Entries for April 2013 (May 2013 »    June 2013 »    July 2013 »    Archives)

 

How to be graciousAPR 30

Tom Chiarella writing for Esquire:

Remember that the only representation of you, no matter what your station, is you -- your presentation, your demeanor. You simply must attend. Stand when someone enters the room, especially if you are lowly and he is the boss, and even if the reverse is true. Look them in the eye. Ask yourself: Does anybody need an introduction? If so, before you say one word about business, introduce them to others with pleasure in your voice. If you can't muster enthusiasm for the people you happen upon in life, then you cannot be gracious. Remember, true graciousness demands that you have time for others.

Art forgery is high art in its own rightAPR 30

We all know that art forgeries are just cheap rip-offs of real art. What Jonathan Keats' new book presupposes is, maybe they're not?

Forgers are the foremost artists of our age.

I'm not talking about the objects they make. Their real art is to con us into accepting the works as authentic. They do so, inevitably, by finding our blind spots, and by exploiting our common-sense assumptions. When they're caught (if they're caught), the scandal that ensues is their accidental masterpiece. Learning that we've been defrauded makes us anxious -- much more so than any painting ever could -- provoking us to examine our poor judgment. This effect is inescapable, since we certainly didn't ask to be duped. A forgery is more direct, more powerful, and more universal than any legitimate artwork.

See also Uncreative Writing, fake is the new real, even if it's fake it's real, and this paragraph from Joe Posnanski's piece on pitching phenoms:

You have to understand that to a boy of the 1970s, the line between comic books and real life people was hopelessly blurred. Was Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man, real or fake? Fake? Well, then, how about Evel Knievel jumping over busses on his motorcycle? Oh, he was real. The Superman ads said, "You will believe a man can fly," and Fonzie started jukeboxes by simply hitting them, and Elvis Presley wore capes, and Nolan Ryan threw pitches 102 mph, and Roger Staubach (who they called Captain America) kept bringing the Cowboys back from certain defeat, and Muhammad Ali let George Foreman tire himself out by leaning against the ropes and taking every punch he could throw. What was real anyway?

New York elsewhereAPR 30

The Morning News has a collection of maps showing the neighborhoods that New Yorkers might want to move to in a variety of cities around the world. Probably lots of generalizations to argue about here...have fun!

Prenzlauer Berg = Park Slope. Among the first neighborhoods to be gentrified after the Wall fell, Prenzlauer Berg (the locals shorten it to Prenzlberg, which isn't all that much shorter, but whatever) is populated by the same desperately, tragically hip mothers and fathers as Park Slope. But American yuppies have nothing on their German counterparts, who will invade a coffee shop, block the door with strollers, and turn it into a temporary romper room.

747 cargo plane crash caught on videoAPR 30

Yesterday morning, a 747 cargo plane taking off from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan crashed soon after taking off. A dash cam caught the entire thing on video:

It is amazing how quickly a powerful and fast jet airplane turns into a leaden hunk of metal. (via @VictorGodinez)

Design studio of the year: Bloomberg BusinessweekAPR 30

Creative Review has named the design department of Bloomberg Businessweek as the 2013 Design Studio of the Year. Well deserved.

But we have chosen to recognise an in-house design team which has had an enormous impact on its industry. Under creative director Richard Turley, (not forgetting editor Josh Tyrangiel) Bloomberg Businessweek has trounced its rivals with a verve and energy that recalls the heyday of the printed magazine.

You can check out BBBW's design on Flickr and Tumblr.

The Mixtape Volume Seven from The Hood InternetAPR 30

You know the drill: it's a new mixtape from The Hood Internet:

Downloads, tour details, and more info on their site.

Update: I made a playlist on Rdio of the songs The Hood Internet used in Mixtape Volume Seven...sifting through their sources is a great way to discover new and previously overlooked music.

There are maybe 3-4 songs I couldn't find on Rdio...they are either unreleased or mixes from Soundcloud. Enjoy.

Update: And here's the same playlist for Spotify. (via @Afterschool)

Neutral Milk Hotel reuniting for tour (no, really!)APR 29

What the heck is going on? New recent albums after long hiatuses from Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk, and Boards of Canada and now Neutral Milk Hotel is reuniting for a tour? Jesus H Musical Christmas.

New Boards of Canada album out June 11APR 29

After a weirdly abrupt ARG, it has been revealed that the new Boards of Canada album will be called Tomorrow's Harvest and will be out on June 11 (the 10th in the UK). Pre-order at iTunes.

What if we never run out of fossil fuels?APR 29

Writing for The Atlantic, Charles C. Mann writes about a little-exploited fossil fuel called methane hydrate ("crystalline natural gas") that is present in the Earth's crust in great quantities..."by some estimates, it is twice as abundant as all other fossil fuels combined".

If methane hydrate allows much of the world to switch from oil to gas, the conversion would undermine governments that depend on oil revenues, especially petro-autocracies like Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Unless oil states are exceptionally well run, a gush of petroleum revenues can actually weaken their economies by crowding out other business. Worse, most oil nations are so corrupt that social scientists argue over whether there is an inherent bond-a "resource curse"-between big petroleum deposits and political malfeasance. It seems safe to say that few Americans would be upset if a plunge in demand eliminated these countries' hold over the U.S. economy. But those same people might not relish the global instability -- a belt of financial and political turmoil from Venezuela to Turkmenistan -- that their collapse could well unleash.

On a broader level still, cheap, plentiful natural gas throws a wrench into efforts to combat climate change. Avoiding the worst effects of climate change, scientists increasingly believe, will require "a complete phase-out of carbon emissions... over 50 years," in the words of one widely touted scientific estimate that appeared in January. A big, necessary step toward that goal is moving away from coal, still the second-most-important energy source worldwide. Natural gas burns so much cleaner than coal that converting power plants from coal to gas-a switch promoted by the deluge of gas from fracking-has already reduced U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions to their lowest levels since Newt Gingrich's heyday.

NBA player comes out of the closetAPR 29

NBA player Jason Collins is the first active player in a major US sport to come out of the closet. He explains why in a piece for Sports Illustrated.

Loyalty to my team is the real reason I didn't come out sooner. When I signed a free-agent contract with Boston last July, I decided to commit myself to the Celtics and not let my personal life become a distraction. When I was traded to the Wizards, the political significance of coming out sunk in. I was ready to open up to the press, but I had to wait until the season was over.

A college classmate tried to persuade me to come out then and there. But I couldn't yet. My one small gesture of solidarity was to wear jersey number 98 with the Celtics and then the Wizards. The number has great significance to the gay community. One of the most notorious antigay hate crimes occurred in 1998. Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was kidnapped, tortured and lashed to a prairie fence. He died five days after he was finally found. That same year the Trevor Project was founded. This amazing organization provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to kids struggling with their sexual identity. Trust me, I know that struggle. I've struggled with some insane logic. When I put on my jersey I was making a statement to myself, my family and my friends.

The strain of hiding my sexuality became almost unbearable in March, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage. Less then three miles from my apartment, nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future. Here was my chance to be heard, and I couldn't say a thing. I didn't want to answer questions and draw attention to myself. Not while I was still playing.

The Boston Marathon shooters?APR 29

The New Yorker's John Cassidy wonders how we would be thinking about the Boston Marathon bombing if it had been the Boston Marathon shooting instead.

Yes, this is only a counterfactual exercise, which, like all such riffs, shouldn't be taken too literally. But it's hard to think about it for long without coming to the conclusion that there's something askew with the way we think about and react to various types of extreme violence, and the weapons used in such episodes. In a country where each life (and death) is supposed to count equally, surely the victims of gun violence should be accorded the same weight as the victims of bomb violence. And the perpetrators should get equal treatment, too. But, of course, that's not how things work.

Obama as Daniel Day-Lewis as Obama in Spielberg's ObamaAPR 29

Steven Spielberg is doing a sequel to Lincoln called Obama and he got Daniel Day-Lewis to play the lead. I knew Day-Lewis was good, but this is bonkers.

EscalatorspottingAPR 26

Miha Tamura takes photos of nicely designed or otherwise unusual escalators in Japan. Here, for instance, is a spiral escalator:

Spiral Escalator

Pingmag recently interviewed Tamura about her photos.

The most amazing is the spiral escalator made by Mitsubishi Electric. Curving escalators were conceived from early on when escalators were invented, but they are very difficult and even today Mitsubishi Electric is the only one in the world who can make them. If I hadn't come across this spiral escalator in Yokohama I don't think I would have committed myself to escalators as much as I have.

Some people are really into escalators. (via coudal)

Video portrait of the SunAPR 26

In complete defiance of its parents, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory has stared directly at the Sun for the past three years. Here's a video of those three years made from still images taken by the SDO.

During the course of the video, the sun subtly increases and decreases in apparent size. This is because the distance between the SDO spacecraft and the sun varies over time. The image is, however, remarkably consistent and stable despite the fact that SDO orbits the Earth at 6,876 miles per hour and the Earth orbits the sun at 67,062 miles per hour.

The video notes say the animation uses two images per day...it would be nice to see the same animation with a higher frame rate. (via ★interesting)

Yesteryear's newspapers of tomorrowAPR 26

From Paleofuture, a review of past predictions of what newspapers might look like in the future.

In the 1920s it was radio that was supposed to kill the newspaper. Then it was TV news. Then it was the Internet. The newspaper has evolved and adapted (remember when TV news killed the evening edition newspaper?) and will continue to evolve for many decades to come.

Visions of what newspapers might look like in the future have been varied throughout the 20th century. Sometimes they've taken the form of a piece of paper that you print at home, delivered via satellite or radio waves. Other times it's a multimedia product that lives on your tablet or TV. Today we're taking a look at just a few of the newspapers from the futures that never were.

My favorite is this radio that prints newspapers:

Newspaper Radio

(via @H_FJ)

Updates on previous entries for Apr 25, 2013*APR 26

GIF of Yu Darvish's consistent delivery orig. from Apr 25, 2013
Time merge media orig. from Feb 05, 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.

NYC now recycles all rigid plasticsAPR 25

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced yesterday that all rigid plastics are now included in the city's recycling program. It's about damn time.

"Starting today, if it's a rigid plastic -- any rigid plastic -- recycle it," said Mayor Bloomberg. "There is no more worrying about confusing numbers on the bottom of the container. This means that 50,000 tons of plastics that we were sending to landfills every year will now be recycled and it will save taxpayers almost $600,000 in export costs each year."

"Today's announcement represents the largest expansion of our City's recycling efforts in 25 years," said Deputy Mayor Holloway. "We were able to take this step because of the major commitment we made to recycling as part of the City's Solid Waste Management Plan in 2006 -- and this commitment continues today and will result in cost savings and 50,000 tons of plastics that we were sending to landfills every year now being recycled."

It looks like the online guidelines have been updated so you can go look at the specific dos and donts. Also mentioned in the press release is the expansion of the pickup of compostable material:

The City will also expand the organics recycling pilot under way in public schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan to residents in the Westerleigh neighborhood of Staten Island next month, to other neighborhoods this fall and to all City schools over the next two years. The food waste composting pilot cut the amount of garbage participating schools sent to landfills by up to 38 percent.

I can't wait until they offer curb-side compost pickup for everyone. (via @eqx1979)

Trash bin zeroAPR 25

Bea Johnson wants to limit the waste produced in her household. And she seems to be doing a pretty good job of it. Last year, her family produced just one quart of trash. I generate more than that in navel lint alone.

1. Shop in bulk and bring cloth bags, mesh bags, glass jars and bottles to the store. They can hold different types of foods -- such as grains, fruit, meat and olive oil. Bring totes, too, to carry all of your groceries home in.

2. Many beauty and bath products, including liquid soap and lotions, can also be purchased without packaging and some can be homemade. In Johnson's case, she makes her own tooth powder (instead of toothpaste) and bronzer; the recipes are included in her book.

3. When it comes to housekeeping, again, Johnson goes the homemade route. She uses a vinegar mixture in lieu of a range of other cleaning products.

Johnson's got a blog and a book as well.

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

Arrested Development season four outtakeAPR 25

This is fantastic: an outtake of a scene from the new season of Arrested Development. God, I can't wait for these episodes to come out! #wettingpantslaughing (via digg)

GIF of Yu Darvish's consistent deliveryAPR 25

One of the most formidable tools in a pro baseball pitcher's arsenal is the consistency of pitching motion when throwing different kinds of pitches. If your delivery looks the same to an opposing batter when throwing a 95-mph fastball, a 80-mph curve, and a 85-mph change-up, well, you've really got something there. Texas pitcher Yu Darvish is ripping up the AL this year with a 4-1 record, 1.65 ERA, and 49 strikeouts, which prompted Drew Sheppard to layer five of Darvish's pitches on top of one another in an animated GIF:

Yu Darvish

All the Darvishes use the same delivery but the five balls end up crossing the plate at very different times and locations. A perfect use of time merge media to illustrate just how difficult it must be stand in there against the controlled athleticism of a pitcher at the top of his game. "The Mona Lisa of GIFs" indeed. (via @djacobs)

Update: Here's a video demonstrating similar consistency in Roger Federer's serve:

I remember NBC using this technique at various points during the last couple of Olympics as well. (via @agonde)

Anti-vaccine mom changes mindAPR 25

An article from a mother who was anti-vaccine until her daughter (and then the rest of the family) got the whooping cough. And still she feels "funny" about vaccination.

And yet I still wondered about that list of things that I would now, I suppose, have to surrender to and immunise my child against. Polio, for one -- a couple of my parents' pensioner friends still carry the limp left by their childhood polio, but none of my friends do, because it isn't around any more. And diphtheria -- what was that, even? I knew it had killed one of Queen Victoria's daughters, but that wasn't our reality.

The reason it wasn't our reality was, of course, due to a continuous programme of immunisation. Duh. Diphtheria is a disease that still kills one in five infants it meets, even if they get treatment, their necks swelling up until they can no longer breathe. I have now seen a picture of a child whose neck was ravaged by diphtheria, bloated like a foie gras goose about to burst. I wish I could unsee it.

Duh, indeed. This anti-vaccination nonsense is an instance in which the public's lack of knowledge about how science works (and not just their lack of recall of scientific facts) is truly harmful. (via @CharlesCMann)

The wisdom of crowdsourcing manhuntsAPR 25

James Surowiecki, the author of The Wisdom of Crowds, wrote about what was right and wrong about Reddit's crowdsourced hunt for the Boston bombing suspects.

The truth is that if Reddit is actually interested in using the power of its crowd to help the authorities, it needs to dramatically rethink its approach, because the process it used to try to find the bombers wasn't actually tapping the wisdom of crowds at all -- at least not as I would define that wisdom. For a crowd to be smart, the people in it need to be not only diverse in their perspectives but also, relatively speaking, independent of each other. In other words, you need people to be thinking for themselves, rather than following the lead of those around them.

When the book came out in 2004, I wrote a short post that summarizes the four main conditions you need for a wise crowd. What's striking about most social media and software, as Surowiecki notes in the case of Reddit, is how most of these conditions are not satisfied. There's little diversity and independence: Twitter and Facebook mostly show you people who are like you and things your social group is into. And social media is becoming ever more centralized: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Medium, Pinterest, etc. instead of a decentralized network of independent blogs. In fact, the nature of social media is to be centralized, peer-dependent, and homogeneous because that's how people naturally group themselves together. It's a wonder the social media crowd ever gets anything right.

The father of the telephone speaksAPR 25

Alexander Graham Bell famously participated in the first telephone call, but until very recently, we had no idea how his voice sounded. Then researchers used high-resolution optical scans of old audio discs and cylinders and converted them to audio...and found a short passage recited by Bell:

If you can't quite catch it, Bell is saying "hear my voice, Alexander Graham Bell."

The new $100 billAPR 24

US currency is already embarrassing and this new design for the $100 bill is not helping.

New 100

This may be worse than the horrible US passport.

Is life on Earth older than the Earth itself?APR 24

A pair of scientists looked at the rate at which the complexity of life increases and then extrapolated back to a point of zero complexity, aka the origin of life. The answer they came up with is 9.7 ± 2.5 billion years ago. Which is much older than the Earth. This idea has some provocative implications:

Sharov and Gordon say their interpretation also explains the Fermi paradox, which raises the question that if the universe is filled with intelligent life, why can't we see evidence of it.

However, if life takes 10 billion years to evolve to the level of complexity associated with humans, then we may be among the first, if not the first, intelligent civilisation in our galaxy. And this is the reason why when we gaze into space, we do not yet see signs of other intelligent species.

Free thrownAPR 24

Buried in this column about the 2013 NBA playoffs is an astounding statistic:

Dwight Howard missed more free throws this season (366) than Lakers teammate Steve Nash has missed in his 17-year NBA career (322). Howard: 355 for 721 this season, 49.2 percent; Nash: 3,038 for 3,360 from 1996-97 through 2012-13, 90.4 percent.

Now, Howard takes more than double (and sometimes triple) the amount of free throws than Nash does, partially because center/forwards get fouled more than point guards. But Howard also gets intentionally fouled because he's such a bad free throw shooter whereas a reach-in foul on Nash is almost as good as a basket and so players almost never do it, unless they want to find their asses on the bench.

Make intersections safer by removing stoplightsAPR 24

Cars were moving too fast through an intersection in the town of Poynton in England, so they took out the stoplights & walk signals and replaced the intersection with an unusual double roundel design. The result is a mixed-use space with slower moving car traffic and safer pedestrian traffic.

(via digg)

Those ridiculous cell tower treesAPR 23

Dillon Marsh photographs cell towers disguised (poorly) as trees.

Dillion Marsh Cell

There's one of these as you drive north out of NYC on the Hutch...it's twice as tall as any other tree in the area, like a redwood that got lost while visiting its grandparents back east.

The CIA and abstract expressionismAPR 23

From a 1995 article in The Independent, an account of how the CIA promoted and funded US and other Western artists during the Cold War, including abstract expressionists like Rothko and Pollock.

The decision to include culture and art in the US Cold War arsenal was taken as soon as the CIA was founded in 1947. Dismayed at the appeal communism still had for many intellectuals and artists in the West, the new agency set up a division, the Propaganda Assets Inventory, which at its peak could influence more than 800 newspapers, magazines and public information organisations. They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world.

The next key step came in 1950, when the International Organisations Division (IOD) was set up under Tom Braden. It was this office which subsidised the animated version of George Orwell's Animal Farm, which sponsored American jazz artists, opera recitals, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's international touring programme. Its agents were placed in the film industry, in publishing houses, even as travel writers for the celebrated Fodor guides. And, we now know, it promoted America's anarchic avant-garde movement, Abstract Expressionism.

(via @sippey)

Up-close photos of celebritiesAPR 23

Up close, everyone looks a little weird. Even Anne Hathaway:

Anne Hathaway Close

These remind me of macro photography of insects...when photographed close-up, people look like aliens too.

Updates on previous entries for Apr 22, 2013*APR 23

Daft Punk's Get Lucky "leaked" orig. from Apr 15, 2013

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

Wired's 20th anniversary issueAPR 22

Wired published its first issue 20 years ago and the most recent issue is a collection of stories "for, by, and about the people who have shaped the planet's past 20 years". I am pleased and proud to have been included in this issue; I wrote a piece about kottke.org.

One of the first pages I ever visited in the fall of 1994 was the National Center for Supercomputing Applications' "What's New" page. Every time someone added a new homepage to the web, the NCSA would publish it on this page. In hindsight, that was the first blog -- published reverse-chronologically, colloquial, and full of links. It was the family encyclopedia with velocity.

"Pleased and proud" is a slight understatement. I first ran across Wired at college. A friend had an early issue and I had never seen anything like it. (He also had a copy of 2600...the pairing of the two was irresistible to a culturally isolated midwestern kid raised on Time and Newsweek.) When I got on the web in 1994, HotWired was the coolest site out there. HotWired begat Suck and became the nexus of a bunch of the coolest online writing, culture, and design. The way people discuss the cultural and technical influence of Facebook and Twitter today, that position was occupied by Wired and HotWired back in the mid-1990s.

After I dropped out of grad school to teach myself web design, I applied for an internship at HotWired but never heard back. I wanted to work there so bad, to be at the center of all the excitement of the web, but I'm sure it was an easy decision for them to pass over an unemployed grad school drop-out living with his dad on a farm in rural Wisconsin in favor of any one of the thousands of other applicants who had likely taken more than zero design, programming, or even art classes. So yeah, to have written an article for the 20th anniversary issue of Wired about a project I created...well, 1995 Jason's head would have exploded.

Watch magnetic putty eat magnetsAPR 22

This video footage of metallic putty eating magnets is super freaky.

Don't mess with Texas's old computersAPR 22

As recently as last year, a liquid filtration company in Texas was still using a computer built in 1948 to run all of its accounting work.

Sparkler's IBM 402 is not a traditional computer, but an automated electromechanical tabulator that can be programmed (or more accurately, wired) to print out certain results based on values encoded into stacks of 80-column Hollerith-type punched cards.

Companies traditionally used the 402 for accounting, since the machine could take a long list of numbers, add them up, and print a detailed written report. In a sense, you could consider it a 3000-pound spreadsheet machine. That's exactly how Sparkler Filters uses its IBM 402, which could very well be the last fully operational 402 on the planet. As it has for over half a century, the firm still runs all of its accounting work (payroll, sales, and inventory) through the IBM 402. The machine prints out reports on wide, tractor-fed paper.

Here's what one of the computer's apps look like:

IBM 402 apps

Objects in motion tends to stay in motion.

Digital time travelAPR 22

Flóra Borsi inserts herself into historic photos, as though she were there photographing events with a contemporary camera. This is my favorite:

Flora Borsi

Borsi states she was inspired by "a Charlie Chaplin movie", which is likely this clip shot in 1928 at the premiere of a Chaplin film which shows a woman who looks like she's talking on a cellphone. See also Girl with a Pearl Earring and Point-and-Shoot Camera. (via @coudal)

Clues point to a new Boards of Canada albumAPR 22

Rumors surfaced last year of a new Boards of Canada record. The other day, someone walked into a record shop and bought a Boards of Canada record that contained a single track of a few seconds of music and someone reciting a six-digit number:

So maybe we're getting a new BoC album soon? Please? (via @crazymonk)

Browser accordionAPR 19

Today's much-needed levity: an accordion that plays when you resize the browser window. (via waxy)

Separating out the water from Coca-ColaAPR 19

Burn this guy at the stake because he's a witch! You can't separate out the water from Coca-Cola with a simple water filter. Coke is elemental, inviolable. It's The Real Thing. Coke Is It. A Coke is a Coke.

(via digg)

A pair of 2011 blog comments by "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev"APR 19

UMass Dartmouth is reporting that "a person being sought in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing has been identified as a student registered at UMass Dartmouth":

Umass Dart Closed

I don't know that there's any verified report that registered student is bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, but I found a blog post from August 2011 that suggests that Tsarnaev was participating in the school's summer reading program for incoming first-year students. The students were participating in a group discussion blog while reading Malcolm Gladwell's Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. The post in question was written by UMass Dartmouth English teacher Shelagh Smith on the concept of thin-slicing as it pertained to the case of the West Memphis Three. The post reads, in part:

I believe that thin slicing put them in jail. It helped an entire community make a rash decision and justify their actions in convicting three teens of murder. Once the town was able to identify the bogeyman, they could rest easy again.

But it all went horribly wrong. The real murderers were never found. These young men went into prison at 18 years old. Today, they walked out at 36 years old.

Being different - being unique - is a right we're supposed to enjoy in this country. But what we can't control is how people view us.

So what do we do about that? Is there anything we can do about it?

In response, a commenter listing his name as "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev" posted the following about a week and a half after the original posting:

In this case it would have been hard to protect or defend these young boys if the whole town exclaimed in happiness at the arrest. Also, to go against the authorities isn't the easiest thing to do. Don't get me wrong though, I am appalled at the situation but I think that the town was scared and desperate to blame someone. It's because of stories like this and such occurrences that make a positive change in this world. I'm pretty sure there won't be anymore similar tales like this. In any case, if they do, people won't stand quiet, i hope.

Tsarnaev also made another comment in another thread on the blog a few minutes earlier in which he offered a critique of Gladwell's book:

While I understand and agree with most of the concepts that Gladwell explained in his book, there are several ideas of his that I cannot fathom or just choose not to believe. Yes, this book was very interesting but the idea that a person can predict whether you and your partner are going to be together in the future is honestly a little hard to believe. Sure, if you put two obvious celebrities in a room talking about how they're going to adopt six children, that's just not going to work out. And the idea that a more experienced doctor is more likely to be sued is likely to happen because they would have way more patients and more time in the work force. "Thin-slicing" and other concepts made me want to keep reading.

Updates on previous entries for Apr 18, 2013*APR 19

Daft Punk's Get Lucky "leaked" orig. from Apr 15, 2013

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

Wringing out a washcloth in spaceAPR 18

What happens when you wring a washcloth out in zero gravity? Something cool.

Commander Hadfield is the best. I love when he casually lets go of the wireless mic and it just floats there right in front of his face. (thx, dusty)

Which of these two displays of athletic quickness is more incredible?APR 18

The first features TAKASKE, a Dance Dance Revolution player with ballerina-quick feet. Here he plays all eight footpads at ludicrous speed.

Then there's Cara Black, a higly-ranked women's doubles tennis player with a killer net game. Here she's practicing volleys off the wall at close range.

She reels off 115 volleys in 43 seconds, beating the performance of her 16-year-old self.

You're more beautiful than you thinkAPR 18

Dove employed Gil Zamora, a FBI-trained forensic sketch artist, to help with an interesting experiment about self-perception. Zamora first sketched a series of women as they described themselves (they were hidden from his view) and then he sketched portraits of the same women based on descriptions by people who had met them. The difference between the two drawings, self-described vs. peer-described, were striking.

More on the experiment here. And a counterpoint from Jazz.

Deeply deeply shamefulAPR 18

I was offline yesterday evening and this morning, so this is a little tardy but what the Senate did in not passing the already woefully wimpy gun control legislation yesterday was embarrassing and shameful. Fuck them.

For 45 senators, the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School is a forgotten tragedy. The toll of 270 Americans who are shot every day is not a problem requiring action. The easy access to guns on the Internet, and the inevitability of the next massacre, is not worth preventing.

In a NY Times editorial, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has some sharp words for our elected officials.

Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I'm furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo -- desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation -- to go on.

I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You've lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators' e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I'm asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You've disappointed me, and there will be consequences.

And The Onion once again hits simultaneously below the belt and precisely on target: Next Week's School Shooting Victims Thank Senate For Failing To Pass Gun Bill.

Great job, guys," said 14-year-old Jacob Miller, one of nine junior high school students who will be shot next week by a mentally ill gunman wielding a legally acquired assault rifle that was purchased at a gun show. "My classmates and I are really proud of you for cowering to the NRA and caring more about politics than my friends and I getting shot and killed. It totally makes sense. You're the best."

Combat jugglingAPR 18

Major League Combat is a sport that combines juggling, rugby, Capture the Flag, and maybe Quidditch? I can't make out how you score, but keeping your juggle from end-to-end seems important.

Weird sport or the weirdest sport? It's definitely up there with chessboxing. (thx, benjamin)

Updates on previous entries for Apr 17, 2013*APR 18

Daft Punk's Get Lucky "leaked" orig. from Apr 15, 2013

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

The Central Park FiveAPR 17

Caught The Central Park Five on PBS last night and it's one of those films that puts you into rage-against-the-machine mode.

The Central Park Five, a new film from award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, tells the story of the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City's Central Park in 1989. The film chronicles The Central Park Jogger case, for the first time from the perspective of these five teenagers whose lives were upended by this miscarriage of justice.

The entire film is available to watch on the PBS web site. Tonight, there's a TimesTalk in NYC featuring Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, Times columnist Jim Dwyer, and all five of the exonerated men; the talk will be broadcast live on the web here.

A list of horrible business ideasAPR 17

Here's a list of business ideas that seemed outlandish, ridiculous, and even downright stupid. See if you can match some of them to the billion dollar businesses they became before you click through.

Airlines are cool. Let's start one. How hard could it be? We'll differentiate with a funny safety video and by not being a**holes.

It will be ugly. It will be free. Except for the hookers.

We are building the world's 20th search engine at a time when most of the others have been abandoned as being commoditized money losers.

Give us all of your bank, brokerage, and credit card information. We'll give it back to you with nice fonts. To make you feel richer, we'll make them green.

It is like email, SMS, or RSS. Except it does a lot less.

The world needs yet another Myspace or Friendster except several years late. We'll only open it up to a few thousand overworked, anti-social, Ivy Leaguers. Everyone else will then join since Harvard students are so cool.

Insane wingsuit flight through a hole in a mountainAPR 17

Watch as wingsuit pilot Alexander Polli flies through a hole in a mountain. And it's not that big of a hole either.

Watching this, I kept seeing an image of Wile E. Coyote wearing an Acme-brand wingsuit smacking into the side of the mountain. (via stellar)

An Olympic stadium to call one's ownAPR 17

Designer and artist Rolf Sachs renovated the Olympic stadium that was used in the 1928 and 1948 Winter Games in St. Moritz and turned it into his private residence.

And wow, St. Moritz still has a naturally made bobsled run...the entire thing is made out of ice and snow.

The game of shoppingAPR 16

Ms. Fobes, who lives in Raymore, Mo., plans meals around discounts offered at the grocery store and always checks coupon apps on her cellphone before buying clothes. When, a little over a year ago, J. C. Penney stopped promoting sales and offering coupons and instead made a big deal about its "everyday" low prices, Ms. Fobes stopped shopping there. It wasn't that she thought the prices were bad, she said. She just wasn't having any fun.

"It may be a decent deal to buy that item for $5," said Ms. Fobes, who runs Penny Pinchin' Mom, a blog about couponing strategies. "But for someone like me, who's always looking for a sale or a coupon -- seeing that something is marked down 20 percent off, then being able to hand over the coupon to save, it just entices me," she said. "It's a rush."

That's from an article in the NY Times about J.C. Penney's recent overhaul by Ron Johnson, who sought to apply his Apple Store experience to the mid-range department chain. Being the sort of person who a) doesn't like to shop, and b) doesn't want any nonsense when I do need to shop, I don't often think about shopping as a game. But it clearly is a game for some. As we don't spend so much time on the savana anymore, the hunting of bargains and the gathering of sale items is about as primal as we get these days, aside from Halo and Call of Duty. But not every shopping experience is the same type of game. And maybe that's where Johnson slipped up. The Apple Store game is more aspirational: buying the best products for reasonable prices and feeling part of a place & company that's so minimalist, simple, smart, and cool. Maybe Penneys shoppers didn't want to play that game...not at Penneys anyway.

Trippin' to MarsAPR 16

Great article by Burkhard Bilger about NASA's Curiosity mission to Mars.

The search for life on Mars is now in its sixth decade. Forty spacecraft have been sent there, and not one has found a single fossil or living thing. The closer we look, the more hostile the planet seems: parched and frozen in every season, its atmosphere inert and murderously thin, its surface scoured by solar winds. By the time Earth took its first breath three billion years ago, geologists now believe, Mars had been suffocating for a billion years. The air had thinned and rivers evaporated; dust storms swept up and ice caps seized what was left of the water. The Great Desiccation Event, as it's sometimes called, is even more of a mystery than the Great Oxygenation on Earth. We know only this: one planet lived and the other died. One turned green, the other red.

Perfect read if you've been curious about what Curiosity is up to on Mars but needed something a bit more narrative than the mission home page or Wikipedia page to guide you. Also features the phrase "a self-eating watermelon of despair", so there's that. Oh, and here's the Seven Minutes of Terror video referred to in the story.

Daft Punk's Get Lucky "leaked"APR 15

This is supposedly a leaked version of the song Get Lucky from Daft Punk's forthcoming album, but from what I can tell, this is just an extended version of the song cobbled together from this minute-long commercial that ran during SNL this weekend. Not that that's a bad thing...I've had it on repeat for the last 30 minutes.

The duo have, however, given their first interview about the album to Rolling Stone. (via kyleread)

Update: Hmm, getting some reports that this is the actual radio edit of Get Lucky...and it does have some Pharrell lyrics that weren't in the promos and commercials. And if not, we're getting closer!

(via @djrange)

Update: Ha! Probably still fake. But it's the best fake so I'll take it for now. Would probably take DP, Pharrell, and Rodgers themselves to top this one. (via @Robbie)

Update: Guess that last one actually was the genuine article, which is now available on iTunes, on Spotify, on Rdio, and at Amazon.

Huge photos of small currenciesAPR 15

For a project called The Fundamental Units, Martin John Callanan used a very powerful 3D microscope to take 400-megapixel images of the lowest denomination coin from each of the world's 166 active currencies. This is the 1 stotinki coin from Bulgaria:

Fundamental Units

And this is a small part of that same coin at tremendous zoom:

Fundamental Units Close

More information is available here.

Robot evolutionAPR 15

Starting with cubes of four simple materials (bone, tissue, 2 types of muscles) and one simple rule (faster bots have more offspring) results in a surprising amount of complexity among walking robots.

(via buzzfeed)

NYC people-watching at 780 frames per secondAPR 12

Filmed at 780 fps with a Phantom Flex from the back of a moving SUV, James Nares' Street depicts people walking New York streets in super slow motion.

The film runs 60 minutes (depicting about three minutes of real time footage), Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore did the soundtrack, and it's on display at The Met until the end of May.

Dealer admits doctoring rare Honus Wagner cardAPR 12

A former baseball card dealer now admits he cut the edges of the world's most expensive baseball card to make it appear in better condition. The card in question is the T206 Honus Wagner card once owned by Wayne Gretzky; this video is a great overview of the card's history.

One question I always had about the card was: why did Gretzky ever sell it? The Wagner might just have been an investment for him, but if you're rich and a huge sports guy and you own the most pristine copy of the world's rarest and most valuable sports card, why would you ever sell it? One possible answer: you suspected (or discovered) that the card had been doctored and got rid of the damn thing before the truth came out. That Gretzky, always skating to where the puck is going to be.

Drawing all the buildings in NYCAPR 12

James Gulliver Hancock is on a mission to draw all the buildings in New York City.

All Bldg NYC

Hancock's blog has spawned a book and prints are available as well. (via brain pickings)

Ship your pantsAPR 12

If you're compiling a list of the least cool brands, Kmart deserves serious consideration. But you've got to give them props for this daring ad touting free home shipping of out-of-stock merchandise.

I almost shipped my pants laughing at this. (via ★interesting)

The music of Arrested DevelopmentAPR 12

What if each member of the Bluth family made an album? The album covers might look something like these.

Arrested Dev Albums

(via @aaroncoleman0)

One Real Madrid fan's magical adventureAPR 11

Abel Rodríguez waxes floors for a living in Los Angeles and takes two weeks of vacation a year to work gratis for Real Madrid when the European football club trains in Los Angeles every summer. He had always dreamed of seeing Real Madrid playing their Spanish rivals Barcelona in Madrid, so his family persuaded him to go. He went. With no hotel or ticket to the game, he sat outside the club's training complex for hours until manager José Mourinho spotted him as he was leaving..."Stop! It's the guy from Los Angeles." Thus began Abel Rodríguez's magical journey.

You never know when karma will come back and reward you for something. For seven summers Rodriguez worked for free for Real Madrid, even when the club was willing to pay him for his efforts in Los Angeles. Now he was about to experience the thrill of a lifetime.

Oh man, I've got something in my eye.

Documentary about actor and magician Ricky JayAPR 11

Deceptive Practice is a documentary about Ricky Jay which features, among other things, a shaggy-haired Jay playing Three-card Monte with Steve Martin on an 80s chat show.

Jay is a fascinating guy, as this 1993 New Yorker profile of him by Mark Singer demonstrates.

Ricky Jay, who is perhaps the most gifted sleight-of-hand artist alive, was performing magic with a deck of cards. Also present was a friend of Mamet and Mosher's named Christ Nogulich, the director of food and beverage at the hotel. After twenty minutes of disbelief-suspending manipulations, Jay spread the deck face up on the bar counter and asked Nogulich to concentrate on a specific card but not to reveal it. Jay then assembled the deck face down, shuffled, cut it into two piles, and asked Nogulich to point to one of the piles and name his card.

"Three of clubs," Nogulich said, and he was then instructed to turn over the top card.

He turned over the three of clubs.

Mosher, in what could be interpreted as a passive-aggressive act, quietly announced, "Ricky, you know, I also concentrated on a card."

After an interval of silence, Jay said, "That's interesting, Gregory, but I only do this for one person at a time."

Mosher persisted: "Well, Ricky, I really was thinking of a card."

Jay paused, frowned, stared at Mosher, and said, "This is a distinct change of procedure." A longer pause. "All right-what was the card?"

"Two of spades."

Jay nodded, and gestured toward the other pile, and Mosher turned over its top card.

The deuce of spades.

A small riot ensued.

Anyway, the film is coming out next week in NYC. (via @aaroncoleman0)

Oblivion soundtrack by M83APR 11

Oh hello, what's this? M83 did the soundtrack to Oblivion, the new sci-fi movie where Tom Cruise plays Wall-E? That will do quite nicely. Here it is on iTunes, Amazon, or Rdio.

A profile of Felix BaumgartnerAPR 10

Vanity Fair's William Langewiesche takes a behind the scenes look at what drove Felix Baumgartner from being a stunt jumper to stepping out of a capsule 24 miles above New Mexico. Grab a few Red Bulls and read all about the man who pierced the sky (and the world of brand advertising).

His goal now was to break the altitude record for a human free fall, and in the process also to exceed the speed of sound. Otherwise known as Mach 1, that speed varies with temperature but is upwards of 660 miles per hour. Baumgartner was not there to advance mankind. That was for others to claim, if they liked. His own purpose was promotional. He was a showman for the Red Bull company, which had plowed a fortune into this endeavor in order to associate its energy drink with his feats. Baumgartner, who was 43 at the time, is certainly a manly man. He is photogenic. He is fit. His fiancée was Miss Lower Austria in 2006. When he furrows his brow he looks determined and intense. On-camera he becomes the very image of a middle-aged action figure, the perfect emblem for an important market segment of middle-aged men. When I drink Red Bull, I go supersonic. I am fearless. I am an Übermensch.

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

Google Street View hyperlapse videoAPR 10

The term of art for time lapse videos in which the camera moves is hyperlapse. In playing around with the hyperlapse technique, Teehan+Lax developed a system to make hyperlapse videos using Google Street View. Like this one:

Make your own here.

Hummingbird, a new music notation systemAPR 10

I don't read music so it's difficult for me to say how useful this is, but the folks behind Hummingbird claim their new system of music notation is "easier to learn, faster to read, and simpler for even the trickiest music".

Hummingbird Notation

Roll over, Beethoven. (via @veen)

How animals eat their foodAPR 10

This video would be a lot better without the first 15 seconds (sippy cups? talking? who cares?) but the rest of it is pants-wettingly amazing.

Daft Punk to launch new album at local farm showAPR 10

I have checked the publication date on this story ten times and it's not April 1st, so I guess Daft Punk really is launching their new album at a farm show in the small town of Wee Waa, Australia.

How baseballs are madeAPR 10

I remember tearing baseballs apart as a kid and seeing the rubber core, but I guess I had forgotten that a baseball is mostly a leather-covered yarn ball. See also how footballs are made and homemade soccer balls. (via @marklamster)

Now vs. then: how potato chips are madeAPR 09

NPR's Planet Money talked to Ed Herr of Herr Foods about how potato chip manufacturing has changed since 1946, when the company was housed in a barn on his family's land.

Herr estimates that if they currently made chips the way they did back in the 1940s, they'd cost about $25 a bag.

Social hierarchy in elevatorsAPR 09

Human behavior in elevators is endlessly fascinating and so is this tidbit about social organization in elevators from an ethnographic study of elevator users.

Yet, moving back to the interaction with elevator interior design elements, it was noticed that interaction went hand-in-hand with social organisation. As a result of 30 elevator journeys (15 in each building) a clear social order could be seen regarding where people positioned themselves inside the elevators and how they interacted with the design features, such as mirrors and monitors. More senior men in particular seemed to direct themselves towards the back of the elevator cabins. In front of them were younger men, and in front of them were women of all ages. Men watched the monitors, looked in the side mirrors (in one building) to see themselves, and in the door mirrors (of the other building) to also watch others. Women would watch the monitors and avoid eye contact with other users (unless in conversation) and the mirrors. It was only when the women travelled with other women, and just a few at that, that women elevator users would utilise the mirrors. One interviewee even mentioned that she only looked in the mirrors when there was no one else in the elevator.

(via @triciawang)

The politics of Super Mario BrosAPR 09

Quora is full of questions college students ask each other while high, except that sometimes they get answered seriously. Case in point: What is the political situation in the Mario universe? The top answer starts out:

Without going into too much detail, Mario generally lives and works in the Mushroom Kingdom, one of the largest geo-political structures on Mushroom World, in the Grand Finale Galaxy in, yes, the Mushroom Universe.

For the purposes of this answer I will deliberately restrict the terms to discussing Mushroom World, as a comprehensive answer on the entire Mushroom Universe would require covering 20-22 (depending on how you count) Galaxies and frankly, I doubt it would be any more fun to read than it would be to write.

Also, Bowser is probably a fascist.

Cool Dad Raising Daughter On Media That Will Put Her Entirely Out Of Touch With Her GenerationAPR 09

No, this story is not spot on at all. No one at our house is doing this. Nope.

"Well, I'm not making the same mistake he did," Campbell continued as he pulled out vinyl copies of Television's Marquee Moon, Miles Davis' Sketches Of Spain, and Big Star's #1 Record, highly influential albums that will in no way help his daughter interact with her peers at a particularly delicate time in her social development. "There's a lot of cool stuff out there, and it's never too early to start learning what's worth your time. I'm just glad I have the know-how to guide her."

Campbell said he has also been vigilant in ensuring Emma develops an increased familiarity with timeless classic films, a parenting strategy that will inevitably hobble her as she attempts to achieve individuation while negotiating an adolescence heavily influenced by the very latest pop culture.

Yeah, our kids definitely do not listen to Philip Glass, Ella Fitzgerald, Edith Piaf, Burl Ives, Joan Jett, and Miles Davis on a regular basis. Or watch Chuck Jones-era Looney Toons shorts. Or Miyazaki films. Oh God, what are kids into these days? Pokebots? Blay blays? Yo-yos?

Ten cool things about black holesAPR 09

From Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy, a list of ten things you might not know about black holes. Some of this I knew, but this one is incredible:

If you were to rope off the solar system out past Neptune, enclose it in a giant sphere, and fill it with air, it would be a black hole!

See also this recent tweet from physicist Brian Greene:

Remove all the space within the atoms making up the human body, and every person that's ever lived would fit inside a baseball.

(via @daveg & @rosecrans)

Lionel Messi vs. robot goalkeeperAPR 08

Someone built a robotic goalkeeper and then someone else had the bright idea to pit reigning best player in the world Lionel Messi against it:

Iker Casillas, your job is in jeopardy. But maybe not quite yet...by the final attempt, Messi seems to have figured out how to send the goalie the wrong way, at least for an instant. (via digg)

Passion vs. desireAPR 08

I've spent part of the last couple of days trying to figure out what Thomas Keller is getting at here with his distinction between passion and desire:

It's not about passion. Passion is something that we tend to overemphasize, that we certainly place too much importance on. Passion ebbs and flows. To me, it's about desire. If you have constant, unwavering desire to be a cook, then you'll be a great cook. If it's only about passion, sometimes you'll be good and sometimes you won't. You've got to come in every day with a strong desire. With passion, if you see the first asparagus of the springtime and you become passionate about it, so much the better, but three weeks later, when you've seen that asparagus every day now, passions have subsided. What's going to make you treat the asparagus the same? It's the desire.

"Follow your passion" is something you hear really often in tech/design/startup circles, so it's interesting to see Keller take it to task.

Why don't trains need differential gears?APR 08

The other day I posted a video about how differential gears work to help cars go smoothly around curves. Trains don't have differential gears, so how do they manage to go around curves without slipping or skidding? Richard Feynman explains:

Ha, it looks like I've posted this one before as well. Can never get enough Feynman. (thx, kerry)

Time travel is depressingAARON COHEN  ·  APR 08

In an interview last month with Esquire's Eric Spitznagel, Michel Gondry talked about his newest movie, The We and the I, and about how time travel is depressing.

ES: In your real life. If you, Michel Gondry, found a time machine and could go anywhere, to any period in history, where would you take it?

MG: I would travel back a few years ago and fix some screw-up I did.

ES: A personal or professional screw-up?

MG: In my personal life.

ES: Can you be more specific?

MG: I would come back and say yes to a girl. That's all. Actually, I find the whole idea of traveling back in time to be profoundly depressing.

ES: Really? Why so?

MG: Because I know the future. Living in the past, it would feel weird to know what's going to happen next. You couldn't escape it. That future's already in your head. You know it doesn't get better.

ES: You'd rather not know about the future?

MG: The future is about hope. If you travel from the present to the past, you don't have that hope anymore. You know how everything turns out.

ES: There are no surprises.

MG: No surprises, exactly! To me, that just sounds so... depressing.

The subways of North AmericaAPR 08

XKCD has linked all the subway systems of North America into one map. That South Ferry to San Juan submarine line is a hike.

Chinese Google GlassAPR 05

Baidu, the biggest search engine in China, is building their own version of Google Glass.

We really are developing something similar in its basic functionality to what was described in the Sina Tech report and other sources in the Chinese press; the reports were correct in their essentials though they got some of the details wrong (and those inaccuracies may have have its origins in an April Fool's prank gone awry!). The project's internal name is Baidu Eye. Not sure whether that's going to be its final name. We're doing some internal testing on it now on a small scale, and evaluating where this goes from here. That's why we didn't make any public official announcement on this.

Paying to be kidnappedAPR 05

Extreme Kidnapping is a company that offers a kidnapping service to those who want to know what it feels like for a few hours. GQ gave the company $1500 to kidnap Drew Magary.

Romeo slapped me hard across the face, much harder than I had been slapped all night. Then he shocked me with a stun gun. Then Cody doused me with cold water, which was the worst part by far. When you get hit with a stun gun, it lasts a second. When someone throws cold water on you, it makes you miserable for hours. I hadn't thought about cold water before this. I had thought about guns and billy clubs and knives. It never occurred to me how desperately I would want to stay dry. Now I would have gladly taken another jolt from the stun gun in exchange for a fresh T-shirt.

"I know this was originally meant to be a fake kidnapping," the voice said.

That's right.

"And I know that you guys did your homework on me, and that you know I went to prison for a while."

I do know that.

"But there are other things about me that you don't know, Drew. And the reason you don't know them is because you never asked."

Oh shit.

That was the moment it felt real. That was the moment I was paying for.

I loved his safe word.

The standardization of chess set designAPR 05

As chess increased in popularity across Europe in the 1800s, the proliferation in the variety of chess sets caused confusion amongst competitors, especially those hailing from different countries. The English typically used Barleycorn sets:

Chess Sets Barleycorn

or St. George sets:

Chess Sets St Georges

The Germans often used Selenus sets:

Chess Sets Selenus

Regence sets were popular in France:

Chess Sets Regency

Chess set collector Ty Kroll explains the confusion:

English saw a different design for every chess club: St. George sets with their appearance of stacked disks, Dublin sets with more rounded middles, and Northern Uprights with columns instead, as well as elaborate, easily tipped Barleycorn sets. Germany had delicate Selenus sets, beautiful beyond belief, but fragile, tippable, and problematic for play. To tell which piece is which on some of these sets one must count the stacked crown. France saw elegant Regence style sets with some of the most confusing signatures in history. As in the English sets, queen's were represented by orbs. The king's floral crown closely resembles the modern Staunton signature for the queen. Knights were always taller than bishops the old French sets. Bishops were represented as fools, not clergymen, and therefore lacked the signature miter. What was worse, the knights in these sets were sometimes simple turned designs, not the recognizable horse's head. This lead to common confusion as to which minor piece was which. The confusion of antique French knights and bishops is still a common problem today.

Then in the 1849, Nathaniel Cook designed and John Jaques began to sell a set that eventually came to be called the Staunton chess set:

Chess Sets Staunton

Howard Staunton was regarded as the top chess player of his era and organized the first international chess tournament in 1851. Staunton endorsed the set and it soon became the standard in chess competitions and, later, the official standard of the World Chess Federation. The most recent iteration of the official Staunton set is Daniel Weil's design for World Chess:

Chess Weil

If you're interested in learning more, Jimmy Stamp has a nice piece about the design of the original Staunton set and Weil's update at Smithsonian magazine.

URLs are for people, not computersAPR 05

You should design URLs for people because they are important UI elements.

URLs can contain information about the page contents before they are even clicked. This is very advantageous in some communication mediums, such as chats, IMs, tweets, emails and forums.

(via hacker news)

Roger Ebert Hails Human Existence As 'A Triumph'APR 05

From the Onion:

Calling the overall human experience "poignant," "thought-provoking," and a "complete tour de force," film critic Roger Ebert praised existence Thursday as "an audacious and thrilling triumph."

Updates on previous entries for Apr 4, 2013*APR 05

Earliest known aerial photograph is of Boston orig. from Apr 04, 2013
The social force in elevators orig. from Sep 30, 2003

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

"You my Midga"APR 04

I'm reading back through my archive of stuff written by and about Roger Ebert and I realized I've never written about my favorite piece of his: Dwarfs, Little People and the M-Word. It's nothing particularly earthshattering or insightful, but the piece demonstrates what I really liked about Ebert: humanist, happy to be corrected when in the wrong, not afraid to poke fun at himself, and a lover of both language and knowledge.

I had no idea the word "midget" was considered offensive, and you are the only person who has ever written to me about it. In my mind it is a descriptive term, like "dwarf." "Little People" has seemed to me to have a vaguely condescending cuteness to it. If I am now informed that "midget" is offensive, I will no longer use it. What is your feeling about "dwarf?" Is "Little Person" always the preferred term? Our newspaper's style book, based on Associated Press, does not consider "midget" or "dwarf" to be offensive terms, but perhaps we have not caught up.

Roger Ebert, RIPAPR 04

Earlier today, I linked to a post by Roger Ebert announcing his leave of presence. The Chicago Sun-Times has announced that Ebert died today at 70.

Ebert, 70, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation's most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago. He had been in poor health over the past decade, battling cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland.

He lost part of his lower jaw in 2006, and with it the ability to speak or eat, a calamity that would have driven other men from the public eye. But Ebert refused to hide, instead forging what became a new chapter in his career, an extraordinary chronicle of his devastating illness that won him a new generation of admirers. "No point in denying it," he wrote, analyzing his medical struggles with characteristic courage, candor and wit, a view that was never tinged with bitterness or self-pity.

Always technically savvy - he was an early investor in Google - Ebert let the Internet be his voice. His rogerebert.com had millions of fans, and he received a special achievement award as the 2010 "Person of the Year" from the Webby Awards, which noted that "his online journal has raised the bar for the level of poignancy, thoughtfulness and critique one can achieve on the Web." His Twitter feeds had 827,000 followers.

Ebert was both widely popular and professionally respected. He not only won a Pulitzer Prize - the first film critic to do so - but his name was added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005, among the movie stars he wrote about so well for so long. His reviews were syndicated in hundreds of newspapers worldwide.

Rest in peace, Roger. And fuck cancer.

Healthy fast food?APR 04

Mark Bittman explores the world of healthy fast food and discovers that's slowly becoming a thing.

Good Fast Food doesn't need to be vegan or even vegetarian; it just ought to be real, whole food. The best word to describe a wise contemporary diet is flexitarian, which is nothing more than intelligent omnivorism. There are probably millions of people who now eat this way, including me. My own style, which has worked for me for six years, is to eat a vegan diet before 6 p.m. and then allow myself pretty much whatever I want for dinner. This flexibility avoids junk and emphasizes plants, and Lyfe Kitchen, which offers both "chickin" and chicken -- plus beans, vegetables and grains in their whole forms (all for under 600 calories per dish) -- comes closest to this ideal. But the menu offers too much, the service raises prices too high and speed is going to be an issue. My advice would be to skip the service and the wine, make a limited menu with big flavors and a few treats and keep it as cheap as you can. Of course, there are huge players who could do this almost instantaneously. But the best thing they seem able to come up with is the McWrap or the fresco menu.

Ebert's cancer is backAPR 04

Sad news from Chicago: Roger Ebert's cancer has returned and he's taking what he calls a "leave of presence" to focus on recovery and a few different projects.

What in the world is a leave of presence? It means I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. What's more, I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.

At the same time, I am re-launching the new and improved Rogerebert.com and taking ownership of the site under a separate entity, Ebert Digital, run by me, my beloved wife, Chaz, and our brilliant friend, Josh Golden of Table XI. Stepping away from the day-to-day grind will enable me to continue as a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, and roll out other projects under the Ebert brand in the coming year.

Love that first sentence. Get well soon, Roger.

The 80s!APR 04

After an exhaustive search, I have decided this photo most exemplifies life in these United States during the 1980s:

Roger Minick Sightseer

And if not that one, then one of several other possible candidates from Roger Minick's Sightseer project, for which he took photos of tourists at popular US tourist destinations during the early 1980s and into the 2000s.

When I approached people for a portrait, I tried to make my request clear and to the point, making it clear that I was not trying to sell them anything. I explained that my wife and I were traveling around the country visiting most of the major tourist destinations so that I could photograph the activity of sightseeing. I would quickly add that I hoped the project would have cultural value and might be seen in years to come as a kind of time capsule of what Americans looked like at the end of the Twentieth Century; at which, to my surprise, I would see people often begin to nod their heads as if they knew what I was talking about.

Slate did a feature on this series last week.

Retouching the classicsAPR 04

For his Alpha Beauties project, artist Nazareno Crea retouches paintings and sculpture from throughout history, a process which normalizes each period's ideal of female beauty to that of the present day. That is, much skinnier, with smaller noses, higher cheekbones, and larger breasts.

Alpha Beauties Mona

Alpha Beauties Venus

Similar projects: Venus and Eye of the Beholder.

Date for new Arrested Development: May 26thAPR 04

Netflix has announced that the 15 episodes of the new season of Arrested Development will be released, all at once, on May 26th. Netflix did not announce that later that day, all 15 episodes will be available on BitTorrent.

The anti-drone hoodieAPR 04

Designer Adam Harvey, who gave the world the anti-paparazzi purse and dazzle camouflage for the face, has developed a hoodie that makes the wearer invisible to the sort of thermal imaging utilized by surveillance drones.

Anti Drone Hoodie

This is the most New Aesthetic thing I have ever seen. The Guardian has more:

"These are primarily fashion items and art items," Harvey tells me. "I'm not trying to make products for survivalists. I would like to introduce this idea to people: that surveillance is not bulletproof. That there are ways to interact with it and there are ways to aestheticise it."

I imagine that at some point, anti-drone clothing will eject chaff as a countermeasure against incoming drone-launched missiles. (via @DavidGrann)

Earliest known aerial photograph is of BostonAARON COHEN  ·  APR 04

oldest surviving aerial photograph

While French balloonist Gaspard-Félix Tournachon first photographed Paris by air in 1858, those photos were lost, and this photograph of Boston from 1860 by James Wallace Black is the earliest known aerial photo. The title is 'Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It.' If I had to guess where in Boston this is, I'd say somewhere along Atlantic Ave.

Update: Several people have identified the steepled building at center left as the Old South Meeting House, which Wikipedia confirms: "Depicts area resembling Old South Meeting House; Milk Street; India Wharf, Central Wharf; and vicinity." Looks a bit different these days.

But more importantly, a photo of Providence, RI taken by Black in August of 1860 predates his Boston photograph by two months. The print, which is part of the MoMA's collection, is badly damaged but it looks like some detail would be discernable in person.

oldest surviving aerial photo

So for some sufficiently flexible definition of "surviving", Black's photo of Providence is the oldest surviving aerial photo. (thx, david)

On the 40th anniversary of the first cellphone callAPR 03

Motorola Microtac

I still remember the first time I saw a guy at a restaurant talking on one of those prehistorically massive cellphones. My dad leaned over and said, "Look at that poor guy. Never let that happen to you. Never take a job that's so all-consuming that you have to carry a phone around, even during lunch." A lot has changed since then (although I still often see a lot of validity in my dad's initial response to these devices) and in the forty years since Motorola engineer Martin Cooper made the first cellphone call. Wired takes a look back at the twelve cellphones that changed our world forever.

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

Stretching before exercise considered harmfulAPR 03

Or at least unbeneficial. A comprehensive study out of Croatia complements other evidence that stretching your muscles before exercise results in less strength, power, and performance than if you hadn't stretched.

The numbers, especially for competitive athletes, are sobering. According to their calculations, static stretching reduces strength in the stretched muscles by almost 5.5 percent, with the impact increasing in people who hold individual stretches for 90 seconds or more. While the effect is reduced somewhat when people's stretches last less than 45 seconds, stretched muscles are, in general, substantially less strong.

They also are less powerful, with power being a measure of the muscle's ability to produce force during contractions, according to Goran Markovic, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Zagreb and the study's senior author. In Dr. Markovic and his colleagues' re-analysis of past data, they determined that muscle power generally falls by about 2 percent after stretching.

And as a result, they found, explosive muscular performance also drops off significantly, by as much as 2.8 percent. That means that someone trying to burst from the starting blocks, blast out a ballistic first tennis serve, clean and jerk a laden barbell, block a basketball shot, or even tick off a fleet opening mile in a marathon will be ill served by stretching first. Their performance after warming up with stretching is likely to be worse than if they hadn't warmed up at all.

Rdio introduces streaming video serviceAPR 03

Streaming music service Rdio (which I have been enjoying the hell out of for the past couple months1) is launching a streaming video service called Vdio.

The first thing you'll notice about Vdio is that it's designed to solve the "what to watch" problem. It's not just that we've got amazing content, but that the experience is now geared to get you from searching to watching faster. We're introducing the notion of Sets -- playlists for TV shows and movies -- so anyone can make and share lists of their favorites, making it easier than ever to discover new stuff. Or, you can just check out what your friends are watching in the moment and jump in. Beyond that, Vdio has the beautiful design and social features that people love about Rdio, with plenty more to come.

I haven't played with it too much, but it looks like it's not an all-you-can-eat service like Rdio...you buy/rent movies and TV shows just like iTunes, Amazon, etc.

[1] And that's actually a huge understatement. I ignored streaming music services like Rdio and Spotify when they came out, opting for the familiarity of iTunes, but Rdio has completely reignited my love of music over the past two months. Should write a whole post about this at some point.

How a differential gear worksAPR 03

I've posted this before, but it's so good, here it is again: a super-simple explanation of why differential gears are necessary in cars and how they work.

(via @stevenstrogatz)

Lester Bangs' obituary for Elvis PresleyAPR 02

When Elvis Presley died in 1977, legendary rock critic Lester Bangs wrote a piece on the singer for the Village Voice.

I got taken too the one time I saw Elvis, but in a totally different way. It was the autumn of 1971, and two tickets to an Elvis show turned up at the offices of Creem magazine, where I was then employed. It was decided that those staff members who had never had the privilege of witnessing Elvis should get the tickets, which was how me and art director Charlie Auringer ended up in nearly the front row of the biggest arena in Detroit. Earlier Charlie had said, "Do you realize how much we could get if we sold these fucking things?" I didn't, but how precious they were became totally clear the instant Elvis sauntered onto the stage. He was the only male performer I have ever seen to whom I responded sexually; it wasn't real arousal, rather an erection of the heart, when I looked at him I went mad with desire and envy and worship and self-projection. I mean, Mick Jagger, whom I saw as far back as 1964 and twice in '65, never even came close.

(via @gavinpurcell)

The Beaver TrilogyAPR 02

Caught a rerun of an episode of This American Life on reruns the other day. The first segment is about a movie I'd never heard about before, The Beaver Trilogy. I don't want to spoil it too much (the Wikipedia page contains spoilers as well) but the first part of the film features documentary footage of a kid from Beaver, Utah doing impressions and putting on a talent show. The second and third parts are recreations of that footage featuring, well, just listen to the story or watch the first two parts of the movie for yourself (one, two). (thx, @eventi)

Supercut of movie scenes that break the fourth wallAPR 02

Leigh Singer gathered more than 50 clips from movies that break the fourth wall (where the characters acknowledge they're in a movie).

Sadly my favorite broken fourth wall moment didn't make the list: Billy Ray Valentine in Trading Places getting a commodities lesson from the Dukes. (via zupped)

Rising global temps not keeping pace with soaring greenhouse-gas emissionsAPR 01

Climate scientists have been wrestling with a curious fact lately: the rise in global temperature has been flat over the past decade or more even as we pump ever-increasing rates of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The Economist discusses what that might mean for the climate and climate science.

Over the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth's surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO₂ put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, "the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade."

Temperatures fluctuate over short periods, but this lack of new warming is a surprise. Ed Hawkins, of the University of Reading, in Britain, points out that surface temperatures since 2005 are already at the low end of the range of projections derived from 20 climate models. If they remain flat, they will fall outside the models' range within a few years.

The mismatch between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and not-rising temperatures is among the biggest puzzles in climate science just now. It does not mean global warming is a delusion. Flat though they are, temperatures in the first decade of the 21st century remain almost 1°C above their level in the first decade of the 20th. But the puzzle does need explaining.

Bees still dying at a fantastic rateAPR 01

Despite progress in recent years on causes and cures, colony collapse disorder has wreaked havoc on honeybee colonies across the country.

A mysterious malady that has been killing honeybees en masse for several years appears to have expanded drastically in the last year, commercial beekeepers say, wiping out 40 percent or even 50 percent of the hives needed to pollinate many of the nation's fruits and vegetables.

Which is like, yeah, big whoop, it's just bees, right? Except that:

The Agriculture Department says a quarter of the American diet, from apples to cherries to watermelons to onions, depends on pollination by honeybees.

Sartorial zoo animalsAPR 01

Yago Partal pictures animals dressed up in their finest duds. Some of these are better than others...this is one of my favorites:

Yago Partal

Prints are available.

Two 90-year-olds do the 100 meter dashAPR 01

If you need a little pick-me-up, try this video of two nonagenarians racing each other in the 100-meter dash. Seems like there's gonna be a clear winner from the start but...

Both men were born in 1918; if the video were filmed this year, that would make them 95. (via @gavinpurcell)

Crouching government, hidden compartmentAPR 01

Alfred Anaya was really good at putting secret compartments into cars and he thought he was in the clear if he didn't know what his customers were putting in these compartments. He was wrong.

Alfred Anaya took pride in his generous service guarantee. Though his stereo installation business, Valley Custom Audio Fanatics, was just a one-man operation based out of his San Fernando, California, home, he offered all of his clients a lifetime warranty: If there was ever any problem with his handiwork, he would fix it for the cost of parts alone-no questions asked.

Anaya's customers typically took advantage of this deal when their fiendishly loud subwoofers blew out or their fiberglass speaker boxes developed hairline cracks. But in late January 2009, a man whom Anaya knew only as Esteban called for help with a more exotic product: a hidden compartment that Anaya had installed in his Ford F-150 pickup truck. Over the years, these secret stash spots-or traps, as they're known in automotive slang-have become a popular luxury item among the wealthy and shady alike. This particular compartment was located behind the truck's backseat, which Anaya had rigged with a set of hydraulic cylinders linked to the vehicle's electrical system. The only way to make the seat slide forward and reveal its secret was by pressing and holding four switches simultaneously: two for the power door locks and two for the windows.

Esteban said the seat was no longer responding to the switch combination and that no amount of jiggling could make it budge. He pleaded with Anaya to take a look.

Anaya was unsettled by this request, for he had suspicions about the nature of Esteban's work. There is nothing intrinsically illegal about building traps, which are commonly used to hide everything from pricey jewelry to legal handguns. But the activity runs afoul of California law if an installer knows for certain that his compartment will be used to transport drugs. The maximum penalty is three years in prison. Anaya thus thought it wise to deviate from his standard no-questions-asked policy before agreeing to honor his warranty. "There's nothing in there I shouldn't know about, is there?" he asked. Esteban assured him that he needn't worry.

Read all the way to the end for author Brendan Koerner's conclusions about our government's position of the moral neutrality of technology.

YouTube is the dominant force in musicAPR 01

This is a nice article about how memes are often made or promoted deliberately by financial interests and not because of a spontaneous popular uprising, but mostly I wanted to highlight this statement:

Google's YouTube, not Apple's iTunes, is now the dominant force in music.

I've been convinced for awhile now that YouTube and not Android or Google+ will be their main source of revenue if/when Google's search business wanes. (via @claytoncubitt)

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