In order to minimize recovery time and scarring, doctors are attempting to make use of existing holes in the body for surgery instead of making new ones. “Much of the discomfort and recovery time after conventional surgery — even keyhole surgery — is due to the incisions made in the abdominal wall. However, because transgastric surgeons reach the abdominal cavity through the mouth, there is no need for an incision, so patients should be back up on their feet much faster.”
Jamie reviews some online wake-up services. “when you select the secureawake feature, snoozester will attempt to call you every 3 minutes for 20 minutes until you answer the call and indicate that you are awake.”
While working on a particle accelerator, Anatoli Bugorski accidentally put his head into the proton stream. “The left half of Bugorski’s face swelled up beyond recognition, and over the next several days started peeling off, showing the path that the proton beam (moving near the speed of light) had burned through parts of his face, his bone, and the brain tissue underneath.” Some photos here. (via cyn-c)
One meal at Per Se has as many calories as 4.5 Big Macs, about a whopping 2400 calories. (via eater)
Atul Gawande on the state of health care for the elderly. “Mainstream doctors are turned off by geriatrics, and that’s because they do not have the faculties to cope with the Old Crock. The Old Crock is deaf. The Old Crock has poor vision. The Old Crock’s memory might be somewhat impaired. With the Old Crock, you have to slow down, because he asks you to repeat what you are saying or asking. And the Old Crock doesn’t just have a chief complaint — the Old Crock has fifteen chief complaints. How in the world are you going to cope with all of them? You’re overwhelmed.” This article depressed the hell out of me.
Bread is dangerous. Here are some frightening stats: “More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread” and “Bread is made from a substance called ‘dough.’ It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average American eats more bread than that in one month!”
The NYC restaurant scene has peaked. I more or less agree.
- Pruning the list of RSS feeds I follow.
- Writing about hoes.
- Keeping deer out of the <p>s.
- Growing my traffic.
- Worrying about bees.
- (Com)posting links?
- Weeding out spam from comment threads.
- There’s never enough thyme.
- Wondering about the weather.
Some lawyer is suing his dry-cleaner for $65 million because they lost his pants. God, I hate lawyers. (Not you, I like you.)
It’s ok if you enjoy pretending to talk like a cat, but don’t sucker yourself into thinking that it’s anything more than April Fools’ Day non-humor on every single day of the year.
Might be a little slow today on the ol’ kottke.org. It’s raining, some dude died and a bunch of techy/copyrighty blogs are sorta trying not to dance on his grave, and I’m wishing a long walk off a short pier to a bunch of alpha male, loudmouth, know-it-all bloggers who are calling the kettle black to a degree way past insanity (or is that inanity?). Isn’t it time you all shipped off to the Grey Havens or something? Sometimes I really don’t like this blogos-whatever that we’ve all built for ourselves…don’t we deserve better? That and the internet appears to be completely empty today, devoid of any new information. Melodramatically yours,
The Onion: “Despite the existence of cinema classics such as Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and Seven Samurai, the 2004 film Garden State starring Zach Braff and Natalie Portman is some poor fuck’s favorite movie.”
Video of Rodrigo y Gabriela performing at PopTech. Here’s my writeup from October. What isn’t apparent from the video (at least through my puny laptop speakers) is how loud the bass was from them thumping their guitars.
The cashier at Barnes and Noble, she sure saw me coming. “You trying to catch up before Book 7 comes out?”
“Yes’m,” I said, staring at my shoes. My vacation reading plan had gotten me hooked on the Potter series and I was now devouring the series at a work-shirking rate. Oh sugary literature, I can’t resist you! The first three books were bit boring (I’d already seen the movies) and had I not been on vacation, I might have given up on the whole thing. I decided to press on, and, like my friend Adriana assured me, it started to get more interesting about halfway through Goblet of Fire when Rowling starts pulling back the curtain on an entire world of wizardry and backstory. I raced through Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince. Since I somehow hadn’t heard any spoilers about the series, the end of HBP left me reeling, my mind racing, my body jonesing for another hit. _______ killed ____________!!!1!1ONE!
That was all a few weeks ago. The other day, I did a very bad thing. While in the bookstore on non-Potter-related business, I stopped by the kids section to see if they carried a book that my friend David had alerted me to, Mugglenet.Com’s What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7 (warning: spoilers). When David told me about it, I was adamant about not wanting to know anything about Deathly Hallows before it comes out. But now that I was confronted with the thing in person, I was unable to resist taking a peek at the table of contents. Snape. RAB! Horcrux!! Are my pet theories true? I flipped through a couple of chapters, little kids flowing around me in the aisle, feeling exhilarated (and a little disappointed) that the authors’ theories agreed with mine and ashamed at what I’d become, a 33-yo man with deeply held theories about future plot developments in a children’s book series.
My willpower finally returned and I returned the book to its shelf, but I think I might go back for it. I just need to think of a good hiding place so that Meg doesn’t catch me with it. I fear for the future of my marriage and, more importantly, the fates of Harry, Hermione, and Ron! Hurry July 21, you cannot come soon enough.
Michael Pollan blasts the current US farm bill, saying that all the subsudies for corn, soy, wheat, etc. drive down the price of unhealthy foods relative to healthful foods like carrots, making the bil responsible for the obesity and over-nutrition of the country’s population, especially the poor. “A public-health researcher from Mars might legitimately wonder why a nation faced with what its surgeon general has called ‘an epidemic’ of obesity would at the same time be in the business of subsidizing the production of high-fructose corn syrup. But such is the perversity of the farm bill: the nation’s agricultural policies operate at cross-purposes with its public-health objectives.”
Andrew of Songs To Wear Pants To makes songs from suggestions you send him. You can even commission a song from him for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary. Recent tracks include a Tetris rap and a song written for a guy who likes a girl but doesn’t know how to express it (she’s got “beautiful light blue eyes, long brown hair, and great athletic body” which Andrew translates as “I don’t even care about her personality” in the song).
Arkansan blames liberal Congress for a particularly hot March, made so by daylight saving time. “You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate.” Who needs The Onion with Connie M. Meskimen around? (The headline seems to be misspelled as well…”warning” should be “warming”, yeah?)
Update: Phew, we still need The Onion…the letter is probably a joke. (thx, stephen)
Designer Eddie Jabbour is on a mission to make a new NYC subway map. The NY Times recently had a piece of Jabbour’s efforts. The new map reminds some of Massimo Vignelli’s 1972 classic map: too abstract for its own good. Here’s Vignelli talking about his map in an outtake from Helvetica and some background on the controversy surrounding it.
A personal experience with and a decision on the abortion issue. “I think about all those meddling politicians that would want to interject themselves into everything that just happened to me, interject themselves between me, my wife, and her doctors.”
This is the best movie I’ve ever seen that I never want to see again.
If you want, you can use your inkjet printer to print out Super 8 of 16mm film strips. (via bb)
Due to problems off the field, defensive tackle Walter Thomas hasn’t played a lot of college ball. But his stats — 6-foot-5, 370 pounds, XXXXXXL jersey, runs the 40 in 4.9, can do backflips and handsprings, benches 475 pounds — guarantee that he’ll be drafted into the NFL this weekend. Shades of Michael Oher, Michael Lewis’ subject in The Blind Side. Also, this may be the first NY Times article to use the phrase “dadgum Russian gymnast”.
Sean Penn and Stephen Colbert competing in a metaphor competition:
Good lord that’s funny.
In praise of Wonder Bread and other pseudo-food delicacies. I have a weakness for white bread, Kraft singles, Hellmann’s, and Snickers bars, among other things.
Some have advised Roger Ebert not to attend his yearly film festival because of his changed physical appearance due to recent cancer surgery. Ebert says nuts to that…he may look a little strange, but his brain still works, his thumbs still go up and down, and he can type his columns just fine. “We spend too much time hiding illness. There is an assumption that I must always look the same. I hope to look better than I look now. But I’m not going to miss my festival.” I love Roger Ebert.
Last night, Ken Griffey Jr. hit the 564th home run of his career to move into 10th place on the all-time list. Reading about his accomplishment, I was surprised he was so far up on the list, given the number of injuries he’s had since coming into the league in 1989. That got me wondering about what might have been had Griffey stayed healthy throughout his career…if he would have lived up to the promise of his youth when he was predicted to become one of the game’s all-time greats.
Looking at his stats, I assumed a full season to be 155 games and extrapolated what his home run total would have been for each season after his rookie year in which he played under 155 games. Given that methodology, Griffey would have hit about 687 home runs up to this point. In two of those seasons, 1995 and 2002, his adjusted home run numbers were far below the usual because of injuries limiting his at-bats and effectiveness at the plate. Further adjusting those numbers brings the total up to 717 home runs, good for 3rd place on the all-time list and a race to the top with Barry Bonds.
Of course, if you’re going to play what-if, Babe Ruth had a couple of seasons in which he missed a lot of games and also played in the era of the 154-game season. Willie Mays played a big chunk of his career in the 154-game season era as well. Ted Williams, while known more for hitting for average, missed a lot of games for WWII & the Korean War (almost 5 full seasons) and played in the 154-game season era…and still hit 521 home runs.
Scientists have found an Earth-like planet orbiting one of the closest stars to our solar system. “On the treasure map of the universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X.”
Mike Monteiro mocks up a cover for Post & Permalink, my suggested fake blogging magazine from last night’s post about the should-be-fake Blogger & Podcaster.
Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle encyclopedia. See also fully armed and operational battle Cuisinart, fully armed and operational battle shed, fully armed and operational battle blog, and fully armed and operational battle subwoofer.
James Simons, hedge fund manager, earned $1.7 billion last year. $1.7 fucking billion! His company charges fees of 5% of assets and 44% of profits while the fund grossed 84% this year. Can one person add $1.7 billion of value to the economy? Something is wrong here.
Timeline of a 2003 Shabu party in Denver. Shabu is chemlab-pure methamphetamine. “The rush of Shabu itself is freakishly powerful. A single minuscule hit — about one-tenth of a gram, vaporized and inhaled — is enough to keep a weekend warrior like Nick riding the lightning for twelve hours. The statuette on Nick’s coffee table, cut into tiny pieces and smoked, holds about 250 hits.” (via tmn)
The Fat Duck, one of molecular gastronomy’s main outposts, recently offered a course complete with its own soundtrack served up on iPods shuffle. “Heston Blumenthal, the chef, said he wanted to experiment with using sound to enhance a dining experience. Hence the iPod, playing the soothing sound of the sea breeze and waves gently caressing the seashore.”
We build websites by hand, with code, and we’ve long since dreamed of streamlining the experience, bringing together all of the tools that we needed into a single, elegant window. While you can certainly pair up your favorite text editor with Transmit today, and then maybe have Safari open for previews, and maybe use Terminal for running queries directly or a CSS editor for editing your style sheets, we dreamed of a place where all of that can happen in one place.
Ever since I switched to a Mac, I’ve been seeking a suitable replacement/upgrade for Homesite. I limped along unsatisfied with BBEdit and am finally getting into the groove with TextMate, but the inter-app switching — especially between the editor, FTP client, and the terminal — was really getting me down. John Gruber has a nice preview/review of Coda:
Each of Coda’s components offers decidedly fewer features than the leading standalone apps dedicated to those tasks. (With the possible exception of the terminal - I mean, come on, it’s a terminal.) This isn’t a dirty secret, or the unfortunate downside of Coda only being a 1.0. Surely Coda will sprout many new features in the future, but it’s never going to pursue any of these individual apps in terms of feature parity.
The appeal of Coda cannot be expressed solely by any comparison of features. The point is not what it does, but it how it feels to use it. The essential aspects of Coda aren’t features in its components, but rather the connections between components.
Panic’s implicit argument with Coda is that there are limits to the experience of using a collection of separate apps; that they can offer a better experience - at least in certain regards - by writing a meta app comprising separate components than they could even by writing their own entire suite of standalone web apps. Ignore, for the moment, the time and resource limitations of a small company such as Panic, and imagine a Panic text editor app, a Panic CSS editor app, a Panic web browser, a Panic file transfer/file browser app - add them all together and you’d wind up with more features, but you’d miss the entire point.
Panic co-founders Steven Frank and Cabel Sasser both weigh in on the launch. Has anyone given Coda a shot yet? How do you find it? I’m hoping to find some time later today to check it out and will attempt to report back.
Is Spiderman 3 the most expensive movie ever made? “With marketing and promotion factored in, the total price tag will approach half a billion dollars — positioning Spider-Man 3 as the most expensive movie of all time.”
The NY Times has an excerpt of the first chapter of The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb. Accompanying the excerpt is a review by Gregg Easterbrook. “History, he writes, proceeds by ‘jumps,’ controlled by ‘the tyranny of the singular, the accidental, the unseen and the unpredicted.’” Sounds like punctuated equilibrium.
I’m still recovering from the shock upon learning last week that Blogger & Podcaster magazine is in fact real. I thought it was a not-so-clever parody. I mean, look at that cover, it’s just so over the top! (If I were to start a fictional magazine about blogging, I’d call it Post & Permalink in homage to Field & Stream).
The international trailer for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I am officially as hooked on Harry as everyone else.
Update: And here’s the US trailer…slightly different footage.
I’ve had this photo up in my browser for a few hours now and every so often, I’ll sneak away from what I’m doing and take a peek at it. I love the feeling of motion and its capture: the boy and the pigeon captured by the camera, the pigeon’s shadow captured by the sidewalk, the momentum of an unseen car captured by the now-bent steel of the firebox.
The long-term success of films isn’t always determined by how they did at the box office. Traffic made $124 million at the box office in 2000 while Requiem for a Dream made only $3.6 million ($9.50 of which was mine), but Requiem gets rented 33 percent more from Netflix than Traffic. ‘It’s almost impossible to go onto someone’s MySpace page now and not find a reference to [the Coen brothers’] “The Big Lebowski” or [Terry Gilliam’s] “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”’ - two movies that caused barely a ripple in the theaters.”
Time to lower the drinking age? “The age at highest risk for an alcohol-related auto fatality is 21, followed by 22 and 23, an indication that delaying first exposure to alcohol until young adults are away from home may not be the best way to introduce them to drink.”
Great interview with Hendrik Hertzberg, who writes about politics for the New Yorker. “The quality of our members of Congress is lower than similar bodies in Europe. I don’t think the moral qualities are lower, but in terms of experience and expertise and knowledge of the world, they’re much lower. And it’s lower because the geographic basis for advancement is qualitatively different than any other field. Imagine if our music industry were geographically based, if hits were proportioned by district. Or literature or business…”
In addition to a just-launched redesign, outside.in took a look at their data for the past six months and came up with a list of the “bloggiest neightborhoods” in the US. “The results below are based on a number of variables: total number of posts, total number of local bloggers, number of comments and Technorati ranking for the bloggers.” Interestingly (but upon reflection, not surprisingly), most of the places listed are in the process of gentrifying. Disclosure: I am an advisor to outside.in.
A letter from the Paleoanthropology Division of the Smithsonian Institute: “We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents ‘conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago.’ Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one of our staff, who has small children, believes to be the ‘Malibu Barbie.’”
Listeningtowords looks like the beginning of a nice resource for sharing/discussing freely available audio files of lectures. Lots of stuff here I’ve never seen before.
I’m not going to lie to you…I didn’t read this whole thing, but I found the sprinkled-in UI redesigns of Amazon’s book listings and other online retail interfaces interesting. (thx, drew)
Results of the The Word-Lovers’ Boot Camp held by Erin McKean at Gel 2007. Boot campers were encouraged to create a new word of their choosing. The winning word was “crappyjack”, meaning “any kind of empty, snacky junk food”. David Yee’s ubiquinpotaqueous means “the state of water in which it is everywhere, and yet there is not a drop of it to drink”. Matt Haughey didn’t attend the boot camp but contributes this late entry: “decursivication. n. The process of losing one’s penmanship, thanks to automatic billing and an increasingly electronic world.”
I might be shooting myself in the foot by posting this, but the table of contents for the newest issue of the New Yorker is usually available on Sunday on newyorker.com, the day before the issue hits the newsstands and arrives in subscriber mailboxes. All you need to do is hack the URL of the TOC from the previous Monday. Here’s the URL for the April 23 TOC:
“2007/04/23” is the date of the issue and “toc_20070416” refers to the date of the posting. This then is the URL for the April 30 issue:
At right is the cover for tomorrow’s issue, which includes Adam Gopnik’s piece on the Virginia Tech shooting, a new piece by Atul Gawande, and Anthony Lane’s review of Hot Fuzz. Monday’s New Yorker on Sunday is usually only available to the select few of the Manhattan media elite who are sped their new issues hot off the presses. Now everyone can have a similar experience on the web.
What kind of art is film? High art? Mass art? Photographic art? Narrative art?
A pair of NYC photographs from Shorpy today: Penn Station in 1910 and a scene from outside Grand Central Terminal in 1908.
Jake’s featuring a photo today of some NYC street art by Bloke, who does paper-plane pieces. I’m a sucker for dashed lines.
Update: More stuff by Bloke here. (thx, daniel)
Big Box Watch is a map that displays future big box store openings in the US. The site currently tracks Best Buy, Home Depot, Ikea, JCPenney, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Target, and Wal-Mart.
WorldChanging: make this Earth Day the last one. “Earth Day accomplished its mission; the environment is now near the top of the global agenda. By making this Earth Day our last, we can signal that the time for mere awareness is over, and the time for real transformation has arrived.”
Cynical-C is keeping track of what the media is blaming for the Virginia Tech murders. So far, the list runs to more than 30 items, including South Korea, Bill Gates, the second amendment, violent video games, and cowardly students.
Following up on my post about gender diversity at web conferences, Jeffrey Zeldman of An Event Apart commissioned a study by hiring “researchers at The New York Public Library to find out everything that is actually known about the percentage of women in our field, and their positions relative to their male colleagues”. “There is no data on web design and web designers. Web design is twelve years old, employs hundreds of thousands (if not millions), and generates billions, so you’d think there would be some basic research data available on it, but there ain’t.” I found the same thing when poking around for a bit back in February. They do have stats for IT workers in general…men outnumber women by over 3-to-1 and that gap is growing.
Update: NY Times: “Yet even as [undergraduate women] approach or exceed enrollment parity in mathematics, biology and other fields, there is one area in which their presence relative to men is static or even shrinking: computer science.” (thx, meg)
Children 8-12 years old view an average of 21 TV commercials for food. 2-7 year-olds view about 12 ads per day. (via 3qd)
Comparison between food pictured in fast food advertising and how the food looks when you actually get it from the restaurant. The Whopper is particularly beauty and the beast.
Pagination and Page-View Juicing are Evil. “The realistic ones at least admit that it’s a cheap way to boost stats. The disingenuous (or naive) ones actually posit that they are improving readability and usability for their audiences by reducing scrolling. Because scrolling is so hard.” See also my pagination tantrum.
Dave Chappelle recently performed a set at a comedy club lasting more than 6 hours. Most of the audience stayed the whole time, until 4:43 am. (via tumbledry)
It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these. Here are some updates on some of the topics, links, ideas, posts, people, etc. that have appeared on kottke.org recently:
Two counterexamples to the assertion that cities != organisms or ecosystems: cancer and coral reefs. (thx, neville and david)
In pointing to the story about Ken Thompson’s C compiler back door, I forgot to note that the backdoor was theoretical, not real. But it could have easily been implemented, which was Thompson’s whole point. A transcript of his original talk is available on the ACM web site. (thx, eric)
ChangeThis has a “manifesto” by Nassim Taleb about his black swan idea. But reader Jean-Paul says that Taleb’s idea is not that new or unique. In particular, he mentions Alain Badiou’s Being and Event, Jacques Derrida, and Gilles Deleuze. (thx, paul & jean-paul)
When I linked The Onion’s ‘Most E-Mailed’ List Tearing New York Times’ Newsroom Apart, I said “I’d rather read a real article on the effect the most popular lists have on the decisions made by the editorial staff at the Times, the New Yorker, and other such publications”. American Journalism Review published one such story last summer, as did the Chicago Tribune’s Hypertext blog and the LA Times (abstract only). (thx, gene & adam)
Got the following query from a reader:
are those twitter updates on your blog updated automatically when you update your twitter? if so, how did you do it?
A couple of weeks ago, I added my Twitter updates and recent music (via last.fm) into the front page flow (they’re not in the RSS feed, for now). Check out the front page and scroll down a bit if you want to check them out. The Twitter post is updated three times a week (MWF) and includes my previous four Twitter posts. I use cron to grab the RSS file from Twitter, some PHP to get the recent posts, and some more PHP to stick it into the flow. The last.fm post works much the same way, although it’s only updated once a week and needs a splash of something to liven it up a bit.
Two reading recommendations regarding the Jonestown documentary: a story by Tim Cahill in A Wolverine Is Eating My Leg and Seductive Poison by former People’s Temple member Deborah Layton. (thx, garret and andrea)
In case someone in the back didn’t hear it, this map is not from Dungeons and Dragons but from Zork/Dungeon. (via a surprising amount of people in a short period of time)
When reading about how low NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions are relative to the rest of the US, keep in mind the area surrounding NYC (kottke.org link). “Think of Manhattan as a place which outsources its pollution, simply because land there is so valuable.” (thx, bob)
I’m ashamed to say I’m still hooked on DesktopTD. The problem is that the creator of the game keeps updating the damn thing, adding new challenges just as you’ve finally convinced yourself that you’ve wrung all of the stimulation out of the game. As Robin notes, it’s a brilliant strategy, the continual incremental sequel. Version 1.21 introduced a 10K gold fun mode…you get 10,000 gold pieces at the beginning to build a maze. Try building one where you can send all 50 levels at the same time and not lose any lives. Fun, indeed.
Regarding the low wattage color palette, reader Jonathan notes that you should use that palette in conjunction with a print stylesheet that optimizes the colors for printing so that you’re not wasting a lot of ink on those dark background colors. He also sent along an OS X trick I’d never seen before: to invert the colors on your monitor, press ctrl-option-cmd-8. (thx, jonathan)
Dorothea Lange’s iconic Migrant Mother photograph was modified for publication…a thumb was removed from the lower right hand corner of the photo. Joerg Colberg wonders if that case could inform our opinions about more recent cases of photo alteration.
In reviewing all of this, the following seem related in an interesting way: Nickelback’s self-plagiarism, continual incremental sequels, digital photo alteration, Tarantino and Rodriquez’s Grindhouse, and the recent appropriation of SimpleBits’ logo by LogoMaid.
This article on commuting is from last week’s New Yorker, but I read it while commuting — my commute is a relatively short 15 minutes door-to-door — so it took until today to finish it. Anyway, well worth the read…in some ways, the long commute is one of the USA’s defining characteristics. People like Judy Rossi, who commutes 6.5 hours a day, are increasing in number. “[Rossi’s] alarm goes off at 4:30 A.M. She’s out of the house by six-fifteen and at her desk at nine-thirty. She gets home each evening at around eight-forty-five. The first thing Rossi said to me, when we met during her lunch break one day, was ‘I am not insane.’”
60 Things Worth Shortening Your Life For. I’ve done a few of these things…I don’t really drink or smoke enough to have accomplished a lot of them. Surfing Teahupoo in Tahiti is #3…the waves generated there are short lived but insane (photo, more photos, video). (via megnut)
Video of a two-song Arcade Fire show, one of which is sung in a freight elevator and the other in the middle of a Parisian crowd through a megaphone.
Predictions for the year 2000 made in The Ladies Home Journal in 1900. Two of the really interesting predicitons: “Cities, therefore, will be free from all noises.” and “Automobiles will be cheaper than horses are today. Farmers will own automobile hay-wagons, automobile truck-wagons, plows, harrows and hay-rakes. A one-pound motor in one of these vehicles will do the work of a pair of horses or more. Children will ride in automobile sleighs in winter. Automobiles will have been substituted for every horse vehicle now known. There will be, as already exist today, automobile hearses, automobile police patrols, automobile ambulances, automobile street sweepers. The horse in harness will be as scarce, if, indeed, not even scarcer, then as the yoked ox is today.” (via long now blog)
A Japanese temple building company goes out of business after 1428 years. Kongo Gumi was founded in 578 and was the “world’s oldest continuously operating family business”.
Not quite sure what this indicates, but I found this statistic interesting: “Among moviegoers who see an average of 10.5 films in theaters each year, 46% of them are Netflix subscribers and 68% have a home theater. Among those who see just 7.1 movies in theaters each year, 16% subscribe to Netflix and 16% have home theaters.”
Digital filmmaking may be responsible for a new type of acting where actors and directors don’t need to worry so much about getting the shot *right this instant* while expensive film is rolling through the camera but can instead find the right performance out of many. “Digital removes those constraints. There’s no such thing as rehearsal. You can shoot anything you want. You don’t have to say ‘cut.’ You don’t have to say ‘action.’” Definitely a parallel here to how digital camera changed photography.
Humans are the animal world’s best distance runners…we can run long distances relatively fast without overheating. “Once humans start running, it only takes a bit more energy for us to run faster, Lieberman said. Other animals, on the other hand, expend a lot more energy as they speed up, particularly when they switch from a trot to a gallop, which most animals cannot maintain over long distances.” (via beebo)
Map of the cracks in the Guggenheim’s facade. “Since the Guggenheim Museum opened in 1959, Frank Lloyd Wright’s massive spiral facade has been showing signs of cracking, mainly from seasonal temperature fluctuations that cause the concrete walls, built without expansion joints, to contract and expand.”
I don’t know if this is the whole article or if the Discover site is just really bad at indicating that the rest of the article is for paying customers only, but either way, I want to read more on what happened to the hype about chaos theory.
Cities are often thought of as organisms or ecosystems, but the authors of a new study find that metaphor lacking. “The one thing that we know about organisms whether it be elephants or sharks or frogs, is that as they get large, they slow down. They use less energy, they don’t move as fast. That is a very important point for biological scaling. In the case of cities, it is actually the opposite. As cities get larger they create more wealth and they are more innovative at a faster rate. There is no counterpart to that in biology.”
Armed America: Portraits of Americans and their Guns. “I got a gun here because we live in kind of a rough neighborhood and I take the subway home from work. I figured that since the bad-guys had guns, I should have one too.”
Compared with Snapple, whiteout, and Pepto Bismol ($123.20/gallon), gasoline is surprisingly inexpensive. “$21.19 for WATER - and the buyers don’t even know the source. No wonder Evian spelled backwards is Naive.”
Update: Rob Cockerham did a more extensive analysis of liquid pricing a few years ago.
I really like those UPS whiteboard commercials. Turns out the actor is the creative director for the campaign, Errol Morris directed them, and the music in the ads is by The Postal Service.
Video demonstration and explanation of the Kaye effect. AKA, watch shampoo do weird things in slow motion.
Some back-of-the-envelope calculations about the embodied energy of bottled water: “the cost to produce and deliver a bottle of imported water is $0.22, leaving $1.28 per bottle profit for the manufacturer and the retail store”.
Ken Thompson built a backdoor into the “login” Unix program by inserting commands into the C compiler that ensured that not only would the backdoor code be inserted into the login program, but also into the C compiler itself when compiled.
Crushpad lets you make your own wine from the comfort of your own home. “Crushpad offers a web-based system called MyCrushpad that allows you to monitor and manage your wine remotely.You’ll be able to create your winemaking plan online, see pictures of your grapes while they’re still on the vine, access the dozens of statistics (like sugar, acids, fermentation temperatures, etc.) our winemakers use to make decisions about handling the fruit. You’ll be able to check on your wine at every stage from the vineyard to the barrel to the bottle no matter where you are.”
Snoop Dogg recently explained the difference between the language used by old, white radio announcers and rappers:
It’s a completely different scenario. [Rappers] are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We’re talking about hos that’s in the ‘hood that ain’t doing shit, that’s trying to get a nigga for his money. These are two separate things. First of all, we ain’t no old-ass white men that sit up on MSNBC going hard on black girls. We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel. I will not let them muthafuckas say we in the same league as him.
What Mr. Dogg is arguing here is that it’s ok to refer to actual hoes as hoes in the service of artistic expression but it is not ok to refer to college basketball players as such for the purpose of demeaning people. As we’re currently engaged in another go-round on the issue of speech, political correctness, and its potential enforcement, it’s not hard to imagine that someday an argument like Snoop Dogg’s will be deployed in a court of law. I wonder if anyone will buy it?
Video of two peacekeeping poultry breaking up a fight between two rabbits. Not animated. (via cyn-c)
Flickr’s national sport: Faceball. Re: that first photo, see also the guy getting hit in the stomach with a cannonball.
Translation From PR-Speak to English of Selected Portions of Rails Developer David Heinemeier Hansson’s Response to Alex Payne’s Interview. A little inside-baseball, but it’s a good game.
Dave Curry won the kottke.org Celebrity Mii contest back in December with a brilliant Zach Braff…he finally got the Zach Braff statuette from Fabjectory. Looks nice!
How not to write a science book. “6. Avoid mentioning scientists or experiments. You’re a journalist, so it’s your job to explain things to people in ways they can understand. You always found science class difficult, and that class was taught by a scientist and involved experiments. Therefore no one can understand scientists and experiments.”
Ken Graney’s Roomba has broken the three laws of Roombotics. “The first law states that the device ‘must not suck up jewelry or other valuables, or through inaction, allow valuables to be sucked up.’ The second law prescribes that Roomba ‘must obey vacuuming orders given to it by humans except when such orders would conflict with the first law.’ The third and final law authorizes a Roomba to ‘protect its own ability to suction dust and debris as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law.’”
Regarding the recent Google news (YouTube, DoubleClick, Dodgeball), Fred Wilson tells us it’s time to pour a little malt liquor on the ground and say goodbye to the old Google, the Google that we all know and love, and welcome the new Google, a big company, for better or worse. “Google’s lawyers are going to become their most important asset and when lawyers are more important than engineers to a company, you lose.”
Feast your eyes on the new design for the US passport. “They’ll never go for this…it’s too over-the-top.” “Perfect!”
The Back to the Future IMDB page sure has a lot of trivia. And I have a feeling that’s not even the half of it.
Kate Spicer writes about her experience with an extreme diet in an attempt to drop to size zero in six weeks. “The next day I get up and run for an hour and feel really fat. The truth is, the more weight I lose, the fatter I feel and the more I want to lose weight. I lie in bed in the mornings feeling my hipbones and wanting to feel them more. I want them to jut out.” A documentary featuring Spicer and other female journalists is showing on Channel 4 in the UK on April 22. Spicer previously ran the 150-mile, seven-day Marathon des Sables across the Sahara in 2006.
Dodgeball founders leave Google and that leaves Dodgeball probably dead. Then why did Google buy Dodgeball exactly? Not for the founders…they left. Not for the tech. To build it up into a profitable company? (Nope, they didn’t put any resources into it.) To kill it before some other company (Yahoo, Microsoft) got their mitts on it? For the PR value? Why did they even bother?
Update: Official thumbs-down announcement here. “It’s no real secret that Google wasn’t supporting dodgeball the way we expected. The whole experience was incredibly frustrating for us - especially as we couldn’t convince them that dodgeball was worth engineering resources, leaving us to watch as other startups got to innovate in the mobile + social space. And while it was a tough decision (and really disappointing) to walk away from dodgeball, I’m actually looking forward to getting to work on other projects again.”
Duncan Watts on the results of a study which show that a cultural product’s popularity is partially determined by inital social adoption patterns. “This means that if one object happens to be slightly more popular than another at just the right point, it will tend to become more popular still. As a result, even tiny, random fluctuations can blow up, generating potentially enormous long-run differences among even indistinguishable competitors — a phenomenon that is similar in some ways to the famous ‘butterfly effect’ from chaos theory.” The effort to explain why popular things got popular is probably impossible…working your way back from effect to cause in non-linear systems is tough.
A list of possible Red Sox-inspired wines. Matsusake, Two-Buck ‘Tek, Coco Cristal, and Big Papinot Noir all sound delicious.
Matthew McGough tells the story of his first day as a NY Yankees batboy. “The game starts in about two hours and I need you to find me a bat stretcher.”
I love this photo of a chick pulling a little wagon with flowers in it. The 1908 version of Cute Overload.
Longish detailed interview with Chris Ware about comics, which he calls “the weird process of reading pictures, not just looking at them”.
Update: The map is not from Dungeons and Dragons but from the “original mini-computer” version of Zork, then called Dungeon. (thx, everyone in the world)
How many uses does it take for a reusable cup to surpass a disposable paper or styrofoam cup in terms of energy usage? You have to use a single ceramic cup more than 1000 times in order for it to be more energy efficient than using the same number of dispoable styrofoam cups. Of course, this doesn’t take into account anything outside of the manufacturing or washing processes…like the cost of shipping all these foam cups and what happens to them after you’re done with them. (via thoughtwax)
Microscopic auto-origami. Just add water! (And they fold right up.)
How to foil bank robbers: excessive friendliness. “The premise is that an overdose of courtesy will unnerve would-be robbers and get them to rethink the crime.”
Update: Heard from a reader that Apple Store employees are trained in this technique to deal with theft. Even if someone has stuffed a MacBook under their overcoat, employees chat with them happily as if they’re interested in purchasing it.
Citing the resource-hungry iPhone as the culprit, Apple announced that they’ve pushed back the launch date for the new version of OS X (codename: Leopard) from June to October. “iPhone contains the most sophisticated software ever shipped on a mobile device, and finishing it on time has not come without a price — we had to borrow some key software engineering and QA resources from our Mac OS X team.”
I’ve used Bank of America to do my online banking in the past and their SiteKey “technology” always irritated the hell out of me because it led me to believe that Bank of America thought I was:
a) a criminal
b) an idiot
c) a customer
The basic idea behind SiteKey is that when you log in to your account, you’re shown a photo of, say, an orange kitten before you enter your password so that you know you’re not on the site of a phisher who knows nothing about your orange kitten but wants to collect your login info. In addition, the site makes you verify your identity with a security question — like “what’s your favorite food?” — before using the site from a new IP address, which means if you’re on a cable or DSL connection, this happens every couple weeks when your current IP expires…or whenever BofA feels like they should throw up another virtual pane of bulletproof glass between you and your account information. For those who don’t fall for phishing scams — by accessing sites directly through bookmarks or by typing URLs into the location bar — SiteKey is nothing but an irritant and a deterrent and there’s no way to switch it off.
On Tuesday, Christopher Soghoian and Markus Jakobsson published a clever method by which password phishers could get around SiteKey. The method takes advantage of a simple hole in the logic concerning SiteKey…that anyone who knows your account’s login name and state of residence can see both your SiteKey image and any challenge questions, no password required. All the phisher has to do is ask for the login name and state of residence, send that info to the BofA site (via a script running on the phisher’s machine), get back a security question, display that, send the answer to the BofA site, get back the correct SiteKey image, display that, and collect the person’s password, all while presenting a nearly seamless Bank of America-like experience to the user.
Hopefully this gaping monster of a security hole will convince BofA that not only does SiteKey security not work, it’s not even security and they’ll soon be rid of it.
Good vs evil foosball table, featuring Mary Poppins, Gandhi, and God on the good squad and Hitler, Vlad the Impaler, and Caligula on the evil team.
Loving article about the little-known transcontinental burrito tunnel linking San Francisco and NYC. “By the time they reach Cleveland the burritos are fully heated through and traveling uphill at about twice the speed of sound.” (via seriouseats)
From Lee Iacocca’s new book: “The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don’t need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?”
The headline blares that “NYC Blamed for 1% of Greenhouse Gases”, which puts it on par with small countries like Portugal and Ireland, but they buried the lede on this one: “With 2.7 percent of the country’s population — 8.2 million of 300 million — the average New York City resident contributes less than a third of the emissions generated by a typical American.”
Even though I wasn’t that familiar with the whole Jim Jones/Jonestown story, I felt like they rushed through the early parts of the story…might have worked better at 2 hours than at 90 minutes. The ending is great, a well-paced mix of personal narrative, photography, audio, and video from the last fateful day of over 900 people. After the movie ended, I was trying to imagine what would happen if Jonestown (or to a lesser extent, the Branch Davidian thing or Heaven’s Gate) occurred today. Religious cult leader brainwashes all these people and then kills 900 of them in the South American jungle, including a United States Congressman? CNN, et. al. would got nuts for a start…I don’t know if 72 pt. type on their homepage would be enough. The blogosphere would probably go supernova as well.
The American Experience site has more information about Jones and the film. Check your local listings as well…you might be able to catch the film on PBS sometime in the next week or so.
Kurt Vonnegut, RIP. So it goes.
Audio demonstration of how two Nickelback songs released two years apart are actually, to a rough approximation, the same song. “You bastards, you’re taking advantage of those tone deaf MTV brainwashed twats who are too thick to notice you’re releasing song that are EXACTLY THE SAME as ones your recorded earlier.”
In a money game with anonymous rich and poor players, rich players will give up some money to help the poor but poor people are more likely to spend their money to make the rich players less rich. Reminds me of the ultimatum game in which people reject free money when they feel like they’re getting a raw deal in comparison to someone else.
The two-fer Tarantino/Rodriguez movie Grindhouse is going to be broken into two films for release overseas and possibly in the US. “There have been reports that many film-goers have been confused by the movie’s structure - mistakenly assuming that there was only one film on offer and leaving the cinema en-masse after the Rodriguez section.”
Denny McLain has been contributing to the Britannica Blog for the last month or so…his most recent post is about NYC’s demanding baseball fans and the difference between A-Rod and Derek Jeter. McLain was the last pitcher to win 30 games (probably the last ever) and had one of the best seasons in baseball history in 1968, going 31-6 with a 1.96 ERA and winning both the MVP and Cy Young awards.
Hip-Hop Pop-Up combines pop-up web advertising with product mentions in hip-hop songs. “For example, at 2 minutes and 38 seconds into the song Big Poppa when Puffy asks Biggie, ‘How ya livin Biggie Smallz?’ his reply, ‘In mansion and Benz’s Givin ends to my friends and it feels stupendous’ would then pop-up the URL www.mercedes-benz.com.” To try it out, be sure to disable your browser’s pop-up blocking first. (thx, jonah)
An anticorruption group in India is printing zero-rupee notes designed to be handed to officials demanding bribes. The note is “a symbol to express refusal to grease the palms of officials”. (via tmn)
David Shipley and Will Schwalbe have written an email style guide, an Emily Post for the cubicle set. I can’t abide by the endorsement of excessive exclamation points, but maybe the rest of the book is more useful? Send is available at Amazon.
When I saw the title for this article — ‘Most E-Mailed’ List Tearing New York Times’ Newsroom Apart — I said, hey this is going to be pretty interesting. But then I click through and it’s The Onion. Which is funny and all, but I’d rather read a real article on the effect the most popular lists have on the decisions made by the editorial staff at the Times, the New Yorker, and other such publications.
PopTech is releasing video of some of the talks from their conference. Among the first batch, I’d recommend Thomas Barnett, Juan Enriquez, Erin McKean, and Theo Jansen.
Paul Graham: Microsoft is dead. And by dead he means increasingly irrelevant.
Re: parking meters being too cheap, some companies pay millions of dollars a year in parking tickets. “‘It’s a business decision. Is it cheaper to pay the ticket, or is it cheaper to pay the guys working for me to spend time looking for a legal parking space?’ McMillan pays his workers about $80 an hour and said risking a parking ticket often wins out. ‘I don’t like it, but we’ve got a job to do, and we have to get our guys in there to work.’” (thx, matt)
Last week’s earthquake in the Solomon Islands raised the island of Ranongga 10 feet, including some previously submerged coral reefs and a sunken boat from WWII.
The New Yorker reports on the history and philosophy of the urban sport of parkour. David Belle, the inventor of parkour and the main subject of the article, demonstrates his sport in this 11-minute video. Lots more videos of parkour are available.
In the high stakes game of making restaurant reservations in NYC, restaurants and their patrons are engaged in attempting to outflank one another in vying for tables at prime times. “I have a well-connected friend in the entertainment industry, and I often say I am calling from his office in order to score a weekend reservation at a crowded restaurant. If NYC restaurants are going to play the game this way, we have no choice but to play along with them.”
While working for the FDR administration in 1936, photographer Dorothea Lange took the following photograph:
You’ve likely seen it before…it’s called Migrant Mother and it’s one of the more famous American photos. When she took the photo, Lange neglected to note the woman’s name (or other details) so her identity remained anonymous while the photo went on to become a symbol of the Great Depression. In the late 1970s, Florence Owens Thompson revealed herself to be the woman in the photo after she wrote a letter to her local paper saying that she didn’t like the image. In an AP story about the ensuing flap, Thompson stated:
I wish she hadn’t taken my picture. I can’t get a penny out of it. [Lange] didn’t ask my name. She said she wouldn’t sell the pictures. She said she’d send me a copy. She never did.”
In addition to not taking her subject’s name, Lange got something else wrong. Thompson and her family weren’t typical Depression migrants at all; they’d been living in California for almost 10 years. Like all photographs, Migrant Mother is neither truth nor fiction but somewhere in-between.
Short interview by James Surowiecki of Nassim Taleb about his new book, The Black Swan. “History is dominated not by the predictable but by the highly improbable — disruptive, unforeseeable events that Taleb calls Black Swans. The effects of wars, market crashes, and radical technological innovations are magnified precisely because they confound our expectations of the universe as an orderly place.” Malcolm Gladwell wrote an article on Taleb for the New Yorker in 2002, which Taleb said “put too much emphasis on the far less interesting, more limited — and rather boring — applications of my ideas to finance/economic, & less on the dynamics of historical events/philosophy of history, artistic success, and general uncertainty in society”. See also an interview in New Scientist, a NY Times op-ed, and a long piece on the Edge site about the black swan idea.
Because of the bulge in the earth at the equator, a 20,702 ft. high mountain in Ecuador is actually closer to outer space than Mt. Everest…1.5 miles closer. (via buzzfeed)
Miranda July, who you might remember from her film Me and You and Everyone We Know, has a book coming out in May, a collection of stories called No One Belongs Here More Than You. The book has a web site that’s one of the most effective and creative I’ve seen in a long time. Here’s a screenshot of one of my favorite pages, just to give you a taste:
The really intriguing thing about the site is that it breaks pretty much every rule that contemporary web designers have for effective site design. The site is a linear progression of images, essentially 30 splash pages one right after another. It doesn’t have any navigation except for forward/back buttons; you can’t just jump to whatever page you want. July barely mentions anything about the book and only then near the end of the 30 pages. There’s no text…it’s all images, which means that the site will be all but invisible to search engines. No web designer worth her salt would ever recommend building a site like this to a client.
Yet it works because the story pulls you along so well; July’s using the site’s narrative to sell a book that is, presumably, chock full of the same sort of narrative. If you think the site sucks and quickly click away, chances are you’re not going to like the book either…it’s the perfect self-selection mechanism. The No One Belongs Here More Than You site is a lesson for web designers: the point is not to make sites that follow all the rules but to make sites that will best accomplish the primary objectives of the site.
The NY Times published an article this morning on the efforts to develop a code of conduct for online discourse. The code is a reaction to recent comments made about blogger Kathy Sierra. Three things bother me about the proposed rules.
We take responsibility for our own words and for the comments we allow on our blog.
I don’t want to take one bit of responsibility for someone else’s words. A person’s words are their own. By taking responsibility for them, you open yourself up to all sorts of problems, mostly legal in nature. Why should someone get sued for slander or libel because someone else posts something on your site? Of course, I also believe that Google isn’t responsible for people posting copyrighted videos to YouTube, that Napster wasn’t responsible for people trading copyrighted material via its service, and that ISPs aren’t responsible for what their customers publish to the web.
We do not allow anonymous comments.
There has to be a mechanism for anonymous comments, even if they need to be approved before being posted. As the EFF says, “anonymous communications have an important place in our political and social discourse”.
The missing piece in this discussion so far is: who’s going to police all this misconduct? Punishing the offenders and erasing the graffiti is the easy part…fostering “a culture that encourages both personal expression and constructive conversation” is much more difficult. Really fucking hard, in fact…it requires near-constant vigilance. If I opened up comments on everything on kottke.org, I could easily employ someone for 8-10 hours per week to keep things clean, facilitate constructive conversation, coaxing troublemakers into becoming productive members of the community, etc. Both MetaFilter and Flickr have dedicated staff to perform such duties…I imagine other community sites do as well. If you’ve been ignoring all of the uncivility on your site for the past 2 years, it’s going to be difficult to clean it up. The social patterns of your community’s participants, once set down, are difficult to modify in a significant way.
For now, my blogger code remains “B9 d+ t+ k++ s u= f++ i o x+ e++ l- c—”.
Tourism, iPod-created personal environments, and the death of peripheral vision. “I was brought up to be constantly aware of others around me, to keep a sharp eye out to see if I was blocking someone’s way, holding someone up.”
Fascinating stuff: the Washington Post hired a world-famous violinist to play for spare change outside a D.C. Metro station to see if anyone would notice and how much he’d make. “In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?” (thx, karan)
Logical, linguistical, and infographical analysis of the #1 single on the Billboard chart, This Is Why I’m Hot by Mims. “Mims is hot because he’s fly. But it raises the question: Does being hot guarantee one’s being fly? […] It would appear that fly and hot are interchangable. If you are one, you are both; if you aren’t at least one, you are neither.” (via khoi)
Apple and EMI jointly announced earlier this week that the iTMS would offer EMI’s music without DRM and at a bitrate of 256 kps instead of 128 kps. Twice the bitrate = twice as good, yeah? Not so fast…you might not even notice the difference.
Pat Venditte is a switch pitcher for his college team, a rarity at baseball’s higher levels. “Against Nebraska last year, a switch-hitter came to the plate right-handed, prompting Venditte to switch to his right arm, which caused the batter to move to the left-hand batter’s box, with Venditte switching his arm again.”
On the occasion of Helvetica’s NYC premiere tonight, Michael Bierut remembers a time when no one knew anything about type or fonts except for designers and typesetters. “[Today] we live in a world where any person in any cubicle in the world can pick between Arial and Trebuchet and Chalkboard whenever they want, risk free, copyfitting tables be damned, and where a film about a typeface actually stands a chance of enjoying some small measure of popular success.”
This is brilliant: the weird video of Dick Cheney lurking in the bushes during a press conference at the White House with Radiohead’s Creep playing over it. “I want you to notice when I’m not around….” (via cyn-c)
“The essence of the Overton window is that only a portion of [the total] policy spectrum is within the realm of the politically possible at any time. Regardless of how vigorously a think tank or other group may campaign, only policy initiatives within this window of the politically possible will meet with success.” (via rebecca blood)
I feel like I’ve linked to this before but here it is again (maybe): a list of how companies got their names. “Mattel - a portmanteau of the founders names Harold ‘Matt’ Matson and Elliot Handler.” (via khoi)
Artist Xia Xiaowan uses layers of glass to make 3-D paintings. A picture’s worth a thousand words of explanation in this case:
Xia Xiaowan surpasses the boundaries of painting and establishes a new way of “looking” at paintings. He draws his inspiration and method from X-ray photographs, giving two-dimensional painting a three-dimensional effect. He combines material, technology and painting, thus maintaining the hand-made qualities of painting while adding elements of installation and sculptural art and displaying the cold, absurd and strange qualities of realism.
David Remnick may be the current editor of the New Yorker, but it’s much-maligned former editor Tina Brown’s team that’s running the place. Love the comments at the end…the Gawker audience is almost shocked at something that’s actually researched, longer than three sentences, and doesn’t contain any overt drug references. Choire, you keep this up, I might have to start reading the site again.
Instead of giving out wasteful schwag bags and tshirts that no one wears, the Interesting 2007 conference is asking participants to provide their own used tshirts (they’ll screenprint the logo on it) and will be using plain old plastic bags with the conference logo screenprinted on them. What a great twist on recycling. (via bbj)
Stay Free interviews Giles Slade, the author of a book on planned obsolescence. “Companies profit more when products have shorter lifespans - because they sell more products that way. This is no conspiracy theory but, rather, simple economics. Small wonder, then, that product lifespans are shrinking across the board. In 1997, a PC was expected to last 4 or 5 years; by 2003, only two years, and today the life expectancy is even less.”
I love YouTube. This is a video clip of a chef pulling noodle dough, doubling it over 12 times until the noodles are unbelievably fine. The clip is from a 1987 PBS science show that I watched once when I was 14 and I’ve remembered it ever since as one of the simplest, coolest, and most concrete illustrations of mathematics I’ve ever seen. (via seriouseats)
 Ooh, watching science shows on PBS at 14….how popular was I in school?
Pentagram’s Paula Scher illustrates the typical lifecycle of a blog discussion for the NY Times. More and more, I’m seeing threads skip immediately to steps 9 & 10: “Impugn the character of thesis author” and “Impugn character of anyone who even considered agreeing”.
Exhibit on Helvetica (the font, not the film) opens tomorow at the MoMA and will be available for a good long time (until March 31, 2008). “Widely considered the official typeface of the twentieth century, Helvetica communicates with simple, well-proportioned letterforms that convey an aesthetic clarity that is at once universal, neutral, and undeniably modern.”
Video of the inside and outside of the just-completed new IAC headquarters. Building by Frank Gehry, his first in NYC. (via zach)
If you’re at a loss for something to wear tomorrow, check out the Wardrobe Remix photo pool on Flickr…12,000+ photos of normal people showing off what they’re wearing. “i believe the best stylists walk the streets, not the photo sets, nor the backstage of the runways. the real innovators are you and me: real, fashionable people, men and women alike.”
The British government is installing talking CCTV cameras in public places…the control center staff will be able to yell at people they see on the camera to stop littering and the like. “Smith! 6079 Smith W.! Yes, you! Bend lower, please! You can do better than that. You’re not trying. Lower, please! That’s better, comrade.”
An examination of the interaction between humans and computers in science fiction movies. Includes examples from The Matrix, Metropolis, Futurama, Minority Report, and Star Trek. (via bb)
Chicago chef Homaro Cantu talks a bit more about his plans for edible advertising. “You open up a magazine, there’s a small plastic thing in there, and you rip it open. It looks like a cheeseburger, tastes like a cheeseburger, it’s made from all organic ingredients.” The ads will also be allergen-free and may contain a bit of fluoride to help keep your teeth clean. (via seriouseats)
Short profile of Atul Gawande, surgeon and writer, one of the few New Yorker contributers I make a point of reading every single time I see his byline. “I now feel like writing is the most important thing I do. In some ways, it’s harder than surgery. But I do think I’ve found a theme in trying to understand failure and what it means in the world we live in, and how we can improve at what we do.”
Roger Ebert’s been out of commission for the past few months due to cancer surgery, but he’s eager to return to his normal duties. “I still love writing about the movies. Forty years is not enough.”
Rollercoaster version of the graph of US home prices adjusted for inflation…you basically ride the curve of the graph. Brilliant…I want to ride all the graphs I come across! (via is it real or is it magnetbox)
Ted Z at Big Screen Little Screen got his mitts on a copy of a script for Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited from May 2006. “I have serious reservations regarding how far Wes Anderson can take this twee-filmmaking before the rut is too worn to dig himself out.”
Winners of the Helvetica haiku contest I pointed to a couple of weeks ago. My favorite of all the ones listed: “i shot the serif / left him there full of leading / yearning for kerning”. Close second: “She misunderstood / When I said she was ‘Grotesque’ / Akzidenz happen”. I am a sucker for puns.
Looks like the change in Daylight Savings Time in the US didn’t have the intended effect on energy savings. No measurable impact on their business, say the power companies.
There’s a variant of Rock, Paper, Scissors that has 101 possible gestures instead of just three. (There’s also a 25-throw variant.) 101 gestures means 5,050 possible outcomes…like “bicycle carries butter”, “community rebukes Satan”, and “UFO collects blood”.
Why are the records in swimming being broken at such a great pace while those for, say, track and field are more sturdy? More time and money is available for swimming now, meaning that its participants are improving quicker…as opposed to running, which hit its time and money growth spurt awhile ago.
Finalists in Smithsonian magazine’s 2007 photo contest. Some good stuff in here, but some of it is a little cheesy.
Photojojo celebrates its first birthday with a tutorial on how to make video panoramas. The end result is pretty cool.
Results of the Type Directors Club type design competition for 2007. I really like Subtil. (via quipsologies)
A Stradivarius fetched $2.4 million at auction yesterday but anyone with the proper chops got to take a climate-controlled test drive before the auction. The violin’s minders at Christie’s screened potential players, in part, by looking for “the telltale bruise under the jaw that comes from resting on the chin rest of the violin”, which Lilly calls a “violin hickey”. There are several theories as to why Antonio Stradivari’s instruments sound so wonderful, but no one has cracked the mystery yet.
Photos of the offices of prominent New Yorkers. You can tell which of these people actually use their offices to get work done…Martha Stewart’s computer monitor is stashed neatly away in a drawer. For a less rarefied look at people’s workspaces, try the Desk Space, My Desk, and My Cluttered Desk photo pools on Flickr.
Update: I read Martha’s item incorrectly…her keyboard is in a drawer, not her monitor. Still, I contend that she doesn’t do any real work in that office. (thx, haran and eric)
Today is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day and Serious Eats is celebrating by bringing you a whole bunch of PB&J-related stories, including one I sent over about Elvis jetting to Denver for the sole purpose of eating a Fool’s Gold Loaf…an entire hollowed-out loaf of bread crammed with a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, and a pound of bacon. Mmm mmmmm!!
A man named Dusan Stulik is working to document and preserve all the different ways in which photographs have been made. “Surprisingly, the large photography companies — Kodak, Ilford, Fuji, Polaroid and Agfa — did not save samples of the hundreds of different films and papers they developed over the last century. We’re hoping that you did.”
The McMansion page on Wikipedia is surprisingly detailed. Other terms for a McMansion include Faux Chateau, Frankenhouse, Starter Castle, and Parachute Home. The Lawyer Foyer refers to “the two-story entry space typically found on many McMansions which is meant to be visually overwhelming but which contributes little to the useful space of the house”.
New evidence is bringing us closer to finding out what actually happened to Amelia Earhart. “In more than 50 nonfiction books and even a movie, writers embraced theories ranging from a crash at sea to abduction by aliens, from Earhart executed by the Japanese as a spy to living under another name in New Jersey.”
Apple will begin to sell DRM-free songs from EMI via the iTunes Music Store in May. The songs are higher quality but will cost slightly more ($1.29 vs $0.99 for the DRM version). It’ll be interesting to see how many people choose to buy the non-DRM stuff at the higher price. My feeling is that typical consumers won’t care that much…lower price will win out over slightly higher quality and some nebulous future flexibility. I bet EMI is even half-hoping for failure on this thing: “see, customers *want* DRM…”
People cruising the streets for parking meters do so because meter pricing is too low. “Underpriced curb spaces are like rent-controlled apartments: hard to find and, once you do, crazy to give up. This increases the time costs (and therefore the congestion and pollution costs) of cruising.”
Killer of Sheep, a 1977 student film by Charles Burnett, is on the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry and was selected as one of the 100 essential films of all time by the National Society of Film Critics but has never been shown in theaters because of music rights clearance issues. This year, the film is finally being released in theaters (it’s showing at IFC Center in NYC through April 12) and will be available on DVD in the fall. Watch the trailer and read a bit more about it in the NY Times.
Your April Fools Day joke sucks.