Could Lois Lane have Superman's baby? "His Kryptonian biological makeup is enhanced by Earth's yellow sun. If Lois gets a tan, the kid could kick right through her stomach." More discussion here. And here.
Second string JUN 29
Not to go on and on about it like the stupid announcers on American TV, but this passage from Jeffrey Toobin's New Yorker piece (sadly not online), may explain why the American team did so poorly in the World Cup:
Every kid in the American suburbs, it seems, owns a pair of shin guards. Soccer accords nicely with baby-boomer parents' notions about sports: every kid gets to play, no one stands out too much, there's plenty of running and trophies for all. If [John Robert's] children are typical, they will play neighborhood soccer for a few years, with enthusiastic but inexperienced parent coaches, and then wander away from the game by adolescence. Great high-school athletes tend to migrate to football and basketball, where they can play in front of big crowds and perhaps qualify for college scholarships. Soccer in the suburbs serves mostly as a bridge between Barney and Nintendo; it's a pleasant diversion, not a means of developing brutes like Jan Koller, to say nothing of the magicians who stock the Brazilian team.
This dovetails nicely with what my friend David wrote during a discussion about the disappearance of the US from the World Cup:
Our best athletes go to basketball, football, and baseball, roughly in that order. Soccer gets the dregs, sadly. Don't you think Terrell Owens would be a better striker than Landon Donovan? Even a 50-year-old Darrel Green might be faster than the fastest player on the US Soccer team, and so on.
We know these guys are smart players, and they may have the same instincts that even the Brazilians and Ecuadorians do. But they're just not nearly as good. Watching Brazil decimate Japan yesterday, even briefly, it was obvious how much stronger they were than the US team.
Over IM just now, David and I were musing about Allen Iverson's possible greatness as a soccer player; so creative, quick, and fearless. I bet if some the NBA's best players grew up playing soccer the way they played basketball, the US would have a pretty great team.
Second part of a two-part interview with designer Michael Bierut. "I've found that any reluctance I've had to doing more of this 'political design' has to do with my own fear that things like T-shirts and posters are usually feeble tools to address the enormous problems we face as a society today." Read part one.
If I were Apple, I'd be worried about this. Two lifelong Mac fans are switching away from Macs to PCs running Ubuntu Linux: first it was Mark Pilgrim and now Cory Doctorow. Nerds are a small demographic, but they can also be the canary in the coal mine with stuff like this.
Study by the International Energy Agency says that "a global switch to efficient lighting systems would trim the world's electricity bill by nearly one-tenth". How? Switch away from incandescent bulbs to CFLs (now) and eventually to LEDs.
New Japanese device records smells for later playback. Smell is the sense most associated with memory, so this could be quite a compelling personal history recorder.
Superman Returns JUN 29
There's a bit of a shout-out to citizen journalism in Superman Returns. Mid-movie, Daily Planet Editor in Chief White, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen look at some photos of Superman spread across the chief's desk. They're great, iconic photos of the Man of Steel in action. White berates Olsen (and I'm paraphrasing here), "these are great and they were taken by a kid with a cameraphone. Whadda you got, Olsen?" Olsen throws his photos down on the desk; the one on top depicts a distant blurry streak across a blue sky.
"Look, in the sky, Chief."
"It's a bird."
"It's a plane."
"No, look, it's..."
Score one for the man on the scene.
Unobserved people paid almost three times as much to the "honesty box" when watched by a photocopied face than in the absence of the face. See also What the Bagel Man Saw by Freakonomists Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt. I wonder if the smiley face on milk cartons deters people from drinking straight from the carton?
Update: Spiegel Online has a story with a graph depicting the results of different sets of eyes...sexy eyes did the worst while serious eyes looking straight ahead performed the best. (thx, roland)
Related to yesterday's link about famous photography in online forums, here's a classic Henri Cartier-Bresson getting rubbished on Flickr. "hard to tell at this size but is everything meant to be moving in this shot, all seems blurred".
The Omnivore's Dilemma JUN 28
Dear Mr. Pollan,
I am writing to you in the hopes that you can offer some assistance to me regarding a troubling household situation. My wife has been reading your recent book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and has allowed herself to become carried away with your admittedly persuasive argument about eating more locally and ethically raised food.
At first it was just little stuff, like buying local produce and banning foodstuffs made with high fructose corn syrup. But then there was the fist-fight at the greenmarket about the sausage that Meg suspected was not humanely made because the woman selling it did not know the names of the pigs that supplied the meat. "Just one name, you heartless bitch!" she screamed as security escorted her from Union Square. The restraining order prevents Meg's further presence at the market and I am barely tolerated in her stead.
Lately though, Mr. Pollan, the situation has become much worse. Meg has completely forsaken her marital duties, turning her evening attentions elsewhere. It took me a few weeks to discover what she was up to, but she finally admitted to tending a hayfield in an empty lot in Queens. Oh, didn't I tell you? Meg has purchased a cow. I don't know where this cow is located, but his name is Arthur. She's taking me to meet him before he's humanely slaughtered so that, and I quote precisely, "you know where your food comes from for a change".
After the cow news became widely known in our household, Meg turned our extra bedroom into a hay mow, which mow is the subject of our building's co-op board meeting next month. An eighth floor resident complained about the conveyor belt chucking bales into the building's alley and the straw situation in the elevator was getting on everyone's nerves. I dare not add to the register of complaints by mentioning my acute hay-fever at this point.
The loss of the bedroom was tolerable, but Meg has also planted a garden that takes up half of our living room. One day she just took out the hardwood flooring and replacing it with freshly turned soil. Did you know that you can buy a roto-tiller in Manhattan, Mr. Pollan? Well, I do know, and you can definitely buy a roto-tiller at the Home Depot on 23rd Street in Chelsea for a sum close to what your wife might get at a pawn shop for your wristwatch.
So you can see the predicament I'm in here, Mr. Pollan. Any advice you can offer to this sneezing, watchless, beleaguered soul would be greatly appreciated.
Yours very sincerely,
P.S. I hope this letter reaches you in a timely manner. Meg has determined that the USPS uses ethanol-based gasoline in their trucks, so this letter is "speeding" its way to you via grass-fed horseback. Pray for me.
Larger portions of food cause people to eat more. Anyone who has eaten at Chili's and observed the girth of their clientele already knows this. Related: I remember seeing some research that showed as the size of an HTML textarea increases, the more words people write in it. (via mr)
Update: A self-refilling soup bowl experiment suggests that "visual cues of portion size may influence intake". (thx, justin) Also, adding lanes to heavily traveled roadways increases traffic; that is, supply increases demand.
Why diving makes soccer great. What a steaming pile of crap.
The 10 greatest years in gaming. I'll always be partial to 1986.
The NY Times World Cup Blog takes ABC/ESPN to task for the universally crappy TV coverage of the World Cup so far, and then extends that argument to a broader condemnation of American sportscasting. Hear, hear. Balboa just straight up sucks and the graphics that cover the action during the game (including ESPN's scrolling news alerts at the bottom of the screen) are viewer-hostile and make me want to throw my TV across the room. (via maciej)
Pauline Kael's New Yorker review of the 1978 version of Superman, just after it had been released. I don't think she much cared for it.
My new favorite weblog: The Baseball Card Blog. I'm having acid flashbacks to my teenaged years, but without the acid. The 1989 Upper Deck set was one of the first I built from scratch, a tall order for someone whose weekly allowance was $5. I remember lusting after the Jerome Walton card in the High Numbers Series...he didn't do so well after that rookie year of his.
TED is releasing audio and video of some of their talks for free on the web. Current offerings include Al Gore, David Pogue, and Gapminder's Hans Rosling. They'll be adding one talk a week from their archives.
What if some of the world's best photographers had posted their photos to a photo message board? Garry Winogrand might have been told: "Man at right needs to be cropped out. Sometimes I find if I shout right before I take the picture I can get people's attentions. If you had done so we would have been able to see more of their faces." (via conscientious)
Seth Stevenson describes an attempt to break out of his introverted shell by taking Paxil. Did it work? Only when he'd had a few drinks...oh and he basically lost the ability to feel emotions the rest of the time. "The fact that I considered a wholesale career change under the drug's effects, and couldn't complete any work, is alarming. "
Nice to be mentioned on BBC News, but what's up with the disparaging "peppered with annoying links"? Especially when Boing Boing is mentioned as "cool" in the same sentence...their links are at least as annoying as mine. And in May, four of those "annoying links" went to the BBC News site. Up yours, BBC!
Interview with writer Sam Harris on "why religion must end". "People have morally identified with a subset of humanity rather than with humanity as a whole."
Update: This one, while not as large, is quite a bit more intricate and took 500 hours to do...that's almost 3 months of 40-hour work weeks. (thx, brandon)
Natural deselection JUN 26
Tom Coates recently checked out the Royal College of Art Summer Show in London and ran across this project by Tim Simpson:
...three plants compete to reach the light that feeds and nourishes them. The first one to succeed survives. The other two are automatically cut down in their prime.
First plant to grow close to the proximity sensors wins. A simple and elegant idea.
Clever photography technique: using a SLR camera to shoot through the viewfinder of a twin lens camera, which are typically older cameras with large viewfinders. Mr. E is an early practitioner of the technique.
Chef/writer Anthony Bourdain turned 50 the other day so his friends threw him a big party; Michael Ruhlman surveys the scene.
Nice profile of artist Natalie Jeremijenko. She's putting Hudson River fish on the board of her company so that as shareholders, they will acquire personhood, and "have a say in the preservation of their grungy habitat".
The Mannahatta Project is constructing maps of what Manhattan was like in 1609, before its "discovery" by Henry Hudson. "The Mannahatta Project will help us to understand, down to the level of one city block, where in Manhattan streams once flowed or where American Chestnuts may have grown, where black bears once marked territories, and where the Lenape fished and hunted." See also The Viele Map of Manhattan.
New York City named the most courteous city in the world. Since I've lived here, I've noticed that New Yorkers aren't rude, they're just busy and dislike having their time wasted. (via mr)
Slate's wine columnist considers which champagne Jay-Z should drink now that he's given up the Cristal. Taste and prestige are not the only considerations: "Take, for instance, this line from the Jay-Z hit 'Can't Knock the Hustle': 'My motto, stack rocks like Colorado/ auto off the champagne, Cristal's by the bottle. 'Salon' can be substituted for 'Cristal' at no cost to the flow."
Call A Ball is an idea for JUN 23
Call A Ball is an idea for a soccer ball vending machine where balls are dispensed via an SMS from a mobile phone. You can also issue a "challenge" for other players to meet you at the machine. And if you'd like to keep the ball, it's charged to your phone bill.
Speaking of brand genericide, Heroin was actually a brand name trademarked by the Bayer drug company. (thx chris, who joked, "Can I interest you in some Heroin brand morphine substitute?")
The Tate Museum in Britain lets you make your own collection out of all their works of art. "You can create your Collection, print it as a leaflet, or send it to a friend." Current collections include The I've Just Split Up Collection, The Odd Faces Collection, and The I'm Hungover Collection. See also unofficial audio guides for MoMA and the Met. (via nick)
Excellent photos of giant flocks of European starlings, which can comprise more than a million birds. In 1866, a passenger pigeon flock was observed in southern Ontario that was a mile wide, 300 miles long, took 14 hours to pass, and was comprised of some 3.5 billion birds. That would have been a fantastic sight.
You've probably seen this by now, but if you haven't, you should. BumpTop is a prototype of a new desktop metaphor for computing, and a pretty damn intriging one at that.
Update: Peterme isn't impressed. I don't think BumpTop is going to replace WIMP either, but there are certainly some applications where some of the BT ideas could be useful.
Brand genericide JUN 23
Harris Interactive recently released a list of products ranked by brand equity, a measure of the brand's popularity with US consumers. Here's the top 10:
1. Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil
2. Ziploc Food Bags
3. Hershey's Milk Chocolate Candy Bars
4. Kleenex Facial Tissues
5. Clorox Bleach
6. WD-40 Spray Lubricant
7. Heinz Ketchup
8. Ziploc Containers
9. Windex Glass Cleaner
10. Campbell's Soups
Marketing can be a double-edged sword. The companies who manufacture these products have done a fantastic job in marketing these products, so fantastic in some cases that the brand name is in danger of becoming a genericized trademark. From the list above, I routinely use Ziploc, Kleenex, WD-40, and Windex to refer to the generic versions of those products, even though we sometimes use Glad products instead of Ziploc, Puffs instead of Kleenex, or another glass cleaner instead of Windex. If the companies on this list aren't careful, they could lose the trademarked products that they've worked so hard to market so successfully.
Here's a list of American proprietary eponyms, or brand names that have fallen into general use. Some of the names on the list are so old or in such common use (escalator, popsicle) that I didn't even know they had been brands. Two current brands I can think of that might be in danger of genericide: iPod and Google. (via rw)
In advance of the 2008 Olympics, the Chinese are destroying the hutongs of Beijing, the tiny alleyways that connect the city. Includes a photo slideshow of the destruction.
Nice piece about Stephen Kilnisan, the self-appointed historian of NYC's diamond district, the block-long diamond capital of the US. "One of them pulls out a pouch containing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of diamonds. They haggle for a while, then the handshake. Deals are still made on handshakes here."
Michael Ruhlman is guest-blogging up a storm over at Megnut. Ruhlman is the author Soul of a Chef and (with Thomas Keller) of The French Laundry Cookbook, among many others.
Big 10th anniversary package from Slate. It's interesting to see how it has evolved. Here's a slideshow of the design through the years...the stuff about their failed subscription business model and how they lost marketshare because of it is relevent in the ongoing TimesSelect debate.
Great photo of the surf in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. (Reminds me of the work of another photographer, very large prints of waves taken head on, the ocean very dark and the crashing waves a bright, vibrant white. Beautiful stuff. Can anyone help me out?)
Update: The photographer I was thinking of is Clifford Ross. He uses a camera that he built himself to take 2.6 gigabyte images. His Mountain IV is currently on display at MoMA. (thx, david, barbara, and john)
Michael Frumin tried to get some NYC subway data from the New York City Transit Authority through Freedom Of Information Legislation for a project he wanted to do, but they denied his requests. "Given a database of anonymized Metrocard 'swipes' over some small period of time, Frumin imagined that a multitude of explorations could be embarked upon. Below is a concept sketch for one specific project idea -- a visualization, for each station in the system, of the range of locations in the city that people travel to from that area." Nice Minard-esque prototype map.
Joe Malia's privacy scarves provide mobile phone users and portable video game players with privacy, a light/glare-free texting/playing environment, and warm necks. "Users of the wearable mobile phone scarf can venture into public spaces confident that if the need to compose a private text message were to arise the object could be pulled over the face to create an isolated environment." (via eyeteeth)
List of the 25 most popular nouns (by usage) according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary: "time, person, year, way, day, thing, man, world, life, hand, part, child, eye, woman, place, work, week, case, point, government, company, number, group, problem, fact"
Nice little profile of Language Log in the NY Times. "There is a group of very smart and very well-read people out there who like to read about language and who can put together arguments based on evidence from sources and background knowledge which is not made up or nuts." Hey, that doesn't sound like blogs!
Classic movies it's ok to hate. I love the idea of this list but I'm not sure I agree with too many of the items on it...although I'm not sure which movies would be on my list.
Stephen Hawking and Thomas Hertog are publishing a paper that argues that the universe "began in just about every way imaginable" simultaneously and then most of the possibilites withered away with the rest blending together to make the current universe.
The WSJ hosts a DRM debate between Fritz Attaway of the MPAA and Wendy Seltzer of the EFF. "Digital rights management is the key to consumer choice." Zur? Are those irritating anti-theft packaging stickers on DVDs the key to consumer choice as well?
Putting out a daily 3-minute video show on the web is getting Ze Frank [wait for it....] a whole lot of ass. If enough people upload photos of themselves with "sports racer" written on their asses, Ze will repost the so-called "missing episode" of The Show (a copy of which I have and am trying hard not to upload to YouTube). Questions: How are these people writing so legibly on their own butts? Are they getting someone else to do it...and if so, man, that must be an awkward conversation. "You want me to write 'sports racer' where?" (Probably NSFW.)
Wikipedia contrails JUN 21
Matt Webb recently posted his Wikipedia contrail, a record of his recent travels among the pages of the online encyclopedia. Neat idea. When I was a kid, we had a World Book encyclopedia which I read at any possible opportunity, and I would have loved to look back at where I'd been. Actually, it would be nice if Wikipedia kept track of this for me as well...maybe it does if you're logged in? (I don't have a Wikipedia account, so I don't know.)
Anyhoo, here's my Wikipedia contrail:
- Jason Kottke - I'm working on a bio for a conference and I checked in to see what I've been up to recently. Apparently I'm married and working on kottke.org "part time".
- Cabinet of curiosities - Doing some research for an upcoming talk.
- Stigmergy - Didn't know there was a term for it.
- Capote - Saw the film, went to read up.
- Groove Is In the Heart - Couldn't remember who sang this and "What is Love". (A: Deee-Lite.)
- Harper Lee - Truman Capote's childhood friend, wrote To Kill A Mockingbird, won a Pulitzer for it, and then barely wrote anything public again.
- Jack Dunphy - Author, companion of Truman Capote.
- Truman Capote - Wrote for the New Yorker, most famous for his "non-fiction novel", In Cold Blood, subject of the film, Capote, threw wicked parties.
- Ann Coulter, Internet troll - These two are related.
- .htaccess - Brushing up on password protecting directories.
- Keratitis, Phlyctenule - Part of my eye went all weird and squishy one evening and I was trying to find out what was going on. Wikipedia was not helpful in this regard.
- Taxicab geometry - Geometry of the driving cab, not the flying crow.
- Perplex City - Linked into this from somewhere...don't even really know what it is.
Sarah Trigg's work combines geographic maps with biological forms. "The explorer system [in colonial North America] caused the Native American system to change its normal functioning, much like cancer cells do to normal cells." More here. (via moon river)
Underground culture watch: "bug chasers" are men who are actively looking to get infected with AIDS, or "initiated into the brotherhood".
Current world record holder for most money paid for a painting: Gustav Klimt. Prize money was accepted posthumously by Maria Altmann, an heir of the painting's subject.
Damn it. I was really pulling for the Mavericks and Nowitzki to win it. Bummer: Antoine Walker has a championship. Not so bad: Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning, and Dwyane Wade have championships. And not a bad way for Shaq to celebrate his last season as a superstar.
They're refurbishing the outside of the Guggenheim and stripping away the facade reveals a doublestrike on the "T" in "The". It's like they started putting the printing on the building and then the architect stops by and says, whoa! that text is supposed to be lower, you morons.
Review of the current crop of Apple "I'm a Mac..." commercials. Verdict? The PC is more like-able than the Mac. "[The ads] are conceptually brilliant, beautifully executed, and highly entertaining. But they don't make me want to buy a Mac."
Leonard runs the numbers and concludes that a government trade-in program for incandescent bulbs (exchanging them for compact fluorescent bulbs) could save $1 billion per year in energy costs, not to mention the energy saved as well.
Update: I linked to this without reading it first, something I *never* do, but now that I've read it, there's really some great stuff in there about the writing process, magazines (specifically The New Yorker), and editing. And great quotes like "I'd rather work for Drunken Boat than for Time magazine, to be honest with you". Ouch for Time magazine.
Interview with photographer Chip Simons about inspiration and originality. "You can get work for fancy magazines with just a big ego."
"Shy people may be quiet, but there's a lot going on in their heads. When they encounter a frightening or unfamiliar situation -- meeting someone new, for example -- a brain region responsible for negative emotions goes into overdrive." (via mr)
The hygiene hypothesis of allergies "argues that exposure to more natural environments such as farms early in life helps train the body to respond appropriately to harmless microbes and pollen". Could also be called the "let your kids eat dirt hypothesis". Somewhat related story: my dad had allergies when he was a kid but then got stung by a bunch of bees one day and boom, no more allergies.
Online Media and the Future of Journalism, a forum celebrating the 10th anniversary of Slate at the New York Public Library. June 22, 6:30pm, with Michael Kinsley, Malcolm Gladwell, Arianna Huffington, Norm Pearlstine, and Jacob Weisberg.
Interview with Jim Buckmaster, who gives us an update on what Craiglist is up to. "If I look across the Internet at the big Internet companies, there's a large proportion of their staff that are devoted in various ways to trying to maximize revenue. Those employees I don't think are delivering much bang for the buck to the end user."
When players in World Cup games are arguing with the referees and players from the other team, what language are they speaking and can they actually understand one another? "'Any kind of fellatio comment is inevitably understood,' says [former US player] Alexi Lalas."
A group of photographers are planning to turn a giant abandoned airplane hangar into the world's largest camera (a pinhole camera to be precise). Reminds me of the Cameratruck.
Italian scientists have created glass made out of carbon dioxide. At high pressure, instead of forming a crystal (dry ice), the CO2 forms a clear, hard, vitreous material. More info. (Little known fact: I did research on glass in college, rubidium and cesium borosilicates mostly. Here's a few citations on Google Scholar.)
Ze Frank and The Show gets some coverage in the NY Times. See The Show for yourself.
ideasonideas asks several prominent designers what they would have done differently at the beginning of their careers. David Carson's first crack at an answer seemed apropos for him: "not much. things have gone pretty good." Me? I would have learned how to draw.
Jay-Z is banning Cristal champagne in his clubs after some "racist" comments by the champagne house's managing director in The Economist. I think Jay-Z is confusing race with culture here; I can't imagine two cultures that are more different from each other than American hip hop and French champagne production. Despite his hesitancy about discussing a culture unfamiliar to him, I thought the director essentially said that they aren't worried about the bling lifestyle association because it's ultimately good for business. (via bb)
Here's my copy of Beautiful Evidence, Edward Tufte's new book. It's a gorgeous book; more of a report soon after I've had a chance to read it. Get yours by ordering directly from the author or via Amazon.
Alex Halavais offers some advice for students looking to cheat on school papers. "How do you think I check suspicious work? [...] I am pretty good with that Google thingy."
Research shows that the lifetime earnings of graduates who enter the job market during recessions are lower than their boom-time colleagues. "Even a decade or more later, the class of 1988 was still earning significantly less. They missed the plum jobs right out of the gate and never recovered."
The Chicago Tribune has published their list of the 50 best magazines of 2006. Top fiving it for you: The Economist, Dwell, Wired, The New Yorker, and ESPN the Magazine.
Please stop JUN 15
I know everyone's upset about her new book. I'm not going to use her name, but you know who I'm talking about; she's blonde, leggy, confident, radically conservative, radically full of shit, and you hate her with the fire of a million suns. But she's also a huge troll. Wikipedia defines a troll as:
...someone who comes into an established community such as an online discussion forum, and posts inflammatory, rude or offensive messages designed intentionally to annoy and antagonize the existing members or disrupt the flow of discussion.
And the best strategy against trolls? Ignore them. If I see one more blog post, newspaper column, or debate on TV attempting to refute this woman's claims, I'm going to scream. Claims? What claims? She wrote that book to piss you off and get you to respond, thereby legitimizing her ramblings. That smile of hers? That's her celebrating a victory that you handed her without any effort. YOU'RE SMARTER THAN THAT...KNOCK IT OFF!
The AFI's list of the 100 most inspiring films of all time. Top 5: It's a Wonderful Life, To Kill a Mockingbird, Schindler's List, Rocky, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
Following the examples set by PacManhattan and Nintendo Amusement Park, another popular video game is moving beyond the screen and into the real world. Enthusiasts of EA Sports' Madden NFL 06 have been spotted in various locations around the United States playing a physical game based on the bestselling title.
DeWayne Coleman of Grand Rapids, Michigan said, "it looked so fun on the screen and we thought, 'why can't we go find a flat grassy area to run around, throw the ball, and punt on fourth down?'" Other "football" groups (as they like to be called) have uploaded candid photos of their activity to the Flickr photo-sharing site.
These early amateur efforts bare a crude resemblance to the gameplay in Madden, but a professional league set to begin play this fall in several major US cities will follow Madden NFL 06 much more closely. The National Football League (NFL) will employ athletes that resemble their in-game counterparts that will play for teams named after those in Madden. The teams will go through a full 16-game season, followed by a playoff and a "Super" bowl game to determine the champion. League officials plan to bring in revenue by charging for admission, selling foodstuffs during the games, and memorabilia inspired by the virtual uniforms worn by players in the game. The video game's namesake, TV personality John Madden, will even colorfully describe the action of the games for simultaneous broadcast on network television.
Madden NFL 06 purists have criticized the NFL's ambitious efforts, saying that ticket prices are too high and the games aren't interactive enough. One Madden fan from Phoenix, Arizona summed up the frustrations: "I'm supposed to pay twice as much as I paid for the video game for one lousy live game, not including beer and hot dog costs, and I can't even control what's going on in the game? What the hell is so fun about that?"
You know that patented move that Michael Jackson does in the Smooth Criminal video where he leans and looks like he's going to tip over but then he doesn't? Turns out Jackson actually did patent that method back in 1993. The drawings are pretty funny.
Sh*t yeah, the G** D***ed JUN 13
Sh*t yeah, the G** D***ed history of typographical bleeping, motherf***ers! The practice was widespread as early as the late 17th century.
The International Dialects of English Archive has a ton of mp3 files of people speaking English from all over the world. "All recordings are in English, are of native speakers, and you will find both English language dialects and English spoken in the accents of other languages."
FareCast JUN 13
A few months ago, I took a look at FlySpy, a site that will help people buy the lowest priced airplane ticket for a given destination. It was a good step in the right direction, but I wanted more:
The killer airline reservation app that I've been wanting for several years would tell you when to buy your ticket for a particular flight. Airlines update their fares several times a day and hundreds of times over the course of a month. Depending on when you buy, it might cost you $250 or $620 for the same exact ticket.
A new site called FareCast does exactly that. It shows you the price history of a particular ticket and tells you what the price forecast is...if the price is trending up/down, how much confidence they have in that prediction, and whether you should buy your ticket now or not. FareCast also shows you price differences based on time of day, so if you've got a flexible schedule, you can fly in the cheap early afternoon rather than the expensive early morning.
The site's currently in a closed beta, the data is restricted to outgoing flights from Boston and Seattle, and they've got a challenging data-mining problem ahead of them, but the early offerings are quite impressive, helpful, and promising.
If you'd like to try it out, I'm giving away 10 invites to the FareCast beta...but you're going to have to work for it a little bit. Email me a link/article/site that you think I would find interesting/relevant enough to post on kottke.org *and* that I haven't seen before. I'll pick the 10 best and give out the invites accordingly. Be sure to send me the email address you'd like to be invited at if it's different from the one you're using to email me. Thx everyone...all the invites have been given out; if you got one, you'll be receiving your invite soon.
I can't tell if this is a JUN 13
I can't tell if this is a joke or not, but someone seems to be quite skeptical about the "theory of gravity" on this Christian Forums site. "are you going to tell me that the gravity of the sun is strong enough to keep PLUTo in orbit but not an airplane or a little bird??????"
The advantages of showing up early to parties. I am a party early-goer for the reasons Tyler describes here...staying longer generally results in diminishing returns for me.
The changing face of journalism and a comparison of when the press succeeded (Watergate) and when it failed (Enron): "The plenitude of information, not its scarcity, defines the world we live in now. And journalism must change to accommodate that fact."
Interview with designer Michael Bierut. "The best thing design can do for a company is to express that company's personality accurately and compellingly, and in so doing permit that organizations inherent strengths to prevail."
Mark Glaser to the NY Times: "Chairman Sulzberger, if you seek peace in cyberspace, if you seek prosperity for your company, if you seek to spread ideas online: Come here to this TimesSelect gate! Mr. Sulzberger, tear down this pay wall!" A rebuttal. My take: TimesSelect is a perfectly good business decision for the Times. I just think the alternatives are better business decisions.
Design Observer redesigns...looks a bit smarter than before. They joined The Deck too.
Where do the Brazilian soccer players get their names? I'm posting this instead of watching the rest of the US/Czech match because the US is playing like a high school team.
The Viele Map of Manhattan JUN 12
The Viele Map of Manhattan was made in 1865 and shows the original boundaries and waterways of the city. Here's a thumbnail view (with prints for sale) and the David Rumsey Map Collection has a zoomable version that you can explore. (thx, meg)
Update: Took me forever this morning, but I cobbled together a high-res version of the Viele map from the PITA Java applet on the Rumsey site. Warning: the image is quite large (9859 x 3115, 8.6 Mb) so it might crash your browser if you attempt to look at it...better to save it to a local drive and open it up in an image viewer.
Update: Here's a simple zoomable/scrollable version (a la Google Maps) of the high-res image that I whipped up with Zoomify. Thanks to Aaron for the suggestion.
Cars JUN 12
[Warning, might be some spoilers.] Cars was perfect. The problem is that it was a little too perfect. After seeing the movie on Friday, Meg and I came up with three reasons why Cars missed.
1. Perfection. Some people don't like Wes Anderson's movies because of his emphasis on creating set-driven movies instead of plot- or character-driven movies (ditto George Lucas). With Cars, Lasseter has made himself a perfect world of cars -- the petulant young racer, the lawyer Porsche, the Hispanic lowrider, the hick tow truck -- but it's a world without soul, without surprise. Everything was a little too obvious.
2. Inanimate characters talking. This was the first Pixar movie in which non-human-like or non-animal characters talked. In Toy Story, Buzz, Woody, and even the T. Rex talked, but the TV didn't, nor did the Etch-a-Sketch. In A Bug's Life, only the insects talked. In Cars, you've got these inanimate objects talking to each other, and while they did a great job making them seem human, I just couldn't get into the characters; it felt fake and inauthentic.
3. Unlikable main character. For the first half of the movie, Lightning McQueen is a flat-out jerk with zero redeeming qualities. I remember reading an interview with John Lasseter recently where he was talking about one of the first rough cuts they did of Toy Story in which Woody was too sarcastic. After seeing it, they realized this and tempered Woody's sarcasm with some like-ability, so that the audience would be pulling for him to change his ways, a deep-down good guy that needs to see the light. Lightning didn't deserve redemption...he was just an asshole.
Cars is a fine movie with a lot to recommend it, but it's just not up to Pixar's normal standards. I was disappointed.
Wendy's announced they are removing the "Biggie" designation from their fries and drinks because the term confused customers. The former "Biggie" size will now be "medium", "medium" will be "small", and a new "bigger than Biggie" size will be called "large". Clear?
Today's episode of The Show aptly demonstrates the pitfalls of "user generated content". (What, you don't watch The Show? Get on it!)
This weekend in NYC: the 4th Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. Mmmmmmmmmmm....
Coudal has a look at what people have read where they've read it with Field-Tested Books. Participants include George Saunders, David Rees, and Rosecrans Baldwin.
An update on how many players from Tecmo Bowl, Tecmo Super Bowl, and RBI Baseball are still active. The Mets Julio Franco is still playing at 47 years old.
Powers of Ten JUN 09
Some sweet soul has put Powers of Ten online. If you've never seen it, I can't recommend it enough:
Powers of Ten is a short film by Charles and Ray Eames, whose work you may have previously sat in. The film starts on a picnic blanket in Chicago and zooms out 10x every 10 seconds until the entire universe (more or less) is visible. And then they zoom all the way back down into the nucleus of an atom. A timeless classic. (via youngna)
The Coca-Cola index JUN 09
Big Mac index, meet the Coca-Cola index. The more wealthy, democratic, and the higher the quality of life, the more likely a country's inhabitants are to drink Coke. See also Starbucks as economic indicator.
Robinson Crusoe JUN 09
Since it's considered one of the first English novels, Daniel Defoe can be forgiven for just kinda trailing off at the end of Robinson Crusoe. Even so, I found it hard to like, this book that everyone from Karl Marx to Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Edgar Allan Poe seems to adore. Defoe's basic storytelling of how Crusoe survived on the island is wonderfully imaginative, but the segues into religion and the underlying classism & racism were a bit too much for my contemporary mind to handle.
For instance, after years alone on the island, Crusoe rescues a native, names him Friday, and makes him his servant even though Friday is his only companion, the first person he's talked to in over 20 years. For awhile, the book is all Friday-this and Friday-that and then a European shows up (followed by more Europeans) and, poof!, Friday is pretty much forgotten by Crusoe and Defoe, except for running errands and fetching things.
This is pretty much par-for-the-course thinking for 1719 (when the book was published) or the mid-1600s (when the book takes place), but I can't understand how Defoe can write about Crusoe's humble experiences on the island (i.e. all shipwrecked and stranded men are equally screwed) and then think that the natural thing to do with a fellow traveller in peril is relegate him to the role of servant because he's not European. Somehow Crusoe is a lot less humbled by his solitude than one would expect, and Defoe's failure to connect the dots between Crusoe's situation and the larger issue of equality was disappointing to me.
Note: Since Robinson Crusoe was first published in the 1700s, it's well out of copyright and available online in its entirety. As is Mary Godolphin's version of it written with one-syllable words.
World Cup 2006 starts today! Here again for your viewing pleasure is the complete US TV schedule. Games televised today: Germany v. Costa Rica and Poland v. Ecuador.
Khoi has some thoughtful notes (+photos) about his experience with a digital photography class he's taking. "The more I learn about photography, the less interested I am in close-ups that fetishize surface textures, and the less impressed I am by well composed but basically inert subjects that don't communicate a narrative of any particular stripe."
"If there was any doubt about where the contemporary art market is going, they were dispelled this morning at Christie's Baghdad, where the US Government paid a record-setting $286 billion for this portrait of the dead Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi."
Headline writers everywhere are rejoicing the impending release of Pixar's new movie, Cars. As with Apple's release of their Tiger operating system, Cars comes loaded with so many opportunities for puns and metaphors that the media just can't help themselves. A sampling of puntacular fun so far:
With 'Cars,' Pixar Revs Up to Outpace Walt Disney Himself (NY Times)
NASCAR, Hollywood share the fast lane (USA Today)
'Cars' Voices Toot Their Horns (Zap2it.com)
A toon-up for Petty (Orlando Sentinel)
With 'Cars', Paul Newman stays in the race (Malaysia Star)
Newman's need for speed (Toronto Sun)
Cars: Cruising along in Weirdsville, Cartoonland (NY Times)
Cars' Riding on Flat Tires (OhMyNews International)
Shifting gear (The Age)
Pixar's Cars stalls with reviewers (Guardian Unlimited)
"Cars" is one sweet ride (Hollywood Reporter)
Cars rolls along like an animated version of Doc Hollywood (Canada.com)
'Cars' an auto-matic hit (Tucson Citizen)
Great-looking 'Cars' stuck in cruise control (goTriad.com)
'Cars' revs up marketing campaign (Inside Bay Area)
Disney/Pixar revvs up its latest cash cow (Monterey Herald)
Finely drawn characters drive 'Cars' and its director (St. Paul Pioneer Press)
'Cars' wins the race hands down for summer's best film (Press & Sun Bulletin)
Kickin' the Tires (East Bay Express)
Star vehicle veers a bit (St. Petersburg Times)
Pixar's 'Cars' falls a little short of winner's circle (SouthCoastToday.com)
'Cars' just can't get it out of first (Statesman Journal)
'Cars' will take you straight to the dump (Scripps Howard)
Running on Fumes (Village Voice)
Headlines courtesy of Google News. If the movie were getting mostly bad reviews, one could imagine headlines like "Cars a lemon", "New Disney movie is the pits", and "Reviewers to Pixar: Your new film is car-rappy".
A list of 20 things everyone needs to know how to do, written by experts in their prospective fields: how to iron a shirt, how to hit a tennis ball, how to listen ("I never learned anything when I was talking"), and how to sleep.
Update: This has disappeared behind the Independent's paywall. Sorry. But the tips were all taken from this book, The Experts' Guide to 100 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do. (thx, brian and joe)
On reverse snobbery. "Soon the competition for Most Ignorance became fierce. No one had ever seen ER, Law and Order, Lost, Desperate Housewives, it went on and on. We felt like fucking Kings! We were miles and miles above the Common Man. We knew Nothing of Anything popular and mainstream!"
The Oxford Project JUN 08
Article about what five New Yorkers had to eat for a week. The teen's diet is the worst; on Tue, she has two sticks of gum, a Twix, a KitKat, 4 portions of french fries, a bag of Corn Curls, and some water. The only healthy thing she eats all week is a couple of bananas.
Tenser, said the Tensor looked a little more closely at the list of cliches from Shakespeare that I posted earlier in the week and found that (at least) 18 of the expressions have earlier citations in the OED.
Mike Monteiro on why you shouldn't unilaterally call professional athletes a bunch of jackasses just because they play sports. While FIFA's preemptive cease and desist was stupid, the anti-sports stuff in the Boing Boing post Mike references was surprisingly closed-minded and disappointing, considering the source.
Awesome must-read article about people who have implanted magnets in the tips of their fingers, effectively giving themselves a sixth sense, a sense of magnetism. A very simple human/machine hybrid...or a mutant like the X-Men's Magneto.
A night at the ballpark JUN 07
You know that "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" song? They should add another verse, something like:
Take your glove to the ballgame
and if you don't, you're an idiot
We went to the Yankees/Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium with David and Adriana last night and in the bottom of the third inning, Yankees second baseman Miguel Cairo hit a line drive just wide of the foul pole in left field. As I watched the ball coming towards us, I thought a million things -- it's foul, it's gonna drop into the seats way in front of us, never gonna get here, what's the count now, is it time for cheese fries yet...almost everything except for "holy shit, it's coming right at me" -- and then stuck my bare hand straight up in the air, leaned slightly to my left, and dropped the ball.
Dropped isn't the right word, really. Deflected the ball off my bare hand is more accurate. It bounced into the seats behind me and then rolled down under Adriana's seat. After a brief scramble, some meatheads who were ambling by on their way to beer, pretzels, or the can stuck their paws in and made off with the ball. A Yankees fan who observed the whole thing got up in Meg's face, framed by her faded Red Sox hat, and yelled, "ha ha, Boston fans can't catch!" His truth stung almost as much as my rapidly swelling hand. David scored the play as an error, Box 324, Seat 3.
But the most entertaining play of the night by a fan who was not me award goes to the fellow in the yellow shirt who, emboldened by too much Miller Lite, dashed out onto the field, arms raised triumphantly, soaking in the cheers of the adoring crowd. Out came security from all corners of the field and the crowd redirected its enthusiasm from the hunted to the hunters, cheering for blood. "Hit em!" the guy behind me was screaming, "HIT EM!!"
Security eventually converged on the would-be outfielder and he adopted the surrendering posture of a man who knows he's had his fun, palms in the air, head down, not running anymore, almost sinking to his knees. And -- BAMMM! -- this security guard, a former linebacker by the looks of him, comes flying in from the blind side and wallops the guy, knocking him to the ground in a full-on lay-out tackle. The crowd roared at the guard's tackle and cheered lustily as the gladiator was removed from the coliseum.
New Google product announcement: Google Pharmacy. Spam is occasionally amusing.
BIRD FLU DANCE WATCH! A flyer for a talent show in Ontario says the show will feature "a live performance of Dainty Crime's hit song 'BIRD FLU' by 1 DANCE and SAMPLE KING". As I understand it, reggae/dancehall has a sizeable following in Canada. Could the outbreak of the so-called Jamaican strain of the bird flu dance have originated in Canada?
BIRD FLU DANCE WATCH! This blog links to a BBC story about the Ivory Coast bird flu dance, but also includes a link to the Bird Flu song that appears in all of the YouTube videos (listen here). It says the song is by "mixmasters Sample King and 1Dance".
BIRD FLU DANCE WATCH! Here's the earliest instance of the Jamaican strain of the bird flu dance I could find on YouTube. A "1dance creation" it says...
BIRD FLU DANCE WATCH! A bird flu "riddim" from January 2006 from a student in South Africa (originally from Botswana). Not sure how this ties into either version of the flu dance (a third strain?).
BIRD FLU DANCE WATCH ALERT! This video shows someone doing the "bird flu jamaican dance". Wait, I thought this dance was invented in the Ivory Coast? Is this a new strain of the bird flu dance infecting the Caribbean? The Jamaican dance seems different from the Ivory Coast version. More as I have it on this breaking story.
Update: I'm not so sure the first video I pointed to is the Ivory Coast version of the dance...both videos feature the same song.
An extensive listing of all the promotional merchandise from Pixar/Disney's Cars. Over 70 licensees will be offering themed merchandise like toy cars, cross stitch kits, books, staplers, shower curtains, sippy cups, and a boatload of Kellogg's cereals. Holy overload.
New project from Cory Arcangel: Kurt Cobain's suicide letter with Google AdSense ads (which are automatically generated based on the content of the page). Current ads include ones for free ringtones, techniques to end anxiety, and public speaking training.
This news isn't new, but it's still irritating. Companies that do photo prints (Target, in this case) refuse to print certain photographs because they look too professional. Digital cameras are so good and cheap these days that everyone's taking professional-looking photos...Flickr is full of pro-looking stuff shot by complete amateurs. This stupid policy needs to change or these places aren't going to have any business left.
Vox's Question of the Day JUN 06
Six Apart recently launched a preview version of their new Vox blogging service. When you log in to Vox, one of the first things you notice on the front page is the Question of the Day followed by a quick posting box. Answer the question, press "continue", and you've got yourself a blog post. I asked Six Apart president Mena Trott how the feature came about.
Jason: Everyone loves the Question of the Day feature on Vox. The QotD cleverly formalizes the memes that travel through LiveJournal and the blogosphere at large, making it OK for the kind of people who hate email joke forwards to participate collectively in something on a regular basis. Who is responsible for generating these questions? Are they recycled memes from LJ or do you have some meme genius working for 6A?
Mena: Question of the Day actually started in a design comp I did -- meaning it hadn't been specified in any product requirements docs. I was creating the Vox dashboard and realized that the one thing really missing from the page was a call to action. So, I tried to think what would be the one thing that would make me want to post and the Question of the Day made total sense.
You're exactly correct in saying that we're wanting to legitimize the behavior we've seen in email (forwards). It's all about trying to figure out the behavior that would make my mom feel comfortable posting or make someone not feel overwhelmed by a big white posting box.
If you remember the Four Things meme that floated around a couple months ago, you'll recall that this simple meme got people (like me) to post on their blogs after significant absences. We wanted to capture that sort of motivator.
And of course, LiveJournal is the inspiration for all of this.
As far as who creates the questions, we have a scratchpad that is generated by various members of the staff as well as suggestions that come in from our feedback forms. We're still in such an early stage of Vox that these questions are evolving daily. One thing we've seen, however, is that the two topics that people most like to answer questions about are nostalgia (favorite childhood candy, childhood fears, etc...) and media-based (favorite movie, song that makes you happy, anything television).
Some questions, surprisingly bomb in an unexpected way. In April, I posed the question "If you had a time machine and could travel anywhere in time, where would you go and why?" It's a difficult question for those who don't obsess about time travel as much as I do. And, I have to admit, I made it question of the day since *I* had my own answer. Still, I'd love to try this one again now that more people are in Vox.
Thanks, Mena. Sometimes it's these little things, tiny addictive hooks, that make the difference between a product taking off, and Vox's QotD is a nice hook indeed. (Also, I'm totally with you on the time travel question.)
The World Bank has a comprehensive package on World Cup 2006 and its relation to economics, including an economic analysis of who's gonna win and how the Cup influences economies in the winning/losing countries.
Update: Goldman Sachs has a 50+ page report on World Cup 2006 and economics [PDF link] as well. (thx, beau)
Robert Birnbaum interviews George Saunders. "What seems dark to me is CSI Baton Rouge or whatever -- where there is no mitigating humor, no sense that the absurd is absurd, it's all just murdering midgets and no one ever calls those shows dark."
So many New Yorkers retire to Florida, it makes sense to see what Manhattan looks like next to Miami. See also my Manhattan Elsewhere project, a map mashup featuring the island of Manhattan visiting Chicago, Boston, San Franciso, etc.
New crazy bird flu dance is all the rage in the Ivory Coast. "If we kill all our chickens and poultry, our cousins in the village will become poor. So I created the bird flu dance to put joy back into our hearts." Article comes with a complimentary Funky Chicken joke...but not with a "this dance is sick, yo" joke.
New word: lexidiem, meaning "word of the day". Lexidiem is a lexidiem.
Art and genocide...why doesn't Soviet and Communist Chinese propaganda imagery offend us like Nazi propaganda does? The Stalinist and Maoist regimes were responsible for more deaths than the Nazis.
Business Week holds a competition to design their new design magazine and Michael Bierut says to hell with this kind of spec work. I love Andy Rutledge's analogy.
Two unconnected thoughts JUN 05
Or are they? I was trying to think of Stalin's first name last night and came up with the following before I remembered it was Josef:
I had myself convinced for an uncomfortably long moment that Bill Stalin was in fact correct.
Over the past two years -- including weekends, holidays, time off, and all of the 24 hours in a day -- kottke.org has changed every 3 hours, 14 minutes, and 51 seconds. Over the past 30 days, there's been something new here every 3 hours, 21 minutes, and 7 seconds. This pace may have some bearing on the above Stalin matter. I still remember to bathe regularly, but that may be the next to go.
Quick interview with me over at leahpeah. "I was never one of those kids who had a ready answer for what they wanted to be when they grew up."
The symmetry thesis: "A given person likes you as much as you like him or her". Interesting.
A list of the 100 best corporate citizens for 2006 from Business Ethics Magazine. Nike is at #13, Whole Foods at #47. (via rp)
myDaVinci takes your photo and pastes your face onto the Mona Lisa. Not a fan of Leonardo? Try being the Girl with a Pearl Earring or American Gothic. (via ais)
My friend Maciej found this map of NYC divided into sections that contain the same populations as other American cities. The page containing the image says it's from an unknown "City of New York publication". Anyone know where it's from or where to get a better copy? Email me.
The case of Kelbessa Negewo, former Ethiopian government official and assused of torture and human rights abuses, and how a chance encounter with one of his alleged victims in an Atlanta hotel has turned into a 15-year legal battle.
After having the same web site since like 1985, Emigre has finally launched a redesign. The new site looks like it was done in 1998; the front page is all images, laid out in tables, and is invisible to search engines.
A chronological list of the largest cities through history. The five most recent cities and when they became the largest: Constantinople (1650), Beijing (1710), London (1825), New York (1925), and Tokyo (1965). The first city over 1 million was Baghdad.
I know I'm going to get mail about my five-star rating for this movie, but it cannot be helped. One summer when I was a kid, a friend and I watched Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure -- no joke -- every single day for a span of 2 months. I still know every line by heart, the timing, inflection, everything. If there were a Broadway production of this movie, I could slide effortlessly into the role of either Bill S. Preston, Esq. or Ted Theodore Logan, no rehearsal needed.
In my high school physics class my senior year, we had to do a report on something we hadn't learned about in class -- which, I discovered when I got to college, was a lot -- and I did mine on time travel. I went to our small school library and read articles in Discover and Scientific American magazines about Stephen Hawking, Kip Thorne, quantum mechanics, causality, and wormholes. To illustrate the bit about wormholes, I brought in my well-worn VHS tape of Bill and Ted's (a dub of a long-ago video rental) and showed a short clip of the phone booth travelling through space and time via wormhole. I got a B+ on my presentation. The teacher told me it was excellent but marked me down because it was "over the heads" of everyone in the class...which I thought was completely unfair. How on earth is Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure over anyone's head?
Slate's Seth Stevenson is liking Martina Hingis more since she came out of retirement. I find men's tennis boring because of the "big hitters" Stevenson refers to and I think the women's game has suffered for the same reason of late.
Audio versions of dozens of New Yorker articles. Perfect for the long morning commute (if I had a long morning commute). The same site also has audio versions of several other publications, including Wired, The Atlantic Monthly, and Scientific American. What a great resource. (via rw)
Update: Get them all at once, instructions here.
kottke.org isn't a "particularly confessional site", so I'll let the New Yorker's Rebecca Mead fill you in on what Meg and I have been up to for the past 6 years or so. Here's the illustration that appears with the print version of the article. Rebecca's original article from November 2000 (mirror). Here's a small interview I did with Rebecca in 2001 concerning her take on weblogs. Oh, and I quite liked Gawker's piece on what you'll be reading in the New Yorker for the next 40 years.
This has got to be in the JUN 02
This has got to be in the running for the strangest blog post ever: "Our hearts are aching as we have learned that the young woman we have been taking care of over the past five weeks has not been our dear Laura, but instead a fellow Taylor student of hers, Whitney Cerak." It's a case of mistaken identity; Laura died 5 weeks ago and was buried as Whitney. I can't imagine what that would feel like for either family.
Some background on how Al Gore's global warming presentation got so polished. Also references Spike Jonze's Al Gore video from 2000 which pictures Gore as anything but stiff. Some backstory on the Jonze video.
Update: More on Gore's use of Keynote.
Meg blasts the NY Times for keeping blogs behind the Times Select paywall. "Michael Pollan is doing some of the most interesting and important writing about food right now. He's doing it frequently and it's being published in the easiest possible manner for massive distribution and influence. But only the Select few can see it. Even if I paid to access it, I couldn't share it with my readers. So much potential unrealized."
Manhattan Elsewhere JUN 01
A few months ago, I found a map online (
which I cannot for the life of me relocate and I'm keen to find it again...any ideas? it's from Bill Rankin's The Errant Isle of Manhattan...see update below) of Manhattan pasted next to Chicago, as if the island had taken up permanent residence in Lake Michigan. Recently I decided to explore the unique aspect of Manhattan's scale with a series of similar maps of places I've been to or lived in: Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Barron, WI (my hometown). Manhattan Elsewhere is the result.
Depending on your vantage point, Manhattan seems either very big or very small. On complete map of the New York City area, Manhattan is dwarfed in size by the other four boroughs and surrounding megopolis. But for someone on the ground in Manhattan, the population density, the height of the buildings, the endless number of things to do, and the fact that many people don't often leave their neighborhoods, much less the island, for weeks/months on end makes it seem a very large place indeed. This divergence sense of scales can cause quite a bit of cognitive dissonance for residents and visitors alike.
For the top image, I used the Google Maps representations of Manhattan and Chicago to create a composite map. In the bottom image, I used Google Earth's 3-D views to create a approximate view of Manhattan from Chicago. In all cases, Manhattan is to scale with the other cities. Click through for larger images and other cities.
Update: The map on which Manhattan Elsewhere is based was done by Bill Rankin, who runs the excellent Radical Cartography site, and is part of The Errant Isle of Manhattan project. He also did maps for Boston, SF, Door County, WI, Philly, and Los Angeles (look at how gigantic LA is!), which I completely forgot about. He also made more of an effort than I did to connect the roads. (thx, zach)
This guy has made a three dimensional timeline of the plot of Fight Club out of Legos. Kinda hard to explain...just go take a look. (thx, christopher)
The Type Museum, located in London and housing "one of the world's best typographic collections", is being shut down due to lack of funding. The folks in the TypeMuseumSociety GoogleGroup are trying to find a way to save it. (thx, mark)