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

 

Updates on previous entries for Feb 26, 2011*FEB 27

Comings and goings at the NY Times orig. from Feb 25, 2011

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

The Kindle wants to be freeFEB 26

Kevin Kelly forecasts that Amazon will soon be handing out free Kindles...perhaps to Amazon Prime members.

In October 2009 John Walkenbach noticed that the price of the Kindle was falling at a consistent rate, lowering almost on a schedule. By June 2010, the rate was so unwavering that he could easily forecast the date at which the Kindle would be free: November 2011.

Since then I've mentioned this forecast to all kinds of folks. In August, 2010 I had the chance to point it out to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. He merely smiled and said, "Oh, you noticed that!" And then smiled again.

The Kindle has never been knock-it-out-of-the-park great...it looks like Amazon's strategy is not to build a great e-reader but to build a pretty good free e-reader.

Comings and goings at the NY TimesFEB 25

The Grey Lady is up to something...many things and people are on the move over there, particularly with regard to the magazine.

The On Language column originated by William Safire has been cancelled.

Christoph Niemann's excellent Abstract City blog is closing down and the feature will move to the New York Times Magazine.

This is the last The Medium column by Virginia Heffernan.

After 12 years, Randy Cohen will no longer write The Ethicist column.

Deborah Solomon won't be doing those irritating interviews anymore.

Update: A couple I missed: Rob Walker's Consumed and Mark Bittman's The Minimalist are both ending. (thx, all)

Debating The HangoverFEB 25

The timeline of events goes like this:

Last night, I posted the trailer for the sequel to The Hangover.

This morning, my friend David posts the following on Twitter:

Poleaxed by indication that pop culture aesthete @jkottke might actually like Hangover, the execrable frat boy flick

To which I replied a few hours later:

@daveg Are you kidding? That movie is hilarious.

Anil suggested a debate:

@jkottke @daveg I will pay you guys for an Oxford debate about the Hangover's merits, or lack thereof.

And Michael Sippey went there and posted a video of an animated David and an animated me having a debate about The Hangover:

I thought you were a pop culture aesthete.

No, I'm from the Midwest.

You live in Manhattan.

But I grew up eating hot dogs.

But you write about expensive conceptual restaurants and post pictures of contemporary art like that thing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York where the woman sat at the table all summer.

That's a pretty accurate five-line bio of me.

Dazzle camouflage for facesFEB 25

Allied ships in WWI and WWII were painted with Dazzle camouflage schemes in order to disguise the shape, speed, and orientation of the ships. CV Dazzle uses the same principle, but disguising faces from computerized facial recognition.

Cv Dazzle

Bonus: you get to look like Lady Gaga.

The lonely whaleFEB 25

A baleen whale that's been tracked by the Navy since 1992 can't attract a mate because his singing voice is too high.

To make matters worse, the high-pitched whale "does not follow the known migration route of any extant baleen whale species." The result, according to Dr. Kate Stafford, a researcher at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, is that the lonely whale keeps "saying 'Hey, I'm out here,'" but "nobody is phoning home."

Perfect poached eggs with a spoonFEB 25

Michael Ruhlman uses a spoon of his own design for making perfect poached eggs.

In On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee notes that there is a liquidy part of the egg white and a viscous one. If you let the liquidy part drain, before poaching, you will have a beautiful poached egg. (People tell you to put vinegar or lemon juice in poaching water -- this does nothing in my experience.) The problem was, my perforated spoons were so shallow the egg always wanted to jump out. No longer. The deep bowl of The Badass Perf spoon easily contains even a jumbo egg, as well as heaps of beans, vegetables, and pasta.

The Hangover 2 trailerFEB 24

Human mass productionFEB 24

A tweet I liked:

The fundamental moral tragedy of industrial modernity: 'Men have been mistaken for machines.'

The reference is from here.

Insane boat raceFEB 24

This is a jetsprint boat race; I've never seen a boat turn so sharply at such a fast speed.

Collaborative tourist snapsFEB 24

For her Photo Opportunities project, Corrine Vionnet finds tourist photos of famous landmarks online and layers them to make images like this:

Corinne Vionnet

(thx, reed)

Queen of All Me MediaFEB 24

Dooce gets the NY Times Magazine treatment this weekend. More than anything, reading it made me nostalgic for a certain short period of time where people could write personal blogs intended to be read by more than just family and a few friends without worrying about money or a "personal brand". God, those were the (clearly unsustainable) days...here's the new reality:

Amy Oztan, who blogs at SelfishMom.com, is particularly transparent when it comes to her sponsors. She has a lot of them -- companies who pay her, in money or in product, to advertise on her site or to mention them. Oztan has an entire section explaining how she makes her money, including an extensive index of tabs she uses to alert readers to the economics of everything she writes. It starts with Level 1 -- "The product or service mentioned was provided to Amy free of charge (or at a considerable discount not available to the public)" -- and goes up to Level 13: "This is a sponsored post. Amy was compensated to write this post. While Amy's opinions in the post are authentic, talking points may have been suggested by the sponsor." In between these extremes are compensation for inserting links to a certain Web site, attending an event or administering a product giveaway. Which pretty much explains why, between daily witticisms, she so regularly describes how she offered Kleenex to the woman next to her at a conference or placed her HTC HD7 Windows phone on the tray table next to her when she lucked into an empty row on her last plane trip.

How the other half of 0.1% livesFEB 23

These are the people who pay full price for the clothes that appear on the runways of Paris, NY, Milan, etc.

Christine Chiu wears most items only once. The 28-year-old, who is married to the founder of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery, goes to events every night of the week-often making multiple wardrobe changes in a single night.

"If you're going to a gala for some kind of disease and then you go to a hip art event, you can't wear the same thing," Ms. Chiu says.

(via mr)

Cindy Sherman retrospective coming to MoMAFEB 23

But we've got to wait a whole year...the exhibition opens on Feb 26, 2012.

The MoMA retrospective will be thematic. There will be rooms devoted to Ms. Sherman's explorations of subjects like the grotesque, with images of mutilated bodies and abject landscapes, as well as a room with a dozen centerfolds, a takeoff of men's magazines, in which she depicts herself in guises ranging from a sultry seductress to a vulnerable victim. There will also be a room that shows her work critiquing the fashion industry and stereotypical depictions of women.

Mississippi River system as subway mapFEB 23

A map of the Mississippi River and all its tributaries drawn in the style of Harry Beck's London Underground map.

Mississippi Metro Map

Prints are available. (via strange maps)

Movie sounds guyFEB 23

A fascinating look at how a Foley artist makes all of the sounds that find their way into Hollywood films.

(thx, deron)

Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-StewartFEB 23

Nicholas Courtney, who played the Brigadier on Doctor Who, died yesterday aged 81.

Ripped from the fake headlinesFEB 22

An episode of CSI:NY "borrowed" quite a few elements from a short story written by Teddy Wayne and they basically won't admit that they did so. Whenever stuff like this happens, I think about that interview where Vanilla Ice tried to argue that the bassline from Under Pressure and Ice Ice Baby were totally different.

100-day repetitive projectsFEB 22

For the past five years, Michael Bierut has taught a class for aspiring designers where students have to record the results of "a design operation that [they] are capable of repeating every day" for 100 straight days. Here are some of the results.

Zak Klauck: "Over the course of 100 days, I made a poster each day in one minute. The posters were based on one word or short phrase collected from 100 different people. Anyone and everyone was invited to contribute." The perfect exercise for a graphic designer.

Radiohead, bigger than The Beatles?FEB 22

Tim Carmody gives props to Radiohead for their rare combination of longevity and relevance.

Still, I think music fans and cultural observers need to grapple with this a little: Radiohead's first album, Pablo Honey, came out 18 years ago. Here's another way to think about it: when that album came out, I was 13; now I'm 31. And from at least The Bends to the present, they've commanded the attention of the musical press and the rock audience as one of the top ten -- or higher -- bands at any given moment. You might have loved Radiohead, you might have been bored by them, you might have wished they'd gone back to an earlier style you liked better, but you always had to pay attention to them, and know where you stood. For 18 years. That's an astonishing achievement.

As Anil has his hands busy with a new baby, I'll wade in here and point out that Tim's examples don't include any pop, rap, R&B, or hip hop. Jay-Z hasn't been around as long as Radiohead, but he's getting there. The Beastie Boys had at least 15 years. Madonna and Michael Jackson each had 20 culturally relevant years, more or less. I'm probably forgetting a few, but yeah, that's still not a long list.

A message in an NFL player's suicideFEB 22

When former NFL player Dave Duerson shot and killed himself the other day, he aimed for his chest and not his head because he wanted his brain to be in one piece and therefore available for study for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which may have led to Duerson's suicide in the first place.

Players who began their careers knowing the likely costs to their knees and shoulders are only now learning about the cognitive risks, too. After years of denying or discrediting evidence of football's impact on the brain -- from C.T.E. in deceased players to an increasing number of retirees found to have dementia or other memory-related disease -- the N.F.L. has spent the last year addressing the issue, mostly through changes in concussion management and playing rules.

Duerson sent text messages to his family before he shot himself specifically requesting that his brain be examined for damage, two people aware of the messages said. Another person close to Duerson, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Duerson had commented to him in recent months that he might have C.T.E., an incurable disease linked to depression, impaired impulse control and cognitive decline.

There's nothing good about that story at all.

Free streaming movies for Amazon Prime membersFEB 22

Whoa, Amazon just kicked Netflix and Apple in the nuts. Or poked them in the eye at least. Amazon Prime members can now stream about 5000 movies and TV shows for free. There aren't a lot of new releases, but there's some good stuff in there.

Modern art swimsuit issueFEB 22

Jealous of all the attention garnered by Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue, Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes decided to compile his own swimsuit publication. Here's a sample from a Mr. P. Picasso:

Picasso Bathers

Siamese Dream cover girl now in the bandFEB 18

This is my favorite bit of news today: one of the little girls (the one on the left) on the Siamese Dream album cover is now actually the bass player for the Smashing Pumpkins.

Siamese Dream

The source for this is Billy Corgan on Twitter:

Just found out the weirdest news: our bass player Nicole (@xocoleyf) just admitted she is one of the girls on the cover of Siamese Dream. She said she didn't want us to know because she thought maybe we wouldn't let her be in the band.

Next you're going to tell me that the Nirvana baby has joined up with Shepard Fairey...no wait, that happened too! (via @kathrynyu)

This American Life discovers Coke secret formulaFEB 18

Well, sorta kinda maybe almost not really discovered it. But the story is still well worth a listen...I've never heard Ira Glass quite so on-the-edge-of-his-seat giddy.

Coke Recipe

The formula for Coca-Cola is one of the most jealously guarded trade secrets in the world. So we were surprised to come across a 1979 newspaper article with what looked like the original recipe for Coke. Talking to historian Mark Pendergrast, author of For God, Country and Coca-Cola, we were even more surprised when we found reasons to believe the recipe is real.

If you'd like to mix up your own batch of Coca-Cola, here's the original recipe and instructions.

Anna Wintour rumorsFEB 18

From The Hairpin, which may be even better than its big brother (shh, don't tell Choire or Balk), an illustrated look at rumors they've heard about Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

Anna Wintour's sleeping trunk

Lovely illustrations by Lisa Hanawalt.

How to write a Twitter bioFEB 18

Alex Blagg, social media 2.0 ideator, shares 15 top tips for crafting the perfect Twitter bio.

5. If you go out to bars like every night of the week, you're not alcoholic. You're a Foursquare Ambassador.

6. You can add "-ista" to the end of literally any word to make yourself sound approximately 47 times more stylish and savvy. (ex. Digitalista or Barista or Unemployista)

El Bulli documentaryFEB 17

At MoMA on Friday and Saturday: screenings of a German documentary on Ferran Adrià's El Bulli.

For six months of the year, heralded chef Ferran Adrià and his team of experts concoct new dishes for the 30 course menu of the world famous El Bulli Restaurant. Here we watch their behind-the-scenes process, an artistic laboratory of tasting, smelling, designing and carefully recording each new idea, then selecting their top choices.

The evolution of linesFEB 17

Someone draws a straight line. The next person's task is to trace that line as precisely as possible. Repeat 500 times. The lines get really messy surprisingly fast:

As David said, this is a nice demonstration of evolution.

Spy magazine on Google BooksFEB 17

Google has put every issue of the influential Spy magazine up on Google Books to read for free. (via kbandersen)

Last night, a robot DJ saved my lifeFEB 17

...or rather, it recognized my face, looked up what music I liked on Facebook and Hunch, and played it for me. Meet AutomaticDJ:

Adobe Lightroom on saleFEB 17

Today only, Amazon has Adobe Lightroom on sale for $189, 37% off the regular $300 price. I'm an Aperture user myself, but I've heard from many that Lightroom is superior.

8-bit Safari browserFEB 17

Pixelfari is an 8-bit version of Safari that renders everything in pixely fonts and graphics. Here's what kottke.org looks like using Pixelfari:

Pixel kottke.org

Real designers sell their workFEB 16

Well worth a listen: Dan Benjamin interviews Mike Monteiro on The Pipeline podcast about his design work and Twitter infamy. The last 10 minutes or so, where Mike calls out designers who don't talk to clients, is gold. One of the reasons I got out of design is that I was never very good at that part of the job and as Mike says, you have to be able to not only accept but embrace selling your designs to truly succeed.

What's Next after Alinea?FEB 16

The NY Times has a preview of Grant Achatz's and Nick Kokonas's next restaurant Next. [Insert elaborate Who's On First routine with a nice mise en place pun here.]

The two of them -- the spare, driven artist and the comfortable, fluid patron -- evoke a modern Michelangelo and Medici, bonded by mutual trust and now locked into a very public artistic endeavor. With Next, Mr. Achatz is operating at a level of creative and financial freedom enjoyed by very few artists and only a handful of chefs in history.

And this line got me more excited than I should admit:

A menu might be designed around a single day -- say, the Napa Valley on Oct. 28, 1996, the day Mr. Achatz started work at the French Laundry, where he remained until 2001.

The slideshow has some photos of the food.

The Celtic Paper TigerFEB 16

Michael Lewis continues his tour of economic disasters -- he wrote about Greece and Iceland for Vanity Fair and wrote an entire book on the US subprime mess -- with a piece on Ireland and the country's spectacular rise in becoming Europe's mightiest economic engine and even steeper fall to third-world economic mess.

Even in an era when capitalists went out of their way to destroy capitalism, the Irish bankers set some kind of record for destruction. Theo Phanos, a London hedge-fund manager with interests in Ireland, says that "Anglo Irish was probably the world's worst bank. Even worse than the Icelandic banks."

Ireland's financial disaster shared some things with Iceland's. It was created by the sort of men who ignore their wives' suggestions that maybe they should stop and ask for directions, for instance. But while Icelandic males used foreign money to conquer foreign places -- trophy companies in Britain, chunks of Scandinavia -- the Irish male used foreign money to conquer Ireland. Left alone in a dark room with a pile of money, the Irish decided what they really wanted to do with it was to buy Ireland. From one another. An Irish economist named Morgan Kelly, whose estimates of Irish bank losses have been the most prescient, made a back-of-the-envelope calculation that puts the losses of all Irish banks at roughly 106 billion euros. (Think $10 trillion.) At the rate money currently flows into the Irish treasury, Irish bank losses alone would absorb every penny of Irish taxes for at least the next three years.

In recognition of the spectacular losses, the entire Irish economy has almost dutifully collapsed. When you fly into Dublin you are traveling, for the first time in 15 years, against the traffic. The Irish are once again leaving Ireland, along with hordes of migrant workers. In late 2006, the unemployment rate stood at a bit more than 4 percent; now it's 14 percent and climbing toward rates not experienced since the mid-1980s. Just a few years ago, Ireland was able to borrow money more cheaply than Germany; now, if it can borrow at all, it will be charged interest rates nearly 6 percent higher than Germany, another echo of a distant past. The Irish budget deficit -- which three years ago was a surplus -- is now 32 percent of its G.D.P., the highest by far in the history of the Eurozone. One credit-analysis firm has judged Ireland the third-most-likely country to default. Not quite as risky for the global investor as Venezuela, but riskier than Iraq. Distinctly Third World, in any case.

Beatles mockumentary from the year 3126FEB 16

A short documentary report from a thousand years into the future about The Beatles.

First-hand records are certainly scarce. There's a lot we don't know about The Beatles, but we do know that these four young men -- John Lennon, Paul MacKenzie, Greg Hutchinson, and Scottie Pippen -- were some of the finest musicians that ever existed. The Beatles rose to prominence when they travelled from their native Linverton to America to perform at Ed Sullivan's annual Woodstock festival.

The Middle Way of social mediaFEB 15

From Tricycle, a magazine about Buddhism, here are ten mindful ways to use social media.

9. Practice letting go. It may feel unkind to disregard certain updates or tweets, but we need downtime to be kind to ourselves. Give yourself permission to let yesterday's stream go. This way you won't need to "catch up" on updates that have passed but instead can be part of today's conversation.

Nice SEO-friendly listicle headline there! (thx, zg)

Expiring Netflix Watch Instantly alertsFEB 15

queuenoodle is a Twitter account that will tell you when movies expire from Netflix Watch Instantly so you can, uh, watch them. Brought you by Twitter's media pastamaker, Robin Sloan.

Trend: multiple mobile phone numbersFEB 15

People around the world are starting to use two or more mobile phone numbers on a regular basis for a variety of reasons (and using a variety of techniques, including special 2-in-1 SIM cards).

Another motivation to have more than one number is for the user to control how one is contacted and contactable. Naturally users typically have a strategy on handing out the right number to the right person for future contactability. Our research participants most commonly report separating private and business contacts by having separate numbers. Being able to switch one number completely offline is a way of switching the mental mode, such as "I am turning my work phone off as I am not working anymore". Small business owners and those who deal with a large number of people can identify the type of contacts easily by differentiating which phone number they use. One Chinese electronic shop owner gave out one of his mobile phone number for his best customers, ensuring that he is always reachable for them. The ease of having another mobile phone number also provides the exclusive communication channel for some, like those in early or secret relationships.

Part two of the piece is here. (via @antimega)

Chocolate faceFEB 15

Watch as a woman gets chocolate sauce poured all over her face for almost ten minutes. I don't know what to think of this one: mesmerizing? yucky? erotic? hunger-inducing? I have a hungry tingling disgust going on here...

Behind the scenes at PixarFEB 15

The New York Times gets a rare behind the scenes look at Pixar.

(via devour)

Ronaldo retiresFEB 14

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, more commonly known as Ronaldo, retired from soccer today as one of the most decorated players ever: he won two Ballon d'Ors, three FIFA player of the year awards, was on two World Cup-winning Brazilian teams, and scored the most goals in World Cup history. The video is a bit fuzzy, but here are ten of Ronaldo's greatest goals:

That backheel in #8 is just otherworldly, as is the spin move in #5. See also Ronaldo's skills.

Evolving a carFEB 14

BoxCar 2D is a fun little toy: it uses genetic algorithms to evolve little cars that can complete obstacle courses (like the ones you'd find on Cyclomaniacs). If you play this for more than a minute or two, you'll be at it for 30 minutes, easy. (via moleitau)

LCD Soundsystem ticket debacleFEB 14

So, LCD Soundsystem is retiring and to see off their fans, they decided to perform one last show at Madison Square Garden. Except that they didn't think they'd sell the place out and didn't pay too much attention to how the tickets were being sold. When the tickets went on sale last week, they sold out immediately. Many fans didn't get tickets, the band's family and friends didn't get tickets, and even some of the band didn't get tickets. Scalpers bought thousands upon thousands of tickets and the band is hopping mad. So they're adding four more NYC shows right before the MSG gig to give their fans a chance to see them and to screw the scalpers by increasing the supply (and therefore lowering demand and prices).

oh-and a small thing to scalpers: "it's legal" is what people say when they don't have ethics. the law is there to set the limit of what is punishable (aka where the state needs to intervene) but we are supposed to have ethics, and that should be the primary guiding force in our actions, you fucking fuck.

It would be fun if all those scalpers got stuck with thousands of unsellable MSG tickets.

Who is Arcade Fire?FEB 14

Arcade Fire won album of the year for The Suburbs at the Grammys last night and a lot of people don't even know what an Arcade Fire is. Including Rosie O'Donnell.

Who Is Arcade Fire

(via @waferbaby)

Out of nowhere, a new Radiohead album!!FEB 14

At least out of nowhere for me...I had no idea this album was coming. Anyway, it's called The King of Limbs and the digital copy is out on Feb 19th. Huzzah!

Down with foodiesFEB 14

B.R. Myers' rant about foodies in The Atlantic is a bit too over-the-top and over-generalized for my taste, but there is truth to be found in his arguments.

The moral logic in Pollan's hugely successful book now informs all food writing: the refined palate rejects the taste of factory-farmed meat, of the corn-syrupy junk food that sickens the poor, of frozen fruits and vegetables transported wastefully across oceans-from which it follows that to serve one's palate is to do right by small farmers, factory-abused cows, Earth itself. This affectation of piety does not keep foodies from vaunting their penchant for obscenely priced meals, for gorging themselves, even for dining on endangered animals-but only rarely is public attention drawn to the contradiction. This has much to do with the fact that the nation's media tend to leave the national food discourse to the foodies in their ranks. To people like Pollan himself. And Severson, his very like-minded colleague at The New York Times. Is any other subculture reported on so exclusively by its own members? Or with a frequency and an extensiveness that bear so little relation to its size?

The first Gizmodo designFEB 11

While we're being all nostalgic, here's what Gizmodo looked like when it launched:

Gizmodo 2001 design

The site, which launched several months before Gawker, was designed & developed by Ben and Mena Trott with the couple's relatively new blogging software, Movable Type.

Don't miss new music releasesFEB 11

Nomis is an iOS app that looks at the artists in your iPhone or iPod's music library and shows you their latest and upcoming releases. Showed me a couple things I was unaware of: the new Cut Copy and an Underworld album from September that I'd missed. The only bummer is that it's kind of absurdly slow in looking through your library. (thx, brandon)

The very first Gawker designFEB 11

With all the buzz around the new Gawker design, I figured I'd dig out the first design I ever showed Nick for the site back in October of 2002:

Gawker 2002 design

Nick didn't like it too much. Background too dark, masthead text not logo-y enough. Two weeks later, I sent him this, with a half-assed technicolor logo that I'd dashed off in Photoshop in like 30 minutes:

Gawker 2002 design

To my shock, he loved it -- so much so that they're still using the damn thing! -- and that design was very close to how the site looked when it launched.

Found: sunken Nantucket whalerFEB 11

In the 1820s, two Nantucket whaling ships captained by George Pollard sank within three years of each other. The sinking of the first, The Essex, inspired Moby-Dick. Remains of the second ship, the Two Brothers, have recently been found off Hawaii, the first time artifacts from a sunken Nantucket whaler have been found.

"Nantucket whaling captains were renowned for being what was called 'fishy men,' meaning that they didn't care what was involved," said Nathaniel Philbrick, a maritime historian and author of "In the Heart of the Sea," the acclaimed account of the Essex's sinking. "They were hard-wired to bring in whales, because whales meant money."

Pollard, however, was different, "a little more contemplative," said Mr. Philbrick, despite earning his first helm -- the Essex -- at the young age of 28.

"He definitely garnered his men's respect," Mr. Philbrick said. "But he was twice unlucky."

And understandably gun-shy. According to an account by Thomas Nickerson, who had been on the Essex -- and nearly starved to death at sea after it sank, but still re-upped for another voyage with Pollard -- the captain froze on the deck of the Two Brothers after the ship began to sink, and he had to be practically dragged into a smaller whale-chasing boat.

"His reasoning powers had flown," Nickerson later wrote.

Dr. Gleason says she was impressed that Pollard even went back on a boat at all, considering, you know, the cannibalism of his first trip.

"You just imagine this man who had the courage to go back out to sea, and to have this happen?" she said. "It's incredible."

(via @juliandibbell)

The many faces of Woody AllenFEB 11

A selection of Woody's movie eyewear from the full poster.

Woody Allen faces

(thx, ben)

Next for P.T. Anderson: Pynchon and ScientologyFEB 11

Speaking of Scientology, P.T. Anderson is working on two movies: 1) a film people are calling The Master about a religious movement similar to Scientology, and 2) an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice.

Last December, this blog was the first to report that Anderson had written a treatment of Pynchon's seventh novel, and was considering doing a screenplay. Now insiders confirm to Vulture that Anderson has, in fact, obtained the blessing of Pynchon and -- in frequent consultation with the eremite novelist himself -- has not only written a first draft, but is more than halfway done with a second.

The New Yorker takes on ScientologyFEB 10

I'm still powering through it, but the Scientology article in the latest New Yorker is a great read. The article focuses on director and screenwriter Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby), who recently left the church after reaching the church's highest level.

World of Goo for iPad only 99 centsFEB 10

Today only, World of Goo for the iPad is only 99 cents. Like I said before, this game is what the iPad was built for. (via capn design)

Welcome to Pine PointFEB 10

From the National Film Board of Canada, a lovely interactive remembrance of a Canadian mining town that doesn't exist anymore.

Yearbook photos are taken during a cruel time in our lives, when that single thing you're known for is enough to summarize you completely.

Fantastic design work here...the presentation is really great. (via @daveg)

Record low Arctic iceFEB 10

U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center is reporting that Arctic Sea ice was at its lowest January level since satellite records began.

NSIDC reported that ice extent was unusually low in Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, and Davis Strait in the early winter. Normally frozen over by late November, these areas did not completely freeze until mid-January 2011. The Labrador Sea was also unusually ice-free.

(via @polarben)

In FocusFEB 10

Alan Taylor, late of The Big Picture, is up and running at The Atlantic with his new site, In Focus.

In Focus is The Atlantic's news photography blog. Several times a week, I'll post entries featuring collections of images that tell a story. My goal is to use photography to do the kind of high-impact journalism readers have come to expect on other pages of this site. Along the way, I'll cover a range of subjects, from breaking news and historical topics to culture high and low. Sometimes, I'll just showcase amazing photography.

Trees on a planeFEB 09

I am a sucker for aerial photos and Gerco De Ruijter's photos of Dutch tree nurseries are particularly nice.

Gerco De Ruijter

Doctor Who cheat sheetFEB 09

From illustrator Bob Canada, a one-page guide to Doctor Who for first-timers. Best viewed large. See also these illustrated portraits of all eleven Doctors.

Watch the world get fatFEB 09

This interactive chart from the Washington Post shows how the average body mass index has risen in most countries since 1980. The European men getting comparatively heavier than European women (against the general trend of the rest of the world) is interesting.

Picturing economic inequalityFEB 09

Dutch economist Jan Pen devised a clever way of picturing economic inequality: as the height of people walking past you.

Imagine people's height being proportional to their income, so that someone with an average income is of average height. Now imagine that the entire adult population of America is walking past you in a single hour, in ascending order of income.

The first passers-by, the owners of loss-making businesses, are invisible: their heads are below ground. Then come the jobless and the working poor, who are midgets. After half an hour the strollers are still only waist-high, since America's median income is only half the mean. It takes nearly 45 minutes before normal-sized people appear. But then, in the final minutes, giants thunder by. With six minutes to go they are 12 feet tall. When the 400 highest earners walk by, right at the end, each is more than two miles tall.

(via ben fry)

Playmobil Joy DivisionFEB 09

A nearly shot-for-shot version of Joy Division performing Transmission live in 1979...with Playmobil characters.

Original version is here. (via hello typepad)

James Bond as Bond girlFEB 08

An interesting take on Casino Royale from Warren Ellis:

In CASINO ROYALE, James Bond is the Bond girl. Look at the way they even show him emerging from the ocean like Ursula Andress. Sexual torture, too, if less creepy-glam than being stripped and painted gold. Vesper Lynd is Bond: never not in control, never without a plan, seducing to further her goals. She has to die so Bond can become her.

Big wave skiing?FEB 08

Watch as Chuck Patterson skis (not surfs, skis) the Jaws surf break in Maui.

And for some reason, he's using poles!

Did Usher rip off Homer Simpson?FEB 08

Usher's OMG sounds suspiciously close to a Christmas carol that Homer wrote in an episode of The Simpsons. Take a listen:

Fractal MondrianFEB 08

If Mandelbrot and Mondrian had a baby, it might look a little something like this:

Fractal Mondrian

Awesome. There's also a zoomable version but not a very deep one...would be nice to have an infinitely zoomable version in Processing or something.

Cliche!FEB 08

"In France, everyone has a view of the Eiffel Tower" and other French stereotypes:

Also, la version française. (thx, rosecrans)

Nazi graphics standards manualFEB 07

Steven Heller had heard rumors of a Nazi graphics standards manual for years and finally tracked one down.

Nazi Graphics Standards

Published in 1936, The Organizationsbuch der NSDAP (with subsequent annual editions), detailed all aspects of party bureaucracy, typeset tightly in German Blackletter. What interested me, however, were the over 70 full-page, full-color plates (on heavy paper) that provide examples of virtually every Nazi flag, insignia, patterns for official Nazi Party office signs, special armbands for the Reichsparteitag (Reichs Party Day), and Honor Badges. The book "over-explains the obvious" and leaves no Nazi Party organization question, regardless of how minute, unanswered.

More photos and a copy for sale here.

2010 Feltron Annual ReportFEB 07

Nicholas Felton has been doing personal annual reports since 2005. But for 2010, he did a report of his late father's life utilizing various documents (birth certificates, notebooks, slides, etc.).

Feltron Annual Report 2010

This is a marvelous document. Here's a photo of some of the source materials.

The Hood Internet Mixtape Volume FiveFEB 07

Yes. Yes! YES! It's MIXMAS! The Hood Internet has released their fifth mixtape. Download commencing now.

A short history of the rocketFEB 07

Neal Stephenson leads us through a short history of the rocket, from Hitler to the Manhattan Project to Stalin and then the space program.

The phenomena of path dependence and lock-in can be illustrated with many examples, but one of the most vivid is the gear we use to launch things into space. Rockets are a very old invention. The Chinese have had them for something like 1,000 years. Francis Scott Key wrote about them during the War of 1812 and we sing about them at every football game. As late as the 1930s, however, they remained small, experimental, and failure-prone.

A rocket taking offThere is no way, of course, to guess how rockets might have developed, or failed to, were it not for the fact that, during the 1940s, the world's most technically sophisticated nation was under the absolute control of a crazy dictator who decreed that vast physical and intellectual resources should be hurled into the project of creating rockets of hitherto unimagined size.

A short history of the EarthFEB 07

From physicist John Baez, a history of the major disasters that happened to the Earth: the Big Splat, the Late Heavy Bombardment, the Oxygen Catastrophe, and the Snowball Earth. The Big Splat is believed to have formed the Moon:

In 2004, the astrophysicist Robin Canup, at the Southwest Research Institute in Texas, published some remarkable computer simulations of the Big Splat. To get a moon like ours to form -- instead of one too rich in iron, or too small, or wrong in other respects -- she had to choose the right initial conditions. She found it best to assume Theia is slightly more massive than Mars: between 10% and 15% of the Earth's mass. It should also start out moving slowly towards the Earth, and strike the Earth at a glancing angle.

The result is a very bad day. Theia hits the Earth and shears off a large chunk, forming a trail of shattered, molten or vaporized rock that arcs off into space. Within an hour, half the Earth's surface is red-hot, and the trail of debris stretches almost 4 Earth radii into space. After 3 to 5 hours, the iron core of Theia and most of the the debris comes crashing back down. The Earth's entire crust and outer mantle melts. At this point, a quarter of Theia has actually vaporized!

After a day, the material that has not fallen back down has formed a ring of debris orbiting the Earth. But such a ring would not be stable: within a century, it would collect to form the Moon we know and love. Meanwhile, Theia's iron core would sink down to the center of the Earth.

Buffalo wings blue cheese dressing recipeFEB 05

I tweeted earlier this evening about the Buffalo wings blue cheese dip I made for tomorrow's football festivities and a couple people were wondering about the recipe, so here you go. Legend has it this is the original recipe from the Anchor Bar (aka the birthplace for Buffalo wings), clipped out of a Buffalo newspaper by Meg's mother in the 70s and copied out longhand in Meg's recipe notebook.

2 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste

Combine. Chill. Me? I did the onion and garlic first and then added the lemon juice and vinegar and let that sit while I measured out the mayo and sour cream. Salt and peppers after everything else is mixed. Tastes great! Go Buffalo!

Super Bowl preview for non-sports typesFEB 04

This Super Bowl preview "for people who don't know football" from The Rumpus is pretty good, even for people who do know football. Especially if you've never heard about Donald Driver's childhood:

Growing up in abject poverty in Houston, Texas, Donald, his mother, and brother lived, at various times, in a U-Haul, out of a car, and on the streets. As a young teen, Donald used his intelligence, natural dexterity and quick hands to become an extremely effective car thief. He sold the cars to buy drugs, which he then turned around and sold for more money. He believes he stole up to thirty cars, and was only caught once.

Chalk typographyFEB 04

Some lovely drawings from Dana Tanamachi, a graphic designer and "custom chalk letterer".

Dana Tanamachi

Here's a timelapse of Tanamachi at work. (via @h_fj)

Clapping musicFEB 04

Angie Dickinson and Lee Marvin "perform" Steve Reich's Clapping Music. This is mesmerizing.

(via @sippey)

NoteSlateFEB 04

Here's an interesting little gadget: NoteSlate, an monochrome e-ink tablet built for writing.

Noteslate

First models are due in June and will retail for $99.

How much is a planet worth?FEB 04

Over at Boing Boing, Lee Billings has an interview with Greg Laughlin, an astrophysicist who recently came up with an equation for estimating the value of planets, a sort of Drake equation for cosmic economics.

This equation's initial purpose, he wrote, was to put meaningful prices on the terrestrial exoplanets that Kepler was bound to discover. But he soon found it could be used equally well to place any planet-even our own-in a context that was simultaneously cosmic and commercial. In essence, you feed Laughlin's equation some key parameters -- a planet's mass, its estimated temperature, and the age, type, and apparent brightness of its star -- and out pops a number that should, Laughlin says, equate to cold, hard cash.

At the time, the exoplanet Gliese 581 c was thought to be the most Earth-like world known beyond our solar system. The equation said it was worth a measly $160. Mars fared better, priced at $14,000. And Earth? Our planet's value emerged as nearly 5 quadrillion dollars. That's about 100 times Earth's yearly GDP, and perhaps, Laughlin thought, not a bad ballpark estimate for the total economic value of our world and the technological civilization it supports.

The game of LoveFEB 04

Forgive me Internet for I have sinned. It has been several months since I regularly posted addictive Flash games to kottke.org. As penance, I offer up Love, in which you get your spinning square close to (but not too close to) a bunch of squares. More funner than it sounds. Go in peace.

Don'ts: walking while textingFEB 03

If you run into me on the sidewalk while you are heads-down texting, emailing, IMing, reading, sexting, Angry Birdsing, or whatever elseing on your mobile device, I get to slap that fucking thing out of your hands a la Alex Rodriguez slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove in game six of the 2004 American League Championship Series, except way less milquetoasty. And you do the same for me, ok?

Addendum: If you're heads-down texting on your phone accompanying a young child in a crosswalk with lots of traffic turning through it, I get to slap the phone out of your hands, punch you in the face, and take your child away from you forever. Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you people?

Crayon colorsFEB 03

This Wikipedia page has HTML hex codes for all of the 133 standard Crayola crayon colors, including Silver, Blue Green, Melon, Wild Strawberry, and Forest Green.

Social health solutionsFEB 03

Riffing in part off of Atul Gawande's recent piece in the New Yorker about controlling healthcare costs, Jay Parkinson argues that most health solutions aren't medical, they're social.

In the past 4 months, I've changed my life for the better in three significant ways.

Why?

My relationships changed, and thus my everyday changed. I began eating with someone who ate differently than me. I adopted her eating habits, which spurred me to change how I ate. I also spent more time with Grant, who introduced me to the world of urban cycling. I adopted his lifestyle and his interests. And then I changed myself and started pushing my heart in the gym.

I'm playing Health Month this month, mostly just for the hell of it. The game is built to be social...there are teams, players offer each other support, etc. Just two days in, I can see why this might work for me: it turns private goals into public rules.

Everything is a Remix, part twoFEB 03

Kirby Ferguson is back with the next installment of Everything is a Remix, his examination of remix techniques used in film.

Featured are two of the most extensive borrowers in film: George Lucas and Quentin Tarantino. Part one is available here.

The Julie ProjectFEB 03

When photographer Darcy Padilla first meets Julie Baird in 1993, Baird is HIV positive, a new mother, and nearly homeless. Padilla photographs Baird on and off for the next eighteen years.

Julie Project

I almost stopped reading this about halfway through because she wouldn't stop having children, but it's worth sticking it out until the end. (via dooce)

Become a dentist in just four hours!FEB 02

From Charlie Nadler at Bygone Bureau, a wonderful pantsing of Tim Ferriss and his self-help nonsense.

Congratulations! The fact that you're reading this book means you're on your way to achieving your WILDEST DREAMS. You want to be a dentist? I'm going to make it happen. And guess what? It only takes four hours. Let me repeat that: in four hours, you will be a dentist. Take a deep breath and get ready for the ride of your life. Welcome to the 4-Hour Dentist.

(via @43folders)

BEAUTY = BUY + EATFEB 02

Beauty Buy Eat

This is a piece called Operators Are Standing By by Jean Bevier. No idea who did this, but I love it. (via prosthetic knowledge and thx for the correction, dan)

Two new Angry Birds games coming soonFEB 02

The big new game will be called Angry Birds Rio. It's a movie tie-in (blech), but as long as the game features a ton of that trademark bird-flinging action, who cares?

There will also be a Valentine's Day edition of Angry Birds, perfect for ignoring your beloved on that special day.

One of us! One of us!FEB 02

Writer Rob Neyer recently left ESPN for SB Nation and in his first column for SBN, he articulates the difference between "us" (professional journalists) and them (readers).

I've never thought of myself as a member of us rather than them.

I've got a lot of passions, and generally I won't bore you with them. But the passion I indulge almost every day of my life is good writing. I crave it, and when I find it, I treasure it. I surround myself with books full of good writing, and I can't get through the day without scribbling down a brilliant sentence or delightful word in a thick journal that's always close at hand.

Also, it's my business. I'm one of the lucky few who gets paid to indulge his first love.

Where the good writing comes from, though, is irrelevant. All that matters is the writing.

You're paid to write? I know lots of professional writers who either never learned to write well, or have forgotten. You work for a famous website or newspaper? The big boys don't have a monopoly on good writing, let alone facts.

Sportswriting, like writing about computing or video games, lends itself especially well to amateur participation because you've got, what, tens of millions of people who, even at an early age, are basically experts on football, baseball, basketball, hockey, etc. because they've grown up playing, watching, and analyzing those sports. The actual writing bit is harder but the passion is definitely there. (via hello typepad)

The last name effectFEB 02

People whose surnames begin with the first few letters of the alphabet (A-I) seem to react differently to certain situations than those whose surnames begin with the letters at the end of the alphabet (R-Z). Slate reports.

E-mails were sent out to adults offering them $500 to participate in a survey. Average response time was between six and seven hours. The same negative correlation between response time and alphabetic rank was observed, but only when the researchers looked at the names the respondents were born with. When Carlson and Conard looked at married names or names changed for some other reason, the correlation dwindled to insignificance. This, they conclude, demonstrates that the "last name effect" derives from "a childhood response tendency." Only people who grew up with a name at the back of the alphabet demonstrated truly Pavlovian responses to the $500 offer.

See also the birth-month soccer anomaly.

MetagamesFEB 01

Andy Baio has compiled a listing of metagames...video games that are about video games.

Over the last few years, I've been collecting examples of metagames -- not the strategy of metagaming, but playable games about videogames. Most of these, like Desert Bus or Quest for the Crown, are one-joke games for a quick laugh. Others, like Cow Clicker and Upgrade Complete, are playable critiques of game mechanics. Some are even (gasp!) fun.

The Global Village Construction SetFEB 01

The GVCS is a collection of 40 machines needed to "create a small civilization with modern-day comforts...like a life-size Lego set".

Very ambitious, but it sounds like they're making progress. The brick-making machine alone is impressive and actually available for sale.

A closed loop of self-delusionFEB 01

After noticing the similarities between artists and dictators, photographer Philip Toledano commissioned a series of paintings and sculpture with himself as Stalin, Kim Il Sung, etc.

Toledano dictator

Auditioning replacements for the MoonFEB 01

This video shows what various planets (Jupiter, Mars, etc.) would look like in the night sky if they orbited the Earth at the same distance as the Moon.

See also Imagining Earth with Saturn's rings and Helvetica! In! Space!

Archives    January 2011 »    December 2010 »    November 2010 »

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