the seemingly impossible,” said prof radhika nagpal from the harvard school of engineering and applied sciences. “at some level, you no longer even see the individuals; you just see the collective as an entity to itself.”
lucy, a loopy blast of kinetic energy, is perfect modern multiplex fodder. there’s eye candy (a lot), brain food (a bit), an ass-whupping antiheroine (an abundance thereof), and an 89-minute running time that means you can still fit in a jamie’s Italian before bedtime. in other words, it’s a welcome return to the luc besson of the 1990s.
playing on the old myth that we use only 10% of our brains, scarlett johansson is the partying student and reluctant drug mule who becomes an action hero, then superhero, as the narcotics involuntarily stuffed in her stomach seep into her bloodstream, that 10% rising rapidly to 100%. the film hurtles along as her brain goes full-throttle. the drug, says besson, is inspired by “a molecule that pregnant women create after six weeks – a super atomic bomb for a baby”. he knows the 10% brain capacity theory is hokum. “what’s true, though, is that we only use 15% of our neurons at the same time,” he says. “but it’s never the same 15%. so we can ask ourselves, what happens to us if we can suddenly have 30%, 40%, 50% of our neurons working at the same time? i changed the reality a little to help the story.”
as a director besson has had an iffy 21st century, and Lucy, while not his best, is a good reminder of why he made such an impact in the first place. 1988’s the big blue was a plaintive, pretty paean to his love of deep-sea diving, but 1990’s nikita introduced besson as a turbo-charged action director: with anne parillaud as a murderer-turned-spy, it boasted a no-nonsense female shit-kicker a year before james cameron brought us terminator 2. besson went bigger and better with léon, giving natalie portman her first role as a 12-year-old apprentice assassin in love with a taciturn middle-aged hitman; then he went huge with the fifth element, an arty, bonkers sci-fi featuring an arty, bonkers alien (milla jovovich). the French critical consensus was that he was a crass sell-out in thrall to Hollywood; Hollywood welcomed him with open arms.
look out of your window over the next few days and – cloud cover permitting – the moon will appear bigger and brighter than usual. this is not romance, nor even a harvest moon, which is something quite different. the moon does indeed hang larger in the night sky, because it is a supermoon. muse to astronomers and poets alike, a supermoon occurs when the moon is at its closest approach to the Earth, known as at full perigee, some 221,765 miles away, while simultaneously coming to a full phase. this gives it the appearance of being 14% larger and 30% brighter than usual. there will be three supermoons this year but this week’s will be the brightest, dominating the night skyline all around the world. it can be seen to a lesser degree over the week as the moon wanes, giving ample time for would-be poets to draw inspiration from our nearest neighbour. the last supermoon of the year will be on 9 September.