Stupid calculations

From a new site called Stupid Calculations, here’s what an iPhone consisting of all the iPhone displays ever built would look like plopped down in the midst of Manhattan. Behold the Monophone:

I also enjoyed this dicussion of what a distribution of actual cash from Yahoo to Tumblr would be like.

What if Marissa preferred instead to thumb off hundred-dollar bills into an ecstatic crowd of Tumblr owners? Using the stack of hundreds kept handy around the house, I conducted a test that worked out to a rate of 90 bills per minute. It could certainly go faster, but it’s important to make a little flourish with each flick, a self-satisfied grin spread across the face. 90 bills per minute x \$100= \$9000. \$1.1 billion / \$9000 per minute = 122,222 minutes or 2037 hours or 84.87 continuous, no-bathroom, no-sleep days.

And what will she be getting for all this generosity? In addition to the office, it buys 175 Six Million Dollar Men; with 175 employees as of May, the acquisition works out to \$6,285,714 per employee. That’s \$41,904 per pound in livestock terms (175 employees @ an average of 150 lbs= 26,250 lbs total).

Color film of NYC from 1939

This film was apparently shot in NYC in 1939. Features scenes in Midtown, Chinatown, Harlem, and more locales around the city.

(via @UnlikelyWorlds)

VW Beetle sphere

Indonesian artist Ichwan Noor made this amazing thing, a 1953 Volkswagen Beetle formed into a sphere:

The evolution of the Star Wars logo

An extensive examination of the evolution of the Star Wars logo, which went through too many iterations to count.

..Though the poster contained no painted imagery, it did introduce a new logo to the campaign, one that had been designed originally for the cover of a Fox brochure sent to theater owners….Suzy Rice, who had just been hired as an art director, remembers the job well. She recalls that the design directive given by Lucas was that the logo should look “very fascist.”

“I’d been reading a book the night before the meeting with George Lucas,” she says, “a book about German type design and the historical origins of some of the popular typefaces used today — how they developed into what we see and use in the present.” After Lucas described the kind of visual element he was seeking, “I returned to the office and used what I reckoned to be the most ‘fascist’ typeface I could think of: Helvetica Black.”

(via df)

Small-batch, artisanal high-fructose corn syrup

Maya Weinstein has created a DIY kit for making your own HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup). You may have already guessed that it’s an art project and that the artist lives in Brooklyn.

The DIY High Fructose Corn Syrup Kit (DIY HFCS KIT) begin as a journey to uncover the mysteries of processed food. Often times at the grocery store while reading common food labels one cannot distinguish what certain ingredients are or where they came from. The DIY HFCS Kit is a way to visualize as well as interact with the food science behind industrialized ingredients, it is citizen food science for everyone, everywhere. The ingredient chosen for this particular kit is one that is seen a lot in processed and pre-made foods, it is pretty much everywhere, and it goes by the name high fructose corn syrup. The interesting thing about high fructose corn syrup is that the ingredient pops up in so many foods; from cereal to bread, yogurt to ice cream, frozen dinners to canned soups; but high fructose corn syrup is never actually seen on its own. One of the main reasons for this is because it is a highly processed industrialized ingredient created in large factories behind very closed doors. The method for making for high fructose corn syrup was not easy to uncover, nor were the ingredients, but with a little help from some friends and a whole lotta research and testing the Kit was finally created.

Weinstein was planning a Kickstarter campaign for kit sales but “they didn’t really understand what I was doing, they said my business plan was unclear”. (via @CharlesCMann)

Soccer’s knuckleball

“Bend it like Beckham” has given way to “knuckle it like Ronaldo” in European football. During free kicks, players like Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Tottenham’s Gareth Bale put little or no spin on the ball, which tends to give it the unpredictable movement of a knuckleball in baseball. Bale recently explained his technique:

So where does the ‘knuckling’ effect come in?

Well, as we’ve said, if the ball is struck without spin, it is more susceptible to movement as it flies through the air.

If there are imperfections on the ball, such as specks of mud or grass, then random movement is more likely. Bale would be well served to rub the ball around in the grass as he places it.

Even the seams of the ball’s panels can generate a degree of unpredictable movement.

Bale is not the first exponent of ‘knuckleball’ in the game, of course. Ronaldo has a subtle variation that has wowed fans the world over, while the former Lyon player Juninho Pernambucano did much to perfect the style in the noughties.

YouTube is crap for finding good soccer highlights in HD (FIFA, the European leagues, and their broadcast partners are fanatic about yanking footage) so there’s not a great view of Bale’s technique, but you can kind of see it in this video of his two goals against Lyon earlier this year. The knuckler is also in evidence in this Ronaldo compilation, particularly with goals #7 and #3. Especially #7…Ronaldo hits it right at the keeper, who looks completely baffled by the speed and movement of the ball.

A space telescope for everyone

Planetary Resources, an asteroid mining company (no, really!), has launched a \$1 million Kickstarter campaign for “a space telescope for everyone”.

The ARKYD is a technologically advanced, orbiting space telescope that will be controlled by YOU, the crowd, through your pledges and community involvement! You can even direct your telescope time to non-profit science centers and universities for use in your communities!

How long before Reddit raises a bunch of funds to point the telescope at some venting gases on Uranus all day every day?

Lion vs tiger: who wins?

From Quora and Wikipedia, various takes on the age-old question of who would win in a fight between a lion and a tiger.

In the circuses of Ancient Rome, exotic beasts were commonly pitted against each other. The contest of the lion against the tiger was a classic pairing and the betting usually favoured the tiger.

Note: Illustration by Chris Piascik…prints & more are available.

Liquid mammoth blood found

A mammoth recently found in Siberia was so well preserved that when researchers were chipping it out of the ice, liquid blood flowed out.

Semyon Grigoriev, chairman of the university’s Museum of Mammoths and head of the expedition, said: “The fragments of muscle tissues, which we’ve found out of the body, have a natural red colour of fresh meat. The reason for such preservation is that the lower part of the body was underlying (sic) in pure ice, and the upper part was found in the middle of tundra. We found a trunk separately from the body, which is the worst-preserved part.”

The temperature was ten degrees celsius below zero when the mammoth was found, so the discovery of liquid blood was a shock. “It can be assumed that the blood of mammoths had some cryo-protective properties,” Grigoriev said. “The blood is very dark, it was found in ice cavities below the belly and when we broke these cavities with a pick, the blood came running out.”

More photos and information here. Bring on the mammoth clones, John Hammond. (via @carlzimmer)

Missing man found by news crew

Watch as a crew from WMTW News 8 in Maine is preparing to do an update on a missing man when the man in question just saunters up right behind them.

The first 55 seconds of this video is like a real life version of the moonwalking bear test. (via devour)

Evidence of Alec Baldwin’s time travel

Holy cow, Alec Baldwin is the spitting image of our nation’s 13th President, Millard Fillmore.

This is from a slideshow of famous lookalikes. Fillmore looks so much like Baldwin in this 1849 Matthew Brady daguerreotype that one is forced to ask: is Alec Baldwin a time traveller and did he star on 30 Rock before or after governing our country in the 1850s?

The WTF pitch

Angels pitcher Robert Coello’s unique pitch has knuckleball movement but is thrown with a fastball grip & pitching motion and has a bit more speed on it than a typical knuckleball. His catchers and opposing hitters call it the WTF pitch.

Physicist Alan Nathan, a professor at the University of Illinois who studies baseball and has a particular interest in the knuckleball, hadn’t ever seen a pitch like Coello’s. His preliminary theory on the pitch: His thumb on the underside of the ball exerts backspin, counteracting the tumbling effect his top fingers put on the ball and balancing the torque so perfectly that the pitch has a knuckleball effect with superior speed (around 80 mph).

Be sure to wait for the slow motion at the end of the video.

Kenyan high jumpers

This is a video of a pair of Kenyan high schoolers competing in a high jump contest, skillfully using a throwback technique rarely seen these days.

Cool, right? They’re using a scissors-jump technique that was popular in international competitions prior to the early 1900s, when landing areas were sand pits rather than the huge foam pads you typically see today. Various techniques followed the scissors-jump, with each making higher jumps possible until Dick Fosbury invented his Flop in 1968. All international competitors use the Flop today.

Interestingly though, the Fosbury Flop is not the instantly disruptive innovation I’d always thought it was. Fosbury started sailing over the bar backwards as a senior in high school in the mid-1960s. He refined his invention for years until his gold medal at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics attracted the attention of other jumpers, who recognized the potential of the technique. But if you look at the progression of high jump world records, there was no huge jump (sorry) in record heights because of the Flop. Ten years after the Flop’s big-stage debut at the Mexico City Games, the world record holder Vladimir Yashchenko still used the straddle technique. And in the 1980 Olympics, three high jump finalists didn’t use the Flop. Like most new promising technologies, the Flop took time to catch on, even though 45 years on, it’s the clearly superior technique. (via @dunstan)

Bike maniac Tim Knoll

Here’s an unfortunately short bit of circus riding by Tim Knoll. You often see a lot of the same tricks in bike videos, so Knoll’s style mix of flatland, street, and circus riding is refreshing. I do get nervous when he stands on his handlebars or plays limbo with a row for semi-trucks. Be careful, Tim Knoll!

(thx, alex)

Classing up the Long Island Iced Tea

Ben Crair visited some of Manhattan’s fancier joints and ordered a decidedly unclassy cocktail: the Long Island Iced Tea.

11 Madison Park is either a very good restaurant or the absolute best restaurant in New York City. It depends on whom you ask. But don’t ask me: I’ve only had a drink at 11 Madison Park, and that drink was a Long Island Iced Tea. It came in a highball with four perfect cubes of ice and a wedge of lemon. It cost sixteen dollars and tasted just like college.

“I haven’t served one of these in six months,” the bartender told me. Like his peers at the other fine New York bars and restaurants where I have lately been ordering Long Island Iced Teas, he had repeated my order back to me: “Long Island Iced Tea?” His neck muscles tightened, giving bloom to a gritted smile. That smile said: “The customer is always right.” I confirmed the order, and he obligingly prepared it. Later, when we struck up a conversation, he told me the last person to order a Long Island Iced Tea at 11 Madison Park “was definitely not from New York.”

True story: the guy who invented the Long Island Iced Tea is named Bob Butt.

Struck by lightning

Ars Technica’s Jason Marlin got struck by lightning and lived to write about it.

At that moment — and this part is a little foggy — a bright arc of electricity shot through the window and directly into my chest. I’m not sure whether the arc originated from the sky or the ground, but it knocked me out of my chair. I hit the concrete floor and bounced back up to my feet, which were shuffling at top speed into a bookshelf. I remember thinking, “OK, going to die now. Do not fall down. Do not pass out.”

The Act of Killing

Executive produced by Errol Morris and Werner Herzog, The Act of Killing is a documentary directed by Joshua Oppenheimer about a group of Indonesian mass murderers.

In The Act of Killing, Anwar and his friends agree to tell us the story of the killings. But their idea of being in a movie is not to provide testimony for a documentary: they want to star in the kind of films they most love from their days scalping tickets at the cinemas. We seize this opportunity to expose how a regime that was founded on crimes against humanity, yet has never been held accountable, would project itself into history.

And so we challenge Anwar and his friends to develop fiction scenes about their experience of the killings, adapted to their favorite film genres — gangster, western, musical. They write the scripts. They play themselves. And they play their victims.

Wow. (via @aaroncoleman0)

Update: It expires today, but The Act of Killing is available to watch for free on PBS. After today, try Amazon.

Inside Pixar with Ed Catmull

From 20101, a talk by Pixar’s Ed Catmull on how Pixar does what it does.

Part of the behavior is I don’t know the answers. And at first that seems a little bit glib. But after awhile people get that I really don’t know the answer to a lot of these things. So we set it up so that the management really doesn’t tell people what to do. We discuss, we debate, [but] people start to refer to ‘the management’, and I say come on guys, there’s three of us, we’re all in this together, and then we’re very open and honest about the problems.

Lasseter and Jobs get all the press, but Catmull deserves more credit than he gets for Pixar’s success. (via df)

[1] I don’t know why I put it like this. If something is good or interesting, who the hell cares when it’s from? [Shouldn’t you just delete it then? -ed]

Miguel Cabrera’s fantastic plate coverage

Earlier this spring, Drew Sheppard created a layered animated GIF of Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish’s pitching delivery. This type of GIF has become something of a meme on baseball sites. The latest to get the layered GIF treatment is Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera hit for the Triple Crown last year (led the league in batting average, RBIs, and home runs) and is trying to do it again this year. Sheppard put together this GIF to show “Cabrera’s impressive all fields hitting and ability to cover the full strike zone with power”:

As the image plainly shows, Cabrera can launch home runs from anywhere…even a pitch that’s almost a foot off the plate. Are they showing this stuff on SportsCenter yet? Can only be a matter of time. (thx, david)

New site from The Awl, The Wirecutter, and Joel Johnson: The Sweethome.

It’s a list of the best home gear, each item chosen mindfully and with many hours of research, interviews with the world’s most knowledgable experts and testers, all in service of backing up our own testing and opinions. It’s not a blog. We don’t do news and we don’t post multiple times a day-we just want to help you pick out great gear and get on with your life.

Whenever I need to purchase electronics, I always just go with what The Wirecutter recommends. Next time a household repair crops up, I hope I’ll remember The Best Drill for Common Household Projects from The Sweethome.

Wanting to be liked

This interview with a 14-year-old girl about how she uses her iPhone and social media is almost equal parts fascinating and terrifying. Some choice quotes:

“I’ll wake up in the morning and go on Facebook just … because,” Casey says. “It’s not like I want to or I don’t. I just go on it. I’m, like, forced to. I don’t know why. I need to. Facebook takes up my whole life.”

“I bring [my iPhone] everywhere. I have to be holding it,” Casey says. “It’s like OCD — I have to have it with me. And I check it a lot.”

Not having an iPhone can be social suicide, notes Casey. One of her friends found herself effectively exiled from their circle for six months because her parents dawdled in upgrading her to an iPhone. Without it, she had no access to the iMessage group chat, where it seemed all their shared plans were being made.

“She wasn’t in the group chat, so we stopped being friends with her,” Casey says. “Not because we didn’t like her, but we just weren’t in contact with her.”

The most important and stress-inducing statistic of all is the number of “likes” she gets when she posts a new Facebook profile picture — followed closely by how many “likes” her friends’ photos receive. Casey’s most recent profile photo received 117 “likes” and 56 comments from her friends, 19 of which they posted within a minute of Casey switching her photo, and all of which Casey “liked” personally.

“If you don’t get 100 ‘likes,’ you make other people share it so you get 100,” she explains. “Or else you just get upset. Everyone wants to get the most ‘likes.’ It’s like a popularity contest.”

“If I’m not watching TV, I’m on my phone. If I’m not on my phone, I’m on my computer. If I’m not doing any of those things, what am I supposed to do?” Casey says.

Josh Miller asked his 15-year-old sister about social media trends. That was six months ago, so everything has probably already changed, but it’s still an interesting read. (via digg)

How does copyright work in space?

When Commander Chris Hadfield covered David Bowie’s Space Oddity on board the International Space Station:

The song “Space Oddity” is under copyright protection in most countries, and the rights to it belong to Mr Bowie. But compulsory-licensing rights in many nations mean that any composition that has been released to the public (free or commercially) as an audio recording may be recorded again and sold by others for a statutorily defined fee, although it must be substantively the same music and lyrics as the original. But with the ISS circling the globe, which jurisdiction was Commander Hadfield in when he recorded the song and video? Moreover, compulsory-licensing rights for covers of existing songs do not include permission for broadcast or video distribution. Commander Hadfield’s song was loaded onto YouTube, which delivers video on demand to users in many countries around the world. The first time the video was streamed in each country constituted publication in that country, and with it the potential for copyright infringement under local laws. Commander Hadfield could have made matters even more complicated by broadcasting live as he sang to an assembled audience of fellow astronauts for an onboard public performance while floating from segment to segment of the ISS.

We live in a world where sending a guitar into space is trivial while ironing out rights agreements is the tough part. (via waxy)

New from Sigur Ros: Kveikur

And why should Boards of Canada have all the fun? Sigur Ros has a new album coming out as well, to be released the week after on June 18. Two singles from Kveikur are already out:

And the album can be pre-ordered on iTunes, at Amazon, or direct from the band.

Oh hello new Boards of Canada single. Nice to see you.

Sounds goooood. The entire album will be out on 6/11 in North American (6/10 in the UK) and is available for pre-order on iTunes and at Amazon.

I think it’s the sound system in our car 2003 Volkswagen Golf TDI,” Madrigal says. “We have one of those magical devices that lets you play an iPod through the tape deck (how do those work?) — but it makes a horrible screeching noise when it gets hot.” That leaves the CD player and terrestrial radio: “We seem to rotate between the same three CDs we burned or borrowed some time ago, and the local NPR affiliate.”

Madrigal hastens to add that what he really wants is a stereo with “an aux-in so that I can play Rdio throughout the vehicle.” The problem? “I am scared of car audio guys,” he says. “I knew a lot of them in high school. They are a kind of gadgethead that just kind of freaks me out. I loathe the idea of going in there and having to explain why we have this old-ass tape deck, and then — because I don’t know any better — getting ripped off on a new stereo.

It’s either that or our cable box/DVR…that thing records about 20 minutes of HD programming and is 20 years old now. Really should trade it in for something made since Clinton left office. See also Robin Sloan’s dumbphone.

Ken Crosgrove dancing + Daft Punk

[SORTA MAD MEN SPOILERS! but not really] I don’t know if Ken Crosgrove dancing on the latest episode of Mad Men is the best thing that’s ever been on the show, but it’s definitely in the top 10. And it might be even better with a little Daft Punk.

And it might be best with the Crazy in Love cover from Gatsby…just load up that this YT video while watching the animated GIF and you’re all set. (This is how Millennials watch TV, BTW…it’s all animated GIFs with YouTube video soundtracks. Civilization is gonna be juuuuuuust fine.)

Leadership lessons from the dancing guy

This is possibly the best three-minute demonstration of anything I’ve ever seen. Derek Sivers takes a shaky video of a lone dancing guy at a music festival and turns it into a lesson about leadership.

A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what he’s doing is so simple, it’s almost instructional. This is key. You must be easy to follow!

Now comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow. Notice the leader embraces him as an equal, so it’s not about the leader anymore — it’s about them, plural. Notice he’s calling to his friends to join in. It takes guts to be a first follower! You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.

I got this link from @ottmark, who astutely notes its similarity to Kurt Vonnegut’s three types of specialist needed for revolution.

The rarest of these specialists, he says, is an authentic genius — a person capable of having seemingly good ideas not in general circulation. “A genius working alone,” he says, “is invariably ignored as a lunatic.”

The second sort of specialist is a lot easier to find: a highly intelligent citizen in good standing in his or her community, who understands and admires the fresh ideas of the genius, and who testifies that the genius is far from mad. “A person like this working alone,” says Slazinger, “can only yearn loud for changes, but fail to say what their shapes should be.”

On Twitter, Jeff Veen shortened the three personas to “the inventor, the investor, and the evangelist”.

A list of common misconceptions

Hey there. You didn’t have stuff to do today, right? Because this list of common misconceptions on Wikipedia will keep you busy for perhaps the rest of your life.

There is a legend that Marco Polo imported pasta from China which originated with the Macaroni Journal, published by an association of food industries with the goal of promoting the use of pasta in the United States. Marco Polo describes a food similar to “lagana” in his Travels, but he uses a term with which he was already familiar. Durum wheat, and thus pasta as it is known today, was introduced by Arabs from Libya, during their conquest of Sicily in the late 7th century, according to the newsletter of the National Macaroni Manufacturers Association, thus predating Marco Polo’s travels to China by about six centuries.

The notion that goldfish have a memory span of just a few seconds is false. It is much longer, counted in months.

(via @jakedobkin)

Restaurant rankings vs. ratings

Interesting piece about how the shift in influence from the Michelin Guide to the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list has changed the approach of elite restaurants.

Just look at Eleven Madison Park, a restaurant that has over the past few years steadily risen the ranks of the World’s 50 Best list (it’s currently ranked No. 5). As recently as four years ago, it was just an expertly run restaurant, specializing in luxe ingredients, disarmingly warm service, and lovely meals. It got as many stars as it could from every venue that gave them out, but as a New Yorker story last September made clear, to get a high ranking on the World’s 50 Best list, the restaurant had to do something different, so they moved from a standard menu to a “grid” menu in 2010 that was designed to offer diners a greater sense of control over their meals. It ranked 50th on the 2010 list, 24th on the 2011 list, and 10th when the 2012 list was announced in April of that year. In July 2012, the restaurant announced they’d be switching formats yet again, this time to a single tasting menu focused on New York terroir. (Some theatrical service elements that accompanied the meal — long explanations of dish inspiration, for example — got a negative reaction and have been more or less excised.) Did any of these changes make the restaurant “better”? Having eaten there a number of times over the years, this author would say that it’s not really any better or worse — it was and still is operating at the highest possible level a restaurant can. But it doesn’t matter if the changes made the restaurant better: Every time the restaurant switched up its format, it got plenty of accompanying media coverage that let judges know they needed to return to see what was going on.

(via @Gachatz)

The watches of Fantastic Mr. Fox

Of course the watches worn by the characters in Fantastic Mr. Fox are going to be classic 70s and 80s timepieces.

On Hoefler and Frere-Jones

From the AIGA, a lovely short film on type designers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones. I love the bit about starting a typeface design with the O, H, and D. Elsewhere, Hoefler recommended other potential starting points:

Work out the B, the ampersand, and the bullet before you get too far: you’ll have to confront decisions about thinning strokes, intersections, and shapes without any counters, which might inform what you do on the other letters.

(via daring fireball)

You should be eating more Spam

For Slate, Anna Weaver argues that Spam aligns quite well with current food trends in America and should be eaten more.

Consider that Spam contains not only ham (meat from the hind leg of the pig) but also pork shoulder. Today, pork shoulder is beloved by chefs and home cooks, but when Spam first hit the shelves, it was an underutilized and underappreciated cut. Hormel took that underrated meat and transformed it into a salty, meaty treat. “It’s a centuries-old idea,” says Hawaiian chef Alan Wong, who pays homage to Spam in his eponymous Honolulu restaurant. “You get all your trimmings and you turn them into sausage or a meatloaf or pate or a terrine.” I’ve never seen a meat-eater turn up his nose at sausage or pate — what rational basis is there, then, for eschewing their all-American cousin?

Better state birds

Surprisingly entertaining article about better choices for the state birds of each of the 50 US states.

4. Arkansas. Official state bird: northern mockingbird

Christ. What makes this even less funny is that there are like eight other states with mockingbird as their official bird. I’m convinced that the guy whose job it was to report to the state’s legislature on what the official bird should be forgot until the day it was due and he was in line for a breakfast sandwich at Burger King. In a panic he walked outside and selected the first bird he could find, a dirty mockingbird singing its stupid head off on top of a dumpster.

What it should be: painted bunting

More hilarious science journalism, please. Yes, in addition to the excellent What If? (via @jessamyn)

To make an apple pie from scratch…

Kevin Kelly writes about the challenges of creating a civilization from scratch, say after an apocalypse or interplanetary journey.

Let’s take a very sophisticated item: one web page. A web page relies on perhaps a hundred thousand other inventions, all needed for its birth and continued existence. There is no web page anywhere without the inventions of HTML code, without computer programming, without LEDs or cathode ray tubes, without solid state computer chips, without telephone lines, without long-distance signal repeaters, without electrical generators, without high-speed turbines, without stainless steel, iron smelters, and control of fire. None of these concrete inventions would exist without the elemental inventions of writing, of an alphabet, of hypertext links, of indexes, catalogs, archives, libraries and the scientific method itself. To recapitulate a web page you have to recreate all these other functions. You might as well remake modern society.

(via medium)

Medical school in blog form

Why go to medical school when you can just read this Medical School tumblr blog? Includes posts on open heart surgery, sickle cell anemia, and a simple suturing demonstration:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” And I’ll give them heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a shorter lifespan. A growing body of research suggests that there is often a high health toll when it comes to coming to America.

A growing body of mortality research on immigrants has shown that the longer they live in this country, the worse their rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. And while their American-born children may have more money, they tend to live shorter lives than the parents.

The pattern goes against any notion that moving to America improves every aspect of life. It also demonstrates that at least in terms of health, worries about assimilation for the country’s 11 million illegal immigrants are mistaken. In fact, it is happening all too quickly.

Does good music need to be good?

I enjoyed and agree with much of Sasha Frere-Jones’ take on Daft Punk’s recent album, Random Access Memories.

Daft Punk’s fourth studio album, “Random Access Memories,” is an attempt to make the kind of disco record that they sampled so heavily for “Discovery.” As such, it serves as a tribute to those who came before them and as a direct rebuke to much of what they’ve spawned. Only intermittently electronic in nature, and depending largely on live musicians, it is extremely ambitious, and as variable in quality as any popular album you will hear this year. Noodly jazz fusion instrumentals? Absolutely. Soggy poetry and kid choirs? Yes, please. Cliches that a B-list teen-pop writer would discard? Bring it on. The duo has become so good at making records that I replay parts of “Random Access Memories” repeatedly while simultaneously thinking it is some of the worst music I’ve ever heard. Daft Punk engages the sound and the surface of music so lovingly that all seventy-five loony minutes of “Random Access Memories” feel fantastic, even when you are hearing music you might never seek out. This record raises a radical question: Does good music need to be good?

Unknown mathematician hits a home run

Yitang Zhang, an unknown mathematician who worked at Subway while trying to find an academic position earlier in his career, has written a paper that makes significant progress towards understanding the twin prime conjecture, “one of mathematics’ oldest problems”.

Editors of prominent mathematics journals are used to fielding grandiose claims from obscure authors, but this paper was different. Written with crystalline clarity and a total command of the topic’s current state of the art, it was evidently a serious piece of work, and the Annals editors decided to put it on the fast track.

Just three weeks later — a blink of an eye compared to the usual pace of mathematics journals — Zhang received the referee report on his paper.

“The main results are of the first rank,” one of the referees wrote. The author had proved “a landmark theorem in the distribution of prime numbers.”

Rumors swept through the mathematics community that a great advance had been made by a researcher no one seemed to know — someone whose talents had been so overlooked after he earned his doctorate in 1992 that he had found it difficult to get an academic job, working for several years as an accountant and even in a Subway sandwich shop.

“Basically, no one knows him,” said Andrew Granville, a number theorist at the Universite de Montreal. “Now, suddenly, he has proved one of the great results in the history of number theory.”

Reminds me of a certain patent clerk and his theories about time and space. History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. (via @daveg)

Erica Klarreich, a Berkeley-based science writer who has a Ph.D. in mathematics and has written about Zhang, says his proof demonstrates the remarkable balance between order and randomness within the prime numbers. “Prime numbers are anything but random — they are completely determined,” Klarreich says. “Nevertheless, they seem to behave in many respects like randomly-sprinkled numbers that eventually display all possible clumps and clusters. Zhang’s work helps to put this conjectured picture of the primes on a solid footing.”

Update: Alec Wilkinson has a profile of Zhang in the Feb 2, 2015 issue of the New Yorker: The Pursuit of Beauty.

Zhang, who also calls himself Tom, had published only one paper, to quiet acclaim, in 2001. In 2010, he was fifty-five. “No mathematician should ever allow himself to forget that mathematics, more than any other art or science, is a young man’s game,” Hardy wrote. He also wrote, “I do not know of an instance of a major mathematical advance initiated by a man past fifty.” Zhang had received a Ph.D. in algebraic geometry from Purdue in 1991. His adviser, T. T. Moh, with whom he parted unhappily, recently wrote a description on his Web site of Zhang as a graduate student: “When I looked into his eyes, I found a disturbing soul, a burning bush, an explorer who wanted to reach the North Pole.” Zhang left Purdue without Moh’s support, and, having published no papers, was unable to find an academic job. He lived, sometimes with friends, in Lexington, Kentucky, where he had occasional work, and in New York City, where he also had friends and occasional work. In Kentucky, he became involved with a group interested in Chinese democracy. Its slogan was “Freedom, Democracy, Rule of Law, and Pluralism.” A member of the group, a chemist in a lab, opened a Subway franchise as a means of raising money. “Since Tom was a genius at numbers,” another member of the group told me, “he was invited to help him.” Zhang kept the books. “Sometimes, if it was busy at the store, I helped with the cash register,” Zhang told me recently. “Even I knew how to make the sandwiches, but I didn’t do it so much.” When Zhang wasn’t working, he would go to the library at the University of Kentucky and read journals in algebraic geometry and number theory. “For years, I didn’t really keep up my dream in mathematics,” he said.

“You must have been unhappy.”

He shrugged. “My life is not always easy,” he said.

The Sea’s Strangest Square Mile

You’ve heard of Weird Twitter but now there’s Weird Ocean. This square mile of water in the Lembeh Strait has some of the strangest and most unique marine life on the planet.

Includes an appearance by the always delightful cuttlefish. (via @Colossal)

The myth of crack babies

In the 1980s, crack babies were all over the news. They were supposed to have severe mental and physical problems, overwhelm our schools and health care institutions, and cost us billions of dollars. None of this happened because the media latched onto some limited preliminary research and blew it all out of proportion.

Retro Report has gone back to look at the story of these children from the perspective of those in the eye of the storm — tracing the trajectory from the small 1985 study by Dr. Ira Chasnoff that first raised the alarm, through the drumbeat of media coverage that kept the story alive, to the present where a cocaine-exposed research subject tells her own surprising life story. Looking back, Crack Babies: A Tale from the Drug Wars shows the danger of prediction and the unexpected outcomes that result when closely-held convictions turn out to be wrong.

This video was produced by a new news organization called Retro Report, which revisits old news stories with a sober eye…”a smart, engaging and forward-looking review of these high-profile events”. In addition to the crack babies story, they’ve also explored the New York garbage barge and the Tailhook scandal.

Deracialization surgery

Chris Stokel-Walker introduces us to Leo Jiang, who used to be Hao Jiang and is one of the thousands of people each year who get plastic surgery in order to look less Asian and more Western. Or not.

“Race does not enter the consciousness [in Asia] in the same way it does here,” explains Sharon Lee, an assistant professor at New York University who has written extensively about plastic surgery in Asia. “It’s easy to pathologize a whole country of people.” The West’s preoccupation with race colors its opinion, projecting discomfort onto surgery that for many may not have any overt racial elements. “This notion that Korean women want to become white becomes a really easy answer,” Lee says. “That’s not to say that race isn’t important, but when we stop there we’re overlooking much larger structural and historical phenomenons. No Korean woman says, ‘I want to look white.’”

The Long Swath

Back in April, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (aka a NASA satellite with a bitchin’ camera) took photos of the Earth along a swath of land 120 miles wide by 6,000 miles long, from Russia to South Africa. Then they stitched it into a mesmerising 15-minute video:

Feel free to put on some Sigur Ros while you watch. (via the atlantic)

Too much celebrity

George Packer, writing for the NY Times on the subject of modern celebrity:

Our age is lousy with celebrities. They can be found in every sector of society, including ones that seem less than glamorous. We have celebrity bankers (Jamie Dimon), computer engineers (Sergey Brin), real estate developers/conspiracy theorists (Donald J. Trump), media executives (Arianna Huffington), journalists (Anderson Cooper), mayors (Cory A. Booker), economists (Jeffrey D. Sachs), biologists (J. Craig Venter) and chefs (Mario Batali).

There is a quality of self-invention to their rise: Mark Zuckerberg went from awkward geek to the subject of a Hollywood hit; Shawn Carter turned into Jay-Z; Martha Kostyra became Martha Stewart, and then Martha Stewart Living. The person evolves into a persona, then a brand, then an empire, with the business imperative of grow or die — a process of expansion and commodification that transgresses boundaries by substituting celebrity for institutions. Instead of robust public education, we have Mr. Zuckerberg’s “rescue” of Newark’s schools. Instead of a vibrant literary culture, we have Oprah’s book club. Instead of investments in public health, we have the Gates Foundation. Celebrities either buy institutions, or “disrupt” them.

The say what you want club

Writer Tom Junod on journalism and regret:

I remember walking into a dinner party after Slate called the Angelina profile the Worst Celebrity Profile of All Time. My arrival was greeted with silence; people did not know what to say. So I brought it up, not just to ease the tension but also because I was, like my editor, perversely proud of being so honored, knowing that you can’t hope to write the Best Celebrity Profile of All Time unless you are absolutely prepared to write the Worst. I’m not in this business because I expect to be admired but rather because I want the freedom to say what I want to say and get some kind of reaction for saying it, so if I can’t enjoy the fact that Slate devoted 2,500 words to the Angelina profile then I’ve lost something of myself that I desperately need to preserve in order to write the way I want to write. The great vice of journalism in the age of social media is not its recklessness but rather its headlong rush for respectability — its self-conscious desire to please an audience of peers rather than an audience of reader — and the first step towards respectability is regret.

Here’s his profile of Jolie and the Slate takedown of it. And you can like this post riiiiight down here (God, please do):
↓↓

David Chang cooks space food for Chris Hadfield

Momofuku’s David Chang cooks up some gourmet space food for celeb astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out so well. Who knew that gravity was so useful? But stay for the best part of the whole thing…right at the end, Hadfield feeds himself asparagus like a fish.

After taking in a four-hour keynote at the Google I/O conference, Mat Honan is transported to a magical place called Google Island.

The soft, froggy voice startled me. I turned around to face an approaching figure. It was Larry Page, naked, save for a pair of eyeglasses.

“Welcome to Google Island. I hope my nudity doesn’t bother you. We’re completely committed to openness here. Search history. Health data. Your genetic blueprint. One way to express this is by removing clothes to foster experimentation. It’s something I learned at Burning Man,” he said. “Here, drink this. You’re slightly dehydrated, and your blood sugar is low. This is a blend of water, electrolytes, and glucose.”

I was taken aback. “How did you…” I began, but he was already answering me before I could finish my question.

“As soon as you hit Google’s territorial waters, you came under our jurisdiction, our terms of service. Our laws-or lack thereof-apply here. By boarding our self-driving boat you granted us the right to all feedback you provide during your journey. This includes the chemical composition of your sweat. Remember when I said at I/O that maybe we should set aside some small part of the world where people could experiment freely and examine the effects? I wasn’t speaking theoretically. This place exists. We built it.”

I was thirsty, so I drank the electrolyte solution down. “This is delicious,” I replied.

“I know,” he replied. “It also has thousands of micro sensors which are now swarming through your blood stream.”

“What… ” I stammered.

“Your prostate is enlarged. Let’s go hangout now. There’s some really great music I’d like to recommend to you.”

You could consider this a follow-up to 2004’s EPIC 2014 by Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson.

Daft Punk, Goat Lucky

Daft Punk + goats who yell like people = not the funniest thing you’ve seen in your life but it hits a certain spot, that’s for sure.

(via @thebakerruns)

All shootings aren’t created equal?

American tragedies don’t occur on the southside of Chicago or the New Orleans 9th Ward. They don’t occur where inner city high school kids shoot into school buses or someone shoots at a 10-year old’s birthday party in New Orleans. Or Gary, Indiana. Or Compton. Or Newport News.

David Dennis asks (and answers) a compelling question: Why isn’t the New Orleans Mother’s Day parade shooting a national tragedy?

The three types of specialist

From a passage of Kurt Vonnegut’s Bluebeard, the three types of specialists needed for the success of any revolution.

Slazinger claims to have learned from history that most people cannot open their minds to new ideas unless a mind-opening team with a peculiar membership goes to work on them. Otherwise, life will go on exactly as before, no matter how painful, unrealistic, unjust, ludicrous, or downright dumb that life may be.

The team must consist of three sorts of specialists, he says. Otherwise the revolution, whether in politics or the arts or the sciences or whatever, is sure to fail.

The rarest of these specialists, he says, is an authentic genius — a person capable of having seemingly good ideas not in general circulation. “A genius working alone,” he says, “is invariably ignored as a lunatic.”

The second sort of specialist is a lot easier to find: a highly intelligent citizen in good standing in his or her community, who understands and admires the fresh ideas of the genius, and who testifies that the genius is far from mad. “A person like this working alone,” says Slazinger, “can only yearn loud for changes, but fail to say what their shapes should be.”

The third sort of specialist is a person who can explain everything, no matter how complicated, to the satisfaction of most people, no matter how stupid or pigheaded they may be. “He will say almost anything in order to be interesting and exciting,” says Slazinger. “Working alone, depending solely on his own shallow ideas, he would be regarded as being as full of shit as a Christmas turkey.”

Slazinger, high as a kite, says that every successful revolution, including Abstract Expressionism, the one I took part in, had that cast of characters at the top — Pollock being the genius in our case, Lenin being the one in Russia’s, Christ being the one in Christianity’s.

He says that if you can’t get a cast like that together, you can forget changing anything in a great big way.

(via @moleitau)

Meme star chart

From XKCD, a chart of the memes that various star systems are just hearing from the Earth’s light-speed communications.

This is the meme version of Contact’s opening credits scene, which is one of my favorites:

Human embryos successfully cloned (sort of)

A group of researchers in Oregon have successfully cloned human embryos. No, really:

The researchers, at Oregon Health and Science University, took skin cells from a baby with a genetic disease and fused them with donated human eggs to create human embryos that were genetically identical to the 8-month-old. They then extracted stem cells from those embryos.

The embryo-creation technique is essentially the same as that used to create Dolly the sheep and the many cloned animals that have followed. In those cases, the embryos were implanted in the wombs of surrogate mothers.

These embryos won’t work for producing clones humans…they are being used to harvest stem cells.

The Oregon researchers, who published a paper on their work in the journal Cell, say their goal is what has been called therapeutic cloning: making embryonic stem cells that are genetically identical to a particular patient.

Embryonic stem cells can turn into any type of cell in the body, like heart cells, muscles or neurons. That raises the hope that one day the cells will be turned into replacement tissue or even replacement organs to treat a host of diseases.

MyReadingMapped makes use of Google Maps & Google Earth to tell stories about history. For instance, here are maps of The Civil War and the American Revolution, a map of Roald Amundsen’s 1910 South Pole expedition, and a map of the wars of Alexander the Great.

List of NYC’s outdoor summer movies

There are a lot of outdoor movies showing in NYC this summer: here’s a listing of the whats, wheres, and whens. Movies include The Goonies, Jaws, Duck Soup, Moonrise Kingdom, Grease, and Blade Runner.

Strongbox

The New Yorker introduces their Strongbox, a way to anonymously send files to editors at the magazine.

Strongbox is a simple thing in its conception: in one sense, it’s just an extension of the mailing address we printed in small type on the inside cover of the first issue of the magazine, in 1925, later joined by a phone number (in 1928-it was BRyant 6300) and e-mail address (in 1998). Readers and sources have long sent documents to the magazine and its reporters, from letters of complaint to classified papers. (Joshua Rothman has written about that history and the magazine’s record of investigative journalism.) But, over the years, it’s also become easier to trace the senders, even when they don’t want to be found. Strongbox addresses that; as it’s set up, even we won’t be able to figure out where files sent to us come from. If anyone asks us, we won’t be able to tell them.

Strongbox is based on DeadDrop, an open source app built by Aaron Swartz.

The audio of a complete broadcast day from radio station WJSV in Washington, D.C. The day in question is September 21, 1939. A partial listing of the schedule:

12:45 This Day Is Ours (soap)
1:00 Sunshine Report (news)
1:15 The Life & Love of Dr. Susan (soap)
1:30 Your Family and Mine (soap)
1:45 News
2:00 President Roosevelt’s Address to Congress (speech)
3:15 The Career of Alice Blair (soap)
3:30 News (news)
3:42 Rhythm & Romance
3:45 Scattergood Baines
4:00 Baseball: Cleveland Indians at Washington Senators (sports)
5:15 The World Dances (music)
5:30 News (news)
5:45 Sports News (news)
6:00 Amos and Andy (comedy)

(via @ftrain)

Updates on previous entries for May 14, 2013*

Angelina Jolie had a preventive double mastectomy orig. from May 14, 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.

Two controls, one bouncing stick, uneven terrain that eventually falls out from under you, get the stick as far to the right as you can. Harder than it sounds. I got 107.04 on, like, my 2,341st try. (Cheat code: you can get pretty far just by holding ‘A’ down.) Also fun: seeing how far to the left you can get…I couldn’t get much past -48.

The Soviets cloned the Space Shuttle

How appropriate that at the height of the Cold War, in which the United States was attempting to spend the Soviet Union into collapse (a task at which they eventually succeeded), the Soviets cloned the buggiest, most inconsistant part of the US space program.

Called Buran (Russian for blizzard or snowstorm), the program was launched by the Kremlin as a reaction to NASA’s space shuttle and an attempt to gain an edge in space against the backdrop of Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” Strategic Defense Initiative. It was also an attempt to fulfill the Soviet Union’s dream of reusable spacecraft and payloads, ideas that predated the American space program.

A massive effort began. Over a million and a half people worked on the multi-billion dollar project, while researchers developed new, elaborate schemes for Russian space exploration. Among other tasks, Russian scientists hoped that the Buran would be able to carry the space station back to Earth, and — the reported reason for its inception — to allow the USSR to carry out military attacks from space.

And from Maciej Ceglowski’s epic takedown of the Shuttle program, this little tidbit:

The Soviet Shuttle, the Buran (snowstorm) was an aerodynamic clone of the American orbiter, but incorporated many original features that had been considered and rejected for the American program, such as all-liquid rocket boosters, jet engines, ejection seats and an unmanned flight capability. You know you’re in trouble when the Russians are adding safety features to your design.

(via @Mike_FTW)

Angelina Jolie had a preventive double mastectomy

In this morning’s NY Times, Angelina Jolie writes about her decision to have a preventive double mastectomy to hopefully ward off cancer.

My mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.

We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

It happens that just last night I read about the BRCA-1 gene in Siddhartha Mukhergee’s excellent biography of cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies. This part is right near the end of the book:

Like cancer prevention, cancer screening will also be reinvigorated by the molecular understanding of cancer. Indeed, it has already been. The discovery of the BRCA genes for breast cancer epitomizes the integration of cancer screening and cancer genetics. In the mid-1990s, building on the prior decade’s advances, researchers isolated two related genes, BRCA-1 and BRCA-2, that vastly increase the risk of developing breast cancer. A woman with an inherited mutation in BRCA-1 has a 50 to 80 percent chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime (the gene also increases the risk for ovarian cancer), about three to five times the normal risk. Today, testing for this gene mutation has been integrated into prevention efforts. Women found positive for a mutation in the two genes are screened more intensively using more sensitive imaging techniques such as breast MRI. Women with BRCA mutations might choose to take the drug tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer, a strategy shown effective in clinical trials. Or, perhaps most radically, women with BRCA mutations might choose a prophylactic mastectomy of both breasts and ovaries before cancer develops, another strategy that dramatically decreases the chances of developing breast cancer.

Radical is an understatement…what a tough and brave decision to make. Again from the book, I liked this woman’s take on it:

An Israeli woman with a BRCA-1 mutation who chose this strategy after developing cancer in one breast told me that at least part of her choice was symbolic. “I am rejecting cancer from my body,” she said. “My breasts had become no more to me than a site for my cancer. They were of no more use to me. They harmed my body, my survival. I went to the surgeon and asked him to remove them.”

The genetic testing company 23andme screens for three common types of mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes:

Five to 10 percent of breast cancers occur in women with a genetic predisposition for the disease, usually due to mutations in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. These mutations greatly increase not only the risk for breast cancer in women, but also the risk for ovarian cancer in women as well as prostate and breast cancer among men. Hundreds of cancer-associated BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations have been documented, but three specific BRCA mutations are worthy of note because they are responsible for a substantial fraction of hereditary breast cancers and ovarian cancers among women with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. The three mutations have also been found in individuals not known to have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, but such cases are rare.

23andme testing kits are only \$99.

Update: Two things. First, and I hope this isn’t actually necessary because you are all intelligent people who can read things and make up your own minds, but let me just state for the official record that you should never never never never NEVER take medical advice, inferred or otherwise, from celebrities or bloggers. Come on, seriously. If you’re concerned, go see a doctor.

Two: I have no idea what the \$99 23andme test covers with regard to BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations beyond what the company states. The most comprehensive test for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations was developed by a company called Myriad Genetics and costs about \$3000. Myriad has patented the genes, a decision that has been sharply criticized and is currently being decided by the Supreme Court.

But many doctors, patients and scientists aren’t happy with the situation.

Some are offended by the very notion that a private company can own a patent based on a gene that was invented not by researchers in a lab but by Mother Nature. Every single cell in every single person has copies of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

Myriad officials say they deserves the patent because they invested a great deal of money to figure out the sequence and develop “synthetic molecules” based on that sequence that can be used to test the variants in a patient.

“We think it is right for a company to be able to own its discoveries, earn back its investment, and make a reasonable profit,” the company wrote on its blog.

I do know the 23andme test covers something related to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations…a friend of a friend did the 23andme test, tested positive for the BRCA1 mutation, and decided to have a preventive double mastectomy after consulting her doctor and further tests. (thx, mark, allison, and ★spavis)

Updates on previous entries for May 13, 2013*

1927 color film of London orig. from May 13, 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.

How Bing Crosby invented Silicon Valley, basically

The headline (How Bing Crosby and the Nazis Helped to Create Silicon Valley) glistens with Mashable-grade hyperbole, but watch as Paul Ford deftly and convincingly connects crooner Bing Crosby with a Nazi invention that helped power the invention of Silicon Valley.

Fast-forward into the mid-nineteen-forties. The Second World War had just ended. Americans were picking over the technological remains of German industry. One of the things they discovered was magnetic tape; the Nazis had been using tape recording to broadcast propaganda across time zones. It was a remarkable invention. Previous sound-recording technologies had used wax cylinders or discs, or delicate wires. But magnetic tape was remarkably fungible: it could be recorded over, cut and spliced together. Plus it sounded better.

Radio shows, however, were supposed to be live. Radio inherited its forms from vaudeville, from variety shows, and it was assumed that the artifice of pre-recording would diminish the audience’s connection, at great risk to the sponsors. Crosby-a master of artifice-didn’t buy that, according to “Bing Crosby: Crooner of the Century,” by Richard Grudens. In 1946 he used his industry power-by then he was on top, one of the world’s richest, most famous and intensely beloved celebrities-to step away from live broadcast by choosing a sponsor and network that would let him use large, wax discs. “Philco Radio Hour” d’ebuted in 1946 on ABC, at thirty-thousand dollars a week. Bob Hope was his first guest.

The proof “from outer space”

In August of 2012, mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki posted a series of four papers online that purported to prove the ABC Conjecture, “a famed, beguilingly simple number theory problem that had stumped mathematicians for decades”. Then, nothing. Or nearly nothing.

The problem, as many mathematicians were discovering when they flocked to Mochizuki’s website, was that the proof was impossible to read. The first paper, entitled “Inter-universal Teichmuller Theory I: Construction of Hodge Theaters,” starts out by stating that the goal is “to establish an arithmetic version of Teichmuller theory for number fields equipped with an elliptic curve…by applying the theory of semi-graphs of anabelioids, Frobenioids, the etale theta function, and log-shells.”

This is not just gibberish to the average layman. It was gibberish to the math community as well.

“Looking at it, you feel a bit like you might be reading a paper from the future, or from outer space,” wrote Ellenberg on his blog.

But seeming jibberish by a genius might just be solid mathematics, but Mochizuki isn’t doing much to help other mathematicians confirm or refute his assertions. Which raises an interesting point: mathematics isn’t all just logic and truth…there’s a social element to it as well.

“You don’t get to say you’ve proved something if you haven’t explained it,” she says. “A proof is a social construct. If the community doesn’t understand it, you haven’t done your job.”

(via @dunstan)

1927 color film of London

Claude Friese-Greene shot these scenes in color around London in 1927.

(thx, rob)

Update: This footage was taken from the British Film Institute’s YouTube channel and it turns out there’s tons of color footage Friese-Greene shot around Britain in the 1920s. Like farm laborers in Devon in 1924, a busking family in Scotland in 1926, the docks in Cardiff in 1926, and much more. (via @magnakai)

Slow motion video of kids trying new foods

Perfect for a slow Friday afternoon. Have a good weekend everyone.

The seven-minute workout

According to science, you can achieve the results of a long run and a visit to weight room by doing “12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall.” And the whole thing only takes seven minutes.

“There’s very good evidence” that high-intensity interval training provides “many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time,” says Chris Jordan, the director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Fla., and co-author of the new article.

Update: The Times has published a more demanding (and rewarding?) version of the 7-minute workout.

Interval programs based on cycling, walking and running come with a downside, however: They improve overall fitness and health but do little to improve muscular strength other than in the legs. By contrast, the New Scientific 7-Minute Workout does more than build the large, obvious muscles that most of us can name-check, as Mr. Verstegen puts it — the quads and glutes, for example; its exercises also engage smaller, often overlooked muscles in the back, abdomen, shoulders and hips that, when neglected and weak, contribute to back, neck and knee pain.

Hamilton Nolan, who notes the Times is “not a fitness organization”, has a few suggestions for better 7-minute workouts.

Do air squats as long as you can until your leg freezes and you topple to the ground. Then get in pushup position and do as many pushups as you can until seven minutes have passed.

The themes and techniques of Steven Spielberg

A nice short analysis by filmmaker Steven Benedict of the themes expressed and techniques used by Steven Spielberg in his films.

Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures

Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures is a documentary released in 2001 about Stanley Kubrick. Narrated by Tom Cruise, the film was directed by his long-time assistant Jan Harlan and features interviews of many actors from Kubrick’s films as well as other noted directors like Spielberg and Scorsese. The entire thing is available on YouTube:

Time lapse satellite images, 1984-2012

Working with the USGS, NASA, and Time, Google has built a viewer for satellite image time lapses. Among the images are those of the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, the retreat of an Alaskan glacier, and the growth of Dubai. You can also refocus the map on any other area you want. More info here and here’s the extensive Time feature.

Life in space

The quick progress of the US space program in the 1960s and 70s and the science fiction of the 70s and 80s seemed to point towards humans living permanently in space. What happened?

Ironically, our actual experiments in space living have largely reinforced this stark perspective. Real life in space is often cramped, unpleasant and even pointless. Some years back, I visited Star City near Moscow, the training centre for cosmonauts since Gagarin, where I had a chance to clamber inside a full-scale training mock-up of the Mir space station. The experience was more like residing inside a computer terminal than one of O’Neill’s cylindrical islands, so proximate and abundant were tubes, wires, levers, buttons and unnameable gadgets.

More disorienting was the placement of controls and conveniences: because space was limited, these were distributed throughout the station without reference to Earthly gravity, thus making use of ‘ceilings’ as sleeping quarters, walls for toilet cubicles and virtually any other surface for any other activity. One could get used to such things (and you’d have to be a true cynic to tire of the view outside your window). But it’s a far, far cry from strolling the wide corridors of the Starship Enterprise.

They promised us life in space, flying cars, and jetpacks but all we got were pocket-sized rectangles containing all human knowledge. FAIL.

Protected bike lanes = good for business

Some interesting data about how protected bike lanes in NYC dramatically increased retail sales of local businesses.

A new study from the New York Department of Transportation shows that streets that safely accommodate bicycle and pedestrian travel are especially good at boosting small businesses, even in a recession.

NYC DOT found that protected bikeways had a significant positive impact on local business strength. After the construction of a protected bicycle lane on 9th Avenue, local businesses saw a 49% increase in retail sales. In comparison, local businesses throughout Manhattan only saw a 3% increase in retail sales.

And that’s just one of the many tidbits from a NYC DOT report released last November (right around the time of Hurricane Sandy, which is probably why no one noticed at the time); read the whole report here:

Among them: “retail sales increased a whopping 172% after the city converted an underused parking area in Brooklyn into a pedestrian plaza”, and traffic calming in the Bronx decreased speeding by ~30% and pedestrian crashes by 67%. (via @lhl)

GeoGuessr

This is like CSI for geography dorks: you’re plopped into a random location on Google Street View and you have to guess where in the world you are. So much fun…you get to say “wait, zoom in, enhance, whoa, back up” to yourself while playing. My top score is 14103…what’d you get? p.s. Using Google in another tab is cheating! (thx, nick)

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s a bolide!

Since 861 AD, almost 35,000 meteorites were recorded hitting the Earth but only 1,045 were actually seen falling. This animated infographic is a good way to visualize the data. Bolides is the perfect domain name. (via @DavidGrann)

This is amazing: Alan Taylor rounds up some homemade inventions from China, including DIY submarines, giant motorcycles, home-built robots, and can’t-possibly-fly airplanes. I can’t pick a favorite, but this homemade welding mask is outstanding:

Ok, and this giant motorcycle:

Oh, and this rickshaw-pulling robot:

And, and, and… (via @faketv)

Updates on previous entries for May 8, 2013*

Is this a photo of Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Jesse James? orig. from May 08, 2013
Under pressure orig. from May 08, 2013
Steven Soderbergh: The state of cinema orig. from May 07, 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.

Riding an icebreaker

Marine scientist Cassandra Brooks narrates a time lapse video of her two-month journey on an Antarctic icebreaker. High points: the ice ramming at 2:35 and the fishing penguins at the end.

Brooks blogged her journey for National Geographic. If you want to fall down the rabbit hole of how icebreakers are designed and how they differ from usual ships, Wikipedia is a good place to start.

For a ship to be considered an icebreaker, it requires three traits most normal ships lack: a strengthened hull, an ice-clearing shape, and the power to push through sea ice.

Is this a photo of Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Jesse James?

This is purported to be a photo of (from l to r) Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Jesse James, and Charlie Bowdre.

The story goes that the photo was taken in 1879 in Las Vegas, New Mexico, at a time when each of the men may have been in town. It’s entirely plausible that these men all met and posed for a photo, but as there doesn’t appear to be any provenance for particular photo, we’re left with trying to ID the long-dead from the very few authenticated photos that exist. So…maybe? But probably not? (via if charlie parker were a gunslinger…)

Update: Ah, here’s an even better photo that’s almost certainly mislabeled, purportedly featuring Wyatt Erp, Teddy Roosevelt, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Butch Cassidy, and the Sundance Kid:

Contrast both of these photos with this (very real and accurately labeled) group photo of participants at the 1927 Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons:

Among those pictured are Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Neils Bohr, Paul Dirac, Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Arthur Compton, and Hendrik Lorentz. (thx, mike)

Under pressure

Damn! Watch this railroad tanker car instantly implode:

I couldn’t find too much information on the source of this clip, but it appears to be part of a safety training video on the perils of improperly steam cleaning tanker cars. In the clip, the tanker car is filled with steam and the safety valves are disabled. The steam cools, then condenses, the pressure inside drops, and the pressure difference is big enough to crumple that huge railcar like a napkin.

An explanation of the effect can be found here. (thx, will)

US gun homicide rate down 49% over last 20 years

The national rates of gun violence and homicide in the US have fallen significantly in past 20 years, but most people are unaware. From a recently released Pew Research report:

Nearly all the decline in the firearm homicide rate took place in the 1990s; the downward trend stopped in 2001 and resumed slowly in 2007. The victimization rate for other gun crimes plunged in the 1990s, then declined more slowly from 2000 to 2008. The rate appears to be higher in 2011 compared with 2008, but the increase is not statistically significant. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall also dropped in the 1990s before declining more slowly from 2000 to 2010, then ticked up in 2011.

Despite national attention to the issue of firearm violence, most Americans are unaware that gun crime is lower today than it was two decades ago. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, today 56% of Americans believe gun crime is higher than 20 years ago and only 12% think it is lower.

The whys behind the drop in gun violence (and in crime in general) are more difficult to come by:

There is consensus that demographics played some role: The outsized post-World War II baby boom, which produced a large number of people in the high-crime ages of 15 to 20 in the 1960s and 1970s, helped drive crime up in those years.

A review by the National Academy of Sciences of factors driving recent crime trends (Blumstein and Rosenfeld, 2008) cited a decline in rates in the early 1980s as the young boomers got older, then a flare-up by mid-decade in conjunction with a rising street market for crack cocaine, especially in big cities. It noted recruitment of a younger cohort of drug seller with greater willingness to use guns. By the early 1990s, crack markets withered in part because of lessened demand, and the vibrant national economy made it easier for even low-skilled young people to find jobs rather than get involved in crime.

At the same time, a rising number of people ages 30 and older were incarcerated, due in part to stricter laws, which helped restrain violence among this age group. It is less clear, researchers say, that innovative policing strategies and police crackdowns on use of guns by younger adults played a significant role in reducing crime.

(via hacker news)

How to prevent protests in China

Taking a page from Orwell, officials in Chengdu, China endeavored to prevent recent protests by moving the weekend and scheduling security exercises at the same time and place as the scheduled protest.

As text messages circulated calling for another protest, authorities decided to fiddle with the calendar: For many, Saturday became a workday, and the day of rest was moved to Monday, May 6. So as Saturday dawned, schoolchildren straggled reluctantly back to class, and employees at government-run work units discovered the day was taken up by urgent meetings.

But the more radical steps involved brutalizing the addicts themselves. Saakashvili mandated as aggressive a drug policy as any country has attempted since Mao Zedong threatened to execute all Chinese opium fiends and “cured” about five million of them overnight. If you think New York’s stop-and-frisk rule is invasive, try Georgia’s: Cops can stop anyone at any time for no reason and force him to urinate into a cup. Fifty-three thousand people were stopped on the street in 2007, or about one in 20 of the young men in Georgia. About a third of those passed dirty urine; first-offenders were levied a fine of several hundred dollars. One more dirty test amounted to a criminal offense.

“There was such an unprecedented drug war,” Otiashvili says. “What was going on-and still goes on-in Georgia doesn’t happen anywhere. No country puts people in the prison for a positive urine test.”

(via @tylercowen)

Sandra Day O’Connor’s Bush vs. Gore mistake

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor now admits that taking on the Bush vs Gore case in 2000 was probably a mistake.

“It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue,” O’Connor said during a talk with the Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Board on Friday. “Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’”

The case, she said, “stirred up the public” and “gave the court a less than perfect reputation.”

“Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision,” she said. “It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn’t done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day.”

[Hair tearing-out noise]

Steven Soderbergh: The state of cinema

At the recent San Francisco Internation Film Festival, Steven Soderbergh gave a keynote about the current state of cinema. It is worth reading if you enjoy movies or are engaged in any sort of creative work.

But before we talk about movies we should talk about art in general, if that’s possible. Given all the incredible suffering in the world I wonder, what is art for, really? If the collected works of Shakespeare can’t prevent genocide then really, what is it for? Shouldn’t we be spending the time and resources alleviating suffering and helping other people instead of going to the movies and plays and art installations? When we did Ocean’s Thirteen the casino set used \$60,000 of electricity every week. How do you justify that? Do you justify that by saying, the people who could’ve had that electricity are going to watch the movie for two hours and be entertained - except they probably can’t, because they don’t have any electricity, because we used it. Then I think, what about all the resources spent on all the pieces of entertainment? What about the carbon footprint of getting me here? Then I think, why are you even thinking that way and worrying about how many miles per gallon my car gets, when we have NASCAR, and monster truck pulls on TV? So what I finally decided was, art is simply inevitable. It was on the wall of a cave in France 30,000 years ago, and it’s because we are a species that’s driven by narrative. Art is storytelling, and we need to tell stories to pass along ideas and information, and to try and make sense out of all this chaos. And sometimes when you get a really good artist and a compelling story, you can almost achieve that thing that’s impossible which is entering the consciousness of another human being - literally seeing the world the way they see it. Then, if you have a really good piece of art and a really good artist, you are altered in some way, and so the experience is transformative and in the minute you’re experiencing that piece of art, you’re not alone. You’re connected to the arts. So I feel like that can’t be too bad.

Update: If you prefer to watch the speech, have at it:

(via @MikeShefferNJ)

Debunking criticism of NYC’s bike-share program

NYC is set to introduce their bike-share program at the end of the month. I think it’s a great idea and am interested to follow how it does in practice. Many have objected to the share program even before it starts (reminding me of the smoking ban protests, ultimately much ado about nothing) but Sommer Mathis does an admirable job heading them off.

Claim #3: The stations are too ugly for historic neighborhoods, and Citibank’s sponsorship is too crassly commercial.

These are just some of the claims behind a series of lawsuits that are already in the works, brought by specific building owners who argue that docking stations don’t belong next to their beautiful buildings. They’re also worried that delivery truck access may be impeded by the presence of some stations. The lawsuits are being filed within the context of additional complaints that neighbors feel they weren’t consulted on the location of some stations, despite the city’s department of transportation having held nearly 400 meetings on station locations with community boards and other neighborhood groups. This is a classic NIMBY reaction, and by far the easiest one the city could have predicted. The idea that bike-share infrastructure is somehow uglier or more commercial than any other element of New York’s streetscape is easy enough to debunk. But the truth is, one of the best things about the design of the Alta bike-share stations is how easy they are to install and, if need be, later remove. It’s entirely possible that small problems with the specific locations of some stations will become apparent after the program launches, and they’ll need to be moved around the corner or across the street to better serve users. This has happened here in Washington, D.C., and it’ll happen for sure in New York. But that’s all part of the bike-share roll-out process. If there’s a legitimate problem with the location of a single station, that can actually be fixed within in a matter of hours or at worst, a day or two.

NYC’s broken food cart system

Adam Davidson on the asinine and broken food truck/cart system in NYC. This short paragraph not only explains what’s wrong with the food cart biz in NYC but also with American politics in general:

Economically speaking, the problem is a standard one, known as the J-curve, which represents a downslope on a graph followed by a steep rise. Some sensible changes to the current food-vendor system may have long-term benefits for everyone, but the immediate impact could spell short-term losses for those who now profit from the system. A small group of New Yorkers — particularly owners of commissaries and physical restaurants — are highly motivated to lobby politicians not to change things. And most of the potential beneficiaries don’t realize they’re missing out. Many of the rest of us would love to have more varied food trucks, but we don’t care enough to pressure the City Council.

(via @tylercowen)

The NY Times’ dumb anti-profanity policy

PepsiCo is dropping Lil Wayne as a Mountain Dew spokesman because of “vulgar lyrics” referring to Emmett Till after the Till family put pressure on the beverage giant. What lyrics? Because of its ridiculous policy against including bad words in such an august publication, the NY Times doesn’t even say what the lyrics are! Which makes the entire article worthless from a journalistic perspective. The lyrics are the entire story…without them, it’s just a bunch of press release bullshit. FYI, because we are all adults here (and your kids already know the lyrics), here are the lyrics in question courtesy of Rap Genius:

Pop a lot of pain pills
Bout to put rims on my skateboard wheels
Beat that pussy up like Emmett Till
Yeah….
Two cell phones ringin’ at the same time
That’s your ho, callin’ from two different phones
Tell that bitch “leave me the fuck alone!”
See, you fuck her wrong, and I fuck her long
I got a love-hate relationship with Molly
I’d rather pop an ollie, and my dick is a trolly
Boy, I’ll bury you like Halle

How can people even discuss the artistic merit and/or offensiveness of the lyrics if you can’t print them? The Times should either simply publish whatever it is they are talking about or not run the story at all. (via @bdeskin, who has been giving the Times shit about their profanity policy on Twitter)

How historical figures might look today

In this series of illustrations created for a British TV show, historical figures are depicted as they might look today. Shakespeare becomes a Williamsburg hipster, Henry VIII is Richard Branson-esque, and Elizabeth I is a cross between Tina Brown and Tilda Swinton.

(via @DavidGrann)

Orchid mantis

An amazing bit of camouflage from the orchid mantis:

Seeing it move around is eerie. See also the bee orchid. (via @faketv)

Heather Dewey-Hagborg collects hair, chewed gum, and smoked cigarettes, pulls the DNA out of them, and uses the genetic information to produce models of what the people who used those items might have looked like.

From this sequence, Dewey-Hagborg gathers information about the person’s ancestry, gender, eye color, propensity to be overweight and other traits related to facial morphology, such as the space between one’s eyes. “I have a list of about 40 or 50 different traits that I have either successfully analyzed or I am in the process of working on right now,” she says.

Dewey-Hagborg then enters these parameters into a computer program to create a 3D model of the person’s face.” Ancestry gives you most of the generic picture of what someone is going to tend to look like. Then, the other traits point towards modifications on that kind of generic portrait,” she explains. The artist ultimately sends a file of the 3D model to a 3D printer on the campus of her alma mater, New York University, so that it can be transformed into sculpture.

There are lots of reviews of Google Glass out there, but my favorite is Luke Wroblewski’s concise and measured take.

My own audio: Glass has a bone transducer that amplifies audio only you can hear. In practice, it’s imperfect. But the potential is clear.

Social interactions: I forced myself to wear Glass even if I felt uneasy about it, which was in a lot of places. I was downright nervous to have them on in airport security and the casino floor. But even when ordering a coffee at Starbucks, I felt like I was doing something wrong.

Peregrine Falcon killing a duck in mid-air

The Peregrine Falcon is the world’s fastest animal1; it can reach speeds of more than 240 mph during dives. It uses that speed to kill other birds in mid-air. Here’s a video of a Peregrine diving and killing a duck, shot with a camera mounted on the falcon’s back.

It’s cool watching her fly around, but the exciting part starts right around 2:45. The acceleration is incredible. The same bird does a longer and faster dive in this video (at ~0:55):

Here’s what the Peregrine’s dive looks like from an observer’s point-of-view:

Our family had a lively discussion about Peregrine Falcons around the dinner table a couple of weeks ago…I can’t wait to show the kids these videos when I get home tonight. (via @DavidGrann)

[1] Although Joseph Kittinger and Felix Baumgartner might quibble with that.

Updates on previous entries for May 3, 2013*

All of Jerry’s best girls orig. from May 03, 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.

Extreme settlements

A list of the northernmost, southernmost, easternmost and westernmost cities/towns/villages in all 50 US states.

Vermont — Northernmost: Derby Line. Southernmost: Vernon (specifically South Vernon area). Easternmost: Beecher Falls. Westernmost: Chimney Point.

California — Northernmost: Tulelake (note: Fairport is more northerly but is considered a “former settlement”) Southernmost: San Diego (San Ysidro District). Easternmost: Parker Dam. Westernmost: Ferndale.

New York — Northernmost: Rouses Point. Southernmost: Staten Island-New York City (Tottenville Neighborhood) Easternmost: Montauk. Westernmost: Findley Lake.

(via @jessamyn)

All of Jerry’s best girls

Photographer Richard Prince took photographs of the 57 girlfriends Jerry Seinfeld had on the show and turned it in to the below composite.

Update: Max points out I may have misread the article and these 57 girlfriends are not necessarily Jerry’s only. Supporting this is Sarah Silverman’s inclusion in the composite even though she’s was a love interest of Kramer’s.

Tender moments caught on Russian dash cams

Many Russian cars are outfitted with dashboard cameras to protect drivers against insurance fraud. These cameras have caught all sorts of crazy happenings — car accidents, low-flying jets, insurance scam attempts, meteors, and plane crashes
— leading many to believe that Russia is a place where crazy shit pretty much happens constantly.

But Russia’s dash cams have also captured many more tender moments — people hopping out of their cars to help old ladies across the street, looking after little kids who wandered into the street, pushing cars out of snowbanks, etc.

I love the hell out of this video. Russia, you’re alright. (via devour)

Seinfeld and NYC

A list of the most New York episodes of Seinfeld.

4. “The Rye” (Season 7, Episode 11)
This episode’s titular breadstuff-which Jerry steals from an old lady who refuses to sell it to him, even for 50 bucks-supposedly comes from Schnitzer’s, a great New York bakery name if we’ve ever heard one. The real place was called Royale Kosher Bake Shop. Unfortunately, it’s now closed. A Jenny Craig branch stands in its place at 237 W. 72nd St. Also in this episode: Kramer leads Beef-a-Reno-fueled hansom cab rides through Central Park. His skills as a tour guide are questionable, though, as his historical “facts” are impressively inaccurate. For example, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux-not former New York Yankee Joe Pepitone-designed the park.

Already good, Seinfeld got 100 times better when I moved to NYC and got 10 more of the jokes per episode.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 20 things I wish I’d known

Basketball Hall of Famer and “secret nerd” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shares a list of 20 things he wish he’d know when he was 30 years old.

18. Watch more TV. Yeah, you heard right, Little Kareem. It’s great that you always have your nose in history books. That’s made you more knowledgeable about your past and it has put the present in context. But pop culture is history in the making and watching some of the popular shows of each era reveals a lot about the average person, while history books often dwell on the powerful people.

The kids from Kids: where are they now?

Caroline Rothstein on how Kids came about and what happened to the young actors who starred in the film.

Two decades after a low-budget film turned Washington Square skaters into international celebrities, the kids from Kids struggle with lost lives, distant friendships, and the fine art of growing up.

Throwed rolls

In Lambert’s Cafe in Sikeston, MO, they just throw your bread to you from across the restaurant.

Grandma and Grandpa Buscemi

so my parents were gone for 2 days and I switched most of our family photos with pictures of steve buscemi

The one hanging in the fridge clinches it.

An uncensored oral history of The Hangover

The Hangover Part III is out later in the month and the Hollywood Reporter has an oral history of the making of the first two movies.

HELMS: I was always the nervous Nelly about those jokes. Zach was going to get arrested for the baby thing.

PHILLIPS: Jerking the baby off at Caesars.

GALIFIANAKIS: I did it first with the doll that was just sitting there while we were setting up the shot. I showed Todd, and he goes, “Let’s go ask the parents if we can do that.” (Laughter.) I’m like, “No.”

PHILLIPS: I waited for the [baby’s] mom to go upstairs because the mom was a little bit more not into stuff like that. I go to the dad: “It would be funny if Zach pretends to do this. Would you have a problem with that?” And he literally goes: “[My wife is] going to be gone for a half-hour. Can you do it in the next half-hour?”

COOPER: “Can you jerk my kid off in a half-hour?” (Laughter.)

The Jewish prisoner

In a piece published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, David Arenberg describes his experience as one of the very few Jews in the state prison in which he’s currently incarcerated.

I am always the last person to eat. It’s part of a compromise I worked out with the skinheads who run the western state prison complex where I am incarcerated. Under this compromise, I’m allowed to sit at the whites’ tables, but only after the “heads,” and then the “woods,” and then the “lames” have eaten. I am lower on the totem pole than all of them, the untouchable. I should feel lucky I’m allowed to eat at the whites’ tables at all.

Not that there’s anywhere else I could eat. The prison yard is broken down into five distinct racial categories and segregation is strictly enforced. There are the “woods” (short for peckerwoods) that encompass the whites, the “kinfolk” (blacks), the “Raza” (American-born people of Mexican descent), the “paisas” (Mexico-born Mexicans), and the “chiefs” (American Indians). Under the strict rules that govern interracial relations, different races are allowed to play on the same sports teams but not play individual games (e.g., chess) together; they may be in each others’ cubicles together if the situation warrants but not sit on each others’ beds or watch each others’ televisions. They may go to the same church services but not pray together. But if you accidentally break one of these rules, the consequences are usually pretty mild: you might get a talking to by one of the heads (who, of course, claims exemption from this rule himself), or at worst, a “chin check.”

Eating with another race, however, is a different story. It is an inviolate rule that different races may not break bread together under any circumstances. Violating this rule leads to harsh consequences. If you eat at the same table as another race, you’ll get beaten down. If you eat from the same tray as another race, you’ll be put in the hospital. And if you eat from the same food item as another race, that is, after another race has already taken a bite of it, you can get killed. This is one area where even the heads don’t have any play.

Updates on previous entries for May 1, 2013*

The Mixtape Volume Seven from The Hood Internet orig. from Apr 30, 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 design of cattle brands

Before personal brands were something to be seared into the minds of a rabid fanbase, brands were symbols that were literally burned into the flesh of livestock to keep track of ownership. The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association has a guide to designing your own cattle brand.

SiSSYFiGHT 2000 returns

If you’re of a certain internet age, from the time when idealistic nerds and not bizdev bros ruled the roost, you probably remember SiSSYFiGHT 2000. (If not, this Salon review of the game from 2000 may lift the fog.) The original creators of the game are bringing it back, open sourced, HTML5, and the whole thing. Funds are being raised on Kickstarter as we speak.

In the mystical years of the late 90s, a little game called SiSSYFiGHT 2000 was born on the web. Hundreds of thousands of players fought as bratty little girls, teasing and tattling and licking their lollipops on the playground. An amazing community sprang up around the game, in which players became fan artists and storytellers, reporters and celebrities, criminals and vigilantes.

There was something special about SiSSYFiGHT. It was one of the first multiplayer games with real-time chat in a browser. It was a social game with actual social gameplay, long before “social games” on Facebook existed. Its stylishly primitive visual look preceded the rise of big-pixel indie games by almost a decade.

Fantastic. (via @jomc)

Non-Newtonian noodles

You’ve heard of oobleck, yeah? It’s a non-Newtonian fluid made of corn starch and water that doesn’t act like a normal fluid. Like, for instance, you can run on top of it:

Cooking Issues ran across a video of a cook preparing noodles made from a non-Newtonian batter. Watch as the batter solidifies when he slaps more batter into the sieve and then drains out of the bottom.

Love the technique here. See also the noodle-making robot, power of noodles, Korean honey candy, and, my favorite, flatbread tossing:

(via @Ianmurren)

Historical maps overlaid on Google Maps

View the maps from the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection overlaid on their locations on Google Maps.

A great way to browse an incredible collection of maps. See also Google Earth Time Machine. (via @H_FJ)

Perpetual motion: the “time crystals” edition

Normally when someone says they’ve thought up a theoretically possible perpetual motion scheme, you roll your eyes and pass the dutchie to the left hand side. But when that someone is a Nobel laureate in physics, is not generally off his rocker, and has published his idea in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal, people pay attention. Frank Wilczek believes he’s invented something called time crystals.

In February 2012, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek decided to go public with a strange and, he worried, somewhat embarrassing idea. Impossible as it seemed, Wilczek had developed an apparent proof of “time crystals” — physical structures that move in a repeating pattern, like minute hands rounding clocks, without expending energy or ever winding down. Unlike clocks or any other known objects, time crystals derive their movement not from stored energy but from a break in the symmetry of time, enabling a special form of perpetual motion.

“Most research in physics is continuations of things that have gone before,” said Wilczek, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This, he said, was “kind of outside the box.”

An effort to prove or disprove Wilczek’s theory is underway…let’s hope it holds up to scientific scrutiny better than Time Cube. (via digg)

Updates on previous entries for Apr 30, 2013*

The Mixtape Volume Seven from The Hood Internet orig. from Apr 30, 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.