All of Franz Ferdinand's albums will not have names and will only be differentiated by color. Their second album -- the black, red, and green one -- will be out in September.
Snow Crash JUN 30
When I mentioned Neal Stephenson here in February, several people recommended starting with the smaller Snow Crash rather than plunging head-long into Cryptonomicon or the Baroque Cycle. When I ran across a copy in my own household (who knew that we had one?), I picked it up and barely put it back down until I had finished. I mean -- come on! -- the main character's name is Hiro Protagonist, but Stephenson has the chops to back that sort of cheesy bullshit up:
The Deliverator's car has enough potential energy packed into its batteries to fire a pound of bacon into the Asteroid Belt. Unlike a bimbo box or a Burb beater, the Deliverator's car unloads that power through gaping, gleaming, polished sphincters. When the Deliverator puts the hammer down, shit happens. You want to talk contact patches? Your car's tires have tiny contact patches, talk to the asphalt in four places the size of your tongue. The Deliverator's car has big sticky tires with contact patches the size of a fat lady's thighs. The Deliverator is in touch with the road, starts like a bad day, stops on a peseta.
Why is the Deliverator so equipped? Because people rely on him. He is a roll model. This is America. People do whatever the fuck they feel like doing, you got a problem with that? Because they have a right to. And because they have guns and no one can fucking stop them. As a result, this country has one of the worst economies in the world. When it gets down to it -- talking trade balances here -- once we've brain-drained all our technology into other countries, once things have evened out, they're making cars in Bolivia and microwave ovens in Tadzhikistan and selling them here -- once our edge in natural resources has been made irrelevant by giant Hong Kong ships and dirigibles that can ship North Dakota all the way to New Zealand for a nickel -- once the Invisible Hand has taken all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brickmaker would consider to be prosperity...
Aside from the entertaining writing, Snow Crash (excerpt) is packed full of ideas. Stephenson gives the reader as much to think about as do the authors of recent non-fiction books like Blink, The Wisdom of Crowds, etc. And whereas Steven Johnson gets a bunch of shit for winkingly calling his book "Everything Bad is Good for You" and suggesting that this miserable culture we're stuck with might be good for us in some way, readers of Snow Crash might say, "hmm, that's an interesting idea" and ruminate on it without feeling the need to completely disagree with the whole premise of the book. Is fiction better at presenting ideas in a non-theatening manner than non-fiction? Maybe Gladwell's next book should be a novel?
"Ireland today is the richest country in the European Union after Luxembourg". Ireland "today has a per capita G.D.P. higher than that of Germany, France and Britain".
Delettering the public space JUN 30
Delettering the public space. "In a remarkable display of cooperation for the sake of art, every store on a popular shopping street in Vienna allowed their signage to be masked in yellow fluorescent foil."
Death in the celebrity age JUN 30
Are you worried about the future glut of obituaries in national newspapers? Because I sure am. Think about it: because of our networked world and mass media, there are so many more nationally known people than there were 30, 40, or 50 years ago. Fifty years ago, to be famous you had to be a politician, a movie star, a sports star, a general/admiral, a writer, a musician, a TV star, or rich. These days, we have many more popular sports, more sports teams, more movies are being made, there are 2-3 orders of magnitude more TV channels and programs, more music, more musical genres, more books are being written, and there's more rich people. Plus, these days people routinely become famous for appearing in advertising, designing things, being good cooks, yammering away on the internet, etc. etc. A year's worth of guests on Hollywood Squares...there's 2300 people right there that probably wouldn't have been famous in 1953, and that's just one show.
Frankly, I don't know how we're all going to handle this. Chances are in 15-20 years, someone famous whose work you enjoyed or whom you admired or who had a huge influence on who you are as a person will die each day...and probably even more than one a day. And that's just you...many other famous people will have died that day who mean something to other people. Will we all just be in a constant state of mourning? Will the NY Times national obituary section swell to 30 pages a day? As members of the human species, we're used to dealing with the death of people we "know" in amounts in the low hundreds over the course of a lifetime. With higher life expectancies and the increased number of people known to each of us (particularly in the hypernetworked part of the world), how are we going to handle it when several thousand people we know die over the course of our lifetime?
Apple has merged their iPod and iPod Photo lines. All iPods will now have color screens.
Authorial Candy Bars, with Their Respective Tag Lines, That Weren't as Successful as the Oh Henry! Candy Bar. "Mrs. Dalloway Treats -- 'Woolf these down!'" and "Chaucer Sweet Cheese Bar -- 'Of harmes two the lesse is for to cheese.'"
Google Maps hack: Iraq War casualty map. "This page shows the progession of US military casualties from the Iraq war. Each click displays 30 more casualties, starting from the beginning of the war. Each soldier is shown in at their home town. Click their icon for more details."
Fictional Iron Chef match-up between Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal of Fat Duck. Arguing over food science has never been so interesting.
How Danny Gregory makes those nifty watercolors that illustrate The Morning News. "Roz, the color theory teacher, warned against it, but I laid down a blue underpainting!"
What's the deal with unusual job interviews?. And more importantly, how do you deal with them?
"Does anyone devote as much energy to avoiding simple, sensible solutions as the modern graphic designer?". Novelty is necessary to foster innovation, but is missing the mark so frequently worth the effort?
Google introduces an API for Google Maps. And there was much rejoicing by the cartography hacking community.
Photographer Clayton James Cubitt interviews Tom Carden about their Metropop Denim collaboration. "I don't think the work ever belongs to the computer, any more than a photograph belongs to a camera. The computer is a tool -- there wouldn't be any artwork if I didn't tell the computer exactly what to do -- it just works a hell of a lot faster than I do!"
Jared Diamond calls agriculture "the worst mistake in the history of the human race". "With the advent of agriculture [the] elite became better off, but most people became worse off".
How to record a podcast using GarageBand. Using GB like this is overkill, but there it is anyway.
How to take the sting out of a sunburn. By taking a hot shower?
Why do we forget our childhood?. Because we don't know the language at such a young age to form memories.
As much as I enjoyed reading the transcript of Steve Jobs' commencement address to the graduates at Stanford (here's an audio version), I preferred the similar** sentiments of David Foster Wallace in his Kenyon College commencement address:
The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too.
As in his writing, Wallace has a knack for depicting the world as a pretty messy place that one must navigate with a certain amount of uncertainty in order to really experience anything, which, for me, holds a little more truth than Jobs' "grab the tiger by the tail and live, dammit" thoughts.
See also some other graduation speeches:
** Yeah, I know, all commencement addresses are pretty much the same.
Quick sketch of London tube traffic patterns. The spider that ate London.
A basketball fan couldn't wait until next year, so he's documenting 2005-6 Bulls season with NBA Live 2005. Looks like the Bulls lost their home opener.
The anti-white racism of the NBA. "The NBA is not a league for black, white, red, blue, or green people. It is a league for winners."
"Dear hipsters, No matter how much you loved Napoleon Dynamite, Vote For Pedro shirts aren't cool anymore.". The Google Ads on this entry feature Vote for Pedro shirts. Hee.
iTunes 4.9 now supports podcasting. Boy, podcasting went from zero to corporate in no time flat. Will that pace stunt the growth of indie podcasting before it even has a chance to get started?
Future winners of the New Yorker cartoon caption contest. "I love being wealthy in the Hamptons."
Theft or homage? JUN 27
Nike is catching some shit for appropriating some imagery for one of their skateboarding events from a 1984 album cover by Dischord Records' Minor Threat. Dischord is alledging that Nike stole the image:
No, they stole it and we're not happy about it. Nike is a giant corporation which is attempting to manipulate the alternative skate culture to create an even wider demand for their already ubiquitous brand. Nike represents just about the antithesis of what Dischord stands for and it makes me sick to my stomach to think they are using this explicit imagery to fool kids into thinking that the general ethos of this label, and Minor Threat in particular, can somehow be linked to Nike's mission. It's disgusting.
Here are the images (original on the left):
Setting aside the difference in philosophy between the two parties, this is obviously an homage on Nike's part (or rather, on the part of the designers working on this campaign for Nike...they probably love skating and that album and are paying their respects). Graphic design, filmmaking, pop culture, and music is full of stuff like this...sampling and ripping and riffing and homages are all part of the deal. Seems like a punk label like Dischord should be aware of that but in the above quote they sound more like a big company afraid of losing their intellectual property. Isn't punk all about taking without permission? Or does that not apply when you don't like the folks doing the taking? Lighten up, Dischord.
Update: Nike has apologized for producing the poster. Lame.
Update #2: I'm getting a ton of mail about this, the most about a single post in quite awhile. Without exception, you all disagree with me.
Supreme Court rules that file-sharing companies can be sued for what their users do with their service. Next up, gun companies being liable for murders committed with their products.
Adam Greenfield sights a celebrity hero in New York. "We finished up our meal, we retrieved our bikes, and we rode away, into the ongoing rush and joy of a life given to me in large measure by the unhappy-looking man at the table behind us."
Interview with Soso Whaley, director of Mickey D's and Me, counterpoint to Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me. "Even without seeing [Super Size Me] I could tell from the clips and the description by Spurlock that this was nothing more than junk science masquerading as legitimate scientific discovery."
Old Computer Bowl programs on archive.org. Computer Bowl was a technology trivia program from the late 80s/early 90s that featured Bill Joy, Bill Gates, Mitch Kapor, Andy Herzfeld, and Esther Dyson as contestants.
Getting nostalgic: the Nikon Coolpix 300 was my first digital camera. Eight years later, my phone takes much better photos than this thing does.
It's nearly impossible not to yawn while watching Emilie's Don't Yawn Game. I lasted about twenty seconds before it felt like I was going to pull something if I didn't yawn.
It's not every day that a new form of matter is created. Physicists at MIT have created something called a superfluid, "a gas of atoms that shows high-temperature superfluidity".
Depressing article on how much hassle it was for the makers of Mad Hot Ballroom to clear all copyrighted music in the film. "If I had known all that I had to go through, I'm not sure I would have done it."
Zeldman's observations about judging the May 1st Reboot. Most of the entries lacked originality, had little content, and even less focus on the user. Sounds like many of the winners of interactive design annuals as well.
Richard Stallman on the absurdity of software patents. Stallman draws a parallel between software patents and hypothetical literature patterns.
Rejected "grandmother cell" suggestion -- that individual neurons respond to single concepts -- may be true after all. "For things that you see over and over again, your family, your boyfriend, or celebrities, your brain wires up and fires very specifically to them. These neurons are very, very specific, much more than people think."
An open letter to the Kansas School Board. "Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster."
According to the Christian Science Monitor, "speculation swirls around the ailing chief justice" and a retirement announcement may come very soon. The Post's jumping of the gun on the story (and the timing of the CSM article) may indicate that Rehnquist is closer to death than retirement. Thanks to Steve for the heads up.
Update: The Post has issued a correction.
One of my favorite Dashboard widgets is the Weather widget. It's been pretty hot and sunny for the last few weeks here in NYC so I've been seeing quite a few pictures of my favorite yellow celestial object depicted on the widget. I recently had a chance to sit down with Mr. Sun, a long-time resident of both our solar system and the blogosphere, and I asked him about his Weather widget representations. Here's a portion of our interview:
Jason: How did the Weather Dashboard widget project come about?
Mr. Sun: Funny story. I'm kicking back, combustin' some rhymes, and this spacecraft approaches me. I'm about to throw a flare upside its flimsy-ass hull, when I notice it is sending a message out into the heliosphere.The damn thing is in Apple format, and I have Windows - so I have to download a special viewer. I finally decode the thing, and it's from Steve Jobs about an "insanely great" idea. I vaguely knew about him, because I'd been doing some advance work for Satan on how best to burn Gates for eternity. I'm a special consultant, basically. Anyway, I figured -- what the heck? So, that's how it started. Look, what network are you with again? I don't recognize you.
Jason: Is this the type of work you want to be doing at this point in
your 4.5 billion year career?
Mr. Sun: Look, I'm not going to radiate sunshine up your you-know-what. I'm struggling. Back in the day, I had a great agent -- Nicolaus. Not the brightest guy in the cosmos, but totally devoted to me. He made me feel like I was the center of the universe. I remember I worked with Frank Capra on Our Mr. Sun. Just between you and me, that guy was a little too sunny even for me -- ringing bells and angels wings -- whatever. Then, there was the "Pee-wee incident" involving an unfortunate choice I made in a public setting. I know it's no excuse, but I've warned you people to wear those glasses. I was in a slump. I started to get mean, sloppy, and pathetic. I wasn't combusting properly -- I had bad gas. So yes, I agreed to lend my likeness to the OS X weather widget. Is it where I want to be right now? No. Is it an honest gig? Yes, I think so. I've been thinking about starting a blog anyway; someone needs to let those other Sun Shadys know they are just imitating.
Jason: But do you really need any more exposure? You've got the most prime advertising position in the world -- 5 or 6 billion people a day can see you by just looking up -- what more are you looking for?
Mr. Sun: Eyeballs. Is that all you Internet types ever think about? You want to know who had a lot of eyeballs on him? Mahir. Do you want to be that guy for even one minute? I KISS YOU !!!!! You ask me how I can want more. Let me tell you a story that may help you understand. When I was younger, I watched Daedalus and his son fly just beneath me, soaring out of captivity on wings made of feathers stuck with wax to a flimsy wooden frame. Drunk with freedom, Icarus looked directly at me. I felt the panic of his watchful father, but I was mesmerized by his youthful passion. I met his gaze. He moved toward me and the rest they call myth. I made a vow that day to never stay still. Yes, I am fixed in the sky -- but not at my core. The fire that sustains me is fueled by the memory of what it took for Icarus to make his way to me, and the debt I owe for my part in his fall to earth. I can't repay that debt from 93 million miles away, but sitting on your desktop, I can at least start. I am also told the Internet is basically just one gigantic Porn Delivery Device, and I haven't had any good jacking material since the Soviets from Mir jettisoned their garbage. Did you ever say where you are from? Was it the Wall Street Journal? I'd love to have one of those stencilled sketches of me.
Jason: The photography in this shoot looks more candid than in past shoots by NASA, ground-based astronomers, or vacationing amateurs. In one photo, it looks like you're crying and in another you appear to be surrounded by a haze of marijuana smoke. Are we finally seeing the real you?
Mr. Sun: Looks can be very deceiving. In this case, however, they are not. Last year, I cried nonstop for three of your earth months. I cried because I burn anyone who comes close to me. I cried because I shine alone in the blackness of space. I cried because just once, I'd like to feel pretty and I know that will never happen. As for the haze of smoke around me, I am made of gas. If I wasn't churning gas around, you'd all be as frozen as Ted Williams head, so maybe you should think twice before demoting me from life-sustaining star to orbital stoner. Look, I've been around the block a time or two when it comes to humanity. At first, you were fearful of me. Later, you worshipped me as a god. Now, you ask me these cynical questions. Fine, no problem. I'll be around to see the cycle repeat itself a few thousand more times. I'm just a star, an ordinary star. Deal with it.
Thanks for joining us, Mr. Sun.
AFI's top 100 movie quotes JUN 23
AFI's top 100 movie quotes. Anything missing from the list or something that should be dropped?
Great ongoing collection of old mall photography. Includes shots of Southdale in Edina, MN, the very first mall ever built.
Hillary in 2008? JUN 22
Hillary in 2008?. A poll of more than a hundred political insiders -- Republicans and Democrats both -- on Hillary Clinton's chances if she were to run for President in 2008.
Babble obscures conversations in office environments. It takes your phone conversation and makes it sound like the hum of office conversation by layering your voice over itself several times.
Design cliches JUN 22
Design cliches. Globes, lightbulbs, compasses, handshakes, and puzzle pieces galore.
On the teevee JUN 22
I'm going to be on Attack of the Show on G4 TV this afternoon/evening. The show airs live at 7pm ET/4pm PT. So check your local listings and watch me be awkward and make mistakes in real-time (kinda like what I do on kottke.org already).
The trophies for the Contagious Media Showdown were printed on Eyebeam's 3-D printer. But even better, each trophy had that winning site's traffic graph printed on it...the trophy for big winner Forget-Me-Not Panties is on the right.
Tweaked photo album template JUN 21
My recent design refresh is already bearing fruit around these parts. Behold the new photo album template, which you can see in the Ireland photos, some recent Paris photos, photos from the High Line, etc. The album pages are the first non-white background pages to make it onto kottke.org in quite awhile, which was part of the reason for the design refresh. I tried the photos on white, but I felt they looked better on a darker background, so I went with that. The photos are also larger than they previously were, up from 600 pixels wide to 720 pixels. The file sizes are also quite large (sorry!)...BetterHTMLExport doesn't do the best job in compressing jpgs while preserving image quality. Photoshop's "Save for Web" does a much better job, but that would be a lot more time consuming for me. The search for the perfect solution goes on...
But my favorite part of the albums are the navigation. If you mouseover the right half of the photo, you get an arrow overlaid on the photo that suggests that you can click to move to the next photo (which, of course, you can). Then you can click on the left side of the photo to go back. If you're using Safari or Firefox or anything but IE really, the arrow images are tranparent png files that blend in with the photo in the background. Fun!
Up next: the photo page needs some help.
Fun new book from O'Reilly's Hacks series: Astronomy Hacks. "This handy field guide covers the basics of observing, and what you need to know about tweaking, tuning, adjusting, and tricking out a 'scope."
Eyebeam is currently accepting proposals for their fall/winter Artist in Residence program. If you get in, I will be within heckling distance of your workspace.
George Weller was the first foreign reporter to visit Nagasaki after the atomic bomb was dropped. For the first time, these are his reports from there, which at the time were censored by the US military.
Small corrections (from Dave Eggers) to Neal Pollack's piece in the Times Book Review. Includes a response to the response from Neal.
Eliot's presentation has some great thoughts about photoblogging and where it's going. Overproduction, overconsumption, and inappropriate audience participation are some of the pitfalls of photoblogging. This probably goes for regular blogging as well.
We checked out the critically acclaimed Me and You and Everyone We Know (blog) on the opening weekend of the IFC Center here in NYC. The Center occupies the former Waverly Theatre space on 6th Avenue, right across the street from the basketball court on West 4th Street.
The auditorium we were in doesn't have stadium seating like most newer theaters do, but the sound was great and they've got digital projection (which was a little surprising). And they don't show any commercials before the show starts (and the manager says there never will be), but they did have a film short and one brief preview. However, the butter from the concession stand only comes in two baffling flavors to top your popcorn: rosemary flavor and truffle flavor. We opted for the truffle and quickly wished we'd done without...popcorn that tastes like a side of mushrooms with your chicken breast is pretty yucky. Stick with the basics, gang.
There were also some folks from the projectionists union picketing outside the theater, alleging that the IFC Center was employing non-professional projectionists. I don't know if that's true or not, but for our showing last night, the person pressing play on the HD rig in our auditorium seemed to know what they were doing.
Four nuns and a priest from Romania face murder charges after crucifying another nun. I think it was probably all the violent TV and video games they were exposed to.
Ben Wallace, superstardom, selling out, and race in sports. "As racist as it really is, the fact that white people can walk around the Palace in fake black Afro wigs without black folks taking offense is a testament to the power of racial 'go beyond' that he has single-handedly generated."
The Morning News redesigns a bit. It looks a bit fresher, contemporary, and more like what it should look like (if that makes any sense at all).
How to use your cell phone anywhere in the world. Get a GSM phone, pay through the nose for roaming, or unlock your phone and use local pay-as-you-go SIM cards wherever you are.
DataTiles project from Sony Computer Science Laboratories. Watch the movie for how it works...reminds me a bit of the computer systems in Minority Report.
Money Magazine on the 50 smartest things you can do with your money. Also includes a list of 15 dumb things to avoid.
Goofy looking taxi accident JUN 20
Goofy looking taxi accident. I think this deserves a "whoopsie daisy".
Giant-Ass Image Viewer JUN 20
Allan Tannenbaum's photos of NYC nightlife in the 1970s. Discos, Studio 54, Andy Warhol, porn stars, etc. NSFW.
Neal Pollack on how his literary persona got out of hand. "For the last five years, I've lived with a dark, obnoxious fictional version of myself. It's been an irritating time."
Cory Doctorow's new book, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, is out today. As usual, the book is available for download under a Creative Commons license.
Google Wallet JUN 19
Word on the street (via waxy) is that Google is set to release a PayPal competitor called Google Wallet. A thread at Techdirt notes that Yahoo!, Microsoft, and eBay have all tried to launch similar services that met with little or no success in the face of competition with PayPal.
I doubt Google is focused on competing with PayPal, at least in the short term. This move, if true, makes a lot of sense for Google. They already have an internal payment system set up to collect and distribute AdSense revenues, a store selling t-shirts, bean bags, search hardware, they sell software, and they've indicated that with Google Video, people will be able to charge others to view videos uploaded to Google's servers (with Google taking a small cut). Taking the core of that internal payment system, it would probably be technologically trivial** for them to open it up for anyone to pay money to anyone else (instead of just individual --> Google or Google --> individual). The line above about their Google Video plans -- "people will be able to charge others to view videos uploaded to Google's servers (with Google taking a small cut)" -- already sounds a lot like what PayPal does. This is the Andre Torrez school of product development...build something that solves a problem you're having and it'll probably be useful to a bunch of other people if you let them use it too.
Plus it leverages their existing user base. If you've already got an AdSense account or are going to charge for your video through Google Video, you're already a GWallet user...and signing people up through their GMail/Orkut/Blogger accounts would probably be pretty easy as well. This move may also indicate that Google is planning to charge a wider range of people for products/services -- maybe a "pro" version of Gmail, a robust, commercial API to their search results, or even a music store? GWallet would be needed infrastructure for ramping up from paying relatively few AdSense users to (potentially) anyone who uses Google. It makes sense for them beyond trying to gain a foothold in the online payments space.
** Getting the banking stuff sorted out is another story though...but as PayPal has shown, if you can get that set up, there's plenty of revenue to be had.
Nokia.com comes up first in a Google search for "motorola mobile phones". I suspect it's because Motorola's site isn't optimized for Google (lots of Flash, little text) and a difference in usage: it's "cell phones" in the US versus "mobile phones" in Europe (where Nokia is from).
The Contagious Media Showdown Awards are Saturday night at Eyebeam, 6-8pm. I'll be presenting one of the awards, so stop by and (please don't) heckle.
A project to offer free textbooks (as opposed to the $120 ones you get at the college bookstore) is looking for some web design help. "In response to the textbook industry's constant drive to maximize profits instead of educational value, I have started this collection of the existing free textbooks and educational tools available online."
Neal Stephenson on the larger lessons of Star Wars. "Nothing is more seductive than to think that we, like the Jedi, could be masters of the most advanced technologies while living simple lives: to have a geek standard of living and spend our copious leisure time vegging out."
Shuffle JUN 17
While walking through Chelsea Market to get some lunch, I ran across a band comprised of more than a dozen 10-12 year olds with trumpets, clarinets, flutes, guitars, and percussion instruments. They were playing Superfreak by Rick James when I walked in and segued from that right into Hava Nigila. Awesome.
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes now engaged. What the hell? This is shaping up to be a monster of a train wreck.
Finding a rough model for how films fare at the box office. "They assume that revenue relies on three major factors: the size of the possible audience, the initial desire of audience members to see the film (which is often dictated by the amount spent on marketing and publicity), and audience response to the film."
Coffee in Paris sucks? JUN 17
Coffee in Paris sucks?. I don't drink coffee myself (vile, vile stuff), but I've never heard anything bad about the coffee in Paris, aside from the complaint of some Americans that you can rarely get it to go.
Stats on the BBC's Beethoven downloads. "Live performances of Beethoven's first five symphonies, broadcast as part of The Beethoven Experience on BBC Radio 3, have amassed an incredible 657,399 download requests during a week long trial."
Bernie Goetz is running for public advocate on a platform of vegetarianism and, uh, squirrels. Goetz shot four youths who tried to rob him on the NYC subway in 1984. (Is this campaign for real?)
Panel on food and weblogs tonight. "Panelists include Adam Kuban of SliceNY, Alaina Browne of A Full Belly and Josh Friedland of The Food Section. Andrea Strong of The Strong Buzz moderates."
The Teenager's Guide to the Real World. The actual real world, not the MTV program.
Book critic Tanya Gold reads Rebbecca Ray's 1000-page Newfoundland in one sitting. Hour 13: "I think my eyes are bleeding. Even commas make my face ache."
WSJ: we should fund PBS, but remove anything remotely liberal. "But real history, meaning something that happened in the past as opposed to the recent present, with which PBS, alas, cannot be trusted."
A man's letter to the music industry detailing what he's stolen from them and why. "I refuse to pay you to play these pointless games with arbitrary dates and obsolete borders."
The Apology Line JUN 16
The Apology Line. "The way it worked was that you could call and confess to anything that you wanted, and you'd be recorded, or you could call and listen to other people's confessions." Sounds sort of like a phone-based message board.
A gallery of casino carpeting photos. "Many of the carpets use flowers and wheels, both suggestive of a cyclical life: flowers bud, bloom, and then die, and their beauty is only ephemeral."
Last 100 posts, part 5 JUN 15
Last 100 posts is a semi-regular follow-up to stuff that I've posted about on kottke.org recently. The last such update was from May 10. Now, on to the shiny and new.
People seemed to like the site refresh. The most popular question I received in response was, "why the heck don't you change the color on visited links?" This is a good question that I don't have a good answer for. I recall having a good answer for it several years ago, but I can't remember what it is. Or maybe it was never a good answer. At any rate, changing the color of the visited links is something I'll be looking into.
I removed the dropdown menu from the front page. From the emailed reaction to its absence, it is not missed. (But it will still be back in some form soonish.)
Apple switched to Intel chips. I suspect you've heard more than you care to about this, so I'm going to leave further research on the topic as an exercise to the reader.
Unsurprisingly, your music collections are a lot more diverse than mine. Galego, Uzbeki, Putonghua, Gujarati, Swahili, and Phil Collinese were among the languages that people found in their music collections.
Look ma, I was in Time magazine.
When I got back from Ireland, I posted a picture to Flickr of an Irish breakfast we had one morning. That got quite a discussion going about if the breakfast was in fact Irish or if it was English or even Scottish and which nation was ripping what breakfast idea from whom. In the end, Flickr user esteban speaks the truth when he says, "God bless the fry up no matter what you call it."
In case you missed it, reader Peter vanDerbeek made a 2005 summer movies calendar for us all to enjoy.
Still pursuing various rural internet options. The only thing we've learned for sure is that Verizon employees are quite nice and helpful. I'm planning on compiling all of the responses and information into a handy guide for folks looking for internet access in the rural US.
The 50 Fun Things to Do with Your iPod feature was quite popular, despite its non-appearance on Slashdot. (What, they don't like fun? Time to read How To Get Slashdotted again, I guess.) Someone suggested that with the addition of 50 more items, it would make a good book(let)...which isn't a bad idea at all.
In compiling the ordering strategies for How to order food in a restaurant, I neglected to include Chris Anderson's forthcoming book on The Long Tail. The LT ordering strategy would probably only work in a place like Shopsin's, with a menu of hundreds of different items or at places with really large wine lists.
I got sick earlier this month (I've still got a cough I can't get rid of) and wondered who got sick in June. Turns out quite a few of you, including a fairly high proportion of my friends. Many blamed allergies, which probably had something to do with my own ailment as well.
Interview with Errol Morris JUN 14
Interview with Errol Morris. He says he's going to be doing some more commercials for Apple.
Putting the public into PBS JUN 14
Hey folks at PBS, I hear you're having funding problems. Might I suggest taking a spin around the Web to find content released under a Creative Commons license that you can broadcast for free? The Creative Commons site has a content search engine, as does Yahoo!
It doesn't look like there's a whole lot of video just yet, but Jason Scott has just released his 5 1/2 hour-long documentary series on BBS technology and culture under a Creative Commons license. The series is not going to cost any money to acquire beyond the $50 the 3-DVD set costs and from what I hear, it's an interesting and professionally produced view of a topic that many in your potential audience might be interested in watching.
And perhaps it's time to make the Public Broadcasting Service into just that...media by the people, for the people. A nationwide public access channel that draws the best citizen content from around the country and (this is the important bit) is edited into PBS programming. Or at least take a few hours out of the week for this...I don't want to see Frontline, Sesame Street, Nova, or Newshour with Jim Lehrer taken off the air, but giving the Make magazine gadgeteers a half-hour a week to geek out about hacking stuff seems reasonable. The overall result may feel less professional but a lot more participatory.
The Economist reports of the current state of biomimicry. Includes information about "biological patents", which I'd never heard of before.
Get rid of cell phone reception dead spots by using cellular repeaters. They're not cheap, but they work.
Researching quantum honeybees. Can bees detect quantum fields and use them to find food?
Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art NOW THEN online exhibit. "What did professional comic artists draw like when they were 12 years old"?
A legal guide for bloggers JUN 13
Because I occasionally do or say things that get me in trouble with The Man (see Ken Jennings/Sony and Simply Porn), I'm often asked my opinion on what to do when other people find themselves in similar situations. After lots of disclaiming (I'm not a lawyer, but...), I usually end up giving very little useful advice because I don't know much about the issues involved with any case beyond my own. But now, I will be able to point people to the EFF's Legal Guide for Bloggers:
Whether you're a newly minted blogger or a relative old-timer, you've been seeing more and more stories pop up every day about bloggers getting in trouble for what they post.
Like all journalists and publishers, bloggers sometimes publish information that other people don't want published. You might, for example, publish something that someone considers defamatory, republish an AP news story that's under copyright, or write a lengthy piece detailing the alleged crimes of a candidate for public office.
The difference between you and the reporter at your local newspaper is that in many cases, you may not have the benefit of training or resources to help you determine whether what you're doing is legal. And on top of that, sometimes knowing the law doesn't help - in many cases it was written for traditional journalists, and the courts haven't yet decided how it applies to bloggers.
But here's the important part: None of this should stop you from blogging. Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn't use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That's why EFF created this guide, compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your freedom.
I am a Japanese School Teacher. Experiences teaching junior high school in Japan.
"There is no physics theory that explains the nature of, or even the existence of, football matches, teapots, or jumbo-jet aircraft.". "Consequently physics per se cannot causally determine the outcome of human creativity; rather it creates the 'possibility space' to allow human intelligence to function autonomously."
2000 year old seed grows a previously extinct Judean date tree. It's like a plant version of Jurassic Park
Visual ringtones JUN 13
There was a panel on synaesthesia at Eyebeam last week and as I was finishing up some work before heading home, I caught a bit of the introduction. It's a bit different than the standard boilerplate announcement you hear at most conferences/panels:
If you have cell phones or pagers, please leave them on because they might result in some interesting visual experiences for some of us here.
Later, a phone rings:
This review of Per Se mentions their non-alcoholic wine pairings. "With each course, we were given a beverage - ranging from grape juice to steamed milk - which complimented the tastes in the dish. Libby's 'Red Rice and Beans' was completed by a lime margarita. My foie gras with a gossamer grape juice that was finer than most wines."
Hossein Derakhshan, founding father of the influential Iranian blogging movement, is visiting Iran and needs your financial support. He's going to cover the trip as a citizen journalist but warns that he may be detained, questioned, thrown in jail, be forced to make false statements, etc.
"Graffiti Taxonomy presents isolated letters from various graffiti tags, reproduced in similar scales and at close proximity". "The intent of these studies is to show the diversity of styles as expressed in a single character."
Malcolm Gladwell talks about his work space. He does most of his writing on his laptop while sitting on sofas and in coffeeshops and restaurants.
On the art of the movie trailer. "There are few more cynical forms of art, or of advertising. Trailers are full of deception. Because what they want you to do is to see the movie they want you to see, not the movie that it is."
Presentation: how to make a million dollars. "In America, starting a successful business is the surest, most controllable path available to you for making a million dollars".
Urbanist Joel Kotkin (no relation) on what makes for a thriving city. "He argues that to be successful, today's cities must still be places that are 'sacred, safe, and busy.'"
Design refresh JUN 09
Made a few changes to the design of the site just now. If it looks a little goofy, you may need to press shift-reload or restart your browser to load the new stylesheet (I can't believe it's 2005 and I still need to say this...come on, browser makers). The header and footer are different (site-wide), as is the front page. It's a continuation of the tag idea I introduced here almost a year ago and an amalgam of a couple different designs I've been tinkering with for the last few months...with the combination, I finally got it where I want it. It looks pretty much the same as the last design (yellow tab/banner at the top), but it's going to be more flexible going forward...and I just plain like it better than the last one (which I got tired of pretty quickly).
Photos from Ireland JUN 09
Ireland is green. Green, green, green. Such a cliche, but it really is unbelievably green. Here are some photos I took on a recent trip there:
We spent a little more than a week in southwestern Ireland, mostly in Cork, Kerry, and Clare. We actually drove through Limerick with a man from Nantucket, which if we'd been less jetlagged, we would have thought was more funny than we did. There was traditional Irish music in a pub in Dingle and Ennis. Some amazing porridge (no, really!). It rained a lot, but you got used to it after awhile. I'd never had a Guinness (for strength!) before and I figured the place to have one was in Ireland, so I ordered a half one night at a pub. I could only finish half of it...even a quarter of a pint of stout was too much for a amateur imbiber like myself.
I've got a short piece in the second issue of Make magazine about Mark Simonson's Lego film scanner. This is my first bit of paid writing ever.
Walt Mossberg: wireless phone carriers exercise too much control over the technology their customers can use. "I once saw a sign at the offices of a big cellphone carrier that said, 'It isn't a phone until "Harry" says it's a phone.' But why should it be up to Harry (a real carrier employee whose name I have changed)? Why shouldn't the market decide whether a device is a good phone?"
Nancy Cartwright says The Simpsons movie is now in production. Will one of the entertainment industry's biggest pieces of vaporware actually get shipped?
Cory Doctorow discovers bliss in Mexican drinking chocolate. Having had food experiences like this, I can relate to the feeling.
The Daughters of Freya is a serialized email mystery. "The mystery is told through emails exchanged between journalist Samantha Dempsey and the other characters. You'll receive a few emails at random times every day over the three weeks that it takes for the mystery to unfold."
An interview with Rob Walker, who writes about design and consumer behavior for the NY Times Magazine. "The consumer is making a decision as to whether the product succeeds or fails, and what I do is to come in afterwards and try to articulate what the consumer saw or didn't see that makes something succeed or fail."
Kirven Blount travels to Denmark to try out for a Danish professional basketball teams. "You go to your local gym to play basketball. Some enormous foreigners arrive. They play very well. So do you. They tell you they are professional basketball players from Denmark, and that you should fly to Copenhagen for a tryout."
Medical advice from Tom Cruise. "What about vitamin F? Vitamin G? We've got the whole rest of the alphabet of undiscovered vitamins that nobody is pursuing."
Chen Shaofeng paints his subjects while they paint him. The results are hung side-by-side in his show.
The first five mp3s of Beethoven's symphonies are available for download on the BBC site. The site is really slow though...does anyone have a mirror or a BitTorrent available?
From The Morning News comes this collection of photographs of celebrities playing table tennis. Among those pictured are Henry Kissinger, Billie Jean King, Lauren Bacall, and Bob Marley. Here are Bill and Hillary Clinton:
I'd just like to take this opportunity to point out just how full of useless knowledge I am: under the rules of the USATT (specifically 10.10), you're not allowed to touch the table with your free hand during a volley as Hillary is doing here. Point to Bill.
Matt Webb on who the web is JUN 08
Matt Webb on who the web is and isn't for (this is a great little essay). "The huge influx of cash at the turn of the millennium led to the whole Web being built in the image of the Bay area. The website patterns that started there and - just by coincidence - happened to scale to other environments, those were the ones that survived."
skinnyCorp branches out from Threadless tees to silk ties. Naked & Angry has the same fun premise tho...patterns are submitted by people, voted upon, and the winners are made into fabric which is used to make various products.
A list of weeds you might see on the subway. Including iPodpea, Prickly Metscap, Mumblecane, Dozing Slabface, and Edgy Sweatnettle.
David Sedaris deals with a sticky situation on the airplane. "I pulled a Times crossword puzzle from the bag beneath my seat. That always makes you look reasonable, especially on a Saturday, when the words are long and the clues are exceptionally tough."
A map of Firefox usage in Europe. 30.5% in Finland and almost 25% in Germany.
The innuendo photo pool on Flickr. Including "Bunghole Liquors" and "Huron Drugs".
Indian man sends a record 182,689 text messages in a month. His cell phone bill was 1411 pages long.
Soviet-style "Watch, Ride, and Report" poster spied on DC-area commuter train. Report any unusual activities directly to the Ministry of Love.
Slideshow from GMHRD, an arcade game contest in which contestants are clad only in their underwear. I missed my chance to shine at Dig Dug in my boxers because I was watching Six Feet Under. :(
I'm not what you would call a fan of world music, but I just counted the number of languages used in my music collection and came up with nine:
- English - Most of the songs
- Spanish - Manu Chao, Pixies, others...
- French - Manu Chao, Amelie soundtrack, Dealership, others...
- Japanese - Yoshinori Sunahara
- Portuguese - Seu Jorge (his Bowie covers from The Life Aquatic)
- Icelandic - Sigur Ros
- German - Nena (99 Luftballoons), Kraftwerk
- Latin - Chant (you know, that ubiquitous Gregorian chants CD from the mid-90s)
- Galician - Mano Chao
Seems like there should be some Italian in there as well, but I can't find any right now. And I didn't count Hopelandic, which is a made-up language that Sigur Ros uses in some of their songs. How many languages can you find in your music collection? Post your list or a link to your blog post in the comments.
Plunk Biggio is a blog "dedicated to Craig Biggio and his (probably unintentional) Quest to break the all time major league career record for getting hit by pitches". He's only 5 HBPs away from Don Baylor, the official MLB record holder.
Class "conflict" on Nantucket: the old rich meet the new super-rich. And then there's the rest of the island's population that can't afford to live there anymore.
Surowiecki on crisis management. "Entrepreneurs are the cockiest of all. It may be that the very qualities that help people get ahead are the ones that make them ill-suited for managing crises."
On lightning strike survivors. "Because strikes are so rare, and because their symptoms are so obscure, victims are often dismissed by doctors, not surprisingly, as malingerers or told they have psychosomatic disorders."
How to avoid the exhausting planning and preparation that goes into making a second date. "This means small talk like, 'after 6 hits while locked in my room meditating, I basically blew a fuse,' is not exactly the combination to the master vault at U.S. Pussy Savings & Loan."
Scientist hypothesizes that Ashkenazi Jews are more intelligent as a group because of natural selection. "Put these two things together--a correlation of intelligence and success, and a correlation of success and fecundity--and you have circumstances that favour the spread of genes that enhance intelligence."
Jason Scott on why he decided to license his straight-to-DVD documentary under a Creative Commons license. "It was in some ways a tough decision, because you want to 'protect' yourself, but then you realize you're not really 'protecting' anything; all you're doing is being a paranoid twitch-bag. And once you realize this, then it becomes a little easier."
Season premiere of Six Feet Under, 9pm tonight. Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait, can't wait, can't wait, can't wait!
Six reasons why crunch mode doesn't work. "There's a bottom-line reason most industries gave up crunch mode over 75 years ago: It's the single most expensive way there is to get the work done."
Why intelligent design isn't JUN 06
Why intelligent design isn't. "Biologists aren't alarmed by intelligent design's arrival in Dover and elsewhere because they have all sworn allegiance to atheistic materialism; they're alarmed because intelligent design is junk science."
- As speculated here and on Slashdot, Intel will not be making PowerPC chips for Apple.
- Intel will be making x486 chips for Apple.
- For the last 5 years, every copy of OS X has been compiled on both PowerPC and Intel platforms. This apparently is the long-rumored Marklar project.
- Jobs says developing apps to run on Intel Macs is easy...there's a checkbox in the developer tools that "makes a cross-platform single binary". Demo of Mathematica running on an Intel Mac from a guy from Wolfram...it only took them two days [some sources are now saying two hours, not days] to port it to Intel.
- Running PowerPC-compiled programs on an Intel Mac will be handled through emulation. Gold star to John Gruber for guessing this one.
I'm sure there's more, but those are the important bits. And I know this is Steve Jobs talking to us here, but from where I'm sitting (across the country, reading paraphrase transcripts), the transition has been well prepared for by Apple for a number of years and looks like it will happen a lot more smoothly than all the over-the-weekend hand-wringing indicated that it would.
Update: Dave Winer is reporting that:
1. Apple is not going into the software business, their operating system will not run on other vendor's hardware. So you won't be running the Mac OS on Dell, HP or IBM, for example. and 2. While Windows is not explicitly supported, they won't do anything to prevent Windows from running on their hardware.
Update #2: From news.com:
After Jobs' presentation, Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller addressed the issue of running Windows on Macs, saying there are no plans to sell or support Windows on an Intel-based Mac. "That doesn't preclude someone from running it on a Mac. They probably will," he said. "We won't do anything to preclude that." However, Schiller said the company does not plan to let people run Mac OS X on other computer makers' hardware. "We will not allow running Mac OS X on anything other than an Apple Mac," he said.
MacRumors has live coverage of Jobs' keynote at WWDC. I'll be following along and reporting if anything significant happens.
And what the heck is "peak oil" anyway?. Peak oil "predicts that future world oil production will soon reach a peak and then rapidly decline".
Crash JUN 06
First of all, where did this movie come from? When a reader recommended it to me last week, I'd never heard of it before...I thought he was talking about the Cronenberg film. But it's been out for almost six weeks now and has made $40 million at the box office (on a budget of $6.5 million). Looks to me it's one of those films where Hollywood finally does something right and they don't want to tell anyone about it.
I seem to be on a roll with movies lately...first Revenge of the Sith, then Primer, and now I really liked Crash. Reminded me a lot of Soderbergh's Traffic crossed with P.T. Anderson's Magnolia. At first, Crash seems to be about racism, but I think what Don Cheadle's character had to say in the opening scene is closer to what it's actually about:
I think we miss that touch so much that we crash into one another just to feel something.
He's talking about cars in that scene, but it easily applies to the locks, guns, gated & segregated communities, money, racial epithets, and power structures we see in the rest of the film, all the technology, money, and power that people use to keep themselves safe but really just make things worse. From an interview with director Paul Haggis about the film:
It's an odd life we live in Los Angeles, a city that uses freeways and wide boulevards to divide people by race and class. We spend most of our time encased in metal and glass; in our homes, our cars, at work. Unlike any real city, we only walk where "it's safe"-those outdoor malls and ersatz city blocks we've created to feel like we're still part of humanity, if only humanity could afford to shop where we do. We no longer truly feel the touch of strangers as we brush past them on the street.
Is persuasion dead? JUN 06
Is persuasion dead?. "Persuasion just isn't relevant to delivering elections or eyeballs. Pols have figured out that to get votes you don't need to change minds. Even when they want to, modern media make it hard."
I used to be a neocon JUN 06
I used to be a neocon. "I supported Bush's war on Iraq and I called everyone who didn't a liberal Kool-aid drinker. I voted for Bush in 2000 and I listened to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and just about any right-winger on the radio that I could get a four-word talking point from to use against liberals."
What the heck happened to Krispy Kreme?. "How could a company in business for nearly 70 years, with an almost legendary product and a loyal customer base, fall from grace so quickly?"
Keith Chen is doing economic research with monkeys; teaching them how money works. "When taught to use money, a group of capuchin monkeys responded quite rationally to simple incentives; responded irrationally to risky gambles; failed to save; stole when they could; used money for food and, on occasion, sex."
A literary map of Manhattan JUN 05
A literary map of Manhattan. "Here's where imaginary New Yorkers lived, worked, played, drank, walked, and looked at ducks."
I've been closely watching the rumors and now news of Apple's impending switch from chips manufactured by IBM to those manufactured by Intel. Reaction to the news has been mixed at best, with a number of people worried about 1) the enormous cost to Apple and OS X software developers in rewriting software for Intel's x68 chips, and 2) Apple losing out on future hardware sales when OS X can run on a $300 PC available at Wal-Mart.
However, it may be that people are reading too much into this news. From an anonymous poster at Slashdot:
The contract Apple has with IBM has a "Moto" contingency. There are extremely tough provisions in the contract that Apple insisted upon to prevent another Motorola scenario from happening. IBM had no problem with the provisions because they were positive the could beet [sic] the goals by two in half the time. IBM fucked up badly.
Apple now owns a large amount of PPC IP [intellectual property] and Intel will now be manufacturing and designing PPC chips.
Everyone's assuming that "switching to Intel chips" meant x86 chips (found in most common desktop computers), but what if they're going to be manufacturing the PowerPC chips (or almost-compatible ones) that OS X already runs on? There's a lot of reasons why this wouldn't happen (How would Intel get a production facility set up that quickly? Does Apple own the IP for the PPC chips? Etc.), but when you look at how Apple protects their hardware business, it's hard to imagine that they'd let any old cheap x86-based computer run OS X.
Even if Intel isn't going to be making PPC chips for Apple, they'll probably manufacture a modified version of an already produced chip that OS X will be refactored to run on so that the cheapo Wal-Mart PC can't run it. And if that fails, there's always DRM, which could be used by OS X to verify that it runs only on Intel chips sold in Apple hardware.
Anyway, we'll find out on Monday; Jobs is supposed to make the announcement at the Worldwide Developer Conference.
Menu gone for now JUN 04
I've removed the menu on the top of the front page from the site for now. Since I launched it, I've been playing with it on and off, listening to feedback, and trying to determine whether or not it adds or substracts from the user experience of the site. When I got back from vacation, I loaded up kottke.org in the browser and just didn't like the looks of the thing sitting up there. Don't know why exactly, but since it still does that flicker thing in Firefox and doesn't work in Opera at all (thanks to everyone for sending in their fixes, BTW), it's probably for the best. I'm going to work on it some more and it will probably return in some modified form soon.
A historian disgraces himself. A rebuttal of "The Theory of Evolution: Just a Theory?"
The theory of evolution: just a theory?. "Historian Prof. William D. Rubinstein shares his doubts about the theory of evolution."
Creationism: God's gift to the ignorant. Richard Dawkins on the "deceitful misquoting of scientists to suit an anti-scientific agenda" and other creationist follies.
BBC Radio will be offering mp3s of all nine of Beethoven's symphonies. "All the symphonies are performed by BBC Philharmonic, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda."
"The problem with mash-ups is that once you get past both 'oh, that's unexpected' and 'that must have been difficult', what you're left with is a dj with really fucking terrible taste in music". IMO, few mash-ups have gone beyond the novelty stage.
On sickness JUN 03
I've discovered that the only good thing about being sick is watching all 10 episodes of the excellent Band of Brothers series back-to-back for ~10 straight hours. I'm so ready to be better...before I try something stupid today like a trilogy marathon (Matrix, Star Wars IV-VI, or Lord of the Rings (extended version [yikes!])) or watching the entire 3rd season of Six Feet Under.
No more free pretzels on Northwest Airlines. They'll save 10s of dollars!
Excerpt of The Washingtonienne's self-titled novel. Wow, that's bad. She should have kept her day job.
Rural internet options JUN 02
There's a possibility that I'm going to be spending some time in a rural area with no DSL or cable over the next few months and I need high speed internet access to work on kottke.org while I'm there. I've investigated various options, but there are so many pros, cons, and unknown factors to weigh that it's hard make a choice. Here's the list:
- Dialup - Cheap, but way too slow. Not really an option.
- Two-way satellite internet - I've heard bad things about this, but it's been available for awhile now so I'd guess it's not completely useless. The latency sucks, but there's no way to get around it and I'm not a gamer so how bad can it be? Do I go with Direcway or Starband or GroundControl or are there other companies? I've heard stories that some services throttle bandwidth or charge per GB. Also kind of expensive. Gotta sign year+-long contracts. Does it work in bad weather?
- Phone company says that we're out of range for DSL, but get the DSL modem anyway and see if it works. As suggested here. Anyone done this?
- Get the phone company to drop a DSL-ready line from the trunk to the house. This is probably expensive (how much?) and would take time to convince the phone company to do.
- T1 line. Expensive. $600/mo? Probably more.
- Wifi antenna pointed towards a wireless access point somewhere in DSL land. Downsides: don't know anyone in surrounding DSL land, possible line-of-sight issues.
- Run cable coax from nearest cable subscriber's house several miles away. Absurd. Included only for the sake of completeness.
Does anyone have any personal experience with any of this? Any recommendations or helpful pointers? Satellite internet seems like the best option, but looking around at the available services, it seems expensive and just generally like the service they offer is kind of "my way or the highway" and generally makes me uneasy and unclean. Many thanks in advance for anything you can offer.
How to become an early riser JUN 02
How to become an early riser. "The solution was to go to bed when I'm sleepy (and only when I'm sleepy) and get up with an alarm clock at a fixed time (7 days per week)."
The Blurb Racket is a weekly roundup of movie blurbs put back into context. "...Travolta is as smooth as ever..." is actually "...although Travolta is as smooth as ever, the picture is a bust, a grimly unfunny comedy with no connection to reality, and worst of all, running on and on for two dismal hours".
And it's all my fault JUN 02
Anytime I think of saying something that would be considered a "jinx", I have this little conversation with myself in my head on whether I should actually utter the thought aloud and risk karmic payback. I'm not a superstitious person but I usually end up keeping silent. The other day on the plane home from Ireland, I decided to take a chance:
"You know what's weird? I haven't been sick all winter."
After all, who gets a cold in June? *cough* *cough* So if things are a little slow around here today, that's why.
Choirboy JUN 01
Choirboy. "As head boy at a legendary choir school, Lawrence Lessig was repeatedly molested by the charismatic choir director, part of a horrific pattern of child abuse there. Now, as one of America's most famous lawyers, he's put his own past on trial to make sure such a thing never happens again."
If you're going to see Revenge of the Sith again, look for these easter eggs. Both the Millennium Falcon and George Lucas have cameo appearances.
Poker and fine dining JUN 01
I've recently begun using PubSub to follow a few topics, people mostly. One of my keyword subscriptions is for "thomas keller", the noted chef. A new item comes across the wire every day or so, usually from someone who is trying out a recipe from Keller's Bouchon cookbook.
Then one day I noticed an item about Keller playing in a poker tournament. "Hmmm," I thought, "I didn't know he played poker. Must be participating in one of those celebrity tournaments that are all over the cable television." Over the next few weeks, I discovered that Keller evidently played in a lot of celebrity poker tournaments. "Must be really into poker as a hobby," I thought, not really reading any particular item very closely.
Then it got ridiculous...there was an item every few days about Keller's poker playing exploits. How on earth does this guy have time to run his restaurants when he's playing all this poker? Has this famed perfectionist workaholic chef found a new obsession? Does Thomas Keller have a gambling problem?
And then the obvious truth hit me...wrong Thomas Keller, stupid. Thomas "Thunder" Keller, aged 24, is the youngest person to ever win a World Series of Poker event. Perhaps I can take consolation in that somewhere out there, there's a young poker fan as confused as I was about his hero "Thunder" shirking his card-playing responsibilities to write a cookbook about French bistro cuisine.
Two Morse coders beat two text messengers on Leno. That's it...I want a phone with one big button with which to tap out messages.
How the Vanity Fair article about Deep Throat came about. Sounds like Woodward and Bernstein kinda got the shaft.