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The mystery of the Wu-Tang name generator

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Hi, everybody! Tim Carmody here, guest-hosting for Jason this week.

You probably know that Donald Glover (actor on Community, writer on 30 Rock) also has a rap career under the stage name Childish Gambino. You may not know that the name "Childish Gambino" comes from a Wu-Tang Name Generator.

That's half of the reason I'm here - I'm dead serious. Like I met RZA and he was like, "you're a cool dude, man - and your name is perfect for you! It's like that computer had a brain!" But yeah, I put my name in a Wu-Tang name generator and it spit out Childish Gambino, and for some reason I just thought that fit.

Now here's where things get a little weird. There are multiple, competing Wu-Tang name generators. (Of course there are.) Most of them seem to work the same way -- they run a script matching your name's characters with a decent-sized database of Wu-sounding words, kind of like a hash. But little differences in the scripts or in the database give you different results.

For instance, at, the "Original Wu Name Generator" (tagline "WE CAN WU YOU!") spits back "Erratic Assassin" (for "Timothy Carmody"), while "Tim Carmody" yields "Well-Liked Assman." These names are both awesome.

But the "Wu-Tang Name Generator" at ("Become a real Wu warrior, entah ur full name 'n smack da ol' dirty button"), which proprietor Pieter Dom says was made in 2002, is totally different. There, "Timothy Carmody" and "Tim Carmody" return "Shriekin' Wizard" and "Gentlemen Overlord," respectively. Now, while these definitely sound like Wu names, they are definitely The W to the other site's Enter the 36 Chambers.

Here's the weird part: both of these Wu-Tang name generators return the same name for "Donald Glover." It is, of course, "Childish Gambino."

Is it just a quirk that whatever difference crept in affects most names, but not Donald Glover's? Did one of the sites hard-code that result in, to boost its credibility with people who heard the Childish Gambino story? Or is Donald Glover somehow necessarily Childish Gambino, across all possible Wu-accessible worlds, in the same way that "Clifford Smith" is always and only "Method Man," even when he pretends to be an actor?

I don't think we can ever know. But just as Russell Jones was Ol' Dirty Bastard, ODB, Dirt McGirt, Big Baby Jesus, and Ason Unique as well as Osirus, I am content to be known by many names under the Wu.

(Dedicated to "Sarkastik Beggar" and "Lesbian Pimp." Via @hoverbird.)

Tags: perl   Wu-Tang Clan
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15 hours ago
Imma be Inscrutable Drama Queen from now on, ya'll.
Louisville, KY
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The Giant Spirograph

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What’s eight feet across, has 90 teeth, and makes beautiful designs? Not a shark with an art degree, but this giant version of the classic Spirograph drawing toy. Chalk is the medium, and streets and sidewalks are the canvas.

The idea for this project came about at a craft show in December when a friend of mine had a little trouble with a laser-cut Spirograph we found. I teased her about her apparent lack of fine motor skills, then had the idea to make a Spirograph that only required gross motor skills. How big could I make a Spirograph?

Continue reading for the full walkthrough of the build, or jump to the finished Spirograph.

The first step was to create a template for all of the gears. I used Inkscape because it has a plugin for generating them, then exported the file to Adobe Illustrator to scale them up and make other edits (I’m more comfortable working in AI than in Inkscape). I nested the gear patterns together to save printing costs.

Once the files were ready it was time to head to the copy shop and use their large format printer. Each sheet of paper is 3′ x 3′. My helper was eager to see the results.

I added a 1″ square on each to ensure that they were printed to the same size and weren’t accidentally scaled differently by the printer. The project would fail if the inner gears didn’t fit perfectly with the outer gear. I could measure the squares or simply hold them against each other in front of a light.

With spray adhesive, I glued the pattern for the outer ring segment to a piece of MDF, then cut along the lines with my jigsaw. This would serve as a router template so I could cut all six segments exactly the same more easily than doing it all by hand.

When the template was finished, I drilled two holes through it, then through the 3/4″ plywood. A pair of bolts through the holes kept the template fastened to the plywood while I ran a router with a pattern bit around the edge to cut the segment. Repeat six times. The size of the outer gear was dictated by how many of these segments I could fit on a single 4′x8′ sheet of plywood. I ended up burning out the old router in this picture and had to get a new one halfway through. I also broke three bits.

With the outer ring done, I still had to make an inner gear. I spray-mounted the smallest gear template to a sheet of 1/2″ plywood and cut it out with the jigsaw. No need for the router this time, because I was only making one copy of each gear. Still, this was one of the most tedious parts because every tooth segment had to be cut in four passes: once on each side, going across to the corner, then squaring the bottom from corner to corner. I’ve never wanted a CNC router more than I did during this work.

The gears would ride on caster wheels that allowed them to rotate. It wouldn’t work to attach the base of the casters directly on the gear, because then the gear would be 2″ above the teeth of the outer gear. Instead the wheels would need to be mounted on a platform to raise them up. It’ll make more sense in a later picture when I show it put together.

I made a pattern on the computer showing where to drill for the mounting holes, glued it to some 1/2″ plywood, then cut it out on the bandsaw.

I used a punch to mark where the holes will go. Doing this keeps the drill bit from wandering.

5/16″ bolts will go through the outer holes to mount the wheel platform to the gear, and 1/4″ bolts will go through the inner holes (not drilled yet in the photo) to mount the caster base to the wheel platform.

1/4″ carriage bolts (so that it’s smoothly finished on the visible top surface) hold the caster wheels to the platform. I had to use jam nuts instead of regular nuts so that they wouldn’t interfere with the swiveling wheel.

Using the wheel support as a guide,   I   drilled the holes for the bolts that hold them up. You can also see marked where I plan to put the holes for the chalk.

After getting the gear assembled and adjusting the mounting nuts to get the wheels offset the correct distance, it was time for the first test. And it worked! The gear teeth meshed without a problem. I was so excited after all the work so far that I probably spent 20 minutes rolling the gear back and forth across this one segment and giggling like a fool.

The gear rolled now, but it did not yet draw. My plan was to have the chalk held in the gear by a piece of 1″ PVC pipe inserted into the artist’s choice of locations, each location with a pipe coupler to accept the pipe. The pipe couplers I had were about 1.6″ in diameter — not a standard size for a drill bit — so I had to use an adjustable bit. Keep your hands away from that giant spinning mass of metal (a lesson my knuckles learned the hard way!).

I only needed one end of each pipe coupler, so I cut them in half just below the stop in the middle. I smoothed the rough cuts on a belt sander.

Would it work? All the chalk-holding, rolling gears wouldn’t mean much if it didn’t make a good design. It was time for a street test. And, success! Not to mention baffled neighbors when they found the pattern on the street later in the day, with no clue how it had been done.

I took it all apart (probably the third time doing so — getting a little tired of it) and painted it. Bright colors are called for with a toy like this, wouldn’t you say?

This shows how the wheel assembly is held together. Three 5/16″ carriage bolts go through the gear’s base from the bottom and each is held tight by a washer and a nut. Then a nyloc nut (regular nuts shook loose with all the vibration) is threaded onto the bolt, then a washer, then the wheel support, another washer, and finally an acorn nut. The gear is now able to ride only 1/4″ above the ground, so that it meshes perfectly with the outer ring resting directly on the ground.

With the concept and design proven, I put together two more gears and painted them. On these gears I wised up and went to three different hardware stores in order to find pipe couplers exactly 1.5″, allowing me to use a standard 1.5″ Forstner bit instead of the adjustable bit I used earlier.

Everything is done! It’s time for a public unveiling! The six segments of the outer ring are assembled first, ideally on as smooth and level of a surface as possible. The outer ring is just under 8′ in diameter, so it would take a pretty wide sidewalk.

The segments fit together like puzzle pieces.

Moving a gear around the outer ring is easiest with a team. Each person pulls it around where they can reach, then rolls it along to the next person. The gears have enough mass that they can roll at least halfway around the circle if you really shove.

The wheel supports work well as handles to move the gear around the outer ring.

Here’s a closeup of the chalk holder. A 1″ PVC pipe holds the chalk, and it can be moved to different locations (the pipe couplers in the background) to change the patterns. A dowel goes on top to put a little downward pressure on the chalk, and also to serve as a gauge: when it gets down to the same height as the pipe, you’re just about out of chalk. The hole in the dowel is because I originally intended to put elastic through it for more pressure, but that ended up not being necessary.

Changing chalk partway through the design makes some interesting effects.

So far I’ve built three gears: a 22 tooth, a 35 tooth, and a 44 tooth one.

Here’s a family portrait of the entire set:

Here are a few photos of some patterns I’ve made. I need to find smoother asphalt.

I plan on cleaning up the template files I used and posting them here for anyone to make their own giant Spirograph. Check back soon.

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19 hours ago
Dad of the year candidate.
Louisville, KY
22 hours ago
Great idea!
Waterloo, Canada
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When Advertising, and Humanity, Tried Harder.


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Little Nemo in Slumberland – The full run of Winsor...

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Little Nemo in Slumberland – The full run of Winsor McCay’s beautiful, psychedelic comics of over 100 years ago

Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays!
by Winsor McCay
Sunday Press Books
2005, 120 pages, 16.2 x 21.1 x 0.8 inches
$525 Buy a copy on Amazon

One hundred years ago Sunday newspaper comics were a big deal. They were published, as all newspapers were then, on huge tabloid sheets that opened up as large as a table. Printed in full color, they played the role that movies, TV, and the Internet combined would later play in entertainment. Their huge canvases carried the pop culture of the day. Among the many popular “strips” from that era, one stands out for its artistic brilliance: Little Nemo. Cast as the dreams of a sleeping boy, these large, swelling visions were psychedelic, surreal and hallucinogenic trips. And totally beautiful. This one-of-a-kind book reproduces the full run of this comic from 1905 onward at the same scale and quality of the original. Opening its pages today is still magical, and only hints at how amazing it would have been 100 years ago. This is truly a book that only works printed on paper. It is a remarkable work of art in itself. – Kevin Kelly

July 22, 2014


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6 days ago
And I'd need a custom built bookshelf or coffee table. Damn it all...
Louisville, KY
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Large Whale Gently Lifts Two Kayakers Out of the Water Off the Coast of Argentina

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YouTube user gisela6652 has uploaded a video of

In this video uploaded by YouTube user, gisela6652, a father and daughter have their kayak lifted into the air by a large surfacing baleen whale lifting a kayak filled with a father and daughter into the air while they were while whale watching off the coast of Puerto Madryn, Argentina. There’s some speculation as to the species of whale doing the gentle lifting, with some viewers believing though some viewers believe it’s a southern right whale — a type , which are commonly spotted off the the coast of the South American country.

via reddit

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6 days ago
So very nifty. I will see whales in person before I bite it. (It will require travel, and motion sickness pills.)
Louisville, KY
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PHP Developer Needed in Columbus, OH!

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I got this email from a “Senior Recruiter” (spammer) at Robert Half Technology today:

Hello Marco,

I hope this email finds you well. Your qualifications match a PHP Developer position we currently have with a great company in the Columbus market area. I wanted to find out your current employment situation and inquire as to whether or not you are currently in the job market and what type of opportunities you might entertain?

PHP Web Developer

[pages of garbage removed]

Desired Candidate Profile:

  • Delivering Quality code.
  • Extensive knowledge of iterative development lifecycle management and tools.
  • Able to direct the work of others, prioritize tasks and allocate resources.
  • Must be able to lead cross-functional project teams and coordinate activities of others.

    Experience in:

  • Design, develop, and management of PHP Web Applications.

  • Familiarity with WAMP, LAMP environments.
  • Experience with MySQL.
  • Taken a team through multiple complete product development cycles.
  • Agile application development.
  • Experience developing and using Web Services

I look forward to hearing back from you!

Let me tell you a story about Robert Half Technology in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

Robert Half was the first place I went to interview for a job after college. They listed a specific job online, maintained that premise through a phone interview, and then asked me to come in, only to reveal in person that there wasn’t actually a specific position available — they just wanted to get me on their list of temp consultants they could rent out.

Robert Half Technology does everything that gives tech recruiters a bad name, and everything that makes looking for a tech job so incredibly difficult when you’re young and inexperienced. They do the entire industry a great disservice. Nobody who works there should be proud of what their company does, or be under the illusion that they’re helping anyone.

After looking over my resume with me in person, which was pretty light since I was applying for my first job after getting my computer science degree, they said I couldn’t and shouldn’t be a programmer, and should stick to basic IT jobs instead.

A few days later, they assigned me one awful weekend job where I, and about 50 other similar chumps, sat around and watched a huge company’s PCs upgrade to Windows 2000 and occasionally clicked buttons when necessary. I quit after two days when I got a real job offer — as a programmer.

But that was mostly luck: a friend from college had just been hired there and connected us. I narrowly escaped a career of working for cheap IT body-farms, always regretting not starting out as a programmer like I wanted to.

So, Robert Half Technology, kindly fuck off.1

  1. I responded to the Senior Recruiter with my requirements — $10 million a year (plus medical) and relocation of the company to New York — but disclosed that I am probably not qualified for this position since I do not have any experience in Agile. 

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6 days ago
Every "IT"ish placement firm in the midwest is some degree of this shitstorm. It's flat out a numbers game, with little regard for the people that feed the beast.
Louisville, KY
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1 public comment
Mother Hydra
7 days ago
Robert Half Technology can just fuck off, no kindness is deserved. I've had nothing but terror the few times I've crossed paths with a RH contractor. Their recruiting tactics are the slimy icing on a rancid cake resulting in our organization's decision to blacklist the firm. Terrible from top to bottom. Marco's experience seems about right.
Beneath Innsmouth
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