good to look at

Brain red

Here is another impossible colour, one you will clearly see but which cannot be painted with light or pigment. Luminous red, or, as cool people call it, brain red, is clearly, unmistakably red, but it is brighter than white. Which is impossible with light, because white is simply all the wavelengths at full blast, and red is only the red wavelengths with everything else off.

But your brain can see more than your eyes, and brain seeing looks just like regular seeing, in that the images are right there, real as a photograph, real as VHS flicker, real as the sick fleeting yellow of a fluorescent tube powering down.

To see brain red you begin with a blue green and tire out your retinas.

It’s specific, this blue green. It’s bluer than true green, and greener than cyan. It is the shade of sunlit barbicide, as the rays first catch it, in the first instant after you set down the glass. You stare, then the brain red follows.

In the image below you will see a circle of blue green with an x in the middle. Stare hard at the x. You will struggle to keep your focus on the x, and you will notice fringing at the edges of the barbicide. This is your retina tiring, a sign that you are about to see brain red.

Keep your attention as tight as you can. After ten seconds the barbicide will be replaced by white, and you will see a circle of brain red in the middle, brighter than the white. It will look like an idealized Japanese flag. After a while the barbicide circle will return and the animation will loop. Each time you see the brain red it will be brighter still.

Set the glass down. Don’t set the glass down. Whichever.


Stop thinking about tasting barbicide

Stop it.

Stop it right now.

Stop even thinking about thinking about it.

Stop thinking about how you could just quickly lift the lid and suck the juice off a comb in that moment when her back is turned.

Stop thinking about that. Stop it.


Do you ever wonder how barbicide tastes


Probably it tastes blue. Blue like twelve bars. Blue like Joni Mitchell. Blue like Gershwin. Blue like Miles Davis, kind of.

Blue like ritual. Blue like Windex. Blue like ammonia, which is not even blue but smells like Windex, which makes it brain blue, which is bluer than if it were actually blue anyhow.

Maybe barbicide is salty, a little. Maybe it's seawater flavoured pickle juice.

Maybe it tastes like more. Maybe let's all have another sip.


Stop drinking barbicide

It doesn’t only kill barbers.

It kills other salon professionals.

Barbers and salon professionals never drink barbicide. They know it tastes bad and they know it's poison.

Can you even imagine the glow of brain barbicide.

It will be as golden as any experience you've had.

Please, feel free to relax into the experience. Enjoy it. Do not notice that we're watching.

Do not notice as we watch your eyes.

Do not.


knowledge questions

Was this article informative

It is too early to say. You are only on the second sentence and yes your attention span is short but even you have another few paragraphs in you.

Meyer lemon on a tree
Debra Roby, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the second paragraph the information really starts flowing. You learn that luminous red, aka brain red, will be the next impossible colour to get its own feature here in hot sandwich. You learn that mules and coywolves and Meyer lemons are all hybrids, but you do not learn the surprising property they have in common. You will learn that in a different, more informative article.

In the third paragraph you learn that a fruit salad tree is made by grafting branches of several different kinds of fruit trees onto a single rootstock. You learn, specifically, that one fruit salad tree may grow mandarins on the left and grapefruit on the right and Meyer lemons in the back. You will find the second mention of Meyer lemons intriguing and the third a bit much, but your curiosity will remain piqued and you will not redirect your attention yet, because the fourth paragraph may turn out to be even more informative.

Barbicide looks delicious but is not. It is blue, which is the tastiest of all colours, the colour of the sky and the ocean and of Curaçao and even, really, life itself. Barbicide’s colour is a lie. The liquor that combs through the scissors is as bitter as a broken promise. Bitterer.


The oil in the skin of a Meyer lemon is bitter also, yet fragrant. It is golden, a gold so gold if you stare at it then close your eyes you see brain barbicide.

Coywolves are wild dogs having a hard time choosing between solitary life and the pack.

L. David Mech, Bruce W. Christensen, Cheryl S. Asa , Margaret Callahan, Julie K. Young, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Was this article informative. Y/N.


If you want a vision of the future

Picture a decade when it’s been a decade since anyone had a coronavirus.

Everyone’s been healthy, but, in the absence of mass infection, mass boredom has filled in, and everyone is ready for some action, whatever acts enact it.

Specifically: everyone is ready for another round of Norwalk, because that infects everyone, which gives everyone a chance to talk about how their diarrhea went, which was always several metres, which everyone wants to talk about, because it happened to everyone, including you.

You talk about it like this.

Norwalk spread from you to your beloved when the Norwalk took control of your muscles and pushed.

Most of the Norwalk filled your garment.

Some of the Norwalk poured up, against gravity, and wet the back of your collar.

A single dart of Norwalk from that burst pushed especially up and away from your nape, and parabolaed up, and over, and down, and right, onto the philtrum of your beloved, where they couldn’t keep their tongue off.

Now, in this imagined future, you blame your beloved, because how was that not their fault.


Talking smart quotes with T rex

T rex
DataBase Center for Life Science (DBCLS), CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Me: Yo T rex do you prefer "straight" quotes or “smart”

T rex: Smart always beats straight, darling

Me: Is that a bit

T rex: Duh

Me: You’re good at bits

T rex: Duh

Me: Saucy!

T rex: At some point you will have to move on from telling me I'm great and say something interesting

Me: Wait the apostrophe in your “I’m” is straight not smart

T rex: ...

Me: Do you even know how to type a smart apostrophe? All you do is hold left shift and left control and right alt

T rex: ...

Me: ...

T rex: Thought so


Talking kindness with T rex

Me: Yo T rex what does kindness cost?

T rex: Nothing, my friend. Kindness is free, and moreover kindness brings bountiful rewards. It’s like a magic penny. Lend it or spend it and you’ll have so many, they’ll roll all over the floor.

Me: You might be thinking of love. Love is like a magic penny. We’re talking about kindness.

T rex: What kindness is greater than love?

Me: Encouragement, maybe. Saying well done and I believe in you and you got this.

T rex: That really is the greatest love of all.

Me: No that’s learning to love yourself.

T rex: Talkin bout love. Love removal. Love removal machine.

Me: That was very good. Well done. You sounded just like the guy from the band.

T rex: Gosh, thank you.

Me: High five!

T rex: ...

Me: ...

T rex: Really?

good to look at

Brain blue yellow

This post also has flashing images. If those are not your thing, please be a grownup and go to a different web site. Or, be a mature grownup and go outside, far away from the computer. Chase a stick or something.

If you are still here: brain blue yellow is like brain red green. It looks like two colours you know well, but combines them in a way they cannot be combined using only the normal building blocks of colour, which are: a) light, and; b) your retinas.

A lot of what your retinas do is tell your brain the ratio of blue light to yellow light they’re getting. It’s blue vs yellow, in opposition, or maybe even as enemies. They are not allowed to get along, according to light and your retinas.

But your brain is a brain genius and loves to imagine peaceful coexistence, when nudged. Your brain is lucky to have hot sandwich to nudge it.

In the flashing image below, just like in the brain red green image, there are two squares, each with an x in the middle. Stare at the x’s and let your focus slip, until the two appear to merge into a single x. Hold that, and feel your retinas getting tired, and notice the fringe of afterimage around the one square surrounding the one x.

Your brain will fight you on this one, will try to tell you you’re seeing either blue or yellow, and you will notice spontaneous patterns of lines and even plaids emerging from the confusion.

Hang in there and let the brain blue yellow come to you. When you see it, you’ll know, because it will look both blueish and yellowish without being green, and because the words you might use to describe it will fall out of your vocabulary.

Strain for words. Find a way to describe brain blue yellow. Write the words down. In the virtual spaces of the future, walls will be painted this colour and you’ll want to be able to tell your friends how to find you.

Below these words is a faster version of the same animation (24-ish frames per second rather than the ten above). If you felt at all bad staring at the slow one, please pass on the quick one. But if brain blue yellow was hard to see above, you may have an easier time with quicker strobing.

Once there was a kid who could only see in black and white but who had no trouble finding words for brain colours.

You will be like that, sometime soon.


10 colours you won’t believe are impossible

Travel faster than light is impossible. Light itself always travels at the same speed (“c”), never faster and only slower if something gets in its way.

Colours, being made of light, also travel at c. Most of them. The exciting news is, just like faster than light travel, colours can be impossible too.

Impossible colours, looking like light but not actually being it, travel not at c, but at b. Optical physicists have not yet decided what b stands for, and are not expected to for several years, but early candidates are badass and bad ass.

Now, on with our listicle. Here are 10 colours you won’t believe are impossible.

1. Stygian blue
Blue as dark as black.

2. Hyperbolic orange
Orange oranger than orange.

3. Luminous red
Red as bright as white. Haunting how you never noticed the glow, until now.

4. Brain red green
This one doesn’t even have a description but you see it, don't you. You see it and it’s as real as anything you have ever seen, and people will believe you, eventually, once you find the words.

Why won’t the words come? It’s a colour. It doesn't have lines or angles to describe, it doesn't have plumage or a bill, it doesn't require specialist language. It's a colour. It's the simplest thing there is. Pick some words.

Are the words not coming because you’re losing your edge? Because you’ve had no edge for decades and you didn’t even realize?

Can you no longer think at b? Could you ever?

5. No you couldn’t
Everyone is embarrassed to be around you.

6. Why do you even bother
You could stop. That wouldn’t bother anyone.

7. Stygian green
Green as dark as black.

8. These are beginning to repeat how many kinds of stygian are there
Infinitely many. Colours are like real numbers and impossible colours are like irrationals. Impossible colours are uncountably infinite.

9. Also there are a lot of kinds of luminous and hyperbolic, right
There you go, thinking you have a thought but your thoughts arriving at nothing approaching b, well done, good job, u r smart.

10. Brain blue yellow
This post will be updated over time and the date on this web page will grow ever less accurate, and yet you will return to it to look up impossible colours, believing your own memory but not trusting it. Brain blue yellow is also as real as any colour you have seen, and yes this sentence has always been in this paragraph. You will expect an unchanging reference. You won’t get the reference. When ever did you get the reference.
11. This is still part of item 10.