Entries for July 2010 (August 2010 »    September 2010 »    October 2010 »    Archives)

 

Fred Brooks interviewedJUL 30

Kevin Kelly has a short Wired interview with Fred Brooks, author of the essential Mythical Man-Month and the new The Design of Design.

Airport contrabandJUL 30

Taryn Simon spent five days photographing items confiscated from people flying into New York's JFK airport. This one is "mystery meat":

Airport contraband

These images are from a set of 1,075 photographs -- shot over five days last year for the book and exhibition, "Contraband" -- of items detained or seized from passengers or express mail entering the United States from abroad at the New York airport. The miscellany of prohibited objects -- from the everyday to the illegal to the just plain odd -- attests to a growing worldwide traffic in counterfeit goods and natural exotica and offers a snapshot of the United States as seen through its illicit material needs and desires.

Here's more about the project, which will be released in book form and also put on display in galleries in LA and NYC.

North Korean team punished for World Cup lossesJUL 30

For losing all of their World Cup games, including a 7-0 defeat at the hands of Portugal, the North Korean soccer team was subjected to six hours of public shaming.

The broadcast of live games had been banned to avoid national embarrassment, but after the spirited 2-1 defeat to Brazil, state television made the Portugal game its first live sports broadcast ever. Following ideological criticism, the players were then allegedly forced to blame the coach for their defeats.

What's annoying, beyond the obvious totalitarian issues, is that they played really well against Brazil, the top-ranked team in the world at the time.

Kindle Million ClubJUL 30

Steig Larsson is the first member of Amazon's Kindle Million Club, authors who have sold 1 million copies of Kindle books.

All three books in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy--"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest"--are now in the top 10 bestselling Kindle books of all time.

(likely via @tcarmody)

Inflationary languageJUL 30

Comedian and entertainer Victor Borge used to do a bit where he'd muse about the application of economic inflation to language.

See, we have hidden numbers in the words like "wonderful," "before," "create," "tenderly." All these numbers can be inflated and meet the economy, you know, by rising to the occcassion. I suggest we add one to each of these numbers to be prepared. For example "wonderful" would be "two-derful." Before would be Be-five. Create, cre-nine. Tenderly should be eleven-derly. A Leiutenant would be a Leiut-eleven-ant. A sentance like, "I ate a tenderloin with my fork" would be "I nine an elevenderloin with my five-k."

Here's the whole routine:

(via bobulate)

Leaning Tower of Pisa no longer leaningJUL 30

Well, it's not leaning any further than it already is. After the iconic building nearly toppled over in the mid-90s, engineers were able to tilt the building back to its 19th century lean and also halted future tilting.

Action was finally taken in 1992 (bracing the first storey with steel tendons, to relieve strain on its vulnerable masonry) and in 1993 (stacking 600 tons of lead ingots on the piazza to the tower's north, to counterweight the lean). Yet both measures, especially the lead ingots, riled the aesthete Italian public, deforming as they did the slender tower's bella figura.

In response, in 1995, the committee opted for 10 underground steel anchors, to invisibly yank the tower northwards. Little did they know, though, this would bring the tower closer to collapse than ever before, in an episode now known as Black September.

UrbanizedJUL 29

The next film in Gary Hustwit's design trilogy (after Helvetica and Objectified) is Urbanized, an investigation of urban design.

Who is allowed to shape our cities, and how do they do it? Unlike many other fields of design, cities aren't created by any one specialist or expert. There are many contributors to urban change, including ordinary citizens who can have a great impact improving the cities in which they live. By exploring a diverse range of urban design projects around the world, Urbanized will frame a global discussion on the future of cities.

The limits of knowledgeJUL 29

A great anecdote from Daniel Ellsberg about what he told first-time government employee Henry Kissinger about the power and limitations of the security clearances he was about to receive.

First, you'll be exhilarated by some of this new information, and by having it all -- so much! incredible! -- suddenly available to you. But second, almost as fast, you will feel like a fool for having studied, written, talked about these subjects, criticized and analyzed decisions made by presidents for years without having known of the existence of all this information, which presidents and others had and you didn't, and which must have influenced their decisions in ways you couldn't even guess. In particular, you'll feel foolish for having literally rubbed shoulders for over a decade with some officials and consultants who did have access to all this information you didn't know about and didn't know they had, and you'll be stunned that they kept that secret from you so well.

(thx, micah)

How to swear in English if you're KoreanJUL 29

You wouldn't think a Korean man teaching his class how to swear in English would be so funny.

I love his mannerisms when he says the swears in English; he channels Goodfellas-era Joe Pesci a little bit during his discussion of "fucking". (via mike industries)

Americans don't know how to dieJUL 29

Atul Gawande's articles on healthcare for the New Yorker are all top-shelf, but his most recent piece on modern medicine's difficulty in dealing with patients who are likely to die is a doozy and a must-read.

Almost all these patients had known, for some time, that they had a terminal condition. Yet they-along with their families and doctors-were unprepared for the final stage. "We are having more conversation now about what patients want for the end of their life, by far, than they have had in all their lives to this point," my friend said. "The problem is that's way too late." In 2008, the national Coping with Cancer project published a study showing that terminally ill cancer patients who were put on a mechanical ventilator, given electrical defibrillation or chest compressions, or admitted, near death, to intensive care had a substantially worse quality of life in their last week than those who received no such interventions. And, six months after their death, their caregivers were three times as likely to suffer major depression. Spending one's final days in an I.C.U. because of terminal illness is for most people a kind of failure. You lie on a ventilator, your every organ shutting down, your mind teetering on delirium and permanently beyond realizing that you will never leave this borrowed, fluorescent place. The end comes with no chance for you to have said goodbye or "It's O.K." or "I'm sorry" or "I love you."

Warning: it's good, but you'll probably be crying by the end of this article.

Update: Shoshana Berger on How to Die in 5 Easy Steps.

My father didn't die nearly so well. At 74, after a 50-year career as a professor of mechanical engineering, he lost his mind. At first he'd cover his mistakes with jokes-a forced punch line after slipping up on calculating the tip at dinner. Have you noticed how forgetful he's getting? His second wife whispered to me in the kitchen after a family meal. I hadn't. But it wasn't long before his colleagues politely suggested that it was time for him to retire. He'd been spotted in the elevator, the doors opening and closing repeatedly, as he stood there incapable of deciding which button to push. He could no longer locate his car in the lot. The faculty feared he was a danger to himself. Not long after, my father left his office; it's piles of professional journals and papers, and the poster hung on the back door, "I'M GOING TO BE AN ENGINEER LIKE MY MOM," expecting to be back.

Reading up on the future of booksJUL 29

Over on Twitter, Tim Carmody is burning it up with links and retweets, mainly about the Kindle, Amazon, Google, Apple, and the future of books and media. Lots of good stuff there.

Christopher Nolan's ImplementationJUL 29

What if Dom Cobb and his team from Inception were management consultants instead of dream extractors? This:

DiCaprio takes a helicopter to Wharton, where he meets his father. "Who's your best student in the visual representation of quantitative information?"

Ellen Page walks a few steps behind DiCaprio onto a roof. He turns to her. "You have three minutes to make a PowerPoint presentation that will take me three hours to click through."

Slow motion lightning strikeJUL 28

A lightning strike recorded at 9000 frames per second.

The action across time scales displayed in this video is amazing. One strike hovers in the frame almost the entire time while other hundreds of other strikes flicker in and out in single frames.

Turf dancing in the rainJUL 28

Turf dancing is similar to krumping and poppin' & lockin' in that they're all basically break dancing 2.0. This is a particularly fine exhibition of the form:

Every time I see someone glide around, from Michael Jackson's 1983 Motown Moonwalk on up to David Elsewhere, I think no one can get any better at skimming around on their feet like they're weightless. Then four kids dancing on a rainy street corner up the ante and once more shift what Stuart Kauffman calls the adjacent possible. (via snarkmarket)

Are you there God particle? It's me, Fermilab.JUL 28

By further isolating where the Higgs boson isn't, scientists are finally closing in on the discovery of the so-called God particle...or proving that it doesn't exist at all.

Its mass -- in the units preferred by physicists -- is not in the range between 158 billion and 175 billion electron volts, according to a talk by Ben Kilminster of Fermilab at the International Conference on High Energy Physics in Paris.

Parkour with laddersJUL 28

No idea if this is an actual thing outside of advertising New Zealand energy drinks; this article indicates that a few circus folk dreamt it up (hello, red flag). Welcome to 2010, when you can't sort the ads from everything else. (thx, wade)

Great Bill Murray interviewJUL 28

This has been linked around quite a bit in the last week, but it's worth a look if you haven't read it and like Bill Murray at all. According to the article, this is only the fourth or fifth time that Murray has been interviewed in the past ten years. On his involvement with Garfield: The Movie:

No! I didn't make that for the dough! Well, not completely. I thought it would be kind of fun, because doing a voice is challenging, and I'd never done that. Plus, I looked at the script, and it said, "So-and-so and Joel Coen." And I thought: Christ, well, I love those Coens! They're funny. So I sorta read a few pages of it and thought, Yeah, I'd like to do that.

[...] So I worked all day and kept going, "That's the line? Well, I can't say that." And you sit there and go, What can I say that will make this funny? And make it make sense? And I worked. I was exhausted, soaked with sweat, and the lines got worse and worse. And I said, "Okay, you better show me the whole rest of the movie, so we can see what we're dealing with." So I sat down and watched the whole thing, and I kept saying, "Who the hell cut this thing? Who did this? What the fuck was Coen thinking?" And then they explained it to me: It wasn't written by that Joel Coen.

And I love that he loved Kung Fu Hustle so much...I agree that it is underrated.

Updates on previous entries for Jul 27, 2010*JUL 28

Cancer-causing box springs? orig. from Jul 27, 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.

Comedy MVPsJUL 27

Bill Simmons recently compiled a list of the MVPs of comedy from 1975 to the present. Here's a portion of the list:

1989: Dana Carvey
1990: Billy Crystal
1991: Jerry Seinfeld
1992: Jerry Seinfeld, Mike Myers (tie)
1993: Mike Myers
1994: Jim Carrey
1995: Chris Farley
1996: Chris Rock

Unlikely Words has the full list and you can go to Simmons' site to read the list with annotations. Such as:

1982-84: Eddie Murphy
The best three-year run anyone has had. Like Bird's three straight MVPs. And by the way, "Beverly Hills Cop" is still the No. 1 comedy of all time if you use adjusted gross numbers.

Cancer-causing box springs?JUL 27

Rates of breast cancer and melanoma in humans are on the rise and appear to favor the left side of the body. A suspected cause is that the box springs in our beds act as antennas to focus the EM radiation from FM radio and broadcast television directly into the left sides of our bodies. No, really:

Electromagnetic waves resonate on a half-wavelength antenna to create a standing wave with a peak at the middle of the antenna and a node at each end, just as when a string stretched between two points is plucked at the center. In the U.S. bed frames and box springs are made of metal, and the length of a bed is exactly half the wavelength of FM and TV transmissions that have been broadcasting since the late 1940s.

(thx, anna)

Update: So, you know when you run across something about some current scientific theory or hypothesis on a blog or in a magazine or newspaper or even in a scientific journal, there's a fair chance that whatever the article says is misleading, misstated, or even incorrect. That's just how it is and if you didn't know, now you do. Take this stuff with a grain of salt. It's why I use phrases like "suspected cause" instead of something like "box springs and FM radio proven to cause cancer".

I don't post things like this because I think they're right, I post them because I think they are interesting. The geometry of TV signals and box springs causing cancer on the left sides of people's bodies in Western countries...that's a clever bit of hypothesizing, right or wrong.

In this case, an organization I know nothing about (Vetenskap och Folkbildning from Sweden) says that Olle Johansson, one of the researchers who came up with the box spring hypothesis, is a quack. In fact, he was "Misleader of the year" in 2004. What does this mean in terms of his work on box springs and cancer? I have no idea. All I know is that on one side you've got Olle Johansson, Scientific American, and the peer-reviewed journal (Pathophysiology) in which Johansson's hypothesis was published. And on the other side, there's Vetenskap och Folkbildning, a number of commenters on the SciAm post, and a bunch of people in my inbox. Who's right? Who knows. It's a fine opportunity to remain skeptical. (thx, tom)

Phone etiquette and the end of the individualJUL 27

Peggy Nelson argues that everyone being on their mobile phones all the time -- even while at a dinner for two -- isn't rude, it signals a shift from our society's emphasis on the individual to the networked "flow".

We've moved from the etiquette of the individual to the etiquette of the flow.

This is not mob rule, nor is it the fearsome hive mind, the sound of six billion vuvuzelas buzzing. This is not individuals giving up their autonomy or their rational agency. This is individuals choosing to be in touch with each other constantly, exchanging stories and striving for greater connection. The network does not replace the individual, but augments it. We have become individuals-plus-networks, and our ideas immediately have somewhere to go. As a result we're always having all of our conversations now, flexible geometries of nodes and strands, with links and laughing and gossip and facts flying back and forth. But the real message is movement.

But au contraire, mon frere.

My new standard of cool: when I'm hanging out with you, I never see your phone ever ever ever.

If we're hanging out and you pull out your iPhone to water your Farmville crops, we can no longer be friends. It's not me, it's you.

(via @tcarmody)

The best magazine articlesJUL 27

Kevin Kelly is compiling a list of really good magazine articles. Lots of good Instapaper chum there already.

What if the Earth stopped spinning?JUL 27

Using computer modeling, it's possible to take a crack at answering that question.

No spin USA

If the earth stood still, the oceans would gradually migrate toward the poles and cause land in the equatorial region to emerge. This would eventually result in a huge equatorial megacontinent and two large polar oceans.

Pre-paid plan options for smartphone travellersJUL 26

If you're going on an overseas trip and want to use your phone (with data) while you're there, check out this new wiki on what plans are available in several countries. I hope this develops into a solid resource...I never know where to look for this stuff before I go. (via dj)

Medieval multitaskingJUL 26

A look at medieval manuscripts reveals that they were hypertextual, written by multiple authors, and read/shared/discussed in groups. You know, less like the book circa 1990 and more like the current web.

The function of these images in illuminated manuscripts has no small bearing on the hypertext analogy. These "miniatures" (so named not because they were small-often they were not-but because they used red ink, or vermillion, the Latin word for which is minium) did not generally function as illustrations of something in the written text, but in reference to something beyond it. The patron of the volume might be shown receiving the completed book or supervising its writing. Or, a scene related to a saint might accompany a biblical text read on that saint's day in the liturgical calendar without otherwise having anything to do with the scripture passage. Of particular delight to us today, much of the marginalia in illuminated books expressed the opinions and feelings of the illuminator about all manner of things-his demanding wife, the debauched monks in his neighborhood, or his own bacchanalian exploits.

Games can make you wellJUL 26

When Jane McGonigal got a concussion last year, her recovery was taking longer than expected and she got discouraged. Then she decided to make her recovery process into a game called SuperBetter.

SuperBetter is a superhero-themed game that turns getting better in multi-player adventure. It's designed to help anyone recovering from an injury, or coping with a chronic condition, get better, sooner - with more fun, and with less pain and misery, along the way.

The game starts with five missions. You're encouraged to do at least one mission a day, so that you've successfully completed them all in less than a week. Of course, you can move through them even faster if you feel up to it.

McGonigal recently gave a short talk about SuperBetter:

and has plans to make a SuperBetter game guide so that anyone can play. (via mr)

The cutest thing on the internetJUL 26

While her daughter Mila sleeps, Adele Enersen imagines what she might be dreaming and makes it real:

Mila Daydream 01

Mila Daydream 02

So, so, so great. (via mathowie)

Gag me with a spoonJUL 26

Video of a Valley Girl contest that took place in Encino, CA in 1982.

The footage is from a show called Real People, which was a big hit with adolescent Jason (although I loved That's Incredible more). If you want to learn more about Valley Girls -- sure you do! -- Wikipedia has almost too much info. (via lowindustrial)

Mad Men previewJUL 25

Over at Unlikely Words, Aaron Cohen has a roundup of the many previews written about tonight's Mad Men season 4 premiere.

Typographic mustachesJUL 23

Typestaches

Many more are here; prints are available. (via submitted for your perusal)

Make your own In-N-Out Burger at homeJUL 23

Today in the excellent Food Lab series, Kenji Lopez-Alt reverse engineers the In-N-Out burger.

According to the In-N-Out nutrition guideline, replacing the Spread with ketchup results in a decrease of 80 calories per sandwich. I know that ketchup has about 15 calories per tablespoon, so If we estimate that an average sandwich has about 2 tablespoons of sauce on it (that's the amount that's inside a single packet), then we can calculate that the Spread has got about 55 calories per tablespoon (110 calories in two tablespoons of Spread minus 30 calories in 2 tablespoons of ketchup = 80 calories difference in the sandwich). With me so far?

It just so happens that relish has about the same caloric density as ketchup (15 calories per tablespoon), and that mayonnaise has a caloric density of 80 calories per tablespoon. Using all of this information and a bit of 7th grade algebra, I was able to quickly calculate that the composition of the Spread is roughly 62 percent mayo, and 38 percent ketchup/relish blend.

Here's the recipe to make your own at home. Pairs well with make-at-home McDonald's french fries. See also make-at-home Shake Shack burger.

Pancake flipping robotJUL 23

This video of a robotic arm learning how to flip pancakes is suprisingly funny.

(via eater)

I have RAS syndromeJUL 23

My use of the phrase "ATM machines" in a post the other day had my inbox buzzing. I've become more lax in my language use recently...I just don't have the energy to be pedantic about grammar and usage anymore. (Or perhaps I'm thinking more about writing and less about editing.) Anyway, there's a name for using terms like "ATM machine" and "PIN number": RAS syndrome:

RAS syndrome stands for redundant acronym syndrome syndrome and refers to the redundant use of one or more of the words that make up an acronym or initialism with the abbreviation itself, thus in effect repeating one or more words. Usage commentators consider such redundant acronyms poor style and an error to be avoided in writing, though they are common in speech. The term "RAS syndrome" is itself a redundant acronym, and thus is an example of self-referential humor.

My name is Jason Kottke and I have RAS syndrome. (via @tylercowen)

Apple as religious experienceJUL 23

At The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal has an interesting post about Apple as a religion and uses that lens to look at the so-called Antennagate** brouhaha. For example, Apple was built on four key myths:

1. a creation myth highlighting the counter-cultural origin and emergence of the Apple Mac as a transformative moment;
2. a hero myth presenting the Mac and its founder Jobs as saving its users from the corporate domination of the PC world;
3. a satanic myth that presents Bill Gates as the enemy of Mac loyalists;
4. and, finally, a resurrection myth of Jobs returning to save the failing company...

On Twitter, Tim Carmody adds that Apple's problems are increasingly theological in nature -- "Free will, problem of evil, Satanic rebellion" -- which is a really interesting way to look at the whole thing. (John Gruber the Baptist?)

** The Antennagate being, of course, the hotel where Apple Inc. is headquartered.

Writing tips for anyoneJUL 22

Author Janet Fitch wrote a list of 10 Writing Tips That Can Help Almost Anyone.

Long ago I got a rejection from the editor of the Santa Monica Review, Jim Krusoe. It said: "Good enough story, but what's unique about your sentences?" That was the best advice I ever got. Learn to look at your sentences, play with them, make sure there's music, lots of edges and corners to the sounds. Read your work aloud. Read poetry aloud and try to heighten in every way your sensitivity to the sound and rhythm and shape of sentences. The music of words.

Uses for a fake bus stopJUL 22

There's a fake bus stop in front of a German nursing home; its purpose is to "trap" Alzheimers patients who wander off from the home in search of home.

"Their short-term memory hardly works at all, but the long-term memory is still active. They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home." The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place.

(via bldgblog)

How Conan's Tonight Show endedJUL 22

Todd Levin wrote for Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show; here's Levin in GQ describing the job and those final few weeks of the "I'm with Coco" business.

So it wasn't until my third day of work that I finally decided to slip past Conan -- hunched over his desk, busily doodling on that day's script -- and join the other writers behind the couch. As I settled into my spot among three veteran writers and prayed for invisibility, Conan glanced over, sized us up, and mock sneered, "Look at you four, standing there. You're like a Mount Rushmore of incompetence." Then he chuckled and returned to his cartooning. It was a quality put-down, and I was honestly overjoyed to be included in it.

Brand New ConferenceJUL 22

Meant to post about this when it was announced: the Brand New Conference, Nov 5 in NYC.

The Brand New Conference is a one-day event organized by UnderConsideration, focusing on the practice of corporate and brand identity -- a direct extension of the popular blog, Brand New. The conference consists of eight sessions offering a broad range of points of view with speakers from around the world practicing in different environments, from global consultancies, to in-house groups, to small firms.

Speakers include boldface names Michael Bierut, Paula Scher, and Erik Spiekermann. Surprisingly, tickets are still available.

Three minute philosophyJUL 22

YouTube user CollegeBinary does a video series called Three Minute Philosophy. Each episode describes the views and beliefs of a noted philosopher: Galileo, Kant, Descartes, Locke, and more.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle interviewJUL 22

In this filmed interview, the Sherlock Holmes author discusses how and why he came up with the famous detective.

He refers to Watson as Holmes' "rather stupid friend". (via mr)

MRI videos of fruits and vegetablesJUL 21

Here's what it looks like when you put a variety of fruits and vegetables into an MRI machine.

MRI Corn

Someone took all of the corn slices and stitched them together in some 3-D modeling software to remake the whole cobs. See also Big Mac MRI and hot dog MRI. (via mr)

The bubbly of Louis XVIJUL 21

The world's oldest drinkable champagne has been discovered...it dates back to the time of Louis XVI and may have even been in his actual possession.

The corks kept their seal and the cold and dark of the deep Baltic preserved the champagne. Inside the bottle they found champagne, and not just champagne but drinkable champagne, complete with fizz. Ekstroem contacted champagne vintners Moet & Chandon, and they identified it with 98% certainty from the anchor marking on the cork as 18th century Veuve Clicquot.

According to records, Veuve Clicquot was first produced in 1772, but the first bottles were laid down for 10 years. "So it can't be before 1782, and it can't be after 1788-89, when the French Revolution disrupted production," Ekstroem said.

Tarp surfingJUL 21

Get yourself a skateboard, a big blue tarp, have someone lift the edge of the tarp over you as you skateboard by, and guess what that looks like:

(via mathowie)

It's harder to be kind than cleverJUL 21

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos delivered the commencement speech at Princeton this year. His remarks focus on the difference between the gifts you're given and the choices you make.

What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy -- they're given after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you're not careful, and if you do, it'll probably be to the detriment of your choices.

ATMs in AntarcticaJUL 21

There are two ATM machines in Antarctica. They are located at McMurdo Station and operated by Wells Fargo. Here's an interview with a Wells Fargo VP about the unique challenges of operating those machines.

You know, the other thing too that you may find interesting -- I don't know how much you know about folks that need to go down to Antarctica -- it's a huge process to do it. So when we're preparing for the vendor visit, it's like a ten-month process. The reason being is, they obviously go in the off-season when it's obviously warmer because no planes fly onto the ice in their winter months. And so anybody that goes to Antarctica has to be cleared with a physical, a dental, and a psychological evaluation, because if for some reason the plane can't get out, you're trapped down there until the next season.

(via jimray)

Tony Hawk does a 900JUL 21

At 42 years old, with the smile crinkles around his eyes to prove it, Tony Hawk can still do a 900 on a skateboard.

According to Wikipedia, Hawk is one of only four men in the world who have done this trick (he first did it in 1999). He announced on Twitter that he'd done the trick -- "P.S. I made a 9" -- and on his way out of town left one of his boards at the airport for a lucky fan to find. (thx, dens)

GlueyJUL 20

Gluey is a short game (~15 minutes) that's like a liquidy version of Bejeweled.

Original Apollo 11 CBS News broadcastJUL 20

I had so much fun with this last year, I'm doing it again: watch the original CBS News coverage of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and first Moon walk, reported live by Walter Cronkite exactly 41 years after it happened.

Apollo 11 on TV

Just leave this page open in your browser and at the appointed times (schedule is below), the broadcast will begin (no manual page refresh necessary).

Schedule:
Moon landing broacast start: 4:10:30 pm EDT on July 20
Moon landing shown: 4:17:40 pm EDT
Moon landing broadcast end: 4:20:15 pm EDT
...
Moon walk broadcast start: 10:51:27 pm EDT
First step on Moon: 10:56:15 pm EDT
Nixon speaks to the Eagle crew: approx 11:51:30 pm EDT
Moon walk broadcast end: 12:00:30 am EDT on July 21

If you've never seen this coverage, I urge you to watch at least the landing segment (~10 min.) and the first 10-20 minutes of the Moon walk. I hope that with the old time TV display and poor YouTube quality, you get a small sense of how someone 40 years ago might have experienced it.

Please note that schedule times are approximate, based on your computer's clock, and that the syncing of the videos might not be perfect. You need to have JS and Flash 8+ to view. This is just like real TV...if you miss the appointed time, there's no rewind or anything...the video is playing "live". I have not done extensive browser testing so it may not work perfectly in your browser. If you run into any problems, just reload the page. Thanks for tuning in.

Kindle sales top hardcoversJUL 20

Amazon announced yesterday that sales of Kindle books outnumbered sales of hardcover books over the last three months.

In that time, Amazon said, it sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books, including hardcovers for which there is no Kindle edition. The pace of change is quickening, too, Amazon said. In the last four weeks sales rose to 180 digital books for every 100 hardcover copies. Amazon has 630,000 Kindle books, a small fraction of the millions of books sold on the site.

Best sites for film criticismJUL 20

An annotated list of the best film criticism blogs. (via the house next door)

Bee visionJUL 20

This computer display covered by glass beads must be how bees see the web.

Bee Vision

(via today and tomorrow, which is celebrating five years of excellence this week)

Dieter Rams video interviewJUL 19

The legendary Braun designer talks about his craft.

A design should not dominate people.

And hey, I didn't know that a book had been published on Rams' work. I bet Jony Ive has at least three copies. (via monoscope)

Vanishing Himalayan glaciersJUL 19

The Asia Society has an exhibition of photos taken of Himalayan glaciers as early as 1899 paired with photos taken more recently from the same vantage points. The differences are stark. Be sure to check out the Comparative Photography section to get a sense of the scale involved. More photos at the NY Times Lens blog.

Total solar eclipse videoJUL 19

It's not so much a video of a total solar eclipse (the recent one, as seen from Argentina on July 11) as a video of people watching a total solar eclipse.

The sound is key...the reaction is very much The Rapture/End Times/high on ecstasy. If I had a bucket list, seeing a total solar eclipse would be on it. (via bobulate)

Moon opening title sequenceJUL 19

The Art of the Title Sequence blog highlights the opening titles for Moon. Love, love, love that song...the whole soundtrack (by Clint "Requiem for a Dream" Mansell) is good actually.

Scenes from the Real Doll factoryJUL 19

Some photos of the production line at the Real Doll factory.

Real Doll factory

NSFW, probably. There is also a short documentary on Vimeo about the manufacturing process:

kottke.org post about Lady Gaga mentionJUL 19

Posting this one mainly for the title: Gene Weingarten Column Mentions Lady Gaga, a perfectly succinct skewering of the HuffPo-lead SEO crapathon that is online headline writing these days. All that's missing is the 20 misspelled tags -- Gene Weingarten, Gene Wiengarten, Gene Weingarden, Jean Weingarten, Gene Wine Garden, etc. -- for true Master Douche-level SEO. (via the browser)

Not your father's style manualJUL 16

The Chicago Manual of Style addresses some recent questions about citation, grammar, and even fashion.

Q. Hi there! For a sign for bachelorette parties, would the phrase "Bachelorette Out of Control" be more appropriate than "Bachelorette's Out of Control"? The question is one of contraction, because I don't see how "Bachelorette's Out of Control" can be correct without "The" prefacing it. Thank you!

A. Out-of-control bachelorettes who require appropriate signage aren't very convincing, but the first version is better.

I think they punted a bit on the "how to cite a tshirt" question.

How to improve creativityJUL 16

A two part (one, two) series on using psychological techniques to improve your creativity.

Interviews with 22 Nobel Laureates in physiology, chemistry, medicine and physics as well as Pulitzer Prize winning writers and other artists has found a surprising similarity in their creative processes (Rothenberg, 1996).

Called 'Janusian thinking' after the many-faced Roman god Janus, it involves conceiving of multiple simultaneous opposites. Integrative ideas emerge from juxtapositions, which are usually not obvious in the final product, theory or artwork.

Physicist Niels Bohr may have used Janusian thinking to conceive the principle of complementarity in quantum theory (that light can be analysed as either a wave or a particle, but never simultaneously as both).

(via lone gunman)

2004 iPhone predictionJUL 16

Paul Graham's Hackers and Painters, published in 2004, contained the following footnote:

If the Mac was so great, why did it lose? Cost, again Microsoft concentrated on the software business and unleashed a swarm of cheap component suppliers on Apple hardware. It did not help either that suits took over during a critical period. (And it hasn't lost yet. If Apple were to grow the iPod into a cell phone with a web browser, Microsoft would be in big trouble.)

Then again, a few footnotes later Graham writes:

I would not even use Javascript, if I were you; Viaweb didn't. Most of the Javascript I see on the Web isn't necessary, and much of it breaks. And when you start to be able to browse actual web pages on your cell phone or PDA (or toaster), who knows if they'll even support it.

Maybe he meant Flash? (via oddhead)

How to hold an Apple press conferenceJUL 16

Apple is holding a press conference today, which will presumably address the antenna problems that few actual customers seem to be having on the still-selling-like-hotcakes iPhone 4. I have a number of sources at Apple and based on my conversations with them, here's my prediction on how today's event will play out:

Steve Jobs will come out on stage and will sit in front of a large olde tyme cash register. He will immediately begin taking questions from the assembled journalists and bloggers. As the first-question scrum begins, Jobs will start madly ringing up purchases on the very loud register while pointing to his ears, shaking his head, and shouting "gosh, I'm sorry I can't hear you guys over the sound of the register". This will continue for several minutes and then the press conference will be over.

Someone on Apple's board suggested a more conventional press event but Jobs quickly wrote an email back saying that they were not going to "hold it that way".

Kids getting high on digital drugsJUL 16

No, this is not a story from The Onion or about a new Facebook game called Pharmaville. The state of Oklahoma is concerned about kids listening to audio files "designed to induce drug-like effects" because that might be a gateway to actual drug use.

"Kids are going to flock to these sites just to see what it is about and it can lead them to other places," said OBNDD spokesperson Mark Woodward. The digital drugs use binaural or two-toned technology to alter your brainwaves and mental state. "Well it's just scary, definitely scary. Just one more thing to look out for," said parent Kelly Johnson.

I just got so wasted on this and then did a whole kilo of pure heroin; stuffed it right into my ears:

Look at that, I'm a drug dealer now! Now you'll all be pounding on my door in the middle of the night looking to score some tunes. (via clusterflock)

DNA and quantum entanglementJUL 16

Does quantum entanglement hold DNA together? Some physicists say it's possible.

Rieper and co ask what happens to these oscillations, or phonons as physicists call them, when the base pairs are stacked in a double helix.

Phonons are quantum objects, meaning they can exist in a superposition of states and become entangled, just like other quantum objects.

To start with, Rieper and co imagine the helix without any effect from outside heat. "Clearly the chain of coupled harmonic oscillators is entangled at zero temperature," they say. They then go on to show that the entanglement can also exist at room temperature.

That's possible because phonons have a wavelength which is similar in size to a DNA helix and this allows standing waves to form, a phenomenon known as phonon trapping. When this happens, the phonons cannot easily escape. A similar kind of phonon trapping is known to cause problems in silicon structures of the same size.

Periodic table of swearingJUL 15

I would be fucking remiss in my duties here if I didn't inform you of this bloody awesome periodic table of swearing, you bunch of stupid old wankers.

Periodic Table Swearing

There's goddamned prints available. (via clusterflock)

Building a Black Swan-robust societyJUL 15

New Statesman has an excerpt of the new-for-the-paperback postscript from Nassim Taleb's The Black Swan, which book was probably the most interesting one I've read in quite some time (if you can handle some of the ridiculous posturing).

An economist would find it inefficient to carry two lungs and two kidneys -- consider the costs involved in transporting these heavy items across the savannah. Such optimisation would, eventually, kill you, after the first accident, the first "outlier". Also, consider that if we gave Mother Nature to economists, it would dispense with individual kidneys -- since we do not need them all the time, it would be more "efficient" if we sold ours and used a central kidney on a time-share basis. You could also lend your eyes at night, since you do not need them to dream.

Read through to the end for Taleb's list of ten principles for a Black Swan-robust society.

Ferris Club (or maybe Fight Bueller?)JUL 15

Ferris Bueller. Fight Club. You see where this is headed, right?

Well done. (via matt)

Awkward stock photosJUL 15

A collection of really terrible stock photography.

Sitting is bad for you, even with exerciseJUL 15

Well, we kinda knew that. But a recently published study indicates that regularly sitting for long periods of time -- say, in front of a computer writing or programming or reading kottke.org -- increases your risk of heart disease even when you augment all that sitting with regular exercise. Yipes!

Men who spent more than 23 hours a week watching TV and sitting in their cars (as passengers or as drivers) had a 64 percent greater chance of dying from heart disease than those who sat for 11 hours a week or less. What was unexpected was that many of the men who sat long hours and developed heart problems also exercised. Quite a few of them said they did so regularly and led active lifestyles. The men worked out, then sat in cars and in front of televisions for hours, and their risk of heart disease soared, despite the exercise. Their workouts did not counteract the ill effects of sitting.

(via waxy)

Simple Mad Men postersJUL 14

I love these minimalist Mad Men posters by Christina Perry.

Simple Mad Men posters

Prints are available. (via footnotes of mad men)

Penn and Teller interviewJUL 14

As a casual Penn & Teller fan, I didn't know that the pair rarely socialize outside of work...and that they might not even like each other (although the respect is obviously there). That and more from this interesting interview.

"But then you come out here and it turns out, as insane as this is, that you have more artistic freedom in Las Vegas than you have in New York. Much more. And the reason is this..." He leans forward conspiratorially and says, in a stage whisper. "In Vegas, our investors don't give a f--- about us. The people who are our bosses see our show maybe once a year. One of them will bring their kids and come by. And they are pleasant and they love us and they sincerely enjoy the show. Then they leave and they don't think about us. And because nobody's paying attention we do exactly the show we want. As long as people come to see it nobody cares what we do. And it means that we have done wilder things and more new stuff here than we ever did in New York. The contract is 100 per cent between us and the audience. And that's crazy."

"The contract is 100 per cent between us and the audience"...I love that.

How to trick people into thinking you're good lookingJUL 14

Hair, makeup, and style tips from an ugly girl about "creating a human optical illusion".

(via clusterflock)

The jumper colonJUL 14

Over at The Millions, Conor Dillon notes the increase in use of colon in contemporary journalism, including a new kind of colon called the jumper colon, "the Usain Bolt of literature".

For grammarians, it's a dependent clause + colon + just about anything, incorporating any and all elements of the other four colons, yet differing crucially in that its pre-colon segment is always a dependent clause.

For everyone else: its usefulness lies in that it lifts you up and into a sentence you never thought you'd be reading by giving you a compact little nugget of information prior to the colon and leaving you on the hook for whatever comes thereafter, often rambling on until the reader has exhausted his/her theoretical lung capacity and can continue to read no longer.

Bottom line: the 140 character limit of Twitter and general move towards concision in online writing is credited for the rise of the jumper colon.

Jewel does undercover karaokeJUL 14

Funny or Die got Jewel to dress up in a disguise and go sing some of her own songs at a karaoke bar. Instant classic.

Tarkovsky films online for free viewingJUL 14

If Smashing Telly were still going, this would be perfect for it: every feature-length Andrei Tarkovsky film is available for viewing online for free.

Rupert Murdoch sees allJUL 13

A fantastically entertaining story about a NY Post employee, short pants, and Rupert Murdoch's hidden camera in the cafeteria.

Sal looks at me oddly and goes, "Mr. Murdoch would like to know why you're wearing short pants." So I look at Sal and am like, "Dude, what the hell are you talking about?" And he continues talking into the phone without taking his eye off me and is like, "Yes, I see, okay, I'll ask," and then looks at me and goes, again, "Mr. Murdoch is inquiring again as to why you are wearing short pants in the office." And I look at Sal and am like, "I do not follow. How does he know I'm wearing shorts?" And Sal covers the receiver and says, "He is in his office but he can see you. He has a camera down here."

(via @choire)

Google's anti-social softwareJUL 13

Bang on essay by Adam Rifkin about the differences in approach and culture between Google (Orkut, Wave, Buzz) and other recent social successes (Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook). Lots of good stuff here:

Google apps are for working and getting things done; social apps are for interacting and having fun.

Social apps offer a steady diet of junk food to keep us addicted; Google apps offer mostly bamboo.

Social apps are whimsical and fun; Google apps are whittled and functional.

(via sippey)

Dueling CarlsJUL 13

Talking Carl is an iPhone app that records snippets of audio and then plays it back at a higher pitch. If you put two Talking Carls next to each other, this is what you get:

Note to Mouser and Aaron: parrot feedback! (thx, matt)

1996 audio of David Foster WallaceJUL 13

The Takeaway has several audio clips from David Lipsky's 1996 road trip with David Foster Wallace which eventually ended up in book form.

Interview with a window cleanerJUL 13

NY Times readers recently had a bunch of their questions answered by a NYC window washer. (This is more interesting than it sounds.)

For safety reasons, music and cellphones are not allowed up in the scaffolding, but some of us listen to our own music in our heads.

Here's part two. (via @nicolatwilley)

Blogging the periodic tableJUL 13

Sam Kean is blogging the periodic table of elements over at Slate.

Starting today, I'll be posting on a different element each weekday (the blog will run through early August), starting with the racy history of an element we've known about for hundreds of years, antimony, and ending on an element we've only just discovered, the provisionally named ununseptium. I'll be covering many topics-explaining how the table works, relaying stories both funny and tragic, and analyzing current events through the lens of the table and its elements. Above all, I hope to convey the unexpected joys of the most diverse and colorful tool in all of science.

If you like that, Kean has written a whole book on the topic.

Your Mad Men homeworkJUL 13

It's two weeks until season four of Mad Men starts but in the meantime, you can pre-order Mad Men Unbuttoned, the book that sprang from the loins of the excellent and well-reviewed The Footnotes of Mad Men blog. I've only skimmed bits of it here and there, but it looks good so far.

Thermographic mappingJUL 12

I'm hoping this will be a new option on Google Maps alongside "satellite" soon: thermographic view. It's basically a heat map of all the buildings on a map...pop in your address and see how energy efficient your roof is. Belgium only. Unfortunately...unless you live in Belgium. (via infosthetics)

HTML5 version of The Game of LifeJUL 12

So, every time I post one of these HTML5 games or apps (like The Game of Life), I got tons of email from people who say that it could be done much easier or better in Flash. Which is probably true. But I post these experiments because I've been using HTML since 1994 and I love it. It's simple (or can be), open, can be edited with any old text editor, and increasingly capable. Oh sure, HTML can be maddening at times, but I'm fascinated and happy to see it maturing into something that has so much functionality.

Hacking The Price is RightJUL 12

Terry Kniess, a former weatherman with a knack for numbers and seeing patterns, went on The Price is Right and won more than $50,000 in prizes because of an exact bid on his Showcase. His secret? He watched hundreds of hours of the show and discovered its secrets and weaknesses.

Before they stepped foot in the Bob Barker Studio, they were going to be prepared; "Good TV is rehearsed TV," Terry likes to say. For four months during the summer of 2008, they recorded The Price Is Right every morning and watched it together in bed every night, Terry hunting for patterns and Linda doing the math. It didn't take long for them to find their edge. In The Price Is Right's greatest strength, he and Linda also found its greatest weakness: It had survived all those years because it seemed never to change. Even when Drew Carey replaced Bob Barker -- the show's own version of Vatican II -- he rocked a similar skinny microphone. Behind all the screaming and seeming chaos, there was a precise and nostalgic order. Terry says he first sat upright in bed when a distinctive grill called the Big Green Egg came up for bid again and again. It was always $1,175.

(via @longreads)

Panhandler signsJUL 12

Design Observer has a slideshow of Michael Zinman's unusual collection: signs he has purchased from panhandlers.

I did engage with all the individuals I purchased signs from, and quite often, my offer of purchase was declined. I would guess at least two out of every five people on the street turned me down, and I was not able to purchase their signs. They were just unwilling to part with them. I think it was a matter of self dignity, and I was ever sensitive to their condition and never tried to further persuade them to sell.

Unwrapping flowersJUL 12

Golan Levin and Kyle McDonald took some old code for converting between polar and cartesian geometries and hacked it to flatten out photos of flowers into panoramic landscapes.

Flattened Flowers 01

Flattened Flowers 02

Polar-to-cartesian unwrapping of flower photographs is the new flattening flowers between the pages of books. The Processing source code is available. NotCot applied the effect to chandeliers. I dorked around in Photoshop a little and you can get similar results using the "Polar Coordinates" filter...you just have to stretch out the image first. (via today and tomorrow)

800 years of financial follyJUL 12

Unsurprisingly finding itself on the bestseller list is a book by Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart called This Time is Different, an economic history of the dozens of financial crises that have occurred over the past 800 years. The NY Times has a profile of the authors.

Mr. Rogoff says a senior official in the Japanese finance ministry was offended at the suggestion in "This Time Is Different" that Japan had once defaulted on its debt and sent him an angry letter demanding a retraction. Mr. Rogoff sent him a 1942 front-page article in The Times documenting the forgotten default. "Thank you," the official wrote in apology, "for teaching the Japanese something about our own country."

Art for the everyoneJUL 09

Scott Snibbe's interactive art projects are available for sale on the iPhone/iPad and he's pretty happy about it.

Over the past few days my first three apps became available on the iTunes store: Gravilux, Bubble Harp, and Antograph. I've been dreaming of this day for twenty years: a day when, for the first time, we can enjoy interactive art as a media commodity no different from books, music, and movies.

I remember the Gravilux Java applet from back in the day and happily bought it for the iPad.

Novelist versus pro tennis playerJUL 09

Novelist Nic Brown plays his childhood friend Tripp Phillips (former ATP circuit pro) in tennis. The challenge? To win a single point.

What I can't do, no matter how hard I try, is win a single point. Not one. "You have no weapons," he tells me two days later, over a lunch of cheap tacos and cheese dip. He reviews the match in this specific analytical way I've experienced with other professional athletes. To them, match review is engineering, not personal nicety. The performance is fact, not opinion. "No matter what," he says, "I was going to have you off balance. And no matter what you did, I was going to be perfectly balanced. I knew where you were going to hit it before you hit it. It's the difference between me and you. But if I played Roger Federer right now, he'd do the exact same thing to me."

That bit reminds me of David Foster Wallace's article on tennis pro Michael Joyce (Esquire, July '96). Specifically, how much of a skill difference there was between Joyce (the 79th best player in the world), the players he competed against in qualifiers, and the then-#1 ranked Andre Agassi.

The Cavs say goodbye to LeBronJUL 09

The majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers has an epic car wreck of a goodbye/fuck you letter to LeBron James.

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier. This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

And that, my friends, is how you take the low road. (via @hurtyelbow)

The birthplace of the web foundJUL 08

David Galbraith tracked down the birthplace of the web and confirmed the location with Tim Berners-Lee.

The reason I'm interested in this is that recognizing the exact places involved in the birth of the web is a celebration of knowledge itself rather than belief, opinion or allegiance, both politically and spiritually neutral and something that everyone can potentially enjoy and feel a part of.

Secondly, many places of lesser importance are very carefully preserved. The place where the web was invented is arguably the most important place in 2 millennia of Swiss history and of global historical importance.

Kindle and iPad reading speedsJUL 08

According to a study by Jakob Nielsen, people read at a slower rate on the Kindle and iPad devices than on paper...at least when reading Ernest Hemingway.

Where did "soccer" come from?JUL 08

It's not an Americanism:

"Soccer," by the way, is not some Yankee neologism but a word of impeccably British origin. It owes its coinage to a domestic rival, rugby, whose proponents were fighting a losing battle over the football brand around the time that we were preoccupied with a more sanguinary civil war. Rugby's nickname was (and is) rugger, and its players are called ruggers-a bit of upper-class twittery, as in "champers," for champagne, or "preggers," for enceinte. "Soccer" is rugger's equivalent in Oxbridge-speak. The "soc" part is short for "assoc," which is short for "association," as in "association football," the rules of which were codified in 1863 by the all-powerful Football Association, or FA-the FA being to the U.K. what the NFL, the NBA, and MLB are to the U.S.

There is BergkampJUL 08

Congratulations to the Dutch for reaching the World Cup final. To celebrate, here's a great Dutch moment from a past World Cup...Dennis Bergkamp's epic goal vs. Argentina in the 1998 WC. Turn the speakers up...the sound is everything.

Congrats also to Spain, but I couldn't find a Spanish WC highlight as entertaining to match.

Drowning doesn't look like drowningJUL 08

Drowning people look calm, not crazy flail-y like they do on the TV.

Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.

(via df)

Are blogs dying?JUL 07

The answer is yes, sorta, and no.

People are not tiring of the chance to publish and communicate on the internet easily and at almost no cost. Experimentation has brought innovations, such as comment threads, and the ability to mix thoughts, pictures and links in a stream, with the most recent on top. Yet Facebook, Twitter and the like have broken the blogs' monopoly.

Caster Semenya cleared to competeJUL 07

After sitting out 11 months awaiting the results of gender testing, runner Caster Semenya has been cleared to compete in IAAF-sanctioned competitions. For some background, check out this New Yorker piece on Semenya from last November.

Pepsi blog on nutrition?JUL 07

ScienceBlogs has added a blog about "innovations in science, nutrition and health policy" sponsored by Pepsi to their roster. Posters to the blog will include Pepsi research staff. Some of the other bloggers on ScienceBlogs are not happy.

However, that said, I am completely mystified by ScienceBlogs' latest development: adding the PepsiCo "nutrition" Blog. How does ScienceBlogs expect to maintain their (OUR) credibility as a science news source (we are picked up by Google news searches afterall) when they are providing paid-for content under the guise of news? Further, I cannot imagine what sorts of credible nutrition research PepsiCo is doing that they can or will actually talk about publicly, nor can I possibly imagine any "food" corporation actually caring about promoting public health. PepsiCo is a corporation, not a research institute, fer crissakes!

(via @tcarmody)

Parents are less happy than non-parentsJUL 06

That parents hate parenting is verified by study after study, but most parents think the opposite is true.

From the perspective of the species, it's perfectly unmysterious why people have children. From the perspective of the individual, however, it's more of a mystery than one might think. Most people assume that having children will make them happier. Yet a wide variety of academic research shows that parents are not happier than their childless peers, and in many cases are less so. This finding is surprisingly consistent, showing up across a range of disciplines. Perhaps the most oft-cited datum comes from a 2004 study by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning behavioral economist, who surveyed 909 working Texas women and found that child care ranked sixteenth in pleasurability out of nineteen activities. (Among the endeavors they preferred: preparing food, watching TV, exercising, talking on the phone, napping, shopping, housework.) This result also shows up regularly in relationship research, with children invariably reducing marital satisfaction. The economist Andrew Oswald, who's compared tens of thousands of Britons with children to those without, is at least inclined to view his data in a more positive light: "The broad message is not that children make you less happy; it's just that children don't make you more happy." That is, he tells me, unless you have more than one. "Then the studies show a more negative impact." As a rule, most studies show that mothers are less happy than fathers, that single parents are less happy still, that babies and toddlers are the hardest, and that each successive child produces diminishing returns. But some of the studies are grimmer than others. Robin Simon, a sociologist at Wake Forest University, says parents are more depressed than nonparents no matter what their circumstances-whether they're single or married, whether they have one child or four.

I appreciated the description of being a parent as living in "a clamorous, perpetual-forward-motion machine almost all of the time". Bang on.

Life is fricking oldJUL 06

In a "major breakthrough", researchers have discovered fossils in Gabon of multicellular organisms that are 2.1 billion years old.

These new fossils, of various shapes and sizes, imply that the origin of organized life is a lot older than is generally admitted, thus challenging current knowledge on the beginning of life.

Fraud and art-world CSIJUL 06

In a barnburner of an article for the New Yorker, David Grann investigates the work of Peter Paul Biro and the forensic analysis of artworks for which he is well-known.

He does not merely try to detect the artist's invisible hand; he scours a painting for the artist's fingerprints, impressed in the paint or on the canvas. Treating each painting as a crime scene, in which an artist has left behind traces of evidence, Biro has tried to render objective what has historically been subjective. In the process, he has shaken the priesthood of connoisseurship, raising questions about the nature of art, about the commodification of aesthetic beauty, and about the very legitimacy of the art world. Biro's research seems to confirm what many people have long suspected: that the system of authenticating art works can be arbitrary and, at times, even a fraud.

However, the more Grann and others dug into his past, the more Biro seemed to be in fraudulent territory himself.

Super realistic human masksJUL 06

Holy. Crap. Let's get some of these and rob a bank or train or confuse some celebrities or something. (thx, lauren)

Why intelligent people failJUL 02

Pretty much why everyone else fails (minus a lack of intelligence).

1. Lack of motivation. A talent is irrelevant if a person is not motivated to use it. Motivation may be external (for example, social approval) or internal (satisfaction from a job well-done, for instance). External sources tend to be transient, while internal sources tend to produce more consistent performance.

On coming to AmericaJUL 02

The story of the emigration of Morris Moel and his family from the Ukraine in the 1910s/20s demonstrates what an amazing pull America then had as the land of opportunity.

My father was here [in the USA]. He came in 1913. We didn't hear from him for many many years during World War I, and after this the revolution in Russia. Things were terrible. So we didn't hear from my father for 12 or 13 years. We finally got a message. It came through from Warsaw, from HIAS, the Hebrew immigration society. So my mother went to Warsaw, she left us with my grandmother. She was there for two months, three months, and during that period my grandmother passed away, and my older brother who was 17 became our mother and father. And one winter day a big sleigh approaches the houses and a man comes out and asks if we are the Moel family. "We're here to take you to the mother."

The food of a nationJUL 02

Edible Geography pays a visit to La Central de Abasto in Mexico, a contender for the world's largest wholesale food market.

La Central de Abasto de la Ciudad de México is enormous. It sprawls across a 327 hectare site on the eastern edge of the D.F., dwarfing fellow wholesale food markets such as Hunt's Point (24 hectares), Tsukiji (23 hectares), or even the massive Rungis, outside Paris (232 hectares).

La Central has its own postcode, its own 700-member police force, and its own border-style entry gates, but during my visit, its enormity truly hit home only when we had to take a taxi to get from flowers to fish. It was a solid fifteen minute ride from one section of the market to another!

Woody Allen's six favorite Woody Allen filmsJUL 02

They are: Purple Rose of Cairo, Match Point, Bullets Over Broadway, Zelig, Husbands and Wives, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. As Ebert said, "wrong".

Thoughts of infidelity follow Mother's DayJUL 01

Mother's Day makes wives want to cheat on their husbands. Female sign-ups soared on ashleymadison.com (a dating site for married people) on the day after Mother's Day.

31,427 women signed up for AshleyMadison.com yesterday -- which is over ten times the average number of women who typically sign up on any given Monday.

The day after Valentine's Day is even busier on the site.

Early films of NYCJUL 01

The Library of Congress has uploaded a whole bunch of early film footage of NYC to their YouTube account. Like this 1905 pararama from the top of the Times Building in Times Square:

Open Culture has more information. (via @brainpicker)

The nature (or nurture) of genderJUL 01

A great article on gender and children and the tough choices parents have to make when their children show signs of being transgender.

A recent medical innovation holds out the promise that this might be the first generation of transsexuals who can live inconspicuously. About three years ago, physicians in the U.S. started treating transgender children with puberty blockers, drugs originally intended to halt precocious puberty. The blockers put teens in a state of suspended development. They prevent boys from growing facial and body hair and an Adam's apple, or developing a deep voice or any of the other physical characteristics that a male-to-female transsexual would later spend tens of thousands of dollars to reverse. They allow girls to grow taller, and prevent them from getting breasts or a period.

First images of stuffJUL 01

From Oobject, a collection of "first" images: the first color photograph, the first photo taken in space, the first x-ray image, the first image of a molecule, etc.

100 greatest movie insultsJUL 01

Pretty good...except that they forgot Corky St. Clair's "I hate you and I hate your ass face" from Waiting for Guffman.

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