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19 May 19:07

The surprising etymology of "miniature"

by Minnesotastan
I was listening to a segment of the PBS series "Civilizations" and was startled to hear an art historian mention in passing that the word "miniature" is used by professionals to refer to the colors used in a work of art rather than to its size.

An Oxford University Press webpage explains:
It only makes sense that this word miniature would derive from the Latin word minimum, meaning “the smallest.”  It only makes sense, but it’s wrong.

Miniature is one of those strange words that has an etymology that defies logic. The actual truth is that before things that were tiny were called miniature, a certain kind of small portrait was called a miniature.

Before that, the art of illuminating those beautiful letters and figures in hand reproduced .
ancient books was called miniaire in Italian.

This miniaire art was in turn named for the red color that was especially popular for use in producing this art.

The red color was usually produced by use of a red kind of lead and it was the Latin name of this red lead that gave the color its name because the lead was called minium.

Thus etymologically, miniature and minimum actually don’t even have a small relationship with each other.
Lots more at Wikipedia.
The word miniature, derived from the Latin minium, red lead, is a small illustration used to decorate an ancient or medieval illuminated manuscript; the simple illustrations of the early codices having been miniated or delineated with that pigment. The generally small scale of the medieval pictures has led secondly to an etymological confusion of the term with minuteness...
19 May 17:14

The role of baby-boomers in America's decline

by Minnesotastan
Excerpts from a longread:
Lately, most Americans, regardless of their political leanings, have been asking themselves some version of the same question: How did we get here? How did the world’s greatest democracy and economy become a land of crumbling roads, galloping income inequality, bitter polarization and dysfunctional government?

.. the celebrated American economic-mobility engine is sputtering. For adults in their 30s, the chance of earning more than their parents dropped to 50% from 90% just two generations earlier. The American middle class, once an aspirational model for the world, is no longer the world’s richest... too few basic services seem to work as they should. America’s airports are an embarrassment, and a modern air-traffic control system is more than 25 years behind its original schedule. The power grid, roads and rails are crumbling, pushing the U.S. far down international rankings for infrastructure quality. Despite spending more on health care and K-12 education per capita than most other developed countries, health care outcomes and student achievement also rank in the middle or worse globally. Among the 35 OECD countries, American children rank 30th in math proficiency and 19th in science...

...many of the most talented, driven Americans used what makes America great–the First Amendment, due process, financial and legal ingenuity, free markets and free trade, meritocracy, even democracy itself–to chase the American Dream. And they won it, for themselves. Then, in a way unprecedented in history, they were able to consolidate their winnings, outsmart and co-opt the forces that might have reined them in, and pull up the ladder so more could not share in their success or challenge their primacy...

The result is a new, divided America. On one side are the protected few – the winners – who don’t need government for much and even have a stake in sabotaging the government’s responsibility to all of its citizens. For them, the new, broken America works fine, at least in the short term. An understaffed IRS is a plus for people most likely to be the target of audits. Underfunded customer service at the Social Security Administration is irrelevant to those not living week to week, waiting for their checks... On the other side are the unprotected many. They may be independent and hardworking, but they look to their government to preserve their way of life and maybe even improve it. The unprotected need the government to provide good public schools so that their children have a chance to advance. They need a level competitive playing field for their small businesses, a fair shake in consumer disputes and a realistic shot at justice in the courts...

The protected need few of these common goods. They don’t have to worry about underperforming public schools, dilapidated mass-transit systems or jammed Social Security hotlines. They have accountants and lawyers who can negotiate their employment contracts or deal with consumer disputes, assuming they want to bother. They see labor or consumer-protection laws, and fair tax codes, as threats to their winnings–which they have spent the last 50 years consolidating by eroding these common goods and the government that would provide them.

That, rather than a split between Democrats and Republicans, is the real polarization that has broken America since the 1960s. It’s the protected vs. the unprotected, the common good vs. maximizing and protecting the elite winners’ winnings...

 “American meritocracy has thus become precisely what it was invented to combat,” Markovits concluded, “a mechanism for the dynastic transmission of wealth and privilege across generations. Meritocracy now constitutes a modern-day aristocracy.” 
Much more at the Time magazine source.
16 May 16:04

Jungle lavafall

by Minnesotastan

Something you don't see every day.  Credit embedded as a watermark, via.
16 May 07:03


I was just disassembling it over the course of five hours so it would fit in the trash more efficiently.
14 May 20:45

An exercise in microscale

by Alexander

What I particularly love about building in microscale is that it makes you value every single piece and every spare stud of space. When a tiny 1×2 slope becomes a very huge section of the building’s roof you become very careful with planning your creation. And Marco De Bon‘s tiny quarter is a brilliant example of careful planning and very nice execution. Despite a very limited variety of pieces and colors, this neighbourhood looks both elegant and surprisingly diverse. My favourite part would be those small balconies of the white apartment building; the use ofplate 2 x 4 wedge‘s shape is just stunning.

Lego micro city - district 01

The post An exercise in microscale appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

14 May 17:35

Fatal Crash Rate

Fixating on this seems unhealty. But in general, the more likely I think a crash is, the less likely one becomes, which is a strange kind of reverse placebo effect.
13 May 13:55

An Italian restaurant built from Danish bricks

by Luka

Mediteranean aesthetic, both architectural and otherwise, is not very often portrayed in LEGO, but when it is, builders tend to capture it very well. Mouseketeer111 has done one of these renditions as a modular-style building, and I can say from first-hand experience that this scene reproduces the spirit of an old Italian town perfectly.

01 Front

There are some simple elements that are important to conjure up the Mediterranean feeling, namely a barrel-tiled roof and Italian flags, but other details like bright colours, overgrown walls and the ice cream shop are what make this creation stand out. My favourite part, however, is the balcony. Not only is it well built, but it is photographed so that the shade looks even more inviting!

The post An Italian restaurant built from Danish bricks appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

13 May 07:27

A shipyard above all shipyards

by Bre Burns

When it comes to building LEGO maritime creations, one artist stands out as being a foremost authority. Arjan Oude Kotte has graced us with several of his masterpieces over the years. They include a Rotterham Harbor Tugboat, and a massive 1930’s Danish ship, among others. All his creations are packed with magnificent attention to detail and incredible personality. His latest build, Finnian’s shipyard, is another superb addition to his collection, and we love it! The colors and details are truly impressive.

Finnians shipyard

The shipyard features a dry dock, where workers build and repair large boats. An unfinished tugboat sits inside, with workers busy building.

Finnians shipyard

The workers in the materials yard are busy carting wood and steel into the shop to use during construction.

Finnians shipyard

Lots of effort went into making everything line up just right. A story is told with every shift in angle. Scale replica models used in hobby train layouts, which are made using various forms of completely customizable material, really couldn’t have done this better.

Finnians shipyard

The interior is fully decorated and this creation is also completely fitted with indoor and outdoor lights. Even the welder’s torch in the front flickers, thanks to special lighting.

Finnians shipyard

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12 May 08:08

Classic Space doesn’t get much better (or smaller) than this

by Jonathan

Can you feel the nostalgia oozing out of this gorgeous little trophy-scale homage to LEGO Classic Space? The diorama by Paul Lee is a perfect micro replicant of a Galaxy Explorer, Rocket Launcher and Moonbase as they would appear in a 1980s LEGO catalogue. Special attention has been paid to getting the moon craters as close as possible to the classic baseplates. This build is simple and elegant with a lovely warm after-glow of sentimentality.

Classic Space Trophy Scale

The post Classic Space doesn’t get much better (or smaller) than this appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

11 May 07:18

Too many cooks in the kitchen...

by Matt Hocker

LEGO photography is an art in and of itself, as demonstrated by brickexplorer’s images shared on Instagram. This particular scene is cute and funny thanks to well-executed visual storytelling. It’s a tale of the guy who thinks he can cook but is so distracted by his pets that he sets his food on fire. Meanwhile, Brickexplorer’s failed little chef is oblivious to the woman shouting at him from behind. If the fish flopping around near the dishwasher is any indication, this guy is about as good at taking care of his pets as he is making dinner.

Everything about this scene is lively and fun to look at, thanks to the builder’s use of color and lighting. The way the sun shines brightly through the window reminds me of a morning sunrise. And editing the image to include smoke makes this scene all the more believable.

The post Too many cooks in the kitchen... appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

11 May 04:25

Diapers for your chickens

by Minnesotastan

These are real, offered by My Pet Chicken in a variety of styles for your indoor chickens, which according to the elves at No Such Thing as a Fish, are very hip household pets in Silicon Valley. 
11 May 04:24

They could be called "oxterpeckers"

by Minnesotastan

As reported by National Geographic:
Scientists have long known that yellow-billed oxpeckers hang out on massive African mammals like giraffe, water buffalo, and eland during the day—an often beneficial relationship that provides hosts with cleaner, healthier skin. These small brown birds can often be seen perched on top or hanging off the animals, picking through their hair in search of tasty parasites like ticks.

But a series of rare photos from a large multi-year camera trap study in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park have revealed that the birds actually roost on some of their hosts overnight...

"You look at them on the giraffe and they're just right up in there," says Meredith Palmer, a Ph.D. candidate in behavioral ecology at the University of Minnesota. "It's a very safe, comfortable place for the birds."..

Yellow-billed oxpeckers nest in trees or other vegetation when it's time to lay their eggs. But the rest of the time they're perfectly happy dangling from a giraffe—sometimes, seven birds are seen clustered in a single armpit
Re my tongue-in-cheek title for the post:
Definition of "oxter" - chiefly Scotland and Ireland : armpit. (etymology: Middle English (Scots), alteration of Old English ōxta; akin to Old English eax axis, axle).

Photo credit Meredith Palmer. 
08 May 18:36


by Minnesotastan

Click the photo to enlarge and appreciate.  Credit uncertain - probably Alastair Heseltine (or someone who copied him).  Via.
08 May 18:36

The first use of "O.M.G." was in 1917

by Minnesotastan

Credit to Anorak at Flashbak for finding a letter from Lord Fisher to Winston Churchill, written in 1917.

Via Smithsonian.  Image cropped for size and contrast-enhanced from the original.
07 May 18:38

Driving Cars

It's probably just me. If driving were as dangerous as it seems, hundreds of people would be dying every day!
07 May 15:06

It’s not the beauty of a building you should look at, it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time

by Jennifer

Taking a break from creating stunning LEGO characters, Finnish builder Eero Okkonen has assembled an equally-stunning, 360-degree city block filled with gorgeous early-1900s modular buildings. Each of the four buildings (“Grand Hotel Masaryk”, “Olofslott”, “Louhi” and “House of the Brick Wall”) has its own unique style and charm. But the block as a whole still feels very cohesive.

New Century City Block II

Eero says he began sketching the design for his creation after a train ride from Helsinki to Tampere. His design incorporates Finnish Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) elements and tries to avoid 90-degree angles wherever possible.

Each of the buildings pulls inspiration from real-world buildings such as the Hotel Europa in Prague and the Tampere Cathedral in Finland. Eero also borrowed from architectural philosophies like Camillo Sitte’s urban planning theories and Finnish national romantic architecture.

New Century City Block II

There are a ton of interesting details to observe if you get close up. From rowboats and rope bridges to dinosaur tails and butterflies, Eero has used a wide variety of LEGO pieces to construct his colorful city block, and the results speak for themselves.

New Century City Block II

For more photos and an in-depth article written by the builder himself, visit Eero’s blog.

The post It’s not the beauty of a building you should look at, it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

06 May 12:16

chilaquiles brunch casserole

by deb

I have never met an intersection of tortillas and salsa and cheese and eggs I did not love excessively, or at minimum, could leave a restaurant where it was on the menu without ordering. Things were relatively controlled between the earliest iteration of huevos rancheros on this site, to a still-favorite, almost shakshuka-ish baked eggs in ranchero sauce with beans, a cheesy broiled lid, and strips of fried tortilla chips in my first cookbook. But it was during a brief trip to Mexico City two years ago that my obsession really went off the rails as I realized I’d need a month to get through all the glorious ways to eat eggs/salsa/tortillas, see also: huevos revueltos al gusto, rancheros mexicanos, divorciados, motuleños, al albañil, and ahogados, not to mention chilaquiles.

Read more »

06 May 12:15

Take Flight into the Winds of War with these Fantastic Aircraft

by Matt Hocker

World War I (1914-1918) marked a turning point in military technology. While the age of aircraft was still quite young, it did not take military strategists long to recognize their advantage on the battlefield. The era produced legendary pilots like the Red Baron and Eddie Rickenbacker. 100 years later, we can add Wesley to the list of flying aces with his brilliant aircraft from the Great War.

By themselves, Wesley’s models look really slick, but his excellent photography really kicks things up a notch. He does an excellent job of setting the scenery, with believable landscaping and cloud laden skies. The muted colors used to present the images are reminiscent of turn-of-the-century hand-tinted color photographs. Wesley has created a number of planes for us to enjoy, including…

The French Nieuport 17

The German Albatross

And the British Sopwith Camel

He has even celebrated the famous Christmas Truce in LEGO form!

The post Take Flight into the Winds of War with these Fantastic Aircraft appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

06 May 12:15

Micropolis block packs a lot of Microscale punch

by Daniel

The Micropolis standard is what allows LEGO builders from around the world to come together at a convention and build a sprawling but tiny city that fits together. Here, LEGO creator Tammo S demonstrates some great microscale building techniques in this city block, featuring a hotel, some apartments, a pizzeria, a few residential buildings and a lovely courtyard. The model has a very European vibe, with a variety of dormer window designs, satellite dishes, and landscaping.

City Block (Micropolis)

Some of the best details are easy to miss, as they are built into the central courtyard.

Pizzeria & Insurance Office (Micropolis) Apartment Building #2 (Micropolis)

The post Micropolis block packs a lot of Microscale punch appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

05 May 17:48

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Vavilov


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

I checked and this is the funniest joke about Nikolai Vavilov ever written.

New comic!
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05 May 06:56

This sign at the party for Jana...

by Minnesotastan

Via the Funny subreddit.
05 May 06:56

The red line is a straight line

by Minnesotastan

And not just any straight line.  It is the longest straight line on the surface of the earth that traverses water without touching land (approximately 20,000 miles).

Here's a video demonstration:

05 May 06:55

I think we can call this manhole cover "metal"

by Minnesotastan

Located in Wiesbaden, Germany.  Via the Manhole Porn subreddit (I kid you not - and despite the name totally SFW).
05 May 06:54

"Is Curing Patients A Sustainable Business Model?"

by Minnesotastan
That's the question asked by financial analysts at Goldman Sachs.
In an April 10 financial report titled “The Genome Revolution,” company analysts allegedly posed the question “is curing patients a sustainable business model?” The report broke down the pros and cons of new gene therapy treatments being worked on by biotech companies. Turning the search for medical remedies into a numbers game, analyst Salveen Richter called potential “one shot cures” a bad business decision that will hurt a company’s bottom line...

Goldman researchers pointed to pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, which developed a treatment for hepatitis C, as an example of the financial impact treating diseases can have on profits. “In the case of infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, curing existing patients also decreases the number of carriers able to transmit the virus to new patients,” the memo argued.
Offered without comment.
05 May 06:52


"Ugh, TMI." "Yeah, that's some tantalizing meat info."
04 May 05:31

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Clown Humor


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Why do you think they're always smiling?

New comic!
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03 May 08:20

A 4×4 fit for an adventurer...and a puppy

by Matt Hocker

Johnny Thunder would be proud of this epic ride from iamkritch. Named the Black Crow 4×4 (thanks to its special hood ornament), this off-road vehicle has just about everything you might need in traveling through the desert to an archaeological dig-site. The roof is covered in crates filled with useful tools, and there is even a fold-out awning to beat the heat on sunny summer days.

The Black Crow 4x4 02

And what would an adventure be without bringing man’s best friend along for the ride?

The Black Crow 4x4 01

The black, brown & gold color scheme of this Land Rover-like vehicle works well, giving off a rugged but classy-looking appearance. However, the gold trim makes me wonder if our little explorer is melting down priceless artifacts to customize his ride. If so, he had better watch out for Indiana Jones who is probably already hunting down his father’s missing shirt.

The Black Crow 4x4 03

The post A 4×4 fit for an adventurer...and a puppy appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

01 May 20:47

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Jesus


Click here to go see the bonus panel!


New comic!
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Let it never be said that SMBC was especially motivational.

01 May 11:57

Who....Who....Who can make an amazing owl?

by Matt Hocker

Chungpo Cheng, that’s who! You might remember Chungpo’s work from a few weeks ago when we shared his stunning, super-sized Star Wars battle droidsThis time, he chose to make big versions of the classic LEGO owl, rat and “cheese slope” elements. In particular, the owl is packed with lots of personality. Those big eyes and upturned eyebrows make Chungpo’s owl look warm and approachable. I almost want to hand-feed the little guy some birdseed!

Owl, Rounded Features 40232

Chungpo has sculpted an excellent likeness of the original owl piece. He has even photographed the two side-by-side for comparison.

Owl, Rounded Features 40232

Owl, Rounded Features 40232

It’s also pretty cool to see the brick-built rat next to its little LEGO sibling.

Owl, Rounded Features 40232

The post Who....Who....Who can make an amazing owl? appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

30 Apr 02:44

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Platypus


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

One of these days the world will wake up to the fact that SMBC is anti-human propaganda. Then, the question will be who funded it.

New comic!
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