Profile of Walter Werzowa, the man responsible for the Intel Inside theme. More here about tiny music makers, including the Windows 95 startup sound by Brian Eno, the THX theme, and the Mac startup sound.
John Cobb and Ray Edwards own a Honus Wagner T-206 card -- the most valuable sports card in the world -- and they've tried to sell it a number of times, but no one bites because the card hasn't been properly authenticated (even though paper and printing experts have said the card seems real). Related: the obsessive Vintage Baseball Card Forum. (thx, david)
Graph of American house values from 1890 to the present. You can't miss the sheer cliff starting in 1997. Houses have also gotten bigger over time. It would be interesting to see the same graph in price/square feet. (via ben hyde)
things magazine reviews Mark Danielewski's new book, Only Revolutions. I quite liked Danielewski's House of Leaves, which House things describes as "a combination of the Winchester Mystery House and the Tardis".
The difficulties of interviewing Bob Dylan. "Dylan is rarely concerned about sounding polite, and he says things, but he sometimes makes them up. He also contradicts himself, answers questions with questions, rambles, gets hostile, goes laconic, and generally bewilders."
Emdashes has the lineup for the New Yorker festival. Lots of good stuff there....plus a "New Yorker Dance Party". Woo, sounds fun doesn't it, kids? Tickets on sale Sept 7.
Brian Beatty: "Nobody important is keeping score, so do what you think is interesting."
How GM and the other big US AUG 30
How GM and the other big US automakers are hamstrung by their dealers. It was their own fault, though. They misued the dealers and the dealers responded by gaining all sorts of regulatory protection that severely limits what the car companies can do.
An interview with Steven Soderbergh: "The hardest thing in the world is to be good and clear when creating anything. It's the hardest thing in the world. It's really easy to be obscure and elliptical and so fucking hard to be good and clear. It breaks people. Because you don't often get encouragement to do that, to be good and clear."
Ars Electronica AUG 30
On Friday, September 1, I'll be speaking at the 2006 Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria. I'll be taking part in a symposium on simplicity organized by John Maeda (schedules: part 1, part 2). I've been furiously preparing my slides in Keynote for the past week or so. It's my first talk using either Keynote or Powerpoint and I'm having fun messing around in Keynote. It's a great little program. Thanks to John and the folks at Ars for including me...it's a real honor.
Updates for the next few days will be spotty at best; the internet connection situation at both the conference and our hotel is unknown and I'll likely be busy preparing for my talk1. And after the conference, we're heading into the Alpine wilderness for a few days (maybe Salzburg, Munich, or Zurich as well) during which my internet status will likely be "offline" and my sausage intake status will be "every 6 hours". See you when I get back.
So, now's your chance to catch up on some recent doings around the site. Here are some of my favorites from the past few weeks/months:
- Manhattan Elsewhere - Maps and landscapes imagining the island of Manhattan placed near Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, and other locales.
- The Pluto Mnemonic Device Contest. "My! Very educated morons just screwed up numerous planetariums."
- Post on the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis, MN. Panoramic photograph of the museum and the surrounding area.
- Some old WWII-era color photos, color corrected to look a bit more contemporary.
- Tales of the Telegraph.
- A piece about some surviving Gopher servers.
- Some baseball card musings.
- Madden NFL 06 Fans Take Video Game Into Real World
 "Preparing for my talk" may or may not be a euphemism for "throwing up repeatedly in worry about my talk". (Actually, practice is a wonderful thing. It makes perfect, builds confidence, and reduces abdominal discomfort.) ↩
A classic article by Stephen Jay Gould on the changing biological features of Mickey Mouse. Over the years, Mickey has become more well-behaved and his appearance more juvenile (larger eyes, short pudgy legs, relatively large head, short snout, etc.). "When we see a living creature with babyish features, we feel an automatic surge of disarming tenderness."
Gladwell on zero-tolerance policies: "making a fetish of personal accountability conveniently removes the need for institutional accountability".
Great composite photo of Andre Agassi playing a point against Andrei Pavel in the US Open last night. Looks like Agassi had Pavel running a bit.
Update: Nice appreciation of Agassi with a summary of his career.
Street hacks: how to survive a freestyle rap battle. "Have your first real battle against someone you at least somewhat dislike. If you can find someone who just gets you emotional or who angers you, it makes it easier to flow about them." (thx, steve)
Farecast, a site which predicts airline ticket prices so that you know when to buy them cheap, has added more than 50 cities to its roster.
Big movie stars may not have that big of an effect on a movie's profit as the film industry thinks. "Looking across a sample of more than 2,000 movies exhibited between 1985 and 1996, they found that only seven actors and actresses -- Tom Hanks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jodie Foster, Jim Carrey, Barbra Streisand and Robin Williams -- had a positive impact on the box office, mostly in the first few weeks of a film's release."
Noah Kalina Everyday AUG 29
Film critic Jim Emerson is collecting great opening shots from movies, including Star Wars, Primer, and Annie Hall. Do you have any favorites that Emerson hasn't covered yet?
Flickr just launched an interface to geotag your photos. Geotag = situate your photos on a map.
Mars, Inc. is offering a reward of 2 million dark chocolate M&M's for the safe return of The Scream, the Edvard Munch painting stolen from a museum in Norway in 2004. Mmmm....Munch. (via girlhacker)
More and more people are using their mobile phones to tell time instead of watches. Telling time has always been the #1 function I use on my phone.
Remember those neat library pictures I pointed to last week? Turns out that the Jedi archives in Star Wars Episode II were modeled after the Long Room Library at the Trinity College of Dublin. (thx, everyone who sent this in)
Philly Slim's AUG 28
An outpost of Philly Slim's, a restaurant specializing in Philly cheesesteaks, recently opened up near our apartment. In the weeks since its opening, the place has been near-empty every time I've walked past it. Without proper intel (i.e. a recommendation from friends or perhaps New York magazine), no one in the neighborhood wants to make the first move; when people wander by to glance at the menu, they take its emptiness as a sign that the food's bad and head somewhere else for a meal. It's a real catch-22 situation.
Last week, we were in the mood for some serious comfort food, so we tried out Philly Slim's. And surprise of surprises, it was good. Really good. I tend to be disappointed by most steak sandwiches -- the meat is usually thick, tough, and looks like it's been boiled for weeks -- but Philly Slim's steak has a nice flavor and is sliced/chopped thin. The roll is nice & soft and doesn't overwhelm the rest of the sandwich. The rest is pretty straightforward...Cheez Whiz, BBQ sauce, mayo, pickles, bacon, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and lettuce are among the toppings you can get on your sandwich. Add a Philadelphia-area soda, some onion rings, and a Tastykake for dessert, and you're golden.
Bottom line: if you're in the Union Square area and hungry, check out Philly Slim's on University between 12th and 13th Streets. Ignore the lack of line and head on in.
The lost art of film editing. "Why has this chaotic, rat-tat-tat style of assembly, the kind usually associated with Michael Bay-brand megatonnage, been cropping up in such unlikely places?"
Henry Abbott reports on what he's learned about William Wesley, a behind-the-scenes power player in the business of basketball. "Enter William Wesley. How's this for a resume? He was right there in Michael Jordan's ear. The whole time. 'Wes' helped pull off one of the great feats of modern legend-making. He held the hand of one of the NBA's less likable characters -- an angry, cussing, yelling, gambling, adrenaline addict with some sort of over-competitive personality disorder -- as he became the most successful pitchman in sports history, complete with his own animated children's movie."
Population of the 100 Largest Cities and Other Urban Places In The United States: 1790 to 1990. Even in 1800, New York was #1...and Nantucket was #14. (via fakeisthenewreal)
You know those spams you get touting penny stocks? It turns out they actually work. "The team found that a spammer who bought shares the day before starting an e-mail campaign and then sold them the day after could make a return on his or her investment of 4.9%. If he or she were to be a particularly effective spammer, returns to this strategy would be roughly 6%."
A short interview with Grigory Perelman, the Russian mathematician who proved the Poincare conjecture and turned down the Fields Medal. "Newspapers should be more discerning over who they write about. They should have more taste." (thx pedro)
Malcolm Gladwell on how the demographics of companies affects their financial health. At the time of its bankruptcy in 2001, Bethlehem Steel "had twelve thousand active employees and ninety thousand retirees and their spouses drawing benefits. It had reached what might be a record-setting dependency ratio of 7.5 pensioners for every worker." More from Gladwell on the piece here and here.
Quick review of Apple's Mighty Mouse. My scroll ball wheel thing had problems after a month as well. And side squeeze = hand/wrist pain waiting to happen.
Amazing photoset depicting the aftermath of a hailstorm in Northfield, MN. Tennis ball-sized hail puts holes in everything. (via eyeteeth)
After hearing the news that Pluto had been demoted from its full planetary status in the solar system, Meg and I decided to hold a contest to find a new mnemonic device for the planets, replacing the old "My very elegant mother just served us nine pizzas" (among others). The mnemonic could work for either the new 8 planet line-up, the 8 major + 3 dwarf planets, or the old 9 planet arrangement in protest of Pluto's demotion. Thanks to everyone who entered; we received a bunch of great entries and it was hard to choose a winner. But first place goes to Josh Mishell for:
My! Very educated morons just screwed up numerous planetariums.
Josh's protest mnemonic is memorable, topical, and goes beyond a simple description of the shameful proceedings in Prague to real-world consequences. As the winning entrant, Josh will receive a print from HistoryShots...we're suggesting Race to the Moon. Congratulations to Josh.
Now, some runners-up. These came very close to winning:
Many Very Earnest Men Just Snubbed Unfortunate Ninth Planet (Dave Child)
"My vision, erased. Mercy! Just some underachiever now." (Delia, as spoken by Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh)
Most vexing experience, mother just served us nothing! (Bart Baxter)
There were several entries that referenced vegetarianism and veganism; this haiku by Evan Norris was my favorite:
most vegans envy
my jovian silhouette,
Update: A reader noted that Evan's haiku incorrectly swaps the positions of Neptune and Uranus. Happily, "usually not" works just as well. (thx, peter)
The honorary mention for lack of sophistication goes to Andrea Harner and Jonah Peretti for:
Molesting Very Excitedly, Michael Jackson Sucks Underage Nipples
Best foreign language award goes to Bernardo Carvalho for his Portuguese mnemonic (remember, "Earth" is something like "Terra" in Portuguese so the t fits. And we'll ignore the e too...):
minha velha, traga meu jantar: sopa, uva, nozes e pão (Translated: "Old woman, bring me dinner: soup, grapes, nuts and bread")
And here are some of the best of the rest:
Mollifying voluminous egos means judiciously striking underappreciated named planetoid (Bruce Turner)
Most Virgins Eventually Marry Jocks So Unscrupulously Naughty (Aaron Arcello)
Morons Violate Every Map Just So UFOs Navigate Poorly (Sean Tevis)
My violin emits minimal joy since union nixed Pluto (C.D.)
Maximum velocity earns many joyous shouts, unless not planetary (Scott Tadman)
Thanks again to everyone who entered!
20 seconds to solve a Rubik's Cube? With one hand? Blimey.
FDA says morning-after pills will be available for sale in the US to anyone 18 or older without a prescription. Since the morning after pill is just a bigger dose of regular birth control pills, does that mean women can get them over the counter now too? Why not?
Robert Birnbaum interviews author Sebastian Junger about his new book, Death in Belmont. The interview is a little confusing if you haven't read the book (or at least a synopsis) but there's some good stuff in there. "I went to Bosnia with a bunch of notebooks and pens and flew to Zagreb and started. There will always be those young people. And I encourage them. My answer is save up a few thousand bucks and just go."
Bruce Schneier: "It's time we calm down and fight terror with antiterror. Our job is to think critically and rationally, and to ignore the cacophony of other interests trying to use terrorism to advance political careers or increase a television show's viewership."
You've got about 4 hours left to enter the Pluto mnemonic device contest. We're getting some great entries, but I know you will come up with something better.
Great library photography. Bet you didn't know those three words could fit together in that order. The Trinity College Library in Dublin looks lovely.
New Improv Everywhere mission: 225 people at the Home Depot in Chelsea all moving in slow motion. The sped-up video showing all the slow-moers moving at normal speed while everyone else zips around is pretty great. (thx, jakob)
Pluto not a planet anymore AUG 24
Boo, astronomers, boo!!!
Astronomers meeting in the Czech capital have voted to strip Pluto of its status as a planet. About 2,500 experts were in Prague for the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) general assembly. Astronomers rejected a proposal that would have retained Pluto as a planet and brought three other objects into the cosmic club. Pluto has been considered a planet since its discovery in 1930 by the American Clyde Tombaugh.
Screw this, what about all of Pluto's mindshare? Now we're going to need a new mnemonic device.
Update: Meg and I came up with a mnew mnemonic device in protest of the Pluto decision:
Man, very erroneous! Moronic jerks shouldn't uninclude neat Pluto.
And you know what that means! Mnemonic device contest! Send in your best mnew mnemonic device for remembering the planets (either for the old 9 planets or the new 8 planets) and you'll be entered to win an as-yet-unspecified prize. All entries must be sent with the subject line "Pluto mnemonic device contest" and must be received by 5pm ET today. I'll publish the winners sometime soon. Contest update: Ok, pencils down, it's 5pm and the contest has concluded. Judging will take place soon and the still-as-yet-unspecified prize will be awarded directly following.
More photography from Gerald Panter. For the past 10 years, Panter has been rephotographing scenes previously photographed by Eugene Atget. Sophie Tusler and another group from USF have done similar projects. Nice panoramas too.
Author (and reader) Nick Hornby on how to read. "Please, if you're reading a book that's killing you, put it down and read something else, just as you would reach for the remote if you weren't enjoying a television programme."
Slideshow of Gerald Panter's photos of the fast food stands of Los Angeles. "Menus which featured hamburgers and hot dogs seem to have given way to those featuring tacos and burritos, while former purveyors of such Mexican fare now feature teriyaki and other Asian specialities."
The Eastern Garbage Patch is a miles-wide collection of garbage in the North Pacific; the trash is collected by a slowly rotating system of current that keeps it trapped in one spot. (via pf)
As I mentioned yesterday, the New Yorker published an article by Sylvia Nasar1 and David Gruber about the recent proof of the Poincare Conjecture2. (Previous coverage in the NY Times and the Guardian.) The article,
which is unavailable from the New Yorker's web site (they've now made it available), contains the only interview I've seen with Grigory Perelman, the Russian mathematician who published a potential proof of the conjecture in late 2002, gave a series of lectures in the US, and then went back to Russia. Since then, he hasn't communicated with anyone about the proof, has quit mathematics, and recently refused the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award that mathematics has to offer, saying:
It was completely irrelevent for me. Everybody understood that if the proof is correct then no other recognition is needed.
Meanwhile, a Chinese group of mathematicians, led by Shing-Tung Yau3, are claiming that Perelman's proof was too complicated and are offering a reworked proof instead of Perelman's. That is, they're claiming the first complete proof of the conjecture.
Yau The active director of Yau's mathematics institute explained the relative contributions thusly:
Hamilton contributed over fifty per cent; the Russian, Perelman, about twenty five per cent; and the Chinese, Yau, Zhu, and Cao et al., about thirty per cent. (Evidently, simple addition can sometimes trip up even a mathematician.)
Clearly the Chinese gave more than 100% in solving this proof, but Yau is regarded by some mathematicians as attempting to grab glory that does not belong to him. John Morgan, a mathematician at Columbia University, says:
Perelman already did it and what he did was complete and correct. I don't seen anything that [Yau et al.] did different.
Yau wants to be associated with the proof of the Poincare Conjecture, to have China associated with it, and for his student, Zhu, to be elevated in status by it. The $1 million in prize money for the proof of the conjecture offered by the Clay Mathematics Institute can't be far from Yau's mind as well. For his part, Grigory Perelman won't say whether he'll accept the prize money until it is offered. Stay tuned, I guess.
 Poincare (properly written as Poincaré) is pronounced Pwan-cah-RAY, not Poyn-care as I said it up until a few weeks ago. ↩
 Yau proved a conjecture by Eugenio Calabi which gave birth to a highly useful mathematical structure called a Calabi-Yau manifold; Yau won the Fields Medal for it. The C-Y manifold is important in string theory and Andrew Wiles used it as part of his proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. In short, Yau is a mathematical stud, no question. ↩
Fascinating charts of how the US Senate votes on issues from a liberal-conservative perspective and a social issues perspective. More charts here. You'll notice that the lines on the graphs are mostly straight up and down which means "it's all economic; all the noise about social issues never actually flows thru into the legislative agenda." That is, the Senate decides issues, even social issues, based mostly on economics.
NPR's Weekend Edition report on Edward Tufte and his newest book, Beautiful Evidence. "Beauty is the by-product of truth and goodness."
How to do a click heatmap on AUG 23
No snakes, no planes AUG 23
I made it! I can't believe I did, but I hung in there, bucked the odds, gave 110%, and totally did it. From the blog post that kicked this whole crazy thing off to the premiere of the film this past weekend, I didn't mention Snakes on a Plane a single time on this site. Neither did I make any ________ on a ________ jokes, see the movie on opening weekend, nor comment on any other site about it.
How did I achieve such a high level of cultural snobbery? It wasn't easy, friends. Not reading MetaFilter helped certainly, as did looking down on reality television and those who watch it. I practiced conversational calisthenics in the mirror every night before bed: "Was that in the New Yorker or The Economist? Oh, I'm sorry, I don't read People."
In commemoration of this achievement, I've made celebratory badges to place proudly on the site (in regular and without swearing variations):
Feel free to display this badge on your web site if you also successfully avoided Snakes on a Plane. (Copy the images to your own server, please.) To those that succumbed to the temptation, fear not...the official web site has plenty of posters, wallpapers, audio clips, videos, IM icons, and screensavers for you to download.
Think you got teh hops? Here's a photo of Orlando Magic player Dwight Howard kissing the rim in practice. (via th)
Update: Shortly after I posted this link, someone added "kottke.org" as Reason #185. (thx, connor)
Grigory Perelman, who I posted about last week, has indeed won the Fields Medal for his possible proof of the Poincare Conjecture but declined the award. The current New Yorker has an article (not online) about the whole deal which I have yet to read.
A company called Freeload is offering college textbooks with advertising in them to students for free. If this works, will this mean more books with advertising in them?
Five quotes AUG 22
A quick meme I found on Rivers are Damp:
Go here and look through random quotes until you find five that you think reflect who you are or what you believe.
Here are my five:
- Most advances in science come when a person for one reason or another is forced to change fields. (Peter Borden)
- The minute one utters a certainty, the opposite comes to mind. (May Sarton, Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing, 1965)
- Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes. (Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862), Walden)
- It's asking a great deal that things should appeal to your reason as well as your sense of the aesthetic. (W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965), 'Of Human Bondage', 1915)
- Your best shot at happiness, self-worth and personal satisfaction - the things that constitute real success - is not in earning as much as you can but in performing as well as you can something that you consider worthwhile. (William Raspberry)
The NY Times has a two part AUG 22
The NY Times has a two part series on online pedophilia: what pedophiles are up to online ("pedophiles view themselves as the vanguard of a nascent movement seeking legalization of child pornography and the loosening of age-of-consent laws") and looking at sites that promote nonnude but lascivious photos of children to pedophiles.
Update: In 2003, Black Table did an interview with someone working for a nonnude site called ChildSuperModels.com. (thx, kfan)
Want to draw you some diagrams, charts, or flowcharts? Try these nifty tools.
The Come Out and Play Festival looks awesome. "Come Out & Play is a festival dedicated to street games. It is three days of play, talks, and celebration, all focused on new types of games and play." Takes place in NYC, Septmeber 22-24.
A new species of sea urchin has been discovered on eBay. For once, that name seems to make sense.
Nice interview with Michael Frumin on the occasion of him leaving Eyebeam. "There's so much data out there, and so little time!"
Here's a great video of old school arcade games represented using household items...here's a Frogger screenshot. The rest of the photos and videos are worth a look as well; Roof Sex is reminiscent of Furniture Porn (nsfw). (via waxy)
New Barnaby Furnas show AUG 21
The web site for the Marianne Boesky Gallery is a bit behind the times, so it doesn't yet have the information for Barnaby Furnas' upcoming show of his work from September 15 to October 14. The show will include his recent "flood" paintings; here's a representative piece from the Saatchi Gallery:
Furnas' huge flood paintings are created using a technique called "the pour", detailed in a New Yorker article from earlier this year:
Furnas started at the high end of the canvas, not pouring but slathering on water-based Mars Black with sweeps of a wide brush. He switched to a dark red, laying it down quickly, and sometimes flinging it out in Pollock-like arcs. Sarah and Jared went into action with plastic spritz bottles, spraying water on the paint to make it spread and flow down the inclined plane. Boesky, equipped with a bottle of her own, followed their lead. The canvas began to look like a river of blood, dark and murky at the bottom, shading to a brighter and more lurid red in the middle. It was happening very fast, and changing from one second to the next-streaks of different red combining and separating, and running down to the lower end, where they dripped off the canvas into pails and other receptacles. After fifteen minutes, the whole midsection of the canvas was covered.
His Hamburger Hill piece at the 2004 Whitney Biennial was one of my favorites there, so I'll definitely be checking out this new show.
Oh happy day, a new nonfiction article by David Foster Wallace! This one's on Roger Federer. "Beauty is not the goal of competitive sports, but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty. The relation is roughly that of courage to war." The footnotes appear on a separate page and almost comprise an article of their own. I love reading his writing about tennis. (thx, stephen)
Update: Here's a short clip of Wallace on NPR talking about Federer. When asked about the similarities between great athletes and great novelists, Wallace suggested that great athletes possess the ability to "empathize without sympathy" with their opponent, something that is useful in fiction writing when putting yourself in the shoes of a character.
Yesterday, almost 30 years after it was launched, the Voyager spacecraft crossed the 100 AU boundry, meaning it is 100 times farther from the Sun than the Earth is. The article is worth a read. (via sb)
Rethinking Moneyball. Jeff Passan looks at how the Oakland A's 2002 draft class, immortalized in Michael Lewis' Moneyball, has done since then. "It is not so much scouts vs. stats anymore as it is finding the right balance between information gleaned by scouts and statistical analyses. That the Moneyball draft has produced three successful big-league players, a pair of busts and two on the fence only adds to its polarizing nature." Richard Van Zandt did a more extensive analysis back in April.
From the August 2006 issue of enRoute magazine:
Middle of Nowhere isn't a physical location. Not anymore. In this era, when we have Google Mapped every corner of the earth (and some other planets), almost no place is so remote it's truly nowhere.
No, we think the Middle of Nowhere is a state of mind. It's the satisfied pleasure-tinged-with-insider's-delight that you feel when you discover something pretty great in a place where you didn't know it thrived. So that when you experience this thing, whether it's in the middle of a major city or a cornfield, you think, This? Is here? I had no idea!
I encountered this sensation in Minneapolis last week with the Mill City Museum, a place I didn't know existed in a location I was intimately familiar with. It happens all the time in NYC too...there's always some great little spot you haven't discovered in Central Park, a shop in Chinatown selling who knows what, or even a place just around the corner from the apartment that you've lived in for three years that, unbeknownst to you, has served fantastic pot stickers all this time. (via moon river)
The politically incorrect alphabet. A is for abortion, B is for bomb, C is for cigarettes...
Faces are now being searched at US airports for suspicious microexpressions. Psychologist Paul Ekman helped set up the program and was previously one of Malcolm Gladwell's subjects in The Naked Face and Blink.
Three Mexican fisherman were found alive after 11 months of drifting on the Pacific. They survived on raw fish, rain water, and sea birds. Immediately after being resuced, "they chowed down". (via bb)
Great interview with David Remnick, conducted just after he'd taken over at the New Yorker. I love this guy. (via emdashes)
Dan's a web designer and wonders what he would have done for a living 100 years ago. Building radios? Wheelwright? Newsagent?
Mill City panorama, take 1 AUG 17
Here's my first attempt at a panorama of the Mill City Museum and the surrounding area:
Here's a larger version (3000 x 912, 312 KB).
I'm not entirely satisfied with this version. I used a shareware program for OS X called DoubleTake to stitch the images together and it's not suited for this kind of scene. Too much of the image turned out blurry & fuzzy and you have little control over which pieces of the image take precedent over the others. Some of this was probably user error and on some parts of the image (when there were less pieces involved), it did a wonderful job. I'm going to stitch a version in Photoshop by hand (and put a black background behind it) to see how it compares.
Update: Lots of photo stitching suggestions from people. Jake turned me onto Autostitch a few weeks ago, but alas it's not available for the Mac, nor do I have one of those fancy MacBooks on which to run Parallels. Calico is an OS X app that uses the Autostitch code, I may check that out. Photoshop CS has a built-in Photomerge tool that does panoramas. Hugin is a GPLed image stitcher that works on Windows and OS X. (thx galen, dan, jake, arlo, joe, glen, jason, and nicholas)
One of the three statues on the top of the Washburn Lofts in Minneapolis unwittingly represents the period in the city's history when it led the world in the production of prosthetic limbs. See also The Mill City Museum. (thx, paul)
With math immortality, the Fields Medal, and $1 million on the line, an eccentric Russian mathematician comes from out of nowhere, proves the Poincare conjecture, and then disappears again. A whodunnit with thousands of pages of mathematical formulas.
Future Rock Hall is calculating current artists' chances of getting into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame using your votes and a set of predictive criteria. According to the site, the Beastie Boys currently have an 82% chance for election to the Hall in 2007.
When Computers Were Human, "the sad but lyrical story of workers who gladly did the hard labor of research calculation in the hope that they might be part of the scientific community".
Carl Zimmer on the origin of whales, baleen and non. "Baleen whales evolved baleen long after splitting off from other whales. Their baleen-free ancestors apparently thrived as leopard-seal-like hunters for millions of years."
What's the greatest software ever written? Google, Mosaic, Sabre, and the Apollo guidence system make the top 12.
The Dr. Strangelove DVD has this clip on it (or something very similar): an audio recording of Peter Sellers seamlessly transitioning from one British accent to the next. (via clusterflock)
Pictures of celebrities photoshopped to look like senior citizens. Some of them are amazing.
Geoffrey Chaucer writes on his blog about playing the Exboxe CCCLX video game system. Donkeye-Kynge sounds pretty fun, as does Tyger Woodses Huntinge and Hawkinge. (And I love that the commenters stay in character.) (via rb)
Not what you want to hear while on hold with Time Warner: "Panicked voice: 'I can't see and there's smoke.' Operator voice: 'Is there smoke? There isn't smoke, is there?'"
An article in this week's New Yorker by Seymour Hersh suggests that the attack of Hezbollah in Lebanon by Israel was premeditated and approved by the US government, who viewed it as a chance to weaken both Hezbollah and Iran and as a template for similar attacks for an upcoming war with Iran.
The AAAS, the organisation which publishes Science magazine, has produced a book called The Evolution Dialogues. "Meant specifically for use in Christian adult education programs, it offers a concise description of the natural world, as explained by evolution, and the Christian response, both in Charles Darwin's time and in contemporary America." (thx, mike)
Bound for Glory AUG 16
The Library of Congress has an online photography exhibit called Bound for Glory: America in Color, 1939-1943 (thx, shay). The photos were a little low contrast, so I color corrected a few of them in Photoshop:
My goal was not to blow out the contrast or unnecessarily accentuate colors, but attempt to duplicate what these photos would look like had they been taken with a contemporary camera and processed using contemporary techniques and materials.
This Wikipedia article is keeping track of the largest photographs in the world. Currently, that record is held by a group who turned a jet hanger into a giant camera, producing a single-shot image 32 feet high and 111 feet wide. See also Ian Albert's collection of colossal images.
Haven't read it yet, but New York magazine has a ginormous feature called What If 9/11 Never Happened? "Without 9/11, would the London plot have been foiled? Without 9/11, would there have been an Iraq war? Without the Iraq war, would there have been a London plot?"
The Wolfram Integrator uses a web version of Mathematica to find integrals of functions. We used Mathematica a lot in college to help visualize examples from math and physics classes. (via rw)
According the Bible, who has killed more, God or Satan? God wins in a landslide: 2,038,334 to 10. To be fair, if Satan wrote a book, it would detail more of his escapades than the Bible. (via cyn-c)
A controlling interest in Connected Ventures (which includes CollegeHumor) has been purchased by Barry Diller's InterActive Corp (press release). Congrats guys! Although I don't agree with the choice of suitor...I hate IAC-owned Ticketmaster with the fire of 50 suns. Possible hidden benefit: IAC now has a YouTube competitor in Vimeo.
The Mill City Museum AUG 15
In 1965, the Washburn A mill, the last operating flour mill in Minneapolis, became also the last flour mill to close its doors, having been preceded by an entire industry that, at one time, produced more flour than any other place in the U.S. The closure came when the mill's operating company, General Mills, moved its headquarters to Golden Valley, where real estate was plentiful and inexpensive. The area around St. Anthony Falls, the geological feature responsible for the beginnings of industry in the area, had long since fallen into general disrepair and it wasn't long before the Washburn A was deserted and inhabited by the homeless.
The area started to show signs of life again in the 70s and 80s after being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Old mill buildings were converted for non-industrial business and residential use as people began to recognize the unique character and history of the area around the falls. In 1991, the Washburn A building burned and part of its structure collapsed, but firefighters saved the rest of the historic building from destruction. The remnants of the building and the adjacent grain elevators remained empty for years afterwards, save for the occasional graffiti artist and urban spelunker.
I knew very little of this when I moved to the Twin Cities in 1996 and not much more when I left Minneapolis for San Francisco in 2000. Almost every weekday for two years I drove or pedaled past the shell of the Washburn A mill on the way to and from work on Washington Avenue in the warehouse district, where we manufactured web pages to fill a growing online space. Topped by the Gold Medal Flour sign, the mill became my favorite building in the Twin Cities, leading me to include it in The Minneapolis Sign Project I did for 0sil8 shortly before I left for the West Coast.
It seemed the perfect symbol of a time and industry long past, broken down but not entirely wiped away. I returned to visit Minneapolis occasionally and would drive past the Falls, wondering what would happen to my building, hoping against hope that they wouldn't eventually tear it down. With the structure in such bad shape, demolition seemed to be the only option.
Last week, Meg and I spent a day in Minneapolis on our way to visit my parents in Wisconsin, my first stay in Mpls since mid-2002. Meg wanted to investigate running trails and I wanted to sneak a peek at the Gold Medal Flour Building (as I had taken to calling it), so we walked the three blocks to the river from our hotel, housed in the former Milwaukee Depot. The Gold Medal Flour sign was visible from several blocks away, so I knew they hadn't torn down the grain elevators, but it wasn't until I saw the shell of the Washburn A building peeking out around one of the other mill buildings that I knew it had been spared as well. As more of the building came into view, I saw a glass elevator rising from the ruins, backed by a glass facade.
Now practically running along the river in excitement and bewilderment, dragging poor Meg along with me in a preview of her jog the next morning, I saw a wooden boardwalk in front of the building and headed for what looked like the entrance. The burned out windows and broken glass remained; except for the elevator and the 8-story glass building sticking out the top, it looked much the same as it had after burning in 1991. I scrambled through the entrance and, lo, the Mill City Museum.
And what a museum. It was just closing when we got there, but we returned the next morning for a full tour of the museum and the Mill Ruins Park. The highlight of the museum is an elevator tour of the mill as it was back in the early 20th century. They load 30 people at a time into a giant freight elevator, which takes the group up to the 8th floor of the museum, stopping at floors along the way to view and hear scenes from the mills workings, narrated by former mill workers. After the elevator tour, you're directed to an outdoor deck on the 9th floor, where you can view the shell of the mill building, St. Anthony Falls, the Stone Arch Bridge, the Gold Medal Flour sign, and the rest of the historic area.
Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle are the architects responsible for the project, and they deserve all the accolades they get from one of the most unique museums I've ever been to. The statement from the American Institute of Architects jury explains the design of the museum:
A creative adaptive reuse of an extant shell of a mill building, with contrasting insertion of contemporary materials, weaving the old and the new into a seamless whole...A complex and intriguing social and regional story that reveals itself as the visitor progresses through the spaces. It is museum as a verb...A gutsy, crystalline, glowing courtyard for a reemerging waterfront district that attracts young and old and has stimulated adjacent development.
I still can't quite believe they turned my favorite Minneapolis building (of all buildings) into a museum....and that it was done so well. More than anything, I'm happy and relieved that the Gold Medal Flour Building will always be there when I go back to visit. If you're ever in Minneapolis, do yourself a favor and check it out.
Photos on Flickr tagged "mill city"
Photos on Flickr tagged "mill city museum"
Mill City: A Visual History of the Minneapolis Mill District was helpful in writing this post
A Washington Post review of the museum from September 2005
The new Guthrie Theater is right next door and is a dazzling building in its own right (photo, more photos)
The CSM reviewed a book called Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl last week, saying if you like Eggers and footnotes (a la Clarke's Strange & Norrell or, presumably DFW), you might like this one. Anyone read this? Worth a shot?
I may be able to use macro AUG 14
Cripes, Hasselblad makes a 39 megapixel digital camera. Cost: around $30,000. (via yp)
Google is not starting to become concerned about their name being used as a generic verb meaning "to search"; they've been concerned for more than 3 years (more here). This movement to expose Google as big, dumb, and humorless strikes me as big, dumb, and humorless.
Public acceptance of evolution is relatively low in the US and is getting lower. "American Protestantism is more fundamentalist than anybody except perhaps the Islamic fundamentalist."
Update: Here's a graph of the results. Yikes.
Bruce Schneier on the liquids ban at the airport and "the difference between effective security and security theater". "And if you want to know what you can do to help? Don't be terrorized."
The Observer lists 15 web sites that changed the world, including Google, Wikipedia, Blogger, and Amazon. (thx, dylan)
Through the viewfinder AUG 12
I picked up a Kodak Duaflex II camera at an antique store this weekend. I'm going to use to it do some through the viewfinder shots with the D70. The idea is that you take a photo of the Duaflex viewfinder with the SLR camera, thereby picking up all the spots, scratches, and curves of the old lens. A lens hood is required to block unwanted light reflections. Here's a tutorial describing the process. Of course, it was after I bought the Duaflex that I discovered the need for a different lens on the SLR to make it work properly. We'll see if the 50 mm lens at home works. Some results soon. Hopefully.
Apologies for the lack of posts over the last couple of days. I'm back in the midwest visiting my folks. I'm doing great; they have sausage shaped like beer bottles here!
Another article on the decline of the baseball card industry in the US. "Why does a kid want a baseball card of a player when, with a joystick, he can be that player in a video game?" (thx, peter)
Satellites measuring the earth's gravity from orbit detected a change in gravity from the massive earthquake that caused the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. "The gravity at the earth's surface decreased by as much as about 0.0000015 percent, meaning that a 150-pound person would experience a weight loss of about one-25,000th of an ounce."
Lifehacker has a great thread going about how to find cheap airline travel, online and off. Going through a travel agency situated in a neighborhood populated by people from the location you're travelling to is a great tip.
Anil Dash writes that "intellectual dishonesty is a powerful tool, and should only be used in service of important and valuable causes". He and I have argued about this before so I think he's being serious (and not just being intellectually dishonest), but I think that statement is pure horse plop.
Rebecca Blood posted the interview she did with me for her Bloggers on Blogging series. It's a nice change of pace to be interviewed about blogging by someone who knows as much or more than I do about it.
Kevin Burton looks at the Technorati "data" and discovers that since the number of daily postings is growing linearly, the number of active blogs is probably growing lineary too...which means that the exponential growth of the blogosphere touted repeatedly by Technorati and parroted by mainstream media outlets is actually the growth of dead blogs.
Video of Travis Pastrana performing a double backflip on a motorcycle, the first time it's been landed successfully in competition.
Tales of the telegraph AUG 09
L.C. Hall wrote an article in 1902 for McClure's Magazine called "Telegraph Talk and Talkers, Human Character and Emotions an Old Telegrapher Reads on the Wire". Hall's article reveals a surprisingly wide range of information transmitted across telegraph wires between operators that has nothing to do with the messages being sent.
The piece begins with an account of a "fast sending tournament", which contest reveals not only the quick sender, but the masterful:
Presently a fair-haired young man takes the chair, self confidence and reserve force in every gesture. Away he goes, and his transmission is as swift and pure as a mountain stream. "To guard against mistakes and delays, the sender of a message should order it repeated back." The audience, enthralled, forgets the speed, and hearkens only to the beauty of the sending. On and on fly the dots and dashes, and though it is clear that his pace is not up to that set by the leaders, nevertheless there is a finish -- an indefinable quality of perfection in the performance that at the end brings the multitude to its feet in a spontaneous burst of applause; such an outburst as might have greeted a great piece of oratory or acting.
Many friendships were formed over the wire between senders who, judging mainly by the cadence of the code, sized up their counterparts from hundreds of miles away to the point of knowing their gender and general demeanor despite having never asked. Hall struck up such a friendship with a man called C G, whose attachment to Morse and Hall was so strong that he called out for him on his deathbed:
"Late in the evening," said the [head nurse] as our interview was ending, "I was called into his room. He was rapidly failing, and was talking as if in a dream, two fingers of his right hand tapping the bedclothes as if he were sending a message. I did not understand the purport, but perhaps you will. 'You say you can't read me?' he would say; 'then let H come to the key. He can read and understand me. Let H come there, please.' Now and again his fingers would cease moving, as if he were waiting for the right person to answer. Then he would go on once more: 'Dear me, dear me, this will never do! I want to talk with H. I have an important message for him. Please tell him to hurry.' Then would follow another pause, during which he would murmur to himself regretfully. But at last he suddenly assumed the manner of one listening intently; then, his face breaking into a smile, he cried, his fingers keeping time with his words: 'Is that you, H? I'm so glad you've come! I have a message for you.' And so, his fingers tapping out an unspoken message, his kindly spirit took its flight."
The article closes with a bit on telegraph slang, or "hog-Morse", when inexperienced operators slip up and send a bit of jibberish that expert receivers can nonetheless decipher from the context.
In the patois of the wires "pot" means "hot," "foot" is rendered "fool," "U. S. Navy" is "us nasty," "home" is changed to "hog," and so on. If, for example, while receiving a telegram, a user of the patois should miss a word and say to you "6naz fimme q," the expert would know that he meant "Please fill me in." But there is no difficulty about the interpretation of the patois provided the receiver be experienced and always on the alert. When, however, the mind wanders in receiving, there is always danger that the hand will record exactly what the ear dictates. On one occasion, at Christmas time, a hilarious citizen of Rome, New York, telegraphed a friend at a distance a message which reached its destination reading, "Cog hog to rog and wemm pave a bumy tig." It looked to the man addressed like Choctaw, and of course was not understood. Upon being repeated, it read, "Come home to Rome, and we'll have a bully time." Another case of confusion wrought by hog-Morse was that of the Richmond, Virginia, commission firm, who were requested by wire to quote the price on a carload of "undressed slaves." The member of the firm who receipted for the telegram being something of a wag, wired back: "No trade in naked chattel since Emancipation Proclamation." The original message had been transmitted by senders of hog-Morse, called technically "hams," and the receivers had absent-mindedly recorded the words as they had really sounded. What the inquirer wanted, of course, was a quotation on a carload of staves in the rough.
Hog-Morse reminds me of the SMS typos which occur when T9 slips up or someone fat-fingers the wrong button on the phone. I can't recall how many times I've texted my wife "good soon", by which I meant that I'll be "home" shortly. It's also reminiscent of gamer typo slang, like pwned, teh, and su[.
For more on the telegraph, particularly as it relates to contemporary communication technology, I highly recommend The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage. Also related: send Morse code via SMS with your mobile phone and a 23-yo woman from Singapore holds the world record for speed texting a 26 word message in 43 seconds.
A list of "cool slang" and "cyber slang". Now you greppers can slide the talkways with your thread sled while frying some screens and avoiding the Stiks. It'll be slammatocious!
Here's a video of Snoop Dogg listening to and singing along with a country-style cover of Gin and Juice by The Gourds.
Inline audio AUG 08
Last week, Vanity Fair published an article about the U.S. Air Force's response to 9/11. In writing the article, Michael Bronner makes extensive use of audio tapes from the control room of NORAD's Northeast headquarters and in the online version, you can listen to audio clips of those tapes. As you can see in the screenshot below, not only are the transcripts of the audio part of the main narrative (and not collected elsewhere or put into a separate footnote or sidebar), but the controls for playing the audio clips (PLAY | STOP) are presented inline as well:
That's a nice bit of design. No need for a clunky player or to download the clips at the end of the article when two simple text-only inline commands will do. In Beautiful Evidence, Edward Tufte argues for the placement of information in the location where it will do the most good for those attempting to understand the matter at hand, regardless of form:
Evidence is evidence, whether words numbers, images, diagrams, still or moving. It is all information after all. For readers and viewers, the intellectual task remains constant regardless of the particular mode of evidence: to understand and to reason about the materials at hand, and to appraise their quality, relevance, and integrity.
The examples that Tufte cites in the book are all visual and published on paper. This is an instance where web publishing provides for a better way to design for the information at hand than print. (thx to david for kickstarting this post)
A Kevin Smith signing in New Jersey lasted 13 hours (until 4am); they expected around 200 people but over 2000 showed up.
Jesus Camp is a forthcoming documentary about a camp in North Dakota "where kids as young as 6 years-old are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in God's army". David Byrne has a review: "One asks if religious visions are better off kept as a personal thing, or at least confined to a small group -- otherwise the death and destruction sown by and in the name of religions more or less balances out their moral and personal virtues."
In this week's installment of the hot new show, Secret Agent: Beijing, Maciej turns the wrong way down the street and ends up with a whole bunch of new friends in law enforcement.
Helvetica, The Movie! "The film is studded with the stars of typography: Erik Spiekermann, Matthew Carter, Massimo Vignelli, Michael Bierut, Wim Crouwel, Hermann Zapf, Stefan Sagmeister, Jonathan Hoefler, Tobias Frere-Jones, Experimental Jetset."
How I Blog AUG 07
Seth Godin, who ruminates for a living, wrote a little something about how ideas are transmitted last year:
For an idea to spread, it needs to be sent and received.
No one "sends" an idea unless:
a. they understand it
b. they want it to spread
c. they believe that spreading it will enhance their power (reputation, income, friendships) or their peace of mind
d. the effort necessary to send the idea is less than the benefits
No one "gets" an idea unless:
a. the first impression demands further investigation
b. they already understand the foundation ideas necessary to get the new idea
c. they trust or respect the sender enough to invest the time
Seth hits the nail right on the head with this. When I'm deciding what links to post here, I'm essentially curating ideas, collecting them to "send" to you (and to myself, in a way). And unconsciously, these seven points factor into my decision on what to post here.
a. they understand it - I read everything I post and attempt to understand an article enough to represent it accurately when linking to it.
b. they want it to spread - I pick links and write posts based on ideas that I think are in some way important, meaningful, relevent, or good for the soul. And sure, I want those ideas to be more widely known or enjoyed, even if it's something as simple as someone getting a needed chuckle from a video of a monkey teasing a dog.
c. they believe that spreading it will enhance their power (reputation, income, friendships) or their peace of mind - This factors into anyone's motivations for anything. In George Orwell's 1947 essay Why I Write, his #1 reason is "sheer egoism".
d. the effort necessary to send the idea is less than the benefits - If I wanted to, I could post 30 links or more a day without too much more effort on my part, but in this case, part of sending the idea is making sure the reader has enough attention to consider it.
a. the first impression demands further investigation - I spend a lot of time on getting the description of some linked text, photo, or video just right, so that the reader has a good idea of what they're getting into. Choosing a 1-2 sentence pull-quote that accurately represents the idea of an article is key in getting people's attention in a productive way. "This is an awesome link" is only going to cut it so many times; you need to tell people what the link is and give people an honest reason to click.
b. they already understand the foundation ideas necessary to get the new idea - I assume visitors to the site are regular readers and that they have a good sense of what happens here, but I try to limit my reliance on jargon or "in-crowd" references so that everyone can follow along.
c. they trust or respect the sender enough to invest the time - If I do all that other stuff right, hopefully you'll trust me enough to be receptive to the ideas I'm sending you. And if not, you probably won't trust me for long.
Like I said, all this was pretty much happening unconsciously. I've worked consciously on bits and pieces of it, but until I read Seth's post, I didn't know that this was the end-to-end process.
Top 50 movies (by gross) that were never in wide release in the US. Top 3: Rocky Horror, Boyz n the Hood, and Royal Tenenbaums.
"The Rolling Stones weren't original. Bach wasn't original. Einstein wasn't original. Show me someone who is original, creative, self-expressive, and I'll show you someone who is boring." Pop Idol judges understand Plato
Preview of Leopard, Apple's newest version of OS X, due out in spring 2007. Some of that demo stuff was *really* corny; reminded me of the first demos of OS X back in the early 00s. Thoughts?
Update: Watch Jobs' WWDC keynote.
Thought-provoking essay on hating America. "I find that my cultural observations about Guatemala are usually really about me. 'These people are mean' means 'I am lonely.' 'Those people are loud' means 'I feel excluded.' 'This country is great' means 'I love being unemployed and drunk.' When I start talking about AMERICA on the return, I'm usually still just talking about myself."
MacRumors is updating this page live at WWDC. (WWDC is an acronym for Apple Is Announcing Cool New Stuff Today).
The Biology of B-Movie Monsters, or why you just can't scale living things up (a la King Kong) or down (like in Fantastic Voyage) without consequence. One key problem: with a theoretical 20 foot tall human, mass increases much faster than bone strength and at some point, his skeleton wouldn't be able to support the weight.
The Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society recently included a report on the 28-hour day. "There are apparently plenty of advantages to switching to a 28-hour day, including four-day work weeks, fewer daily chores, longer weekends." This diary of someone who lives a 28-hour day is interesting.
Wes Anderson's new film (after The Fantastic Mr. Fox) will be called The Darjeeling Limited. Anderson, Roman Coppola, and Jason Schwartzman are writing it, with Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Schwartzman to star.
No surprise really that Joe Francis, the guy behind Girls Gone Wild, is a turd. During the course of writing this piece, Claire Hoffman is physically assaulted by Francis and we hear of an alleged unreported rape by Francis of a 18-yo girl. "I'm sorry, baby, give me a kiss. Give me a kiss." Yuck-o.
Today is the WWW's 15th birthday. "Links to the fledgling computer code for the www were put on the alt.hypertext discussion group so others could download it and play with it. On that day the web went world wide." Here's the alt.hypertext posting where Tim Berners-Lee releases the WWW to the world.
Google Trends: Ubuntu vs. OS X. Ubuntu pulled ahead in early 2006, but it still has a way to go to catch "Mac" though. The trend predates the Pilgrim/Doctorow switch...I wonder what it'll look like after that.
Design Within Reach is screening The Eames Film Festival, featuring the short films of Charles and Ray Eames, at cities across the US. Unfortunately for me, a small town called New York City doesn't seem to be on the schedule. :(
Amazon is selling web site thumbnails for $0.20 per 1000. That's cheap...and totally undercuts my planned thumbnail business. Instead, I'm switching gears and targetting the luxury thumbnail market; I'm thinking thumbnails printed on letterpress hand-delivered to your home/office. (via pb)
"My salad days, When I was green in judgment, cold in blood".
After Deam Kamen introduced his scooter, "segway" became a popular misspelling for "segue". Thirty years earlier, Thomas Pynchon used the same spelling in Gravity's Rainbow: "But segway into the Roxbury hillside."
37signals recently polled the customers of their online project management application and one of the questions asked what Web 2.0 meant to them. They've posted 500 answers to that question on their site; it's an interesting read. I decided to do a quick and dirty analysis of the most frequently used words by the respondents, hoping that the result would provide a collective definition of sorts for the term Web 2.0. By the time I'd finished (with several timeouts and distractive blog-related detours), I went back to the thread and saw that Jacob Kaplan-Moss had already completed an analysis. Here are his top 15 words:
web - 348
ajax - 107
applications - 93
new - 78
user - 71
apps - 44
desktop - 40
sites - 37
people - 36
internet - 36
content - 34
think - 33
software - 31
services - 30
technologies - 29
Just for kicks, here's my top 30:
For some reason (my shoddy programming skills are a likely culprit), my word counts are slightly different than Jacob's, but they're close. I also left in a few words that he removed but that I thought were relevant, like "more", "use", "using", and "etc". Here are a few more interesting words and their frequency counts:
Not sure this provides much of a definition, but it's fun to play around with.
Big ol' obvious caveat: I performed a straight-up word frequency analysis which did not take into account the context of particular words (e.g. no distinction between different uses of words like "think": "I think Web 2.0 sucks" and "Web 2.0 products make users think"), phrase frequency ("web 2.0", "next generation", "rounded corners"), or anything like that. This obviously limits the utility of the analysis; hence "quick and dirty".
Update: Perhaps a better "definition" of Web 2.0 comes from the related tags at del.icio.us:
Update: del.icio.us did this analysis back in November 2005. (thx, maciej)
New tagline for kottke.org: "bringing you the world's finest treadmill music videos".
Nordic geopolitics AUG 03
Heading into dinner last night, I believed with certainty that Finland was one of the Scandinavian countries. I rebuffed Mr. Jones' attempts to disabuse me of that notion before dessert arrived, but it wasn't until this morning that I checked into the matter and found that he may be correct.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune investigated the issue back in January, finding that there's some controversy, even among the staff at the Finnish Embassy in Washington D.C.:
I called the Finnish Embassy in Washington, D.C., where press aide Mari Poyhtari started by saying Finland is part of Scandinavia, but then someone in the background disagreed and she corrected herself. The most accurate term is Fenno-Scandinavia or the Nordic countries, Poyhtari said. But, she admitted, "We always say we're part of Scandinavia."
The Wikipedia page on Scandinavia, the result of a vigorous discussion on the topic, indicates that there are several possible arrangements of Scandinavian countries, depending on the grouping criteria used and who you're talking to.
- Geographically, the Scandinavian peninsula includes mainland Norway, Sweden, and part of Finland.
- In the region, the common definition includes Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.
- Outside of the region, the term often includes not only Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland but also Iceland, a grouping commonly called the Nordic countries.
- Linguistically speaking (pardon the pun), the Finnish language is unrelated to Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish, which is an argument for the cultural exclusion of Finland from Scandinavia.
So there you go, clear as mud. Probably best to avoid the issue altogether in the future by using the term Nordic instead of Scandinavian. All look same anyway.
Update: Underbelly notes that this "issue is in no way limited to Scandinavians":
It's the kind of muddiness you just have to expect when you consider any culture. Was Cleopatra an Egyptian? Are the Tasmanians British? What did the Byzanatines have in mind when they described themselves as "The Romans" while fighting wars against, well, Rome?
Josephine Rose Wilkie! Congratulations Mark and Tam!
People, especially Americans, are so well-fed and taken care of prenatally and from 0-2 years of age that the population is growing taller, getting heavier, living longer, and is much less likely to suffer from chronic diseases.
The Atlantic Monthly tackles the subject of Wikipedia, with a thorough telling of its beginning, one that's lighter on Jimmy Wales' role than usual.
Lionel Shriver: bad book covers happen because people use computers to design them and don't know how to draw. What, you can't draw with a computer? Not sure I see the cause and effect that Shriver is talking about here.
If you're reading kottke.org at work and shouldn't be, you might want to read the site as if it looked like Microsoft Word. Make other sites Work Friendly here.
Could global warming kill the internet? "The internet is a big network of servers, and servers are hot. They devour electricity, they run hot and they mainline air conditioning. When the global thermostat goes up, the servers start going down." (via migurski)
Watch the first hour ever broadcast on MTV. Of course, you have to wade through MTV's crappy interface and, oops, you can't look at it on a Mac because "Microsoft's Windows Media Player Plug-in for Macintosh does not support Windows DRM". Thanks, assholes. Hopefully this will show up on YouTube soon, DRM or no. (via girlhacker)
Notes from a talk that Josh Schachter did about del.icio.us and web apps. "When you track spammers, don't give them any feedback." (via josh)
Three of the world's longest-running scientific experiments, including an electric bell that's been ringing since 1840 and a self-winding barometrically powered clock.
Update: Another long-running experiment: "Researchers at Michigan State University are growing and examining seedlings that have sprouted from seeds buried 120 years ago on campus. They've been doing this roughly every five years since 1879, when William Beal, a professor of botany at what then was Michigan Agricultural College, buried them in anticipation of learning how long seeds can remain viable." (thx, susan)
Update: There are several "long now" experiments at Rothamsted Research involving soil and fertilizer. (via kircher)
This image of the participants of a 1927 conference on quantum mechanics sets the record for the most brainpower in one photograph. Schrodinger, Pauli, Heisenberg, Dirac, Compton, Bohr, Einstein, Planck, Curie, de Broglie, and Lorenz, all in one place.
Steven Johnson lists Five Things All Sane People Agree On About Blogs And Mainstream Journalism (So Can We Stop Talking About It Now?) Like Steven, I get frustrated with the rehashing of the same old points around this issue.
Obituary of Rupert Pole, with whom Anais Nin carried on one half of a bicoastal bigamous relationship. "Both men apparently chose to believe her lies, which became so numerous that she wrote them down on index cards and locked them in a box so that she could keep her stories straight."
Study: hungry men prefer heavier women than men who are full. Presumably, if you're hungry, you're more likely to be attracted to someone who looks like they might know where some food is.
Jill Greenberg's End Times photography project depicts young children who are quite upset; the photos themselves are somewhat upsetting to look at. The photos were made by snatching lollipops from their hands and mouths and shooting the resulting anguish. Inevitably, the cliche was too much for some and it started a classic blogosphere tempest in a teapot, with calls for Ms. Greenberg's arrest for child abuse.
Gopher still going AUG 01
Gopher, developed in 1991 at the University of Minnesota, is a text-only, hierarchical document search and retrieval protocol that was supplanted by the more flexible WWW in the mid-1990s. Some servers running this old protocol are still alive, however. The WELL, an online discussion board and community that started back in 1985, is still running a Gopher server. If you've got a recent version of Firefox, you can check it out in its original Gopher-y state at gopher://gopher.well.com/ or with any web browser at http://gopher.well.com:70/.
It seems to have been frozen in early 1996 or so and houses several historical documents from the early 1990s. Many of the links are dead and some documents cannot be found, but poking around for 20 minutes or so, I found:
- 1994 edition of Hobbes' Internet Timeline. The current version is here.
- Interviews from MONDO 2000, including William Vollman, Brenda Laurel, and a conversation between David Byrne and Timothy Leary.
- Scripts from a 1993 program on NBC called Almost 2001, "a 5-part series on Telecommunications and Technology".
- Highways of the Mind, an essay by Roger Karraker from 1991 on the future of technology and globally networked humanity.
- A 1972 article by then-journalist Al Gore about the leader of a communal settlement in Tennessee.
- A profile and history of The WELL from September 1993.
- Some miscellaneous writings, including some stuff by Bruce Sterling.
One of the articles by Sterling, his remarks from a privacy conference in 1994, touches on a topic that's still hotly debated today:
I've been asked to explain why I don't worry much about the topics of privacy threat raised by this panel. And I don't. One reason is that these scenarios seem to assume that there will be large, monolithic bureaucracies (of whatever character, political or economic) that are capable of harnessing computers for one-way surveillance of an unsuspecting populace. I've come to feel that computation just doesn't work that way. Being afraid of monolithic organizations especially when they have computers, is like being afraid of really big gorillas especially when they are on fire.
I don't follow Sterling's writing that closely, but I wonder if he's changed his mind on this issue?
Matisse Enzer helped set up The WELL's Gopher server and tells how it came to be on his blog. And here are a few other Gopher servers that are still running:
Update: It occurs to me that this might be up the alley of Digg's users. If you've got an account there, you may wish to Digg this story.
Update: Here's a write-up of GopherCon '92, "a small working session of Gopher developers and users". I liked this bit:
Ed Vielmetti of CICnet gave a talk on "what we would be gathering to discuss if UMinn had never developed Gopher", meaning primarily World-Wide Web (WWW). WWW was developed for the high-energy physics community and serves as a model of what Gopher could do if a discipline-oriented virtual community invested in it heavily.
Thanks for sending that along, Ed.
Update: The archives of the infamous spies.com Gopher server appear to be here. I don't know how complete they are or when they're from. (via digg)
Researchers: "attractive parents are 26% more likely to have a daughter than a son as their first child". Although I'm not sure that, as the article later says, that the Pitt-Jolie and Witherspoon-Phillippe daughters "lend weight to the theory".
A few photographic reports of meals at El Bulli, Ferran Adria's highly regarded restaurant in Spain.