In 1973, the year I was born, the median new single-family house in the US measured 1525 sq feet. It had two floors, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. In 2013, the median new single-family house in the US is 56% larger (2385 sq ft) and contains an extra half-bath. You can watch the evolution of the American home at CNN.
Black Mass stars Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger, real-life Boston mobster and FBI informant. The trailer is damn good and I'm hoping the rest of the movie lives up to it.
The Hubble Space Telescope was deployed into space on April 25, 1990 and began snapping images of the sky shortly thereafter. Phil Plait, the NY Times, NPR, and How We Get To Next have chosen some of their favorite Hubble images, and Taschen published a coffee table book of Hubble images called Expanding Universe.
I still find it incredible that we have a telescope orbiting the Earth. Happy birthday, Hubble. Here's to many more.
Raul Oaida built a full-sized car out of half-a-million Lego pieces that actually drives. The 256-cylinder engine is powered by compressed air. Top speed is 20 mph.
This is a stunning and insanely clever achievement. My favorite part, aside from that 256-cylinder engine, is the windshield built out of two dozen tiny Lego windshields. (via devour)
After many years of blogging professionally at Dooce, Heather Armstrong is stepping down to focus on speaking and brand consultation. She's planning to write for fun again.
But what makes this livelihood glaringly different are not only the constant creative strains of churning out new and entertaining content -- content we cannot delegate to anyone else because our audiences read our stories for our particular voice and perspective -- but also the security systems we've had to set up as an increasingly more diverse group of people throw rocks at our houses with the intention of causing damage: passersby, rubbernecks, stalkers, even journalists. We have separate security systems for those who take every word and decision we share and deliberately misinterpret it, disfigure it to the point of it being wholly unrecognizable, and then broadcast to us and to their own audiences that they have diagnosed us with a personality disorder.
"Living online" for us looks completely different now than it did when we all set out to build this community, and the emotional and physical toll of it is rapidly becoming a health hazard.
There's a lot in what Heather wrote that resonates with me. (See also Amateur Gourmet, Dylan Byers, and Marco Arment.) Two or three years ago, I thought I would do my site professionally for the rest of my life, or at least a good long while. The way things are going, in another year or two, I'm not sure that's even going to be an option. The short window of time in which individuals could support themselves by blogging is closing rapidly. There's a lot more I could say about that, but for now, I'll offer my best wishes to Heather in her new endeavors. Dooce is dead, long live Dooce.
"You see this goblet?" asks Achaan Chaa, the Thai meditation master. "For me this glass is already broken. I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on the shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, 'Of course.' When I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious."
From Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective by Mark Epstein.
I don't know what this is, who made it, or why, but it is the perfect Friday thing. (via @triciawang)
Update: Alright, the readers have spoken and they hate the baby ATM. So I unembedded the video clip. If you want to have a laugh or be appalled, you can click through.
From The Atlantic, a history of hairstyles from 1900 to the present.
Hairstyles featured include the Gibson Girl, bob, conk, pompadour, beehive, Jheri curl, and hi-top fade.
Charles Mann's 1491 is one of my all-time favorite books. I mean, if this description doesn't stir you:
Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man's first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand. Challenging and surprising, this a transformative new look at a rich and fascinating world we only thought we knew.
On Twitter yesterday, Mann shared that a documentary series was being made based on the book. The eight-part series is being commissioned by Canada's APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) and Barbara Hager, who is of Cree/Metis heritage, will write, direct, and produce.
This is fantastic news. I hope this gets US distribution at some point, even if it's online-only.
As the old saying goes, it is sometimes unpleasant to watch the sausage being made. But not as unpleasant as watching the olive loaf being made.
WQXR took 46 performances of a selection of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring and spliced them together into one piece, highlighting the how varied the performance of the notes on the page can be.
The latest book from Amir Aczel, who has written previously about the compass, the Large Hadron Collider, and Fermat's Last Theorem, is Finding Zero: A Mathematician's Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers...in particular, the number zero.
Finding Zero is an adventure filled saga of Amir Aczel's lifelong obsession: to find the original sources of our numerals. Aczel has doggedly crisscrossed the ancient world, scouring dusty, moldy texts, cross examining so-called scholars who offered wildly differing sets of facts, and ultimately penetrating deep into a Cambodian jungle to find a definitive proof.
The NY Times has a review of the book, written by another Amir, Amir Alexander, who wrote a recent book on infinitesimals, aka very nearly zero. (via @pomeranian99)
Hannah Choi is making illustrations of all the women Don Draper has slept with on Mad Men in chronological order.
Technically, what you're looking at here is a video shot in 4K resolution (basically 2x regular HD) and at 1000 frames/sec by a Phantom Flex 4K camera which retails for $100,000+. Skateboarders ollie. Dirt bikes spray dirt. Gymnasts contort. Make this as fullscreen as possible and just sit back and enjoy.
My favorite bits were of the gymnasts. In super slow motion, you can see how aerial flips are all about getting your head down as quickly as possible, then snapping your legs around as your head stays almost completely motionless -- like a chicken's! Mesmerizing.
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