Entries for June 2012 (July 2012 »    August 2012 »    September 2012 »    Archives)

 

Foie gras fans stuffing themselves ahead of California banJUN 29

Some Californians are shoving foie gras down their throats so fast they look like stuffed geese. As of Sunday, that food is outlawed.

Despite the prospect of a $1,000-per-day fine, a few of Lefebvre's chef peers are rumored to be stashing away foie gras to quietly serve to favored customers, he said, and some have considered charging a fee to prepare foie gras brought in by patrons. Lefebvre won't sell any of the product, but plans to "investigate" his options.

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The Half-Life of FactsJUN 29

Sam Arbesman has turned his mesofacts concept into an upcoming book called The Half-Life of Facts.

Facts change all the time. The age at which women should get a mammogram has increased. Smoking has gone from doctor recommended to deadly while the healthiness of carbs and fat seems to be in constant flux. We used to think the Earth was the center of the universe, that Pluto was a planet, and that the brontosaurus was a real dinosaur. What we know about the world is constantly changing.

Samuel Arbesman is an expert in scientometrics, literally the science of science-how we know what we know. It turns out that knowledge in most fields evolves in systematic and predictable ways, and understanding that evolution can be enormously powerful. For instance, knowing how different branches of medicine overturn their bodies of knowledge can improve the way we train (and retrain) physicians.

The Half-Life of Facts features fascinating examples from fields as diverse as technology and literature. It will help us find new ways to measure the world while accepting the limits of how much we can know with certainty.

Alec Baldwin has a radio show?JUN 29

And a podcast! It's called Here's the Thing and it features a different guest every two weeks.

Award-winning actor Alec Baldwin gives the listener unique entree into the lives of artists, policy makers and performers. Alec sidesteps the predictable by taking listeners inside the dressing rooms, apartments, and offices of people such as comedian Chris Rock, political strategist Ed Rollins and Oscar winner Michael Douglas. Here's The Thing: Listen to what happens when an inveterate guest becomes a host. Subscribe now and get new interviews every two weeks.

A recent episode featured David Letterman.

Updates on previous entries for Jun 28, 2012*JUN 29

Supreme Court upholds Obama's healthcare act orig. from Jun 28, 2012

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

Kingdom Rush for the iPhoneJUN 28

In the amount of time I have spent playing Kingdom Rush on the iPad, I could have completed a second or even third college degree. So it is with some relutance that I have been made aware of the iPhone version of Kingdom Rush, out today. It's the same game, optimized for the smaller screen on the iPhone and only 99 cents. Maybe the reason the whole "can't use the iPad/iPhone for creation" thing persists is that everyone is using the damn things to play tower defense games instead.

Pineapple under OCAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 28

This story involve: ninjas, Orange County, and SpongeBob SquarePants. Depending on who you ask, artist Todd White, lead character designer of SpongeBob SquarePants, either hired a gang of ninjas to hold hostage a gallery owner for several hours while they stole all his work from the gallery or sent his manager, his lawyer, and an off duty LAPD officer to take his art back from a gallery owner who fraudulently reproduced and signed his work.

Claiming that she had been assaulted and imprisoned, Howell told the cops that she only agreed to be recorded by the men because she was scared. "She was extremely afraid for her life," the officer noted. Terrified for her safety, according to the report she gave the police, she told Eddy and the others what they wanted to hear and signed the settlement only because she had been coerced. She suspected that the caper was designed to eliminate her from White's life and allow him -- and Lavoie, who now worked as White's office manager -- to take over her lucrative gallery themselves. Later that month, she filed a lawsuit against White seeking $7.5 million for physical and emotional trauma. The settlement she had signed that night had no merit as far as she was concerned, and she would continue her business at the Hyatt as normal.

And to round out the art theft beat, a Salvador Dali drawing was stolen out of a NYC gallery in broad daylight last week.

The man who stole a drawing by the Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí on Tuesday wore only the most basic of disguises: that of an everyday gallery visitor, walking past the Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst works on display. And he brought only the most basic of tools for his heist: a black shopping bag.

What a wascally wabbit.

Update:
The drawing mentioned above has been returned.

Supreme Court upholds Obama's healthcare actJUN 28

I'm surprised and mostly pleased that the Supreme Court has upheld President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Court's ruling means, that unless Congress acts, in 2014 all Americans will be required to purchase health insurance in the most sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system since the Great Society. The Court, according to early analysis, redefined the mandate as a tax, skirting some Constitutional questions but offering a dramatic affirmation to Obama's key initiative.

Update: Josh Marshall speaks for me here.

This is an imperfect law. But what's most important is that it provides a structure under which the country can make a start not only on universal coverage -- as an ethical imperative -- but on doing away with the waste and inefficiencies created by the chronic market failure of the US health insurance system. Again, that matters. And I suspect that there's no going back.

What happens when you crack an egg 60 feet under water?AARON COHEN  ·  JUN 28

This. This is what happens to an egg 60 feet under water.

This is gonna revolutionize poaching eggs! (via ★adamkuban)

Robot and Frank: a heist movie with a robot sidekickJUN 28

Well, this is something...an ex-jewel thief decides to unretire and rob people with help from his robot butler. I had to look this up on IMDB to make sure it wasn't something from Funny or Die or College Humor.

Best robotic sidekick since Mr. Spock. Now reboot Lethal Weapon with Donald Glover and a robot playing the Mel Gibson role. (Yes, I meant Donald. Danny is clearly too old for that shit.)

Video conferencing skydivers at Google I/O the best demo ever?JUN 27

To demonstrate a pair of their products, Google arranged for a group of skydivers to jump out of a blimp and parachute onto the roof of the Moscone Center in San Francisco, the building in which the Google I/O was being held. The divers were each wearing a pair of Google Glass networking glasses and video chatting on a Google+ Hangout.

Here's what it looked like from the ground:

I think this is what Robin Sloan was referencing in his tweet earlier:

Watched #GoogleIO. This company is totally Doc Brown. In one corner, an automatic banana-peeler; in the other, A WORKING TIME MACHINE.

Birds With ArmsJUN 27

They're birds. With people arms.

Birds With Arms 01

Birds With Arms 02

Birds With Arms 03

Birds With Arms 04

Why am I posting this? Why do I love these so much? (via @joeljohnson)

The robot that always wins rock/paper/scissorsJUN 27

The trick with the roshambot is that it waits until its opponent has made her choice and then chooses the winning throw in about 1 millisecond. I.e. it cheats.

I wonder what would happen if you put two of these robots against each other? (via @dens)

Gawker's Kinja, circa 2003JUN 27

Gawker has rebranded their new commenting system...it's now called Kinja. The name is recycled from a project that Nick Denton worked on with Meg Hourihan starting in 2003. Kinja 1 was an attempt to build a blog aggregator without relying solely on RSS, which was not then ubiquitous. Here's a mockup of the site I did for them in late 2003:

Kinja 2003

Luckily they got some real designers to finish the job...here's a version that 37signals did that was closer to how it looked at launch.

Where is the team that worked on that Kinja? Nick's still hammering away at Gawker, Meg is raising two great children (a more difficult and rewarding task than building software), programmer Mark Wilkie is director of technology at Buzzfeed, programmer Matt Hamer still works for Gawker (I think?), intern Gina Trapani is running her own publishing/development empire & is cofounder of ThinkUp, and 37signals (they worked on the design of the site) is flying high.

Follow your own pathJUN 27

David Brooks has some advice for artists, musicians, politicians, and the like: appreciate the tremendous power of your particularity.

We carry this need for paracosms into adulthood. It's a paradox that the artists who have the widest global purchase are also the ones who have created the most local and distinctive story landscapes. Millions of people around the world are ferociously attached to Tupac Shakur's version of Compton or J.K. Rowling's version of a British boarding school or Downton Abbey's or Brideshead Revisited's version of an Edwardian estate.

Millions of people know the contours of these remote landscapes, their typical characters, story lines, corruptions and challenges. If you build a passionate and highly localized moral landscape, people will come.

Brooks roots these story landscapes to place but it's easily expanded to any individual differentiator. Take tech companies. Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft...they all embody the particularity of their founders and have found success because of it.

The Bible's book of Revelation explainedJUN 26

Adam Gopnik reviews Elaine Pagels' book, Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation, for the New Yorker. Like much of the Bible, Revelation is largely a reaction to what was happening in that part of the world at the time.

Pagels then shows that Revelation, far from being meant as a hallucinatory prophecy, is actually a coded account of events that were happening at the time John was writing. It's essentially a political cartoon about the crisis in the Jesus movement in the late first century, with Jerusalem fallen and the Temple destroyed and the Saviour, despite his promises, still not back. All the imagery of the rapt and the raptured and the rest that the "Left Behind" books have made a staple for fundamentalist Christians represents contemporary people and events, and was well understood in those terms by the original audience. Revelation is really like one of those old-fashioned editorial drawings where Labor is a pair of overalls and a hammer, and Capital a bag of money in a tuxedo and top hat, and Economic Justice a woman in flowing robes, with a worried look. "When John says that 'the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear's and its mouth was like a lion's mouth,' he revises Daniel's vision to picture Rome as the worst empire of all," Pagels writes. "When he says that the beast's seven heads are 'seven kings,' John probably means the Roman emperors who ruled from the time of Augustus until his own time." As for the creepy 666, the "number of the beast," the original text adds, helpfully, "Let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person." This almost certainly refers-by way of Gematria, the Jewish numerological system-to the contemporary Emperor Nero. Even John's vision of a great mountain exploding is a topical reference to the recent eruption of Vesuvius, in C.E. 79. Revelation is a highly colored picture of the present, not a prophecy of the future.

You'll have to read through the article to discover what early Christianity has to do with this ad for Prada perfume directed by Ridley Scott and starring Daria Werbowy:

Profile of Uniqlo and its CEO, Tadashi YanaiJUN 26

For the most recent issue of Fast Company, Jeff Chu profiled Tadashi Yanai, the CEO of Uniqlo, one of the hottest retail companies in the world. The piece is full of interesting business & design wisdom throughout.

Yanai, though, cannot resist the American market. Around the corner from his Tokyo office, there's a large map of Manhattan. There are push pins marking Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Forever 21, Gap, Hollister, and a half-dozen other brands that could be considered immediate competitors. Significantly, there's one outlier marked: the Apple Store. When I ask Yanai about this, he replies simply, "People have only one wallet."

More notably, Apple is perhaps the best example of a company whose products have become ubiquitous without losing cachet. "Specialness is nice to have," Yanai says, "but what's more important is being made for all."

One of my favorite things about shopping at Uniqlo is how they hand you your credit card back:

All associates are trained, for instance, to return your credit card and receipt with both hands, as a sign of respect.

The Mac taxAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 26

According to the Wall Street Journal, Orbitz has determined that Mac users spend 30% more per night on lodging. Obviously, this is an opportunity for Orbitz to display more expensive hotel options to Mac users.

The Orbitz effort, which is in its early stages, demonstrates how tracking people's online activities can use even seemingly innocuous information--in this case, the fact that customers are visiting Orbitz.com from a Mac--to start predicting their tastes and spending habits.

Here's a fairly concise rundown of shady marketing tactics Orbitz has used in the past. (via @delfuego)

Why are American kids so spoiled?JUN 26

In the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert says that, "with the exception of the imperial offspring of the Ming dynasty and the dauphins of pre-Revolutionary France", American kids might be the most spoiled kids in the history of the world. Strong words but not without merit.

How did parents in different cultures train young people to assume adult responsibilities? In the case of the Angelenos, they mostly didn't. In the L.A. families observed, no child routinely performed household chores without being instructed to. Often, the kids had to be begged to attempt the simplest tasks; often, they still refused. In one fairly typical encounter, a father asked his eight-year-old son five times to please go take a bath or a shower. After the fifth plea went unheeded, the father picked the boy up and carried him into the bathroom. A few minutes later, the kid, still unwashed, wandered into another room to play a video game.

In another representative encounter, an eight-year-old girl sat down at the dining table. Finding that no silverware had been laid out for her, she demanded, "How am I supposed to eat?" Although the girl clearly knew where the silverware was kept, her father got up to get it for her.

In a third episode captured on tape, a boy named Ben was supposed to leave the house with his parents. But he couldn't get his feet into his sneakers, because the laces were tied. He handed one of the shoes to his father: "Untie it!" His father suggested that he ask nicely.

"Can you untie it?" Ben replied. After more back-and-forth, his father untied Ben's sneakers. Ben put them on, then asked his father to retie them. "You tie your shoes and let's go," his father finally exploded. Ben was unfazed. "I'm just asking," he said.

A short history of surgeryJUN 26

Writing for The New England Journal of Medicine, Atul Gawande reviews the history of surgery. The utility and efficacy of surgical procedures increased sharply with the use of anesthesia and antiseptic practices.

Before anesthesia, the sounds of patients thrashing and screaming filled operating rooms. So, from the first use of surgical anesthesia, observers were struck by the stillness and silence. In London, Liston called ether anesthesia a "Yankee dodge" - having seen fads such as hypnotism come and go - but he tried it nonetheless, performing the first amputation with the use of anesthesia, in a 36-year-old butler with a septic knee, 2 months after the publication of Bigelow's report. As the historian Richard Hollingham recounts, from the case records, a rubber tube was connected to a flask of ether gas, and the patient was told to breathe through it for 2 or 3 minutes. He became motionless and quiet. Throughout the procedure, he did not make a sound or even grimace. "When are you going to begin?" asked the patient a few moments later. He had felt nothing. "This Yankee dodge beats mesmerism hollow," Liston exclaimed.

It would take a little while for surgeons to discover that the use of anesthesia allowed them time to be meticulous. Despite the advantages of anesthesia, Liston, like many other surgeons, proceeded in his usual lightning-quick and bloody way. Spectators in the operating-theater gallery would still get out their pocket watches to time him. The butler's operation, for instance, took an astonishing 25 seconds from incision to wound closure. (Liston operated so fast that he once accidentally amputated an assistant's fingers along with a patient's leg, according to Hollingham. The patient and the assistant both died of sepsis, and a spectator reportedly died of shock, resulting in the only known procedure with a 300% mortality.)

Madonna has a DNA sterilisation teamJUN 25

This seems apocryphal but I'm gonna go with it anyway: Madonna has a cleanup team sweep her tour dressing rooms after shows for bits of hair, skin, and spit the singer might have left behind so that fans cannot get ahold of her DNA.

Concert promoter Alvaro Ramos, who is overseeing the Portuguese leg of Madonna's MDNA tour, told Britain's Daily Mirror: "We have to take extreme care, like I have never seen for any other artist.

"We cannot even look at the dressing room after it is ready, or even open the door."

MDNA = Madonna's DNA?

Mister Rogers' mom knitted all of his sweatersJUN 25

Fun fact about Mister Rogers' cardigan sweaters that I hadn't heard before: his mom knitted all of them by hand for him. That may be the most perfectly perfect detail about anything that I've ever heard. (via ★djacobs)

A stroke of unluckJUN 25

Bowling 899

Amateur bowler Bill Fong almost bowled a perfect series two years ago, something that 21 bowlers have ever accomplished. But he came up short.

His teammates aren't interested in talking about what he can do to make his strikes more solid, though, or even tonight's mildly competitive league game. They're still discussing a night two years ago. They mention it every week, without fail. In fact, all you have to do is say the words "That Night" and everyone at the Plano Super Bowl knows what you're talking about. They also refer to it as "The Incident" or "That Incredible Series." It's the only time anyone can remember a local recreational bowler making the sports section of the Dallas Morning News. One man, an opponent of Fong's that evening, calls it "the most amazing thing I've ever seen in a bowling alley."

Bill Fong needs no reminders, of course. He thinks about that moment -- those hours -- every single day of his life.

There's a twist worthy of the Usual Suspects near the end of the story.

Note: Illustration by Chris Piascik....prints, tshirts, iPhone cases, etc. are available.

HBO puts first episode of Sorkin's The Newsroom on YouTubeJUN 25

Here's the entire first episode of Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom. You can also watch it on HBO.com but you have to register first. I doubt non-US residents can watch it in either place. Why isn't this embeddable? I don't understand...they don't want more people to watch it? Does the internet girl know?

Floating cyclistsJUN 25

Zhao Huasen takes photos of people on bicycles and erases the bicycles.

Floating Cyclists

Secrets of the Best ChefsJUN 25

Adam Roberts, aka The Amateur Gourmet, has a new book coming out in the fall called Secrets of the Best Chefs. For the book, Roberts traveled the US cooking with some of the country's best chefs, including Marco Canora, Alice Waters, Anita Lo, and José Andres.

The culmination of that journey is a cookbook filled with lessons, tips, and tricks from the most admired chefs in America, including how to properly dress a salad, bake a no-fail piecrust, make light and airy pasta, and stir-fry in a wok, plus how to improve your knife skills, eliminate wasteful food practices, and create recipes of your very own. Most important, Roberts has adapted 150 of the chefs' signature recipes into totally doable dishes for the home cook. Now anyone can learn to cook like a pro!

Adam, maybe it's time to upgrade yourself to the Semi-Pro Gourmet?

Amazing BMX artistryAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 23

If your jaw doesn't drop while watching this video, you need to go to a doctor because you don't have a jaw. Hopefully, even without a jaw, you can enjoy this edit of amazing BMX tricks.

(via @mathowie)

Documentaries to see before you dieJUN 22

I was reminded earlier today of True Films, Kevin Kelly's collection of must-see documentaries, educational films, etc.

As dogged as I have been in tracking down great true films, I have seen only a fraction of the estimated 40,000 that have been made. So I am ready for more. However I will only list true films and documentaries that are available as VHS tape or DVDs at consumer prices. In other words, films that are easy for most people to see upon request. I won't include films that are only shown in theaters, or available via high-priced rentals, or simply out of print.

The site hasn't been updated in over a year but the content is evergreen. True Films is also available in book and ebook formats.

Journalists vs Hezbollah fighters in paintballJUN 22

In an effort to get to know them better (because access is otherwise difficult), a group of Western journalists arranged a paintball game with a group of Hezbollah fighters. The journalists fared better than you might think, but the two groups were playing different games.

We figured they'd cheat; they were Hezbollah, after all. But none of us-a team of four Western journalists-thought we'd be dodging military-grade flash bangs when we initiated this "friendly" paintball match.

The battle takes place underground in a grungy, bunker-like basement underneath a Beirut strip mall. When the grenades go off it's like being caught out in a ferocious thunderstorm: blinding flashes of hot white light, blasts of sound that reverberate deep inside my ears.

As my eyesight returns and readjusts to the dim arena light, I poke out from my position behind a low cinder-block wall. Two large men in green jumpsuits are bearing down on me. I have them right in my sights, but they seem unfazed -- even as I open fire from close range, peppering each with several clear, obvious hits. I expect them to freeze, maybe even acknowledge that this softie American journalist handily overcame their flash-bang trickery and knocked them out of the game. Perhaps they'll even smile and pat me on the back as they walk off the playing field in a display of good sportsmanship (after cheating, of course).

Instead, they shoot me three times, point-blank, right in the groin.

From this distance (well within the 15-foot "safety zone"), paintballs feel like bee stings. I raise my hands in pain and confusion, signaling to the referee that I'm leaving the game. But the bigger one -- a tall, muscular farm boy from the deep south of Lebanon who tonight is going by the name Khodor -- isn't finished with me yet: He wraps his giant hands around my body and tries to throw me over his shoulder with the kind of deftness that only comes from practice. I'm quick enough to break free and flee, but my teammate Ben isn't so lucky. Khodor and his partner move past me in perfect military formation, plunging deeper into our defenses. Soon they apprehend Ben, pushing him ahead of them, human shield-style.

Updates on previous entries for Jun 21, 2012*JUN 22

The bee orchid orig. from Jan 21, 2010

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

2012 map of baseball player hometownsAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 21

If you've ever wondered if any Major League Baseball players come from your favorite city, this is the map for you. See also the 2011-2012 NHL Player map. The maps are by Mike Morton, and I'm fascinated by the fact the NHL had players from both Africa and Brazil, while MLB did not. (via @jonahkeri)

Formula One cars are fast. Like super fast.JUN 21

Speaking of what fast looks like, here's a pair of synced videos that show just how fast F1 cars are. On the left are drivers participating in a track day, that is, normal folks who want to drive their cars fast on a real race course. A couple of them look like actual GT cars and are moving pretty quick. On the right, you've got F1 cars on the same track. It's not even close:

Here's an overlaid version and you can also see how much faster F1 cars are than just 25 years ago...the 2011 F1 car beats the 1986 F1 car by an amazing 22 seconds over a total time of a minute and a half. (via @coreyh)

A look back at the tech brainstorm for Minority ReportJUN 21

Back in 1999, as he prepared to make a movie called The Minority Report, Steven Spielberg gathered top science and technology types to an "idea summit" where they would share thoughts on what things might look like in 50 years. To mark the ten year anniversary of the movie's release, Wired asked a dozen of the summit attendees to reflect on the experience. According to one participant: "There was no shortage of megalomania, although there was good reason for it."

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Best tall buildings in the world for 2012JUN 21

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat has released their list of the best tall buildings in the world for 2012.

Absolute World 56

Business Insider has a nice one-page view of the winners.

Long-distance family portraitsJUN 21

Photographer John Clang is using projected Skype video to make portraits of Singaporean families whose members are scattered around the globe.

Long Distance Portraits

In Singapore, it is a common practice for entire families to gather on special occasions for a formal picture, often at a studio, with the resulting image framed and prominently displayed at home. The growing tendency of younger family members to take jobs abroad, however, has left many modern portraits missing a relation or two. So the Singaporean photographer John Clang devised a solution, piggybacking on the video-calling technology that already helps ease the dislocation of separated family members: Skype.

(via @bdeskin)

They grow up so fast...JUN 21

If you make a series of horrifying photos of little girls dressed like Vegas cocktail waitresses, I will apparently always click through. First it was Susan Anderson's High Glitz, a series of child beauty pageant contestants.

Child Beauty Pag

And then the last issue of the NY Times Magazine had a series of photos by Kenneth O Halloran of contestants at the World Irish Dancing Championships.

Irish Dance Champ

All I can think of when I see those spray tans is Homer's makeup gun.

Video of a Mercedes racing a golf ballJUN 21

I know this is a "viral video" and I'm a sucker for posting it, but it's pretty cool and fits under the umbrella of what fast looks like. Anyway, watch this Mercedes chase down a golf ball that flies off the tee at almost 180 mph.

Hole in one! And just so you don't mistake this for some sponsored Mercedes love-fest, some shitheels in a silver Benz very much like the one in the video woke my whole family up at 5am this morning by deliberately setting off their car alarm every 30 seconds outside my house. You know, for fun.

The risk management strategies of bee hivesJUN 21

Michael O'Malley is a "human capital consultant" (whatever that is) but has also been a beekeeper for the past ten years. Here's what he's learned about how bees organize themselves and manage risk.

Take, for example, their approach toward the "too-big-to-fail" risk our financial sector famously took on. Honeybees have a failsafe preventive for that. It's: "Don't get too big." Hives grow through successive divestures or spin-offs: They swarm. When a colony gets too large, it becomes operationally unwieldy and grossly inefficient and the hive splits. Eventually, risk is spread across many hives and revenue sources in contrast to relying on one big, vulnerable "super-hive" for sustenance.

Here's another lesson by analogy: No queen bee is under pressure for quarterly pollen and nectar targets. The hive is only beholden to the long term. Indeed, beehives appear to underperform at times because they could collect more. But they are not designed to maximize current returns; they are designed to prevent cycles of feast and famine (a death sentence in the natural world). They concentrate their foraging on the most lucrative patches but keep an exploratory force in the field that will ensure future revenue sources when the current ones run dry. This exploratory force (call it an R&D expenditure) increases as conditions worsen.

Foreigners share surprising facts about the USJUN 20

From Quora, some interesting answers to the question "What facts about the United States do foreigners not believe until they come to America?" The economics of food was a popular response:

Fruit and vegetable prices, compared to fast food prices:

A bag of grapes: $6
A box of strawberries: $7
1lb tomatoes: $3

McChicken: $1
Big Mac : $1 ( I think. I don't go to McDonalds though)

HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK?

At the same time, there are things that you wouldn't associate with first-world countries:

Religious fanaticism
It is hard to believe that a first-world country has non-progressive ideologies, especially that hurt women (the vaginal probes and other abortion related woes). Not only that, the belief in Earth's age, talking snake etc. Being from India, it is even harder for me to understand this. I expected US to be more progressive. It is not as crazy as back in India but still something that I think is enough to be detrimental to the progress.

Others are pleasantly surprised:

Many Indians are very surprised to find out that there are large numbers of Americans who actually love their parents and siblings and wives and children and have normal, healthy relationships with them. Our media has them convinced that all Americans are very self-centered people who throw their kids out of their homes after high school, don't care for their parents, and divorce their spouses. And, I swear, it is literally true that many Indians do not believe that this is not true until they have been to the US and seen examples of good healthy family relationships themselves. I have had heated arguments with people who've never been to the US, but can give lectures on how screwed up family values in the US are.

But we could also use some improvement:

There actually is an accepted piece of clothing called a 'wife-beater'.

(via @alexandrak)

Info visualization of the Dominos pizza supply chain from farm to apartmentJUN 20

This is a long zoom look at how pizza gets delivered to hungry people. It starts by looking at the routes taken by a Dominos delivery person during a typical night and slowly zooms out to reveal the pizza giant's national supply chain.

Embark with Kwon on a trip that begins with a pizza delivery route in New York City, then goes across the country to California's Central Valley, where nearly 50 percent of America's fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown, and into the heartland for an aerial look at our farmlands.

How to build an iPad competitorJUN 20

It's funny. Or sad. Or predictable. It's predictably sadly funny that many tech media outlets are saying that Apple's iPad finally has a bonafide competitor in the Microsoft Surface. Set aside for now that Surface does look genuinely interesting, that the price hasn't been set, and the thing isn't even out yet. For a piece of portable networking technology like a smartphone or tablet to be successful on the scale at which Apple operates, you need to have an ecosystem, a network of interacting devices, software, products, and services that work together...hardware + software is not enough. Apple, Google (and partners), Amazon, and possibly Microsoft are the only companies with the expertise and pockets deep enough to build their own ecosystems. Ok, maybe Facebook in a couple years or if Nokia can dig themselves out of their current hole, but that's really about it.

The current parts of the phone/tablet/media ecosystem are as follows:

1. A piece of hardware at a price that compares favorably to its quality and features. Apple sells premium hardware with great features at a premium-but-still-reasonable price. Google and their partners offer a range of devices at different prices corresponding to different levels of quality and features offered. Amazon offers low-price hardware with a relatively limited but appropriate set of features. Microsoft looks to have a nice piece of hardware with promising features but the price point is pending.

2. An OS that takes proper advantage of the hardware capabilities with features in line with the price of the device. Apple has iOS, with most of its devices running the same version. Google and their partners have many different versions of Android, most of which are not the most recent version. Amazon runs a customized Android OS for the Kindle Fire and a modified version of Linux for the non-Fire Kindles. Microsoft has Windows 8, which will eventually run, in different configurations, on lots of different kinds of hardware, from desktop computers to phones.

3. An app store stocked with the applications that smartphone and tablet owners want to use. Apple has the comprehensive App Store. Google, etc. have Google Play (née Android Market), Amazon's Appstore for Android, and other stores, on which you can get most of the most popular apps. Amazon has their Appstore for Android for the Kindle Fire. Microsoft has the Windows Phone Marketplace for the Windows Phone with a more limited selection than the other stores...it's unclear what their plans are for a Windows 8 app store.

4. A media store with books, movies, and TV shows. Apple has the iTunes store (as well as iBooks, Newstand, etc.). Android has Google Play. Amazon has the Kindle store and Amazon Instant Video. Will Microsoft offer a way to purchase media across their Windows 8 platform? Does Windows Media Player do this?

5. A digital media hub for managing media, apps, software updates, etc. This part is a bit more optional than the others since media management is moving to the device and the cloud, but still. Apple has iTunes. Android has a variety of possible desktop managers and management happens on the device or through the cloud? You manage the Kindle stuff through Amazon's site and on the device. Microsoft will probably go cloud/device-based at this point?

6. An integrated cloud solution for syncing apps, media, and documents across devices. Again, this isn't crucial but will likely become so over time. Apple has iCloud. Android has Google's suite of apps (Gmail, calendar, Google docs, Google Drive, etc.). Amazon uses Whispernet and is leveraging AWS in various ways (e.g. Cloud Drive). Will Microsoft leverage SkyDrive for their tablets and phones?

7. Sister devices. Apple has the iPhone, iPad, iPod touches, Apple TV, and their full line of OS X-powered computers. Android runs on phones and tablets, but can also run on an increasing number of other devices (Google TV, etc.). And maybe ChromeOS devices? Amazon doesn't really have an interacting network of devices. Microsoft will have phones, the Surface, billions of desktop computers running Windows 8, and, dare I even say it, the Xbox.

You don't need to have every single part of the ecosystem for it to thrive but the more the better. Again, Surface does look genuinely interesting (as do the Windows phones from Nokia), Windows 8 and the Metro interface look promising, and Microsoft has deep pockets but all the pieces aren't quite there yet for them. Microsoft's real opportunity here is the Xbox. If they can properly leverage and integrate the Xbox's growing status as a home media hub (Xbox Live), they can fill in a lot of the holes in their fledgling ecosystem, provide people with compelling devices & media experiences, and give Apple, Google, and Amazon a real run for their (and our) money.

Cool anatomical sculptures of Lego peopleJUN 20

Artist Jason Freeny is making these neat anatomical sculptures of Lego people.

Lego Anatomy

You can see more of his work in progress on his Facebook page. Reminds me of Michael Paulus' work. (via colossal)

Teaser trailer for Monsters UniversityJUN 20

The prequel to Pixar's Monsters, Inc. is coming out next summer...here's a little teaser for it.

(via devour)

Updates on previous entries for Jun 19, 2012*JUN 20

Holy levitating Slinky! orig. from Jun 19, 2012
Switzerland's elaborate Cold War defenses orig. from Jun 19, 2012
What the NFL won't show you orig. from Dec 02, 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.

Behind the scenes at a McDonald's food photo shootJUN 19

Why does McDonald's food look so much better in the ads than at the restaurant? Watch as the director of marketing for McDonald's Canada buys a Quarter Pounder at McDonald's and compares that to a burger prepared by a food stylist and retouched in post by an image editor.

Short answer: the burger at the restaurant is optimized for eating and the photo burger is optimized for looking delicious. (via ★interesting)

Hebrew National kosher hot dogs not actually kosher?JUN 19

On the label of most Hebrew National meat products, the company (which is actually now a division of ConAgra) proclaims that, "We answer to a higher authority." In the short run, that higher authority will be a civil court where ConAgra will defend itself against claims that its hot dogs are not actually kosher at all. Next we'll find out that Ballpark Franks don't really plump when you cook 'em.

Syndicated from NextDraft. Subscribe today or grab the iOS app.

Holy levitating Slinky!JUN 19

In this series of slow motion clips, you can see that if you hold a Slinky by one end and drop it, the bottom end doesn't actually move until the top end catches up with it.

I've watched this like six times and it drops my jaw every time...the bottom of the Slinky JUST. DOES. NOT. MOVE. Here's the scientific explanation:

The explanation that "it takes time for the bottom of the slinky to feel the change" might work ok, but it isn't the best.

Then why doesn't the bottom of the slinky fall as the top is let go? I think the best thing is to think of the slinky as a system. When it is let get, the center of mass certainly accelerates downward (like any falling object). However, at the same time, the slinky (spring) is compressing to its relaxed length. This means that top and bottom are accelerating towards the center of mass of the slinky at the same time the center of mass is accelerating downward.

(via @stevenstrogatz)

Update: See also The Physics of a Falling Slinky. (via @jeffhellman)

Switzerland's elaborate Cold War defensesJUN 19

In the event of an invasion, the entire country of Switzerland is rigged to destroy all of its road, bridges, railroads, and other infrastructure. Or at least it was during the Cold War. Geoff Manaugh reports on a John McPhee book about the country's defenses.

In any case, the book's vision of the Alps as a massively constructed-or, at least, geotechnically augmented and militarily amplified-terrain is quite heady, including the very idea that, in seeking to protect itself from outside invaders, Switzerland is prepared to dynamite, shell, bulldoze, and seal itself into a kind of self-protective oblivion, hiding out in artificially expanded rocky passes and concrete super-basements as all roads and bridges into and out of the country are instantly transformed into landslides and dust.

The first reader comment is more than a little eye-popping:

I have seen this with my own eyes as a foreign student in Switzerland in 1981, when a MOUNTAIN "opened" up and four jets flew out of it, near the quiet town, Martigny.

Update: About a minute into this clip from Rick Steves' Europe, Steves takes a tour of some of the hidden defenses of Switzerland.

(thx, nils & dennis)

The watercolor version of Blade RunnerJUN 19

Swedish artist Anders Ramsell has recreated about twelve minutes of Blade Runner using 3285 different watercolor paintings. Wow.

See also Stamen's watercolor maps. (via ★thefoxisblack)

iPhone in CSS3JUN 19

iPhone CSS3

Is it real or is it CSS3? Amazingly, the above image was made entirely in HTML and CSS3 by Dylan Hudson. (via ★interesting)

Updates on previous entries for Jun 18, 2012*JUN 19

Cold murder case solved after 23 years orig. from Jun 18, 2012

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

Microsoft Surface tabletJUN 18

Microsoft announced their own tablet today called Surface. Here's the slick intro video. (Microsoft. Now mit dubstep!)

That keyboard cover thing is a fantastic idea...the first iPad accessory maker to rip that off is going to make a fortune. The Verge has the whole story about the Surface.

Infinite Jest, the playJUN 18

A German experimental theater recently put on a production of Infinite Jest. They turned the 1079-page book into a 24-hour play that took place all over Berlin.

The play is Infinite Jest. Yes, the 1,079-page David Foster Wallace novel. Germany's leading experimental theater, Hebbel am Ufer, had the gall not only to stage the world theatrical premiere of an Infinite Jest adaptation, but to play it on the grandest stage possible: the city of Berlin itself. Over the course of 24 hours, the shell-shocked and increasingly substance-dependent audience is transported to eight of the city's iconic settings, which serve as analogs for the venues to which the discursive novel continually returns.

But so we're at this AA meeting in a Boston school cafeteria, which in this case is the cultural center of a city quarter that was drawn up from scratch in the 1960s in the far, far north of Berlin, like practically halfway to the Baltic, this sticks-of-the-sticks-type section of town. And the actor sharing his history of teen addiction to Quaaludes and Hefenreffer-brand beer is droning on far too long and starting to give me the howling fantods.

Every internet article about Wallace is required by law to include footnotes and this one is no exception. (thx, paul)

Cold murder case solved after 23 yearsJUN 18

In 1986, Sherri Rasmussen was murdered in the apartment that she shared with her husband. The police eliminated the husband and ex-lovers as suspects and the case remained unsolved for 20+ years until a pair of detectives pulled it from the cold case files and looked at the evidence with fresh eyes. Mark Bowden has the story in the latest issue of Vanity Fair.

Soon after the murder, [Sherri's father] Nels was shown sketches of two Latin male suspects, and the burglary theory was explained. There was no way for him to recognize the drawings, and the whole scenario did not make sense to him. He had to wonder about the competence of these detectives. The apartment showed signs of a protracted fight. Mayer estimated that the struggle may have lasted for an hour and a half. How could his daughter have fought off two men for that long?, Nels asked. There was the bite mark on her forearm, which led Mayer's partner, Steve Hooks, to conjecture that the suspect may have been a woman, on the theory that women are biters. But the notion was dismissed. Women don't typically engage in breaking and entering, and fighting men have been known to use their teeth. There was also the bullet wound in the center of Sherri's chest, and the hole and powder burns on the blanket. Mayer told Nels that his daughter had not simply been shot and killed; she had been assassinated. Why would a burglar do that?

Nels asked if they had checked to see if the lady cop had been working that day. Had they examined her, taken pictures of her? The answers were no. No one ever checked up on Lazarus. Mayer or Hooks or someone apparently did talk to her on the phone eventually, and the conversation was enough to close that line of inquiry. There is only one brief entry in the case file that mentions her, recorded on November 19, 1986, more than eight months after the murder. It reads, "John Ruetten called. Verified Stephanie Lazarus, PO [police officer], was former girlfriend."

No arrests were ever made. The evidence of Sherri Rasmussen's murder was packed away in commercial storage.

Update: I forgot to include this with the original post...it's a video of the hour-long interrogation of Stephanie Lazarus, the "lady cop" Nels is referring to.

Also, The Atlantic ran a story about the Rasmussen case last year. (thx, dewayne)

Business lessons from a Mexican drug cartelJUN 18

The Sinaloa drug cartel is headed by a man who goes by El Chapo. That Chapo is 55 years old and still around tells you something about well he runs his business.

The drug war in Mexico has claimed more than 50,000 lives since 2006. But what tends to get lost amid coverage of this epic bloodletting is just how effective the drug business has become. A close study of the Sinaloa cartel, based on thousands of pages of trial records and dozens of interviews with convicted drug traffickers and current and former officials in Mexico and the United States, reveals an operation that is global (it is active in more than a dozen countries) yet also very nimble and, above all, staggeringly complex. Sinaloa didn't merely survive the recession -- it has thrived in recent years. And after prevailing in some recent mass-casualty clashes, it now controls more territory along the border than ever.

"Chapo always talks about the drug business, wherever he is," one erstwhile confidant told a jury several years ago, describing a driven, even obsessive entrepreneur with a proclivity for micromanagement. From the remote mountain redoubt where he is believed to be hiding, surrounded at all times by a battery of gunmen, Chapo oversees a logistical network that is as sophisticated, in some ways, as that of Amazon or U.P.S. -- doubly sophisticated, when you think about it, because traffickers must move both their product and their profits in secret, and constantly maneuver to avoid death or arrest. As a mirror image of a legal commodities business, the Sinaloa cartel brings to mind that old line about Ginger Rogers doing all the same moves as Fred Astaire, only backward and in heels. In its longevity, profitability and scope, it might be the most successful criminal enterprise in history.

How Apple gets you to touch their computersJUN 18

In a clever bit of salesmanship, Apple angles the screens on the laptops in the Apple Store just enough that you can see the screen but not enough for comfortable viewing. Here's why:

The point, explains Carmine Gallo, who is writing a book on the inside workings of the Apple Store, is to get people to touch the devices. "The main reason notebook computers screens are slightly angled is to encourage customers to adjust the screen to their ideal viewing angle," he says -- "in other words, to touch the computer."

A tactile experience with an Apple product begets loyalty to Apple products, the thinking goes -- which means that the store exists to imprint a brand impression on visitors even more than it exists to extract money from them. "The ownership experience is more important than a sale," Gallo notes. Which means that the store -- and every single detail creating the experience of it -- are optimized for customers' personal indulgence. Apple wants you to touch stuff, to play with it, to make it your own.

It's a genius touch. I went in to the Apple Store last week just after it opened to see the new MacBook Airs and retina MacBook Pros and I'll be damned if I didn't have to adjust the screen in both cases. Get out of my head, man! (via @alexismadrigal)

Rare audio interview with Stanley KubrickJUN 18

Stanley Kubrick didn't give long interviews...or didn't like giving them anyway. But Jeremy Bernstein convinced him to sit down for one, perhaps because Kubrick was a huge chess nerd and Bernstein played chess seriously. So the two of them did this hour-long interview in 1965 that resulted in this New Yorker piece about his life, films, and the then in-production 2001.

During our conversation, I happened to mention that I had just been in Washington Square Park playing chess. He asked me who I had been playing with, and I described the Master. Kubrick recognized him immediately. I had been playing a good deal with the Master, and my game had improved to the point where I was almost breaking even with him, so I was a little stunned to learn that Kubrick had played the Master on occasion, and that in his view the Master was a potzer. Kubrick went on to say that he loved playing chess, and added, "How about a little game right now?" By pleading another appointment, I managed to stave off the challenge.

(via open culture)

NBA TV documentary on the Dream TeamJUN 18

NBA TV did a documentary on the 1992 Men's Olympic basketball team, aka the Dream Team. It it, for now, available on YouTube:

Get it while you can...this looks like an unofficial copy and the NBA is likely to take it down soon. (thx, david)

James Dyson on invention and failureAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 18

British industrialist and billionaire James Dyson has a pretty healthy outlook on failure.

You once described the inventor's life as "one of failure." How so?
I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That's how I came up with a solution. So I don't mind failure. I've always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they've had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.

Not all failures lead to solutions, though. How do you fail constructively?
We're taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven't, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that's very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It's exciting, actually. To me, solving problems is a bit like a drug. You're on it, and you can't get off. I spent seven years on our washing machine [which has two drums, instead of one].

See also: Dyson Airblade

Who designed the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle?JUN 15

Soy Sauce Bottle

The iconic bottle was designed by Kenji Ekuan and his team at GK Design.

It took three years for Ekuan and his team to arrive at the dispenser's transparent teardrop shape. More than 100 prototypes were tested in the making of its innovative, dripless spout (based on a teapot's, but inverted). The design proved to be an ideal ambassador. With its imperial red cap and industrial materials (glass and plastic), it helped timeless Japanese design values -- elegance, simplicity and supreme functionality -- infiltrate kitchens around the world.

Chinese firm to build world's tallest building in only 90 daysJUN 15

Chinese construction company Broad Sustainable Building has announced plans to build the world's tallest building...in just 90 days. When finished, it will be 220 stories high, 10 meters taller than Dubai's Burj Khalifa.

This may sound impossible, but BSB has been constructing buildings quickly by making parts ahead of time and then just putting them together on site. Prefab skyscrapers. In the past two years, the company has built a 15-story building in 6 days and a 30-story hotel in just 15 days:

(via @daveg)

Extreme wind videosJUN 15

Turns out that video of people in front of really powerful fans is better than just photos.

(via laughing squid)

Strong swimmersAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 15

Here's a weird story, and let's not bury the lede: Cooked squid retain the ability to implant spermatophores in your mouth. We all know how eating raw squid runs this risk, but a recently published report ("Penetration of the oral mucosa by parasite-like sperm bags of squid: a case report in a Korean woman.") details the first known case of spermatophores from cooked squid implanting. Read this post on Squid a Day for a much more nuanced explanation of what exactly a spermatophore is.

In order not to leave calamari connoisseurs unduly freaked out, I should clarify two points. First, most Western squid preparations remove the internal organs and serve only the muscle, so there's no danger of accidentally ingesting spermatophores. Second, it's perfectly fine to handle spermatophores--just don't put them in your mouth. The skin on your hands, and most of the rest of your body, is much too thick to get stuck. I've probably had hundreds of spermatophores ejaculate on my fingers and never felt a sting.

This is Friday Squid Blogging material for sure.

Squids and octopi are not the same creature, and cephalopodian purists will disdain, but for the purpose of this post let's agree that, especially to the layblogger, they share certain similar characteristics. Please allow an octopus link to follow a squid link. Here's a little explainer about how octopus camouflage works. Be sure to watch the video. (via @neilhimself)

Garrett McNamara breaks biggest wave surfing recordAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 14

Garrett McNamara rode a wave off of Nazare, Portugal last November that some surfing experts billed at 85-90 feet. This would have smashed the world record wave height of 77 feet held by Mike Parsons. However, last month, after judges compared "McNamara's height in a crouch and the length of his shin bone with the wave's top and bottom," the Guinness Book of World Records decided the wave was 78 feet and gave him the record. To get a feel for McNamara's feat, go find an 8 story building and imagine riding down it on a surfboard.

And here's another nice surfing video.

Rate not ye driver poorly lest ye also be rated poorlyJUN 14

Here's an interesting little tidbit from the Economist about Uber...drivers rate their passengers.

At the completion of a trip, a passenger is asked to rate the driver; the driver, in turn, rates the passenger. Drivers who have poor ratings do not last long, Mr Kalanick says, while poorly-behaved passengers may have trouble securing a ride, since a driver can decline a fare if the hailer has a bad reputation.

I'd expect more of this credit scoring in the future...you might have trouble getting a reservation, a hotel room, or seat on a plane if you're an asshole.

Cheese flipping robotsJUN 14

In the vast cheese warehouses of Europe, robots are employed to flip the cheeses as they age. Here's a Gruyere flipper:

Contents of the Voyager Golden RecordJUN 14

When they were launched in 1977, the two Voyager spacecraft each carried with them a 12-inch gold-plated copper record containing multimedia pertaining to life on Earth, the idea being that if an extraterrestrial ran across one of these records millions of years from now, they could play it an learn something about our planet. This site has a listing of some of the music, images, and sounds contained on the records. Here are two of the images included...the first is a rudimentary mathematics primer and the second is a family portrait:

Voyager Record 01

Voyager Record 02

I wonder when we'll see these records again. I mean, it seems more plausible that Elon Musk's grandson will mount an expedition to retrieve a Voyager probe in 2077 than some alien running across the thing.

Updates on previous entries for Jun 13, 2012*JUN 14

The secret meaning of the lines on a Solo cup orig. from Jun 13, 2012

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

Everybody poops, even competing athletesJUN 13

ESPN "goes there" with a piece about how, sometimes, athletes are so busy competing that they do not stop to poop.

Jesus pooped.

Tim Tebow does too. LeBron James poops. Derek Jeter, Maria Sharapova, Drew Brees -- they all poop. Most of these stars will never have a Julie Moss moment or even a Serena Williams scare. And if they did, it's highly unlikely they'd ever talk as openly about it as Paula Radcliffe does in discussing her own Defcon 1 incident. The British distance runner and Nike spokesperson was four miles from winning the 2005 London Marathon when she stopped suddenly and darted to the side of the course. Radcliffe had been losing time for several miles because of gastrointestinal disturbances -- the kind that, according to one study, affect 83 percent of marathoners and that are usually preceded by gaseous outbursts that runners call walkie-talkies.

Radcliffe's solution? She simply placed one hand on a metal crowd barricade for balance, used the other to curtain her shorts to the side and perched, precariously, over her shoes. Then, as they say in England, she proceeded to "have a poo" right there on the street and in broad daylight, within two feet of a startled spectator. "I didn't really want to resort to that in front of hundreds of thousands of people," she says, unfazed. "But when I'm racing, I'm totally focused on winning the race and running as fast as possible. I thought, I just need to go and I'll be fine."

She was fine. Radcliffe finished her pit stop, adjusted her shorts and floated through the next four miles to win by more than five minutes and set a world record for a women-only marathon. The most telling part of the whole scene was the BBC announcer's description. He insisted Radcliffe was just stretching out "a cramp" during her brief detour. Cheeky bastard.

Afterward, there was no public backlash. That's a tribute, Inglis says, to the supreme cultural power of sports. He offers this scenario: If Radcliffe had been out on the street in London a day earlier, walking with her kids or her dog, and stopped to relieve herself on the sidewalk, she would have been arrested, shunned and dropped by Nike within an hour. But the fact that she did it in the middle of a race made it not just okay but, in some weird way, kind of awesome. "You truly begin to get a sense of how influential sports are only when you realize it's one of the few activities where society's willing to override such strong feelings about defecation," Inglis says. "We make something so taboo acceptable, for a little bit at least, because it's being done for the sake of what we see as a higher sporting ideal."

(via @delfuego)

More than you could possibly want to know about TetrisJUN 13

After reading Noah Davis' piece in The Verge about Tetris, Aaron Cohen collected a bunch of other long articles about Tetris.

Also worth watching is this hour-long BBC documentary on Tetris.

Alexey Pazhitnov, a computer programmer from Moscow, created Tetris in 1985 but as the Soviet Union was Communist and all, the state owned the game and any rights to it. Who procured the rights from whom on the other side of the Iron Curtain became the basis of legal wranglings and lawsuits; the Atari/Nintendo battle over Tetris wasn't settled until 1993.

And there's always the kottke.org tag for Tetris.

How to measure the size of the UniverseJUN 13

From The Royal Observatory, Greenwich, a short video explanation of how scientists measure the size of the Universe.

This is science for the layperson done right...PBS or the Discovery Channel would have inflated this into a 30-minute show. (via ★interesting)

Slow motion drilling actionAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 13

I was trying to find out exactly what is happening in this video when I stumbled on the below video, and then it was off to the races. 30 minutes later, if they ever want to make a Shame-like movie about heavy tool machine porn, I'm available and sufficiently prepped. My brain about melted when I realized the drill wasn't spinning.

The other video is 6 minutes of a blade cutting through steel with a soundtrack by the London Philharmonic, and it's quite meditative to watch. (via @chrissandoval)

Here's another slow motion drill with sparkles. Cripes. It might be better.

The secret meaning of the lines on a Solo cupJUN 13

When some unknown ancient civilization invented the Solo cup, they placed several lines on the outside of the cup, seemingly at random intervals. Was it a star chart? A moon calendar? A representation of their water god? Recently internet memiticians have uncovered the startlingly simple pattern behind those lines. Are you ready for this?

Solo Cup

There you have it, the ancients used those marks to measure out appropriate quantities of alcohol, just like today's college kids do at frat parties. Nevermind that Solo is moving away from that cup design...this is still an amazing discovery. (via stellar)

Update: Getting lots of mail about this...apparently the memiticians were wrong!

The lines on our Party Cups are designed for functional performance and are not measurement lines. If the lines do coincide with certain measurements, it is purely coincidental.

(thx, everyone)

10 year game of Civilization II turns into Eternal WarAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 13

I'm not sure this will make it from Reddit to the movie screen, but one intrepid gamer has been playing Civilization II off and on for 10 years. Lycerius's posted some pictures that illustrate a "hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation" indeed. A sub-Reddit has been created complete with logo, Zuck is into it, and if you're feeling lucky, punk, you can download the game as it stands and try your hand at ending the Eternal War.

The only governments left are two theocracies and myself, a communist state. I wanted to stay a democracy, but the Senate would always over-rule me when I wanted to declare war before the Vikings did. This would delay my attack and render my turn and often my plans useless. And of course the Vikings would then break the cease fire like clockwork the very next turn. Something I also miss in later civ games is a little internal politics. Anyway, I was forced to do away with democracy roughly a thousand years ago because it was endangering my empire. But of course the people hate me now and every few years since then, there are massive guerrilla (late game barbarians) uprisings in the heart of my empire that I have to deal with which saps resources from the war effort.

Actually, I changed my mind. I bet this does get turned into a movie. (via @zittrain / ★adamkuban)

A chronology of computers from 1938-1988JUN 12

From Ptak Science Books, a list of every different kind of computer ever made. Ok, I'm sure not every single kind of computer ever made is on there (the list only goes to 1988 for one thing), but it is a very extensive list. Some highlights:

Zuse, Z1, Germany, 1938
Bletchley, Colossus Mark I, Great Britain, 1943
Moore School, ENIAC, United States, 1947
IBM, 360, 30, USA, 1965
Intel, 8080, USA, 1974
Cray, Cray-1, USA, 1976
DEC, PDP-11, 34, 1977
Apple, Apple II, USA, 1977
IBM, PC, AT (and clones), 1984
Apple, Macintosh, USA, 1984

An oral history of the Dream TeamJUN 12

This history of the 1992 US Olympic basketball team might only be interesting to those who watched all those games. Which I did. And I am.

Chuck started Michael and Magic every game and then rotated the other three. Pippen would start one game, Mullin would start the next. Robinson and Ewing would alternate; Malone and Barkley would alternate. He was a master at managing. But in the second game against Croatia, there was never any doubt: He was putting Pippen on Toni Kukoc [who had just been drafted by the Bulls and had been offered a contract for more money than his future teammate]. Pippen and Jordan were tired of hearing about how great Kukoc was, because they were winning NBA championships.

You ever watch a lion or a leopard or a cheetah pouncing on their prey? We had to get Michael and Scottie out of the locker room, because they was damn near pulling straws to see who guarded him. Kukoc had no idea.

Pablo Delkan's hand drawn lettering portfolioAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 12

This video is Pablo Delkan's hand drawn lettering portfolio and it's pretty great. The chalk work especially.

(via @debbiemillman)

Ten bets you'll never loseJUN 12

If you spend a lot of time in bars, you've probably seen some of these bets before, but if you haven't...

The tomato in a glass bit is pretty clever. My favorite bet of this type is seeing who can empty a 2-liter bottle faster. The trick is to swirl the water to create a vortex in the bottle. That way, the air can quickly enter the bottle through the middle of the vortex while the water shoots out around the edge...no slow glug glug glug. (via ★interesting)

How to make a starJUN 12

Robert Hodgin gave a talk at the recent Eyeo Festival for which he "created 12 new projects". The thing is, any single one of these projects would stand out on a coding artist's portfolio and Hodgin created all twelve for a conference talk. My favorite of the bunch is this demonstration of how he created the stars for the Planetary app.

Amazing book sculpturesJUN 12

I've seen a lot of art and sculpture made out of books but the detail and texture of these sculptures by Guy Laramee really sets them apart.

Guy Laramee

(via colossal)

The Coiffure ProjectJUN 11

Glenford Nunez takes photos of women who keep their hair natural.

Coiffure Project

Unusual photos of 19th century baseball playersJUN 11

From the NYPL's digital collection, a selection of odd photos of baseball players from the 19th century.

19th Century Baseball

Baseball gloves used to be a lot smaller:

19th Century Baseball 02

BTW, the site I got this from is fascinating...on the front page right now are posts about patent drawings of mazes and puzzles, slave bells, and a shoe-leather map of a cow's hide.

Star Wars in the style of Dr. SeussJUN 11

A series of drawings by Adam Watson that imagine Star Wars characters drawn in the style of Dr. Seuss.

Seuss Star Wars

I sense a presence
which I know to be
the old Jedi,
Obi-Wan Kenobi

I sense his presence
I know he's near
but I can't find him
there or here!

(via @followSol)

NFL concussion lawsuitAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 09

On Thursday, 80 lawsuits against the NFL related to brain injuries and concussions were combined into one complaint and filed in Philadelphia. The suit also names helmet maker Ridell, and if I'm reading the article correctly, 2100 former players are involved in the case.

Former running back Kevin Turner, now suffering from Lou Gehrig's Disease, said:

The NFL must open its eyes to the consequences of its actions. The NFL has the power not only to give former players the care they deserve, but also to ensure that future generations of football players do not suffer the way that many in my generation have. For the longest time, about the first 10 years after I retired in January 2000, I thought I had just turned into a loser overnight. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. It was a very scary proposition -- until I found out there were a lot more guys just like me. I find they had been through some of the same struggles. I realized this is no longer a coincidence.

Back in February, we linked to a Grantland piece by economists Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier about head injuries leading to the end of the NFL. In their version, injuries to high school and college students result in lawsuits making the sport prohibitively expensive to offer to their students (along with a perception that it's too dangerous for kids to play).

Is this case the beginning of that timeline? Depending on what comes out in the lawsuit, one (unjust) popular opinion will be that the players should have known they were playing a dangerous game and they were handsomely rewarded to boot. It's not really a fair opinion, but people love their football. (You can see evidence of this in the comments to the ESPN article linked at the top.) A best case scenario, I would think, would be for the NFL to settle with some sort of acknowledgement of the issue. Not lip-service, but actual changes to current policies and future support for former players.

In happier NFL news, Trick Shot Quarterback, Alex Tanney was signed yesterday by the KC Chiefs. Regardless of setting the NCAA Division III record for passing with 14,249 yards, the NCAA record for touchdowns with 157, and only throwing 30 interceptions in college, Tanney had gone undrafted.

Updates on previous entries for Jun 8, 2012*JUN 09

How crayons are made orig. from Sep 17, 2008

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

Pixar's story rules: how to create compelling storiesJUN 08

Over a month and a half, Pixar story artist Emma Coats tweeted out a series of lessons she learned on the job about how to create appealing stories. Here are a couple of my favorites:

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th - get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

(via @daveg)

Mushroom processing machineJUN 08

You're not going to believe me, but this mushroom processing machine is pretty fascinating. There's lots of deceptively simple engineering to mechanically manipulate the mushrooms...the auto-alignment and size-sorting bits are especially interesting.

Plus there's a trance soundtrack. See also how crayons are made, the robotic pancake sorter, and the salami sorting robot. (via @kdern)

Mister Rogers remixed and autotunedAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 08

PBS teamed up with Symphony of Science's John Boswell for this remix, "the first in a series of PBS icons remixed." I've listened to this 5 times.

You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind. (via sly oyster)

Fake war treesJUN 08

During World War I, specific trees on the battlefield were measured in detail and then replaced by replica trees that were actually hunting blinds.

To develop the O.P. Tree, Royal Engineers representatives selected, measured, and photographed the original tree, in situ, extensively. The ideal tree was dead; often it was bomb blasted. The photographs and sketches were brought back to the workshop, where artists constructed an artificial tree of hollow steel cylinders, but containing an internal scaffolding for reinforcement, to allow a sniper or observer to ascend within the structure. Then, under the cover of night, the team cut down the authentic tree and dug a hole in the place of its roots, in which they placed the O.P. Tree. When the sun rose over the field, what looked like a tree was a tree no longer; rather, it was an exquisitely crafted hunting blind, maximizing personal concealment and observational capacity simultaneously.

What travel guide books say about the USJUN 07

Max Fisher has a piece at The Atlantic about what travel guidebooks tell foreign visitors to the US.

Politics get heavy treatment in the books, as do the subtleties of discussing them, maybe more so than in any other guidebook I've read (what can I say, it's an addiction). Lonely Planet urges caution when discussing immigration. "This is the issue that makes Americans edgy, especially when it gets politicized," they write, subtly suggesting that some Americans might approach the issue differently than others. "Age has a lot to do with Americans' multicultural tolerance."

Rough Guide doesn't shy away from the fact that many non-Americans are less-than-crazy about U.S. politics and foreign policy, and encouragingly notes that many Americans are just as "infuriated" about it as visitors might be. Still, it warns that the political culture saturates everything, and that "The combination of shoot-from-the-hip mentality with laissez-faire capitalism and religious fervor can make the U.S. maddening at times, even to its own residents."

Munchausen by InternetAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 07

Munchausen by Internet is the act of inventing a malady or serious disease to generate online attention. The disorder, originally called 'virtual factitious disorder,' was first described in 1998 by psychiatrist Marc Feldman.

This Gawker piece documents a perfect example of Munchausen by Internet, an 11 year saga involving a young child with cancer and spanning across many early social platforms. The scam, which seems to have been started by an 11 year old girl, does not appear motivated by money (all donation requests were directed to a legitimate non-profit). Basically, this girl was playing real-life Sim City.

Huge swaths of the Dirrs social circle began disappearing, too. Gone were the Facebook profiles of J.S.'s hard-partying best friend, Mitchy Aaron, who would sometimes tag J.S. in party pics. Mitchy's wife, who had only recently thanked the Dirrs on Facebook for taking care of their kids after Mitchy was in a motorcycle accident, disappeared, too. Dozens of J.S.'s ex-girlfriends, who sometimes sent Facebook friend requests to the real people J.S. knew online, much to J.S.'s annoyance, locked their profiles down. A small town's worth of people--at least 71, according to Wright--had apparently been invented to support the Dirr fantasy, using hundreds of stolen pictures to create the appearance of a vibrant social life.

This 1998 NY Times article describes some early cases of Munchausen by Internet, including the case of an early-Internet version of Marla Singer.

Chased out of the eating-disorder chat room, the woman turned up in others, including one for sexual-abuse survivors. She was found out and banished from that one, too, then joined another group. When last heard from, she was dying of AIDS.

Lastly, here's a Details story on Munchausen in the workplace, a behavior first identified by a Georgia Tech business school professor in 2007. Incidentally, that's my friend Ben in the picture accompanying the article.

Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell go long on sportsJUN 07

Grantland's Bill Simmons and the New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell had one of their epic email conversations the other day and posted it to Grantland. Topics included the NBA playoffs, sports journalism, LeBron, fame in the internet era, sports philosophers, and football concussions.

Do we really need 25 people crammed in baseball locker rooms fighting for the same mundane quotes? What's our game plan for the fact that -- thanks to the Internet and 24-hour sports stations -- a city like Boston suddenly has four times as many sports media members as it once had? Why are we covering teams the same way we covered them in 1981, just with more people and better equipment? If I could watch any Celtics game and press conference from my house (already possible), and there was a handpicked pool of reporters (maybe three per game, with the people changing every game) responsible for pooling pregame/postgame quotes and mailing them out immediately, could I write the same story (or pretty close)? If we reduced the locker room clutter, would players relax a little more? Would their quotes improve? Would they trust the media more? Why haven't we experimented at all? Any "improvements" in our access have been forgettable. Seriously, what pearls of wisdom are we expecting from NBA coaches during those ridiculous in-game interviews, or from athletes sitting on a podium with dozens of media members firing monotone questions at them? It's like an all-you-can-eat buffet of forgettable quotes, like the $7.99 prime rib extravaganzas at a Vegas casino or something. There's Russell Westbrook at the podium for $7.99! Feast away! We laugh every time Gregg Popovich curmudgeonly swats Craig Sager away with four-word answers, but really, he's performing a public service. He's one of the few people in sports who has the balls to say, "This couldn't be a dumber relationship right now."

Investment disclosuresJUN 07

Here at kottke.org, we've invested in a couple of "start up" companies and thought it was time to disclose that information. We're happy to announce that we've participated in a friends-and-family angel series-α round for Vooza, a "mobile web app that's realtime, cloud-based, social, and local." Joining us are several other great investors like Tim Conway, Paul Grayjoy, Mark Anderrssonn, Freddy Dubs, Denim Roberts, Katrina Faux, and Petrus T. Heel.

We also invested in a follow-on crowdfunded round for Ponzify several months ago.

Forget Facebook. Forget Groupon. Forget everything you know about Silicon Valley. Because Ponzify isn't like other tech companies. We don't promise results. We show them to you, on a piece of paper, that has your name and a monetary figure that increases every month.

Our business model is simple: Attract users, advertisers, positive press and a corporate buyer; then, pull the chord on that golden parachute and have cable news book you as an expert on startups from time to time. There may be a book deal in there, too. We haven't decided.

Users love our product because it's something free. Venture Capitalists love it because they can imagine themselves talking about it at T.E.D. or on Charlie Rose. Trust us: Once you invest in Ponzify, you'll have a difficult time investing your money anywhere else ever again.

Such is the pace of technology and business at the intersection of technology and business that we've forgetten who else invested in Ponzify but rest assured that it didn't include any women. Both these companies are going somewhere, you should check them out or you might miss them.

First trailer for Tarantino's Django UnchainedJUN 06

It's a Western film about bounty hunting starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Christoph Waltz.

Lessons from the deadJUN 06

A wonderful comment over at Ask Metafilter by rumposinc about how valuable her nursing school cadaver was.

You have to take really exceptional care of your cadaver, so that it stays workable, free of pathogens, and easy to learn from. Towards the end, this care became very ritualistic for my lab team, and nearly reverent. She had been a very small lady, and so we had to be so careful. In the end, there is a very simple ceremony students can attend honoring the life, contribution, and cremation of our subjects. It was overwhelmingly emotional and I remember my lab partner reached over and held my hand, and though I almost hesitate to say so, there is a way that we felt like her family. She had shared so much of herself. It wasn't something we talked about, but it was a palpable feeling.

(via ★choire)

Keep on truckin'AARON COHEN  ·  JUN 06

Truck drivin' man

The New England Journal of Medicine recently reported on the 69 year-old man in the photo above. Constant sun exposure to one side of his face resulted in premature aging, though, the other side doesn't look too bad for 69. The condition is called unilateral dermatoheliosis, which I think is Greek for make sure to wear sunblock.

The patient reported that he had driven a delivery truck for 28 years. Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays transmit through window glass, penetrating the epidermis and upper layers of dermis. Chronic UVA exposure can result in thickening of the epidermis and stratum corneum, as well as destruction of elastic fibers. This photoaging effect of UVA is contrasted with photocarcinogenesis.

(via gizmodo)

More views of the Tiananmen Tank ManJUN 06

I've seen several versions of the iconic Tank Man photo but here's a little-known wider view that shows just how many tanks the guy was holding up.

Tank Man Wide

Larger version here. There is also, amazingly, video of the incident:

You'll note at the end that the man is hustled off by a group of people. See also the Tank Man of Tiananmen (via @polarben)

Time lapse video of the transit of VenusJUN 06

Venus passed in front of the Sun yesterday for the last time until 2117. The transit took almost seven hours but this NASA video shows it in under a minute.

Updates on previous entries for Jun 5, 2012*JUN 06

The world's worst password requirements list orig. from Jun 04, 2012

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

Do humans have the right stuff to fight aliens?JUN 05

While we're being entertained by blockbusters that feature fictional battles with imagined aliens, Foreign Policy takes a look at some very real efforts to develop weapons that could make it a fair fight. From a laser beam designed to "harness the speed and power of light to counter multiple threats," to high-tech jets that can fly at speeds up to Mach-20, the preparations for the future of war are well underway. We just need to stun the aliens long enough for our bath-salted zombie cannibals to get their hands on them.

Syndicated from NextDraft. Subscribe today or grab the iOS app.

The girl from the famous Vietnam napalm photoJUN 05

One of the most memorable images of the Vietnam War is Nick Ut's photo of a naked Kim Phuc running from her just-napalmed village.

Nick Ut Vietnam

I've seen that photo hundreds of times but I had no idea that video footage of the event also exists. In this clip shot by Alan Downes and Le Phuc Dinh, you see the napalm dropped on the village and then a bunch of people, Phuc among them, come running down the road. [Warning, this footage is graphic...severe burns and burnt skin hanging off of young children.]

Wow. Ut won the Pulitzer for the photo but Phuc took much longer to make her peace with the image.

The photo was famous, but Phuc largely remained unknown except to those living in her tiny village near the Cambodian border. Ut and a few other journalists sometimes visited her, but that stopped after northern communist forces seized control of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975, ending the war.

Life under the new regime became tough. Medical treatment and painkillers were expensive and hard to find for the teenager, who still suffered extreme headaches and pain.

She worked hard and was accepted into medical school to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. But all that ended once the new communist leaders realized the propaganda value of the "napalm girl" in the photo.

She was forced to quit college and return to her home province, where she was trotted out to meet foreign journalists. The visits were monitored and controlled, her words scripted. She smiled and played her role, but the rage inside began to build and consume her.

"I wanted to escape that picture," she said. "I got burned by napalm, and I became a victim of war ... but growing up then, I became another kind of victim."

Phuc now lives in Ontario with her husband and has two children.

The Wire: The MusicalJUN 05

This is amazing...a trailer for a musical version of The Wire done by Funny or Die. Featuring real cast members from the show like Michael K. Williams as Omar, Felicia Pearson as Snoop, and Andre Royo as Bubbles.

(via @monstro)

Frida Kahlo rocking Daft PunkJUN 05

Fabian Ciraolo does illustrations that mash up old and new pop culture. My favorite is Frida Kahlo rocking a Daft Punk t-shirt:

Frida Kahlo Daft Punk

Here are a few others I particularly like:

Dali Vampire Weekend

Dorothy Bling

He-Man Plaid

Poisonous spiders swarm Indian townAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 05

A festival in Sadiya, a town in northeastern India, was swarmed by an unknown species of aggressive spiders resulting in several bites and the deaths of two residents. The spiders had never been seen in the area, and scientists still don't know why there was a swarm of them.

Scientists from Dibrugarh University and Gauhati University have not been able to identify the spiders, which resemble tarantulas but may be a new species altogether. Ratul Rajkhowa, a professor of zoology at Cotton College in the city of Guwahati, told the Times that the spiders could be black wishbones, a species native to Southern Australia. If that's the case, the spiders' venom would not be deadly but could, in some individuals, cause severe allergic reactions that may result in death. The individuals who died after being bitten by the mysterious spiders were reportedly cremated before autopsies could be performed, and scientists have yet to test the toxicity of the spiders' venom.

The Times of India article, upon which the Time.com post is based, is amazingly sensationalistic, and worth a click just to see how this type of story should be written.

This was the exact best blog post to write right before bed. (via, well, @LanceBass, who states aptly, "I. Die.")

Updates on previous entries for Jun 4, 2012*JUN 05

The world's worst password requirements list orig. from Jun 04, 2012

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

Bill Murray interview in EsquireJUN 04

If you're like me, you can read interviews with Bill Murray all day long. Here, go nuts.

When I work, my first relationship with people is professional. There are people who want to be your friend right away. I say, "We're not gonna be friends until we get this done. If we don't get this done, we're never going to be friends, because if we don't get the job done, then the one thing we did together that we had to do together we failed." People confuse friendship and relaxation. It's incredibly important to be relaxed -- you don't have a chance if you're not relaxed. So I try very hard to relax any kind of tension. But friendship is different.

And when you're done with that, Aaron Cohen dug up a dozen more Murray longreads.

New Dave Eggers novel: A Hologram for the KingJUN 04

Dave Eggers' new novel, A Hologram for the King, is due out later this month and Stephen Elliott has an interview with the author over at The Rumpus.

He's trying to sell IT to the King of Saudi Arabia, with telepresence technology as a lure. It's basically a way to have long-distance meetings using holograms. And Alan really doesn't know what he's doing. He's like a lot of men of his generation, who were trained to sell things, to make deals over dinner, golf courses, all that. But now things are very different, and he's adrift. I have a lot of friends who work in management and consulting and manufacturing, and they talk a lot about men like Alan, and what to do with them. Their modes of working are sometimes outdated, and they're hard to hire because they're very expensive. Alan's surrounded by young people who know more about IT than he does, who work cheaper, and who assume all things are made in China. They would never see it as fiscally plausible to hire someone like Alan. He costs too much and in Alan's case, comes with a lot of baggage.

The ImpostorJUN 04

The Nicholas Barclay/Frédéric Bourdin case, which David Grann covered in a 2008 article for the New Yorker, has now inspired a documentary film coming out in July.

As I wrote about Grann's piece:

At some point, Bourdin's story gets intertwined with that of Nicholas Barclay, a teen who went missing in Texas in 1994. After that, the story proceeds like the craziest episode of Law and Order you've ever seen.

(via @aaroncoleman0)

The world's worst password requirements listJUN 04

I tweeted about this but wanted to document it here for posterity. The Attorney General of Texas Child Support website has the worst set of password requirements I've ever seen.

Password Req

Exactly eight characters? No consecutive repeating characters? This is the internet equivalent of everyone throwing their supposedly dangerous 3+ oz. liquid containers into one giant barrel where hundreds of people are queuing up for "security". Makes you wonder how non-user-friendly the state's actual child support process is.

Update: Here's another bad password policy, courtesy of TechRepublic:

Password Req 01

Can't contain two separated numbers? I don't even. If you've run across other examples like these, tweet at me.

Update: Troy Hunt has a list of bad password practices...for example, here's ING's 4-digit PIN login:

Password Req 02

Four digits, numbers only...FOR A BANK! He also has a screenshot of American Express' case insensitive password rule.

Update: Jonathan Cogley signed up to access the web site of a "major credit card company" (AmEx?) and ran into the case insensitivity as well.

Update: BTW, there are many resources out there about choosing good passwords, but I found this one particularly helpful.

Update: This one from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services site is very similar to the Texas one.

Password Req 03

Is there a consultant somewhere telling state and federal governments how not to do passwords? (via @kelseyfrost)

Update: I've gotten several notes about ING...their PINs are 6+ digits but still only numbers, which seems trivial to hack, even with their ever-shifting numeric keypad (readily OCR-able) and image verification (isn't foolproof).

Update: Suncorp Bank requires that passwords be 6-8 characters and can't contain consecutive numbers or special characters.

Password Req 04

Chase requires a password for your password so you can log in while you log in. Or something.

But the best one so far might be for Sabre Red, a booking system used by travel agents.

Password Req 05

7-8 characters in length, no special characters, no more than two repeating characters, and you cannot use the letters Z or Q (presumably a holdover from the days when phone keypads didn't have Qs or Zs). Wow. (via @SteveD503, @albedoa & @TheLoneCuber)

Update: Here's another one, from some unspecified site:

Password Req

(via @toepoke_co_uk)

Neutral Milk Hotel + hip hop = whoa!JUN 04

This is great so far: Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea mashed up with hip hop. (via av club)

Super slow motion video of skateboarding tricksJUN 04

Lovely video of skateboarding tricks in super slow motion. It was filmed at 1000fps.

Uncommon skateboarding tricks in super slow motion. Filmed at 1,000 frames per second with a Redlake N3 high speed camera. Since skateboarding trick names are defined by common usage and these tricks are not very common, some of them don't have well-established names. So here are my best guesses as to what they should be called:

Kyle McPherson -- nollie dolphin flip (AKA nollie forward flip)
Cameron Carmichael -- backside 180 casper flip (?) (or bs 180 hospital flip)
Jerrod Skorupski -- nollie heelflip bs body varial
David Case - nollie 360 shuv underflip (AKA nerd flip)
David Case - frontside shuv underflip (AKA kiwi flip)
Dustin Blauvelt - hardflip pretzel
Dustin Blauvelt - Merlin twist (switch front foot impossible fs 180)
Dustin Blauvelt - nollie heelflip indy grab
Shane Anderson - early grab frontside 180 fingerflip (?)
Jovan Pierson - pressure hardflip (?)
Jovan Pierson - ?? I don't know what this is, I just call it a Jovan flip
Erick Schaefer - backside pop shuv underflip
Tim Hamp - Nollie pressure hardflip (?)

(thx, jay)

Food trucks in Paris and they going gorillasJUN 04

The food truck trend has invaded Paris, where young people use the phrase "très Brooklyn" to denote food that combines "informality, creativity and quality".

On a bright morning last month at the Marché St.-Honoré, a weekly market in an elegant residential section of Paris, several sleekly dressed women struggled to lift the thick burgers to their mouths gracefully. (In French restaurants, and sometimes even fast-food joints, burgers are eaten with utensils, not hands.) A few brave souls were trying to eat tacos with a knife and fork. "C'est pas trop épicé," said one, encouraging a tentative friend -- "It's not too spicy," high praise from the chile-fearing French.

Street food itself isn't new to France. At outdoor markets like this one, there is often a truck selling snacks like pizza, crepes or spicy Moroccan merguez sausages, cooked on griddles and stuffed into baguettes.

But the idea of street food made by chefs, using restaurant-grade ingredients, technique and technology, is very new indeed.

Updates on previous entries for Jun 3, 2012*JUN 04

The Chameleon, Frederic Bourdin orig. from Aug 04, 2008

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

NY Times Magazine Innovation issueJUN 03

I kinda hafta link to this, don't I? From the NY Times Magazine, 32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow...the actual or spiritual successor to their Year in Ideas issue.

The electric light was a failure.

Invented by the British chemist Humphry Davy in the early 1800s, it spent nearly 80 years being passed from one initially hopeful researcher to another, like some not-quite-housebroken puppy. In 1879, Thomas Edison finally figured out how to make an incandescent light bulb that people would buy. But that didn't mean the technology immediately became successful. It took another 40 years, into the 1920s, for electric utilities to become stable, profitable businesses. And even then, success happened only because the utilities created other reasons to consume electricity. They invented the electric toaster and the electric curling iron and found lots of uses for electric motors. They built Coney Island. They installed electric streetcar lines in any place large enough to call itself a town. All of this, these frivolous gadgets and pleasurable diversions, gave us the light bulb.

DeShawn Stevenson's ATMAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 02

DeShawn.jpg

Jason's covered the rise of the NBA nerd, so maybe you look at this picture posted to the Instagram of Brooklyn Nets guard DeShawn Stevenson and see a hat at a jaunty angle, banana colored pants, a twee bow tie, and-RECORD SCRATCH-is that an ATM behind him? Yes. Yes it is.

Seems that Stevenson was inspired by skateboarder Rob Dyrdek, who had one installed during filming of his MTV reality show Rob and Big. According to TMZ, Stevenson shelled out $3,500 for the installation, charges a ridiculous $4.50 transaction fee, and refills it with $20,000 in cash a few times a year. Seems like a good move to install one in-house, especially if he's got wealthy NBA teammates stopping over on occasion before they go out for the night.

Curators gonna curateJUN 01

Former kottke.org guest curator Choire Sicha rails against the dirty filthy c-word. That's right, "curator".

Your metaphor is all wrong. More likely you're a low-grade collector, not a curator. You're buying (in the attention economy at least! If not in the actual advertising economy of websites!) what someone else is selling -- and you're then reselling it on your blog. You're nothing but a secondary market for someone else's work.

I got fresh Sicha content. Anyone buying Sicha? 2-for-1 Sicha for the next hour only. Free embedded tweets! I'm also selling links to @curateordie for a limited time only, act now!

Movie with Bill Murray as FDR?!JUN 01

Saw this trailer in front of Moonrise Kingdom last night...Bill Murray plays Franklin Roosevelt in an upcoming movie called Hyde Park on Hudson.

I'm interested in seeing it, but Hyde Park on Hudson is a terrible name.

An oral history of The WireAARON COHEN  ·  JUN 01

The Wire premiered on HBO 10 years ago tomorrow so Maxim (what really?) is out with a long oral history. It's all worth reading (and finally proof for the 'I read it for the articles' argument), but the more interesting bits to me were towards the end, and I wish there were a few more comments from superfans. Marc Spitz did an amazing job wrangling interviews from the majority of the cast.

New to me was the cop actors and crook actors not hanging out together, and Prop Joe mentoring the kids from Season 4.

Tristan Wilds (Michael Lee, student, Stanfield gang enforcer): Every time we'd get a script all four of us would sit down with Robert Chew go over the script and make sure we had it down.

Robert F. Chew (Joseph "Proposition Joe" Stewart, drug kingpin): A couple of them were not from Baltimore so they did not have the lingo and the dialect, so I'd give them hints on that and just understanding the emotion of the scene.

I also liked this bit about Snoop.

Tristan Wilds: I remember when I first read the script, I was like "Noooo! Why do I gotta do it?" Snoop became like my big sister to me; she was everything. I was actually with my niece a couple months ago and she was watching iCarly -and there was a scene where Sam takes paint ball gun and shoots Gib, but he looks at her before she does and says, 'How's my hair look?' And she says, "You look good, Gib."

Method Man: I always went online to see the reactions that people would have after someone got killed. Snoop, when she got killed, oh you should've seen it. You would've thought somebody really died. Like it was a funeral happening: "RIP Snoop, we gon' miss you," and all this craziness. They were just two lines short of making "In Memory Of" T-Shirts. Same thing with Omar. Stringer, same thing. Then when I die, it's like "good for him. They should've killed his ass sooner."

Also on the 10th Anniversary tip, here's Details on 10 Ways the Wire changed TV and The Atlantic says The Wire feels dated. (via @groveatlantic)

More living still lifes from Alexa MeadeJUN 01

Just got a note from Alexa Meade, whose work I featured on kottke.org two years ago. Since then, she's been around the world working on her art; she'll soon be in DC for an event at the National Portrait Gallery. I thought it would be fun to circle back and look at some of her work from the past two years.

Alexa Meade 01

Alexa Meade 02

Keep in mind that these are photographs of real people painted to look like paintings. In some ways, it's more like sculpture than painting. This is Meade standing next to one of her subjects/objects:

Alexa Meade 03

You can see more of her work on her site or at Flickr.

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