Lovely photo of a gun being fired under water.
And here’s a slow motion video of the same. Gunfire starts around 2:10.
Lovely photo of a gun being fired under water.
And here’s a slow motion video of the same. Gunfire starts around 2:10.
Starting with a blank map of the US, the object is to place each state in its proper place.
My average error was 8 miles. A better test would be to start each state with the blank map…placing Colorado in the western part of the country without any guide is much tougher than doing it last. (via @notrobwalker)
A 15-foot-tall statue of Zinedine Zidane head-butting Marco Materazzi by sculptor Adel Abdessemed has been placed in the courtyard of the Pompidou Center in Paris.
The statue, entitled “Headbutt,” is by the Algerian sculptor Adel Abdessemed, and coincides with an exhibition of his work in the museum. “This statue goes against the tradition of making statues to honor victories,” said Phillipe Alain Michaud, who directed the exhibition. “It is an ode to defeat… Zidane’s downward glance recalls that of Adam, chased from paradise.”
But as Michaud knows, and surely as Abdessemed intends, it is both not so simple and much simpler. It is an ode to more than defeat; but it’s also a representation of very basic feelings complicated by literary analogy. The Headbutt was full of anger, stupidity, and recklessness, but beneath them lay a damaged sense of honor. This makes it hard for even the calmest football fan to wholly begrudge Zidane his actions.
Brad Templeton imagines how the design of cars and other transportation systems might change with widespread use of driverless cars. I especially like the robocar used as a mobile office or a place to get a good night’s sleep as you travel from one place to the other.
The in-car environment will become more of a work and entertainment space than just a travel space. Passengers will expect things like a screen, a keyboard, and a desk. Passengers may wish to face one another (though not all are comfortable riding backwards.)
Quiet will be a very important consideration, though passengers will be allowed to wear headphones if desired, unlike drivers today.
The smooth ride (especially on the highway) of a robocar may generate demand for cars for night-travel, while the passengers sleep. Such vehicles might aim to make a trip last 8 hours rather than make the fastest possible trip, and as such would be much more energy efficient for such trips.
(This also requires a very low crash rate, as seat belts don’t work as well on flat beds.)
My guess is that the first big market for driverless cars will not be the US but somewhere smaller, more urban, and more used to experimentation with alternate modes of transportation. (via the atlantic)
The Swiss-based Mona Lisa Foundation is presenting an earlier version of the famed Leonardo da Vinci painting. According to one foundation member, “We have investigated this painting from every relevant angle and the accumulated information all points to it being an earlier version of the Giaconda in the Louvre.” Seems like a good excuse to listen to The Rolling Stones sing Mona (I Need You Baby).
Hutt River, around 5 hours north of Perth, Australia, is one of about 70 micronations in the world, and has its own constitution, capital, and a postal service. What it does not have is international recognition. Australia has roughly half the world’s known micronations.
What it lacks, like all other micronations, is recognition from a single sovereign state. That hasn’t stopped some of Leonard’s followers from attempting to advance Hutt River’s foreign policy. The 2007 opening of an embassy and consular section in Dubai caused a minor diplomatic scandal with Australia, which accused the Hutt River “ambassador” of being a con man selling bogus travel documents. And though Hong Kong earlier this year included Hutt River on a list of legitimate places of incorporation, the move was widely dismissed as an error or a practical joke; Leonard himself is unsure of how it came to pass.
Earlier this month, the Curiosity rover photographed a dry stream bed on the surface of Mars.
That’s the Mars river bed on the left and an Earth river bed on the right. Note the flat smooth rocks in the Mars pic. Pretty cool.
From Collectors Weekly, an interview with Steven Martin about his new book, Opium Fiend. Martin collects opium paraphernalia and got addicted to the stuff (the collectables and the opium) while living and collecting in SE Asia.
In 2001, I was working as a fixer and translator for a good friend of mine, Karl Taro Greenfeld, a journalist for the Asian edition of Time. He wanted to do a story about the remnants of opium smoking in Laos, which, at the time, was the only country in the world where you could see opium smoking in the traditional Chinese manner-that is, with a pipe that’s designed to vaporize the drug and a lamp as a source of heat and all the crazy, little tools and accoutrements. Through some weird quirk of history, this sort of opium smoking was eradicated every place else, but Laos still had the traditional public opium den that anybody could walk into, recline, and have an attendant prepare opium for them to smoke.
Actually, Karl’s story was more about the backpackers who were coming to Southeast Asia and causing a resurgence of opium smoking, especially in Vang Vieng, just north of the capital, Vientiane. This one little town was a must-stop on the backpackers’ circuit. Karl, who had at one time been addicted to heroin when he was living in New York City, wanted to do the story, but he didn’t want to get anywhere near the opium, obviously. While I was hired to translate and set up interviews, he asked me to smoke the drug so he could observe and write the details into his story.
It wasn’t the first time I had smoked opium. When I was traveling in the Southeast Asia mountains, the villagers would often invite me to smoke opium with them. But I had never really given it much thought until I did this story. Unlike the tribal kind of paraphernalia I had seen in the mountains, these Laotian dens were using the traditional Chinese accoutrements. After we visited the den, we went back down to the capital. I told Karl, “Hey, why don’t I take you to an antiques shop I know about that has opium pipes? It might be an interesting souvenir.” He ended up buying one, and I thought, “Why don’t I get one, too?”
So this is fun. Back in February 2000, I wrote a post about Amazon being awarded a patent for their affiliates program. In it, I wondered about a world where Apple was the largest company in the world:
And that brings us to Microsoft and Apple. Microsoft is perhaps the largest target of this sort of “boycott”, organized or otherwise. People hate Microsoft. Companies hate Microsoft. It’s the company you love to hate. Apple, on the other hand, is one of the most beloved companies in the world. People love Apple.
But what if Apple were Microsoft? What if Apple had won the battle of the PC and was the largest company in the world? People would hate them. Why? Because they would be using the same tactics as Microsoft to stay ahead and keep every bit of that advantage in anyway that they could. Apple is the way it is because they are the underdog.
I’ll even argue that life would be worse under Apple’s rein. Apple controls the OS *and* the hardware: if we were under Apple’s boot instead of Microsoft’s, we’d be paying too much for hardware as well as the software.
Nailed it! Or not. That third paragraph is pretty wrong…one of the things that contributed greatly to Apple’s rise is their commitment to pricing their products competitively. And software is cheap.
As for Apple being the underdog, I’ve always thought one of the interesting things about Daring Fireball, even from the beginning, is that John Gruber never treated Apple as an underdog. In his esteem, Apple was the best company making the best software and hardware, and the DF attitude with respect to Microsoft was very much like that of Jon Lovitz’s Michael Dukakis in a debate with Dana Carvey’s George H.W. Bush on SNL: “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy”. Gruber proved correct…what looked like an underdog proved to be a powerhouse in the making. (thx, greg & andy)
To celebrate the release of his new novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan is doing two related events at the Center for Fiction in NYC.
Second thing first: At 7pm on Thu, Oct 4, there will be a launch party at the Center for Fiction hosted by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Electric Literature. RSVP here.
But before the party, Robin will be interviewing a variety of people over a 24-hour period and streaming the whole thing online. I am one of the scheduled interviewees and I have no idea what we’ll talk about. But because my slot is right before the party starts, after almost 20 non-stop hours of Robin interviewing people, it’s possible we’ll just change into our sweatpants, split a pint of Cherry Garcia, and spoon on the couch.
Hilarious New Yorker piece by Bill Barol imagining Vice President Joe Biden as a waiter in a restaurant.
Our fish special is halibut with a mango-avocado salsa and Yukon Gold potatoes, and it’s market-priced at sixteen-ninety-five. Sounds like a lot of money, right? Sounds like “Hey, Joe, that’s a piece of fish and a little topping there, and some potatoes.” “Bidaydas,” my great-grandmother from County Louth would have called ‘em. You know what I’m talking about. Just simple, basic, sitting-around-the-kitchen-table-on-a-Tuesday-night food. Nothin’ fancy, right? But, folks, that’s not the whole story. If you believe that, you’re not… getting… the whole… story. Because lemme tell you about these Yukon Gold potatoes. These Yukon Gold potatoes are brushed with extra-virgin olive oil and hand-sprinkled with pink Himalayan sea salt, and then José, our prep guy… . Well. Lemme tell you about José. (He pauses, looks down, clears his throat.)
I get… I get emotional talking about José. This is a guy who — José gets here at ten in the morning. Every morning, rain or shine. Takes the bus here. Has to transfer twice. Literally gets off one bus and onto another. Twice. Never complains. Rain, snow, it’s hailin’ out there…. The guy literally does not complain. Never. Never heard it. José walks in, hangs his coat on a hook, big smile on his face, says hello to everybody — Sal the dishwasher, Angie the sous-chef, Frank, Donna, Pat…. And then do you know what he does? Do you know what José does? I’ll tell you what he does, and folks, folks, this is the point I want to make. With his own hands, he sprinkles fresh house-grown rosemary on those potatoes (raises voice to a thundering crescendo), and they are golden brown on the outside and soft on the inside and they are delicious! They are delicious! They are delicious!
If Apple launched the iPhone 5 on Kickstarter, it would have been the first $1 billion campaign:
$1.7 billion in sales for a weekend…not bad. I got the rough first-weekend sales numbers from Asymco and fudged the rest.
It’s amazing how the guy in the one truck flies through the destroyed windshield and lands on his feet, with or without the assistance of a magic blankie (you be the judge).
A selection of previously uncollected essays from David Foster Wallace is coming out in book form in November.
Both Flesh and Not gathers 15 essays never published in book form, including “Federer Both Flesh and Not,” considered by many to be his nonfiction masterpiece; “The (As it Were) Seminal Importance of Terminator 2,” which deftly dissects James Cameron’s blockbuster; and “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young,” an examination of television’s effect on a new generation of writers.
Wallace’s previous collections often included expanded articles with extra material cut from previously published pieces (like the cruise ship one and the state fair one). It would be wonderful to read a longer version of his NY Times piece on Federer but for obvious reasons I’m not holding my breath. Even just the first paragraph makes me want to sit down and read the whole thing for like a fifth time:
Almost anyone who loves tennis and follows the men’s tour on television has, over the last few years, had what might be termed Federer Moments. These are times, as you watch the young Swiss play, when the jaw drops and eyes protrude and sounds are made that bring spouses in from other rooms to see if you’re O.K.
On the eve of the release of her first novel specifically written for adult readers, Ian Parker profiles J.K. Rowling for the New Yorker. In many ways, this passage about Harry Potter sums up Parker’s take on Rowling herself:
For all the satisfying closure provided by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” gloomier readers may still detect a note of melancholy; there is a narrowness of life for former Hogwarts students, whose career opportunities barely extend beyond the wizard civil service, wizard schoolteaching, and professional Quidditch. This magical society has no use for science; there’s little commerce; and thousands of years of wizarding seems to have generated no culture beyond a short volume of fables and a tabloid newspaper. (Wizard technology is often a cutely flawed approximation of non-wizard technology — owls for e-mail — and one wonders how quickly Harry and his schoolfriends could have won their battles against the evil Lord Voldemort, given two or three cell phones and a gun.) In a time of wizard peace, at least, Harry’s separation from the real world — even as he lives in it — can seem tragic.
In a time of personal prosperity, Rowling’s separation from the real world — even as she lives in it — can seem tragic.
Brooklyn’s got a winning team (maybe)
Trouble in the Suez
U2 (albeit a different one)
Terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran
It will still burn on, and on, and on, and on…
Because of the frequent testing and safety measures, adult film stars are perhaps the world’s safest community, STD-wise. No one in the industry has been infected with HIV since 2004. Porn star Stoya explains:
The production manager printed out a copy of each performer’s page in the APHSS database. I signed my own copy and James’s, indicating that my results were mine and accurate and that I had seen James’s and was comfortable working with him and his clean test which had been taken less than 14 days prior. He did the same. Then the production manager performed an inspection. He looked in our mouths, at both sides of our hands, and at our genitals to make sure there were no visible sores or open wounds. There was another paper to sign stating that we have no sores or open wounds on or in our mouths, hands, and genitals and had been inspected. We also looked at each others genitals, mostly for fun but if either of us had seen (or smelled) something odd we would have called off the scene ourselves.
Ok, I’m gonna point you to the article discussing the whole thing but based on my years of extensive experience as a kid, I can tell you that blowing into the cartridge absolutely did work. Zelda in particular always needed a good blow before playing. (via @djacobs)
FX is developing a TV show “loosely based” on the Coen brothers’ Fargo.
Joel and Ethan Coen are bringing one of their signatures movies to television. FX has closed a deal to develop Fargo, an hourlong project loosely based on the Coen brothers’ 1996 comedic crime drama. The Coens will serve as executive producers on the project, which will be written/executive produced by The Unusuals and My Generation creator Noah Hawley.
Plant grafting is something I always sort of knew existed, but never really thought it worked well enough to create fruit salad trees. A plant with multiple different kinds of herbs would be amazing.
In Australia, James and Kerry West grow and sell four types of fruit salad trees, each of which bears several different kinds of fruit. Stone fruit salad trees grow peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and peachcots. Citrus salad trees offer a winter and summer orange, mandarins, lemons, limes, grapefruits, tangelos and pomelos. Multi-apple trees boast between two and four different kinds of apples and multi-nashi trees produce between two and four different kinds of Asian pears.
Paul Graham explains what a startup is and how it differs from other types of businesses.
That difference is why there’s a distinct word, “startup,” for companies designed to grow fast. If all companies were essentially similar, but some through luck or the efforts of their founders ended up growing very fast, we wouldn’t need a separate word. We could just talk about super-successful companies and less successful ones. But in fact startups do have a different sort of DNA from other businesses. Google is not just a barbershop whose founders were unusually lucky and hard-working. Google was different from the beginning.
To grow rapidly, you need to make something you can sell to a big market. That’s the difference between Google and a barbershop. A barbershop doesn’t scale.
For a company to grow really big, it must (a) make something lots of people want, and (b) reach and serve all those people. Barbershops are doing fine in the (a) department. Almost everyone needs their hair cut. The problem for a barbershop, as for any retail establishment, is (b). A barbershop serves customers in person, and few will travel far for a haircut. And even if they did the barbershop couldn’t accomodate them.
Writing software is a great way to solve (b), but you can still end up constrained in (a). If you write software to teach Tibetan to Hungarian speakers, you’ll be able to reach most of the people who want it, but there won’t be many of them. If you make software to teach English to Chinese speakers, however, you’re in startup territory.
Most businesses are tightly constrained in (a) or (b). The distinctive feature of successful startups is that they’re not.
Gorilla Glass is the thin strong glass used for the screens of most smartphones. It was invented in the 1960s by Corning but was shelved in the early 1970s due to a lack of demand. The iPhone brought it out of retirement in a big way.
Chemical strengthening, the method of fortifying glass developed in the ’60s, creates a compressive layer too, through something called ion exchange. Aluminosilicate compositions like Gorilla Glass contain silicon dioxide, aluminum, magnesium, and sodium. When the glass is dipped in a hot bath of molten potassium salt, it heats up and expands. Both sodium and potassium are in the same column on the periodic table of elements, which means they behave similarly. The heat from the bath increases the migration of the sodium ions out of the glass, and the similar potassium ions easily float in and take their place. But because potassium ions are larger than sodium, they get packed into the space more tightly. (Imagine taking a garage full of Fiat 500s and replacing most of them with Chevy Suburbans.) As the glass cools, they get squeezed together in this now-cramped space, and a layer of compressive stress on the surface of the glass is formed. (Corning ensures an even ion exchange by regulating factors like heat and time.) Compared with thermally strengthened glass, the “stuffing” or “crowding” effect in chemically strengthened glass results in higher surface compression (making it up to four times as strong), and it can be done to glass of any thickness or shape.
I did glass research in college so I’m a sucker for this sort of thing. (via @joeljohnson)
 Well, not the entire run. Not included are Never Say Never Again (an independently produced Bond film starring Sean Connery 12 years removed from his last Bond outing) and Casino Royale (a Bond satire starring David Niven, Woody Allen, and Peter Sellers). ↩
PBS ombudsman Michael Getler calls out NewsHour for “a faulty application of journalistic balance” in a recent segment on climate change.
Although global warming strikes me as one of those issues where there is no real balance and it is wrong to create an artificial or false equivalence, there is no harm and some possibility of benefit in inviting skeptics about the human contribution and other factors to speak, but in a setting in which the context of the vast majority of scientific evidence and speakers is also made clear.
What was stunning to me as I watched this program is that the NewsHour and Michels had picked Watts — who is a meteorologist and commentator — rather than a university-accredited scientist to provide “balance.” I had never heard of Watts before this program and I’m sure most viewers don’t, as part of their routines, read global warming blogs on either side of the issue.
I’m not being judgmental about Watts or anything he said. He undoubtedly is an effective spokesperson. But it seems to me that if you decide you are going to give airtime to the other side of this crucial and hot-button issue, you need to have a scientist.
Capital New York heard that meat from geese culled from the area around JFK Airport was donated to area food banks, but wondered what that meant exactly. (The culling program began after Captain Sullenburger’s bird-struck airplane landed in the Hudson River.) Little else was known, so they decided to get to the bottom of it. Text book investigative journalism resulted in a much clearer picture and even left open the possibility of conspiracy theories in the comments section. Did the meat get donated to food banks? Yes! Is it safe to eat? Maybe! Would the food banks accept this type of donation again? In a heartbeat!
According to Carol Bannerman, a department spokeswoman, past goose roundups ended with the animals being gassed by carbon dioxide, and the bodies dumped in a landfill. The meat, obviously, went to waste.
Officials wanted to do something different this time, she said, and knew of other states, like Pennsylvania, where donations of goose meat were common. It also turned out to be the case that many food banks — warehouse-type institutions that distribute food to hundreds of pantries and soup kitchens — in New York State frequently received donations of wild game like deer from hunters.
The people who run the food banks confirmed this, although they said they don’t get wild goose-meat donations as regularly.
Mario has had enough of your bullshit.
XKCD’s What If? science feature continues to delight. This week’s question is “What if a rainstorm dropped all of its water in a single giant drop?”
The drop is now falling at 90 meters per second (200 mph). The roaring wind whips up the surface of the water into spray. The leading edge of the droplet turns to foam as air is forced into the liquid. If it kept falling for long enough, these forces would gradually disperse the entire droplet into rain.
Before that can happen, about 20 seconds after formation, the edge of the droplet hits the ground. The water is now moving at over 200 m/s (450 mph). Right under the point of impact, the air is unable to rush out of the way fast enough, and the compression heats it so quickly that the grass would catch fire if it had time.
Fortunately for the grass, this heat lasts only a few milliseconds because it’s doused by the arrival of a lot of cold water. Unfortunately for the grass, the cold water is moving at over half the speed of sound.
From Steven Johnson comes Future Perfect, a new book about “progress in a networked age”.
Combining the deft social analysis of Where Good Ideas Come From with the optimistic arguments of Everything Bad Is Good For You, New York Times bestselling author Steven Johnson’s Future Perfect makes the case that a new model of political change is on the rise, transforming everything from local governments to classrooms, from protest movements to health care. Johnson paints a compelling portrait of this new political worldview — influenced by the success and interconnectedness of the Internet, but not dependent on high-tech solutions — that breaks with the conventional categories of liberal or conservative thinking.
With his acclaimed gift for multi-disciplinary storytelling and big ideas, Johnson explores this new vision of progress through a series of fascinating narratives: from the “miracle on the Hudson” to the planning of the French railway system; from the battle against malnutrition in Vietnam to a mysterious outbreak of strange smells in downtown Manhattan; from underground music video artists to the invention of the Internet itself.
At a time when the conventional wisdom holds that the political system is hopelessly gridlocked with old ideas, Future Perfect makes the timely and inspiring case that progress is still possible, and that new solutions are on the rise. This is a hopeful, affirmative outlook for the future, from one of the most brilliant and inspiring visionaries of contemporary culture.
This is contrary to what we’ve been hearing from The Shallows et al.
According to the data scientists at Stellar (i.e. me armed with clumsy SQL queries), people like riffing off of Jay-Z’s line from 2004’s 99 Problems:
If you’re having girl problems I feel bad for you, son
I’ve got 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one
Here are some of the better ones I found:
@antichrista: If you got religious circumcision, I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 problems but a bris ain’t one.
@elibraden: I’m rubbing lotion on my belly rapping “I got 99 problems but ab itch ain’t one” to the elderly men in the gym locker room.
@goldengateblond: “I got 99 problems but the witch ain’t one.” — Darrin Stevens, widower
@dustmop: I got 99 problems but one of them is that i used hex and i actually have 152 other problems :(
@sween: If you’re coming to Canada to escape Obamacare, I feel bad for you son. We’ve got 99 problems but a lack of socialized medicine ain’t one.
@bagyants: “I got 99 problems, but they can wait.” - Lay-Z
@mikesacco: i got 99 problems but that’s 693 in dog problems!!
@blitznbeans: “I got 99 problems but I really need to lie back on this chair.” - Chaise-Z
@justin: I’ve got 99 problems but a view controller that works as expected on iOS 5 and doesn’t respond to user interaction on iOS 4 is the main one.
@paulypeligroso: “I got 99 problems but a bitch aint one.” - The Dalmatian parents from 101 Dalmatians.
@trevso_electric: I got 99 problems but white privilege ensures that they’re relatively trivial or easily worked out with a therapist.
@yellowcardigan: I got 99 problems but a joke structure based on a 2004 rap single ain’t one.
@lisarahmat: I got 99 problems but my math ain’t one hundred.
Let’s get a Kickstarter together to have Jay-Z rap all these lines.
One hemisphere of your brain can cause you to over-think things and choke at key moments during athletic competitions. Scientists wondered if you could somehow break that pattern by doing something as simple as making a fist with your left hand. And it worked.
Lead researcher Juergen Beckmann, PhD, put it pretty profoundly: “Consciously trying to keep one’s balance is likely to produce imbalance.” Simple (brain-hemisphere-dependent) tasks that activate motor portions of the brain while drawing activity away from the ruminating portions can help experienced athletes perform (in terms of accuracy and complex body movements done from muscle memory) without being messed up by nerves. “Just let it happen; be the ball.”
I’m happy to report that in this update, I added the Open-Dyslexic font by Abelardo Gonzalez. Its bottom-weighted characters are designed to reduce letter-swapping and increase differentiation between similar-looking letters, which improves readability for people with dyslexia. It’s now the bottom-most option in the font list in Instapaper’s text-controls (“aA”) panel.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this video of a soccer player picking up a piece of garbage and casually throwing it off the field COME TO FIND OUT IT IS SOME SORT OF EXPLOSIVE DEVICE THAT EXPLODES WHEN HE THROWS IT is crazy. I didn’t want to bury the lede on that one. The game was an AFC Champions League match between Iran’s Sepahan and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli at Foolad Shahr Stadium, and the lucky player was Sepahan midfielder Adel Kolahkaj.
Here’s another version with some more detail/slow mo. I’m not wrong, right? That was totally crazy and not something you would expect during a soccer match? And it’s not fake, is it? (via cosby sweaters)
It turns out that yo-yos work pretty well in space. Astronaut Don Pettit demontrates from the International Space Station.
Over the past two months, Ted McCagg has been running a contest on his blog to find the best word ever. A winner was recently announced.
According to research done by Stanford University’s Tyler Schnoebelen, the type of smiley you use is determined in part by your age.
Emoticons with noses are historically older. Since it is words that unite and distinguish clusters, this means that people who use old-fashion noses also use a different vocabulary — nose users don’t mention Bieber or omg.
I am obviously a non-noser because I am down, as we kids say, with Beibler and Carly Mae and Gandgum Style and Skillet. :) (via the atlantic)
The best part of my job is randomly stumbling across a game no one knows about, by a developer no one has heard of, and have it absolutely blow my mind. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it results in drained batteries and dropping everything to get something on the site about it while I wait for my iPhone to charge only to return to the fray.
It just didn’t look that fun. But I did try it. Once, twice, three times. And it didn’t grab me. Then I picked it up last night and ended up playing for two hours straight. It’s taking all my self-control right now not to play it all day. In conclusion, you should totally not download this game because it will completely disrupt your entire life.
This is a time lapse world map showing all the battles that have occurred in the past 1000 years. Worth sitting through the whole thing to see Europe go absolutely bonkers in the late 1930s.
New full trailer for The Hobbit orig. from Sep 19, 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.
Freelance underwater photographer Yoji Ookata recently discovered a curious underwater pattern not unlike a crop circle:
When I first saw the pictures, this seemed like a hoax on the part of Ookata (which it might still be, I guess) or the work of someone who enjoys making sand art where no one will ever see it. But Ookata convinced a camera crew to check it out and the mystery circle’s artist turns out to be a fish!
The unlikely artist — best known in Japan as a delicacy, albeit a potentially poisonous one — even takes small shells, cracks them, and lines the inner grooves of his sculpture as if decorating his piece. Further observation revealed that this “mysterious circle” was not just there to make the ocean floor look pretty. Attracted by the grooves and ridges, female puffer fish would find their way along the dark seabed to the male puffer fish where they would mate and lay eggs in the center of the circle. In fact, the scientists observed that the more ridges the circle contained, the more likely it was that the female would mate with the male. The little sea shells weren’t just in vain either. The observers believe that they serve as vital nutrients to the eggs as they hatch, and to the newborns.
Amazing. (via colossal)
The new version of Kingdom Rush for the iPad includes two new levels. Love this game and still play it way too much.
From inside the club, Aisner and his friend watched out the front window as Ali screetched up in a red Cadillac convertible, parked in front of a fire hydrant, and jumped over the car door.
For the next 20 minutes, Ali talked boxing, footwork, why he wanted to fight — and launched into an epic, unprompted riff about traveling to Mars and fighting for the intergalactic boxing title. All went smoothly — until Aisner realized he’d forgot to turn on the tape recorder.
“I was mortified,” he says. “I said, ‘Champ, do you think you could do that again?’”
The champ obliged.
The trailer was supposed to go up later in the morning but here it is a little early.
If it gets pulled down, I’ll find another link.
Update: Apple has the trailer up now.
Ok, so the XKCD map printed at 300dpi is around 46 foot / 14 meters wide, half that at magazine 600dpi quality.
Leica announced a new version of their M series camera on Monday and the “one more thing” concerned a Jonathan Ive-designed special edition of the Leica M.
This camera will be the mother of all limited editions based on one simple fact: only a single unit of the camera will ever be produced. Aside from announcing this camera, not much else was revealed. It is, however, for more than just a publicity stunt: the camera will be auctioned off, and the proceeds will be donated to charity.
The regular M retails for almost $7000 so I imagine the iLeica will go for about eleventy gajillion. Also, designed? How much leeway will Ive have to really change the camera? He’ll just slap some new colorways on it, yes? (via df)
A small piece of papyrus with 4th-century writing has turned up recently and the text on it refers to Jesus’ wife.
A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’”
The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.”
The article says the papyrus is “probably genuine” but I wouldn’t rule out a forgery financed by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code fortune. (via @Rebeccamead_NYC)
Julia Moskin reports that the production of real buttermilk is on the rise in the US.
“My buttermilk has pieces of butter floating in it, which it’s probably not supposed to,” said Ms. St. Clair, who has a herd of eight Jersey cows at her farm (called Animal Farm and located in the town of Orwell, Vt.), and makes butter and buttermilk for the chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants. “But it certainly tastes good that way.”
She, Mr. Patry and a few other dedicated dairy producers here and in the South have just begun to bring old-school buttermilk to greenmarkets and groceries, as small-scale bottling operations become more affordable.
Their efforts fit neatly into several culinary trends: working with traditional agricultural products, and embracing the once-rejected byproducts and odd bits of favored ingredients. Buttermilk even manages to represent both the American South and Scandinavia, two of the liveliest influences in food today.
Ambitious chefs all over are suddenly wallowing in buttermilk. In New York City alone, Roberto Mirarchi is saucing earthy sweet potatoes with tangy buttermilk at Blanca; Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 glazes sweetbreads with nasturtium-infused buttermilk; and the young gun Matthew Lightner strains the stuff till thick and uses it to fill crisp-fried sunchoke skins at Atera.
The resurgence of real buttermilk is great news; you can’t make the world’s best pancakes without it.
I attended the XOXO Festival in Portland, OR this past weekend. I don’t have a great deal to say about it because — and I’m not trying to be a dick here — you had to be there. As in, physically in the room with the speakers and the attendees. But I did want to mention a few things.
- XOXO was put on by Andy Baio and Andy McMillan. They killed it. And they killed it because they really really (really!) cared about what they were doing, so much so that they were (at times unsuccessfully) holding back tears as they did their outro. Do Chris Anderson or Walt Mossberg cry at the end of TED and D? I don’t think so.
- At no point during the weekend did anyone on the stage make a cynical or ironic remark. Everyone was so positive. It would be easy to mistake it for wide-eyed and naive idealism but that optimism is hard-won and tempered by experience. You can do it — we can do it — because we’ve done it before.
- XOXO attendees were generally not on their computers or phones. They listened to the talks and chatted with their nearby seatmates. It was amazingly refreshing. More conferences like this please.
- Though not specifically referenced, one of the themes of the weekend was what David Brooks referred to as “the power of the particular”. From his piece in the NY Times a few months ago:
It makes you appreciate the tremendous power of particularity. If your identity is formed by hard boundaries, if you come from a specific place, if you embody a distinct musical tradition, if your concerns are expressed through a specific paracosm, you are going to have more depth and definition than you are if you grew up in the far-flung networks of pluralism and eclecticism, surfing from one spot to the next, sampling one style then the next, your identity formed by soft boundaries, or none at all.
The whole experience makes me want to pull aside politicians and business leaders and maybe everyone else and offer some pious advice: Don’t try to be everyman. Don’t pretend you’re a member of every community you visit. Don’t try to be citizens of some artificial globalized community. Go deeper into your own tradition. Call more upon the geography of your own past. Be distinct and credible. People will come.
Examples of this power abounded at XOXO. The indie gaming scene is insanely niche but, as documented in Indie Game: The Movie, some of the best and more unique games make millions of dollars. Emily Winfield Martin felt like a misfit in art school but gained a huge following for her illustrations on Etsy and is now living her dream of creating children’s books. Julia Nunes started out playing cover songs on her ukelele in YouTube videos and now has albums and has played with Weezer and Ben Folds and appeared on Conan. Adam Savage told the story of The Adventurebilt Hat Company, which started making replicas of Indiana Jones’ hat from Raiders of the Lost Ark because they were fans of the film and ended up supplying the actual hats for the fourth Indy movie. The PDX671 food cart that took home the judges’ award in the 2012 Eat Mobile awards was parked outside of the festival both days serving cuisine from Guam. Another cart from the XOXO pod, Nong’s Khao Man Gai, serves only a single Thai dish and boasts long lunch lines. Even the numerous craft beers available all over Portland are valued by aficionados for each beer’s particular characteristics.
Beginning in October, a copy of Edvard Munch’s iconic The Scream of Nature will be on display at MoMA for a six-month stint.
Of the four versions of The Scream made by Munch between 1893 and 1910, this pastel-on-board from 1895 is the only one remaining in private hands. The three other versions are in the collections of museums in Norway. The Scream is being lent by a private collector, and will be on view at MoMA through April 29, 2013.
In No Evidence of Disease, Maciej Cegłowski writes about his girlfriend’s cervical cancer and the appearance of a new friend in her life, fellow cancer patient Stephanie. Except that, well, that’s not the whole story.
Cancer comes with an entourage: fear, loneliness, and isolation. Diane didn’t go to the makeup event expecting to make a new friend, but it was a way to get out of the house. She came home excited about having met Stephanie.
Stephanie was ten years younger than Diane. Her illness was acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a type of blood cancer in which cancerous precursor cells completely take over the bone marrow. Steph had gotten her diagnosis while studying abroad in Spain, and had been treated there long enough to put her into remission and send her home. Now her life was on hold, and the cancer was coming back.
Her long-term prognosis was poor. Steph was reticent in talking about it straight out, but after she and Diane became better friends, it became clear that she did not expect to survive a year. Her only hope lay in a difficult and risky transplant procedure. I couldn’t imagine having to face this at 23, but of course no one gets to make the choice.
Maciej is a great writer and this is a crazy-ass story and I don’t know exactly what you’re supposed to feel after reading this piece (sad? mad? defeated?), but you’ll definitely feel something. (via @sippey)
Archaeologist Marc Azéma thinks that Stone Age artists may have fashioned their cave paintings in such a way as to suggest movement, crude movies that came to life as the flickering light from a fire danced on the walls.
Not only that, Paleolithic artists may have also have invented the thaumatrope thousands of years before the Victorians in the 1800s.
Consisting of a card or disk with different designs on either side, the device demonstrates the persistence of vision: When the card or disk is twirled, the designs appear to blend into one.
Rivère discovered that Paleolithic artists used similar optical toys well in advance of their 19th-century descendants.
The artist examined Magdalenian bone discs — objects found in the Pyrenees, the north of Spain and the Dordogne, which measure about 1.5 inches in diameter.
Often pierced in their center, the discs have been generally interpreted as buttons or pendants.
“Given that some are decorated on both sides with animals shown in different positions, we realized that another type of use, relating to sequential animation, was possible,” the researchers said.
They mentioned one of the most convincing cases, a bone disc found in 1868 in the Dordogne. On one side, the disc features a standing doe or a chamois. On the other side, the animal is lying down.
Azéma and Rivère discovered if a string was threaded through the central hole and then stretched tight to make the disc rotate about its lateral axis, the result was a superimposition of the two pictures on the retina.
Incredible that moviemaking is tens of thousands of years old instead of just a couple hundred.
The second season of Girls is set to run in January 2013 on HBO. Here’s a short teaser for the new season:
Normally, I’m fairly conversant on crazy Korean drummers, so I have no idea how I missed the boat on Kwon Soon Keun. Keun is the subject of A Drummer’s Passion, a movie about his life and wild playing style. This was the first video of Keun’s playing to get a lot of attention, and it is amazing, amazing, amazing, but the video below is sublime. Maybe it’s the stone-faced bass player, maybe it’s the environment, but at 1:10, magic happens.
Than Tibbetts took all the frames from Noah Kalina’s Everyday video and averaged them into one photo.
Those are some of the yearly averages…you’ll have to click through to see the overall average.
Excellent NYT Magazine piece on the impact of The Kalamazoo Promise, an initiative by anonymous donors to pay the college tuition of every graduating senior in Kalamazoo. The Promise, which is intended by the donors to be an experiment in urban investment has had several amazing results in only a few years. High school test scores have improved continuously, and the promise of help with tuition has lead to families moving to and staying in Kalamazoo. The 2,450 new students has allowed the school district to hire 92 additional teachers. It’s not all rosy, and the Promise hasn’t solved every problem yet, but Kalamazoo seems to be headed in the right direction.
Under the terms of the program, students who start in the Kalamazoo school district as kindergartners receive enough money to cover their entire tuition to public in-state schools. Students who enter the district in later grades get less, based on a sliding scale; entering high-school freshmen, for example, get 65 percent of their tuition covered. (Those who move to Kalamazoo after that or who enroll in colleges that are private or located outside the state are not covered by the Promise.) To date, the Kalamazoo Promise has paid out $35 million for postsecondary study for 2,500 students. On average, about $4,200 is spent on each student per semester. Students are responsible for their own room and board.
When Ronald McDonald bought a run-down house that dated back to 1795 with the intention of tearing it down to put up a hamburger restaurant, the citizens of New Hyde Park successfully got the house landmarked. Instead of cutting their losses, McDonald’s renovated the house into the nation’s classiest fast food joint.
There’s not a whole not more to this radio than what it looks like, but I will forever have a soft spot for things that mimic the London tube map.
Now, if it contained vacuum tubes or something…
The latest from the Made By Hand video series is about Martinez Cigars on West 29th St in NYC. The cigars they sell are hand-rolled right in the shop.
Over at Hacker News, npguy asked Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham about “the most frighteningly ambitious idea” he’d ever been pitched. Graham declined to answer, citing confidentiality, but Eliezer Yudkowsky responded with what another commenter called the Yudkowsky Ambition scale:
1) We’re going to build the next Facebook!
2) We’re going to found the next Apple!
3) Our product will create sweeping political change! This will produce a major economic revolution in at least one country! (Seasteading would be change on this level if it worked; creating a new country successfully is around the same level of change as this.)
4) Our product is the next nuclear weapon. You wouldn’t want that in the wrong hands, would you?
5) This is going to be the equivalent of the invention of electricity if it works out.
6) We’re going to make an IQ-enhancing drug and produce basic change in the human condition.
7) We’re going to build serious Drexler-class molecular nanotechnology.
8) We’re going to upload a human brain into a computer.
9) We’re going to build a recursively self-improving Artificial Intelligence.
10) We think we’ve figured out how to hack into the computer our universe is running on.
Grantland has a story about a chess cheating scandal with an interesting section on the the history of chess-playing computers.
The Virginia scandal involved the opposite ruse, in which a machine surreptitiously called the shots for a player. The chess engines this scheme centered on are relatively new: Computers only surpassed humans at the chessboard during young Smiley’s lifetime. Scientists had an easier time designing digital brains that could produce atom bombs or navigate lunar landings than they did fashioning a machine that could play chess worth a darn. Plainly, until relatively recently, chess was too complicated for computers. An analysis of chess’s complicatedness in Wired determined that the number of possible positions in an average 40-move game is 10 to the 128th power, a sum “vastly larger than the number of atoms in the known universe.”
In 1966, MIT brainiacs entered MAC HACK VI, a computer program they’d devised, into the Massachusetts Amateur Chess Championship, making it the first computer program ever to enter a tournament. It drew just one match and lost four.
But by 2007, a chess engine called Rybka was routinely shutting out grandmasters even when spotting the humans a pawn and taking black, thereby letting humans go first, the more statistically desirable position. Computers have gotten noticeably better since then; humans haven’t.
The man-machine war in chess is no longer contested: “Computers are better than us,” says USCF president Ruth Haring.
And here are a couple articles about chess-playing computers because I was curious:
Gary Kasparov in the NY Review of Books, Humans and computers in Slate, and Newsweek’s ‘The Brain’s Last Stand’ from when Deep Blue beat Kasparov.
In the New Yorker, Salman Rushdie describes how quickly his entire life changed after Iran’s Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s “execution”.
He unlocked the front door, went outside, got into the car, and was driven away. Although he did not know it then — so the moment of leaving his home did not feel unusually freighted with meaning — he would not return to that house, at 41 St. Peter’s Street, which had been his home for half a decade, until three years later, by which time it would no longer be his.
The article is excerpted from Rushdie’s memoir, Joseph Anton, which comes out next week. Joseph Anton was the name Rushdie adopted in hiding and, now that I think about it, explains why the NYer piece was written in the third person.
Researchers in Germany have found evidence of room temperature superconductivity in graphite powder that has been soaking in water and then dried. Not surprisingly, the results come with a few caveats:
First, this is not a conventional bulk material. The claim from Germany is that the superconductivity occurs at the interface between grains of graphite after they have dried out.
So that’s a surface effect which involves only a tiny fraction of the total mass of carbon in the powder—just 0.0001 per cent of the mass, according to Esquinazi and co.
What’s more the effect is clearly fragile. Esquinazi and co say the superconductivity disappears if the treated powder is pressed into pellets.
So whatever allows the superconductivity to occur at the grain interfaces is destroyed when the grains are pressed together.
I’m pretty sure this is the technology used by the aliens who designed The Machine in Contact.
The study, which aggregates results from a decade’s worth of experiments, found that “palm cooling” helped people do 144 percent more pull-ups than they did before, on average. A closer look reveals that the effect might not be so beefy as it looks, however. That figure comes from testing just a handful of people in the lab-even after 10 years of research-and it has some honking error bars (+/-83 percent). To put it in perspective: Before the palm-cooled training, their scores ranged from 70 to 153 pull-ups in each session; after training, they ranged from 70 to 616.
Jonny Greenwood’s soundtrack for P.T. Anderson’s new film, The Master, came out yesterday. It’s available on MP3 from Amazon ($11) and directly from Nonesuch in MP3 and other formats ($12+). Greenwood previously did the soundtrack for Anderson’s There Will Be Blood.
Other potential headlines about the Mindy Kaling profile in NY Magazine: ‘I hope Mindy Kaling’s new show is as awesome as Mindy Kaling’ and ‘I wish television executives would take chances like this more often.’
Her character on the show also seems to represent a version of singledom not being explored on TV, one that is very different from Zooey Deschanel’s Jess on New Girl, who is so presexual in her girlishness that she spends an entire episode getting over her discomfort with saying the word penis. And unlike Girls’ Hannah, played by Lena Dunham, she’s found her life path, and she has had sex with more than a couple of people. “I just wanted to do a show that is kind of about dating, about someone who thinks about love all the time,” Kaling says. “One thing that is different than other shows is that my character is weirdly, extremely confident. She feels like she should be dating Chris Evans. That’s something I learned from writing for Michael Scott. He thought he was going to marry Teri Hatcher, even though he was constantly being told that was not the case.”
Michael Lewis profiles President Obama orig. from Sep 11, 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.
Izhar Gafni has designed a bike that weighs 20 pounds, costs between $9-12 to build, can hold up to a 485 pound person, and it made out of cardboard.
Engineers told Gafni that his idea was impossible. Yet he realized that paper could be strong if treated properly. As in crafting origami and tearing telephone books, he explains, “[if] you fold it once, and it’s not just twice the strength, it’s three times the strength.”
The development to what you see today took three years. Two were spent just figuring out the cardboard complications—leading to several patents—and the last was spent converting a cardboard box on wheels to a relatively normal looking bike.
(thx, mickey & erika)
In almost every case, the perceived skill-level gender gap between males and females is overblown. One exception: Throwing. According to one researcher: “The overhand throwing gap, beginning at 4 years of age, is three times the difference of any other motor task, and it just gets bigger across age. By 18, there’s hardly any overlap in the distribution: Nearly every boy by age 15 throws better than the best girl.” About the only thing I can do better than my wife is manage a browser with 65 open tabs.
Apparently no one told Erin DiMeglio about this throwing research. She plays quarterback on her high school football team in Florida.
Michael Lewis profiled Barack Obama for the October issue of Vanity Fair. The full version
isn’t available online yet (and I have a hunch they’ll keep it that way) is here, but the excerpts might just compell me into a purchase.
At play, the president wears red-white-and-blue Under Armor high-tops, but at work it’s strictly blue or gray suits. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make,” he tells Lewis. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” Lewis says that if he were president he might keep a list in his head. “I do,” Obama adds. “That’s my last piece of advice to you. Keep a list.”
That bit reminds me of this piece on Roger Federer.
I got another sense, however: a sense that he was conserving focus. Fed went through all his subsidiary responsibilities as the President of Tennis (as Steve Tignor calls him) without concentrating on anything, or at least on as few things as possible.
Concentration takes mental energy, as anyone who has fought off five break points before shanking a ball on the sixth knows. And whenever I saw Federer on the grounds, he seemed to be using as little of it as possible. Practicing with Nicolas Kiefer on Ashe a few days before the tournament, he mostly just messed around. He would hit a few familiar Federer shots, the heavy forehand, the penetrating slice, then shank a ball and grin, or yell. Either way, he wasn’t really concentrating all that hard.
And is it possible that Obama has read one of my favorite books about technology, Tom Standage’s The Victorian Internet?
Obama points to the 1849 patent model of Samuel Morse’s first telegraph: “This is the start of the Internet right here,” he tells Lewis.
Edd Dumbill writes that Twitter, as it strives to become a profitable company, is turning into an old media company.
Twitter’s bait-and-switch, now they’ve built their reach on the back of eager early adopters, is disappointing. It marks them as part of old, unenlightened, business, and consigns them to a far less remarkable place in the future economy than they otherwise might have had.
Michael Heilemann has a somewhat harsher take in his post on Amazon, Twitter, and Star Wars:
Some part of me can’t help but admire the purity of the clusterfuck that is Twitter’s continued downward trajectory from startup wunderkind to some sort of bland, wannabe ad-driven media company.
It’s incomplete, but I can’t help but draw comparisons between Twitter’s alienation of their original users and ecosystem to, because I am me, Star Wars.
Despite what George Lucas says, the continuing alterations to Star Wars have been driven by business reasoning, not some artistic auteur need to see the vision completed. And in both cases, the original fan base is the one getting run over, while the unwashed masses get to enjoy Jar Jar and Justin Bieber, respectively.
Some examples of car company logo rip-offs, mostly from China.
And really, who wouldn’t want a BYD instead of a BMW?
In a photo slideshow with jazz accompaniment, narrator Adam Gopnik takes us on a short tour of NYC’s A train, which runs from the top of Manhattan all the way out to the beaches of Rockaway.
From Harlem and upper Manhattan to Brooklyn, Queens and the Atlantic Ocean - New York city’s A Line subway route covers over 30 miles, takes two hours to ride from end to end, and is the inspiration for one of jazz’s best known tunes.
Here — with archive images and vibrant present-day photographs from Melanie Burford — New Yorker columnist Adam Gopnik takes a ride on one of today’s A trains, and explores the communities living along the route.
Nanocrystalline cellulose is made from wood pulp, is light, strong, and even conducts electricity.
So why all the fuss? Well, not only is NCC transparent but it is made from a tightly packed array of needle-like crystals which have a strength-to-weight ratio that is eight times better than stainless steel. Even better, it’s incredibly cheap.
“It is the natural, renewable version of a carbon nanotube at a fraction of the price,” says Jeff Youngblood of Purdue University’s NanoForestry Institute in West Lafayette, Indiana.
I liked this Zadie Smith profile of Jay-Z, and not just for The Wire reference. Smith’s got a nice way with words and handles Jay-Z’s way with words nicely.
In “Decoded,” Jay-Z writes that “rap is built to handle contradictions,” and Hova, as he is nicknamed, is as contradictory as they come. Partly because he’s a generalist. Biggie had better boasts, Tupac dropped more knowledge, Eminem is — as “Renegade” demonstrated — more formally dexterous. But Hova’s the all-rounder. His albums are showrooms of hip-hop, displaying the various possibilities of the form. The persona is cool, calm, almost frustratingly self-controlled: “Yeah, 50 Cent told me that one time. He said: ‘You got me looking like Barksdale’ ” — the hot-blooded drug kingpin from HBO’s “The Wire” — “and you get to be Stringer Bell!” — Barksdale’s levelheaded partner. The rapper Memphis Bleek, who has known Jay-Z since Bleek himself was 14, confirms this impression: “He had a sense of calm way before music. This was Jay’s plan from day one: to take over. I guess that’s why he smiles and is so calm, ‘cause he did exactly what he planned in the ’90s.” And now, by virtue of being 42 and not dead, he can claim his own unique selling proposition: he’s an artist as old as his art form. The two have grown up together.
Additionally, you’ll enjoy this profile of a guy who has sent a couple hundred letter-length emails to Jay-Z since 2010, and is pretty sure the emails are being read.
I can’t find any other information about this online or anywhere else, but tucked away in a fall arts preview in today’s NY Times is the juicy news that MoMA has picked a date for their screening of Christian Marclay’s 24-hour movie, The Clock. The show will open on Dec 21 and run through Jan 21. It sounds like the screening will happen in the contemporary galleries and won’t show continuously except on weekends and New Year’s Eve. Which is lame. Just keep the damn thing running the whole month…get Bloomberg to write a check or something.
Anyway, probably best to check this out on the early side during the holiday season because it’ll turn into a shitshow later on.
Author Philip Roth was unable to correct an error on the Wikipedia page for his novel The Human Stain because, while Wikipedia agrees “the author is the greatest authority on their own work,” they “require secondary sources.” To create this secondary source, Roth wrote an open letter explaining the error, and posted it on The New Yorker’s site.
A few hours later, the Wikipedia page for The Human Stain was updated to reflect Roth’s letter.
Roth was motivated in 2012 to explain the inspiration for the book after he noticed an error in the Wikipedia entry on The Human Stain. His efforts to correct the entry were thwarted by Wikipedia editors because he was told he did not have a secondary source for his inspiration. He was responding to claims, given prominence in this entry, by Michiko Kakutani and other critics that the book was inspired by the life of Anatole Broyard, a writer and New York Times literary critic. Roth has repeatedly said these opinions are false. In 2008 Roth explained that he had not learned about Broyard’s ancestry until “months and months after” starting to write the novel.
The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal gets an inside look at how Google builds its maps (and what that means for the future of everything). “If Google’s mission is to organize all the world’s information, the most important challenge — far larger than indexing the web — is to take the world’s physical information and make it accessible and useful.”
Once again, here’s the link to the maps that show which NFL games will be shown in which parts of the country.
Against all odds, I have become a (belated) fan of the Kindle. I still hate doing anything with it but reading words on its screen, but it’s light, runs on a single charge for seemingly ever, and I’ve really been enjoying reading on it lately.
If this trend continues, I might have to get the Kindle Paperwhite, which offers a built-in light, a touchscreen (I currently own a touchless Kindle 3), more resolution, more font choices, and a higher contrast screen.
From Our City, Our Story, the story of a Rockford, Illinois gear factory that made all of the gears for the Mars Curiosity rover.
What might be more remarkable than creating crucial equipment destined for Mars? For a second time? Well, creating a thriving motivated company culture with a team of career employees — the kind who lie in bed at night thinking, “what can I do in the morning when I get there?” The kind who take on responsibility, impose their own high standards and like Amy Sovina, have the “mindset something I touched is now on the surface of Mars.”
I would love to have seen a live feed of these gear shop employees watching the landing.
MoMA Unadulterated is an unofficial audio tour of some of the works on the museums fourth floor, narrated by kids aged 3-10.
Each piece of art is analyzed by experts aged 3-10, as they share their unique, unfiltered perspective on such things as composition, the art’s deeper meaning, and why some stuff’s so weird looking. This is Modern Art without the pretentiousness, the pomposity, or any other big “p” words.
A lot of these sound like my internal monologue when looking at art. What’s the difference between childish and childlike again?
Dan Spitz played lead guitar for the heavy metal band Anthrax for more than 12 years. Now he’s a master watchmaker.
My favorite stuff to work on is older watches because of how they are made. These watches were way overbuilt so that they would never come back for repair. Just look at the mainplates… They were built at a time before computers were checking everything. If you’ve been working on modern stuff all day, there’s nothing like getting a vintage watch to work on, and when you open it up, you say “Ahhhh, look at that, this rocks!” Like an old muscle car, it’s so basic, so perfect, so overbuilt. It just rocks.
In July, we mentioned Infinite Boston, a project from William Beutler to map and photo the Boston-related locations in Infinite Jest. Today Beutler announced Infinite Atlas, which expands nationally on this project, and Infinite Map, a limited edition print featuring 250 “of the most interesting locations” from Infinite Jest.
For his Yakuza project, photographer Anton Kusters spent two years documenting some members of the Japanese mafia.
A limited edition of a book containing the photos is available. Steward Mag recently did an interview with Kusters:
The values were almost comparable to general Japanese workplace values, actually. Most yakuza gangs actually have neighborhood offices, and the plaques they have on the door state core values like “respect your superiors,” “keep the office clean,” and so on.
One thing I noticed early on with gang life was how subtle everything was. Everything was unspoken, and will was expressed through group pressure. A pressure was constantly there. There was this innate understanding of form-if someone did something wrong, no one would say anything; he would simply be expected to apologize. And the fact everyone would be so silent about it made the pressure really intense.
Inspired by the BBC/British Museum collaboration A History of the World in 100 Objects, the NY Times built a similar collection of objects that tell the story of New York City: grid map, bagels, Checker cabs, the boom box, and MetroCard.
The first known mention of the bagel dates from 1610 in the community regulations of Krakow, Poland. The world’s biggest bagel factory is in Illinois. Still, no other food is so associated with New York as the “Jewish English muffin,” which spread from the Lower East Side in the early 20th century. “Pizza belongs to America now,” Josh Ozersky, a food writer, said, “but the bagel was always the undisputed property of New York.”
Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution are starting an online education platform.
We think education should be better, cheaper, and easier to access. So we decided to take matters into our own hands and create a new online education platform toward those ends. We have decided to do more to communicate our personal vision of economics to you and to the broader world.
The first course is Development Economics.
Development Economics will cover the sources of economic growth including geography, education, finance, and institutions. We will cover theories like the Solow and O-ring models and we will cover the empirical data on development and trade, foreign aid, industrial policy, and corruption. Development Economics will include not just theory but a wealth of historical and factual information on specific countries and topics, everything from watermelon scale economies and the clove monopoly to water privatization in Buenos Aires and cholera in Haiti.
A piece of unsolicited advice: change the name to Revolution University.
Here’s a Quora answer about how those claw arcade games work. You know the ones, you’ve probably won once, but just once. My inclination was to call this a ‘fascinating Quora answer,’ but upon thinking about it, it’s not fascinating. The machines work exactly how you think they would. The operators can vary the strength of the claw to screw you just bad enough you keep sliding in your dollar bills.
Basically, most crane games are designed so the claw is randomly (and only once in many games) strong enough to let players win. Some even weaken in strength after a short time so players get close to victory only to see it slip from their grasp! Since the manuals for many skill games are available online, this is not hard to verify.
The answerer then goes on to link to many manuals so you can see for yourself. (via @sunilnagaraj)
I am not a scientist myself, but my best assessment of the data is that the world is getting warmer, that human activity contributes to that warming, and that policymakers should therefore consider the risk of negative consequences. However, there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the issue — on the extent of the warming, the extent of the human contribution, and the severity of the risk — and I believe we must support continued debate and investigation within the scientific community.
Great personal storytelling/reportage by Doree Shafrir about her night terrors.
I am now completely panicked, and I jump back onto my bed and lean over the half-wall that my bed is up against, overlooking the hallway. There, I see what’s causing all the problems, and I push it downward and off the wall with all my might. It shatters loudly, glass flying everywhere.
Then, finally, I wake up. My two dogs are cowering in the corner, and I put on shoes to sweep up the glass. I am confused and embarrassed, though there is no one besides the dogs there to see that I just pushed a framed poster off a wall and broke it. I clean up the glass and go back to sleep, and it is not until the morning, when I see my shoes scattered everywhere, that I look into the closet and realize that I have also ripped the TV cable completely out of the back wall of my closet.
I hadn’t heard that Tobias Wong’s suicide might have been carried out while Wong was asleep:
The prevailing theory about Tobias Wong’s death was that he hanged himself while experiencing a night terror. I imagine that something in his mind told him that hanging himself was the only way to escape whoever, or whatever, was chasing him, in the same way that I have thought that the only way to save myself was to jump out of a window or smash a pane of glass.
Paul Bourke has collected a bunch of images from Google Earth of natural features that display fractal patterns. This one, from Egypt, is flat-out amazing:
Over at The Verge wub wub wub skztch wubwubwub Joe Flatley Flatley wub wub wub pzzzzt wub WUBB wub Flatley wub wub wub shares the history wub wub wub wub wub wub fwizzort WUBWUBWUB of dubstep here comes the drop
For our purposes, we can begin the story of dubstep at the turn of the 21st century, and with UK garage and two-step; weird, hybrid music that features elements of house music (popcorn snares, glittering high-hats) and a lyrical style that is almost a parody of American hip-hop glamor and excess. “Champagne, Versace and Moschino,” as Zed Bias once put it.
Recently I talked to Damian “Dieselboy” Higgins, the Brooklyn-based drum and bass DJ, producer, and head of the record label Human (and its dubstep and electro imprint Subhuman). Higgins has been on the front lines as long as America has had a rave scene. “Drum and bass kept spawning these micro-cultures, or micro-genres,” he explained. “[There was] two-step, and then grime, and dubstep was the next one. For me, I felt like it came from drum and bass. There are a lot of drum and bass guys who jumped ship and went to it.”
Drum and bass is one of those primarily English forms of dance music that, even today, still sounds alien - the fast tempos (generally well over 150 beats per minute), the intricate syncopation, and the full-on synthetic sound has never been fully accepted by mainstream American ears. Two-step garage took house music and added the foreignness of drum and bass. Or, perhaps conversely, it took drum and bass and added enough elements from house music as to not alienate the ladies in the clubs. It was a form of dance music that was indigenous to London, and for a moment in the late 1990s it was arguably the underground sound of the UK.
Wub wub wub. Wub.
Leveraging the high number of specialized heat-transfer veins in the palm of the human hand, researchers at Stanford have developed a thermal exchange glove that is able to cool a person’s core temperature in a matter of minutes. Turns out this is helpful for athletes.
The glove’s effects on athletic performance didn’t become apparent until the researchers began using the glove to cool a member of the lab — the confessed “gym rat” and frequent coauthor Vinh Cao — between sets of pull-ups. The glove seemed to nearly erase his muscle fatigue; after multiple rounds, cooling allowed him to do just as many pull-ups as he did the first time around. So the researchers started cooling him after every other set of pull-ups.
“Then in the next six weeks he went from doing 180 pull-ups total to over 620,” said Heller. “That was a rate of physical performance improvement that was just unprecedented.”
The researchers applied the cooling method to other types of exercise — bench press, running, cycling. In every case, rates of gain in recovery were dramatic, without any evidence of the body being damaged by overwork - hence the “better than steroids” claim.
The cooling resets a temperature-sensitive enzyme that muscles need to generate energy, “essentially resetting the muscle’s state of fatigue”. I expect this will be either everywhere in pro sports in a couple of years or banned. (via @jsnell)
David Fincher has always started his movies right: with interesting opening title sequences.
The Art of the Title recently interviewed the director about his interest in title sequences.
The sequence for Se7en did very important non-narrative things; in the original script there was a title sequence that had Morgan Freeman buying a house out in the middle of nowhere and then travelling back on a train. He was making his way back to the unnamed city from the unnamed suburban sprawl, and that’s where the title was supposed to be — “insert title sequence here” — but we didn’t have the money to do that. We also lacked the feeling of John Doe, the villain, who just appeared 90 minutes into the movie. It was oddly problematic, you just needed a sense of what these guys were up against.
Kyle Cooper, the designer of the title sequence, came to me and said, “You know, you have these amazing books that you spent tens of thousands of dollars to make for the John Doe interior props. I’d like to see them featured.” And I said, “Well, that would be neat, but that’s kind of a 2D glimpse. Figure out a way for it to involve John Doe, to show that somewhere across town somebody is working on some really evil shit. I don’t want it to be just flipping through pages, as beautiful as they are.” So Kyle came up with a great storyboard, and then we got Angus Wall and Harris Savides — Harris to shoot it and Angus to cut it — and the rest, as they say, is internet history.
I don’t believe in decorative titles — neato for the sake of being neato. I want to make sure you’re going to get some bang for your buck. Titles should be engaging in a character way, it has to help set the scene, and you can do that elaborately or you can do it minimally.
Serious Eats put together an extensive guide to the regional sandwich cuisine of the US that covers everything from the universally available sloppy joe and grilled cheese to the spiedie, the hot brown, and the dutch crunch.
An international edition is also available (gyro! banh mi! bocadillo! chip butty!).
Aleksandar Hemon scored a rare chance to profile the publicity-averse Wachowskis as they prepare to unleash Cloud Atlas onto the world.
I first met the Wachowskis in December, 2009, when they were in the midst of their struggle to find financing for “Cloud Atlas.” Uncomfortable with being idle while they waited, they were also developing “Cobalt Neural 9,” a project that had grown out of their frustration with the Bush Presidency and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Curious about how the early aughts would be perceived in the future, the Wachowskis imagined a documentary film made eight decades from now, looking back at the country’s plunge into imperial self-delusion. In order to write a script for “Cobalt Neural 9,” the Wachowskis were filming interviews with people, from Arianna Huffington to Cornel West, who they thought might be able to help them elucidate their concerns. I was invited to participate and was costumed to look as if I were speaking in 2090. Dressed like a Bosnian Isaac Hayes (with sparkling lights attached to my skull, a psychedelic shirt, and a New Age pendant), I ranted about the malignant idiocy of the Bush regime. Lana sat next to the camera, asking most of the questions, while Andy was somewhere beyond the lights, his voice occasionally booming from the void.
Usually, I experience an erosion of confidence around famous people-an inescapable conviction that they know more than I do, because the world is somehow more available to them. But I got along splendidly with the Wachowskis. Seemingly untouched by Hollywood, they did not project the jadedness that is a common symptom of stardom. Lana was one of the best-read people I’d ever met; Andy had a wry sense of humor; they were both devout Bulls fans. We also shared a militant belief in the art of narration and a passionate love for Chicago.
Eventually, I asked them to consider letting me write about the making of “Cloud Atlas.” They talked it over and decided to do it. By then, they’d sent the script to every major studio, after Warner Bros. had declined to exercise its option. Everyone passed. “Cloud Atlas” seemed too challenging, too complex. The Wachowskis reminded Warner Bros. that “The Matrix” had also been deemed too demanding, and that it had taken them nearly three years to get the green light on it. But the best the studio could do for “Cloud Atlas” was to keep open the possibility of buying the North American distribution rights, payment for which would cover a portion of the projected budget.
Or rather, just an amazing performance, full stop. I was alerted to this video by Dunstan Orchard who tweeted “this must be the most remarkable track race I’ve ever seen”. I don’t want to spoil it too much but pay attention to the guy in last place coming out of the curve.
Like a freight train! I’ve watched this race about 8 times now and it never gets old. The runner, Richard Whitehead, set the world record in the race. He also owns the world record in the marathon, which, amazing! Oh, and this table tennis shot is pretty great too.
If you had any remaining doubts about Lance Armstrong’s involvement in doping, Tyler Hamilton’s book should put those to rest. Hamilton was Armstrong’s teammate on the U.S. Postal Service team, and in the book, he tells the story (corroborated by no fewer than nine former Armstrong/Hamilton teammates) of how Armstrong, the USPS team, and practically everyone else on the racing circuit doped in the 1990s/2000s. From an early look at the book by Christopher Keys at Outside Magazine:
The drugs are everywhere, and as Hamilton explains, Armstrong was not just another cyclist caught in the middle of an established drug culture — he was a pioneer pushing into uncharted territory. In this sense, the book destroys another myth: that everyone was doing it, so Armstrong was, in a weird way, just competing on a level playing field. There was no level playing field. With his connections to Michele Ferrari, the best dishonest doctor in the business, Armstrong was always “two years ahead of what everybody else was doing,” Hamilton writes. Even on the Postal squad there was a pecking order. Armstrong got the superior treatments.
What ultimately makes the book so damning, however, is that it doesn’t require readers to put their full faith in Hamilton’s word. In the book’s preface, which details its genesis, Coyle not so subtly addresses Armstrong’s supporters by pointing out that, while the story is told through Hamilton, nine former Postal teammates agreed to cooperate with him on The Secret Race, verifying and corroborating Hamilton’s account. Nine teammates.
No wonder he gave up.
As it received high marks from friends, I wanted to like John Jeremiah Sullivan’s recent NY Times Magazine profile of Venus and Serena Williams more than I did, but I think Sullivan had so little access to the sisters that it turned into more of a sick Frank story than expected.
The story has been told so many times, of these early years, when Compton got used to the sight of the little girls who would always be playing tennis at the public park — or riding around in their faded yellow VW bus with the middle seat taken out to accommodate the grocery cart full of balls — but somehow the strangeness and drama of it retain a power to fascinate. The idea of this African-American family organizing itself, as a unit, in order to lay siege to perhaps the whitest sport in the world and pulling it off somehow. “I remember even talking to my sisters and brothers,” Oracene said, recalling a time before anyone had ever heard of the Williams sisters, “and telling them: ‘The girls are going to be professional. We’re going to need a lawyer, and we’re going to need an accountant.’ “
Isha, the middle daughter — sharply funny and practical, fiercely loyal to the family — told me: “Life was get up, 6 o’clock in the morning, go to the tennis court, before school. After school, go to tennis. But it was consistency. I hate to put it [like this], but it’s like training an animal. You can’t just be sometimey with it.” She still can’t sleep past 6.
My favorite observation from the story was actually from a behind-the-story piece that ran on the magazine’s blog.
One thing Venus talked about that was interesting was how easy it is for professional athletes to pick up other sports. So what they are good at is not the sport itself, but it’s just a way of being in the world. It’s a sense of their own bodies and an ability to manipulate their own bodies and have sort of a visual map in your head of what the different parts are doing. At one point she was talking about doing a benefit with Peyton and Eli Manning. They’d almost never played tennis before and they started out awful, and she said it was amazing to watch them. It was like watching a film. Every stroke they hit was noticeably better than the last. Every time they hit the ball. She said you could almost watch their brains working and by the end of it they were totally competent tennis players.
The Super Manning Bros anecdote hits because, as David Foster Wallace pointed out in his evisceration of tennis player Tracy Austin’s biography, it can be difficult for gifted athletes to talk about why and how they are able to do what they do. But Venus obviously can and I wish there’d been more of that in the main essay.
Perplexed and irritated that I couldn’t find any Barcelona FC matches on TV for the past few weeks, I finally did some research and it turns out that’s because Qatar-based Al Jazeera bought up the TV rights to several European leagues but doesn’t actually have a channel to show the games to most American viewers.
Lionel Messi’s and Cristiano Ronaldo’s league matches will disappear from the television sets of many American soccer fans, starting this weekend.
That’s because the U.S. television rights to Spain’s La Liga have switched from GolTV to the new beIN Sport USA network, launched this week by the Al-Jazeera Sport Media Network and available in only about 8 million homes to viewers of DirecTV and DISH Network.
And it’s not just Spain’s soccer that is affected.
Italy’s Serie A, France’s Ligue 1, England’s second-tier League Championship and England’s League Cup also have moved to high-spending beIN Sport, which is taking over all of them from News Corp.’s Fox Soccer.
“The ratings are going to be so low that they will be almost unmeasurable,” said Marc Ganis of the Chicago-based Sports Corp. Ltd., consulting firm. “Considering the push that European soccer is making in the United States, taking additional money and losing exposure becomes fools’ gold. They need to have a long-term strategy, not short-term.”
What. In. The. Actual. Fuck!?
Noah Kalina, one of my favorite photographers, has taken a self-portrait of himself every day for the past 12 and a half years. After six years, he released a video of the results, which video went crazy viral and brought the attention of the world to Kalina’s door. Now he’s released the 12.5 year version.
I hope I live to be 100 to see the 75th anniversary edition.