Entries for January 2011 (February 2011 »    March 2011 »    April 2011 »    Archives)

 

A quarterly Momofuku iPad appJAN 31

Instead of getting his own TV show, David Chang is making a series of iPad apps and printed journals (published by McSweeney's no less).

Mr. Chang said that he had talked to television networks about doing a program, but that this offered more freedom and more possibilities, as well as providing research and development for his restaurants. "We were able to go a little deeper than we could have on TV, without being constrained by the networks," he said. "They wanted yelling. They wanted everything but education."

Your move, Kokonas.

Musical subway mapJAN 31

Alexander Chen made a version of the NYC subway map that plays music as the trains intersect routes.

At www.mta.me, Conductor turns the New York subway system into an interactive string instrument. Using the MTA's actual subway schedule, the piece begins in realtime by spawning trains which departed in the last minute, then continues accelerating through a 24 hour loop. The visuals are based on Massimo Vignelli's 1972 diagram.

Check out the full version; there are more details here. See also Isle of Tune. (via about 20 people on Twitter just now)

Gene Roddenberry's original pitch for Star TrekJAN 31

The 16-page first draft of Gene Roddenberry's pitch for Star Trek.

STAR TREK is a "Wagon Train" concept -- built arround characters who travel to worlds "similar" to our own, and meet the action-adventure-drama which becomes our stories. Their transportation is the cruiser "S.S. Yorktown", performing a well-defined and long-range Exploration-Science-Security mission which helps create our format.

The Yorktown! And the captain was to be named Robert April.

24-hour view of the skyJAN 31

24 Hour Sky

That's an image produced by Chris Kotsiopoulos from photographs he took over a 30-hour period near Athens, Greece. Here's some more information on how this stunning image was made.

After many, many hours in the cold and in the darkness one of the most challenging parts is not to kick the tripod!

Rube Goldberg printing pressJAN 31

Xavier Antin's Just in Time project utilizes four printing techniques to produce full-color books.

Rube Printberg

A book printed through a printing chain made of four desktop printers using four different colors and technologies dated from 1880 to 1976. A production process that brings together small scale and large scale production, two sides of the same history.

* MAGENTA (Stencil duplicator, 1880)
* CYAN (Spirit duplicator, 1923)
* BLACK (Laser printer, 1969)
* YELLOW (Inkjet printer, 1976)

Who said art has to cost money?JAN 28

Francis Ford Coppola on how filmmakers might make go about making a living in the future.

We have to be very clever about those things. You have to remember that it's only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

This idea of Metallica or some rock n' roll singer being rich, that's not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I'm going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you'd be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, "Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money." Because there are ways around it.

Drinking water from ice coresJAN 28

According to climate scientist Paul Mayewski, he and his team sometimes melt down unneeded ice cores that they've collected in places like Antarctica and drink the resulting water. The ice, as well as the air trapped within, can be more than a hundred thousand years old.

Probably the most exciting thing about it is when you have real ice -- that's where the snow has been gradually compacted and eventually formed into ice, and the density has increased. When that happens, if the ice is old, it will often trap air bubbles in it. Those air bubbles can contain carbon dioxide from ten thousand years ago or even a hundred thousand years ago. And when you put an ice cube of that ice in a glass of water, it pops. It has natural effervescence as those gas bubbles escape. You get a little a puff of air into your nostrils if you have your nose over the glass. It's not as though it necessarily smells like anything -- but when you think about the fact that the last time that anything smelled that air was a hundred thousand years ago, that's pretty interesting.

For his wedding reception, Mayewski had water from "Greenland ice and Antarctic ice" for his guests to drink. (thx, finn)

Controlling healthcare costs by focusing on the neediest patientsJAN 28

You may have seen a reference to this last week, but the New Yorker just posted the full text of Atul Gawande's latest article on their site. The article is about efforts to lower healthcare costs by focusing on the patients who use (and often misuse) healthcare the most. Like many of Gawande's other articles, this is a must-read.

"Let's do the E.R.-visit game," he went on. "This is a fun one." He sorted the patients by number of visits, much as Jeff Brenner had done for Camden. In this employed population, the No. 1 patient was a twenty-five-year-old woman. In the past ten months, she'd had twenty-nine E.R. visits, fifty-one doctor's office visits, and a hospital admission.

"I can actually drill into these claims," he said, squinting at the screen. "All these claims here are migraine, migraine, migraine, migraine, headache, headache, headache." For a twenty-five-year-old with her profile, he said, medical payments for the previous ten months would be expected to total twenty-eight hundred dollars. Her actual payments came to more than fifty-two thousand dollars -- for "headaches."

Was she a drug seeker? He pulled up her prescription profile, looking for narcotic prescriptions. Instead, he found prescriptions for insulin (she was apparently diabetic) and imipramine, an anti-migraine treatment. Gunn was struck by how faithfully she filled her prescriptions. She hadn't missed a single renewal -- "which is actually interesting," he said. That's not what you usually find at the extreme of the cost curve.

The story now became clear to him. She suffered from terrible migraines. She took her medicine, but it wasn't working. When the headaches got bad, she'd go to the emergency room or to urgent care. The doctors would do CT and MRI scans, satisfy themselves that she didn't have a brain tumor or an aneurysm, give her a narcotic injection to stop the headache temporarily, maybe renew her imipramine prescription, and send her home, only to have her return a couple of weeks later and see whoever the next doctor on duty was. She wasn't getting what she needed for adequate migraine care -- a primary physician taking her in hand, trying different medications in a systematic way, and figuring out how to better keep her headaches at bay.

Rock stars and their parentsJAN 28

From Life magazine circa 1971, a selection of photos of rock stars (Jackson 5, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Grace Slick) with their parents taken in their parents' homes. Here's Eric Clapton with his grandmother.

Clapton and Gran

That same series also contains the great photo of The Jackson 5 astride their scooters. (via andrea inspired)

The goal of businessJAN 28

I've probably written about this somewhere and somewhen before, but here it is again because I want to make sure I have it in case the original source is lost. Back when Stewart Butterfield & co. started Ludicorp (which was sold to Yahoo! along with Flickr), their about page listed a corporate philosophy so fantastic that it's the only such philosophy I've pumped my fist at. It takes the form of a passage from Disclosing New Worlds: Entrepreneurship, Democratic Action and the Cultivation of Solidarity by Charles Spinosa, Fernando Flores & Hubert Dreyfus:

Business owners do not normally work for money either. They work for the enjoyment of their competitive skill, in the context of a life where competing skillfully makes sense. The money they earn supports this way of life. The same is true of their businesses. One might think that they view their businesses as nothing more than machines to produce profits, since they do closely monitor their accounts to keep tabs on those profits.

But this way of thinking replaces the point of the machine's activity with a diagnostic test of how well it is performing. Normally, one senses whether one is performing skillfully. A basketball player does not need to count baskets to know whether the team as a whole is in flow. Saying that the point of business is to produce profit is like saying that the whole point of playing basketball is to make as many baskets as possible. One could make many more baskets by having no opponent.

The game and styles of playing the game are what matter because they produce identities people care about. Likewise, a business develops an identity by providing a product or a service to people. To do that it needs capital, and it needs to make a profit, but no more than it needs to have competent employees or customers or any other thing that enables production to take place. None of this is the goal of the activity.

To which the Ludicorporate added: "The goal is to kick ass."

1950s version of The Empire Strikes BackJAN 27

Ivan Guerrero remakes recent-ish movie trailers using footage from old movies...for instance, imagine if The Empire Strikes Back came out in 1950:

Guerrero has done several others, including Ghostbusters (1954), Up (1965), and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1951). (via @themexican)

Amazingly detailed map of Central ParkJAN 27

This illustrated map of Central Park individually depicts, labels, and categories by species every single significant tree in the park. All 19,630 of them.

Central Park Entire, The Definitive Illustrated Map is the most detailed map of any urban park in the world. I spent over two years creating it, walking more than 500 miles as I documented over 170 different kinds of trees and shrubs. Central Park contains over 58 miles of paved paths and many more miles of obscure woodland trails. I hiked along every one of them multiple times in order to identify and pinpoint each major tree. There are 19,630 trees drawn and placed in position on this map. There are no filler trees, no fluff. Every tree symbol represents a real tree in the Park, and you can identify its genus or species with the accompanying tree legend.

If you've got a subscription to the New Yorker, you can read about the map in this week's issue. (thx, @bamstutz)

Super Bowl art betJAN 27

For the second straight year, the best Super Bowl bet is between art museums in the cities playing in the big game.

The Milwaukee Art Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art have agreed to a Super Bowl bet! Even better: The museums have put major works by major artists on the line. The bet continues an annual tradition begun last year when MAN instigated a wager between the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Both museums are offering up significant impressionist paintings: The Carnegie Museum of Art has wagered Pierre Renoir's playful, fleshy Bathers with a Crab (cicra 1890-99, above) on a Pittsburgh Steelers victory. The Milwaukee Art Museum has put on the line Gustave Caillebotte's serene Boating on the Yerres (1877, below).

Pirating the 2011 OscarsJAN 27

Andy Baio presents his annual look at when the Oscar nominated films get leaked online.

Continuing the trend from the last couple years, fewer screeners are leaking online by nomination day than ever. Last year at this time, only 41% of screeners leaked online; this year, that number drops again slightly to 38%.

But if you include retail DVD releases along with screeners, 66% of this year's nominated films have already leaked online in high quality. This makes sense; if a retail DVD release is already available, there's no point in leaking the screener. But I think it's safe to say that industry efforts to watermark screeners and prosecute leaks by members have almost certainly contributed to the decline.

How to tie a Hermes scarfJAN 27

Hermes has a handy PDF file that shows you how to tie their famous scarves into all sorts of configurations, like so:

Fold Hermes scarf

You can even fold some of the larger scarves into handbags.

The hilarious everything bagelJAN 26

If I didn't know any better, I'd have thought Twitter was built specifically for the purpose of cracking wise about the lack of everything on the everything bagel. In recent months, several tweetists have taken to site to complain in often amusing fashion:

Come on, Everything Bagels, who you tryin' to fool? You got like 6 seasonings on there. That's a lot, but it ain't everything.
-- @patrickmarkryan

Hey everything bagel, you don't have everything on you, so shut the fuck up.
-- @ihatejeffbaker

This "everything bagel" is great. Has onions, poppy seeds, garlic, cheese, q-tips, Greenland, fear, sandals, wolves, teapots, crunking...
-- @johnmoe

You call this an everything bagel?! Where are the french fries & the pizza & the pot brownie & the Taco Bell fire sauce?!
-- @ronniewk

Flossing after an everything bagel is important b/c as the name implies, you don't just have *something* in your teeth, you have every thing.
-- @phillygirl

Last time I had an everything bagel I got poppy seeds, Mira Sorvino, and Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit all over my shirt.
-- @dwineman

The title "everything bagel" is a gross exaggeration.
-- @avphibes

The "everything bagel" really only has like three things. Just what I want for breakfast. Lies.
-- @missrftc

You might want to scale back on calling yourself an "everything bagel." I mean, right away I can see there are no M&M's on here.
-- @friedmanjon

Aaand that's about all there is to say about the everything bagel.

Walter Murch on why 3-D won't workJAN 26

The problem with using 3-D for feature-length films is not so much the technology or its lack of contribution to the storytelling, it's that human eyes were not designed to focus and converge on images at two different distances. Walter Murch, the legendary sound designer and editor, explains in a note to Roger Ebert:

The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the "convergence/focus" issue. A couple of the other issues -- darkness and "smallness" -- are at least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen -- say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.

But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before. All living things with eyes have always focussed and converged at the same point.

New Orson Welles film?JAN 26

The Observer reports that an unfinished film shot by Orson Welles in 1972 will be completed and shown to the public.

The Other Side of the Wind portrays the last hours of an ageing film director. Welles is said to have told John Huston, who plays the lead role: "It's about a bastard director... full of himself, who catches people and creates and destroys them. It's about us, John."

(via df)

MoMA acquires digital typefaces; what does that mean?JAN 26

As you might have heard, MoMA recently acquired 23 typefaces for its Architecture and Design collection. I was curious about how such an acquisition works, so I sent a quick email to Jonathan Hoefler, one of the principals at Hoefler & Frere-Jones, a New York City type foundry that contributed four typefaces to the MoMA.

Kottke: Three of the four H&FJ typefaces acquired by MoMA are available for purchase on your web site. Did they just put in their credit card info and voila? Or was there a little more to it?

Hoefler: MoMA's adopting the fonts for their collection was much more complex than buying a copy online (and not only because Retina, one of our four, isn't available online.) I should start by stating that you can never actually "buy fonts" online: what one can buy are licenses, and the End-User License that surrounds a typeface does not extend the kinds of rights that are necessary to enshrine a typeface in a museum's permanent collection. The good news is that H&FJ has become as good at crafting licenses as we have at creating typefaces, an unavoidable reality in a world where fonts can be deployed in unimaginable ways. This was a fun project for our legal department.

It was actually a fascinating conversation with MoMA, as we each worked to imagine how this bequest could be useful to the museum for eternity. What might it mean when the last computer capable of recognizing OpenType is gone? What will it mean when computers as we know them are gone? How does one establish the insurance value of a typeface: not its price, but the cost of maintaining it in working order? Digital artworks are prone to different kinds of damage than physical ones, but obsolescence is no less damaging to a typeface than earthquakes and floods to a painting. On the business side there are presumably insurance underwriters who can bring complex actuarial tables to bear on the issue, but I think it's an even more provocative issue for conservators. 472 years after its completion, the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel underwent a restoration that scholars still find controversial. What might it mean for someone to freshen up our typefaces in AD 2483?
--

Thanks, Jonathan.

More Matrix movies HOAX!JAN 26

[This is a hoax. Sorry to get your hopes up/down. thx, @kimberlyp] According to a report at Ain't It Cool News, Keanu Reeves said that he met with the Wachowskis and that they are working on a "script treatment" for a fourth and fifth Matrix movies that would feature Reeves as Neo.

Says he met the Wachowski's (no emphasis on the word brothers), for lunch over Christmas and stated that they had completed work on a two picture script treatment that would see him return to the world of the matrix as Neo. Says the brothers have met with Jim Cameron to discuss the pro's and con's of 3D and are looking to deliver something which has never been seen again. keanu stated that he still has an obligation to the fans to deliver a movie worthy of the title "The Matrix" and he swears this time that the treatment will truly revolutionise the action genre like the first movie. Wachowski's are working on a movie called "Cloud Atlas" at the moment, once that concludes they will talk again.

And also, there's talk of a Bill & Ted 3. Take a few minutes to let all that sink in before continuing with your day.

Grant Achatz's memoir out soonJAN 25

Life, on the Line is the forthcoming memoir of chef Grant Achatz about his early life, his training at The French Laundry under Thomas Keller, the opening of the reigning Best Restaurant in America, and his diagnosis of a life-and career-threatening illness. Somewhat unusually, the book was jointly written by Achatz and Nick Kokonas, his friend and business partner. The newly launched companion web site has more info, including excerpts.

"Chef, you have Ruth Reichl on line two," one of the reservationists whispered to me as I peeled asparagus. I walked to the host area and saw the light for line two blinking; I grabbed the handle and pushed the button.

After exchanging greetings she spoke up. I was wildly and unexpectedly nervous.

"Grant, I don't know if you know this, but every five years Gourmet does a restaurant issue where we rank the fifty best restaurants in the country." I told her I recall seeing it back in 2001, and remembered that Chez Panisse coming in at number one and the Laundry at three.

"Well, the issue will come out this October, and I wanted to call you personally and tell you that we have chosen Alinea to be on the list." She paused for dramatic effect. "At number one."

CoenfographicJAN 25

An infographic that stitches together the 15 films that the Coen brothers have made.

Coenfographic

US military suicideJAN 25

This is an amazing statement:

For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Massive income inequality named 8th Wonder of the WorldJAN 25

The Onion reports that The Gap Between Rich and Poor has been named the Eighth Wonder of the World.

"The original Seven Wonders of the World pale in comparison to this," said World Heritage Committee member Edwin MacAlister, standing in front of a striking photograph of the Gap Between Rich and Poor taken from above Mexico City. "It is an astounding feat of human engineering that eclipses the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, and perhaps even the Great Racial Divide."

According to anthropologists, untold millions of slaves and serfs toiled their whole lives to complete the gap. Records indicate the work likely began around 10,000 years ago, when the world's first landed elites convinced their subjects that construction of such a monument was the will of a divine authority, a belief still widely held today.

Though historians have repeatedly disproved such claims, theories still persist among many that the Gap Between Rich and Poor was built by the Jews.

The natural curves of human movementJAN 25

No one has been able to figure out why humans can't walk, swim, or even drive in straight lines without reference points. Instead, we go in circles:

(via df)

Hand Catching LeadJAN 24

In addition to sculpture, Richard Serra makes films. This is Serra's first film from 1968, featuring a hand's repeated attempts to catch pieces of lead.

Watching just 20 seconds made me surprisingly anxious. (via sippey, i think)

Fast caramelized onionsJAN 24

Over at Serious Eats, Kenji Lopez-Alt shows how you can cut your onion caramelization time from 45 minutes to about 15 or 20 minutes.

Before we can figure out how to improve our end results, it's important to understand exactly what's going on when an onion browns. First, the onions begin by sweating. As they slowly heat up, moisture from their interior (they are roughly 75% water by weight) begins to evaporate, forcing its way out of the onion's cells, and causing them to rupture in the process. This breakdown of the cells is what causes onions to soften during the initial stages of cooking.

Bill Cunningham filmJAN 24

Looks like Bill Cunningham New York will be showing around the US starting with New York on March 16th. (Film Forum!) And hark, a trailer.

If you don't take money, they can't tell you what to do. That's the key to the whole thing.

The most loathsome AmericansJAN 24

Always a fun read: The Beast's list of the 50 most loathsome Americans of 2010. The idiot Alaskan lady is a mere sixth on the list; #1 is "you":

Your brain's been cobbled together over millions of years of blind evolution and it shows. You're clumsy, stupid, weak and motivated by the basest of urges. Your MO is both grotesquely selfish and unquestionably deferential to questionable authority. You're not in control of your life. You wear your ignorance like a badge of honor and gleefully submit to oppression, malfeasance and kleptocracy. You will buy anything. You will believe anything. You believe that evolution is a matter of belief. You likely scrolled down to #1, without reading the rest, because you're an impatient, semi-literate Philistine who's either unable or unwilling to digest more than 140 characters at a time.

IBM centennial filmsJAN 24

IBM is celebrating 100 years of business with a pair of videos; the following is a 30-minute film by Errol Morris (music by Philip Glass) on the history of the company.

A second film, 100 x 100, shows 100 people each presenting an IBM milestone that occurred the year they were born; not sure if Morris did this one as well. (via df)

Portugal's drug experimentationJAN 21

In 2000, Portugal passed a law decriminalizing the possession of drugs, continued to vigorously pursue drug traffickers and distributors, and improved access to treatment. What happened?

But nearly a decade later, there's evidence that Portugal's great drug experiment not only didn't blow up in its face; it may have actually worked. More addicts are in treatment. Drug use among youths has declined in recent years. Life in Casal Ventoso, Lisbon's troubled neighborhood, has improved. And new research, published in the British Journal of Criminology, documents just how much things have changed in Portugal. Coauthors Caitlin Elizabeth Hughes and Alex Stevens report a 63 percent increase in the number of Portuguese drug users in treatment and, shortly after the reforms took hold, a 499 percent increase in the amount of drugs seized -- indications, the authors argue, that police officers, freed up from focusing on small-time possession, have been able to target big-time traffickers while drug addicts, no longer in danger of going to prison, have been able to get the help they need.

What's the longest English word?JAN 21

Ok smartypants, put your hand down. It's antidisestablishmentarianism, right? Maybe not. Robert Krulwich explains.

Science writer Sam Kean, in his book The Disappearing Spoon, worked really hard on this and after much sleuthing, he landed on a word that comes not from dancing English nannies but from virus-hunting scientists. It's a protein, found in a virus, but this is a very dangerous, economically important virus, the first ever discovered.

Compare with the Wikipedia entry on long words, which contains this glorious non-word: Twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettucecheesepicklesonionsonasesameseedbun. (via @bobulate)

Movable Type sold to InfocomJAN 21

Six Apart Japan, Movable Type, and the Six Apart brand will be acquired by Infocom, a Japanese IT firm.

We are happy to announce that Six Apart KK (SAKK), a Japanese subsidiary of SAY Media, has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Infocom, a Japanese IT company, as of February 1, 2011. As part of this transaction, SAKK will assume responsibility for the worldwide Movable Type business, and the Six Apart brand.

We at SAKK are very excited to continue our investment in Movable Type, the Movable Type Open Source project and the worldwide community of developers, publishers and bloggers around the world that use Movable Type.

This depresses me. (via waxy)

Why is Schmidt stepping down at Google?JAN 21

Over at the New Yorker, Ken Auletta has some insight into why Eric Schmidt is stepping down as Google's CEO.

Schmidt, according to associates, lost some energy and focus after losing the China decision. At the same time, Google was becoming defensive. All of their social-network efforts had faltered. Facebook had replaced them as the hot tech company, the place vital engineers wanted to work. Complaints about Google bureaucracy intensified. Governments around the world were lobbing grenades at Google over privacy, copyright, and size issues. The "don't be evil" brand was getting tarnished, and the founders were restive. Schmidt started to think of departing. Nudged by a board-member friend and an outside advisor that he had to re-energize himself, he decided after Labor Day that he could reboot.

He couldn't. By the end of the year, he was ready to jump on his own.

Why can't all "tech" journalism be like this? A single article on the topic, three paragraphs, all fact, properly sourced, no opinion, little speculation, no quotes from useless analysts. Reading something this spare and straightforward makes you realize how shitty TC, Mashable, SAI, and rest are.

Cameras for kidsJAN 21

As I mentioned on Twitter, we got Ollie a camera for Christmas and set it up to post automatically to Flickr. He loves it so far, and it's been fascinating to see how he sees the world...which is mostly low-angle and mundane. The account is private, but here are a few of my favorite shots of his:

Ollie's great grandpa

Looking out the door (note the low angle)

Making espresso

But often the camera is a tool for him. Yesterday morning we were trying to build a boat out of blocks..."the same as we built last week," Ollie said to me. I couldn't remember how we'd built the boat last week and Ollie couldn't really describe it or duplicate it by himself. "We should have taken a picture of it. Then we would remember," he said. And a couple of weeks ago, his toy computer (basically a glorified Speak N' Spell) ran out of batteries and when he came running in to the kitchen to tell me, he held up his camera with a photo of the computer in question, "see Daddy, the screen's not working"...as if I wasn't going to take his word for it.

After I tweeted about the camera, a number of people asked what setup we were using. We had an old Powershot SD450 laying around, so we gave him that instead of buying a kids camera. Ollie's three and a half now and pretty conscientious; he doesn't throw stuff around or smash things so we figured we could trust him with an actual camera. And for the most part, he's been really good with it. He puts the cord around his wrist so the camera won't fall on the floor if it slips out of his hands. For the first few days, he was accidentially sticking his fingers in the lens area and that caused the little shutter that covers the lens when the camera is off to stick a little bit, but he stopped doing that and learned how to fix the sticky shutter himself. He sometimes gets stuck in a weird menu after pushing too many buttons, but mostly he knows how to get in and out of the menus. He knows how to use the zoom and can shoot videos. He also can tell when the battery is running out and knows how to remove the battery to recharge it. Giving an "adult" camera to a three-year-old may seem like a recipe for confusion and broken electronics, but I'm continually amazed at kids' thirst for knowledge and empowered responsibility.

For the automatic uploading to Flickr, we put an Eye-Fi card in the camera. The Eye-Fi is a regular SD memory card with built-in wireless networking...the low-end 4GB card is only $45 on Amazon. And you can link the card to a Flickr account so that when the camera is on and in range of a trusted wifi network, the photos are automatically uploaded. Pretty simple once you get it set up.

Google's new CEOJAN 20

Eric Schmidt is stepping down as CEO (he'll remain the Executive Chairman) and Larry Page will become the new CEO in April.

Larry will now lead product development and technology strategy, his greatest strengths, and starting from April 4 he will take charge of our day-to-day operations as Google's Chief Executive Officer. In this new role I know he will merge Google's technology and business vision brilliantly. I am enormously proud of my last decade as CEO, and I am certain that the next 10 years under Larry will be even better! Larry, in my clear opinion, is ready to lead.

Sergey has decided to devote his time and energy to strategic projects, in particular working on new products. His title will be Co-Founder. He's an innovator and entrepreneur to the core, and this role suits him perfectly.

As Executive Chairman, I will focus wherever I can add the greatest value: externally, on the deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership that are increasingly important given Google's global reach; and internally as an advisor to Larry and Sergey.

The Kids Grow UpJAN 20

Documentary filmmaker Doug Block popped up on the internet's radar with the release of Home Page in 1998. In 2005, he released the excellent 51 Birch Street, a film about his family.

51 Birch Street is the first-person account of a family's unpredictable journey through dramatic life-changing events. Having observed most of his parents' 54-year marriage, Doug Block believed it to be quite a good one. A few months after his mother's sudden death from pneumonia, Doug Block's 83-year old father, Mike, calls him to announce that he's moving to Florida to live with "Kitty", his secretary from 40 years before. Always close to his mother and equally distant from his father, Doug and his two older sisters were shocked and suspicious. How long had Kitty been an intimate part of their father's life, they wondered.

Block's latest film also deals with his family. The Kids Grow Up is about his relationship with his only daughter Lucy as she prepares to leave for college.

'Just think," says Doug Block's wife, Marjorie, while he trains his camera on her, "when she works all this through in therapy she can take the footage with her. Her therapist won't have to imagine what you were like." Block, a documentary-maker, filmed their daughter Lucy's final year at high school -- interspersed with footage of her over the years. His film, The Kids Grow Up, is ostensibly about how a father copes with the prospect of his cherished only child leaving home to go to college. But there is lots more here. It is about his own childhood - "I was a lousy parent in the main," admits Block's elderly, ailing father -- and about what it means to be a modern dad (friend or father?). It is about the passage of time,and Block's inability to let go of the past and grow up, as his wife -- ever the voice of reason -- puts it during one of their filmed interviews.

How does Block get out of accepting that he has become a grandfather when his stepson and his wife have a baby? By insisting on being called Uncle Doug. "Pathetic," Marjorie says with a smile and a shake of the head.

Harpo Marx's letterheadJAN 20

Harpo Marx Letterhead

I love the reviews and mentions down the left-hand side..."Harpo Marx is one of the Four Marx Brothers." (via if charlie parker...)

Horoscopes: all the sameJAN 20

As you can see in this visualization created by Information is Beautiful, the most commonly used words in horoscopes are amazingly consistent across the twelve different signs. As part of the analysis, they also created a meta-horoscope reading for use anytime during the year:

Ready? Sure? Whatever the situation or secret moment, enjoy everything a lot. Feel able to absolutely care. Expect nothing else. Keep making love. Family and friends matter. The world is life, fun, and energy. Maybe hard. Or easy. Taking exactly enough is best. Help and talk to others. Change your mind and a better mood comes along...

What a crock. (via @dens)

Turbine-free wind powerJAN 20

Turbines are expensive to build, noisy, big, and they kill birds. Perhaps these pad panels would be better suited to generating electricity from the wind.

The wind panels are the brainchild of Francis Moon, a professor of mechanical engineering at Cornell University. He created a panel of 25 pads that oscillate in the wind, much the way leaves vibrate when a gust of air sifts through a tree. The pads attach to piezoelectric materials that produce electricity from each vibration.

Trends: reading on screensJAN 19

From a few days ago (but still interesting if you haven't seen it), reading trends on different kinds of devices.

The graph of when users are reading on the iPad shows the biggest time for reading: personal prime time.

This is generally the most relaxing time of day. After a long day, work is done, dinner is resting in your belly and there is nothing left to do but put your feet up and relax. This time slot is the same one coveted by television. When the majority of people are consuming content it seems perfectly natural that people would use this time to do their reading as well.

Five emotions invented by the internetJAN 19

My favorite of the bunch is the first one: "A vague and gnawing pang of anxiety centered around an IM window that has lulled."

During this time an individual feels unsure whether they have offended the IM recipient, committed a breach of IM etiquette, or have otherwise spoilt the presentation of themselves carefully crafted thus far thanks to the miracles of the textual medium. The individual must be at least vaguely aware that they are being vaguely paranoid, and must tell themselves things like 'he probably just stepped away from the keyboard' or 'I know she is at work right now so perhaps she has stopped replying because she is busy.'

A possible sixth emotion might be "Unnecessary pagination irritation", which emotion I experienced reading this otherwise fine article. :(

1770 map of NYCJAN 19

The Brooklyn Historical Society recently restored a 1770 map of New York City, one of a handful of "Ratzer maps" that have survived to the present day.

A British Army officer in America, Lieutenant Ratzer was a surveyor and draftsman, and his map was immediately praised as a step forward from those of his predecessors. For his trouble, his name was misspelled on initial versions of his maps, called the "Ratzen plan."

The map included a detailed rendering of the island's slips and shores and streets in Lower Manhattan, the familiar mixing with the long gone. Pearl, Broad, Grand and Prince lay beside Fair and Crown and the "Fresh Water" pond.

"Manhattan, at least the part shown here, was mapped as precisely as any spot on the Earth at the time," said Robert T. Augustyn, co-author of "Manhattan in Maps: 1527-1995". "There was no more beautiful or revealing a map of New York City ever done."

The side-by-side comparison of the restored map with the pre-restored map is worth a look. And compare with the Viele map of Manhattan made in 1865.

Microplane: from the garage to the kitchenJAN 19

The Microplane grater, now nearly ubiquitous in the kitchen (or at least our kitchen), began life as a tool for woodworking.

"I don't think that even chefs understood at the time what these tools made possible," said Leonard Lee, founder of Lee Valley Tools in Ottawa, Canada. "When you grind a hard cheese, you get little cubes with little surface area. When you use a Microplane and shave a cheese into ribbons, you get five times the surface area."

"And when you maximize the surface area, you put more of the cheese in contact with the taste buds," said Mr. Lee, whose wife, Lorraine Lee, was one of the first to imagine the kitchen crossover possibilities in 1994. "That maximizes taste."

The tragedy of NepalJAN 19

Andrew Hyde travels to Nepal and doesn't find a must-see travel destination.

A deep depression hit me about an hour into my visit to Nepal and lasted for the first two weeks. Nepal, as a travel destination, is nothing short of raved about. "The Himalayan Mountains are majestic and the people are the nicest in the world!" was a common travel tidbit I heard. What I found was a developing nation with deep problems becoming worse by the month with tourism hastening the poisoning of the well. The pollution is the worst I have ever seen. Air, land, sound and water, nothing is spared the careless trash. The people are wonderful and also skillful about exploiting the tourist scene. Everyone you meet has a friend that is in the business of what you want to do, and they have a vested commission in getting you to open up.

World of Goo for iPadJAN 19

There's an iPad version of World of Goo? Oh, man. Must resist, too much to do...

Human PlanetJAN 18

The Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life. These BBC nature series have all neglected to showcase our planet's most amazing animal. Human Planet is an upcoming nature series about human beings.

No David Attenborough?! Still looks fantastic, though. (via @dunstan)

The Big Picture creator moves onJAN 18

Two and a half years ago, Alan Taylor started The Big Picture at the Boston Globe; he basically ran the site in his spare work time as a web developer for the company. Now he's moving on to The Atlantic, where he will edit a new photo site called In Focus.

I wanted the opportunity to do this -- telling news photo stories -- as a fulltime job, and the Atlantic has offered that to me, for which I am grateful. I also think the Atlantic is a better overall fit for the type of international, wide-ranging storytelling I've practiced over the years. The Globe has been a good home and a great platform for over 425 entries since 2008 and I am truly grateful, but I've chosen to move on now, and really hope you'll come along and see what I'm up to. I feel very fortunate for what I've been able to accomplish to date, and for the opportunity given to me now. I really can't believe this is going to be my fulltime gig!

Smart move by The Atlantic, which is increasingly looking like one of the media properties that may make a smooth-ish transistion from print to online/app media. As for The Globe, well, I don't think they quite knew what they had there. Eight million page views per month out of nothing with a less-than-maximal effort...that's the kind of thing you want to encourage if you're in the media business.

Literal New Yorker cartoon captionsJAN 18

The Monkeys You Ordered is a collection of New Yorker cartoons with literal captions. Like so:

Literal New Yorker cartoon captions

(via @dens)

PrecorderJAN 18

Precorder is an iPhone app that constantly buffers video and only saves the last few seconds when you press the record button.

By constantly saving the previous few seconds of video before you hit record, Precorder lets you wait until something interesting happens to start recording, and you'll never miss a precious moment or get stuck with hours of boring video to painstakingly edit down.

More info here. The creators were inspired by the camera used by the Planet Earth team to capture Great Whites jumping out of the water to catch seals.

Antiqued digital video is the new antiqued digital photographyJAN 18

8mm is an iPhone app that shoots videos that look like stuttery 8mm films.

8mm Vintage Camera brings your iPhone and iPod Touch back in time to capture the beauty and magic of old school vintage movies. By mixing and matching films and lenses, you can recreate the atmosphere of those bygone eras with 25 timeless retro looks. Dust & scratches, retro colors, flickering, light leaks, frame jitters -- all can be instantly added with the swapping of a finger.

Lyndon Johnson buys pantsJAN 18

This is a hoot: in want of slacks, President Lyndon Johnson called up the Haggar clothing company and requested several pairs be made in the style of a pair he already owned. Except a little bigger in the crotch..."down where your nuts hang" as Johnson put it. Just listen:

MLKJAN 17

kottke.org is off today in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Here's his I Have a Dream speech, which remains as powerful and relevant today as it was in 1963.

The wig makerJAN 14

Profile of a woman who makes wigs, primarily for Orthodox Jewish women and black women. She recently moved to South America to be closer to her supply.

The market for human hair is generally limited to places with impoverished populations willing to sell a two-foot ponytail -- the product of two years of growth -- for twenty dollars. Dark hair comes primarily from South America, India, and Mongolia. Helene says that the ample selection of hair colors and textures in South America -- the result of more than twenty-five generations of intermarriage between Europeans and indigenous people -- make it the ideal source region. The hair of indigenous Peruvian women is thick, straight, and black-perfect for the lace-front wigs sought by black women, who have come to represent the majority of Helene's business -- and is worn in two braids that often stretch all the way down their backs and are plaited with tassels made from Alpaca wool. Orthodox women prefer the silkier, finer texture of Argentinean hair, or else the more rare blonds and reds from eastern Europe and Russia (generically labeled as "European" hair), which garner one hundred dollars per two-foot strand. "The European hair is very bouncy," Helene says. "It's just characteristic -- like some people have blue eyes, some people have dark eyes. With Indian hair, the bottom is poofy and doesn't move that much. For a wig to look natural, we need the bottom to be bouncy."

(via the essayist)

Today you, tomorrow meJAN 14

A story of simple kindness that seems increasingly rare these days.

I was on the side of the road for close to 4 hours. Big jeep, blown rear tire, had a spare but no jack. I had signs in the windows of the car, big signs that said NEED A JACK and offered money. No dice. Right as I am about to give up and just hitch out there a van pulls over and dude bounds out. He sizes the situation up and calls for his youngest daughter who speaks english. He conveys through her that he has a jack but it is too small for the Jeep so we will need to brace it. He produces a saw from the van and cuts a log out of a downed tree on the side of the road. We rolled it over, put his jack on top, and bam, in business. I start taking the wheel off and, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones and I wasn't careful and I snapped the head I needed clean off.

The EssayistJAN 14

Another entrant in the long-form writing aggregation game: The Essayist. See also: Give Me Something to Read, Longreads, and Longform. (thx, nathan)

Oysterpedia iPhone appJAN 14

This one is mainly for my wife: the Oysterpedia iPhone app.

Not only does it give you tasting notes on 200 North American oysters, but it lets you rate them -- a great thing if you're always forgetting which types you do or don't like.

URL of the dayJAN 14

http://rim.jobs

The new ZodiacJAN 13

Early this week, I started seeing a little traffic to a post I wrote way back in March of 1999 called The new Zodiac.

An interesting calendrical tidbit: the Zodiac that everyone is familiar with today is actually based upon the movement of the sun through the constellations of 2500 years ago. Today, due to shifts in the earth's rotation and orbit, the sun moves through 13 constellations, not just 12.

The thirteen constellation is called Ophiuchus. As I'm writing, Ophiuchus is the #1 trending topic on Twitter right now and there are dozens of news articles on the topic in outlets like Time, Huffington Post, and The Washington Post. Patient Zero of this most recent round of new Zodiac reporting is this January 9 Minneapolis Star-Tribune article in which the updated Zodiac is listed as:

Capricorn: Jan 20 - Feb 16
Aquarius: Feb 16 - Mar 11
Pisces: Mar 11 - Apr 18
Aries: Apr 18 - May 13
Taurus: May 13 - Jun 21
Gemini: Jun 21 - Jul 20
Cancer: Jul 20 - Aug 10
Leo: Aug 10 - Sept 16
Virgo: Sept 16 - Oct 30
Libra: Oct 30 - Nov 23
Scorpio: Nov 23 - Nov 29
Ophiuchus: Nov 29 - Dec 17
Sagittarius: Dec 17 - Jan 20

Wikipedia has a slightly different calendar for 2011:

Aries: Apr 19 - May 14
Taurus: May 14 - Jun 21
Gemini: Jun 21 - Jul 21
Cancer: Jul 21 - Aug 11
Leo: Aug 11 - Sept 17
Virgo: Sept 17 - Oct 31
Libra: Oct 31 - Nov 21
Scorpio: Nov 21 - Nov 30
Ophiuchus: Nov 30 - Dec 18
Sagittarius: Dec 18 - Jan 21
Capricorn: Jan 21 - Feb 17
Aquarius: Feb 17 - Mar 12
Pisces: Mar 12 - Apr 19

Which calendar to believe? Who knows, but one thing is for sure: astrology remains a steaming pile of horseshit.

Superlinear scaling of citiesJAN 13

Luis Bettencourt of the Santa Fe Institute and his team have proposed a different way of looking at how exceptional cities are. The widely used per-capita is a linear measurement while cities' attributes tend to scale nonlinearly (or superlinearly).

The researchers have shown, in fact, that with each doubling of city population, each inhabitant is, on average, 15 percent wealthier, 15 percent more productive, 15 percent more innovative, and 15 percent more likely to be victimized by violent crime regardless of the city's geography or the decade in which you pull the data.

Remarkably, this 15 percent rule holds for a number of other statistics as well - so much so that if you tell Bettencourt and West the population of an anonymous city, they can tell you the average speed at which its inhabitants walk.

Scientists call this phenomenon "superlinear scaling." Rather than metrics increasing proportionally with population - in a "linear," or one-for-one fashion - measures that scale superlinearly increase consistently at a nonlinear rate greater than one for one.

"Almost anything that you can measure about a city scales nonlinearly, either showing economies in infrastructure or per capita gains in socioeconomic quantities," Bettencourt says. "This is the reason we have cities in the first place. But if you don't correct for these effects, you are not capturing the essence of particular places."

Using this method, cities like LA, New York, and Houston are average while San Francisco and Boulder are above average.

Fun music videoJAN 13

Reminds me of Gondry's Star Guitar video with a bit of MC Escher mixed in.

(viva la sandwich)

Bill Murray strikes againJAN 13

Bill Murray made an absolutely fantastic speech at the National Board of Review Awards last night when introducing Sofia Coppola.

They told me I have two minutes. I'm going to pop this Red Hot [candy, pops in mouth] so I'll be finished in two minutes [mumbling with candy in mouth]. Why do you give this award? Why? Because you have to throw a party. Because you have to compete with the Golden Globes. [Cheers.] We all asked that question. You're able to get out tonight, celebrate - without your relatives - you earned, you deserve it.

But why do you give it to Sofia Coppola? Why? Because you want to encourage her, I think. I think that's the real reason. Look at her. Look at her! She comes from a family, mother and father both very successful, creating entertainments, amusements and thought-provoking work. She wrote a spec script for The Virgin Suicides. The ambition of these young people! Can you believe it? The ambition! She got the job as the director. She directed Lost in Translation in another country in another language, and got a prize for it. [Pause.] God, this is a hot, hot Red Hot. But I'm not going to quit on you people, because I've got another half in my pocket. [Pulls out of pocket and puts in mouth.] I got one-and-a-half in my mouth right now. [Mumbling.]

And the whole bit about life and success and freedom derailing careers and creative work is just spot on gold. (thx, david)

Penguin Classics ultra mega super 1.21 gigawatts box setJAN 13

The Penguin Classics Complete Library is a massive box set consisting of nearly every Penguin Classics book ever published and is available on Amazon for only (only!) $13,413.30.

From Edwin A. Abbott to Emile Zola, the 1,082 titles in the Penguin Classics Complete Library total nearly half a million pages--laid end to end they would hit the 52-mile mark. Approximately 700 pounds in weight, the titles would tower 828 feet if you stacked them lengthwise atop each other--almost as tall as the Empire State Building. But don't worry, a nice set of bookshelves will hold them side-by-side just fine.

If you're on the fence about purchasing this item, here's a review from someone who did:

This is an orgy for a book-lover. I have had a wonderful time from the moment I placed the order. They arrived in 25 boxes shrink-wrapped on a wooden pallet, over 750 lbs. of books. It took about twelve hours to unpack them, check them off the packing list (one for each box), and then check them off the list we downloaded from Amazon.com. They take up about 77 linear feet.

It would be fun to see HBO do something like this...a massive DVD or Blu-ray box set of all their hour-long dramas: The Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Big Love, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Canivale, Rome, etc.

How croissants are madeJAN 12

Maybe it's because I have an oddly intense interest in croissants, but I found this 10-minute video about how to make them fascinating. Watch at least until the 1 kg sheet of butter is placed on the dough to be folded over several times.

Spoiler: they turn out great, which was unexpected because so often croissants are more bready and dry than flakey and moist, even in France. (thx, aaron)

The Dude AbidesJAN 12

PBS is airing a documentary about Jeff Bridges tonight called Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides. In a short clip from the episode, Bridges visits a The Big Lebowski memorabilia store called The Little Lebowski. Watch the cashier's mind explode as he recognizes who just walked into his store.

And I love how he calls Joel and Ethan "The Brothers". (via devour)

The design of the sci-fi corridorJAN 12

A long photo essay on the hallways and corridors of science fiction movies and television.

Alien started the kind of corridor-fetishism in screen sci-fi that Kubrick had failed to start with 2001: A Space Oddyssey, since the latter film was so visionary and expensive that practically no-one could even attempt to imitate it.

Instead Roger Christian got inventive with his lower budget and strip-mined an aircraft graveyard, strewing Alien's Nostromo with sections and detailing from WWII bombers. This usage of full-sized 'nurnies' followed the long-established visual effects practice of cannibalising parts from model kits (most especially WWII tanks and destroyers) in order to provide ready-made detailing without resort to custom-crafting and vacuum-forming every last valve and pipe. By the time the 1980s set in, Alien's strip-mined tech was practically de rigeur for screen sci-fi...

(via @moleitau)

The American snow epidemicJAN 12

Before looking, see if you can guess the only US state currently without snow on the ground. The answer, from the NY Times:

With the arrival of snow in New York and the unusually severe storm in the South - which dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas -- the National Weather Service said an unusual nationwide occurrence had taken place. There was now snow on the ground in all 50 states - including Hawaii, where snow fell on a volcano -- except for Florida.

Z-TypeJAN 12

Z-Type is a fun typing game...falling enemies each have a word associated with them and you type it to blow them up. More fun than it sounds. (via @nathanperetic)

Jenny McCarthy still confusedJAN 11

Jenny McCarthy just won't call it quits on the whole vaccines cause autism thing. Cause she's a mom! And moms love their children! And are strong! QED. And of course this was published by Huffington Post, the blog equivalent of Jenny McCarthy.

Peak transportationJAN 11

Or so says a new study:

A study of eight industrialized countries, including the United States, shows that seemingly inexorable trends -- ever more people, more cars and more driving -- came to a halt in the early years of the 21st century, well before the recent escalation in fuel prices.

Holy audio illusion!JAN 11

The Shepard scale is a sound, that when played continuously, creates the illusion of continually ascending or descending in tone. Listen to the sample on Wikipedia...it's freaky! (via @h_fj)

Quentin Tarantino's first movieJAN 11

No, not Reservoir Dogs. It's called My Best Friend's Birthday, which he made for $5000 in 1987. Here's the surviving 36 minutes of footage; the rest was destroyed in a fire.

Some of the ideas and material in this film would be recycled for the Tarantino-penned True Romance screenplay. (via sly oyster)

Photoshop rap with CMYKillerJAN 11

Watch as CMYKiller, Philter Phil, DJ Dodge, MC Burn and the rest of the posse rap us through some Photoshop tutorials.

I'm ropin' all the honeys with my magnetic lasso

Video game footballJAN 11

In the Seahawks/Saints game over the weekend, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch made an improbable game-winning touchdown run. So, I can't decide which one of these videos is better. Marshawn Lynch's Tecmo Bowl Run:

Or Marshawn Lynch as Super Mario in star mode:

50 Cent moves marketsJAN 10

The share price for stock in H&H Imports, Inc. went up 290% between the close of market on Friday to the end of the day today. The reason for the move? Entertainer/investor 50 Cent, who owns a portion of the tiny company, tweeted all weekend about how enthusiastic he was about the company's success. (He also appeared on CNBC.) By one calculation, 50 made $10 million with those tweets.

Messi named best player of 2010JAN 10

Lionel Messi won the inaugural men's 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or today, given to the best soccer player in 2010. The award was created for 2010 by merging France Football's Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award, both of which Messi won last year as well.

FIFA also named the World XI team, the best eleven players in the world by position (kinda like the NFL's All-Pro team). Amazingly, six of the eleven are from a single team, Spain's FC Barcelona. (All three of the finalists for the Ballon d'Or were from Barcelona as well.)

I've been watching Barcelona this year and I'm not sure professional American sports has seen anything like what this team is1. On paper, they're the best team on the planet by a wide margin (and that includes the World Cup-winning Spanish team, where several players -- but not, notably, Messi -- overlap) and in practice they're almost as good. Many of the players coming off the bench could start on just about any other team in Europe. But they still have to play the games and having six of the best eleven players on the planet doesn't guarantee wins, especially in a strongly team-oriented sport like soccer. Still lots of fun to watch them play, though.

[1] Maybe the Yankees in the 30s or 40s. Or the Celtics in the 60s. But neither of those teams had the three best players in the world on their rosters.

Sand portraitsJAN 10

My pal Mouser has started a sand collection and is using a macro lens to take photos of each sample. This sample was collected in Hawaii.

Sand portrait

The green grains are olivine, the black are basalt, and the white are possibly bits of shell. Green sand is reasonably rare; the southern tip of the big island of Hawai'i is the most common place to get it.

Don't miss the star sand. And in this shot, you can see fossilized shark teeth.

If you want to add to Mouser's collection, you can send him a small sand sample (about the size of a film canister) here:

Mouser
128 Rover Blvd.
Los Alamos, NM 87544

Free OEDJAN 10

Through Febuary 5th, you can access the Oxford English Dictionary online for free by using trynewoed/trynewoed as a login.

Genius soap dispenserJAN 10

Soap bars are more efficient than liquid soap dispensers but are also a messy pain in the ass. Enter design student Nathalie Stämpfli's Soap Flakes. It works like a pump dispenser and grates a small amount of soap into your hand when you pump the handle.

Soap Flakes

Today, most of the soap we use is liquid soap, which contains a lot of water. Block soap instead is more concentrated and therefore has some ecological benefits: You don't transport unnecessary water around. In place of plastic bottles you can simply use paper for packaging. The solid blocks can easily be piled and allow a greater space efficiency in a truck.

But what about the usage of soap bars? I don't like the weird slippery feeling when I use them. It gives me goose bumps. And under the shower, it always slides out of your fingers. Hand soap also often gets dirty and accumulates bacteria when more than one person is using it.

Quentin Tarantino's favorite films of 2010JAN 10

1. Toy Story 3
2. The Social Network
3. Animal Kingdom
4. I Am Love
5. Tangled
6. True Grit
7. The Town
8. Greenberg
9. Cyrus
10. Enter The Void

The rest of the list is here.

T-shirt classification systemJAN 07

While organizing his closet, Nick Foster came up with a categorization scheme for his many t-shirts.

t-shirt categories

StrongmanJAN 07

Here's the trailer for Strongman, a documentary about the "The Strongest Man in the World at Bending Steel and Metal":

The film will be playing in NYC at the IFC Center for one week starting on Jan 26th.

Is the Manning/Brady rivalry really a rivalry?JAN 07

In this week's column, Bill Simmons writes about the Peyton Manning / Tom Brady rivalry and contrasts it (somewhat) with Biggie/Tupac.

One grew up in the South; the other grew up in Northern California. One was picked first overall; the other was picked 199th. One looks like a bouncer; the other looks like a movie star. One has been considered the best at every level since high school; the other had to repeatedly fight to prove he belonged. For years, one was considered "the talented guy who can't come through when it matters;" the other was considered "the overachiever who always comes through when it matters." One embraced his celebrity and enjoyed it, making goofy commercials, parodying himself in sketches and cultivating an image as a relatable Southern guy; the other morphed into an actual celebrity, dating actresses and supermodels, moving to New York and then California, gracing various magazine covers, sponsoring watches and boots, and becoming famous for playing football and for being famous.

If there's an enduring snapshot of each guy, it's their postgame news conferences: Brady impeccably dressed and coiffed, looking like he has to bolt in a second because he's headed for a photo shoot; Manning standing there with that swollen, red helmet blotch on his forehead, looking like he's about to be whisked away to the hospital for X-rays. At first glance, you'd assume Brady was the No. 1 overall pick who had been anointed as "The Next Great Quarterback" since he was 15 and Manning was the one picked 199th who had to fight for everything. Nope.

But, as Simmons curiously fails to mention, the big problem with same-position rivalries in a game like football is that Manning and Brady do not directly compete against each other. Their teams play, but the two are never on the field at the same time. Never. Contrast that with tennis, soccer, hockey, and even (sorta) baseball. And basketball. Especially basketball. Kobe and Wade (to pick just one example) battle one another at both ends of the floor for the entire game.

The unexpected athleteJAN 07

Chrissie Wellington never really did sports growing up. Then, in her 20s, she started running and astonishingly soon after that, starting winning every Ironman triathlon she entered. Wellington's body and mental focus turned out to be uniquely suited to endurance events.

Then at around 130km into the bike ride, with Sutton's words "Don't defer to anybody" ringing in her ears, she started moving up the pack. "I came up to the lead group of girls and instead of thinking: 'These are the champions and the best in the world', I just went straight past them." Even so, Wellington never believed she would hold on. "Halfway through the marathon I still never thought I would win," she says. "You know they are behind you and you never know what they are capable of. I was running scared the whole way, thinking: 'They'll catch me, they'll catch me.' But they just didn't."

Short documentary on The SartorialistJAN 07

A really lovely seven-minute documentary about Scott Schuman, aka The Sartorialist.

Watching the concentration, focus, and determination in Schuman's eyes and body as he walks around looking for photographic subjects immediately reminded me of an elite athlete; that same look was documented at length in Zidane, A 21st Century Portrait. And that's no accident...what Schuman does is an athletic pursuit as much as anything else. The way he holds his camera while walking, down by his side, slightly behind his back, hiding it from his potential subjects until he sees an opening...he's like a running back cradling a football, probing for an opening in the defensive line.

Finally, Star Wars on Blu-rayJAN 06

Amazon has put Star Wars on Blu-ray up for pre-order on its site: the original trilogy for $45 or $90 for the whole thing. The release date looks like September 2011. One more time, just for old times sake, let's all buy the same six films for the very last time. Well, until the ultra mega special holographic boxed set comes out in 2013.

Comic Sans will make you smarterJAN 06

Researchers at Princeton have found evidence that making something more difficult to learn improves long-term learning and information retention. More specifically, changing the typeface from something legible (like Helvetica) to something more difficult to read (like Monotype Corsiva or Comic Sans) increased retention in actual classroom settings.

This study demonstrated that student retention of material across a wide range of subjects (science and humanities classes) and difficulty levels (regular, Honors and Advanced Placement) can be significantly improved in naturalistic settings by presenting reading material in a format that is slightly harder to read.... The potential for improving educational practices through cognitive interventions is immense. If a simple change of font can significantly increase student performance, one can only imagine the number of beneficial cognitive interventions waiting to be discovered. Fluency demonstrates how we have the potential to make big improvements in the performance of our students and education system as a whole.

I agree with Lehrer...get David Carson on the horn. (thx, lara)

Michael Caine's impersonation of Michael CaineJAN 06

Everyone has a Michael Caine impression. Even Michael Caine:

A year of learningJAN 06

In 2010, Giles Turnbull learned one thing each day...here's his list.

Jan 14. Carbon monoxide kills you by getting into your bloodstream and occupying the space inside red blood cells that would normally be filled with oxygen.

Jul 24. Every hour of every day, a billion tons of rain falls on the Earth. Much of it falls on Wales, the wettest place in Europe.

Nov 6. When your son asks "What is electricity?", it's wise to stop and think for a moment-or consult an encyclopedia-before launching into an answer that may grind to an unfortunate and, for the questioner, unsatisfying halt.

Se7en ending with stuffed animalsJAN 06

Surprisingly, the ending scene of Se7en is no less effective with stuffed animals standing in for the actors.

(via @sippey)

Autism study fraudulentJAN 06

As if there was actually more evidence needed that vaccines don't cause autism, the 1998 British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines was recently discovered to be an elaborate fraud. Not just incorrect, a fraud.

An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study's author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study -- and that there was "no doubt" Wakefield was responsible.

"It's one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors," Fiona Godlee, BMJ's editor-in-chief, told CNN. "But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data."

The full paper from BMJ is here.

Best movie posters of 2010JAN 05

Two very different lists of the best movie posters from last year: the more indie-oriented list from Mubi and the mainstream one from FirstShowing. The Mubi list is better but you may recognize more of the films from the FirstShowing list.

Temporary restaurantJAN 05

Chef John Fraser's new NYC restaurant will be designed to be open for only nine months...until the building it's in is demolished. Some other unusual things about the restaurant: diners set their own tables, chairs are from eBay, and it's funded in part via Kickstarter.

With little more than two weeks before the planned opening, he was still formulating the initial menu and pricing. For one appetizer he envisioned a Gruyere, leek and potato veloute; for another, Arctic char in aspic. For entrees he was mulling a pork cheek, a veal shank, Dover sole for two. These would probably be served as part of a three-course prix fixe for $58, he said.

Nothing too unconventional there. But beyond the plate, he said, anything goes. Although he'll take reservations, he's bypassing the Web service Open Table (too cumbersome). And he's curious about having a marching band stomp through some night. Obligatory resourcefulness has given way to revolutionary thoughts.

No "nigger" in new edition of Huck FinnJAN 05

A new edition of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn replaces occurrences of "nigger" in the text to "slave".

The idea of a more politically correct Finn came to the 69-year-old English professor over years of teaching and outreach, during which he habitually replaced the word with "slave" when reading aloud. Gribben grew up without ever hearing the "n" word ("My mother said it's only useful to identify [those who use it as] the wrong kind of people") and became increasingly aware of its jarring effect as he moved South and started a family. "My daughter went to a magnet school and one of her best friends was an African-American girl. She loathed the book, could barely read it."

I wonder how many times that word was used in songs appearing on Billboard's Hot 100 chart last year? Or perhaps nigga != nigger.

The Muppets sing Kanye West's MonsterJAN 05

This is surprisingly well done.

Continuing with the unexpected Kanye groove on kottke.org this morning.

Josh Groban sings Kanye's tweetsJAN 05

This might be even funnier than the Kanye Jordan Twitter acct.

Allen Iverson goes to TurkeyJAN 04

Having lost a step and the confidence of NBA general managers, Allen Iverson is playing professional basketball in Istanbul. Philadelphia Magazine tracks the former Sixers star down to see how he's faring in his new job.

With his NBA career over, his marriage in trouble, and rumors swirling about drinking and money problems, the greatest Sixer of his era finds himself playing minor-league basketball in Turkey and spending his nights at a T.G.I. Friday's in Istanbul. Isn't it, weirdly, exactly how we always thought it would end for Allen Iverson?

Lego letterpressJAN 04

A clever pair of designers are using Lego bricks to make 8-bit letterpress prints. Like so:

Lego Letterpress

Prints are available.

David Carson's new magazineJAN 04

Still pining for early 1990s Ray Gun? David Carson is starting a new magazine you might like called Carson.

"It's not about being retro," explained Alex Storch, the Editor-in-Chief. "It's about pushing forward. People want quality things they can hold and touch, not pseudo-journalism and themed template design on their computers. We're excited for people that have only seen David's books and a heavily worn copy of Ray Gun to experience his mastery of the form. We'd also like them to read some inspiring articles as well."

Women laughing alone with saladJAN 04

Salad is hilarious.

Ebert's guide to Citizen KaneJAN 03

In 2004, Roger Ebert wrote A Viewer's Companion to Citizen Kane. It starts off:

"Rosebud." The most famous word in the history of cinema. It explains everything, and nothing. Who, for that matter, actually heard Charles Foster Kane say it before he died? The butler says, late in the film, that he did. But Kane seems to be alone when he dies, and the reflection on the shard of glass from the broken paperweight shows the nurse entering the room. Gossip has it that the screenwriter, Herman Mankiewicz, used "rosebud" as an inside joke, because as a friend of Hearst's mistress, Marion Davies, he knew "rosebud" was the old man's pet name for the most intimate part of her anatomy.

Meet a former professional liarJAN 03

Clancy Martin is a tenured philosophy professor who used to sell luxury jewelry... and he wasn't very honest about it.

The jewelry business -- like many other businesses, especially those that depend on selling -- lends itself to lies. It's hard to make money selling used Rolexes as what they are, but if you clean one up and make it look new, suddenly there's a little profit in the deal. Grading diamonds is a subjective business, and the better a diamond looks to you when you're grading it, the more money it's worth -- as long as you can convince your customer that it's the grade you're selling it as. Here's an easy, effective way to do that: First lie to yourself about what grade the diamond is; then you can sincerely tell your customer "the truth" about what it's worth.

As I would tell my salespeople: If you want to be an expert deceiver, master the art of self-deception. People will believe you when they see that you yourself are deeply convinced. It sounds difficult to do, but in fact it's easy -- we are already experts at lying to ourselves. We believe just what we want to believe. And the customer will help in this process, because she or he wants the diamond -- where else can I get such a good deal on such a high-quality stone? -- to be of a certain size and quality. At the same time, he or she does not want to pay the price that the actual diamond, were it what you claimed it to be, would cost. The transaction is a collaboration of lies and self-deceptions.

How footballs are madeJAN 03

The manufacturing process for the official NFL football made by Wilson.

It's fascinating that every football used in the NFL for the past 20-30 years has been made by Deb, Loretta, Peg, Glen, Emmitt, Tina, Etta Mae, Pam, and Michelle. Also, they call the pre-laced, pre-inflated ball a carcass! (thx, peter)

The shrinking political soundbiteJAN 03

The political soundbite has gotten progressively shorter over the past few decades.

A professor at the University of California had just published research showing that the length of the average TV sound bite had dropped dramatically, from 43 seconds in the 1968 presidential election to a mere nine seconds in the 1988 election. And this drop had led to lots of hand-wringing -- from professors, from journalists, and from politicians themselves. "If you couldn't say it in less than 10 seconds," Michael Dukakis complained about the previous campaign, "it wasn't heard because it wasn't aired."

It's currently just under eight seconds...which, perhaps not coincidentally, is about how long it would take someone to speak a text or tweet.

Boardwalk Empire visual effectsJAN 03

Brainstorm Digital showcases some of the visual effects that they did for HBO's Boardwalk Empire.

Archives    December 2010 »    November 2010 »    October 2010 »

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