My year in music, 2006 DEC 29
Last.fm keeps track of what music I like so I don't have to. Here's a list of my favorite artists from 2006, apparently:
1. Boards of Canada
3. Cloud Cult
5. Gnarls Barkley
7. John Digweed (good coding/writing music)
9. I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness
10. Alexandre Desplat (Syriana soundtrack, haven't listened to this in six months)
12. Sigur Ros
13. Mint Royale (I didn't even like this)
14. Daft Punk
15. The Smashing Pumpkins (golden oldies)
18. Broken Social Scene
19. Sound Advice (Gnarls/Biggie mashup)
20. Bloc Party
21. Ulrich Schnauss
22. Sasha (good coding/writing music)
23. Wolf Parade (didn't like this either)
24. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
25. Arctic Monkeys (nor this)
Not sure this is such an accurate representation of the music that I enjoyed this year. And where's CSS? I've been listening to them a ton in the last couple of weeks and they're not even on the list. Upon closer inspection, it looks like last.fm doesn't include the current month in their "rolling year charts".
A tourist map of Gotham City. Gotham resembles "Manhattan below 14th Street at 11 minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November".
The BBC's annual list of 100 things we didn't know last year. "Barbie's full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts." Here are the 2005 and 2004 editions. The Tampa Tribune has a list of 50 things for 2006.
Diagram that shows what it takes to move 15,000 people/hour using different modes of transportation (car, bus, light rail, etc.). A fast train with one track going each way (using a space 8 meters wide) moves as many people as a freeway with 7 lanes in each direction (51 meters wide).
La Jetee DEC 28
After getting an email from a reader last week (thx, david), I poked around a little and found the cult French film on YouTube:
Some notes on the film:
- It was made in 1962 by Chris Marker and is only 28 minutes long.
- La Jetée is regularly included on all-time best-of lists.
- The film has no dialogue and is almost entirely comprised of still photography.
- Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys was based in part on La Jetée.
The Orthodox and other observant Jews living within this 'home' are permitted certain actions outside their literal homes -- pushing a stroller to the synagogue, carrying keys, walking a dog on a leash -- that would otherwise be forbidden on the Sabbath.
Odd games DEC 27
Over the holidays, Mike Monteiro discovered there was a Nacho Libre game for the Nintendo DS. Thinking that an arbitrary choice for a movie tie-in game, he started the DS Tie-In Games I Wanna Play group on Flickr to showcase other possible odd media tie-ins for the DS. Some of my favorite submissions so far include: The Passion of the Christ, Birth of a Nation, Empire, Remains of the Day, My Dinner with Andre (Bon Mot controller sold separately), Super Mario Bros, Learning GNU Emacs, Requiem for a Dream, The Cremaster Cycle, and Getting Things Done.
Here's a couple of ones that I've done: Dancer in the Dark and The New Yorker Draw Your Own Cover Electronic Entertainment (with noncompulsory coöperative mode), pictured below.
If you join the group, there's a Photoshop kit you can download to join in the fun.
Noah Kalina (this Noah Kalina) recently had his photo taken with several celebrities at a VH1 awards show. Here's some background on the project. "The only celebs that were actually familiar with the phenomenon that is Noah K were Weird Al Yankovic and Paris Hilton. How perfect is that?" (via jen)
Santas riding the NYC subway in 1987. Seeing graffiti on the subway always amazes me.
Holy crap: playing the Wii on a huge movie theater screen!
Update: Here's how they did it.
It's the Friday before Christmas weekend. Stop pretending you're trying to get any work done today. Your boss is either off on vacation already or has her feet up on the desk, waiting for the appropriate hour to sneak off for a "late lunch" and never come back. To help you in your final hours of pre-holiday work, I compiled a list of some addictive online games, easy to play but hard to master. Have hours of fun. Go on, you deserve it.
Line Rider - You know it, you love it. This is the new version, just released.
Winterbells - Jump a bunny from bell to bell.
Finger Frenzy - How fast can you type the alphabet? (My high is 8.54 seconds. (Slow typer.))
Sober Santa - Steer drunk Santa away from the rails.
Falling sand game - Part game, part physics experiment.
Throw Paper! - This would be more fun on the Wii.
Bejeweled - Billions of collective hours of productivity lost.
50 states map challenge - Place the US states on a map. (I got 92% accuracy.)
Cursor Thief - The short little dude wants to steal your cursor.
Collapse - Kinda like Columns, if you've ever played that.
Fly the Copter - A simple one-button game.
Pingu Throw - Wherein a Yeti hits a penguin with a club to see how far it will fly.
Mission in Snowdriftland. Like Super Mario Bros, but with a snowman.
DoubleJeu - Balance a ball while playing Pong.
Chaos Theory - A bit like a chain reaction Missle Command.
Troyis - A chess-like puzzle game.
MotherLoad - I'm telling you, don't get started on this one. Like crack, it is.
Domino Pressure - Knock down the dominoes to squish the tomato.
Dodge - Dodge the blocks with your mouse.
High scores to share? Other neat online games that people should know about? Taunt my slow typing skills? Leave 'em in the comments.
Last Saturday, Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg collaborated on a music video for a new holiday gift idea: Dick in the Box. If you haven't seen the video yet, go now and then come back...it's pretty funny and you won't understand the rest of this if you haven't seen it. So go!
You back? So, my favorite part of the song is the instructions and yesterday while we were alternating between watching the video like 50 times and assembling some IKEA furniture for the office, I had the obvious idea. Ikea instructions for making Dick in a Box:
More Dick in a Box: Mr. and Mrs. Potatohead version, Line Rider version, some guy dancing in his living room with a box fastened to his crotch with a belt version, and a this is either brilliant or completely stupid (DURRR! DURRR!) video response.
Here's what kottke.org looks like using the browser on the Wii. The browser is from Opera and is available for free by going to the Wii Shop Channel, then Wii Ware, and then click "Download".
My Year in Cities, 2006 DEC 21
New York City, NY*
One or more nights spent in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days. Less travel than last year, thank goodness. Where's your list?
In the WSJ, Dow Jones Chairman Peter Kann lists "10 current trends in the mass media that ought to disturb us". "There are too many instant celebrities. Too many two-day crises. Too many 'defining moments' from people in search of instant history. In a world where everything is considered critical, nothing needs to be taken very seriously."
Interesting (and probably fake) photo of Apple's alleged iPhone, which phone has no buttons...only a screen and a mousepad.
Read it and weep: the TED 2007 speaker list...unless you've already got a ticket, you're not going (the waiting list is like 1000 people long). Lots of interesting speakers tho.
Real men Wii standing up DEC 21
Browsing the various Nintendo Wii forums around the web, I've noticed more and more people pratically bragging that they play the Wii sitting down, flicking their wrists instead of the beautiful and healthful full-body motion that nature intended. These couch potatoes shall not be suffered. For the Wii purist, I made this prototype for a tshirt:
A ladies version is also in the works, even though the pun doesn't work as well.
Why I Celebrate Christmas. "[Santa Claus is] clearly what Jesus would be if he was real. Nobody would ever consider nailing this omnibenevolent deity to anything, would they? Nor does he hold anything against you longer than a year." (via cyn-c)
Cover story on Scientific Republican magazine: "The Stork, A New Look at an Intriguing Old Reproductive Theory".
Great True Hoop piece on Allen Iverson. "In other words, missed in all the hand-wringing about his lackadaisical practice habits in the NBA is the possibility that so much of his work is cerebral. Unlike, say, Jordan, who was a craftsman, someone who would take hundreds of jumpshots a day, Iverson imagines the possibility and then acts it out."
The top 10 underreported news stories in 2006, including US funds going to the Taliban and Israel & Iran holding secret talks.
People with low self-esteem don't like surprise endings in mystery novels while the self-confident did. (via mr)
Chan Marshall (AKA Cat Power) on the Richard Avedon photo of her in the New Yorker: "I was so drunk I could barely stand up. I couldn't zip up my pants because my stomach was killing me. I didn't even realize I wasn't wearing underwear until the magazine came out." (via conscientious)
A look at Saks Fifth Avenue's new logo and identity. The identity system consists of cutting up the logo into patterns....98,137,610,226,945,526,221,323,127,451,938,506, 431,029,735,326,490,840,972,261,848,186,538, 906,070,058,088,365,083,852,800,000,000,000 possible patterns.
Paper Thin Walls is offering an mp3 mix tape of their favorite music writers' favorite songs of 2006...that's 31 mp3s for free. (via art fag city)
Here's the 3129 character code you need to enter into a car's keyless entry pad in order to guess the 5-digit passcode. It'll take you 20 minutes or less to enter it. (via j-walk)
Awesome. Director Michel Gondry recently posted a YouTube video where he is pictured solving a Rubik's Cube with his feet. A few days later, this response debunks Gondry's effort as a stunt. When I read the title, I half-expected the person to claim that Gondry had used CGI to fake the solving, but that wasn't likely because Gondry doesn't like to use special effects in his films. The actual answer is decided low-tech and clever, just like his movies. BTW, here's someone solving the Cube with one hand in 20 seconds. (via cf)
Update: Regarding the CGI, then again.... (thx, oscar)
TSA travel tip: cheesecake is not a gel. "So, as you're traveling for the holidays, if you should feel the urge to surprise a loved one with a piece of cheesecake or some other gelatinous food product and are questioned by the TSA, make sure you remind them about the 'LaGuardia Cheesecake Precedent of October 2006' and claim your right to bring that cheesecake on the plane with you." Consider this a companion piece to the security theater article from earlier in the week.
Mena Trott: "If you aren't going to say something directly to someone's face, then don't use online as an opportunity to say it".
Update: From what I can tell from the first 3:34, THIS IS THE WORLD"S BEST AUDIOBOOK!1!!
What is Wrong with the Use of these Terms: "Deaf-mute", "Deaf and dumb", or "Hearing-impaired"? "Overwhelmingly, deaf and hard of hearing people prefer to be called 'deaf' or 'hard of hearing.'"
Interview with Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy about For Your Consideration and filmmaking in general. Interestingly, they don't write any dialogue for their films (it's all ad-libbed) but only do three takes per scene to get it right. "It's the dialogue aspect of this process where you realize how great, how talented this troupe really is, because they're able to improvise some amazingly, brilliantly funny lines."
Interview with Steven Soderbergh, mostly about The Good German but also about some upcoming projects. "I think for the most part intellectuals don't make very good movies. It's an emotional medium and I think you can really outsmart yourself." That quote reminds me of something I read on Clusterflock last night: "the giants of the imagination can set the giants of the intellect aquiver".
Professor Richard Dawkins Speaks at Fair Hills Kindergarten Regarding Santa Claus. "If you are the sort of person who is interested in the truth, perhaps you would consider asking yourself this question: how exactly does a single elderly man not only manufacture but also deliver in a single evening what would, by all forms of logic, account to be millions of toys?"
James Surowiecki discusses the waste of holiday giving. "Waldfogel's main finding is that, in general, people spend a lot more on presents than they're worth to those who receive them, a phenomenon that he calls 'the deadweight loss of Christmas.'" This is one of my big problems with the whole Christmas thing. Related: gift cards worth billions of dollars are left unredeemed each year.
How do motion-sensing video game controllers (like the Wii remote) work? "The accelerometers used in the Nintendo controller are thinner than a penny, small enough to fit twelve on a postage stamp, and sell for under $6 a piece. They can accurately measure forces more than three times stronger than the pull of gravity in three directions - up and down, side to side, and forward and back."
Update: The folks at Spark Fun Electronics took the Wii remote apart to see how it worked. (thx, david)
The DrawerGeeks are a collection of artists and illustrators that all draw a fictional character every couple of weeks. The Harry Potter page is a good introduction to the work. (via snarkmarket)
Judge Spencer Sloan of Goldenfiddle said of this entry: "What's beautiful about this one is the truth in this piece. Yes, Braff, you're a nose and some lip. Bravo to the artist for taking a risk." Judge Jen Bekman of the Jen Bekman gallery said of the Braff: "There is this eerily human quality - I mean it really looks like him, as a person, in a weird way." The Braff Mii was not the most faithfully rendered celebrity Mii but with a few broad strokes, Curry created something more than the sum of its parts and ventured close to art. Well done. As the winner, Dave will receive the Wii game of his choice and a 3-D statuette of the Zach Braff Mii provided by Fabjectory.
Here are some other entries the judges felt strongly about (i.e. the runners-up) with commentary:
Jack Black by both Brandon Erickson and Shane Walsh
Jen: "Faithfully rendered."
Spencer: "The artist really captured Black's unsettling feline qualities with confidence and skill, and for that he/she must be congratulated."
Condoleezza Rice by Alex Chang
Jen: "The Condi one looks like her and also is a caricature at the same time, embodying the devil-essence that surely corrupts her soul."
Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Stephanie Goins
Spencer: "This one is like the Mona Lisa. I cannot escape her glazy stare, try as I may. She's perfect in every way."
Woody Allen by Adam Preble
Jen: "Great, immediately recognizable, somewhat of an easy target though."
Frida Kahlo by Adriana Tatum
Vito Corleone by Benjamin Lim
Jen: "Don Corleone came close to being my top pick before I decided that he too, was a bit too easy."
Steve Zissou by Mark Husson
Spencer: "Nice work on the hat, I guess, but the moustache is weird. Plus, no pock marks. And Stevie definitely needs him a frown."
Admiral Ackbar by Eric Eberhardt and Mike Boccieri
Spencer: "Admiral Ackbar is fantastic, obviously, because I immediately knew who he was, and maybe you didn't. I'm interested to find out whether the artist went in with Ackbar in mind or saw him in some of the available features. Very well done, indeed."
Klaus Nomi by D.J. Ross' girlfriend
Spencer: "The Klaus Nomi is a strong work but possesses little confidence. This Klaus is all fear.
More timid mime than weirdo alien swagger."
And here are the rest of the finalists that the judges had to choose from. You may notice a few excellent cartoon entries...the judges felt that while they were worthy finalists, they did not merit the top spots because of a lower degree of difficulty involved in their construction (i.e. making a cartoon character with what is essentially a cartoon editor).
From top to bottom, left to right: Velma from Scooby Doo, Hannibal Lecter, Jack Skellington from A Nightmare Before Christmas, Dick Cheney, Tom Cruise, Hulk Hogan, Jennifer Wilbanks (aka The Runaway Bride), George Costanza, Charlie Brown, and V from V for Vendetta.
Missing from the finalists are the multiple Michael Jacksons, Hitlers, Satans, Walter Sobchaks, Beatles, and Kim Jong Ils. So many Mii versions of all these people exist online that it didn't feel right including them in the final round because they were both too easy and too easily copied from elsewhere.
Finally, a personal favorite that didn't make it into the final round:
David Foster Wallace by Nick Maniatis
I get the feeling that in the Maniatis household, there are a lot of Wii Tennis matches pitting Wallace and Hal Incandenza against Tracy Austin and Michael Joyce. Awesome.
Thanks to everyone who entered and to the judges for deciding amongst such a strong field of entrants.
What would happen if poets and playwrights wrote works whose titles were anagrams of their names? Here's one by Basho called Has B.O: "Swamp mist, eyes water- / Why is that monk still wearing / Winter robes in June?"
Gawker has a list of blog-media cliches. I'm especially tired of "Best. Thing. Evar!" and "teh". They also forgot "Internets" and "the Google". Then again, I'm partial to "wait for it" so whatever.
Deaf people are making good use of YouTube. "Many of them aren't comfortably fluent in written language. For many more, sign is and always will be their first language. YouTube gives them an easy, expressive, unmediated channel for many-to-many communication." (via rc3)
The inept security theater at the airport. "For theater on a grand scale, you can't do better than the audience-participation dramas performed at airports, under the direction of the Transportation Security Administration."
SMU is pursuing the George W. Bush presidential library but the faculty says, in effect, "That crook? Hell no!"
The kids stayed up past their bedtime watching a chainsaw murder movie, so their parents got even by waking them up creatively.
Two weeks ago, author and professional gambler David Sklansky offered $50,000 to any Christian who believes in Jesus' resurrection, believes non-believers will go to hell, *and* could beat his score on the SAT. A dumb bet, but ok. Jeopardy uber-champion Ken Jennings, a Mormon, says bring it on: " I've already taken the SAT -- why bother taking it again? I know what I got, and the College Board can back me up on it. Sklansky looks older than me, but I assume he took the 1600-point SAT at some point. I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours. Fifty grand, math/verbal total." (thx, david)
Update: Here's an article about the artist of the recursive piece, Serkan Ozkaya, which includes a video about how he made it. And here's a PDF of the page. (thx, david)
I don't know how so many people are hurtling their Wii remotes across the room, but Nintendo has seen fit to recall the straps and replace them for free. To find out if you need a new strap (some remotes already have the better strap), check here. (thx, janelle)
Even though the most popular password on MySpace is "password1" (the 5th most popular password is "blink182"), most users' passwords are pretty good...and better than corporate employees' passwords.
The blog commentor's gaze DEC 15
The cover story of the December 9th issue of Science News, The Predator's Gaze, is about psychopathy. The whole article is worth a read, but the brief description of psychopathy at the beginning got me thinking about something that Anil Dash wrote the other day. He highlighted a review of a B&B made by a potential guest that was upset that his many attempts to persuade the owners to accept his expired gift certificate. Anil labeled this person a sociopath:
As a public service, I offer you my analysis. This quote is how you can tell this guy is a sociopath. Not that he merely went online and vented to random strangers about his greediness. No, rather, that he was willing to concede his own willful ignorance (or illiteracy?) while complaining. The web is littered with these chuckleheads who point out their own sociopathic behavior while complaining about others.
At dinner the other night, a group of us were talking about a particularly irksome message board contributor and the subject of sociopathy came up again. This particular person seemed to be oblivious to the rules of the board, didn't pick up on the social cues of other participants or moderators to modify his behavior, and was making public personal attacks against others while complaining that others were doing the same to him, even though they were not. Anyone who runs a community site, has comments on their blog, or participates on a message board knows this guy -- and it usually is a guy. He's the fly in everyone else's ointment, screaming in the middle a quiet conversation, and then says things like "if you hate me, I must be doing something right".
With that in mind, some quotes from the Science News article:
Psychopaths lack a conscience and are incapable of experiencing empathy, guilt, or loyalty.
People with psychopathy don't modify behaviors for which they're punished and don't learn to avoid actions that harm others, Blair proposes in the September Cognition. As a result, they fail to develop a moral sense, in his view. Blair's theory fits with previous observations that psychopaths have difficulty learning to avoid punishments, show weak physiological responses to threats, and don't often recognize sadness or fear in others.
He views psychopathic personalities as the product of an attention deficit. Psychopaths focus well on their explicit goals but ignore incidental information that provides perspective and guides behavior, Newman holds. Most other people, as they take action, unconsciously consult such information, for instance, rules of conduct in social settings and nonverbal signs of discomfort in those around them.
Sounds a lot like the fellow we were discussing at dinner. I don't think most of the people that demonstrate antisocial behavior in comment threads are actually psychopaths or sociopaths (there is a difference) in real life. Rather, interacting via text strips out so much social context and "incidental information" that causes some people to display psychopathic behavior online and fail to develop an online moral sense.
Thinking about disruptive commenters in this way presents an interesting challenge. According to the article, psychopathy seems to be genetic in nature and curing people of this extreme antisocial behavior can be difficult. An Australian study cited in the article found that boys with behavioral problems reacted better to rewards for good behavior than to punishments for bad behavior. Maybe looking for ways to reward bad online community members for their good behavior as well as trying to replace some of the stripped away social context is the way forward. (A quick idea for replacing some social context: add a graphic of eyes to the text-posting interface?)
It's that time of year again...or at least it will be when it stops being so damn warm out: make your own snowflake. (Apologies to those in the southern hemisphere...bookmark this for 6 months from now.)
Update: Here's another make your own snowflake dealie which is a little nicer. (thx, andrea)
Prospect Magazine lists the most overrated and most underrated books of 2006. Top 3 overrated are The God Delusion, The Blunkett Tapes, and Everyman. I so agree about Everyman...it's the only book I read this year where I genuinely wanted my money back at the end of it. (via mr)
Lifestyles of dictators. "Like many celebrities [Castro] keeps odd hours (he is known to sleep just a few hours a night), eats mostly vegetarian, and has admitted to bedding over a thousand women."
"The Mpemba effect is the observation that, in some specific circumstances, hotter water freezes faster than colder water." I remember hearing about this on an old episode of Newton's Apple, but I think they never really got to the bottom of it on that show, which was highly disappointing to me at the time.
Michael Crowley wrote an article for the New Republic back in March criticizing Michael Crichton's views on global warming. Crichton has responded by writing Crowley into his new novel as a child rapist. WTF? (via rc3)
Slate has gone to the dark side by splitting up their articles into multiple pages. I hate this reader-hostile bullshit. At least they have a single page option. But why not have that as the default and have the pagination be the option? (That was rhetorical, btw...the reason online pubs split stories up is to increase ad views.) (thx, john)
The year in errors DEC 14
Norma Adams-Wade's June 15 column incorrectly called Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk a socialist. She is a socialite.
The Denver Daily News would like to offer a sincere apology for a typo in Wednesday's Town Talk regarding New Jersey's proposal to ban smoking in automobiles. It was not the author's intention to call New Jersey 'Jew Jersey.'
but the 2006 collection is a strong one. Here are some of my favorites:
A correction in this column Thursday about a June 14 Taste section recipe for French coconut pie incorrectly suggested that the recipe called for a pint of vodka.
In Wednesday's Taste section, a Washington Post recipe on Page F7 included an incorrect cooking time for carbonada (braised beef with onions and red wine). The dish should be cooked for 2 1/2 hours, not 10 to 20 minutes.
Because of an editing error, a recipe last Wednesday for meatballs with an article about foods to serve during the Super Bowl misstated the amount of chipotle chilies in adobo to be used. It is one or two canned chilies, not one or two cans.
A story in the July 24 edition of the Sentinel & Enterprise incorrectly spelled Sheri Normandin's name. Also, Bobby Kincaid is not a quadriplegic.
The regional court in Duesseldorf ordered the weekly WirtschaftsWoche to print a correction to an article that claimed Piech wore "garish ties with hunting motifs" and did not know the exact number of his children from various marriages, a court spokesman said. The magazine, owned by the Handelsblatt group, had published a picture of Piech wearing a tie with a picture of a man with a gun and an elephant. It quoted Piech as saying in an interview that he had sired "about a dozen children. The exact number is not known". The court accepted Piech's argument that his comment had been meant ironically and that the motif on his tie was not a hunting motif...
Mr Wakefield is not and never has been a member of the Communist Party. The error is regretted.
In a March 17 story about protests planned against the Iraq war, The Associated Press erroneously identified Jeremy Straughn as a political socialist at Purdue University. He is a political sociologist.
She's got the patent resume of somebody that has serious skill. She loves football. She's African-American, which would kind of be a big coon. A big coon. Oh my God. I am totally, totally, totally, totally, totally sorry for that. [He meant "coup".]
Recent articles in this column may have given the impression that Mr Sven Goran Eriksson was a greedy, useless, incompetent fool. This was a misunderstanding. Mr Eriksson is in fact a footballing genius. We are happy to make this clear.
I especially like the recipe ones...just the thought of some unsuspecting reader eating her meatballs with all those chilies or the fellow debating whether he should serve his obviously raw braised beef to the rest of his family. Be sure to check out the whole list.
 When I first posted this, I misspelled "Regret" as "Reget". (No, really!) I deeply regret the error. (thx, mauayan)↩
The Celebrity Mii Contest ends at 11:59 PM ET tonight (Wed.), so get your entries in!
Update: The contest is over and the results are here.
With rising domestic silk prices, decreasing sales and retiring masters, Japanese-made kimonos may become a thing of the past. One of the last remaining masters, 102-year-old Yasujiro Yamaguchi, says, "It cannot be helped. All we can do now is keep trying to make kimonos so beautiful that they will no longer be able to resist it. What choice do we have?" (via rc3)
Googling from the future DEC 13
A few years ago, I wrote about the potential hazards of watching time-shifted entertainment. Meg and I were watching a Red Sox-Yankees playoff game on TiVo and were about 20 minutes behind realtime events when Meg's phone rang:
She picked it up and looked at it, distracted by the game and unsure of what to do with it. I immediately realized it was her parents, calling with word of the completed game.
"No, no, don't answer it!" I yelled. "It's your parents! They're calling from the future!"
In promoting season four of The Wire, HBO sent out screener DVDs of the entire season to reviewers. By mid-October, some enterprising person ripped those DVDs and made all season 4 episodes available online, more than a month before the final episode was to be shown on TV. Unfortunately, those early viewers did some Googling about upcoming plot points which ended up in the referer logs of Heaven and Here, a popular blog about The Wire. (Note: if you haven't watched all of season 4, DON'T CLICK THROUGH to Heaven and Here...major spoilers!!) A spoiler-free excerpt:
Finally, I would like to say a few words on spoilers, On-Demand, and the concept of the collective. My big spoiler moment came about halfway through the season, which is rather a lucky break for me considering how much material I have been traversing each week related to the show. It was in the search terms for this very site, and it came in just three words: "[redacted]" It's the image you see for a second, recognize that you don't want to see, and quickly turn away from but can never even hope to forget. [...] I was able to avoid other spoilers, which again is kind of miraculous, but that note rang in my head all season, and it also had to be this ugly secret i kept while discussing the show here and with friends.
Who says time travel hasn't been invented yet?
Leslie Harpold DEC 13
Well, it's tomorrow and Leslie's still gone. I was hoping that yesterday was a bad dream, but it wasn't and never is. Other friends and acquaintances of hers have accurately captured what a robust person Leslie was and I'll point you to those eulogies in a sec, but like most people who knew her, she did me a favor I didn't know I needed precisely when I needed it. Hell, I didn't even really know her at the time, but when I made a remark in a virtual forum we both frequented about not feeling completely comfortable being there, Leslie, as much as a person can do via email, shook me by the collar and told me, "you belong here". A small gesture and perfectly Leslie, but it helped me (eventually) find who I was. I'm glad I got the chance to thank her for that in person.
Kevin Fanning is collecting online rememberences of Leslie on del.icio.us. Some of my favorites are by Lance Arthur, Merlin Mann, Mike Monteiro, Mike Essl, Josh Allen, Danny O'Brien, and Kevin Fanning.
A record-breaking year for Goldman Sachs; they're setting aside $16.5 billion for salaries, benefits, and bonuses. That's $622,000 (!!!!!!) for each employee. Instead of the typical business puff piece telling us about what these i-bankers are going to do with their money (cars, houses, expensive dinners!), how about investigating where all this money is coming from and what, exactly, Goldman does that's so beneficial to the economy to earn such incredible profits.
Lisa Strausfeld's team at Pentagram has designed the interface for the One Laptop Per Child computer. "Users can move outward from the Home view, where they can set preferences like color, to the Friends view, where they can chat with their friends, to the larger Neighborhood view, where they can locate other users and gather around an activity."
Update: The OLPC human interface guidelines document has a lot more on the interface. (thx, bob)
In response to complaints from players, the NBA is going back to their old ball on Jan 1. "roundly criticized"...har har.
Missed this article from a few weeks ago: Why you shouldn't buy the Nintendo Wii. I almost didn't have time to read this because I'm having WAY too much fun playing the Wii.
David Lynch, in an effort last month to promote Laura Dern's performance in his film, Inland Empire, for consideration by the Academy, set up shop on Hollywood Blvd. with a huge sign and a cow.
The Celebrity Mii Contest is going swimmingly, lots of good entries so far. Three announcements to make:
1. Mike Buckbee of Fabjectory has offered to make a physical statuette of the winner's celebrity Mii. So cool! The company currently does characters from SecondLife and SketchUp models, but they're branching out into making Miis and the winner's Mii statuette will be among the first that they produce.
2. I have extended the contest deadline until the end of the day on Wednesday, Dec 13. Lots have entered, but there's room for more.
3. Spencer Sloan of the excellent celebrity gossip site, Goldenfiddle, has agreed to lend his celebrity expertise to help judge the contest. I am working on getting another judge as well...stay tuned for further information.
That is all. Enter now!
Update: The contest is over and the results are here.
At The Art of the Book event DEC 11
At The Art of the Book event last week, the panel was asked why there were so few female superstar designers. Milton Glaser took a shot at answering the question (many women choose family over work during the crucial superstar career development years) but judging by the reaction afterwards online, his comments were not appreciated by some. To be fair, Glaser's comments were taken out of context, I think, and what he said is a part of the overall answer to the question. On Design Observer, Michael Beirut, who was the moderator for that evening's event, takes a closer look at the issue. "The real question was the unspoken one: 'Why is it that you guys up there are always...guys?'" Oh, and here's a list of women speakers for your conference.
November 2006 sales figures for various video game consoles. The PS2 is still outselling the Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360. (via wonderland)
Muhammad Yunus, who came up with the idea of microcredit, received his Nobel Peace Prize yesterday. His Nobel lecture is available in text and video formats.
Nice little interview with Stewart and Caterina about how Flickr came about. "George Oates [a Flickr employee] and I would spend 24 hours, seven days a week, greeting every single person who came to the site. We introduced them to people, we chatted with them. This is a social product."
Prewalking DEC 08
Prewalking: walking down the subway platform so that when you board the train, you'll be close to the exit or transfer point when the train reaches its destination.
Update: Photo of the Way Out -> tube map, which marks which side of the train to exit from and where exits/transfers are for each station. (thx, tom)
At least now we know what "Wii" stands for: it's the sound the Wii Remote makes as it flies through the air just before hitting your TV. Wiiiiiiiii!!! "For example, in Wii Sports bowling, the proper way to let go of the ball while bowling is to release the 'B' button on the Wii Remote -- DO NOT LET GO OF THE Wii REMOTE ITSELF." (thx, janelle)
10 Zen Monkeys has an interview with Gina Smith about iWoz, her book on Steve Wozniak. "Another misconception that bothered him was the idea that he and Steve Jobs had designed the Apple I and the Apple II together. The sole designer of both those computers was Steve Wozniak. The sole designer." (thx, david)
The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics has a logo that changes every time it gets used on letterhead or displayed on a web site. The logo system was designed by Michael Schmitz and is based on cellular automata like John Conway's Game of Life. "Parameters [for the logo] are coupled to certain factors: number of employees = density, funding = speed, number of publications = activity. Different logos are being 'bred' and then picked by fitness in relation to the parameters or voted for by the employees." Schmitz's PDF document Evolving Logo is worth a look even if you don't read German. (Anyone want to do a translation? It looks fascinating.) (via bbj)
Writer's Dreamtools has a timeline of events, people, entertainment, fashion, money, etc. for every decade since 1650. This allows the writer to put herself in that time period and as a jumping off point for further historical research. Favorite categories: "who's in" and "what's in". What a great resource for writers. (via youngna)
Mike Judge's Idiocracy is out on DVD in early January. Hopefully this one will find an audience on DVD like Office Space did. The movie had a very limited release, possibly because Fox didn't really want anyone to see it.
When you're a Muslim in orbit, how do you determine which way Mecca is and how often you need to pray? "The ISS is more than 200 miles from the Earth's surface and orbits the earth every ninety-two minutes, or roughly sixteen times a day. Do we have to worship eighty times a day (sixteen orbits a day multiplied by five prayer times)?"
Dick Cheney's Google searches. "lynne cheney MySpace"
Just the other day I was thinking, "gosh it would be neat if they made a painting game for the Wii". But a Bob Ross painting game for the Wii? Holy crap!
A paper by two economists tracks politically loaded phrases used by Democrats and Republicans. For instance, the Republicans use "illegal aliens" while the Democrats speak of "veterans health". Full list of loaded phrases is here and the original paper is here.
A photoessay that follows the path of a diamond from the mines of Africa to the Western jewelry store. "In Angola, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, miners work for food but receive no wages" and "last year, grooms spent nearly $4.5 billion on engagement rings". See also the interview with Edward Zwick, director of Blood Diamond. "By putting your credit card down, you're essentially endorsing the practices that are involved in getting a resource. This place and that place are, in fact, interconnected." (thx, blake)
MIT professor emeritus Seymour Papert was seriously injured by a motorbike in Hanoi and is in a coma. Papert developed the Logo programming language, among other things.
Update: Browse the top sellers by cover.
I'm having a contest: use your Nintendo Wii avatar editor to make the best celebrity Mii. Deadline is Monday, Dec 11. Lots of good entries so far, send yours in!
Nicholas Kristof's "Modest Proposal for a Truce on Religion," and responses by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett. "Mr. Kristof has simply become acclimatized to the convention that you can criticize anything else but you mustn't criticize religion."
On a recent visit to New York, writer Will Self walked the 20 miles from JFK to his hotel in Manhattan...and this was after walking 26 miles to Heathrow to catch the plane to JFK. "There were not many pedestrians out at 11:30 in the morning, and dressed all in black and snapping pictures with a digital camera, Mr. Self was a sight sufficiently exotic that he was tailed for a while by a black S.U.V."
Photographs taken by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor suggest that liquid water may still run on Mars. Successive photos of crater gullies show activity in the last 4 years.
Celebrity Mii contest! DEC 06
The Nintendo Wii includes a nifty editor for making the avatars that you play with, which are called Miis. Here's a video demonstrating how the editor works. The editor is suprisingly powerful for how simple it is and almost right away, people began making celebrity Miis...early efforts included Michael Jackson and Liza Minnelli. Some of the best celebrity Miis I've seen are Spike Lee, Borat, Steve Martin, Amy Sedaris as Jerri Blank, and Charlie Brown.
Meg and I set out to do a John Lennon Mii last nght, but as soon as we saw these eyes, we switched to Paul McCartney:
Not too shabby for a few minutes work, but I know you can do better. So, I'm having a contest to see who can make the best celebrity Mii. The rules are as follows:
1. All Miis must be made with the Nintendo Wii editor, not this Flash editor (which is cool, but not the same).
2. No cheating! Make your own Mii, don't just copy someone else's.
3. I love your mom, but she's not a celebrity. Frances Bean, you can ignore this rule.
4. You retain exclusive worldwide rights to your Mii and its image, save for giving me permission to post it on kottke.org as part of the contest.
5. Judging will be done by me and possibly a panel of "celebrity" judges if I can scrounge some up. The family and friends of the judges can enter, but will be held to much higher standards than everyone else, just as in real life.
6. Only two entries per person. (And don't enter two in your own name and then have your friend email in two more. Pick your best two, send 'em in, and take your chances.)
Entry deadline is Monday, December 11th at 11:59 pm ET. The entry deadline has been moved to Wednesday, December 13th at 11:59 pm ET. I will announce the winner at some time shortly after that.
To enter, make your Mii, take a photo of it on the screen (make sure the Mii is clearly visible in the photo), and send a link to the photo to email@example.com with a subject line of "Celebrity Mii Contest" (no quotes). You can also send attachments but because of my spam situation, I cannot guarantee that they will get through to me...send a link to your entry to make sure. There will be some still-as-yet-unspecified prize (I'm thinking a Wii game or something like that) awarded to the winner. Good luck!
Update: The contest is over and the results are here.
Robert Shields is the author of the world's longest diary. It runs to 35 million words and he wrote about everything he did. Everything. "3:30-3:45 I was at the keyboard of the IBM Wheelwriter making entries for the diary."
Richard Dawkins answers some questions from readers of the Independent. "Terrible things have been done in the name of Christ, but all he ever taught was peace and love. What's wrong with that?"
The NBA admits that its new ball is a piece of crap and that, hey!, they should have consulted the players before they made the change. I can't believe that businesses still function like this...what a bunch of idiots.
An increasing number of novels contain bibliographies, once the domain of the nonfiction book. I love bibliographies...bring them on.
Wonderful interview with photographer Simon Norfolk on BLDGBLOG. Norfolk photographs landscapes of war, but not just battlefields. "Because quite soon there aren't going to be guys with guns shooting at each other. We're quite soon getting to the era of UAVs and stuff. People aren't even going to know what shot them - and there will be nothing to photograph."
My upside down Mii. I was trying to make a Picassoesque Cubist Mii, but the editor isn't that functional so this is what I ended up with instead.
I thought that said "Netherlanders"...I was ready to put that in the "odd things I didn't know about the Dutch" column.
Welcome to your new climate: in 2006, Europe experienced its warmest autumn in 500 years. "The results show that 2006 has beaten the 'hottest' autumns of 1772, 1938 and 2000 by about a degree."
Wordie is "like Flickr, but without the photos". "Wordie lets you make lists of words -- practical lists, words you love, words you hate, whatever. You can then see who else has listed the same words, and talk about it." Lots of people love schadenfreude. (via clusterflock)
DarwiinRemote lets you use a Wii Remote as an input device for OS X. Take heart Windows users, WiinRemote is for you.
NES and SNES controller adapters for Nintendo Wii. Shipping in Q1 2007.
The weight of cyberspace DEC 05
Russell Seitz says that cyberspace weighs roughly 2 ounces:
A statistically rough (one sigma) estimate might be 75-100 million servers @ ~350-550 watts each. Call it Forty Billion Watts or ~40 GW. Since silicon logic runs at three volts or so, and an Ampere is some ten to the eighteenth electrons a second, a straight forward calculation reveals that if the average chip runs at a Gigaherz, some 50 grams of electrons in motion make up the Internet. So as of today, cyberspace weighs less than two ounces.
50 greatest commercials of the 1980s. Amazingly includes video of every single commercial...prepare to waste your entire afternoon. (thx, art)
Update: Here are dozens of additional 80s commercials. (thx, david)
Area Man Accidentally Responds To Own 'M4M' Ad. "He lives right in my neighborhood, he's a professional, and he loves to work out -- he sounds sexy."
Kids who grew up playing Madden NFL know the intricacies of the game better than many fans (and coaches) of the game "because of attention to arcane details that has demystified the complexities of football to a population that never before understood them". (via tmn)
It's almost a shame that I don't get to read more of my spam because it can be highly entertaining. Here's one of the better ones I've seen in a long time, a clever ad for Viagra. Warning: NSFW but LOL nonetheless.
Designing for persistence DEC 05
Took in The Art of the Book lecture at the 92nd Street Y last night. Milton Glaser, Chip Kidd ("a modern day Truman Capote" I heard him described as afterward), Dave Eggers, with Michael Beirut moderating. One of the most interesting comments came late in the proceedings from Dave Eggers, who described one of the main goals of the McSweeney's design staff as attempting to design the books as well and as beautifully as they could as objects so that people would be compelled to save them. That way, even if people didn't have time to read them soon after purchase, they couldn't bear to throw/give the book away and would instead put it on their shelf in the hopes -- McSweeney's hopes, that is -- that the buyer would at some point pull it down off the shelf and give it another try.
This design goal runs counter to the design process behind most contemporary book jackets, which are engineered almost entirely for the purpose of eliciting in the potential buyer a "buy me" reaction within two seconds of spotting them. McSweeney's, as a champion of authors, wants the writing to be read while most major publishing companies, as champions of their shareholders, want books to be purchased. People buying books is important to the goal of getting the writing within them read, but McSweeney's emphasis on designing books to last in people's homes is a clever way to pursue that goal after the sale.
Remember the whole rare stamp on a Florida absentee ballot thing? Turns out it was a fake. "The give-away signs included an incorrect number of border perforations, the stamp's thickness and its colour." (thx, m)
Pro baseball player Don Carman wrote up a list of stock responses to reporter's questions...it reads like a script for almost every locker room interview I've ever seen. "We're going to take the season one game at a time."
Fantastic interview with David Simon in Slate. If you're a fan of The Wire and caught up on season four, I really recommend reading this. When Simon was asked what the show was about, he said: "it's about the very simple idea that, in this Postmodern world of ours, human beings -- all of us -- are worth less. We're worth less every day, despite the fact that some of us are achieving more and more. It's the triumph of capitalism."
Rex Grossman, 6/19, 34 yards, 0 TDs, and 3 INTs; or why the Chicago Bears, despite their current 10-2 record and weak NFC, aren't getting anywhere near the Super Bowl this year.
Alexa traffic graphs roughly match those from Sitemeter, indicating that Alexa is not so bad for traffic trends.
Phillies pitcher Don Carman found a box of fan mail in his garage that he had accidentally not answered 15 years ago...so he replied to them, better late than never. "He lugged the envelopes down to the Naples post office, where he discovered that most of them included 25-cent stamps. 'I told the postman I needed 250 10-cent stamps, and 250 4-cent stamps, and he just looked at me like, "What are you doing?"'" (thx, margaret)
Alex Tew, the fellow behind Million Dollar Homepage, is set to launch his new MDH-like venture tomorrow. Pixelotto will offer 1M pixels of ad space for $2M...with half going to a lucky ad clicker and about half to Tew. Clever. Here's a pre-launch screenshot. (thx, jonah)
Test yourself: how well can you pick out countries on a map of the world? I got a 59 my first time through...better than I thought I would do. (via plasticbag)
Worst analogies ever written in a high school essay. "He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree. "
Following three recent racial incidents (Michael Richards, Michael Irvin, and Mel Gibson), Malcolm Gladwell considers a possible spectrum of racial remarks.
Matt Haughey has a great idea about how to better search for missing persons: fly helicopters with cameras over the suspected locations, upload the resulting video/photos to the web, and an army of volunteers look the video/photos over for possible evidence. With enough eyeballs, all missing people are shallow.
A panel of critics at The Guardian pick the world's 40 best directors. Anyone missing? (via khoi)
Update: A reader pointed out that this list probably isn't that current (Errol Morris' Fog of War is still forthcoming, for example). Oh and please note that the list is comprised of working directors; it's not an all-time list. (thx, kate)
Pesky OS X bug: Powerbook/MacBook/MacBook Pro freezes when using Cmd-Tab. Has anyone else ran into this problem...or even better, a solution? It's happened on my Powerbook every 2-3 weeks since I got it about a year ago...and 3 times in the past two days.
Using a geometric shape called a Reuleaux triangle, it's possible to drill square holes. Click through for all the exciting math!
Update: A video of a Reuleaux triangle rotating in a square. (thx, will)
Update: More on the Reuleaux triangle at MathWorld. (thx, nevan)
Update: The Reuleaux triangle is also the basis for the Wankel engine.. (thx, brian & adam)