Entries for April 2010 (May 2010 »    June 2010 »    July 2010 »    Archives)

 

Player Drafted At Linebacker To Start At RealtorAPR 30

Big NFL draft news:

The Raiders organization welcomed sixth-round draft choice Travis Goethel Wednesday and said the Arizona State linebacker would more than likely be asked to start as a Bay-area Realtor by the beginning of next season.

iPad 3G first impressionsAPR 30

It's like an iPad, but with 3G networking.

Capturing Somali pirates: first-person shooter viewAPR 30

Watch as some Dutch marines board a container ship that had been hijacked by Somali pirates. The footage is from a camera mounted on one of the marines' helmets.

The prison book cartAPR 30

A librarian's view of working the book cart at Rikers Island.

Getting books back from the prisoners and letting them pick out new ones is a bit of controlled chaos. We stood outside the iron door to the house with our cart and had two prisoners come out at one time, check off their returned book, and pick out a new one. Each prisoner is allowed one book and one magazine. The most popular books are by far James Patterson's novels, so popular in fact that we have to lock them up after book service because they tend to disappear. I wonder if James Patterson has any idea. National Geographic is the magazine of choice, and there is an entire box of them to choose from, some as far back as the early 80's.

(via the browser)

Salami sorting robotAPR 30

It's no secret that I could watch food-sorting robots all day. This salami sorter is no exception:

The good stuff starts around 55 seconds.

All the single black ladiesAPR 30

Courtship and marriage opportunities for young black women in America have been affected by the number of incarcerated young black men.

Between the ages of 20 and 29, one black man in nine is behind bars. For black women of the same age, the figure is about one in 150. For obvious reasons, convicts are excluded from the dating pool. And many women also steer clear of ex-cons, which makes a big difference when one young black man in three can expect to be locked up at some point. Removing so many men from the marriage market has profound consequences. As incarceration rates exploded between 1970 and 2007, the proportion of US-born black women aged 30-44 who were married plunged from 62% to 33%.

Around the world in 80 secondsAPR 29

Using clever editing transitions, this video takes the viewer around the world in just 80 seconds.

Bottled hypocrisyAPR 29

Things that make it seem like you don't really care about the issue of water management & scarcity at your conference about the future: 1. provide the participants on the water scarcity panel with Fiji bottled water.

Fiji, need we remind you, is an island where water supplies are scarce and locals have struggled to find clean, reliable supplies of drinking water. Meanwhile, Fiji Water owns the rights to the island's largest underground aquifer, drawing water into its diesel-fueled factory and bottling it using heavy-weight plastic. All this makes having Fiji Water at a panel about "the most creative solutions being attempted to meet the water challenge in the United States and around the world" hard to swallow.

The best TV commercial everAPR 29

Or so says Errol Morris. It's certainly the most honest advertising I've ever seen.

A bouncer in Birmingham hit me in the face with a crescent wrench five times and my wife's boyfriend broke my jaw with a fence post. So if you don't buy a trailer from me, it ain't gonna hurt my feelings. So come on down to Cullman Liquidation and get yourself a home. Or don't. I don't care.

(via fimoculous)

Foursquare for moviesAPR 29

There are likely several "Foursquare for X" apps out there (and many more to come), but I thought Miso was pretty interesting. From Cinematical:

Instead of checking in to a location (though you can do that too, if you link your existing Foursquare account), you check in with what you're watching. Miso keeps track of your check-ins and rewards you with badges relating to specific genres (and sub-genres) of film and television. Link your Twitter or Facebook, and suddenly, you're posting what you're watching with friends and seeing what movies they're watching as well. Genius.

iPhone/iPad-only for now.

Steve Jobs: Thoughts on FlashAPR 29

A letter from Steve Jobs about why they don't allow Flash on iPhones, iPods, and iPads. (Notice he specifically uses the harsher "allow" instead of the much softer "support".)

Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript -- all open standards. Apple's mobile devices all ship with high performance, low power implementations of these open standards. HTML5, the new web standard that has been adopted by Apple, Google and many others, lets web developers create advanced graphics, typography, animations and transitions without relying on third party browser plug-ins (like Flash). HTML5 is completely open and controlled by a standards committee, of which Apple is a member.

Jobs sort of circles around the main issue which is, from my own perspective as heavy web user and web developer: though Flash may have been necessary in the past to provide functionality in the browser that wasn't possible using JS, HTML, and CSS, that is no longer the case. Those open web technologies have matured (or will in the near future) and can do most or even all of what is possible with Flash. For 95% of all cases, Flash is, or will soon be, obsolete because there is a better way to do it that's more accessible, more open, and more "web-like".

Dancers among usAPR 29

Dancers among us

Jordan Matter's Dancers Among Us series features dancers from the Paul Taylor and Martha Graham Dance Companies doing everyday out-and-about things in NYC while dancing. (via pdn)

Super Mario Bros remixedAPR 28

Oh, man. Now you can play the original Super Mario Bros game as Link from Zelda, Mega Man, Samus Aran, and others. Really really fun. The only thing that could make this better is if you could play as NHL94's Jeremy Roenick or Tecmo Bowl's Bo Jackson. (thx, will)

Hebrew logo translationsAPR 28

IANAHRSYMMV**, but here are some well-known English language logos redesigned and translated into Hebrew language logos. Nice student work from a class taught by Oded Ezer.

Hebrew logos

** I am a not a Hebrew reader so your mileage may vary.

A short history of debtAPR 28

David Graeber has been researching the history of money and debt for a book he's writing. This abbreviated version of his findings makes for really interesting reading.

However tawdry their origins, the creation of new media of exchange -- coinage appeared almost simultaneously in Greece, India, and China -- appears to have had profound intellectual effects. Some have even gone so far as to argue that Greek philosophy was itself made possible by conceptual innovations introduced by coinage. The most remarkable pattern, though, is the emergence, in almost the exact times and places where one also sees the early spread of coinage, of what were to become modern world religions: prophetic Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Taoism, and eventually, Islam. While the precise links are yet to be fully explored, in certain ways, these religions appear to have arisen in direct reaction to the logic of the market. To put the matter somewhat crudely: if one relegates a certain social space simply to the selfish acquisition of material things, it is almost inevitable that soon someone else will come to set aside another domain in which to preach that, from the perspective of ultimate values, material things are unimportant, and selfishness -- or even the self -- illusory.

Seizure-inducing opening credit sequenceAPR 28

You aren't going to believe the opening credit sequence for Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void (make sure you can hear the sound too):

Really well done but there's a 95% chance you'll hate this. Ok, more like 98%. Reminds me of the still-brilliant trailer for A Clockwork Orange...but what a difference the music makes. (thx, jim)

Cooking tip of the year: beer cooler sous videAPR 28

The big difficulty with sous vide cooking at home is keeping the cooking temperature constant. Traditionally that has meant expensive emersion circulators with built-in heaters, although the price is down to $450 for the Sous-Vide Supreme. If only you could find something that insulated the water so that it stayed at a uniform temperature while cooking...

Enter the $20 beer cooler:

Fill up your beer cooler with water just a couple degrees higher than the temperature you'd like to cook your food at (to account for temperature loss when you add cold food to it), seal your food in a plastic Ziplock bag, drop it in, and close your beer cooler until your food is cooked.

Oh, and it'll work on camping trips as well (as long as you take your thermometer along).

Circle and a birdAPR 28

Many many airlines use a bird in a circle for their logos. (via quips)

Finding awesome jobsAPR 27

Kevin Fanning has worked in HR for the past 9 years so he's dispensed a lot of job search advice to friends over the years. Now he's collected all that knowledge into a new book called Let's All Find Awesome Jobs.

Whenever someone I knew was engaged in a job search, I would do whatever I could to be helpful. Tell them about the mistakes I'd seen, tell them what common pitfalls to avoid. They said my feedback was helpful, so I started writing it down. I collected it into a PDF that circulated amongst my friends for a few years. I kept adding to it, and eventually it became this book.

Eight bucks via Paypal. See also Job Interview Questions I Hope They Don't Ask Tomorrow and A Great Job Opportunity.

Reinventing saltAPR 27

Frito-Lay wants to change the shape of the salt they put on their potato chips to increase the surface area exposed to taste buds and therefore decrease the amount of salt needed on each chip.

"Early on in our research, it became apparent that the majority of salt on a snack doesn't even have time to dissolve in your saliva because you swallow it so rapidly," explained Mehmood Khan, senior vice president and chief scientific officer and a former Mayo Clinic endocrinologist. A Wall Street Journal story later reported only about 20 percent of the salt on a chip dissolves on the tongue, and the remaining 80 percent is swallowed without contributing to taste.

I'm confused as to why "an understanding of crystal chemistry" is necessary. Why couldn't they just crush/grind the salt into a fine powder instead? Are the cubic crystals still too big even when crushed?

Making photos with a laptop screenAPR 27

This is a photographic print made by briefly exposing photosensitive paper to the light from a laptop screen and then developing the paper. No camera needed.

Laptopogram

The creator calls prints like these Laptopograms. Here's the code for the "shutter":

#!/bin/sh
vbetool dpms on ; sleep 2.0; sudo vbetool dpms off

Ideas for further exploration: make prints of screen-specific subjects (desktop, web sites, email inbox, etc.) and hi-res wallet-sized prints using the iPhone.

European airspace timelapse, before and after the volcanoAPR 27

Here's European airspace shutting down as the ashcloud from Eyjafjallajokull drifts over the continent:

The music is an inspired choice. And here's European airspace starting back up again:

(via infosthetics)

Marina Abramovic Made Me CryAPR 27

Marina Abramović Made Me Cry is the Tumblr blog of the moment.

Abramovic sits at a table in silence, and museum guests can sit across from her and stare. Some people couldn't handle the heat.

Re-reading Animal FarmAPR 27

In a re-read of Orwell's Animal Farm, Christopher Hitchens notices that there's no Lenin pig.

The social forces represented by different animals are easily recognisable -- Boxer the noble horse as the embodiment of the working class, Moses the raven as the Russian Orthodox church -- as are the identifiable individuals played by different pigs. The rivalry between Napoleon (Stalin) and Snowball (Trotsky) ends with Snowball's exile and the subsequent attempt to erase him from the memory of the farm. Stalin had the exiled Trotsky murdered in Mexico less than three years before Orwell began work on the book.

MSFT vs AAPLAPR 26

After posting the Apple stock purchase vs. Apple product purchase thing this afternoon, I thought, hey, Microsoft's stock went up a bunch after Windows 95 came out so I'll figure out how much the software's purchase price would be worth in Microsoft stock today. The answer was not very exciting as you can see from this graph courtesy of Google Finance:

MSFT vs AAPL

Since the Windows 95 launch, Microsoft's stock has only (only!) quadrupled in value while Apple's stock has increased by more than 24 times. 24 times! That kind of growth is remarkable for a company that had already been public for 15 years and, everyone assumed, had already been through their boom time. Of course, what goes up can easily come down...

I stuck Google in there for good measure. It doesn't show as much growth as you'd think because GOOG's IPO-day closing price made it a very large company from the start...the chart hides Google's pre-IPO growth in value. But still, look at how much Apple's stock price has grown in comparison to Google's since the latter's IPO. (For fun, add Yahoo into the mix and dial the graph back to 1996.)

Oyster Hotel ReviewsAPR 26

Oyster is a hotel review site. By far the best feature is that they take their own photos of the hotel rooms and facilities; the photos taken by the hotels make everything look bigger (wide-angle lenses) and brighter (professional lighting) than they usually are. (via svn)

Man At Very Top Of Food Chain Chooses BuglesAPR 26

Despite having no natural enemies and belonging to a species that completely dominates its ecosystem, local IT manager Reggie Atkinson opted to consume the processed corn snack Bugles Monday.

Another bullseye by The Onion.

Buying Apple stock instead of productsAPR 26

In 2001, a PowerBook G4 would have set you back $3500. Suppose instead that you had purchased $3500 in Apple stock instead of the computer...that stock would now be worth about $110,000. Even an original iPod's worth in AAPL ($399) would be worth almost $12,000 today.

Long-form journalismAPR 26

Longform.org is collecting some of the best long-form journalism available on the web. See also Instapaper's editor's picks and @longreads on Twitter. (thx, yehuda)

Stages of a photographerAPR 26

Stages of a photographer

Shouldn't the HDR Hole actually extend below the baseline? Larger version is here. See also Clayton Cubitt's three-step guide to photography:

01: be interesting. 02: find interesting people. 03: find interesting places. Nothing about cameras.

(via clusterflock)

Eating on the go in NYCAPR 26

From Serious Eats, an extensive guide to eating on the go in NYC.

Apollo 11 slow-motion launchAPR 26

The view is from one of the cameras close to the engines. The narration is great; you really get a sense of how many things had to be considered to make it to the Moon (like the launch pad paint that burned and charred in order to protect the underlying materials). (via df)

Updates on previous entries for Apr 23, 2010*APR 24

In defense of print orig. from Apr 23, 2010
Tom Hanks doesn't exist in Tom Hanks movies orig. from Apr 21, 2010

* Q: Wha? A: These previously published entries have been updated with new information in the last 24 hours. You can find past updates here.

The long tail of lifeAPR 23

There are a ridiculous number of microbes in the Earth's oceans.

During an 11 month study in 2007, scientists sequenced the genes of more than 180,000 specimens from the Western English Channel. Although this level of sampling "far from exhausted the total diversity present," they wrote, one in every 25 readings yielded a new genus of bacteria (7,000 genera in all).

That's genus, not species. Kevin Kelly translates:

This suggests there is a long tail of life in bacteria, with a few species super-abundant, but many many species with very thin populations. At the far end of the tail there may be a billion species with only a few individuals. [...] And like other kinds of long tails, the sum of all these small bits total up to exceed the sum of individuals in the most popular species. As the microbiologists involved in the Census of Marine Life like to say, this survey reveals life's "hidden majority."

Today only: $99 DNA testAPR 23

Today only, the usually $499 DNA test from 23andMe is only $99. Ship your spit off and in a few weeks, you'll receive information about your ancestry, health risks, and so on.

DNA testing for $100! Stick that in your flying car's tailpipe and smoke it!

Chris Ware's rejected Fortune coverAPR 23

Apparently Fortune magazine had never heard of Chris Ware or had not seen any of his stuff or was not aware of his worldview before getting him to do a cover for the magazine. So of course he turned in something like this (the whole thing, larger):

Chris Ware's rejected Fortune cover

and they rejected it. (via object of my obsession)

NYC's 34th Street makeoverAPR 23

The Bloomberg administration is considering splitting 34th Street into three parts: an westbound-only section from the Hudson to 6th Ave, an eastbound-only section from 5th Ave to the East River, and a pedestrian-only section from 5th to 6th Aves.

Buses would still operate in both directions, and through the pedestrian plaza as well, but in dedicated lanes separated from passenger cars by a concrete barrier. [...] A city study showed that only one in 10 people travel along 34th Street by car, including taxis; the rest walk or use mass transit. Faster buses would benefit "the majority of the people who are actually using the street".

Wow!

In defense of printAPR 23

At a recent talk, Dave Eggers again rose to the defense of newspapers and, more generally, to print on paper as a medium for communication.

"It's too exciting and distracting online," Eggers said. While print -- especially long-form print -- encourages hunkering down and cuddling up, online journalism fosters a kind of low-grade, perpetual ADD. Online, "there's always some button that wants you to click to cat porn," he said, as the audience laughed. "You try to read something, and it's flashing, it's telling you to go somewhere else."

(via bobulate)

Update: The audio and transcript of the full interview are available on the On The Media site. (thx, michael)

Moleskine recipe journalAPR 23

Moleskine recently introduced a notebook for recipes.

Fully embossed cover, 3 ribbon place markers and double expandable inner pocket. Informative pages: food calendars, food facts, measurements and conversions. 6 theme-based sections to fill in: appetizers, first courses, main dishes, side dishes, desserts, cocktails. 6 tabbed sections to personalize and 16 blank pages in which to unleash your passion's creativity.

Updates on previous entries for Apr 22, 2010*APR 23

The art of sitting orig. from Apr 22, 2010
Tom Hanks doesn't exist in Tom Hanks movies orig. from Apr 21, 2010

* Q: Wha? A: These previously published entries have been updated with new information in the last 24 hours. You can find past updates here.

Clever train doesn't stop at stationsAPR 22

No time is wasted. The bullet train is moving all the time. If there are 30 stations between Beijing and Guangzhou, just stopping and accelerating again at each station will waste both energy and time. A mere 5 min stop per station (elderly passengers cannot be hurried) will result in a total loss of 5 min x 30 stations or 2.5 hours of train journey time!

Factor in slowdown/speedup time and it's even longer. (thx, nick)

My favorite stuff for kidsAPR 22

Over at Playgrounder, I shared some of our family's favorite gear for kids.

An improvised toy: Old Fashioned Quaker Oats canister ($4). You know, the big can. Buy it, eat oatmeal for months, and then give it to your kid when you're done with it. It's a drum, a car garage, a cave, a shaker, a block carrier, a hat, an echo chamber, a steam roller, a doll's bed, and flower pot. Basically the perfect cheap, replaceable, recyclable, open-ended toy.

The fake problems in infomercialsAPR 22

We love these in our household. My wife was howling with laughter at the Shoe Dini commercial just last night...the "problem" was that if you bent over to put on your shoes, your shirt would get wrinkled. Oh, the humanity. (thx, mark)

The art of sittingAPR 22

Abramovic sitter

At the behest of MoMA, photographer Marco Anelli has been taking photographs of all the people participating in Marina Abramović's performance in the main atrium of the museum and posting them to Flickr. To review:

Abramović is seated in [the atrium] for the duration of the exhibition, performing her new work The Artist Is Present for seven hours, five days a week, and ten hours on Fridays. Visitors are invited to sit silently with the artist for a duration of their choosing.

The photographs are mesmerizing...face after face of intense concentration. A few of the participants even appear to be crying (this person and this one too) and several show up multiple times (the fellow pictured above sat across from Abramović at least half-a-dozen times). The photos are annotated with the duration of each seating. Most stay only a few minutes but this woman sat there for six and a half hours. This woman sat almost as long as was also dressed as the artist. (It would be neat to see graphs of the durations, both per day and as a distribution.)

Has anyone out there sat across from Abramović? Care to share your experience? (via year in pictures)

Update: On the night of the opening exhibition, the third person to sit across from Abramović was her ex-boyfriend and collaborator of many years, Ulay (pictured here on Flickr). James Wescott reports on the scene:

When she looked up again, sitting opposite her was none other than Ulay. A rapturous silence descended on the atrium. Abramović immediately dissolved into tears, and for the first few seconds had trouble meeting Ulay's calm gaze. She turned from superhero to little girl -- smiling meekly; painfully vulnerable. When they did finally lock eyes, tears streaked down Abramović's cheeks; after a few minutes, she violated the conditions of her own performance and reached across the table to take his hands. It was a moving reconciliation scene -- as Abramović, of course, was well aware.

Here's a description of one of the projects they did together in the 70s:

To create this "Death self," the two performers devised a piece in which they connected their mouths and took in each other's exhaled breaths until they had used up all of the available oxygen. Seventeen minutes after the beginning of the performance they both fell to the floor unconscious, their lungs having filled with carbon dioxide. This personal piece explored the idea of an individual's ability to absorb the life of another person, exchanging and destroying it.

Wescott also sat across from the artist:

I was immediately stunned. Not by the strength of her gaze, but the weakness of it. She offered a Mona Lisa half-smile and started to cry, but somehow this served to strengthen my gaze; I had to be the mountain.

Carolina Miranda sat down across from Abramović:

When I finally sat down before Abramovic, the bright lights blocked out the crowd, the hall's boisterous chatter seemed to recede into the background, and time became elastic. (I have no idea how long I was there.)

Amir Baradaran turned the exhibition into a venue for a performance of his own...he even made Abramović laugh. Joe Holmes got a photo of the photographer in action. (thx, yasna & patrick)

Update: The look-alike who sat with Abramović all day did an interview with BOMBLog.

At certain times I thought that we were really in sync. Other times I didn't. Other times I was totally hallucinating. She looked like a childhood friend I once had. Then she looked like a baby. [...] I thought time was flying by. Then time stopped. I lost track of everything. No hunger. No itching. No pain. I couldn't feel my hands.

Update: Author Colm Tóibín sat opposite Abramović recently (here he is on Flickr) and wrote about it for The New York Review of Books. (thx, andy)

Update: Singer Lou Reed sat. (thx, bob)

Update: Rufus Wainwright sat. And perhaps Sharon Stone? (via mefi)

Update: More first-hand accounts from the NY Times.

Update: And CNN's Christiane Amanpour. (thx, ian)

The Beauty of MapsAPR 22

The Beauty of Maps is a BBC series that "[looks] at maps in incredible detail to highlight their artistic attributions and reveal the stories that they tell". The site also links to another maps blog: Amazing Maps. (via junk_deluxe)

The last zipper man standingAPR 21

Eddie Feibusch opened his Manhattan zipper store on December 7, 1941 and is still plying his trade there, even after most of his competition has decamped for cheaper overseas locations.

How great are zippers? Don't even get Mr. Feibusch started. They are watertight for deep-sea divers, airtight for NASA. "Nothing replaces a zipper," he said. Buttons? He made a face. "A button is unpleasant," he said.

Feibusch will even sell you a 30-foot-long zipper for $100...to wrap your hot-air balloon up. (via girlhacker)

Tom Hanks doesn't exist in Tom Hanks moviesAPR 21

Do movie actors exist in the worlds of the movies they star in?

You ever think about how in, like, a Tom Hanks movie, everyone lives in a reality in which there's no such person as Tom Hanks? Because otherwise, people would be mistaking the main character for Tom Hanks all the time? So either Tom Hanks doesn't exist in the world the movie takes place in, or he does exist but he looks like someone else?

Charlie Kaufman probably has a half-written screenplay about this stuffed in a drawer somewhere. (via jimray)

Update: Dozens reminded me that the "lookie loo with a bundle of joy" scheme in Ocean's 12 involved the pregnant Tess Ocean character (played by Julia Roberts) looking like the movie star Julia Roberts. Several other people cited this scene in The Last Action Hero. And in Take Her, She's Mine, character played by Jimmy Stewart is repeatedly mistaken for the famous actor, Jimmy Stewart. (thx, all)

Update: TV Tropes has many many examples of this phenomenon, which they call the Celebrity Paradox. (thx, joe)

Insanely great at ultra-endurance racesAPR 21

This story is so crazy I don't even know where to start. For one thing, Jure Robic sleeps 90 minutes or less a day when competing in ultracycling events lasting a week or more...and goes crazy, like actually insane, during the races because of it. Because he's insane, his support crew makes all the decisions for him, an arrangement that allows Robic's body to keep going even though his mind would have told him to quit long ago.

His system is straightforward. During the race, Robic's brain is allowed control over choice of music (usually a mix of traditional Slovene marches and Lenny Kravitz), food selection and bathroom breaks. The second brain [AKA his support team] dictates everything else, including rest times, meal times, food amounts and even average speed. Unless Robic asks, he is not informed of the remaining mileage or even how many days are left in the race. "It is best if he has no idea," Stanovnik says. "He rides -- that is all."

During one race, Robic hallucinated that mujahedeen on horseback were pursuing him; his support team pretended to see them too and urged Robic to outrun them. Read the whole thing...this is an awesome and disturbing story. A recent episode of Radiolab on Limits has more info.

Built to failAPR 21

When I pointed to the last week's news that the SEC was suing Goldman Sachs for fraud, several people pointed me to an episode of This American Life that ran a couple of weeks ago.

A hedge fund named Magnetar comes up with an elaborate plan to make money. It sponsors the creation of complicated and ultimately toxic financial securities... while at the same time betting against the very securities it helped create. Planet Money's Alex Blumberg teams up with two investigative reporters from ProPublica, Jake Bernstein and Jesse Eisinger, to tell the story. Jake and Jesse pored through thousands of pages of documents and interviewed dozens of Wall Street Insiders. We bring you the result: a tale of intrigue and questionable behavior, which parallels quite closely the plot of a Mel Brooks musical.

The allegation against Magnetar is that they helped create extremely risky CDOs, bought the worst part (the lowest tranche) of those CDOs for a little money, and then bought a bunch of insurance against the CDOs for a lot of money. The CDOs were basically built to fail and when they did, Magnetar lost a little money on their purchase but made a bunch more from the insurance. Pro Publica has the whole story.

Interview with Pixar's Ed CatmullAPR 21

Scott Berkun transcribed some of the more interesting points of a video interview with Ed Catmull done during an Economist conference last month.

[At Pixar] there is very high tolerance for eccentricity, very creative, and to the point where some are strange... but there are a small number of people who are socially dysfunctional [and] very creative -- we get rid of them. If we don't have a healthy group then it isn't going to work. There is this illusion that this person is creative and has all this stuff, well the fact is there are literally thousands of ideas involved in putting something like this together. And the notion of ideas as this singular thing is a fundamental flaw. There are so many ideas that what you need is that group behaving creatively. And the person with the vision I think is unique, there are very few people who have that vision.. but if they are not drawing the best out of people then they will fail.

The video is embedded in Berkun's post as well. (via sippey)

Google Maps car chaseAPR 20

The idea is great but I wish they'd done a little more with it.

Support photographing the oldest living thingsAPR 20

Rachel Sussman, whose project to photograph the oldest living things on Earth I've mentioned on the site before, is trying to photograph a few more organisms before she bundles the photographs into a book.

- Searching the Antarctic Peninsula by boat for 5,000-year-old moss
- Backpacking in Tasmania and mainland Australia in search of several clonal shrubs in ranging from 10,000 to 43,000 years old
- Visiting a sacred site in Sri Lanka for a nearly 2,300-year-old Banyan Fig tree
- SCUBA diving in Spain to find the 100,000-year-old clonal sea grass

Sussman has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 to fund those trips. If you like the project, you should consider supporting her efforts. (I kicked in $50.)

New LCD Soundsystem video by Spike JonzeAPR 20

LCD Soundsystem is back with a new album and a new music video directed by Spike Jonze, who is also back. Directing music videos that is.

Fun! Not sure what Jonze was going for there though...maybe a visual representation of a typical YouTube comments thread?

Einstein's deskAPR 20

Here's a photograph of Albert Einstein's Princeton desk taken only a few hours after he died in 1955.

Einsteins Desk

It's from a slideshow of photos taken at the time of Einstein's death but never published before last week. (via clusterflock)

Stranded by volcano magazineAPR 20

Attention designers, writers, photographers, illustrators, art directors: are you stranded in Europe or elsewhere by the volcanic ashcloud? Join Andrew Losowsky in producing a magazine.

If you'd like to be a part of the core creative team who will put together this impromptu publication, let me know as well. The only criterion for any contributor is that, like me, you have to be stuck somewhere unintentionally. If all goes well, the results will be published, probably via MagCloud and/or the Newspaper Club, and any proceeds sent to a charity that helps mitigate the effects of climate change on human populations. After all, we have to repent somehow.

Publication name to consider: The Eyjafjallajokull End-Times.

NYC's start-up sceneAPR 20

Doree Shafrir wrote this week's New York magazine cover story on the NYC tech/media start-up scene. It's the first one I've read in awhile in which Tumblr's not the centerfold. Foursquare is the new hotness I guess.

Mad Men done after season sixAPR 19

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner says that Mad Men will end after six seasons. Which is good news and completely unsurprising.

For fans who were holding out hope that we might see the show drag on into the '70s or even '80s -- giving Don Draper a chance to try out key parties, double-knit polyester, muttonchops, and eventually cocaine and yuppie amorality in Reagan's America -- it's probably a little disappointing. But for everyone else, it's reassuring to know that Weiner is working with a specific endpoint in mind.

What do TV directors do?APR 19

Television drama is known as a writer's medium but directors wield increasing influence over the visual language of a show.

[Jack] Bender didn't direct the Lost pilot -- that was J.J. Abrams -- but he helmed the second episode, "Walkabout," and set some ground rules that have largely endured. Handheld cameras shouldn't be used unless they serve a real dramatic purpose. ("I said, 'OK, let's not become the handheld show,'" Bender says.) Blues and greens, the main colors on the island, should largely be kept out of the flashback scenes. During the filming of "Walkabout," Bender also made subtle changes to the script in order to heighten the drama. One scene, set on the beach amid the ruins of a crashed airplane, called for a knife to fly through the air and land in the trunk of a tree. Bender decided to send the knife into a seat cushion lodged in the sand, while a character sat in the adjacent seat.

Should we assassinate terrorist leaders?APR 19

Robert Wright ponders that question and offers a surprising answer: no, because it's not that effective at weakening their organizations.

You might as well try to end the personal computer business by killing executives at Apple and Dell. Capitalism being the stubborn thing it is, new executives would fill the void, so long as there was a demand for computers.

Of course, if you did enough killing, you might make the job of computer executive so unattractive that companies had to pay more and more for ever-less-capable executives. But that's one difference between the computer business and the terrorism business. Terrorists aren't in it for the money to begin with. They have less tangible incentives - and some of these may be strengthened by targeted killings.

Time traveler spotted in old photoAPR 19

This photo was taken around 1940 and has not been digitally tampered with. So what's the deal with the young man in the contemporary-looking sunglasses, t-shirt, and camera?

Time travel photo

Proof of time travel? Forgetomori investigates. (After reading that page and looking at the photo several times, I half wondered whether this was one of those perception tests..."now, did you notice 12 pink polar bears in the photo?" It doesn't appear to be.)

The iPad, the Kindle, and the future of booksAPR 19

Writing for the New Yorker, Ken Auletta surveys the ebook landscape: it's Apple, Amazon, Google, and the book publishers engaged in a poker game for the hearts, minds, and wallets of book buyers. Kindle editions of books are selling well:

There are now an estimated three million Kindles in use, and Amazon lists more than four hundred and fifty thousand e-books. If the same book is available in paper and paperless form, Amazon says, forty per cent of its customers order the electronic version. Russ Grandinetti, the Amazon vice-president, says the Kindle has boosted book sales over all. "On average," he says, Kindle users "buy 3.1 times as many books as they did twelve months ago."

Many compare ebook-selling to what iTunes was able to do with music albums. But Auletta notes:

The analogy of the music business goes only so far. What iTunes did was to replace the CD as the basic unit of commerce; rather than being forced to buy an entire album to get the song you really wanted, you could buy just the single track. But no one, with the possible exception of students, will want to buy a single chapter of most books.

I've touched on this before, but while people may not want to buy single chapters of books, they do want to read things that aren't book length. I think we'll see more literature in the novella/short-story/long magazine article range as publishers and authors attempt to fill that gap.

But mostly, I couldn't stop thinking of something that Clay Shirky recently said:

Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.

When an industry changes dramatically, the future belongs to the nimble.

Shifting into third driveAPR 19

Dan Pink argues that businesses should engage their employees' third drive, our "inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise their capacities, to explore and to learn".

Management is the ideal technology if you're seeking compliance -- getting people to do what you want them to do, the way you want them to do it. But in today's workforce, which demands much more in the way of creative and conceptual capabilities, we don't want compliance. We want engagement. And self-direction is a far better technology for engagement.

(via bobulate)

Beautifully BanalAPR 19

Posters of classified ads from local newspapers, gussied up by a group of designers chosen by the Type Directors Club.

Down and to the rightAPR 16

The beauty of this photo by The Sartorialist is not in the clothes or the model but in the way that everything in shot leans down and to the right: the sidewalk sloping away toward the curb, the higher cuff on her right leg, her left foot slightly in front of her right, hips slouched so that her belt is parallel to the sidewalk, the neckline on her shirt. And then that big wave of hair thrown over the other way, balancing everything else out.

Cartographies of TimeAPR 16

The NY Times' Paper Cuts blog calls Cartographies of Time "the most beautiful book of the year". I cannot disagree. In attempting to answer the question "how do you draw time?", the authors present page after page of beautiful and clever visual timelines.

Cartographies of Time is the first comprehensive history of graphic representations of time in Europe and the United States from 1450 to the present. Authors Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton have crafted a lively history featuring fanciful characters and unexpected twists and turns. From medieval manuscripts to websites, Cartographies of Time features a wide variety of timelines that in their own unique ways-curving, crossing, branching-defy conventional thinking about the form. A fifty-four-foot-long timeline from 1753 is mounted on a scroll and encased in a protective box. Another timeline uses the different parts of the human body to show the genealogies of Jesus Christ and the rulers of Saxony. Ladders created by missionaries in eighteenth-century Oregon illustrate Bible stories in a vertical format to convert Native Americans. Also included is the April 1912 Marconi North Atlantic Communication chart, which tracked ships, including the Titanic, at points in time rather than by their geographic location, alongside little-known works by famous figures, including a historical chronology by the mapmaker Gerardus Mercator and a chronological board game patented by Mark Twain. Presented in a lavishly illustrated edition, Cartographies of Time is a revelation to anyone interested in the role visual forms have played in our evolving conception of history.

The book is also available at Amazon.

US Gov't accuses Goldman Sachs of fraudAPR 16

The SEC has filed a lawsuit against Goldman Sachs for fraud. Specifically:

According to the complaint, Goldman created Abacus 2007-AC1 in February 2007, at the request of John A. Paulson, a prominent hedge fund manager who earned an estimated $3.7 billion in 2007 by correctly wagering that the housing bubble would burst.

Goldman let Mr. Paulson select mortgage bonds that he wanted to bet against -- the ones he believed were most likely to lose value -- and packaged those bonds into Abacus 2007-AC1, according to the S.E.C. complaint. Goldman then sold the Abacus deal to investors like foreign banks, pension funds, insurance companies and other hedge funds.

But the deck was stacked against the Abacus investors, the complaint contends, because the investment was filled with bonds chosen by Mr. Paulson as likely to default. Goldman told investors in Abacus marketing materials reviewed by The Times that the bonds would be chosen by an independent manager.

Goldman's stock price is currently off about 12%.

1993 Steve Jobs inverview about Paul RandAPR 16

Rand designed the NeXT logo for Jobs.

Old New York photographed in colorAPR 16

Culled primarily from the Charles W. Cushman collection, a selection of color photographs of NYC taken in the 40s, 50s, and 60s: Downtown 1941, Downtown 1960, Lower East Side, and Miscellaneous. Here's a shot of Canal St in 1942 (with cobblestones!):

Canal St 1942

Does anyone know which corner this is? (Here's another view.) I poked around on Google Maps for a bit trying to find it, but I fear that building is long gone...Canal St, particularly the western part, is much changed since the 1940s.

I am an American conservative shitheelAPR 16

This was written by an anonymous someone at Something Awful and was reproduced a few months ago on Reddit. Here's the whole wonderful thing:

This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US department of energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the national weather service of the national oceanographic and atmospheric administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the national aeronautics and space administration. I watched this while eating my breakfast of US department of agriculture inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the food and drug administration.

At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the national institute of standards and technology and the US naval observatory, I get into my national highway traffic safety administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the environmental protection agency, using legal tender issed by the federal reserve bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US postal service and drop the kids off at the public school.

After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the department of labor and the occupational safety and health administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to ny house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshal's inspection, and which has not been plundered of all it's valuables thanks to the local police department.

I then log on to the internet which was developed by the defense advanced research projects administration and post on freerepublic.com and fox news forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can't do anything right.

And to be fair and balanced (if you will), here's the American liberal shitheel version (in part):

This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock, powered by energy generated soley by Southern California Edison and manufactured by the Sony Corporation. I then took a shower in my house constructed by Centex Homes, sold to me by a Century 21 real estate agent, and mortgaged by Citibank. After that, I turned on my Panasonic television which I purchased with a Washington Mutual credit card to a local NBC Corporation affiliate to see what their team of hired meteorologists forecasted the weather to be using their weather radar system.

I think we can all agree that the word "shitheel" is hilarious. (via randomfoo)

How many words did Shakespeare know?APR 15

In his collected writings, Shakespeare used 31,534 different words. 14,376 words appeared only once and 846 were used more than 100 times. Using statistical techniques, it's possible to estimate how many words he knew but didn't use.

This means that in addition the 31,534 words that Shakespeare knew and used, there were approximately 35,000 words that he knew but didn't use. Thus, we can estimate that Shakespeare knew approximately 66,534 words.

According to one estimate, the average speaker of English knows between 10,000-20,000 words.

Fidel Castro playing baseballAPR 15

False: Fidel Castro was recruited to play professional baseball in the United States. True: after taking over Cuba in 1959, Castro played in a few exhibition games with his fellow revolutionaries.

Cubans know that Fidel Castro was no ballplayer, though he dressed himself in the uniform of a spurious, tongue-in-cheek team called Barbudos (Bearded Ones) after he came to power in 1959 and played a few exhibition games. There was no doubt then about his making any team in Cuba. Given a whole country to toy with, Fidel Castro realized the dream of most middle-aged Cuban men by pulling on a uniform and "playing" a few innings.

Here's Fidel pitching in one of those games:

Fidel Castro pitching

Here's more information about Fidel's baseball career. (via slate)

How to prevent chokingAPR 15

Take smaller bites!!

Ok, no. I'm talking about performance-based choking, or as Jonah Lehrer puts it, "performing below skill level due to performance related anxieties". Lehrer points to some interesting research which suggests that simplified thinking about your general technique can be enough to ward off performance anxiety.

When the expert golfers contemplated a holistic cue word, their performance was no longer affected by anxiety. Because the positive adjectives were vague and generic, they didn't cause the athletes to lose the flow of expert performance or overrule their automatic brain.

Nike shoe DJsAPR 15

Watch as a pair of Tokyo DJs play a bunch of musical shoes.

Please note:

The NIKE FREE RUN+ is absolutely a running shoe.
Shoes sold at retail will NOT make music when bent or twisted.

(via @ftrain)

Pomplamoose covers Lady Gaga's TelephoneAPR 15

Love it. Robin Sloan has previously discussed this type of "production as performance" video on Snarkmarket but Pomplamoose has started using the term "VideoSong":

This cover is a VideoSong, a new medium with 2 rules:
1. What you see is what you hear (no lip-syncing for instruments or voice).
2. If you hear it, at some point you see it (no hidden sounds).

As NPR explains, the band is actually making a living from their covers...they sold 100,000 songs last year. Here's their album of covers on iTunes.

Computer vs. MondrianAPR 15

In the mid-1960s, Bell Labs' A. Michael Noll programmed a computer to paint like Piet Mondrian. Can you tell who did this one before clicking through?

Computer Mondrian

(via @christianbok)

Agatha Christie's messy working methodAPR 14

A book about Agatha Christie's working notebooks reveals that the writer known for her intricate plots worked in a highly nonlinear fashion. Sometimes she didn't even know whodunnit until late in the writing process.

The contents of the notebooks are as multi-dimensional as their Escher-like structure. They include fully worked-out scenes, historical background, lists of character names, rough maps of imaginary places, stage settings, an idle rebus (the numeral three, a crossed-out eye, and a mouse), and plot ideas that will be recognizable to any Christie fan: "Poirot asks to go down to country-finds a house and various fantastic details," "Saves her life several times," "Inquire enquire-both in same letter." What's more, in between ominous scraps like "Stabbed through eye with hatpin" and "influenza depression virus-Stolen? Cabinet Minister?" are grocery lists: "Newspapers, toilet paper, salt, pepper ..." There was no clean line between Christie's work life and her family life. She created household ledgers, and scribbled notes to self. ("All away weekend-can we go Thursday Nan.") Even Christie's second husband, the archeologist Sir Max Mallowan, used her notebooks. He jotted down calculations. Christie's daughter Rosalind practiced penmanship, and the whole family kept track of their bridge scores alongside notes like, "Possibilities of poison ... cyanide in strawberry ... coniine-in capsule?"

I don't know why this approach seems so surprising. From all that I've read about how book authors work, writing a book is like sanding wood...you can't just start with the extra-fine sandpaper and expect a smooth surface.

A B SeaAPR 14

A B Sea

That's from a lovely poster that James Mattison made for his daughter.

The theme and title of the piece was 'Learn your A-B-Sea' and took the format of an alphabet chart illustrated with fish and sea creatures that could be found in the local stretch of water, the Arabian Gulf.

(via @h_fj)

Unknown Michelangelo found at the Met?APR 14

Everett Fahy, the former head of the European painting department at the Met, believes that one of the museum's paintings by Francesco Granacci is actually by Michelangelo.

I believe Michelangelo painted it in 1506, two years before he started on the Sistine ceiling. It was already in my brain in 1971, the year after it was bought. When the Metropolitan showed it in 1971, I wrote for an exhibition called 'Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries' that the second panel recalled the figures in the Sistine Chapel. As years went by, it firmed up. I had long believed it to be by Michelangelo, but exactly when I don't know. There wasn't a moment when I suddenly said, 'This is absolutely by Michelangelo.' It was a gradual recognition.

One the clues Fahy used to make his determination involves the rocks in the painting; they resemble the quarry at which Michelangelo spent several months in 1497. The painting can be viewed larger on the Met's website.

Tax form for freelancersAPR 14

Sam Potts has fashioned a Special Deductions for Freelancers tax form; it attaches to your 1040-SCRIMP. There is a Twitter Deduction section and a special David Foster Wallace Memorial Deduction for Fiction Writers Who Use Footnotes.

On the extinction of paper children's booksAPR 14

Yesterday Kevin Rose tweeted:

OMG, Alice for the iPad, paper kids books are dead.

Alice for the iPad is indeed really nice:

My nearly 3-year-old son loves using the iPad. At best, the iPad is a proof-of-concept gadget for adults -- they'll get it right by version three -- but it's perfect for kids right now. It's just the right size for little hands and laps and the interface is simple, intuitive, and easy to learn.

However, I'd like to assure the childless Rose that if paper books ever go extinct (they won't), paper children's books will be the last to go, particularly among the pre-K crowd. E-books are "broken" in several ways that are important to kids, not the least of which is that paper books are super useful as floors in really tall block buildings.

Pluto-related hate mail from childrenAPR 14

The Natural History Museum got a lot of hate mail from children when they demoted Pluto from planet to a resident of the Kuiper Belt, including this one from a fellow named Will:

Pluto hate mail

Updates on previous entries for Apr 13, 2010*APR 14

Dawkins and Hitchens: arrest the Pope orig. from Apr 13, 2010

* Q: Wha? A: These previously published entries have been updated with new information in the last 24 hours. You can find past updates here.

Christopher Walken goes homeAPR 13

Accompanied by a New Yorker writer, Christopher Walken visits Astoria, Queens, the neighborhood he grew up in.

"Hello, my name is Chris Walken," he said. "This is very nice of you. When I was little, I used to have my diaper changed on the kitchen table here." He stayed in the kitchen, a polite house guest. After a minute, he said, "Well, this was very interesting. God bless and good luck!" ("This sounds silly," he said later, "but the first thing that I can remember I was on my back, on that kitchen table, and the window facing the street was open. I remember this marvellous warm breeze coming in, so it was around June, and I was a couple of months old. And I turned my head and right next to me was a white plate with scrambled eggs on it. I can still see it.")

(via clusterflock)

David Lynch's favorite filmmakers in 60 secondsAPR 13

David Lynch likes a lot of different filmmakers. These are some of them:

(via @brainpicker)

Mystery photoAPR 13

This is a photo taken by a pinhole camera:

Can you guess what's in the photo before clicking through? Hint: it's not a Blade Runner-esque hi-rise looming over a residential neighborhood. (via ben fry)

Dawkins and Hitchens: arrest the PopeAPR 13

Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens want to arrest the Pope when he visits Britain in September.

Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church. The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.

Update: The Times article quoted above is a little misleading says Dawkins.

Needless to say, I did NOT say "I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI" or anything so personally grandiloquent. You have to remember that The Sunday Times is a Murdoch newspaper, and that all newspapers follow the odd custom of entrusting headlines to a sub-editor, not the author of the article itself. What I DID say to Marc Horne when he telephoned me out of the blue, and I repeat it here, is that I am whole-heartedly behind the initiative by Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to mount a legal challenge to the Pope's proposed visit to Britain.

Nonetheless, there is a legal challenge involving the Pope's visit underway, initiated in part by Dawkins and Hitchens. (thx, lots of people)

The robot who considers towelsAPR 13

Who knew that watching a towel-folding robot could be so funny and fascinating?

I found this on Mike Migurski's site and I cannot improve upon his description of the video:

There is so much here. The "previously-unseen towel" part of the title, the slightly-femmy movements of the robot, the way the 50X speed-up makes it look like a Svankmajer film, the diligent care with which it smooths out each towel when it's done, and the palpable shock when it returns to the towel table and there aren't any left to fold.

Twitter's Promoted TweetsAPR 13

Twitter announced their long-awaited advertising model last night: Promoted Tweets. Companies and people will be able to purchase tweets that will show up first in certain search results or right in people's tweet streams. Which, if you rewind the clock a few years, is exactly the sort of thing that used to get people all upset with search engine results...and is one of the (many) reasons that Google won the search wars: they kept their sponsored results and organic results separate. It will be interesting to see if the world has changed in that time.

Properties of successful web appsAPR 13

From VC Fred Wilson, The 10 Golden Principles of Successful Web Apps.

A transcript is here.

Early computer artAPR 12

This collection of early computer generated art (1952-1978) includes this quite Whovian swirl:

Whovian

(via do)

Business lessons from the Five GuysAPR 12

Great interview with Five Guys Burgers and Fries founder Jerry Murrell. Their entire focus is on the product.

The magic to our hamburgers is quality control. We toast our buns on a grill -- a bun toaster is faster, cheaper, and toasts more evenly, but it doesn't give you that caramelized taste. Our beef is 80 percent lean, never frozen, and our plants are so clean, you could eat off the floor. The burgers are made to order -- you can choose from 17 toppings. That's why we can't do drive-throughs -- it takes too long. We had a sign: "If you're in a hurry, there are a lot of really good hamburger places within a short distance from here." People thought I was nuts. But the customers appreciated it.

Good name too. My son frequently asks if we're "going to go visit the five guys" to get "hangleburgers and peanuts".

In Pursuit of SilenceAPR 12

In Pursuit of Silence is a book about silence. And noise.

Instead of being against noise, I think we need to begin making a case for silence. This means getting imaginative about expanding our understanding of silence in ways that develop associations between silence and a vibrant, fulfilling life. Anti-noise activists often compare noise pollution to air pollution. But unlike smoke, lots of noises are good, at least some of the time. Instead, we might frame noise as a dietary problem. Most of us absorb far too much sonic junk. We need to develop a more balanced sound diet in which silence, and sounds we associate with quiet states of mind, become part of our daily regimen.

The author, George Prochnik, keeps a silence blog as well.

Asteroids record brokenAPR 12

The current record for Asteroids is 41,336,440. It was set back in 1982, making it the longest-held record in video gaming.

[Fifteen-year-old Scott] Safran, who had been practicing nonstop at the game for the previous two years, agreed to play a marathon session of Atari's popular outer-space shooting game as part of a charity event in Pennsylvania. His mother drove him to the event and lent him a quarter, which he dropped into the machine Nov. 13.

Why has the record held so long? Because Safran's game took three continuous days to play with minimal breaks. Now, a new unofficial record has been set by John McAllister; he played 58 straight hours and beat Safran's record by just over 2,000 points. Oh and those minimal breaks I mentioned:

When he needed a bathroom break, he stepped away from the machine and shed a few lives until his return. It got a little scary towards the end, because he started to run alarmingly short on extra lives as a result of his final bathroom break. He recovered well shortly thereafter, but not without giving all of us onlookers quite the scare first.

For reference, the contest in Hands on a Hard Body lasted 77 hours.

On infographicsAPR 12

Phil Gyford's spot-on critique of the number and quality of infographics currently choking the web. As Phil notes, far too many infographics decorate and don't communicate.

Big Wheel backflip on a MegarampAPR 12

A. Travis Pastrana. He's that guy who can do a double backflip on a motorcycle.
B. Megaramp. The massive ramps used by skateboarders and BMXers to launch themselves dozens of feet into the air.
C. Big Wheel. Beloved children's toy.

Here's A backflipping a C on a B. Just watch:

Bonus: Big Wheel downhill racing by future Pastranas. (via that's how it happened)

Tweetie bought by TwitterAPR 12

Tweetie, my favorite Twitter iPhone app, has been purchased by Twitter; they'll be releasing Twitter-branded versions soon. As Gruber says:

Here's to hoping that Twitter doesn't fuck Tweetie up like Brizzly did to Birdfeed.

That is, Tweetie was developed as a what's-best-for-the-user app. I'm hoping not, but a Twitter-brand app may be designed primarily as a what's-best-for-Twitter-the-company app...which is not necessaily a good thing.

Competitive recreational joggingAPR 09

Even when jogging for fun, many male runners won't let themselves be passed.

When I asked a male friend what he feels like when he's passed, he said, "I don't get passed." Then he admitted that the reason he's gotten in such good shape recently is so he won't get passed. Another friend says that if he hears someone on his heels, he sprints. And if he passes someone, he also has to sprint, to keep from getting passed back.

Negative Twenty QuestionsAPR 09

Physicist John Wheeler devised a variant of the Twenty Questions game called Negative Twenty Questions in which, unbeknownst to the guesser, everyone privately picks their own object, resulting in a game where both the guesser and the object choosers are required to narrow their choice in object with each round.

When returning Joe (let's call him) asks the standard bigger-than-a-breadbox question, if the first person says no, then the other players, who may have selected objects that are bigger, now have to look around the room for something that fits the definition. And if "Is it Hollow?" is Joe's next question, then any of the players who chose new and unfortunately solid objects now have to search around for a new appropriate object. As Murch says, "a complex vortex of decision making is set up, a logical but unpredictable chain of ifs and thens." Yet somehow this steady improvisation finally leads -- though not always, there's the tension -- to a final answer everyone can agree with, despite the odds.

Wheeler thought the game resembled how quantum mechanics worked.

Poets ranked by beard weightAPR 09

How do Tennyson, Longfellow, and Thoreau stack up in terms of the thickness of their beards? Surprisingly, that question has been asked and answered.

That "exalted dignity, that certain solemnity of mien," lent by an imposing beard, "regardless of passing vogues and sartorial vagaries," says Underwood, is invariably attributable to the presence of an obscure principle known as the odylic force, a mysterious product of "the hidden laws of nature." The odylic, or od, force is conveyed through the human organism by means of "nervous fluid" which invests the beard of a noble poet with noetic emanations and ensheathes it in an ectoplasmic aura.

(via stamen)

The SiM&MpsonsAPR 09

Simpsons M&Ms

More here if you scroll lots.

Henri Cartier-Bresson at MoMAAPR 09

I got a look at the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit at MoMA the other day and loved it. Seeing his work, especially his earlier on-the-street stuff, makes me want to drop everything and go be a photographer. If you're into photography at all, this show is pretty much a must-see.

(BTW, I chuckled when I saw this photo on the wall...it was the subject of an epic Flickr prank a few years back.)

The Old Age AgeAPR 09

This is likely the pull-quote of the week (I've seen it on about 20 sites in the last 10 minutes):

Of all the people in human history who ever reached the age of 65, half are alive now.

But only by a little...there's lots more to chew on in the full article. Like how 65 became the retirement age:

The idea of a retirement age was invented by Otto von Bismarck in the 1880s, when as chancellor of Germany he needed a starting age for paying war pensions. He chose the age of 65 because that was typically when ex-soldiers died.

Would a lava lamp work on Jupiter?APR 09

In order to see if a lava lamp would still function on Jupiter, Neil Fraser built a large centrifuge to try it out. This is the best homemade centrifuge video you'll see today:

He used the accelerometer on an Android phone to measure the G force.

The centrifuge is a genuinely terrifying device. The lights dim when it is switched on. A strong wind is produced as the centrifuge induces a cyclone in the room. The smell of boiling insulation emanates from the overloaded 25 amp cables. If not perfectly adjusted and lubricated, it will shred the teeth off solid brass gears in under a second. Runs were conducted from the relative safety of the next room while peeking through a crack in the door.

Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale TheatreAPR 08

Every episode of Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre can be found on Hulu. I had no idea this show existed until the other day, but it sounds like it was quite a program:

Faerie Tale Theatre brings to life twenty-six of the most magical fairy tales of all time. Directed by such masters of cinema as Tim Burton, Francis Ford Coppola and more, and star-powered by Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Mick Jaggar, James Earl Jones, Howie Mandel, Christopher Reeve, Susan Sarandon and more, this collection is an unparalleled treasury of the best-loved tales of enchantment, adventure and wonder.

Here's the Tim Burton-directed Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp and Rip Van Winkle directed by Francis Ford Coppola. (via andrea inspired)

Salinger's "lost" last bookAPR 08

Book publisher Roger Lathbury had a deal in place to publish what would have been J.D. Salinger's last book. But then, he talked.

Around this time, I unwittingly made the first move that would unravel the whole deal. I applied for Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication data.

The entire text of the book is available in this back issue of the New Yorker (full text for subscribers only).

Quitting the internetAPR 08

James Sturm, fearing he's addicted to the internet, is going offline for four months. He's blogging about it (via fax and phone) for Slate.

Even when I am away from the computer I am aware that I AM AWAY FROM MY COMPUTER and am scheming about how to GET BACK ON THE COMPUTER. I've tried various strategies to limit my time online: leaving my laptop at my studio when I go home, leaving it at home when I go to my studio, a Saturday moratorium on usage. But nothing has worked for long. More and more hours of my life evaporate in front of YouTube. Supposedly addiction isn't a moral failing, but it feels as if it is.

Usain Bolt profileAPR 08

This month's Esquire has a profile of Usain Bolt, a man ahead of his time.

It's worth keeping in mind that there is a significant difference between the final seconds of Usain Bolt's gold-medal run in Beijing in 2008 and the final seconds of his victory this afternoon in Call of Duty. In the video game, right up until the moment Sadiki took out the final terrorist, Bolt was on edge, nervous, uncertain. It taxed him. He almost lost.

Beating the video game was a challenge for him. Executing the most dominant and effortless performance in the history of the Olympic Games was not.

Ethan Siegel, a theoretical astrophysicist at Lewis & Clark College, recently charted a graph to demonstrate that, judging by the incremental progression of the 100-meter world record over the past hundred years, Bolt appears to be operating at a level approximately thirty years beyond that of the expected capabilities of modern man. Mathematically, Bolt belonged not in the 2008 Olympics but the 2040 Olympics. Michael Johnson, the hero of the 1996 Olympic summer games, has made the same point in a different way: A runner capable of beating Bolt, he says, "hasn't been born yet."

That 100-meter final at the Beijing Olympics still gives me goosebumps when I think about it. But all this business about no one being able to touch Bolt's pace for another 30 years, that's just bunk. The mark is out there. People are going to go for it. My prediction: Bolt will continue to break his own mark but someone else will approach or equal Bolt's current record in fewer than five years, if not three.

The Four Great Inventions of ancient ChinaAPR 08

They are as follows:

the compass
gunpowder
papermaking
printing

There are also many other inventions, including fermented drink, forks, and the noodle.

Video games attack NYCAPR 08

Pixelized video game characters lay waste to NYC.

Give it a few seconds to get going...things get good right around Tetris time.

Updates on previous entries for Apr 7, 2010*APR 08

New Scrabble rule: proper nouns allowed orig. from Apr 07, 2010

* Q: Wha? A: These previously published entries have been updated with new information in the last 24 hours. You can find past updates here.

The making of Lady GagaAPR 07

A long article from last week's New York magazine about how Lady Gaga came to be. There are waaaay too many great quotes by Gaga in this article to pull out just one. What's the phrase?...if Lady Gaga weren't real, we'd have to invent her. Which I guess someone did.

2009 book sales figuresAPR 07

In fiction, Dan Brown was #1 but James Patterson appears *five times* in the top 25. On the nonfiction side, a certain former Alaskan governor (no, not Walter J. Hickel) tops the list. The full list is here. (via the millions)

The craziest apartment in ManhattanAPR 07

The Selby has some shots of Cindy Gallop's apartment, which has to be one of most personality-drenched living spaces I've seen since Martha Stewart's house. (Not that I've seen Martha Stewart's house. But I can imagine.) Here is, for example, Gallop's Gucci chainsaw:

Gucci chainsaw

There is also a video tour on Vimeo and a 2006 New York magazine article about how Gallop turned a former YMCA locker room into her "ultimate bachelorette pad".

She had a specific vision for her new home. "I was looking for something dramatic," she says. So she told her designer, Stefan Boublil of the Apartment, a creative agency in Soho, "When night falls, I want to feel like I'm in a bar in Shanghai."

Ebooks good for dyslexics?APR 07

Some anecdotal evidence suggests that reading on small screen devices like the iPhone might be easier for dyslexics.

So why I had found it easier to read from my iPhone? First, an ordinary page of text is split into about four pages. The spacing seems generous and because of this I don't get lost on the page. Second, the handset's brightness makes it easier to take in words. "Many dyslexics have problems with 'crowding', where they're distracted by the words surrounding the word they're trying to read," says John Stein, Professor of Neuroscience at Oxford University and chair of the Dyslexia Research Trust. "When reading text on a small phone, you're reducing the crowding effect."

New Scrabble rule: proper nouns allowedAPR 07

So one day Mattel said, let's piss a lot of people off. I know, we'll change the Scrabble rules to allow proper nouns. Kids love branding!

A spokeswoman for the company said the use of proper nouns would "add a new dimension" to Scrabble and "introduce an element of popular culture into the game". She said: "This is one of a number of twists and challenges included that we believe existing fans will enjoy and will also enable younger fans and families to get involved."

I also like this part:

Mattel said there would be no hard and fast rule over whether a proper noun was correct or not.

So you can just make shit up! Or maybe you don't have to...look at all these useful and real brand abbreviations: BMW, IEEE, XHTML, VW, SQL, QT, BBC, AAA, NAACP. No vowels, lots of vowels, more Q and X words...no more discards.

Update: Woo, that was fun but really there's nothing to get bent out of shape about.

Here's what's actually happening. Mattel, which owns the rights to Scrabble outside of North America, is introducing a game this summer called Scrabble Trickster. The game will include cards that allow players to spell words backward, use proper nouns, and steal letters from opponents, among other nontraditional moves. The game will not be available in North America, where rival toy company Hasbro owns Scrabble. Hasbro, I'm told, has no plans for a similar variation.

Alice in televisual WonderlandAPR 07

Hyperbole Machine reviews the various Alice in Wonderland films, cartoons, and TV shows.

Alice in Wonderland is one of the most adapted works in cinema, which is surprising, really, when you reflect on the fact that the book is pretty much unfilmable. There's no real narrative thread besides 'Alice is curious' and the story is little more than a series of tableaux where Carroll can flex his surrealist prose. In light of the recent Burton riff on this very popular story, I thought I'd do a little historical trek through the numerous filmed versions of this famous novel. (No I haven't seen the 1976 porn version so don't expect a review).

FWIW, here's a fairly SFW clip of that porno version.

Bill Simmons on sabermetricsAPR 06

Bill Simmons has finally accepted the gospel of sabermetrics as scripture and in a recent column, preaches the benefits of all these newfangled statistics to his followers. The list explaining his seven favorite statistics in down-to-earth language is really helpful to the stats newbie.

Measure BABIP to determine whether a pitcher or hitter had good luck or bad luck. In 2009, the major league BABIP average was .299. If a pitcher's BABIP dipped well below that number, he might have had good luck. If it rose well above that number, he likely had terrible luck. The reverse goes for hitters.

(via djacobs, who has an extremely high VORF)

DNA vs. adoptionAPR 06

Elizabeth Spiers explores her pre-adoption past, which these days includes DNA testing and pondering nature vs. nurture.

When I think about the differences [between me and my adoptive parents], I wonder if they're personality traits I cultivated on my own or if they belong to someone else who passed them onto me. Things like a preference for morning or evening hours can often be genetic, and this is part of what I hope the DNA test will tell me.

I know someone who adopted a baby and they have never told her that she's adopted and don't plan to (she's now in her 20s). When DNA testing becomes commonplace in another 5-15 years, I wonder how long that secret will last and what her reaction will be.

In praise of shynessAPR 06

James Parker's call to the shys: be bold and embrace your shyness.

And let's not confuse shyness with modesty or humility. Charles Darwin, who was very interested in shyness, correctly diagnosed it as a form of "self-attention" -- a preoccupation with self. How do I fit in here? What do they think of me? It's not always virtuous to sit on one's personality and refuse to share it.

I don't have it in front of me right now, but I read David Lipsky's Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself a few weeks ago (more on that in an upcoming post, I hope) and IIRC, during his sprawling conversation with David Foster Wallace, Wallace discussed the self-absorption of shyness: in unfamiliar or uncomfortable social situations, the introvert is always thinking of the me. (via fimoculous)

Voyager's playlistAPR 06

The playlist sent out into space with the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft include songs by Bach, Stravinsky, Chuck Berry, and Blind Willie Johnson.

Beating dad's high scoreAPR 06

Troy DeArmitt shares a fond childhood memory of competing with his father for the household's high score on Mega-Bug, a game for the TRS-80.

the next time i sat down at the computer, on a tablet of paper was written a number with an emphatic underline beneath it. it was in my father's handwriting and it took me a moment to realize it was a score, his high score, to the game. it was also higher than my highest score to date.

Mega-Bug is available to play online...Troy has the full instructions in his post. I played this game when I was a kid too...it was called Dung Beetles on the Apple II and was one of my favorites.

Chess with KubrickAPR 06

Jeremy Bernstein remembers playing chess with Stanley Kubrick...and witnessing the legendary Fischer/Spassky match.

All during the filming of 2001 we played chess whenever I was in London and every fifth game I did something unusual. Finally we reached the 25th game and it was agreed that this would decide the matter. Well into the game he made a move that I was sure was a loser. He even clutched his stomach to show how upset he was. But it was a trap and I was promptly clobbered. "You didn't know I could act too," he remarked.

Baseball play of the yearAPR 06

We're only a game or two into a long baseball season, but you might not see a better play all year than this one. Here's a YouTube embed, although I don't know how long it will last.

40 yard dash: average dude vs pro athleteAPR 05

Video from the NFL Combine showing just how fast prospective NFL players can run compared to normal people.

It is almost unbelievable how quickly Jacoby Ford (the top performer in the 40 this year) covers that distance.

Smooth jazz version of Enter SandmanAPR 05

Well done. Vocals by Metallica frontman James Hetfield.

SteambirdsAPR 05

A fun dogfighting game; here's the premise:

1835: Sir Albert Pembleton accidentially discovers low temperature fusion. His invention changes history. A nuclear hotbox is installed in an early aeroplane. Super heated steam, the technology of the age, drives all the systems.

(thx, nick)

NYC taxi flow infovizAPR 05

Nice timelapse map view of taxi traffic across Manhattan.

Taxi flow NYC

I've often wondered what an NYC version of Stamen's Cabspotting project would look like.

DribbbleAPR 05

Dribbble (that's 3 'b's...triple letters are the new omit the vowels) is a show and tell site for designers to display their works-in-progress. The color tags are a fine idea; ex: red. Launched, I believe, just today after a lengthy closed beta.

RIP Ed RobertsAPR 05

Ed Roberts, creator of the first commercial personal computer (the MITS Altair 8800) died last week; he was 68.

When the Altair was introduced in the mid-1970s, personal computers -- then called microcomputers -- were mainly intriguing electronic gadgets for hobbyists, the sort of people who tinkered with ham radio kits.

Dr. Roberts, it seems, was a classic hobbyist entrepreneur. He left his mark on computing, built a nice little business, sold it and moved on -- well before personal computers moved into the mainstream of business and society.

Tournament of Books finalsAPR 05

The judges have spoken in a close race between The Lacuna and Wolf Hall. My vote went to Wolf Hall:

All three of the Tournament books I read (including Let the Great World Spin and The Lacuna) were more or less historical fiction, but Wolf Hall was the one that most put the reader into the action; it read very much like nonfiction. For that and Hilary Mantel's graceful and beautiful and just flat-out great prose, Wolf Hall gets my vote for the Golden Rooster. (There is a Golden Rooster, right?)

Green Eggs and Ham in Jamaican patoisAPR 02

Me no like
green eggs and ham
Me no like dem
Sam-I-Am.

(via cyn-c)

Cloud bacteria brings May showersAPR 02

Recent evidence suggests that bacteria in clouds may have evolved the ability to make it rain as a way of dispersing themselves around the globe.

The theory-called bioprecipitation-was pioneered by David Sands, a plant pathologist at Montana State University, in the 1980s. But little information existed on how the rainmaking bacteria moved through the atmosphere until Christner and his colleagues began their work in 2005. Sands told National Geographic News that the critters may even employ creative means of transportation: For instance, they could "ride piggyback" on pollen or insects. "We thought [the bacteria] were just plant pathogens [germs], but we found them in mountain lakes, in waterfalls, in Antarctica-they get around," Sands said.

This American InfographicAPR 02

The goal of This American Infographic is to make a companion infographic for every episode of This American Life.

This American Infographic

Lorem iPadAPR 02

Lorem iPad dolor sit amet, consectetur Apple adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua Shenzhen. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud no multi-tasking ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip iPad ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor iPad in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse CEO Steve Jobs dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Windows 7 ha ha ha. Excepteur sint occaecat battery life non proident, iPad in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Morbi erat justo, magical in semper posuere Jony Ive, molestie eget ipsum. Praesent eget erat no camera. Apple a erat sit amet ante pretium just a big iPod touch bibendum a at magna. Suspendisse Flash, sem sed tempor gravida, dolor mi auctor HTML5, vel feugiat justo metus nec diam. Maecenas quis iPad volutpat augue.

Twitter predicts future box officeAPR 02

A study by researchers from HP's Social Computing Lab shows that Twitter does very well in predicting the box office revenue for movies.

[Researchers] found that using only the rate at which movies are mentioned could successfully predict future revenues. But when the sentiment of the tweet was factored in (how favorable it was toward the new movie), the prediction was even more exact.

But as someone noted in the comments:

Works fine until people realize it works, then they start gaming it, and it stops working.

A nice iPad magazineAPR 02

Based on their great Mag+ concept unveiled late last year, Bonnier and BERG have developed a really nice looking iPad version of Popular Science. No page-turning business...you swipe left/right to page through stories and then scroll to read through single stories.

What amazes me is that you don't feel like you're using a website, or even that you're using an e-reader on a new tablet device -- which, technically, is what it is. It feels like you're reading a magazine.

It's nice to see the original concept come to life so quickly and completely. Get it in the App Store.

Mercedes-Benz indoor tornadoAPR 02

The ventilation system at the Mercedes-Benz Museum can be repurposed to form a 100+ foot tall indoor tornado.

BLDGBLOG has more info and pics.

Douglas Adams on Parrots, The Universe, and EverythingAPR 01

Recorded the month he died, a talk by Douglas Adams on Parrots, The Universe, and Everything.

Unassuming long takes in moviesAPR 01

Jim Emerson collects eight of his favorite long takes that you might not have noticed before (no Touch of Evil, The Player, or Children of Men).

If you study all eight of these shots, you should learn enough to pass any film class.

How people use FirefoxAPR 01

From a study on how people use Firefox, a heat map that highlights the most- and least-popular menu items. Bookmarks got the most use by far, followed by copy and paste. Copy was used about twice as much as paste, which suggests that about 50% of the time, people are copying things to be pasted into another program. Oh and not a single person used "Redo". (via ben fry)

The neuroscience of CostcoAPR 01

Jonah Lehrer on what our brains are up to when we're shopping at Costco.

As I note in How We Decide, this data directly contradicts the rational models of microeconomics. Consumers aren't always driven by careful considerations of price and expected utility. We don't look at the electric grill or box of chocolates and perform an explicit cost-benefit analysis. Instead, we outsource much of this calculation to our emotional brain, and rely on relative amounts of pleasure versus pain to tell us what to purchase.

iPad first reviewsAPR 01

You know, by people who have actually used the thing for more than 5 minutes at a press event. Walt Mossberg from WSJ:

It's qualitatively different, a whole new type of computer that, through a simple interface, can run more-sophisticated, PC-like software than a phone does, and whose large screen allows much more functionality when compared with a phone's. But, because the iPad is a new type of computer, you have to feel it, to use it, to fully understand it and decide if it is for you, or whether, say, a netbook might do better.

David Pogue at the NY Times:

The simple act of making the multitouch screen bigger changes the whole experience. Maps become real maps, like the paper ones. You see your e-mail inbox and the open message simultaneously. Driving simulators fill more of your field of view, closer to a windshield than a keyhole.

Also from Pogue, an interesting tidbit on how you buy access for the iPad through AT&T:

But how's this for a rare deal from a cell company: there's no contract. By tapping a button in Settings, you can order up a month of unlimited cellular Internet service for $30. Or pay $15 for 250 megabytes of Internet data; when it runs out, you can either buy another 250 megs, or just upgrade to the unlimited plan for the month. Either way, you can cancel and rejoin as often as you want -- just March, July and November, for example -- without penalty. The other carriers are probably cursing AT&T's name for setting this precedent.

Andy Ihnatko for the Chicago Sun-Times:

The most compelling sign that Apple got this right is the fact that despite the novelty of the iPad, the excitement slips away after about ten seconds and you're completely focused on the task at hand ... whether it's reading a book, writing a report, or working on clearing your Inbox. Second most compelling: in situation after situation, I find that the iPad is the best computer in my household and office menagerie. It's not a replacement for my notebook, mind you. It feels more as if the iPad is filling a gap that's existed for quite some time.

Ed Baig from USA Today:

The first iPad is a winner. It stacks up as a formidable electronic-reader rival for Amazon's Kindle. It gives portable game machines from Nintendo and Sony a run for their money.

BoingBoing's Xeni Jardin:

Maybe the most exciting thing about iPad is the apps that aren't here yet. The book-film-game hybrid someone will bust out in a year, redefining the experience of each, and suggesting some new nouns and verbs in the process. Or an augmented reality lens from NASA that lets you hold the thing up to the sky and pinpoint where the ISS is, next to what constellation, read the names and see the faces of the crew members, check how those fuel cells are holding up.

I like it a lot. But it's the things I never knew it made possible -- to be revealed or not in the coming months -- that will determine whether I love it.

Stephen Fry for Time:

The iPad does perform tasks -- it runs apps and has the calendar, e-mail, Web browsing, office productivity, audio, video and gaming capabilities you would expect of any such device -- yet when I eventually got my hands on one, I discovered that one doesn't relate to it as a "tool"; the experience is closer to one's relationship with a person or an animal.

Schrute Farms on TripAdvisorAPR 01

One of the many places reviewed on TripAdvisor is a small Pennsylvania B&B called Schrute Farms...which you might recall is from The Office. From the NY Times:

Carla Harrington of Fredricksburg, Va., was surprised to find 82 percent of reviews recommended Schrute Farms. "I thought about what it would feel like not to know them as TV characters but to really go to this B & B," she said in an interview. Her one-star slam called Dwight "an overbearing survivalist who appears to have escaped from the local mental asylum."

(via mrod)

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