Update: For another take on how to DJ, see Vice’s Hey DJ, Fuck You! Anyone Can Rock the Party. (thx, dave)
Update: For another take on how to DJ, see Vice’s Hey DJ, Fuck You! Anyone Can Rock the Party. (thx, dave)
A list of sites where you can watch TV on the web. There’s more TV available online than I expected.
A collection of posters and promotional art from the films of Stanley Kubrick. This Clockwork Orange poster is one of my favorites; I have a copy hanging in my apartment.
Phil Gyford summarizing David Mamet on meritocracy: “A standing ovation can be extorted from the audience. A gasp cannot.”
The first of a monthly column by The New Yorker’s head librarians, in which we learn that even the cartoons are fact-checked.
The Internet is going to be switched off tomorrow. What five things are you going to print out?
How to be friends with someone, circa 2006. “Do you think if I unfriend him and friend him again, when he gets the second notification he’ll friend me?”
Richard Donner is re-editing Superman II for a November 2006 DVD release. “Unlike many ‘special edition’ and ‘director’s cut’ movies released over the years, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut will essentially be a completely new film.” (thx, dj)
How to fix photos that are too dark or too light with Photoshop. Color range + levels is your friend.
As with much of Paul Graham’s writing, The Power of the Marginal is filled with odd conclusions and unfair assumptions, but the general ideas are interesting to consider; lots of food for thought in this one for me.
In 1980, an oil company drilled through the bottom of Lake Peigneur and into a salt mine, draining a large portion of the lake into the mine. This video shows the resulting whirlpool, which sucked in the drilling platform, several barges & boats, and trees.
Overheard last night as my wife and I were having dinner in our apartment, alone:
If your web site isn’t pleasuring you, you shouldn’t do it anymore.
Paging Mr. Entendre, Mr. Double Entendre…
Update: The video in question is not a game show, it’s of some sort of comedy team; here’s a bunch more of their stuff. (thx, evan and gavin)
Wu-oh. Floyd Landis had “an unusual level of testosterone/epitestosterone ratio” in his blood after stage 17 of the Tour de France. If his backup sample also tests positive, the title could be taken from him. You may remember stage 17 as the scene of Landis’ remarkable comeback. Cyclingnews.com says that “some athletes have naturally high levels, and can prove this through a series of tests”…is it possible that Landis was just super amped up from the effort that day?
Jim Caple takes a tour of the Topps HQ in Manhattan. “I’m only half-listening because I’ve noticed an uncut sheet of 1968 baseball cards he has framed along his office wall. I can’t help but notice that down near the lower left-hand corner of the sheet is a Nolan Ryan rookie card. Beyond mint condition.”
Henry Abbott: bloggers give credit, journalists typically don’t. “When Sports Illustrated breaks a story that blogs catch on to, SI gets its name and inbound links all over the blogosphere. When blogs break stories, I don’t see why mainstream media shouldn’t reciprocate.”
Update: The clips have been removed from YouTube by Fox’s request. (thx, bob & jon)
A Rape in Cyberspace by Julian Dibbell. The story from the early 1990s of a small online place called LambdaMOO, a violence committed in that place, and how the community that lived there dealt with it.
A couple of months ago, the Guardian ran an article about Timothy Leary that used a “factoid” from gullible.info, a site trafficking in fake facts. The editor of gullible.info alerted the Guardian to the error, but they still haven’t corrected the article claiming that Leary discovered a new primary color called gendale.
New Yorker article on Wikipedia. If you’ve been paying attention, there not a whole lot of new information, but it’s a nice summary. “Whereas articles once made up about eighty-five per cent of the site’s content, as of last October they represented seventy per cent. As Wattenberg put it, ‘People are talking about governance, not working on content.’” By authoring the piece, Stacy Schiff earned her very own Wikipedia page.
I’m so glad I’m friends with you
I can see your Flickr pix
and your Vox posts too
Since he was 12, Gilles Trehin has been drawing and writing about the imaginary city of Urville, which is situated on the Mediterranean coast of France, was founded by the Phoenicians in the 12th century BC, and currently houses over 17 million inhabitants. Don’t miss the drawings. (via godammit)
The Ling, or what the kids are (or aren’t) saying these days. “Awkward became awk, actually became actu, typical became typ, amazing became amaze and hilarious became hilar.”
Jack Shafer waxes poetic about the NY Times TV listing’s film capsules. Their succinctness reminds me a bit of writing remaindered links posts.
Writing prose and writing software have much in common. “Vigorous writing of words is the same as vigorous writing of software. Every word, every line of code, every interface element should tell.”
Recent studies show that family income level affects the IQ of children. “The average I.Q. of children from well-to-do parents who were placed with families from the same social stratum was 119.6. But when such infants were adopted by poor families, their average I.Q. was 107.5 — 12 points lower.”
Jane Jacobs revisited. “The mistake made by Jacobs’s detractors and acolytes alike is to regard her as a champion of stasis — to believe she was advocating the world’s cities be built as simulacra of the West Village circa 1960.”
Surowiecki on the difficulty of short-term thinking in business. “It’s no wonder that management theory is dominated by fads: every few years, new companies succeed, and they are scrutinized for the underlying truths that they might reveal. But often there is no underlying truth; the companies just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
Dave Jamieson used to collect baseball cards and recently uncovered his stash when he cleaned out the closet of his childhood home. In attempting to recoup some of the time and money spent in his youth on this cardboard, Jamieson found that baseball cards aren’t as popular or as lucrative as they used to be:
Baseball cards peaked in popularity in the early 1990s. They’ve taken a long slide into irrelevance ever since, last year logging less than a quarter of the sales they did in 1991. Baseball card shops, once roughly 10,000 strong in the United States, have dwindled to about 1,700. A lot of dealers who didn’t get out of the game took a beating. “They all put product in their basement and thought it was gonna turn into gold,” Alan Rosen, the dealer with the self-bestowed moniker “Mr. Mint,” told me. Rosen says one dealer he knows recently struggled to unload a cache of 7,000 Mike Mussina rookie cards. He asked for 25 cents apiece.
Close readers of kottke.org know that I collected sports cards too. I got involved in this prepubescent hobby later than most; I was 14 or 15 when a friend and his older brother — who was around 24 and collecting for investment — introduced me to it. And I loved it:
I still have them all somewhere, in boxes, collecting dust faster than value. The Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck rookie, the 130 different Nolan Ryan cards, the complete 1989 Hoops set (with the David Robinson rookie), and several others I really can’t remember right now.
I used to spend untold hours sifting through them, looking up the values in Beckett’s Price Guide, visiting card shops, flipping through commons to complete sets, looking for patterns in Topps’ rack packs (I scored many a Jim Abbott rookie with this technique), chewing that ancient bubble gum (I bought a pack of 1983 cards once and chewed the gum…it was horrible), and keeping track of the total value of my collection with a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet on my dad’s 286. It was a lot of fun at the time (as the Web is fun for me now); I guess that’s about all one can ask for from a hobby.
Recently I stumbled across The Baseball Card Blog and was hit by a giant wave of nostalgia for my old obsession. One thing led to another — you know how that goes — and before I knew it, a package was speeding its way to me from a card shop in Pennsylvania containing several 1989 Fleer & Donruss wax packs, a 1989 Topps rack pack, and a couple of 1987 Topps wax packs.1
I’ve been opening a pack every few days since they arrived. Smell is the sense most powerfully associated with memory, so getting a whiff of that cardboard is really sending me back. Like a wine connoisseur, I can even smell the difference between each brand of card; the smell of Topps cards holds the strongest memories for me…the 1989 Topps set was my favorite. I opened the ‘87 Topps packs with a fellow ex-collector, but when we tried to chew the gum, it tasted like the cards and turned to a muddy dust in our mouths. But that was mostly what happened even when the gum was new, so we were unsurprised.
Because of the aforementioned slump in the baseball card collecting economy, the card packs I ordered were the same price I paid for them as a kid (factoring for inflation), even though they’re almost 20 years old and way more scarce. Back then, I used most of my $5/week allowance on cards, and it took weeks and months of patience to buy enough packs to complete a set, procure that Griffey rookie card, or amass enough Mark McGwires to trade to a friend for a desired Nolan Ryan.
As an adult, I have the cashflow to buy any card I want whenever I want (within reason). Or several boxes of cards, so as to compile complete sets instantly. Or I can just purchase the complete sets and skip the intermediate step. I could buy an entire box of 1989 Upper Deck packs — at $1.25 per pack and nearly impossible to find in rural Wisconsin, an unimaginable extravagance for me as a kid — right now on eBay. When I think about the financial advantages I now have over my 16-yo self in collecting the same exact cards, I feel like the NY Yankees (and their monster payroll) competing in a Single A league. It’s unfair and even thinking about collecting cards in that manner takes a lot of the fun out of it for me. If I do start collecting cards again, I’m going to approach it like I did back then: by hand, a little at a time, and treating even the essentially worthless commons with care. Unless Nolan Ryan is involved…in that case, the sky’s the limit, although I might have to sell my bicycle to get it. In the meantime, I’m waiting for the next household footwear purchase so I can put my newly purchased cards in the shoe box for safe keeping.
 A quick note on terminology. A “wax pack” is a basic pack of around 15 cards (plus gum, when cards still had gum packaged with them), so-called because the packages used to be sealed with wax. (Now they’re all probably packaged in plastic and whatnot…I don’t know, I haven’t kept up.) The bottom card in such a pack is called a “wax back” because the card got a thin layer of wax on it from the sealing process. A “rack pack” is a hanging triple pack made of see-thru plastic. A “common” is an ordinary card not worth very much, as opposed to cards or rookies, hot prospects, all-stars, and the like. A “box” contains several wax packs, typically 20-40 packs/box. A “complete set” is a collection of every card sold by a company in a particular year. The ‘89 Topps set had 792 cards. Sets were sold in factory-sealed boxes or were compiled by hand from cards acquired in packs. ↩
How to lose the ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ from your speech. Videotape yourself and practice.
Income distributions for various US cities for the purpose of testing the “donut” hypothesis, “the idea that a city will create concentric rings of wealth and poverty, with the rich both in the suburbs and in the ‘revitalized’ downtown, and the poor stuck in between.” The hypothesis is valid for older cities, but in newer ones, “one finds ‘wedges’ of wealth occupying a continuous pie-slice from the center to the periphery”. (via moon river)
Web 2.0 style redesigns of famous logos. The BoeingBoeing one is pretty clever. (thx, mark)
A star is “on the brink” of going type 1a supernova, something modern scientists have never witnessed. BTW, when you’re dealing with stars, “on the brink” could refer to a period of time up to 100,000 years from now. Oh, and if you’re the type of person who likes to be a smart ass in the back of the room, you’ll note that since the star is nearly 2000 light years away, we may have already missed it. Nerd.
MotherLoad. Sure, it starts off simple enough. Oh, it’s like Dig Dug, cute. Collect the ore, exchange it for money, and ooh, upgrades! There’s platinum down here. Rubies! Wait, it’s almost dinnertime? But we just had lunch. That was 5 hours ago? Oh. No. (This is why I can never, ever play Warcraft. Meg would be widowed for sure. “Jason is survived by his wife, Meg, and was preceded in death by his former self…”)
Guessing game: Kid Rock or Floyd Landis?
John Battelle heard that YouTube is worth $1 billion and calls bullshit on whoever believes that. As Tim Shey notes, lots of people are comparing YouTube to Napster (except for YouTube, of course), and I think the comparison is apt. Both services have potentially infinite intangible value but little business value.
I Like Killing Flies is a 2004 documentary about Shopsin’s, a unique NYC eatery. Playing at NYC’s Cinema Village this coming weekend. See also Shopsin’s menu design and Calvin Trillin’s classic NYer piece.
“Three horrible videos from people who want to be a United States Senator from Maryland”. Welcome to Razzmania! (thx, ajit)
Motorized scooters, ostensibly for the handicapped, are finding a new audience: the lazy. “When scooter demand outstrips supply at Wal-Mart, greeters ‘evaluate the situation’ and make sure that people using the scooters can demonstrate a legitimate need.”
Two weeks in Ukraine with 30 men hunting for brides. “The vision was Madonna and puttana rolled together, an American male desire shaped in equal parts by the Promise Keepers and Internet porn.” (via maciej)
The story of Zingerman’s Deli and how the company expanded while remaining local and committed to its ideals. The author of the article wrote a book called Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big and Zingerman’s co-founder Ari Weinzweig was a speaker at Taste3.
Jesse James Garrett talks with Steven Johnson about Interface Culture. I know part 2 is coming, but I just want this interview to go on forever. p.s. Dean!
I could read interviews of Errol Morris all day long. “It became obvious that I was never going to be able to knock on the door of someone who’s committed some massive insurance fraud and stick a camera in their face and get them to talk. It’s never going to happen. The best you can expect is getting the shit kicked out of you.”
Update: Paul has more about Matt’s talk (+ other observations).
The Independent has a great infographic on its cover today depicting which countries support the immediate ceasefire in the Middle East demanded by the UN and which do not:
That message would take up less space as words, but somehow the impact wouldn’t be quite the same. (thx, g)
Jeff Bezos invests in 37signals, making them bigger and a little less Real. But seriously, I had always wondered how 37s was going to grow and this is a bit of an answer to that question. Congrats, guys. (thx, steve)
Update: Tom has some thoughts on Bezos’ next investments, most likely 31functions.com, 25description.com, and 19options.com.
Beautiful Evidence is both the title of Edward Tufte’s latest book and an accurate description of the document itself. Like few other mass market publications, BE is lovingly hand-crafted, a physical manifestation of the ideas expressed in its pages; the text and images therein could be about another subject entirely and you might still get the point: “Words, Numbers, Images - Together” (the title of the book’s fourth chapter).
Case in point. Pages 123 and 124 fold out into a spread depicting Charles Joseph Minard’s famous infographic of the disastrous 1812 invasion of Russia by France. But unlike most magazine and book fold-outs, the page that folds out is cut 1/2 inch narrower than the underlying page so that a) a bit of the page underneath peeks out, providing a visual cue for unfoldability, and b) there’s no difficulty when you go to refold the page with getting it caught in the book’s crease or otherwise undesirably bending/creasing it. The fold-out design is a small thing that the casual reader might not even notice, but it demonstrates the care that went into the production of the book (and perhaps the reason why Tufte took so long in writing/designing it).
The gang at 37signals noticed similar craftsmanship in the writing and presentation:
“What struck me is how you almost never have to hold something in your head while turning the page…he usually finishes his thought within the two pages you can see…and when you flip, it’s something new…that’s an excellent self-imposed constraint…’whatever i need to say, i’ll do it here.’” Jason replied, “Yes, I love that. I noticed that more on this book than others. The image and text is in one spread so when you turn you are turning your attention to a new idea. If you have too much to say than the space allowed then you are probably saying too much…it definitely makes it easier to design the book too…you can design each spread as if it was a standalone poster.”
What I’ve also noticed about Beautiful Evidence is the lack of reviews in mainstream publications; I can’t find a single newspaper or magazine that has published a review. Compare that to the releases of Gladwell’s Blink, Remnick’s Reporting, and Anderson’s The Long Tail, for which reviews started appearing almost everywhere before the books were even available. Those books were written for mass audiences and backed by large publishing companies with ample PR resources and plenty of review copies to go around. In contrast, Beautiful Evidence is self-published by Tufte, which means it’s beautiful, personal, and done just right, but also invisible to the mainstream press. Not that Beautiful Evidence is being ignored — the blogosphere is talking about it and the Amazon Sales Rank is currently about 600 (which doesn’t count online sales directly from edwardtufte.com) — but it deserves the consideration of the mainstream press.
Boing Boing has information on YouTube’s recently revised Terms and Conditions, which now state that they can use uploaded video for pretty much anything they want. For some users, that may be a steep price to pay for “free” bandwidth. The longer term question is, can YouTube find a business model that won’t completely screw up their wonderful offering or will they ultimately go the way of Napster?
A West Village family built a porch and garden on top of their six floor apartment building. The photos are surreal. “The depth [of the soil] was kept consistent because Mr. Puchkoff had the foresight to collect two dozen chopsticks from Sushi on Hudson, a Japanese restaurant in the neighborhood, and mark them at seven inches.”
Disney panicked when they saw Johnny Depp’s approach to playing Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, even though it eventually made the film a huge success. “‘Look, you hired me to do the gig. If you can’t trust me, you can fire me. But I can’t change it.’ It was a hard thing to say, but fuck it.” Didn’t work so well for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory though… (via mike)
Zidane was fined and suspended for three games (Materazzi got a 2-game suspension) by FIFA for the headbutt incident. “Both players stressed Materazzi’s comments had been defamatory but not of a racist nature.”
The NY Times on the state-of-the-art in book self-publishing. Prices are dropping (slightly), quality and options are increasing.
As the Village Voice explains, Silence of the City publishes Talk of the Town pieces that have been rejected by the New Yorker. When McSweeney’s started off, didn’t they publish work rejected from other newspapers/magazines? (via b&a)
The secret to wisdom: strong opinions, weakly held. “Bob explained that it was just as important, however, to not be too attached to what you believe because, otherwise, it undermines your ability to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ evidence that clashes with your opinions.” (via mike)
Update: J.P. Taylor wrote about “extreme views weakly held” in 1977. (thx, rich)
Are large cities, both culturally and economically, turning into their own countries? “The most important place to London is New York and to New York is London and Tokyo. London belongs to a country composed of itself and New York.” Like many residents, it often seems like NYC isn’t a part of the rest of the US.
One of the most enjoyable presentations at Taste3 was by mad scientist David Arnold, who made gin and tonic onstage, but without the tonic. (He added the fizz directly to the gin with a CO2 canister.) Pete Wells recently profiled Arnold in Food & Wine magazine. And here’s an article from IT World.
Thanks to the glories of YouTube, you can now watch Kaj Pindal’s Oscar-nominated short film, What On Earth!:
Made in 1966 under the auspices of the National Film Board of Canada, the animated film records a visit by Martians to Earth and their observations about the planet’s dominant life form, the automobile.
World Jump Day is tomorrow. “Join us in the attempt to drive Planet Earth into a new orbit.”
Because of the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, the Rapture Ready/End Times Chat board is buzzing with excitement over what the board’s denizens believe may be the second coming of Christ. “This is the busiest I’ve ever seen this website in a few years! I have been having rapture dreams and I can’t believe that this is really it! We are on the edge of eternity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
This tshirt with infographics on it is too nerdy even for me. That and I’ve been getting a ton of crap from everyone I know about how many Threadless tshirts I own.
One of the first reviews Ruth Reichl wrote as the New York Times food critic was of Le Cirque, a fancy French restaurant in midtown Manhattan. In the now-famous piece, immortalied in her memoir, Garlic and Sapphires, Reichl compares the service she receives at the restaurant as a welcomed reviewer with that as an average Jane. From the review:
Over the course of five months I ate five meals at the restaurant; it was not until the fourth that the owner, Sirio Maccioni, figured out who I was. When I was discovered, the change was startling. Everything improved: the seating, the service, the size of the portions. We had already reached dessert, but our little plate of petit fours was whisked away to be replaced by a larger, more ostentatious one. An avalanche of sweets descended upon the table, and I was fascinated to note that the raspberries on the new desserts were three times the size of those on the old ones.
Thirteen years later, current food critic Frank Bruni reviews the newest incarnation of Le Cirque in today’s Times and echoing Reichl’s technique, finds that little has changed:
I also experienced Le Cirque’s famously split personality, half dismissive and half pampering, depending on who you are. On my first visit, when a companion and I arrived before the two other members of our party, a host let us know we should wait in the bar area not by asking or telling us to go there but by gesturing silently in that direction with his head. Most of the seats were occupied, so we stood. Over the next 10 minutes, no one asked us if we wanted a drink or anything else.
After we were taken to our table, servers seemed to figure out who I was and offered to move us to prime real estate with better sightlines. (We declined.)
So on a subsequent visit I sent three friends in ahead of me. One sat at the bar for 15 minutes without getting a server’s attention, and a bartender quarreled with the two others when they asked that the charges for their Champagne be transferred to the table. At a place as self-consciously posh as Le Cirque, such a request should be granted instantly.
But I was treated like royalty when I showed up, and on another night, when I dined with a filmmaker whom the staff also knew, soft-shell crabs, which weren’t on the menu, appeared almost as soon as she mentioned an appetite for them. They were fantastic: crunchy, meaty, sweet.
I can’t imagine wanting to go someplace like that when there’s so many other places with food as good or better and where the service is friendly, helpful, and accommodating for everybody. I guess that’s the side of New York I don’t like.
Here it is, the awful truth. After sampling In-N-Out Burger twice this past weekend (a cheeseburger with raw onion and, 4 days later, a Double Double w/ no onions) and having had several Shack Burgers this year (my most recent one was a couple of weeks ago), an adequate comparison between the two can be made. The verdict?
The Shake Shack burger wins in a landslide. It’s more flavorful, features a better balance of ingredients, and a yummier bun. On the french fries front, In-N-Out’s fresh-cut fries get the nod.
Courtesy of Mena, something to keep in mind: a cheeseburger at In-N-Out is $1.85 while a similarly appointed Shack Burger is $4.38, almost 2.5 times as much. SS french fries are nearly twice the price of In-N-Out fries. The burger comparison is an unfair one because, despite its location and style, Shake Shack is a restaurant and In-N-Out is a fast food joint. That the burgers are even close enough to compare — and make no mistake, I still love the In-N-Out burger — says a great deal about In-N-Out.
Eyebeam is accepting applications for the next round of fellows for the OpenLab. Artists, technologists, designers, hackers, git in there.
Back in 9/2000, over a hundred bloggers recorded their day in photos and text…alas, most of those galleries are gone; only the listings remain. It’s funny, bloggers are their own paparazzi and archivists, but they’re not doing a very good job of it; there’s little material publicly available from those early days.
Update: This looks like the official site.
Yet another take on the Zidane headbutt, this time from Dany Laferriere (translated by Rana Dasgupta). “I don’t believe that the Italian player said to him anything that he couldn’t stand to hear. He simply felt that this was the moment. His last match, the finale of the World Cup, at the very end. It was now or never. Otherwise, he had sold himself for good.”
A fake biography of cereal monster Count Chocula made it into the Wikipedia entry but has since been axed. “Ernst Choukula was born the third child to Estonian landowers in the late autumn of 1873…”
Update: From what I understand, this is a photo taken of the bogus update of the Chocula page. Note the similarities between the Chocula update and the John Trumbull memorialization of another significant moment in history. (thx, mikey)
During the depths of the dot com bust, Julian Dibbell looked online for a job and found one as a commodities trader in the Ultima Online virtual world. During one particularly productive month, he made almost US$4000. Dibbell has a book coming out about the experience, Play Money: Or, How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot. In addition to being available at bookstores in meatspace, Play Money will also be on sale in the virtual world of Second Life in the currency of that world (Linden dollars). From the press release:
In-game versions of Play Money designed by Second Life coder/publisher Falk Bergman are available for L$750. These copies can be signed by Dibbell at his in-Second Life interview with journalist Wagner James Au on July 27th. For the Second Life resident who needs something a bit more tactile, L$6250 buys a real-life copy of Play Money, shipped with care to the buyer’s real life address, in addition to the standard in-game version.
(At the time of this press release, Linden dollars are trading at approximately L$300.00 to the US$1.00. Adjusted to US dollars, an online copy costs US$2.50, and the price of a real-life copy bought in-game is around US$20.85.)
Dibbell will be signing his virtual books in Second Life on July 27th. Caterina read Play Money and has some thoughts on its relation to her work/play at Ludicorp. And here’s a preview of Chinese Gold Farmers, a documentary on gold farming sweatshops in China.
Profile of Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, aka half of Gnarls Barkley. “[Burton] wants to be the first modern rock ‘n’ roll auteur, mostly because he understands a critical truth about the creative process: good art can come from the minds of many, but great art usually comes from the mind of one.”
The Oil We Eat. “With the possible exception of the domestication of wheat, the green revolution is the worst thing that has ever happened to the planet.”
Update: Here’s a Wired article on super organics, smartly breed foods that will “that will please the consumer, the producer, the activist, and the FDA”. (thx, andy)
Hiroshi Tanaka demonstrated his “fast aging” technique for wine at the Taste3 conference. I tasted some of the “after” wine and it was better and smoother than the “before” wine. A promising technique, especially for cheaper wines and spirits.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Taste3 conference in Napa Valley, CA over the weekend. What a nice change from technology conferences. Instead of software demo CDs in the schwag bags, there were bottles of wine and chocolate and instead of BOF gatherings on podcasting, there were dinners with fine wine and yummy cheese. As you would expect, the folks in the hospitality industry are a lot more outgoing than the nerds; except for me, there was a distinct lack of people standing in corners looking down at their shoes.
For the next few days I’ll be posting some thoughts and links from the conference; I hope they’ll be as interesting as the conference was.
List of easily mispronouncable domain names. I’ve always beeen partial to WhoRepresents.com (or whorepresents.com).
Regarding the doublestrike on the Guggenheim, Design Observer has a little more information about it. “I don’t think [Frank Lloyd Wright] ever floated text.”
Five reasons why Americans might be getting fatter that you haven’t thought of. “Sleep-deprived animals eat excessively, and humans subject to sleep deprivation show increased appetite and an increased Body Mass Index, the standard measure of excessive weight.”
FAS.research has produced a visualization of the 2006 World Cup final showing “the passes from every player to those three team-mates he passes to most frequently”. The graphic also shows the “flowbetweenness” of a player.
David Remnick on the Bush Administration’s sustained assault on the press. “You begin to wonder if the Bush White House, in its urgent need to find scapegoats for the myriad disasters it has inflicted, is preparing to repeat a dismal and dismaying episode of the Nixon years.”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is raising its ticket price to $20 (from $15). The fee is recommended…you can pay nothing if you wish.
Zidane apologized for the headbutt incident, but doesn’t regret his actions. He said Materazzi insulted his family, “both his mother and sister”.
Update: Here’s a mirror on YouTube.
Clever McDonald’s sundial billboard. “The billboard features a real sundial whose shadow falls on a different breakfast item each hour until noon, when the shadow of the McDonald’s arches are dead center.”
In an interesting twist, those watching the World Cup Final in the stadium didn’t see Zidane headbutt Materazzi: “As a result, tens of thousands of spectators, those actually watching the game in real life, had to resort to calling or texting friends, often in faraway places like the United States or Japan, to find out what was happening in Berlin. Why was Zidane, the resurgent French hero, walking with a bowed head from the field?”
Guide for how to win at Pac-Man. “Pac-Man is the game which represents everything that’s good about gaming (any kind of gaming) and nothing that is bad.”
If you played soccer for Brazil, what would your name be? Mine is “Jasa”, although I like the result better if I switch my first/last names: Jasinho.
Conde Nast buys Wired News (and the wired.com domain name), reuniting it with Wired magazine after 8 years apart. Chris Anderson must be beside himself with joy; under the agreement with Lycos, Wired magazine couldn’t do much of anything on the web in the past eight years (which, in my mind, hurt their credibility in the eyes of anyone who was interested in online media). (via bb)
Update: Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson on the acquisition. “The result was an agreement between the two, by which Wired News (wired.com) would host our content on their site (under wired.com/wired) next to their own content, but we, the magazine, were prohibited from doing anything in the digital realm. Aside from being somewhat ironic that Wired Magazine wasn’t really wired, it was frustrating for us to be unable to walk the talk, since we didn’t control the site.”
Kevin Kelly on an intriguing concept called The Big Here:
You live in the big here. Wherever you live, your tiny spot is deeply intertwined within a larger place, imbedded fractal-like into a whole system called a watershed, which is itself integrated with other watersheds into a tightly interdependent biome. At the ultimate level, your home is a cell in an organism called a planet. All these levels interconnect. What do you know about the dynamics of this larger system around you? Most of us are ignorant of this matrix. But it is the biggest interactive game there is. Hacking it is both fun and vital.
Accompanying his post is a 30-question (plus 5 bonus questions) quiz that determines how closely you’re connected to the place in which you live. Taking the quiz as he suggests (without Googling) and then researching the actual answers using the recommendations left by previous quiz takers is a useful, humbling, and instructive exercise.
Even though I live in Manhattan, a place where so much of the surroundings are unnatural and the inhabitants are effectively disconnected from nature, I decided to tackle the quiz and expected to do poorly. And so I did. Here are my results, with commentary. (There are some spoilers below, so if you don’t want to be swayed in your answers, take the quiz first, then come back.)
1) Point north.
Easy with Manhattan’s grid, although you have to remember that the avenues don’t run directly N/S.
3) Trace the water you drink from rainfall to your tap.
Comes from upstate NY via various aqueducts and tunnels. I’ve seen parts of the old Croton Aqueduct in northern Manhattan.
5) How many feet above sea level are you?
I guessed 30 feet, Google Earth says it’s 36 feet.
9) Before your tribe lived here, what did the previous inhabitants eat and how did they sustain themselves?
A somewhat complicated question — by previous tribe, does it mean the English, the Dutch, the Indians, or the printing company that owned the building I currently live in? — but I basically know how all of those groups lived, more or less.
11) From what direction do storms generally come?
18) Which (if any) geological features in your watershed are, or were, especially respected by your community, or considered sacred, now or in the past?
The skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan wouldn’t be possible without all that bedrock underneath.
19) How many days is the growing season here (from frost to frost)?
180 days. (180 is in the ballpark, but it’s probably a little more given the proximity to the ocean.)
22) Where does the pollution in your air come from?
31) What species once found here are known to have gone extinct?
2) What time is sunset today?
Within 15 minutes of the actual time.
7) How far do you have to travel before you reach a different watershed? Can you draw the boundaries of yours?
Across the river to New Jersey. (Locate your watershed.) I don’t know enough detail to draw it.
8) Is the soil under your feet, more clay, sand, rock or silt?
I guessed bedrock, but Manhattan’s bedrock comes to the surface near midtown and points north of there, not further south where I live.
13) How many people live in your watershed?
10 million. (Actual answer is 9.1 million.)
15) Point to where the sun sets on the equinox. How about sunrise on the summer solstice?
20) Name five birds that live here. Which are migratory and which stay put?
Pigeons, hawks, falcons, ducks, sparrows. Ducks migrate. (Turns out that falcons and hawks migrate too.)
21) What was the total rainfall here last year?
50 inches. Average is ~48 inches and last years precip was ~56 inches.
24) What primary geological processes or events shaped the land here?
32) What other cities or landscape features on the planet share your latitude?
Portland, OR; Rome, Tokyo.
10) Name five native edible plants in your neighborhood and the season(s) they are available.
Are there plants still native to Greenwich Village? Marijuana? We grow tomatoes in our apartment, does that count?
17) Right here, how deep do you have to drill before you reach water?
500 feet? (Now that I think about it, it’s probably a lot less.)
34) Name two places on different continents that have similar sunshine/rainfall/wind and temperature patterns to here.
East coast of Japan? East coasts of southern Africa or South America?
Absolutely wrong / no clue
4) When you flush, where do the solids go? What happens to the waste water?
6) What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom here?
12) Where does your garbage go?
On the curb?
14) Who uses the paper/plastic you recycle from your neighborhood?
16) Where is the nearest earthquake fault? When did it last move?
23) If you live near the ocean, when is high tide today?
25) Name three wild species that were not found here 500 years ago. Name one exotic species that has appeared in the last 5 years.
I’m assuming Williamsburg hipster, Chelsea queer, and PR flack are not the answers they’re looking for here.
26) What minerals are found in the ground here that are (or were) economically valuable?
27) Where does your electric power come from and how is it generated?
28) After the rain runs off your roof, where does it go?
29) Where is the nearest wilderness? When was the last time a fire burned through it?
30) How many days till the moon is full?
Turns out it was just full.
33) What was the dominant land cover plant here 10,000 years ago?
I answered 9/35 correctly and 9/35 for partial credit. I wonder if I would have done any better if I still lived in rural Wisconsin.
Update: Matt Jones is interested in building a Big Here Tricorder:
What I immediately imagined was the extension of this quiz into the fabric of the near-future mobile and it’s sensors - location (GPS, CellID), orientation (accelerometers or other tilt sensors), light (camera), heat (Nokia 5140’s have thermometers…), signal strength, local interactions with other devices (Bluetooth, uPnP, NFC/RFID) and of course, a connection to the net.
The near-future mobile could become a ‘tricorder’ for the Big Here - a daemon that challenges or channels your actions in accordance and harmony to the systems immediately around you and the ripples they raise at larger scales.
It could be possible (but probably with some help from my friends) to rapidly-prototype a Big Here Tricorder using s60 python, a bluetooth GPS module, some of these scripts, some judicious scraping of open GIS data and perhaps a map-service API or two.
Physicist Lawrence Krauss sums up his thoughts from a small conference he organized on the topic of gravity. “There appears to be energy of empty space that isn’t zero! This flies in the face of all conventional wisdom in theoretical particle physics. It is the most profound shift in thinking, perhaps the most profound puzzle, in the latter half of the 20th century.”
A group of designers (National Design Award finalists and winners) recently declined to be honored at a White House breakfast. “It is our belief that the current administration of George W. Bush has used the mass communication of words and images in ways that have seriously harmed the political discourse in America. We therefore feel it would be inconsistent with those values previously stated to accept an award celebrating language and communication, from a representative of an administration that has engaged in a prolonged assault on meaning.”
Earlier this year, Daniel Raeburn wrote a heartbreaking piece for the New Yorker about the stillbirth of his first daughter, Irene. A year and a half later, a much happier update (online only).
The Daily Mail, with corroboration from the Times, has some information on what Marco Materazzi said to Zinedine Zidane to provoke the latter’s career ending headbutt in the 2006 World Cup final (more info on that here). They both hired lip readers to decipher Materazzi’s dialogue before the incident and this is allegedly what he said (translated from the Italian):
Hold on, wait, that one’s not for a nigger like you.
We all know you are the son of a terrorist whore.
So just fuck off.
So it might be fair to say that Materazzi got what he deserved, as did Zidane when he got sent off. Not that two wrongs make a right. Even so, I agree with these thoughts from That’s How It Happened:
[Zidane’s] willingness to headbutt Materazzi makes him more of a hero, not less. Admittedly, since France went on to lose, he’s something of a tragic hero, but a hero none-the-less. If someone insulted my race, or my religion (if I had one), I wish I’d be as ready to attack them, no matter what the circumstances. Zidane’s action highlights for the world the fact that the racial unity of France is more important than winning the World Cup.
If the lip reader is correct in what Materazzi said, I may like Zidane even more than I did before the match. (via wikipedia)
I held his shirt for a few seconds only, he turned to me, looked at me from top to bottom with utmost arrogance (and said): “if you really want my shirt, I’ll give it to you afterwards”. I answered him with an insult.
Update: Several UK newspapers enlisted lip readers to determine what Materazzi said and ended up with many different accounts. Lip reading + language translation = unreliable. (thx, luke)
Vincent van Gogh painted turbulence quite accurately. Mexican scientists “have found that the Dutch artist’s works have a pattern of light and dark that closely follows the deep mathematical structure of turbulent flow”.
Will Moore’s Law slow down due to a lack of research funds? I’ve wondered for awhile whether Moore’s Law didn’t have more to do with the economics of the semiconductor industry than with engineering limits.
Batali would play Bob Marley songs on the sound system, knowing the New York Times restaurant critic was a fan. He would berate staff who failed to recognise celebrities, who must be served first and given special treatment. To make a humble fish soup called cioppino, he would rummage through bins and chopping boards, collecting left overs (tomato pulp, carrot tops, onion skins), then price the dish at $29 and tell the waiters to sell the hell out of it or be fired. Short ribs prepared in advance, wrapped so tightly in plastic wrap and foil that they wouldn’t spurt sauce if stepped on, would keep in the walk-in fridge for up to a week.
Maybe that’s why a recent trip to Babbo was not the top-shelf experience we expected.
Photographic recreation of George Seraut’s painting, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (see it larger). Seurat is one of my favorite painters, and it was a treat to see this painting in Chicago recently.
The Blue People of Troublesome Creek. Due to a rare blood disorder, “four of the seven Fugate children were born with bright blue skin that lasted their entire lives.” “Over the years, the Fugates interbred repeatedly. Blue people proliferated.” (More here….scroll for the Science article.)
Zidane won the Golden Ball award, awarded by journalists to the best player of the tournament. Most of the voting for the award came before halftime of the final. Miroslav Klose’s five goals gave him the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer.
Zidane’s agent says Zidane “told me Materazzi said something very serious to him but he wouldn’t tell me what”. “Zinedine didn’t want to talk about it but it will all come out in the next week. He was very disappointed and sad. He didn’t want it to end this way.”
I’m rooting for France today, but I feel that Italy has the best chance of winning. But we shall see. Allez!
Update: I’m stunned. Not so much about the loss, but Zidane…what was that? That headbutt is one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen in sports.
Update: Video of the headbutt. There’s some speculation that Materazzi twisted Zidane’s nipple…or if not, I wonder what he said that could have riled the Frenchman so?
Update: Ok, here’s a video of the whole exchange. No twisting that I can see…Materazzi obviously said something. With all his experience, hasn’t Zidane heard it all before?
Update: From a 2004 profile of Zidane in the Guardian:
One of the theories about Zidane as a player is that he is driven by an inner rage. His football is elegant and masterful, charged with technique and vision. But he can still erupt into shocking violence that is as sudden as it is inexplicable. The most famous examples of this include head butting Jochen Kientz of Hamburg during a Champions League match, when he was at Juventus in 2000 (an action that cost him a five match suspension) and his stomping on the hapless Faoud Amin of Saudi Arabia during the 1998 World Cup finals (this latter action was, strangely enough, widely applauded in the Berber community as Zidane’s revenge on hated Arab ‘extremists’).
Update: More detail on some of Zidane’s past misdeeds. (thx, daniel)
Update: Zidane’s agent says Zidane “told me Materazzi said something very serious to him but he wouldn’t tell me what”. “Zinedine didn’t want to talk about it but it will all come out in the next week. He was very disappointed and sad. He didn’t want it to end this way.”
Update: With the help of lip readers, two UK newspapers have deciphered what Materazzi alledgedly said to Zidane to set him off.
Adidas did a Michaelangelo-style fresco of 10 soccer players at the Central Train Station in Cologne. More photos of Adidas’ World Cup advertising.
The one red paperclip guy has completed his quest to trade a single red paperclip for a house. Listen all y’all, it’s arbitrage.
An enormous amount of statistics about the book industry. “58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.”
Buried in this extensive listing of the most valuable players in the NBA by Bill Simmons, is a little muse about NBA stars playing soccer, which I will reproduce here in its entirety so you don’t have to go searching for it:
By the way, I’ve been watching the World Cup for four weeks trying to decide which NBA players could have been dominant soccer players, eventually coming to three conclusions. First, Allen Iverson would have been the greatest soccer player ever — better than Pele, better than Ronaldo, better than everyone. I think this is indisputable, actually. Second, it’s a shame that someone like Chris Andersen couldn’t have been pushed toward soccer, because he would have been absolutely unstoppable soaring above the middle of the pack on corner kicks. And third, can you imagine anyone being a better goalie than Shawn Marion? It would be like having a 6-foot-9 human octopus in the net. How could anyone score on him? He’d have every inch of the goal covered. Just as a sports experiment, couldn’t we have someone teach Marion the rudimentary aspects of playing goal, then throw him in a couple of MLS games? Like you would turn the channel if this happened?
“Americans represent 5% of the world’s population but drive almost a third of its cars, which in turn account for nearly half the carbon dioxide pumped out of exhaust pipes into the atmosphere each year.”
List of the top 5 most popular blogs written by scientists. Here’s the top 50 and a list of popular science blogs written by non-scientists. What’s clear is that the blog reading public doesn’t care that much for science…more people probably read Engadget than all of the top 50 science blogs combined.
An animated gif version of Ghostbusters…yes, the entire movie.
Great detailed post about how the inside of a book is designed. Page counts are determined for business reasons so the designer has little choice but to find the proper font to make the given text fit in the given space…readability is a secondary consideration. (thx, susan)
The Garden State Effect: leave indie rock to indie rock fans. “When I say that I want as many people as possible to like my favorite bands, what I actually mean is that I want as many people as possible to like my favorite bands for the right reasons”. (via waxy)
Robert Birnbaum interviews writer Gay Talese. “Look, if you want to make your living chopping people up, you will find an audience. You will, but it’s not me.”
Kathleen Connally’s A Walk Through Durham Township, Pennsylvania is a fine-looking photoblog. (via hal)
Great rant from Michael Ruhlman about the ethics of eating. “Beyond the fact that our current hand-wringing foreshadows an America that increasingly regulates how we live our lives, which is scary enough, the more insidious danger to me is that we think clams and ducks and lobsters are people too.”
Photos of the IKEA Everyday Fabulous! Exhibit, featuring IKEA products improving daily life on the streets of Manhattan, including comfy couches at bus stops, picture frames for lost cat photos, stools near payphones, and blankets for every seat at the movies.
Advice for cleaning the CCD image sensor on Nikon digital SLR cameras. Doesn’t look that scary….does anyone have any experience doing this? My D70 needs a little TLC in this area.
A weblog about finding a decent lunch meal in midtown Manhattan. My suggestions: Mendy’s deli in Grand Central (great chicken salad on rye), any Hale & Hearty for soup, and Little Italy on (I think 43rd) for pizza by the slice. Oh, and isn’t there a Daisy May’s cart on Park Avenue? (via tmn)
List of the 10 most beautiful OS X apps. Newsfire is a well-deserved second.
US college students won’t download music provided by their schools even though its free because they can’t take it with them after graduation, won’t work with Apples, and can’t play on iPods. That’s not really actually “free” then, is it?
Simplified spelling seems like one of the world’s dumbest ideas, if only because you can’t even read every other paragraph of this article. (thx, hal)
A couple of great quotes from the 2006 Fortune Brainstorm conference in Aspen. “It just so happens that there’s an enormous fusion reactor safely banked a few million miles from us. It delivers more than we could ever use in just about 8 minutes. And it’s wireless!”
Reviews of some recent logo redesigns. That new MasterCard logo is…yikes.
Now that the Mac/Ubuntu switch story has made it around the horn and back again (thanks for the non-link, Slashdot!), I want to clarify slightly what I meant by my assertion that Apple should be worried about “two lifelong Mac fans switching away from Macs to PCs running Ubuntu Linux” and that “nerds are a small demographic, but they can also be the canary in the coal mine with stuff like this”.
Mark and Cory’s switching is not going to send large numbers of Mac users scurrying for Ubuntu, no matter how well respected they are in a small community. Two is not a trend. But it may cause people to briefly consider that 1) the Apple experience isn’t all that it could be, and 2) if you want a potentially similar experience, there’s a non-Microsoft option available to you. And once that seed is planted, well, you know where that metaphor is going. (I’m also aware of a few other people who are pondering the same shift independently of Mark and Cory.)
In the late 90s/early 00s, Apple got their act in gear with OS X and their iMacs, Powerbooks, G5s, and iBooks. People who cared deeply about their computing experience (you know, computer nerds) took notice of Apple’s rededication to producing great products, switched to Macs, and thereafter the Macintosh gradually became a genuinely credible option for programmers, web builders, graphic designers, journalists, students, and grandmothers. Not cause and effect, but the so-called alpha geeks noticed something happening and reacted before everyone else did. So when you have two people who care deeply about their computer experience and who were dedicated Apple users for non-superficial reasons switch entirely away from Apple for equally non-superficial reasons, it may be wise for Apple and the rest of us to take notice that they did so and, more importantly, why.
The web site/communty Plastic has been down for weeks now, and its status is unclear. The chat room is still operational and there’s a message about some hardware testing going on, but who knows. Do you know?
Accidental Tech Entrepreneurs Turn Their Hobbies Into Livelihoods, including Dooce, the Trotts, Josh Schachter, and the Digg folks.
People are trying to figure out why the Alexa statistics for a bunch of sites (including kottke.org) jumped sharply in mid-April. I don’t buy the Digg explanation (for one thing, the timeline is off by a month)…it’s gotta be some partnership or something that kicked in. Or how about Alexa’s “facelift” on April 11?
New Yorker review of Chris Anderson’s new book, The Long Tail. Oddly, there’s no disclaimer that Anderson works for the same company that publishes The New Yorker. Not that the review is all synergistic sunshine; the last half pokes a couple of holes in Anderson’s arguments.
Howard Zinn on the 4th of July: “Is not nationalism — that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder — one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?” (via eyeteeth)
Author Haruki Murakami has spoken out against a rise in Japanese nationalism and is planning to address the issue in his next book. “We don’t have to be tied by the past, but we have to remember it.”
Great Russian illustrations of movies. I like the Star Wars one and The Terminator.
Fifty people showed their asses, so the infamous “lost episode” of Ze Frank’s The Show has been reposted to the site. Clean towels all around.
Takeru Kobayashi wins his 6th straight Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest and sets a new world record (53 3/4 dogs in 12 minutes) in the process. Newcomer Joey Chestnut finished 2nd with 52 franks.
Autoantonyms are words that are the opposite of themselves. Buckle means a) to fasten or b) to come undone; give way; collapse. More examples here.