Thanks to this week’s RSS sponsor, 2px and their iPhone game, Fingeric. Fingeric is a digital dexterity game — digital as in fingers, mind you — that uses several touchscreen gestures in concert to test how quick your fingers are. It reminds me a bit of Warioware crossed with Whac-A-Mole. Fingeric is mindless fun, perfect for zoning out on the subway or while waiting for a friend.
I checked out their other games too…Rolo, a puzzle game, ended up being fun and irritating (in a good way…like the Rubik’s Cube). Both Rolo and Mastermind, 2px’s game based on the board game of the same name, have favorable reviews on the iTunes Store.
BTW, Treasury? Might be time for an updated name…The Department of the Treasury sounds like that part of the government responsible for safeguarding the nation’s jewels, pieces of eight, and fragments of the True Cross.
Michel Balinski and Rida Laraki have come up with a new voting scheme that they say will yield more accurate results in elections. It’s called majority judgement. Instead of voting for one particular candidate, voters are asked to evaluate all the candidates on a scale from something like “excellent” to “reject”. Here are the results of a trial that they ran in Orsay in France (scroll for English)…and you can see how the results differ from the official election results. To put this in a bit of US-centric context, imagine a voting system where honestly evaluating your feelings about the executive readiness of a third-party candidate like Ralph Nader doesn’t necessarily harm a major party candidate’s chances of getting elected. (*cough* Al Gore *cough* 2000 election.)
They’re running an online majority judgement experiment using the 2008 US Presidential candidates…go sign up and vote. (thx, judy)
The [cod population] models were all wrong. The cod population never grew. By the late 1980’s, even the trawlers couldn’t find cod. It was now clear that the scientists had made some grievous errors. The fishermen hadn’t been catching 16 percent of the cod population; they had been catching 60 percent of the cod population. The models were off by a factor of four. “For the cod fishery,” write Orrin Pilkey and Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, in their excellent book Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can’t Predict the Future, “as for most of earth’s surface systems, whether biological or geological, the complex interaction of huge numbers of parameters make mathematical modeling on a scale of predictive accuracy that would be useful to fishers a virtual impossibility.”
In the same way, incorrect but highly lucrative financial models caused people to take on too much risk and leverage.
Revolving Hotel Room is an art installation comprising three outfitted, superimposed turning glass discs mounted onto a fourth disc that all turn harmoniously at a very slow speed. During the day the hotel room will be on view as part of the Guggenheim’s theanyspacewhatever exhibition, which runs from October 24, 2008-January 7, 2009. At night, the art installation becomes an operative hotel room outfitted with luxury amenities.
What I Learned Today is reading the labels of the food she consumes to see what’s in them and then researching each component. First up, her yogurt.
cultured pasteurized grade A low fat milk: It’s cultured, which means bacteria has been added to it to ferment the lactose and galactose (milk sugars) and convert them into lactic acid. Milk is fermented in order to increase the shelf-life, add taste, and increase digestibility. It’s pasteurized, which means it’s been heated to destroy some viable pathogens. It’s Grade A, meaning it complies with the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments “Grade A” milk program, which is based on the FDA’s Pasteurized Milk Ordinance requirements to be shipped interstate. It’s low fat which mean it’s gone through a centrifuge which separates the fat from the the rest of the product.
Even food ingredient labels become literature with many layers when governmental agencies and large food companies get involved. That’s a lot of information disseminated in so few words.
Michael Ruhlman lets us know that a new edition of Ferdinand Point’s long-out-of-print cookbook, Ma Gastronomie, is being republished in the United States. The book was a big influence on Charlie Trotter and Thomas Keller.
Success is the sum of a lot of little things done correctly.
And then there’s the self-created interview ad that is a product of recent advances in technology. Camcorders that can be taken anywhere. We’ve seen self-reporting from the Iraq War and video diaries created by soldiers. The photographs and videos from Abu Ghraib are part of this phenomenon. Ultimately, video-blogging and self-reporting finds its expression in campaigns like the “Joe the Plumber.” As I understand it, the McCain campaign has posted on its Web pages a request for people to film themselves and discuss why they are Joe the Plumber or Hank the Laminator or Frank the Painter. The intention is to collect these testimonials and then cut them together for a tax revolt television ad.
Last.fm keeps track of all the music you play but they also keep track of the music that people don’t want the world to know they listen to: the Most Unwanted Scrobbles. The Beatles, Radiohead, Britney, and Avril top the uncharts. The Britney and Avril I can understand. The Beatles and Radiohead…perhaps the perception of overratedness leads people to keep those tastes private? (thx, graham)
Update: Ohhh, ok. Radiohead and The Beatles are so high on the list because 1) so many people have those two bands in their playlists that they get deleted so much out of sheer numbers, and 2) those two bands are no good for recommendation engines — you like pop music? I recommend The Beatles — so people exclude them. (thx all)
The goal of the creators of The Big Chart, The Counter-Intuitive Comparison Institute of North America (CICINA), is to find the single best thing in the world through an NCAA basketball tournament-style bracketing system. This video explains their plans.
Is the Bilbao Guggenheim better than McDonald’s french fries?Are penguins better than Miracle Grow? Can anything beat heated seats on a cold November day?
I selected a front page from every other decade, starting with the very first edition of the paper in 1881. Note the shifting hierarchy of images (yellow), advertising (orange) and editorial content (blue). The small black arrows are links to related content elsewhere within the paper.
They also look at the front pages of the web site from 1996 - 2006.
When we were up in Vermont earlier this month, we rode the single chair to the top of the mountain at Mad River Glen and then hiked down. Before we left, we installed iTrail on Meg’s phone. iTrail uses the iPhone’s GPS capability to track your progress along a trail, jogging path, etc. The reviews at the iTunes Store aren’t glowing but we found that it worked pretty well for us. Here are a couple of graphs generated by iTrail of our hike:
iTrail also allows data export to a Google Docs speadsheet. From there, you can import that data into Google Maps, like so:
It’s not perfect (we weren’t doing 8.2 mph at the beginning of the hike) and GPS mapping apps are hardly new, but I’ve never done this before and it feels like living in the future.
What do I think about the new Pepsi logo? Eh. Companies spend way too much time, effort, and money building up feelings about logos — like decades and billions of dollars — and then they just go and change it all. Of course the new logo and colors are similar to the old ones and it’s variations on a theme but the new designs feel like someone’s idea of what packaging is going to look like 10 years from now, an approach that never seems to work out well (see Back to the Future II). Coca-Cola had such success refreshing their brand with a simple take on their classic look and logo, why can’t Pepsi do the same with this classic look?
I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael Pollen [sic] about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it’s creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they’re contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs. That’s just one sector of the economy. You think about the same thing is true on transportation. The same thing is true on how we construct our buildings. The same is true across the board.
I wonder if McCain had a chance to read it. (thx, tim & jeremy)
Here’s how to use the RJDJ iPhone app. You install the app, plug your headphones in, launch it, and press “Now Playing”. A song plays, the app starts to sample the sounds in your environment, and those sounds are remixed in real time and played back to you. It might be the coolest thing ever. Check out this video and this other video for a quick look at how RJDJ works. The first video shows some songs that use the iPhone’s accelerometer to modify and scratch the beat. (via waxy)
PS. It might only be the coolest app in theory…it’s also flaky as hell. It was working fine for me and then crapped out…there’s no music now, only sound sampling and it’s really quiet. Maybe you need to use the Apple headphones with the mic?
So there it is: a weird/powerful truism about social politics delivered in a catchy, post-modern package that uses parody, found video, and cutting-edge video techniques (and let’s not sell Hype Williams short for a second — check out the shots of Puffy and Mase in the yellow suits — I mean, what the hell is that?!), all montaged together with an off-handed mastery (check out how some of the transitions are deliberately not on-beat) to create something that felt so like the future that it could never really be the future. Just like all videos for pop singles, it was dug, and it was forgotten. And so it goes. Somewhere out there there is a list of videos that really truly did something new, and this one belongs on that list.
Earlier this evening, I needed to take some coins that had been piling up to the Coinstar machine. Before I left, I uploaded a photo of the coin bags to Flickr and queried the masses: how much money in the bags?
In 1906 Galton visited a livestock fair and stumbled upon an intriguing contest. An ox was on display, and the villagers were invited to guess the animal’s weight after it was slaughtered and dressed. Nearly 800 gave it a go and, not surprisingly, not one hit the exact mark: 1,198 pounds. Astonishingly, however, the median of those 800 guesses came close — very close indeed. It was 1,208 pounds.
Nate Silver I am not, but after some rudimentary statistical analysis on the coin guesses, it was clear that the mean ($193.88) and median ($171.73) were both way off from the actual value ($426.55). That scatterplot is brutal…there are only a handful of guesses in the right area. But the best guess by a single individual was just 76 cents off.
To be fair, the crowd was likely misinformed. It’s difficult to tell from that photo how fat those bags were — they were bulging — and how many quarters there were.
Mary-Kate’s contribution to the enterprise is a collector’s knowledge. She has been buying vintage Lanvin and Givenchy, among other classic labels of the mid-20th century, for a number of years. (Unlike Ashley, Mary-Kate continues to act, having played, with a perfect semblance of haze and obfuscation, a born-again Christian drug dealer on the third season of “Weeds.” This year she appeared opposite Ben Kingsley in the film “The Wackness.”) Ashley is the more entrepreneurial, the one who will tell you how much she admires Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
As the reality of what I’d gotten myself into set in, I began to have doubts. Maybe my parents were correct and I was, in fact, an absolute loon. Who the fuck does this? Maybe I should have avoided the spicy food at lunch. What if these freaking booties cause my toes to cramp? What if I twitch my arms? What if I look terrible in this position? What if I can’t stop myself from laughing my ass off?
There are many moving parts to the new food agenda I’m urging you to adopt, but the core idea could not be simpler: we need to wean the American food system off its heavy 20th-century diet of fossil fuel and put it back on a diet of contemporary sunshine. True, this is easier said than done — fossil fuel is deeply implicated in everything about the way we currently grow food and feed ourselves. To put the food system back on sunlight will require policies to change how things work at every link in the food chain: in the farm field, in the way food is processed and sold and even in the American kitchen and at the American dinner table. Yet the sun still shines down on our land every day, and photosynthesis can still work its wonders wherever it does. If any part of the modern economy can be freed from its dependence on oil and successfully resolarized, surely it is food.
I put the shirt on and it fit fine. I couldn’t stop smiling. The whole thing was so damned surreal. Here I am in a Paul Smith changing room trying on a shirt that features a design element stolen from my Flickr site!
“It fits perfectly,” I told the salesman. “It’s like I made it myself,” I joked and smiled at Lance.
“You did make it yourself,” the man replied, oblivious to the inside joke but wanting to play along.
Lance asked the salesman if he knew anything about the print on the shirt. He said something about hobos and the passing of knowledge or something. I was too distracted to pay attention. I said I will take it and he led us to the cashier. $235 later, I was walking out of the store with my very own personalized Paul Smith shirt.
Those effects would be small at the margin, but there are those effects that are small at the margin that can change election results. You call and ask people ahead of time, “Will you vote?” That’s all. “Do you intend to vote?” That increases voting participation substantially, and you can measure it. It’s a completely trivial manipulation, but saying ‘Yes’ to a stranger, “I will vote”…
Update: Or perhaps not. This paper by Dustin Cho finds that there’s no “statistically significant” correlation between intending to or being asked if you’re going to vote and actually voting. (thx, max)
A big thank you to kottke.org’s first RSS feed sponsor, FoggyNoggin Software, makers of the Loan Shark iPhone App (check it out in the iTunes Store). Loan Shark is a tricked out loan calculator for your iPhone or iPod Touch. Here are a few capabilities from the web site:
One-tap Extra Payment Making an extra payment on your loan each year can dramatically reduce the cost of your loan. With Loan Shark, you can easily see what that extra payment will save you over time.
Compare Loans Want to compare loans to see which is best? Loan Shark lets you compare up to 9 loans side-by-side.
Nearby Banks Using the iPhone or iPod Touch’s built-in location sensor, Loan Shark can retrieve a list of nearby banks, making shopping for a loan that much easier.
Loan Shark also helps you calculate how long it will take to pay off credit cards…almost a necessity in today’s slumping economy. Loan Shark is $4.99 at the App Store, an amount that would no doubt be offset by how much it saves you in future interest payments.
Twitter is fast becoming the real-time zeitgeist of the web hive mind. (Sorry, I don’t know what that means either.) Anyway, I’ve been playing around with Twist, which tracks trends on Twitter and graphs the results. Two of the most interesting trends I’ve found are:
drunk, hangover - The drunk talk spikes on Friday and Saturday nights, followed by hangover talk on the following mornings. There’s a similar correlation on Facebook.
monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday, saturday, sunday - This one is really interesting. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday get many more mentions than the three other days of the week, which shows the importance of the weekend in contemporary society. Wednesday is the low point, which turns the graph into a representation of hump day, only inverted.
This seems to speak of why so many on the right feel there’s a MSM bias - 50% of the country is urban, 50% rural, but newspapers are located exclusively in urban areas. So, surprisingly, the major right-leaning papers are all located in parts of the country we consider highly leftish. The urban areas that are the largest are thus both the most liberal and the most likely to have a sizeable conservative target audience.
You: “Okay, if you can just use your Force powers to get in to the palace and all the way to Jabba, then let’s just have you go in right now and get Han out.”
Luke: “No, that’s stupid. I’m going to get myself captured. Because then you see, we’ll be taken to the sarlacc pit and then, when we’re on the skiff, I’ll get sent out first and then R2-D2 will manage to get to the top of Jabba’s sail barge and shoot out my lightsaber, and then with Lando’s help, we’ll just rescue everyone and then everything will be fine!”
You: “That is the stupidest plan I’ve ever heard of.”
And the big intellectual skirmish going on was “Is it great that we’re so different, men and women, or is there no difference at all?” No difference at all is where is started. Let’s have equality and legistlate it like that. And then it became so much more complicated when you added sex to it and biologically the relationship is always sexist in some way. What’s sexist in the office is fuel in the bedroom. We’re wired that way to some extent. Women become more aggressive and it becomes strange for men.
According to Editor and Publisher, Obama is leading McCain in newspaper endorsements by more than 2-to-1, including most of the major papers. Obama: LA Times, NY Times, Sacramento Bee, SF Chronicle, SJ Mercury, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Globe, NY Daily News, The Houston Chronicle. McCain: San Diego Union-Tribune, Tampa Tribune, Boston Herald, New York Post, Dallas Morning News, The Detroit News.
We’ve always been violent, but now it’s stupidity, people kicking heads in for no reason. When I was a kid we used to fight or rob the people we wanted to fight or rob, we didn’t walk along the street, kick someone’s head in, and film it on a mobile phone. Now you’ve got a guy stood at the bus stop, minding his own business, and eight guys jump him and beat the fuck out of him, or stab him to fuck for no reason. It’s like these video games, you can go on a video game, shoot someone twenty times and they get back up again. I don’t want to sound like an old man, but when I was growing up we had films like Get Carter and Scarface. Scarface was one of the best gangster films ever. But those films were more about the threat of violence that makes it a violent. Now people use violence as a marketing tool, that’s the problem we’re having right now.
Tricky also rightly defends English food; I’ve never had anything bad to eat there, at least in London.
BibliOdyssey has collected a number of charts which compare the heights of mountains and lengths of rivers by laying them all out next to each other. (Ok, kinda difficult to explain…just go take a look.) I had a chance to buy a copy of one of these maps a few years ago (not sure if it was an original print or what; it looked old) but passed it up because I didn’t have the money. Wish I would have bought it anyway. (via quips)
Fun evening activity: type whatever crazy shit is happening on TV into Twitter Search and watch the wittisicms and not-so-witticisms roll by. Example: in game one of the World Series tonight, someone stole a base and every single person in the United States won a free taco from Taco Bell. Instant tweetalanche.
I’ve been thinking lately about a dream candidate for my nerd habits, my nerdy business, and the way I live my nerdy life. Regardless of party affiliation, if you’re running for an office from as small as city council all the way up to president, if you hit on any/all of these things, you just might get my vote.
Universal healthcare, universal broadband, and a renewed commitment to science are on his list…anything missing?
A federal judge has awarded $4.6 million in back pay and damages to 36 delivery workers at two Saigon Grill restaurants in Manhattan, finding blatant and systematic violations of minimum-wage and overtime laws.
We live right around the corner from one of the SGs and have avoided eating there despite the decent and close Vietnamese food. The fired workers were out in front of the place protesting for months and months…it’s great to see hard work pay off like that, particularly when the protestors probably couldn’t actually afford to be out there.
In 1996, an editor from Rolling Stone named David Lipsky spent a lot of time with David Foster Wallace and wrote a biographical piece that was eventually not published in the magazine. When Wallace died last month, RS sent Lipsky to interview his family and friends. The resulting piece, The Lost Years & Last Days of David Foster Wallace, is a unique combination of a look at a writer at the top of his game and a man at the end of his life. It was very difficult for me to read, for reasons which I may never really understand. Wallace meant a lot to me, full stop.
Here are some bits from the article that resonated with me. On the about-face that happened with his professors a University of Arizona after The Broom of the System1 was published:
Viking won the auction for the novel, “with something like a handful of trading stamps.” Word spread; professors turned nice. “I went from borderline ready-to-get-kicked-out to all these tight-smiled guys being, ‘Glad to see you, we’re proud of you, you’ll have to come over for dinner.’ It was so delicious: I felt kind of embarrassed for them, they didn’t even have integrity about their hatred.”
The five-year clock was ticking again. He’d played football for five years. He’d played high-level tennis for five years. Now he’d been writing for five years. “What I saw was, ‘Jesus, it’s the same thing all over again.’ I’d started late, showed tremendous promise — and the minute I felt the implications of that promise, it caved in. Because see, by this time, my ego’s all invested in the writing. It’s the only thing I’ve gotten food pellets from the universe for. So I feel trapped: ‘Uh-oh, my five years is up, I’ve gotta move on.’ But I didn’t want to move on.”
“I remember this being a frequent topic of conversation,” Franzen says, “his notion of not having an authentic self. Of being just quikc enough to construct a pleasing self for whomever he was talking to. I see now he wasn’t just being funny — there was something genuinely compromised in David. At the time I thought, ‘Wow, he’s even more self-conscious than I am.’”
At the end of his book tour, I spent a week with David. He talked about the “greasy thrill of fame” and what it might mean to his writing. “When I was 25, I would’ve given a couple of digits off my non-use hand for this,” he said. “I feel good, because I want to be doing this for 40 more years, you know? So I’ve got to find some way to enjoy this that doesn’t involve getting eaten by it.”
He talked about a kind of shyness that turned social life impossibly complicated. “I think being shy basically means self-absorbed to the point that it makes it difficult to be around other people. For instance, if I’m hanging out with you, I can’t even tell whether I like you or not because I’m too worried about whether you like me.”
And I don’t even know what this is all about:
“I go through a loop in which I notice all the ways I am self-centered and careerist and not true to standards and values that transcend my own petty interests, and feel like I’m not one of the good ones. But then I countenance the fact that at least here I am worrying about it, noticing all the ways I fall short of integrity, and I imagine that maybe people without any integrity at all don’t notice or worry about it; so then I feel better about myself. It’s all very confusing. I think I’m very honest and candid, but I’m also proud of how honest and candid I am — so where does that put me?”
The same thing happened: something would look good at first and then turn out to be horrifying. For example, there was a book that started out with four pictures: first there was a windup toy; then there was an automobile; then there was a boy riding a bicycle; then there was something else. And underneath each picture it said, “What makes it go?”
I thought, “I know what it is: They’re going to talk about mechanics, how the springs work inside the toy; about chemistry, how the engine of the automobile works; and biology, about how the muscles work.”
It was the kind of thing my father would have talked about: “What makes it go? Everything goes because the sun is shining.” And then we would have fun discussing it:
“No, the toy goes because the spring is wound up,” I would say. “How did the spring get wound up?” he would ask.
“I wound it up.”
“And how did you get moving?”
“And food grows only because the sun is shining. So it’s because the sun is shining that all these things are moving.” That would get the concept across that motion is simply the transformation of the sun’s power.
Obama listens from a back stairwell as he is introduced in Muscatine, Iowa. It was his second or third speech of the day. Unlike many of the politicians I have photographed in the past, I find it is easy to get a photograph of Obama alone. He lets his staff do their jobs and not fuss over him.
I loved that he cleaned up after himself before leaving an ice cream shop in Wapello, Iowa. He didn’t have to. The event was over and the press had left. He is used to taking care of things himself and I think this is one of the qualities that makes Obama different from so many other political candidates I’ve encountered.
Two staffers had just passed this site and done two pull-ups. Not to be outdone, Obama did three with ease, dropped and walked out to make a speech.
Me, my former brother-in-law Yilmaz Kaya, and an Istanbul babas [godfather] named the Vulcan founded the Turkish Connection — that’s a network that smuggles heroin from Afghanistan across Turkey into Europe. Up until the early 90s, Turks had been bringing it in piecemeal. An immigrant would bring in ten keys, sell it, buy a shop in Green Lane and pack it in. We were the first to start bringing it in 100-kilo loads. Stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap…
If Vietnamese growers can be believed, tra may be the most efficient way on earth to make animal protein. It takes three acres of grazing land to grow a single 700-pound cow. That same land, flooded and turned over to channel catfish ponds will generate 25,000 pounds of catfish. But in Vietnam, those three acres will bring in up to 1 million pounds of tra. The question that fish farmers outside of Southeast Asia ask is whether the Vietnamese are competing on a level playing field. And if not, they wonder, are the Vietnamese grabbing up huge swaths of the global white-fish market at the expense of environmental and consumer safety?
Under pressure from the Chinese, the Vietnamese are even trying to cross the tra with the giant Mekong catfish, which grows up to ten feet long and can weigh 1000 pounds.
Borromean rings are a configuration of three rings arranged so that no two rings are interlocked but all three together are. No need for the oven…that completely baked my noodle. A blog I regularly read (can’t remember which one right now) recently started to compile a list of metaphors in search of subjects…these rings should be right at the top of the list. (via clusterflock)
When members of the audience occupy the space, the mirrors inquisitively follow someone that they find interesting. Having chosen their subject, they all synchronise and turn their heads towards them. Suddenly that person can see their reflection in all of the mirrors. They will watch this person until they become disinterested, then either seek out another subject or return to their private chatter. The collective behaviour of the objects is beyond the control of the viewer, as it is left entirely to their discretion to let go of their subject.
While a lot of bottled water may be as pure as promised in those alluring commercials, the real problem is telling which is which. Public water supplies are regulated by the federal government. Not so for bottled water. The Food and Drug Administration does have some oversight, but bottled water is not very high on their long list of priorities.
…and/or that those of his friends/colleagues/co-conspirators to whom he did reveal his true agenda, (William Ayers, et al) have also maintained absolute perfect silence/mendacity on the topic, forever, as no one who actually knows Obama has ever said, “You know, once he’s got a couple of drinks in him, he starts going on about Che and finishing the Revolution;”
Someday I’m going to make my own book, from start to finish. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for awhile, a physical parallel to building a web site from scratch. When I do, Ellen Lupton’s Indie Publishing will be my guide. At 170-some pages it’s not exhaustive, but the book does briefly touch all the bases: typography, cover design, binding types, and examples of several different types of books. There’s also a section on handmade books with hands-on directions for making your own book — folded books, stitched pamphlets, or stab bound — without having to visit the printer.
The plan was simple: Build a laundry and staff it with locals and a few of their own. The laundry would then send out “color coded” special discount tickets, to the effect of “get two loads for the price of one,” etc. The color coding was matched to specific streets and thus when someone brought in their laundry, it was easy to determine the general location from which a city map was coded.
While the laundry was indeed being washed, pressed and dry cleaned, it had one additional cycle — every garment, sheet, glove, pair of pants, was first sent through an analyzer, located in the basement, that checked for bomb-making residue. The analyzer was disguised as just another piece of the laundry equipment; good OPSEC [operational security]. Within a few weeks, multiple positives had shown up, indicating the ingredients of bomb residue, and intelligence had determined which areas of the city were involved. To narrow their target list, [the laundry] simply sent out more specific coupons [numbered] to all houses in the area, and before long they had good addresses.
I don’t know if this is sadly hilarious or hilariously sad. Jeffrey Goldberg took all sorts of crazy stuff through airport security — “al-Qaeda T-shirts, Islamic Jihad flags, Hezbollah videotapes, inflatable Yasir Arafat dolls (really), pocketknives, matches from hotels in Beirut and Peshawar, dust masks, lengths of rope, cigarette lighters, nail clippers, eight-ounce tubes of toothpaste (in my front pocket), bottles of Fiji Water (which is foreign), and, of course, box cutters” — and almost nothing was ever taken away from him or was a source of concern for airport security personnel.
We took our shoes off and placed our laptops in bins. Schneier took from his bag a 12-ounce container labeled “saline solution.”
“It’s allowed,” he said. Medical supplies, such as saline solution for contact-lens cleaning, don’t fall under the TSA’s three-ounce rule.
“What’s allowed?” I asked. “Saline solution, or bottles labeled saline solution?”
“Bottles labeled saline solution. They won’t check what’s in it, trust me.”
They did not check. As we gathered our belongings, Schneier held up the bottle and said to the nearest security officer, “This is okay, right?” “Yep,” the officer said. “Just have to put it in the tray.”
“Maybe if you lit it on fire, he’d pay attention,” I said, risking arrest for making a joke at airport security. (Later, Schneier would carry two bottles labeled saline solution-24 ounces in total-through security. An officer asked him why he needed two bottles. “Two eyes,” he said. He was allowed to keep the bottles.)
So hard to pick just one excerpt from this one…it’s full of ridiculousness. I don’t care how many blogs the TSA launches, this is a farce. (thx, anthony)
With Benny, Mr. Lewis went on to say, “we embraced a hybrid between home-schooling and unschooling. It’s not structured, it’s Benny-centric, we follow his interests and desires, and yet we are helping him to learn to read and do math.” They read to him hours every day. “It’s about trying to find things we both enjoy doing,” Ms. Rendell said, “rather than making myself a martyr mom. The terror of home-schooling is you have to be super on all the time, finding crafty things to do.”
Around the TV business, the news that no plans were in place yet for a new season was greeted with surprise. “I can’t believe they haven’t renewed it yet,” said an executive at HBO, which now sheepishly regrets it did not sign the series about Madison Avenue in the 1950s and ’60s when it was offered several years ago.
Do you maintain a weblog and attend college? Would you like $10,000 to help pay for books, tuition, or other living costs? If so, read on. We’re giving away $10,000 this year to a college student who blogs.
In lean times, men look for women who can work and in times of plenty, they want women who can reproduce.
The Environmental Security Hypothesis says that in tough times men will prefer women who are good at production, generally older, taller, heavier, less curvaceous women with less body fat. In good times, they will prefer women who are good at reproduction, generally younger, shorter, lighter, more curvaceous women.
Consistent with Environmental Security Hypothesis predictions, when social and economic conditions were difficult, older, heavier, taller Playboy Playmates of the Year with larger waists, smaller eyes, larger waist-to-hip ratios, smaller bust-to-waist ratios, and smaller body mass index values were selected. These results suggest that environmental security may influence perceptions and preferences for women with certain body and facial features.
In a small but intriguing study from the University of Illinois medical school, doctors and students maintained close to the ideal number of chest compressions doing CPR while listening to the catchy, sung-in-falsetto tune from the 1977 movie “Saturday Night Fever.”
The culture of newspaper management is a dysfunctional relic of a low-bandwidth, monopoly era. It still hasn’t adapted to the lessons of Web 2.0, it’s generally beholden to a short-term stock price instead of a long-term re-investment strategy and it simply refuses to accept that you can’t expect 20 profit margins in a competitive market. Instead of leading, it is a legacy anchor.
The term paper biz is managed by brokers who take financial risks by accepting credit card payments and psychological risks by actually talking to the clients. Most of the customers just aren’t very bright. One of my brokers would even mark assignments with the code words DUMB CLIENT. That meant to use simple English; nothing’s worse than a client calling back to ask a broker — most of whom had no particular academic training — what certain words in the paper meant. One time a client actually asked to talk to me personally and lamented that he just didn’t “know a lot about Plah-toe.” Distance learning meant that he’d never heard anyone say the name.
In the early 1960’s Godtfred was building a new house and, naturally, he tried to model the structure with Lego bricks. The problem was that the Lego brick, with an aspect ratio of 6:5, was different than standard European construction modules of 1:1. Rather than contend with the problems of using regular Lego bricks he simply had new, special bricks molded for him. Bricks that would allow him to more closely copy his architectural plans.
The plant interface system, which is built around technology developed by Satoshi Kuribayashi at the Keio University Hiroya Tanaka Laboratory, uses surface potential sensors to read the weak bioelectric current flowing across the surface of the leaves. This natural current fluctuates in response to changes in the immediate environment, such as temperature, humidity, vibration, electromagnetic waves and nearby human activity. A specially developed algorithm translates this data into Japanese sentences, which are used as fodder for the plant’s daily blog posts.
Writing a story for me is just like playing a video game. I start with a word or idea, then I stick out my hand to catch what’s coming next. I’m a player, and at the same time, I’m a programmer. It’s kind of like playing chess by yourself. When you’re the white player, you don’t think about the black player. It’s possible, but it’s hard. It’s kind of schizophrenic.
Murakami sounds like a cool cat. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is one of my favorite novels, one of those books I read at exactly the right moment in my life, like I needed it.
“There are certain disadvantages to doing parkour as a woman,” Zanevsky said. “The most annoying is if you’re training alone, as I do in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, the unwelcome attention from guys. You get catcalls, because you’re doing these weird movements.
Hear ye! I’m trying something new on kottke.org. Sponsorships of kottke.org’s RSS feed are now available on a weekly basis. Sponsorships are exclusive and begin next week. If you’re interested, check out the sponsorship page for details and get in touch.
P.S. The feed sponsorship idea was borrowed from John Gruber’s Daring Fireball. I’d urge you to head on over to check out his sponsorship opportunities, but the DF feed is fully booked through the end of the year. (!!)
P.S.2. Advertising on the site proper continues to be handled expertly by The Deck. If you’d like to advertise on the site, read up on your options there.
Apple announced new MacBooks and MacBooks Pro today and as Apple’s new releases always seem to do, the new models make the old ones look like a pile of puke. (My year-old MacBook Pro suddenly looks like an antique.) To show off their new lineup and manufacturing process, they’ve produced a little video. Jonathan Ive is one earnest dude.
The most interesting bit of Gladwell’s piece is his discussion of the economics of the two different types of artist. The conceptual artist’s talent is noticed and rewarded immediately. But conceptual innovators need more help to reach their full potential.
Sharie was Ben’s wife. But she was also-to borrow a term from long ago-his patron. That word has a condescending edge to it today, because we think it far more appropriate for artists (and everyone else for that matter) to be supported by the marketplace. But the marketplace works only for people like Jonathan Safran Foer, whose art emerges, fully realized, at the beginning of their career, or Picasso, whose talent was so blindingly obvious that an art dealer offered him a hundred-and-fifty-franc-a-month stipend the minute he got to Paris, at age twenty. If you are the type of creative mind that starts without a plan, and has to experiment and learn by doing, you need someone to see you through the long and difficult time it takes for your art to reach its true level.
To summarize what little I learned from all this: A candidate may well change his or her position on, say, universal health care or Bosnia. But he or she cannot change the fact — if it happens to be a fact — that he or she is a pathological liar, or a dimwit, or a proud ignoramus. And even in the short run, this must and will tell.
To hammer home his point, Hitchens compares McCain to Admiral James Stockdale, Ross Perot’s running mate in 1992. Oh yes, he went there.
5.21. Prefer the standard to the offbeat Young writers Inexperienced programmers will be draw at every turn toward eccentricities in language. They will hear the beat of new vocabularies abstractions, the exciting rhythms of special segments of their society industry, each speaking a language of its own. All of us come under the spell of these unsettling drums; the problem for beginners is to listen to them, learn the words, feel the vibrations, and not be carried away.
Whenever I rode the subway with my two older boys, I tried to hold on to their hands at all times. In the process, I developed a special move. I think anyone who saw it must have been impressed.
I would hold the boys’ hands as we briskly made our way out of the station, then, just as we reached the turnstiles, I would let go. We would pass through the turnstiles simultaneously, and so smoothly that the boys’ hands would still be up in the air when we got to the other side, where I would grab their little fingers again in one fluid motion. (Requires practice.)
The Muji Chronotebook combines the flexibility of a plain paper notebook with the utility of a daily planner.
For each function or feature you add, you lose a purpose. A blank sheet that could’ve been used in a million different ways can now only be used for a few. Artists aren’t going to buy a calendar if they’re looking for something to sketch on. Writers aren’t going to pick up to-do lists to use as a journal. This isn’t a bad thing per se — by narrowing down on a purpose, a blank sheet of paper can become more useful and relevant to certain people.
Each page of the Chronotebook has a analog clock in the middle, around which you can freely form appointments (just draw a line to the time for the meeting), sketch, make lists, or anything else the mostly blank page beckons you to do. Fantastic idea.
This slim booklet has been sitting on my bookshelf for ages, and I finally decided to give it a shot yesterday. Here is New York is amazing book, perhaps the most succinct and apt description of New York City ever put on paper. In the hands of E.B. White, NYC is at once a city of inches and multitudes, of loneliness and excitement, of riches and squalor, of permanence and transience. The particulars of the city have changed, as White himself admits, but the first half of the book could well have been written yesterday instead of 1949. With apologies to Mr. White and his publishers, an extended excerpt:
New York blends the gift of privacy with the excitement of participation; and better than most dense communities it succeeds in insulating the individual (if he wants it, and almost everybody wants or needs it) against all enormous and violent and wonderful events that are taking place every minute. Since I have been sitting in this miasmic air shaft, a good many rather splashy events have occurred in town. A man shot and killed his wife in a fit of jealousy. It caused no stir outside his block and got only small mention in the papers. I did not attend. Since my arrival, the greatest air show ever staged in all the world took place in town. I didn’t attend and neither did most of the eight million other inhabitants, although they say there was quite a crowd. I didn’t even hear any planes except a couple of westbound commercial airliners that habitually use this airshaft to fly over. The biggest ocean-going ships on the North Atlantic arrived and departed. I didn’t notice them and neither did most other New Yorkers. I am told this is the greatest seaport in the world, with six hundred and fifty miles of water front, and ships calling here from many exotic lands, but the only boat I’ve happened to notice since my arrival was a small sloop tacking out of the East River night before last on the ebb tide when I was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. I heard the Queen Mary blow one midnight, though, and the sound carried the whole history of departure and longing and loss. The Lions have been in convention. I’ve not seen one Lion. A friend of mine saw one and told me about him. (He was lame, and was wearing a bolero.) At the ballgrounds and horse parks the greatest sporting spectacles have been enacted. I saw no ballplayer, no race horse. The governor came to town. I heard the siren scream, but that was all there was to that — an eighteen-inch margin again. A man was killed by a falling cornice. I was not a party to the tragedy, and again the inches counted heavily.
I mention these merely to show that New York is peculiarly constructed to absorb almost anything that comes along (whether a thousand-foot liner out of the East or a twenty-thousand-man convention out of the West) without inflicting the event on its inhabitants; so that ever event is, in a sense, optional, and the inhabitant is in the happy position of being able to choose his spectacle and so conserve his soul. In most metropolises, small and large, the choice is often not with the individual at all. He is thrown to the Lions. The Lions are overwhelming; the event is unavoidable. A cornice falls, and it hits ever citizen on the head, every last man in town. I sometimes think the only event that hits every New Yorker on the head is the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, which is fairly penetrating — the Irish are a hard race to tune out, and they have the police force right in the family.
And a smaller bit from near the end of the piece:
The subtlest change in New York is something people don’t speak much about but that is in everyone’s mind. The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sounds of the jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest edition.
White was referring to the nuclear threat from the Soviet Union but he could easily have been talking about 9/11, or even the current financial crisis threatening to take down one of the city’s most prominent institutions.
This radio program made the rounds last week, but I finally got caught up this weekend so I’ll add my voice to the chorus urging you to listen to This American Life’s episode on the financial crisis, Another Frightening Show About the Economy. Paired with The Giant Pool of Money from back in May, this is an excellent overview of what’s going on in the financial markets right now. The hosts of the two shows are also doing a daily blog/podcast thing at Planet Money In addition, the last half of this week’s TAL concerns the political angle of the financial mess. I haven’t had a chance to listen yet, but check it out if you’re into that sort of thing.
The tomato water doesn’t really transform into spheres so much as blobs with little tails of clear gelatin. And here my son begins to get really nervous; realizing that he will have to eat not only something tomato-flavored but something that in shape and overall texture most closely resembles a tadpole.
This particular annoyance is the graphs of share prices in the press and on TV. It is standard practice to start the y-axis at a number much higher than zero, in order to magnify the ups and downs of the market.
With a number of notable exceptions, most of the work I see coming from the Flash community is largely devoid of ideas. There is great obsession with slickness, surface, speed, technology, and language, but very little soul at the core, very little being said. I believe that in the long run, ideas are the only things that survive.
I’m rather depressed these days. It’s been years since anything I’ve done has turned out successfully — with a few rare exceptions — and I’m falling into the thing which afflicted you a couple of years ago — a failure of the will, shall we say. My ambitions seem far beyond my talents, and light-years beyond the vicissitudes of my character, and I think of this enormous novel I’m now starting, which could well take ten years, and if done properly, it must be unpublishable except in green-backed French “dirty” editions, and I’ll be middle-aged when it’s done, and somehow I just don’t believe in myself the way I used to, and indeed, worst of all, it doesn’t even seem terribly important. I’m beginning to have the tolerance of the defeated — people I would have despised a few years ago now seem bearable — after all, I say to myself, I haven’t done very well with all the luck I had, and perhaps I do wrong to judge them.
I particularly like the letters written to William F. Buckley, Jr., a man whom Mailer called a friend but with whom he disagreed vehemently on political issues. Don’t see much of that today, publicly at least.
Yesterday he came down and remarked that it was the anniversary of the wreck of the Maine. He explained that he knew it because the ship had been blown up on his birthday and that he was 15 yesterday.
At once the girls began to tease him. They told him that on such an occasion he desereved a kiss, and every one of them vowed that as soon as office hours were over she would kiss him once for every year that he had lived. He laughingly declared that not a girl should get near him, and was teased about it all day.
As 4:30 o’clock came, and the boy’s work was over, the girls made a rush for him. They tried to hem him in, and he tried to break their line. Suddenly he reeled and fell, crying as he did so.
A blade used for scraping ink was in Millitt’s breast pocket and caused the mortal wound. (thx, amid)
“I dedicate myself to consuming all sorts of ideas,” says Shopsin, an avid reader and Internet crawler. “Eventually something inside me, probably skewed by my erotic feelings about breasts and things like that, assembles a product and just shoots it up.” For example, a recent item on the food blog Serious Eats about foods on a stick led to the State Fair combo plate: corn-dog sausage, s’mores pancakes and chicken-fried eggs. New dishes are printed on the menu the same day: “I spent almost $3,000 on toner in the last three months,” Shopsin says.
“Berlin Alexanderplatz,” “The Singing Detective” and “The Sopranos” are something more than mini-series. Packed with characters and events of Dickensian dimension and color, their time and place observed with satiric exactitude, each has the kind of cohesive dramatic arc that defines a work complete unto itself. No matter what they are labeled or what they become, they are not open-ended series, or even mini-series.
They are megamovies.
That is, they are films on a scale imagined by the big-thinking, obsessive, fatally unrealistic Erich von Stroheim when, in 1924, he shot “Greed,” virtually a page-by-page adaptation of Frank Norris’s Zola-esque novel, “McTeague.” Stroheim intended it to be an exemplar of cinematic realism.
Megamovies take television seriously as a medium. They have dramatic arcs that last longer than single episodes or seasons. Megamovies often explore themes and ideas relevant to contemporary society — there’s more going on than just the plot — without resorting to very special episodes. Repeat viewing and close scrutiny is rewarded with a deeper understanding of the material and its themes. They’re shot cinematically and utilize good actors. Plot details sprawl out over multiple episodes, with viewers sometimes having to wait weeks to fit what might have seemed a throwaway line into the larger narrative puzzle.
Episodes of these megamovies, Canby argued presciently, are best watched in bunches, so that the parts more easily make the whole in the viewer’s mind. For many, bingeing on entire seasons on DVD or downloaded via iTunes has become the preferred way to watch these shows. If stamina and non-televisual responsibilities weren’t an issue, it would be preferable to watch these shows in one sitting, as one does with a movie.
Since The Sopranos kick-started things in 1999, the megamovie has become a far more common occurrence on TV. Virginia Heffernan recently stated that the creators of nearly all hour-long dramatic series are aiming to make megamovies. I’ve collected a few examples of megamovies accompanied by their total running times below. The list is incomplete but represents several of the best-known and -appreciated megamovies out there.
The Sopranos, 81 hours 46 minutes
Lost*, 61 hours 59 minutes
Mad Men*, 18 hours 6 minutes
Six Feet Under 57 hours 45 minutes
Deadwood*, 36 hours
The Wire, 60 hours 45 minutes
The West Wing, 111 hours 56 minutes
For The West Wing, that’s 4 days and 16 hours of continous watching. An asterisk marks megamovies that are as-yet incomplete. In the case of Deadwood, it’s as if the film projector broke about halfway through the movie, only no one got their money back and eveyone left the theater pissed.
The Triple-A game is exhaustive by nature; but the world is inexhaustible; therefore the Triple-A game, that Faustian striver, can never attain its desire. The independent video game by contrast is inherently selective. By excluding almost everything, it can give perfect shape to what remains. And the independent video game can even lay claim to a kind of completeness that eludes the Triple-A game — after the initial act of radical exclusion, it can include all of the little that’s left.
Conventional wisdom and prevailing opinion among hardcore Boston Red Sox fans is that LA Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez finally sulked his way out of a Boston Red Sox uniform by basically phoning it in and causing trouble for his team for a couple of months earlier in the season, which phoning and trouble resulted in a trade of Ramirez to LA for very little in return. Two rebuttals have surfaced recently that seem more plausible to me. The first is Facts About Manny Ramirez by Joe Sheehan. Sheehan uses some of those pesky facts to illustrate that on the field, Manny played as well or better during the supposed phoning-it-in period than he has in the past.
When he played, Ramirez killed the league. He hit .347/.473/.587 in July. His OBP led the team, and his SLG led all Red Sox with at least 25 AB. The Sox, somewhat famously, went 11-13 in July. Lots of people want you to believe that was because Manny Ramirez is a bad guy. I’ll throw out the wildly implausible idea that the Sox went 11-13 because Ortiz played in six games and because veterans Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek has sub-600 OPSs for the month.
Four days before he was traded, Manny Ramirez just about single-handedly saved the Red Sox from getting swept by the Yankees, with doubles in the first and third innings that helped the Sox get out to a 5-0 lead in a game they had to win to stay ahead of the Yankees in the wild-card race.
In Manny Being Manipulated, Bill Simmons attempts to answer the question, Ok, so why did Manny suddenly want to be traded and, more importantly, why did the Red Sox actually oblige? Simmons’ answer: Scott Boras, Ramirez’s agent and “one of the worst human beings in America who hasn’t actually committed a crime”. According to Simmons, it all boiled down to mismatched incentives and following the money.
Manny’s contract was set to expire after the 2008 season, with Boston holding $20 million options for 2009 and 2010. Boras couldn’t earn a commission on the option years because those fees belonged to Manny’s previous agents. He could only get paid when he negotiated Manny’s next contract. And Scott Boras always gets paid.
Boras could only get paid for representing Ramirez if Manny signed a new contract. Which he will next year because as part of the trade, the Dodgers agreed to waive his 2009 option and allow him to become a free agent. And the Red Sox went along because they decided they’d rather have a good relationship with Scott Boras going forward instead of a weird relationship with Ramirez. As for Manny, he gets paid either way, rarely appreciated the weird pressure/adulation put on him and every other Red Sox player by Boston fans, and, I get the feeling, likes swinging a bat, no matter what team he plays for.
City officials have patiently assisted Tongan residents acclimate to a new culture, Faiva-Siale said. Compromises have been reached to accommodate large family gatherings at funeral rituals that last for days. And the city has promoted alternatives to the slaughtering of pigs at home for open-pit cooking. A mobile health unit helps to provide free flu shots and medical checkups.
A man dressed as a road maintenance worker robbed an armored car in Washington State. As part of his getaway plan, he hired some people via Seattle craigslist to also dress up as road maintenance workers and mill around where the armored car was located.
“I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour,” one of the unwitting decoys, named Mike, said to the NBC station. As it turns out, they were simply placed there to confuse cops who were looking for a guy wearing a virtually identical outfit.
The thief then escaped down a river on an inner tube. (thx, greg)
The Metropolitan Life Tower is located on the east side of Madison Square Park at 1 Madison Avenue. It has quietly become one of my favorite buildings in the city; I find myself peering up at it whenever I’m in the area. (I took a photo of the building while in line at the Shake Shack last spring…it’s a lovely color in the late afternoon light.) Inspired by a photo posted recently to Shorpy that shows the tower under construction — and before the addition of the building’s iconic clock — I did some research and discovered three things.
Two. The NY Times ran a story in December 1907 about the eventual completion of the structure and how it would take over as the world’s tallest building, surpassing another then-unfinished building, the Singer Tower. In the era before widely available air travel, the building’s vantage point was remarkable.
The view from the top was of a new New York. No other skyscrapers obstructed the vista in either direction. Passing the green roof of the Flatiron Building, the gaze literally spanned the Jersey City Heights and rested on Newark and towns on the Orange Mountains, fifteen miles away.
To the southward the skyscrapers bulked like a range of hills in steel and mortar, the Singer tower rising in the midst, a solitary watch tower on a peak. This hid the harbor, but to the left beyond the bridges, reduced at this height to gray cobwebs, the eye caught the sunlight on the sea — a long strip of shimmering silver beyond Coney Island and the Rockaways.
Kevin: Imagine that I let you borrow $50, but in exchange for my generosity, you promise to pay me back the $50 with an extra $10 in interest. To make sure you pay me back, I take your Charizard Pokémon card as collateral.
Olivia: Kevin, I don’t play Pokémon anymore.
Kevin: I’m getting to that. Let’s say that the Charizard is worth $50, so in case you decide to not return my money, at least I’ll have something that’s worth what I loaned out.
Kevin: But one day, people realize that Pokémon is stupid and everyone decides that the cards are overvalued. That’s right — everybody turned twelve on the same day! Now your Charizard is only worth, say, $25.
The only thing that’s missing is the part of the explanation where the parents swoop in and pay Kevin full value for that Pokémon card, which allows him to keep lending money in exchange for cardboard rectangles.
The stage manager didn’t help. “Sting never shares a microphone,” he muttered to Ketola as she waited in the wings before the concert. “So don’t [expletive] up.” But in true fairy-tale tradition, a white knight swept in with a bottle of water and a few reassuring words. “He says that to me every night, too,” Sting confided.
Then there is the Gill Sans (c. 1930) problem. Gill is used quite a lot in the series, mainly for Sterling Cooper Advertising’s logo and signage. Technically, this is not anachronistic. And the way the type is used — metal dimensional letters, generously spaced — looks right. The problem is that Gill was a British typeface not widely available or popular in the U.S. until the 1970s. It’s a decade ahead of its time in American type fashions.
“Once I worked on an old man with a really bad moustache, like the kind a teenager would grow. It was really crooked and misshapen, so I shaved it off. At the funeral his family kept coming up saying, ‘Oh, where’s his moustache?’ Apparently, it was supposed to look that way.”
The closer to its living self a body looked, the happier a family would be. And keeping families happy, I’d learn as the night went on, was the main objective of Carla’s work, and a task she took very seriously.
Apparently watching every episode of Six Feet Under does not prepare you to be a funeral director.
The novel is insatiable — it wants to devour the world. What’s left for the poor short story to do? It can cultivate its garden, practice meditation, water the geraniums in the window box. It can take a course in creative nonfiction. It can do whatever it likes, so long as it doesn’t forget its place — so long as it keeps quiet and stays out of the way. “Hoo ha!” cries the novel. “Here ah come!” The short story is always ducking for cover. The novel buys up the land, cuts down the trees, puts up the condos. The short story scampers across a lawn, squeezes under a fence.
My work explores the persistent mark of individuality in a culture that brands, packages, and relentlessly promotes conformity. Even among those who attempt to fit into society, there is an amazing wealth of information each individual reveals in near-privacy, spaces such as junk-drawers and medicine cabinets. The near-private nature of these spaces force the viewer to contend with the natural desire of humans to collect, categorize, and by doing so, manage to give clues about their personality and identity.
Jay Walker made a lot of money and used some of it to finance a ridiculously huge and nerdy library in his house. Wired has a tour.
The massive “book” by the window is a specially commissioned, internally lit 2.5-ton Clyde Lynds sculpture. It’s meant to embody the spirit of the library: the mind on the right page, the universe on the left. Pointing out to that universe is a powerful Questar 7 telescope. On the rear of the table (from left) are a globe of the moon signed by nine of the 12 astronauts who walked on it, a rare 19th-century sky atlas with white stars against a black sky, and a fragment from the Sikhote-Alin meteorite that fell in Russia in 1947—it’s tiny but weighs 15 pounds. In the foreground is Andrea Cellarius’ hand-painted celestial atlas from 1660. “It has the first published maps where Earth was not the center of the solar system,” Walker says. “It divides the age of faith from the age of reason.”
JUNE 11, 2041: In a matter of weeks, the entire Internet is replaced by “news blow,” a granular microbe that allows information to be snorted, injected, or smoked. Data can now be synthesized into a water-soluble powder and absorbed directly into the cranial bloodstream, providing users with an instantaneous visual portrait of whatever information they are interested in consuming. (Sadly, this tends to be slow-motion images of minor celebrities going to the bathroom.) Now irrelevant, an ocean of Web pioneers lament the evolution. “What about the craft?” they ask no one in particular. “What about the inherent human pleasure of moving one’s mouse across a hyperlink, not knowing what a simple click might teach you? Whatever happened to ironic thirty-word capsule reviews about marginally popular TV shows? Have we lost this forever?” “You just don’t get new media,” respond the news-blowers. “You just don’t get it.”
It was tough to pick just one excerpt…the Digger True candidacy and animals getting smarter thing were particularly fun threads. (if it’s klosterman, it’s gotta be via fimoculous)
“It’s the coin of the realm,” says Mark Bailey, who paid Mr. Levine in fish. Mr. Bailey was serving a two-year tax-fraud sentence in connection with a chain of strip clubs he owned. Mr. Levine was serving a nine-year term for drug dealing. Mr. Levine says he used his macks to get his beard trimmed, his clothes pressed and his shoes shined by other prisoners. “A haircut is two macks,” he says, as an expected tip for inmates who work in the prison barber shop.
Tilt-shift camera lenses have been around for awhile and have been typically used in architectural photography to straighten perspective lines. A few photographers have recently begun to make what look like photographs of scale models, using these lenses to control the angle and orientation of the depth of field. Vincent Laforet or Olivo Barbieri for example.
Standing outside, dipping his roll into peanut sauce, he said he liked to eat standing up. “If I couldn’t eat in a four-star restaurant again, it would mean nothing to me,” he said. “But if someone said I couldn’t eat any more cilantro, I would be very upset.”
Remember the fun we had reading about this root beer tasting a few months back? The #1 root beer from that tasting, Sprecher (from Wisconsin), is now available on the root beer section of the menu at Ssam Bar. My Moscato d’Asti-addled brain forgot to get a bottle to go when I was there last, but I’ll be back for you soon, Sprecher.
The image above is from a spread marked Full Colour Vertical_Private. The following ‘key identity formats’ are, of course, Full Color_Vertical, Full Colour Seated_Casual and Full Colour Seated _Formal.
I used to scoff at paying a premium for jeans that come with holes in them already. Then I saw just how much work goes into distressing jeans, and I realized that these people are artists. You can’t just have any loose threads, you have to have the right loose threads. They can’t just be faded. They have to be the right color. A lot of work goes into making these jeans look just right.
You usually have a hunch, but the great thing about photography is that it’s so unpredictable, so you never quite understand how and when a good photograph comes about. But when editing, I do contact sheets, then machine prints and then select from that.
And when asked what makes one image stand out more than another, is it emotional or an intellectual reaction he answers: “It must be intuitive. If it were intellectual, I’d be able to explain what happens. That’s why I’m a photographer. I express myself visually, not verbally.
Two main themes emerge: 1) take some time off from your images in order to evaluate them more fairly, and 2) edit with an outside party, someone you trust to be tough but fair. (via conscientious)
Here’s Roth’s idea, which he calls “TSA Communication” and tells me has already made it through three trial airport runs: Take a metal plate, stencil and cut out a message — words or an image — place the plate at the bottom of your carry-on bag, and watch what happens as the TSA employee operating the airport X-ray machine notices … or doesn’t notice.
So far, he’s used plates with outlines of the American flag, a “NOTHING TO SEE HERE” message, and something he calls The Exact Opposite Of A Box Cutter, a plate with a box cutter shape cut out of it.
A mesmerizing video that shows computer generated geometric shapes that have evolved to walk in all sorts of crazy ways. The shapes are generated using the Darwin@Home software. Some of them resemble young children just learning to walk or crawl. The final “beast” is particularly elegant.
DARPA is soliciting research proposals for people wishing to solve one of twenty-three mathematical challenges, many of which deal with attempting to find a mathematical basis underlying biology.
What are the Fundamental Laws of Biology?: This question will remain front and center for the next 100 years. DARPA places this challenge last as finding these laws will undoubtedly require the mathematics developed in answering several of the questions listed above.
The first virtue is curiosity. A burning itch to know is higher than a solemn vow to pursue truth. To feel the burning itch of curiosity requires both that you be ignorant, and that you desire to relinquish your ignorance. If in your heart you believe you already know, or if in your heart you do not wish to know, then your questioning will be purposeless and your skills without direction. Curiosity seeks to annihilate itself; there is no curiosity that does not want an answer. The glory of glorious mystery is to be solved, after which it ceases to be mystery. Be wary of those who speak of being open-minded and modestly confess their ignorance. There is a time to confess your ignorance and a time to relinquish your ignorance.
“People will now go to films with subtitles, you know,” she added. “They’re not afraid of them. It’s one of the upsides of text-messaging and e-mail.” She smiled. “Maybe the only good thing to come of it.”
The abundance of scrolling tickers on CNN, ESPN, and CNBC may be even more of a contributing factor…if in fact people are more willing to see films with subtitles. (via ben and alice)
John Bargh, a psychologist at Yale who was not involved in the research, said the finding made “perfect sense.” In an e-mail message, he noted that a brain region called the insula tracks both body temperature and general psychological states, and it may be here where social perceptions and sensations of warmth or coldness are fused.
In his research for “Americatown,” Winters had explored possible nightmare scenarios that could bring the U.S. to a collapse decades down the road, like the price of oil skyrocketing and natural disasters reaching catastrophic proportions. Then suddenly oil hovered near $150 a barrel this summer, floods hit the Midwest and the South and Wall Street crashed under the weight of the mortgage crisis.
Aren’t we ready for that again? For some maturity? I have to tell you, I am sick and tired of hair down to there and crotch-high hemlines. It’s so obvious. For Fall I was really trying to bring back buttoned-up sexy — think Grace Kelly. So cool, so poised. She never reveals a thing and you can’t take your eyes off of her. I mean, watch “Rear Window.” That’s smart sexy; it’s interesting sexy. And it’s grown-up sexy. You want a tip on looking hot? Wear reading glasses and a fitted dress. Simple.
He’s right about Grace Kelly. I watched Rear Window recently and she’s something else in it.
Because comic books are read in a way that we invest a lot of ourselves in the telling, because they’re visual in nature, and because for generations they were among the only art forms available for a child to easily own, they can be powerful nostalgic items. It’s always great to have a few comics around that you either remember reading or simply recall wanting more than anything in the world. You may be surprised by how much of your comics reading since has been shaped by those feelings.
So the list will not include affronts that are merely aesthetic. To be included, buildings must either exhibit a total disregard for their surrounding context or destroy a beloved vista. Removing them would make room for the spirit to breathe again and open up new imaginative possibilities.
Penn Station, Madison Square Garden, and the Javits Center are deservedly included.
This fantastic contraption, called the ‘Routefinder’, showed 1920s drivers in the UK the roads they were travelling down, gave them the mileage covered and told them to stop when they came at journey’s end. The technology — a curious cross between the space age and the stone age — consisted of a little map scroll inside a watch, to be ‘scrolled’ (hence the word) as the driver moved along on the map. A multitude of scrolls could be fitted in the watch to suit the particular trip the driver fancied taking.