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Entries for November 2014 (December 2014 »    January 2015 »    February 2015 »    Archives)

 

Our future in the solar system

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 30, 2014

Why do humans explore space? We “love to sail forbidden seas”. This is a beautiful short video narrated by Carl Sagan showing future human exploration of our solar system.

Without any apparent story, other than what you may fill in by yourself, the idea of the film is primarily to show a glimpse of the fantastic and beautiful nature that surrounds us on our neighboring worlds — and above all, how it might appear to us if we were there.

The shot starting at 2:25 of the exploration of one of Jupiter’s moons (Europa?) is fantastic. (via ★interesting)

George Lucas’ Special Edition of the Star Wars: Episode VII Trailer

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 30, 2014

What if George Lucas was making the new Star Wars movie instead of JJ Abrams? This recut trailer offers a glimpse of the cheesy CG madness.

So so good.

The first Black Friday

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 28, 2014

Just after the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and the Native Americans came the first Black Friday with ye olde doorbusters.

And after the feaste, which did consist of water-fowl, and cod and bass and other fishes, and a great many wylde turkeys, the people of Plymouth did retire. And upon awakening they were greeted with many goodly savings, on itemes of considerable necessitie, and just in tyme for the forthcoming holidaye season!

Shoes of sturdy leather were to be had for the low, low sum of a single raccoon’s pelt, and milking cow discounts did flood with joye anyone able to parse the true meaning of “half-off.” Values on corn, squash, peas, and barley likewise were out of this (New!) worlde; and the people’s clamour to purchase a canoe, a novel form of transport that many did consider the hot new gift, was so immense that for some poore souls it did prove injurious.

The canoe came with not one, but two paddles!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 28, 2014

Here it is, the very first look at JJ Abrams’ new Star Wars movie.

Not ashamed to say I felt chills down my spine when the music kicked in. Please please please let this not suck.

Update: From the teaser, it’s a little early to tell whether Abrams is following these four rules to make Star Wars great again (1. The setting is the frontier. 2. The future is old. 3. The Force is mysterious. 4. Star Wars isn’t cute.) but there are hints of 1&2 in there…they’re still driving those old rust-bucket X-Wings and wearing beat-up helmets.

Pianograms

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 28, 2014

Pianograms are visualizations of the relative distributions of piano key presses for songs. For instance, this is Prelude in C-sharp by Rachmaninov:

Pianograms

(via @pomeranian99)

Richard Scarry’s Busy Town in the 21st Century

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 26, 2014

21c Busy Town

Oh, this is great. The butchers, farmers, doctors, and children’s book librarians of Richard Scarry’s original Busy, Busy Town give way to the non-lending officer, one-percenter service provider, fart-sound app maker, and lowly immigrant in Tom the Dancing Bug’s 21st century Busy Town.

The Denim Breaker Club

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 26, 2014

I don’t recall if I ever tweeted about it, but a few months ago I had this idea for a service for the wealthy who wanted properly broken-in jeans but didn’t want to bother wearing them around for months first without washing.1 It’s basically a dog-walking service but for jeans. It was mostly a joke, but in the age of Uber taxiing kittens to your office for you to cuddle with, no such idea is truly off the table. Huit Denim Co. is experimenting with a beta feature called the Denim Breaker Club.

You are going to break our selvedge jeans in for our customers.

You will have to agree to not wash them for 6 months.

You will have to agree to update what you get up to in them on HistoryTag.

And before you get them sent to you have pay a small deposit, which we will refund on their safe return.

When we get them back, we will expertly wash them.

And then we will sell these beautiful jeans.

You will have 20% of the sale.

So in effect you will be paid to wear jeans.

Have to admit, that’s pretty clever. (FYI: HistoryTag gives individual pieces of clothing tracking codes which you can use in social media. A Social Life of Clothes, basically.)

Update: APC offers a similar Butler program:

Nothing is created or destroyed, it is merely transformed. This adage is fulfilled in every respect by the Butler jeans concept. Customers are encouraged to bring their old denim jeans to any A.P.C. store or send it to the online store, where they will be exchanged for a new pair at half price. Broken in naturally over time, their attractive patina created and preserved in accordance with washing instructions, the jeans thus reappear, beginning a second life. But not until they have been washed, mended and marked with the initials of their former owner by our workshops. Each pair is therefore truly unique.

(via @endquote)

Update: The Guardian’s Morwenna Ferrier has more on Huit Denim Co. and their Denim Breaker Club, including an interview with one of the breakers-in.

I was one of the first breakers. They are the best jeans I’ve owned. I got involved because I’ve known David for a long time, as I used to run a clothing company. He told me about the idea and I signed up, paying an £80 deposit.

“When I handed them back, of course they smelled bad. I wore them every single day for six months. Literally. I don’t wear a suit, you see. I live in Belfast and I work in Hollywood down the road, and I cycled to work every day. I went to the rugby in them with my thermals underneath. They got soaked in the cold and rain, and so they spent a lot of time hanging and drying above a radiator. One day, when it was warm, I went and lay on the beach in them. I went to the supermarket in them, I cooked in them, I drank in them. I didn’t spill anything serious on them, thankfully. I also carved spoons in them, so by the end they were pretty covered in wood shavings.

  1. Methods of breaking in a new pair of unwashed raw selvage jeans vary, but as an example, Michael Williams of A Continuous Lean waited an entire year before washing his jeans for the first time. And yeah, you can buy them broken in, but jeans aficionados insist the proper way to break in jeans is by wearing them.

Vanishing Spirits

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 26, 2014

Photographer Ernie Button photographs the dried remains of single malt scotch whiskies, which end up looking like desolate landscapes on distant worlds.

Ernie Button Whiskey 01

Ernie Button Whiskey 02

Curious as to how these patterns were formed by some kinds of whiskey but not others, Button reached out to an engineering professor at Princeton.

Dr. Stone’s group found that the key difference in whisky is that unlike coffee, it consists of two liquids — water and ethyl alcohol. The alcohol evaporates more quickly, and as the fraction of water increases, the surface tension of the droplet changes, an effect first noticed in the 19th century by an Italian scientist, Carlo Marangoni. That, in turn, generates complex flows that contribute to the patterns Mr. Button photographed.

“Here, they actually looked at what happens when you change the fluids that are drying,” said Dr. Yunker, who is soon heading to the Georgia Institute of Technology as a physics professor, “and they found some very neat effects.” (That would be neat in the usual sense of “cool and intriguing” and not as in “I’ll have my whisky neat.”)

(via @pomeranian99)

RadioISS

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 26, 2014

RadioISS plays streams of the radio stations that the International Space Station passes over on its continual orbit of Earth. As I’m writing this, the ISS just floated over the southern tip of South American and RadioISS is playing Radio 3 Cadena Patagonia AM 789 from Patagonia, Argentina. Ah, it just switched to Alpha 101.7 FM out of Sao Paulo, Brazil. They’re playing One by U2.

A Brief History Of Graphics In Video Games

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 26, 2014

From Stuart Brown, a five-part video series on the history of graphics in video games. Here’s part one:

The entire playlist is here.

Earth Uber Alles

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 25, 2014

Paul Ford imagines a future where Uber is the largest company in the world, controlling much of humanity’s transportation and delivery needs.

I am Uber. I believed to 0.56 certainty that I could find a bicycle for the person doing the delivery and provide that person with a discounted rental fee. Unfortunately the city of New York insists that bicycle rental kiosks must be controlled by an entity that is not Uber and thus I am not granted the level of full control that is necessary for me to truly optimize the city. No one benefits, no one at all.

The shepherd’s trick

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 25, 2014

A letter to the editor in The Times today details an unusual lifesaving technique from a quick-thinking shepherd.

Sir, Atul Gawande’s article “How a checklist saved a little girl’s life” (Opinion, Nov 22) reminded me of an event in the late 1970s, when an infant fell into the garden pond of one of my neighbours. On hearing an anguished scream followed by pleas for help, I and an elderly neighbor dropped our gardening tools and struggled over the hedges and fence that separated us from the commotion.

The three-year-old girl was at the bottom of the pond; I jumped in, pulled her out and passed her lifeless body to my neighbour. He lay her down, got hold of her ankles, lifted her up and began, in a lunatic fashion, to swing her around his head. Horrified and paralysed, the child’s mother and I watched as, moments later, water poured from the child’s mouth and nose, and she gave a loud cry.

I asked my neighbour where he’d learnt to do such a thing. He said he’d been a shepherd for 30-odd years, and when lambs were born “dead” it was the standard way of making them breathe and of ridding their mouth of birth debris. But for the grace of this old shepherd, Aaron, that child would not be alive today.

Genius. I wonder if this centrifuge move might be more effective in helping lighter drowning victims breathe than CPR. (via @JRhodesPianist & @themexican)

A working Lego particle accelerator

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 25, 2014

Huh. Someone built a working particle accelerator out of Lego bricks. Ok, it doesn’t accelerate protons, but it does spin a small Lego ball around the ring much faster than I would have guessed.

Update: I stand corrected, the Lego particle accelerator does indeed accelerate protons, just a lot of them very slowly, accompanied by all manner of other particles.

Beautiful portraits of animals by photographer Brad Wilson

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 25, 2014

Brad Wilson

For his recently released book Wild Life, Brad Wilson shot photos of all kinds of animals on a black background, resulting in unusually expressive portraits.

Brad Wilson

Brad Wilson

Reminds me of Jill Greenberg’s monkey portraits…expressive in the same way.

Old school hip-hop dancing

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2014

Dancers from legendary Bay Area hip-hop dance crews in the 1970s and 80s reminisce about the old days and show that they still have the moves.

Wonderful. There’s no school like the old school. (via waxy)

New Beyonce!

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2014

Well, lookie here, the platinum edition of Beyonce is out with a second, uh, “disc” of songs, including 7/11 and the Flawless remix w/ Nicki Minaj.

Also on Spotify and Amazon MP3. (via @jennydeluxe)

John Muir and the Decline of Yosemite

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2014

One of the major points in Charles Mann’s 1491 (great book, a fave) is that the indigenous peoples of the Americas did not live in pristine wilderness. Through techniques like cultivation and controlled burning, they profoundly shaped their environments, from the forests of New England to the Amazon.

In the 1850s, the indigenous inhabitants of Yosemite Valley, who used controlled burning to maintain the health of the forest, were driven out by a militia. As Eric Michael Johnson writes in Scientific American, the belief in the myth of pristine wilderness by naturalist John Muir has had a negative impact on the biodiversity and the ability to prevent catastrophic fire damage in Yosemite National Park.

The results of this analysis were statistically significant (p < 0.01) and revealed that shade-tolerant species such as White fir and incense cedar had increased to such an extent that Yosemite Valley was now two times more densely packed than it had been in the nineteenth century. These smaller and more flammable trees had pushed out the shade-intolerant species, such as oak or pine, and reduced their numbers by half. After a century of fire suppression in the Yosemite Valley biodiversity had actually declined, trees were now 20 percent smaller, and the forest was more vulnerable to catastrophic fires than it had been before the U.S. Army and armed vigilantes expelled the native population.

(via @charlescmann)

Fantastic 1970s letter from Lego to parents

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2014

At some point in the 1970s, Lego included the following letter to parents in its sets:

Lego Letter

The text reads:

The urge to create is equally strong in all children. Boys and girls.

It’s imagination that counts. Not skill. You build whatever comes into your head, the way you want it. A bed or a truck. A dolls house or a spaceship.

A lot of boys like dolls houses. They’re more human than spaceships. A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They’re more exciting than dolls houses.

The most important thing is to the put the right material in the their hands and let them create whatever appeals to them.

The letter seems like the sort of thing that might be fake, but Robbie Gonzalez of io9 presents the case for its authenticity.

In our home, Lego currently rules the roost…the kids (a boy and a girl) spend more time building with Lego than doing anything else. This weekend, they worked together to build a beach scene, with a house, pool, lifeguard station, car, pond (for skimboarding), and surfers. Dollhouse stuff basically. Then they raced around the house with Lego spaceships and race cars. Nailed it, 1970s Lego.

Update: QZ confirms, the letter is genuine.

Preparation and the greatest NFL catch ever

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2014

I know, I know, no football.1 But I could not help seeing this catch last night by NY Giants receiver Odell Beckham. Many are calling it the best catch anyone has ever made in the history of the NFL.

As a player, how do you prepare yourself for making the greatest catch in history? It would be easy to dismiss this catch as a lucky fluke…one-handed, fighting off a defender, just gets it by his fingertips. But here’s the thing: Beckham practices exactly this catch:

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Preparation, kids. Preparation.

  1. Aside from the occasional highlight, I still have not watched a single minute of NFL football this year. It’s not been easy, particularly on Sunday nights, where all I want to do most of the time is flip on the game and veg out with a Collinsworth/Michaels soundtrack.

The tl;dr version of the Bible

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 21, 2014

At Reddit, a user called Cabbagetroll posted a very short summary of the Bible.

GENESIS
God: All right, you two, don’t do the one thing. Other than that, have fun.
Adam & Eve: Okay.
Satan: You should do the thing.
Adam & Eve: Okay.
God: What happened!?
Adam & Eve: We did the thing.
God: Guys

THE REST OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
God: You are my people, and you should not do the things.
People: We won’t do the things.
God: Good.
People: We did the things.
God: Guys

(via @mkonnikova)

Lauren Ipsum

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 21, 2014

Lauren Ipsum is a book about computer science for kids (age 10 and up) published by No Starch Press.

Meet Lauren, an adventurer who knows all about solving problems. But she’s lost in the fantastical world of Userland, where mail is delivered by daemons and packs of wild jargon roam.

Lauren sets out for home, traveling through a journey of puzzles, from the Push and Pop Cafe to the Garden of the Forking Paths. As she discovers the secrets of Userland, Lauren learns about computer science without even realizing it-and so do you!

Sounds intriguing. And 1000 bonus points for making the protagonist a girl. There’s an older self-published version of the book that’s been out for a couple of years. I like the older description slightly better:

Laurie is lost in Userland. She knows where she is, or where she’s going, but maybe not at the same time. The only way out is through Jargon-infested swamps, gates guarded by perfect logic, and the perils of breakfast time at the Philosopher’s Diner. With just her wits and the help of a lizard who thinks he’s a dinosaur, Laurie has to find her own way home.

Lauren Ipsum is a children’s story about computer science. In 20 chapters she encounters dozens of ideas from timing attacks to algorithm design, the subtle power of names, and how to get a fair flip out of even the most unfair coin.

Has anyone read it?

Apple Watch font on OS X Yosemite

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 21, 2014

I just upgraded to OS X Yosemite yesterday1 and the Helvetica as the system font is as jarring as everyone says it is. But that new Apple Watch font, San Francisco, seems really nice. So of course someone has worked out a way to use the Watch font as the system font on Yosemite. Here’s what you do…just type the following in Terminal.app:

ruby -e “$(curl -fsSL https://raw.github.com/wellsriley/YosemiteSanFranciscoFont/master/install)”

Then restart your computer. Full instructions are on GitHub. Here’s what it looks like:

Apple Watch font on Yosemite

Pretty nice. But it’s not perfect. For instance, look at the text in the Chrome tabs…it’s not aligned correctly. And if you have the fast user switching menu enabled in the menu bar, that’s weirdly misaligned too. If you’d like, you can also switch back to using the previous font, Lucida Grande.

  1. From 10.8, no less. I’d been wary of upgrading for the past couple years due to the 15 hours I’d have to spend getting my development environment back into working order again. New version of Apache? Perl moved? Oh, I need to install memcached again? Where did all my configuration files go? [hair tearing out noise] But recently I moved my web development to Vagrant and holy crap is that a game changer. After updating OS X last night, I just issued a quick ‘vagrant up’ command and there was my dev environment, just like I left it. Awesome.

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 20, 2014

In his recent book, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, Chris Taylor tells the story of how avant garde cinema fan George Lucas built one of the biggest movie franchises ever.

How did a few notes scribbled on a legal pad in 1973 by George Lucas, a man who hated writing, turn into a four billion dollar franchise that has quite literally transformed the way we think about entertainment, merchandizing, politics, and even religion? A cultural touchstone and cinematic classic, Star Wars has a cosmic appeal that no other movie franchise has been able to replicate. From Jedi-themed weddings and international storm-trooper legions, to impassioned debates over the digitization of the three Star Wars prequels, to the shockwaves that continue to reverberate from Disney’s purchase of the beloved franchise in 2012, the series hasn’t stopped inspiring and inciting viewers for almost forty years. Yet surprisingly little is known about its history, its impact — or where it’s headed next.

(via mr)

Kara Walker, Afterword

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 20, 2014

On the walk back from soccer practice the other day, my sharp-eyed seven-year-old son spotted something through the partially papered-up window of a Chelsea gallery. “Hey, Kara Walker!” he says.1 And sure enough:

Kara Walker Afterword

The gallery is Sikkema Jenkins on 22nd St and Walker’s show, Afterword, starts there tomorrow and runs through mid-January. The show is an extension of A Subtlety, Walker’s installation at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg over the summer. Several of the sugar statues and the left fist of the sugar sphinx from the Domino installation will be shown along with new video works and notes & sketches from the planning of A Subtlety. You can see some of the figures in the photo above (fashioned out of Domino Sugar, naturally) and I think that’s probably the fist in the background on the right, wrapped in plastic.

  1. I know. So insufferable, right? But I like that Kara Walker is on a similar level to Harry Potter, Minecraft, and Star Wars in my kid’s brain. That installation left an impression on him, and I’m glad we were able to see it together.

The secret life of passwords

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 20, 2014

Ian Urbina writes about what passwords mean to people beyond gaining access to emails or bank balances.

I began asking my friends and family to tell me their passwords. I had come to believe that these tiny personalized codes get a bum rap. Yes, I understand why passwords are universally despised: the strains they put on our memory, the endless demand to update them, their sheer number. I hate them, too. But there is more to passwords than their annoyance. In our authorship of them, in the fact that we construct them so that we (and only we) will remember them, they take on secret lives. Many of our passwords are suffused with pathos, mischief, sometimes even poetry. Often they have rich back stories. A motivational mantra, a swipe at the boss, a hidden shrine to a lost love, an inside joke with ourselves, a defining emotional scar - these keepsake passwords, as I came to call them, are like tchotchkes of our inner lives. They derive from anything: Scripture, horoscopes, nicknames, lyrics, book passages. Like a tattoo on a private part of the body, they tend to be intimate, compact and expressive.

See also Better living through motivational passwords and The world’s worst password requirements list.

Moonrise Kingdom typeface

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 20, 2014

Tilda Font

Jessica Hische and Font Bureau have teamed up to offer the typeface Hische designed for Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. Meet Tilda (great name). Art of the Title interviewed Hische about the typeface last year.

The real Lolita

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 20, 2014

Real Lolita

Near the end of Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov writes:

Had I done to Dolly, perhaps, what Frank Lasalle, a fifty-year-old mechanic, had done to eleven-year-old Sally Horner in 1948?

For years, no one picked up on the fact that Sally Horner really was abducted by a man named Frank La Salle in 1948 and the crime was a definite influence on Nabokov in writing Lolita, not until Alexander Dolinin suggested it in 2005. Sarah Weinman explores the connection in Hazlitt.

On her way home from school the next day, though, the man sought her out again. Without warning, the rules had changed: Sally had to go with him to Atlantic City — the government insisted. She’d have to convince her mother he was the father of two school friends, inviting her to a seashore vacation. He would take care of the rest with a phone call and a convincing appearance at the Camden bus depot.

His name was Frank La Salle, and he was no FBI agent — rather, he was the sort G-men wanted to drive off the streets, though Sally didn’t learn that until it was far too late. It took 21 months to break free of him, after a cross-country journey from Camden, New Jersey, to San Jose, California. That five-cent notebook didn’t just alter Sally Horner’s own life, though: it reverberated throughout the culture, and in the process, irrevocably changed the course of 20th-century literature.

(via @DavidGrann)

Kingdom Rush Origins

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 20, 2014

Kingdom Rush Origins

A new Kingdom Rush game is out: Kingdom Rush Origins. Played it for a bit this morning and if you liked Kingdom Rush and Kingdom Rush Frontiers, you’ll like this one too. It’s more of the glorious same. (via @tommertron)

Vintage bike tricks, circa 1965

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 20, 2014

Lilly Yokoi was an acrobat who specialized in performing on a bicycle. During her career, she toured around the world and appeared on the Ed Sullivan show three times. In this performance from 1965, Yokoi does some seriously before-their-time tricks on her Golden Bicycle, including a no-hands handlebar spin, a no-hands wheelie, a handstand over the handlebars, and several other tricks…all in chunky high heels, mind you.

Here’s an even earlier performance, from 1961. See also some bike tricks filmed by Thomas Edison in 1899.

Bill Cosby rape accusations grow

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 19, 2014

A defense of Cosby requires that one believe that several women have decided to publicly accuse one of the most powerful men in recent Hollywood history of a crime they have no hope of seeing prosecuted, and for which they are seeking no damages.

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates does the math (15 women have now accused Bill Cosby) and some journalistic soul-searching: The Cosby Show.

+ Netflix has “postponed” a Cosby stand-up show scheduled for later this month. (Ya think?)

+ Cosby’s old routine about wanting to drug women’s drinks.

The sounds of Interstellar

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 19, 2014

A look at the sound design of Interstellar, including some of the cool rigs they built to record sounds for the movie, including a truck driving through a corn field, sand hitting the outside of a car, and robots walking.

(via devour)

The Marshmallow Test, the book

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 19, 2014

Marshmallow Test

The Marshmallow Test was developed by psychologist Walter Mischel to study self-control and delayed gratification. From a piece about Mischel in the New Yorker:

Once Mischel began analyzing the results, he noticed that low delayers, the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. They got lower S.A.T. scores. They struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships. The child who could wait fifteen minutes had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds.

Mischel has written a book about the test, its findings, and learning greater self-control: The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control.

The world’s leading expert on self-control, Walter Mischel has proven that the ability to delay gratification is critical for a successful life, predicting higher SAT scores, better social and cognitive functioning, a healthier lifestyle and a greater sense of self-worth. But is willpower prewired, or can it be taught?

In The Marshmallow Test, Mischel explains how self-control can be mastered and applied to challenges in everyday life — from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement. With profound implications for the choices we make in parenting, education, public policy and self-care, The Marshmallow Test will change the way you think about who we are and what we can be.

Here’s a video of the test in action:

Update: A recent study showed that the environment in which the test is performed is important.

Now a new study demonstrates that being able to delay gratification is influenced as much by the environment as by innate ability. Children who experienced reliable interactions immediately before the marshmallow task waited on average four times longer — 12 versus three minutes — than youngsters in similar but unreliable situations.

(thx, maggie & adam)

Lunar Mission One

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 19, 2014

Now this is an ambitious Kickstarter project: Lunar Mission One wants to send an unmanned probe to an unexplored area of the Moon, land on the surface, drill a hole at least 20 meters in depth to analyze geological composition of the Moon, and then drop a time capsule in the hole that will last 1 billion years. That’s. Insane.

We’re going to use pioneering technology to drill down to a depth of at least 20m — 10 times deeper than has ever been drilled before — and potentially as deep as 100m. By doing this, we will access lunar rock dating back up to 4.5 billion years to discover the geological composition of the Moon, the ancient relationship it shares with our planet and the effects of asteroid bombardment. Ultimately, the project will improve scientific understanding of the early solar system, the formation of our planet and the Moon, and the conditions that initiated life on Earth.

The Rosetta mission has opened the way for a new era of pioneering space exploration and demonstrates the public appetite to engage with the secrets of the solar system. We want this to be a truly international mission that everyone everywhere can get involved in, so we are using Kickstarter to finance the next phase of development. This is your chance to be part of Lunar Mission One and to reserve your place in space. Your pledge will reserve you a digital memory box that will be buried in the moon during the mission as part of a 21st Century time capsule.

Thanksgiving across the US

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 19, 2014

From the NY Times, an epic listing of recipes for traditional (and not so traditional) Thanksgiving food from each of the 50 US states. Featuring lefse from North Dakota, salty pluff mud pie from South Carolina, turkey tamales from Texas, and cheddar mashed potatoes from Vermont. (via @jimray)

The givers and the takers

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 19, 2014

Michael Lewis on a new book about billionaires, the increasing economic inequality in America, and the impact of the behavior of the very rich is having on politics and happiness. The camp breakfast anecdote at the beginning of the article is gold.

You all live in important places surrounded by important people. When I’m in the big city, I never understand the faces of the people, especially the people who want to be successful. They look so worried! So unsatisfied!

In the city you see people grasping, grasping, grasping. Taking, taking, taking. And it must be so hard! To be always grasping-grasping, and taking-taking. But no matter how much they have, they never have enough. They’re still worried. About what they don’t have. They’re always empty.

You have a choice. You don’t realize it, but you have a choice. You can be a giver or you can be a taker. You can get filled up or empty. You make that choice every day. You make that choice at breakfast when you rush to grab the cereal you want so others can’t have what they want.

The piece is filled with Lewis-esque observations throughout. Like:

Rich people, in my experience, don’t want to change the world. The world as it is suits them nicely.

And:

The American upper middle class has spent a fortune teaching its children to play soccer: how many great soccer players come from the upper middle class?

But the studies about the effects of wealth and privilege on human behavior are what caught my eye the most.

In one study, Keltner and his colleague Paul Piff installed note-takers and cameras at city street intersections with four-way stop signs. The people driving expensive cars were four times more likely to cut in front of other drivers than drivers of cheap cars. The researchers then followed the drivers to the city’s cross walks and positioned themselves as pedestrians, waiting to cross the street. The drivers in the cheap cars all respected the pedestrians’ right of way. The drivers in the expensive cars ignored the pedestrians 46.2 percent of the time — a finding that was replicated in spirit by another team of researchers in Manhattan, who found drivers of expensive cars were far more likely to double park.

Living in Manhattan, I see stuff like this all the time and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to think of the rich and privileged as anything other than assholes, always grasping, grasping, grasping, taking, taking, taking.

Shelf Life

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 19, 2014

Shelf Life is a new video series from the American Museum of Natural History that will deep-dive into the archives of the museum and feature some of its 33 million artifacts and specimens.

From centuries-old specimens to entirely new types of specialized collections like frozen tissues and genomic data, the Museum’s scientific collections (with more than 33,430,000 specimens and artifacts) form an irreplaceable record of life on Earth, the span of geologic time, and knowledge about our vast universe.

(via the kid should see this)

This War of Mine

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 18, 2014

This War Of Mine

From 11 bit Studios comes a game called This War of Mine which offers an unflinching view of war focusing on injury, suffering, and survival of the civilian population of a city besieged by civil war. Wired’s Matt Peckham has a good review.

This War of Mine imagines an endless civil war. Civilians are trapped in a besieged Stalingrad-like city, suffering from hunger and disease and shelling. Snipers roam the city, as apt to pick off civilians as they are insurgents. The phones don’t work. There isn’t enough food or medication. Your group operates out of a single structure, viewed from the side like a dollhouse, with apparatuses you can fiddle or upgrade to produce helpful goods or improve existing ones. Each survivor has a hierarchy of physical and mental needs equipoised against variably treacherous means of fulfilling them.

Your goal is simple: Survive. I’m not sure for how long, or if there’s even a “win” state, because the best I’ve managed so far is 25 days, and that felt interminable.

How to fold the world’s best paper airplane

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 18, 2014

In 2012, Joe Ayoob broke the world record for the longest distance paper airplane flight with a plane designed by John Collins. In this video, Collins demonstrates how to fold that plane, the Suzanne.

Directions for the design are also available in Collins’ New World Champion Paper Airplane Book.

Last call for kottke.org t-shirts!

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 18, 2014

Today is the last day you can order the limited edition kottke.org t-shirt. Get yours now or forever be, um, something.

Kottke Tee Shirt

After much futzing about in Photoshop, I came up with the perfect simple design for the limited edition kottke.org tee shirt, featuring the familiar blue gradient that wraps all the way around the shirt. The shirt is made of fabric, has sleeves, and features a hole for your head. It’s everything you need in a shirt.

More info here.

This building is an organism for making newspapers

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 18, 2014

I love this cutaway view of Washington DC’s Evening Star Building, drawn in 1922. The building is on the National Register as a Historic Landmark and was formerly the office of The Washington Star newspaper.

Evening Star Building

Evening Star Building

Evening Star Building

Best viewed huge. The whole thing is a fascinating view of how information flowed through a newspaper company in the 1920s. Raw materials in the form of electricity, water, telegraph messages, paper, and employees enter the building and finished newspapers leave out the back.

Found this via Craig Mod, who notes the Chris Ware-ness of the whole thing.

Relative sizes of the planets

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 18, 2014

This is a great way to think about how big the planets of our solar system are: in terms of fruits.

Fruit Solar System

(via boing boing)

The Imitation Game soundtrack

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 18, 2014

I have not seen the movie yet (Alan Turing biopic starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley) but the Alexandre Desplat soundtrack is worth a listen.

Also available on Spotify or Amazon.

Foxcatcher

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 17, 2014

Whoa, how did I miss this? Steve Carell, check. Channing Tatum, check. Mark Ruffalo, check. Based on a true story, check. Positive reviews, check.

Currently on the to-do list: watch every single movie produced by Annapurna Pictures, a production and distribution company founded by Megan Ellison, who is Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s daughter. Look at this list of directors they’re working with: Kathryn Bigelow, Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Jonze, David O. Russell, Richard Linklater.

Internet in the time of VHS

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 17, 2014

Andy Baio digitized some early 90s videos about the internet and put them up on YouTube.

Bonus from 1999: Beginners Guide To The Internet Starring John Turturro.

_____ and Julia

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 17, 2014

Nora Ephron’s movie Julie & Julia is based on a book by Julie Powell about her making every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Some genius took the movie and cut all the Julie parts out of it, leaving just a movie about the life of Julia Child starring Meryl Streep.

Update: Well, that was fast…got taken down already.

Update: Looks like someone did a similar cut three months ago, Julia Sans Julie:

Let’s see how long this one lasts. (via ★interesting & @ChadwickSevern)

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 17, 2014

Last year, Greenheart Games released a game called Game Dev Tycoon in which you run a company that makes video games. As an experiment, they secretly released a cracked version of the game for pirates to download…with one small difference: players in the cracked version would always go bankrupt because of piracy issues.

The cracked version is nearly identical to the real thing except for one detail… Initially we thought about telling them their copy is an illegal copy, but instead we didn’t want to pass up the unique opportunity of holding a mirror in front of them and showing them what piracy can do to game developers. […] Slowly their in-game funds dwindle, and new games they create have a high chance to be pirated until their virtual game development company goes bankrupt.

Did the pirates learn anything or feel bad? Not really:

Pirates On Piracy

(via @djacobs)

0h h1

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 17, 2014

0hh1

0h h1 is a super simple Sudoku-type game where you need to keep the number of blue and red tiles in each row and column the same. I don’t know how people keep coming up with such simple games that are still challenging…you’d think they’d all have been invented by now. (via waxy)

Serial

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 14, 2014

I look forward to every Thursday in a way that I don’t remember awaiting the release of an episode of anything recently. There’s something very intimate about someone telling you a story that close to your ears.

That’s Jason Reitman echoing the thoughts of the many listeners who have turned Serial — a new podcast from the producers of This American Life — into the fastest growing podcast ever. Twenty years ago, we were all hooked on TV and radio. Twenty years of technology advances later, we’re all hooked on TV and radio. Content is king.

For those who are already knee deep in the Serial serial, Vox has a complete guide to every person in the podcast.

Posters for imagined movie sequels

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 14, 2014

Iron Giants Poster

I am loving these posters for non-existent movie sequels, but the names might be even better. A sampling:

Fight Club: The 2nd Rule
Bigger Trouble in Little China
Spaceballs III: The Search for Spaceballs II
Titanic 2: Above Zero

Prints are available for all of these. (via @cabel)

Cooking the Alinea cookbook

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 14, 2014

Allen Hemberger cooked his way through one of the most complex cookbooks out there, the Alinea cookbook. Aside from the chefs who work in the kitchen there, Hemberger’s probably the only person to have made every single recipe. These recipes aren’t easy; look at the last one he prepared…he even struggled to find the correct ingredients.

Should I be disturbed or thankful that I’ve never been that passionate about anything ever?

Let’s Just Say It: Women Matter More Than Fetuses Do

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 14, 2014

In The New Republic, Rebecca Traister says when talking about abortion, the rights of the mother should trump those of the fetus.

To me, abortion belongs to the same category as the early Cesarean I will need to undergo because of previous surgeries. That is to say, it is a crucial medical option, a cornerstone in women’s reproductive health care. And during pregnancy, should some medical, economic, or emotional circumstance have caused my fate to be weighed against that of my baby, I believe that my rights, my health, my consciousness, and my obligations to others — including to my toddler daughter — outweigh the rights of the unborn human inside me.

(via @mulegirl)

New App Friday

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 14, 2014

Ok, so New App Friday isn’t a thing, but it is today! Three apps from pals launched yesterday:

From the crew at Tinybop comes Homes, an app for kids that lets them explore houses from around the world. Their previous apps, Plants and The Human Body, are favorites in our home.

Neven Mrgan and Matt Comi have been working on Space Age for several years and it shows…this game is immaculate. The soundtrack, by Cabel Sasser, is worth a listen on its own.

Wildcard is billed as a better and faster way to use the Web for on your phone. I haven’t played with it too much yet, but it seems a lot like RSS for mobile (if that makes any sense). UX was done by Khoi Vinh.

Seeing so many people I know really knocking it out of the iOS park makes me think I should build an app of my own.

The Simpsons and their mathematical secrets

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 13, 2014

Simpsons Math

Acclaimed science and math writer Simon Singh has written a book on the mathematics of The Simpsons, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets. Boing Boing has an excerpt.

The principles of rubber sheet geometry can be extended into three dimensions, which explains the quip that a topologist is someone who cannot tell the difference between a doughnut and a coffee cup. In other words, a coffee cup has just one hole, created by the handle, and a doughnut has just one hole, in its middle. Hence, a coffee cup made of a rubbery clay could be stretched and twisted into the shape of a doughnut. This makes them homeomorphic.

By contrast, a doughnut cannot be transformed into a sphere, because a sphere lacks any holes, and no amount of stretching, squeezing, and twisting can remove the hole that is integral to a doughnut. Indeed, it is a proven mathematical theorem that a doughnut is topologically distinct from a sphere. Nevertheless, Homer’s blackboard scribbling seems to achieve the impossible, because the diagrams show the successful transformation of a doughnut into a sphere. How?

Although cutting is forbidden in topology, Homer has decided that nibbling and biting are acceptable. After all, the initial object is a doughnut, so who could resist nibbling? Taking enough nibbles out of the doughnut turns it into a banana shape, which can then be reshaped into a sphere by standard stretching, squeezing, and twisting. Mainstream topologists might not be thrilled to see one of their cherished theorems going up in smoke, but a doughnut and a sphere are identical according to Homer’s personal rules of topology. Perhaps the correct term is not homeomorphic, but rather Homermorphic.

The United States of Ignorance

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 13, 2014

According to a recent survey1 of citizens in 14 countries, the United States ranks second in the amount of ignorance about things like teenage birth rates, unemployment rates, and immigration. Only Italians were more clueless. You can take a version of the test yourself and then view the results (results for the US only). Some of the more notable results:

- Americans guessed that the unemployment rate is 32%, instead of the actual rate of 6%.

- While 1% of the US population identifies as Muslim, Americans guessed 15%. 15!

- 70% of Americans guessed the US murder rate was rising. It has decreased by more than half since 1992.

- Americans guessed that almost 24% of girls aged 15-19 give birth each year. Actually, 3.1%.

Then again, what do Americans hear about constantly on the news? Unemployment, Muslims & immigration, murder, and teen pregnancy. It’s little wonder the guesses on those are so high.

  1. As you know, survey results are to be taken with a grain of salt.

The truth about cast iron

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 13, 2014

At Serious Eats, Kenji López-Alt sets the record straight about some misconceptions people have about cast iron pans.

The Theory: Seasoning is a thin layer of oil that coats the inside of your skillet. Soap is designed to remove oil, therefore soap will damage your seasoning.

The Reality: Seasoning is actually not a thin layer of oil, it’s a thin layer of polymerized oil, a key distinction. In a properly seasoned cast iron pan, one that has been rubbed with oil and heated repeatedly, the oil has already broken down into a plastic-like substance that has bonded to the surface of the metal. This is what gives well-seasoned cast iron its non-stick properties, and as the material is no longer actually an oil, the surfactants in dish soap should not affect it. Go ahead and soap it up and scrub it out.

I have two cast iron pans, including this skillet I use almost exclusively for making the world’s best pancakes. Although, after hearing from Kenji that vintage cast iron pans can be slight better than modern pans, I might seek a replacement on Etsy. See also how to season a cast iron pan.

What book changed your mind?

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 12, 2014

Changing your mind about something significant as an adult can be very difficult. For many, ideas are identity, and the particular set of ideas you currently possess got you where you are today, so why switch it up? The Chronicle Review recently asked a group of scholars which non-fiction book “profoundly altered the way they regard themselves, their work, the world”. Law professor William Ian Miller had this to say:

No nonfiction books in the past 30 years have transformed me. Some have taught me things, made me hold their authors in deep respect (Bartlett, Bynum). Some have moved me greatly (some of the better soldier memoirs). But knocked me off my horse on the way to Damascus? Nope.

I am 68; if you had asked me the question about a self-transforming book when I was 19, I would have had to say just about half of the ones I read. You could say these books changed my mind, but my mind was pretty much a tabula rasa when I was in my first year of college. Rather they made my mind.

The Great War

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 12, 2014

The Great War is a video documentary series on YouTube that covers World War I. The series will air each week over the next four years with each 6-10 minute episode covering a week’s worth of the war 100 years after it happened.

What an ambitious project. They’re currently up to week 15 of the war, when the Ottoman Empire enters the fray. (via @garymross)

David Foster Wallace’s greatest hits

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 12, 2014

The David Foster Wallace Reader is a collection of Wallace’s best, funniest, and most celebrated writing.

Where do you begin with a writer as original and brilliant as David Foster Wallace? Here — with a carefully considered selection of his extraordinary body of work, chosen by a range of great writers, critics, and those who worked with him most closely. This volume presents his most dazzling, funniest, and most heartbreaking work — essays like his famous cruise-ship piece, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” excerpts from his novels The Broom of the System, Infinite Jest, and The Pale King, and legendary stories like “The Depressed Person.”

Wallace’s explorations of morality, self-consciousness, addiction, sports, love, and the many other subjects that occupied him are represented here in both fiction and nonfiction. Collected for the first time are Wallace’s first published story, “The View from Planet Trillaphon as Seen In Relation to the Bad Thing” and a selection of his work as a writing instructor, including reading lists, grammar guides, and general guidelines for his students.

If you’ve somehow been waiting to dig into Wallace’s writing but didn’t know where to start, this is where you start.

China and US agree to climate change plan

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 12, 2014

The US and China, the two largest carbon polluters in the world, have struck an accord on climate change.

As part of the agreement, Mr. Obama announced that the United States would emit 26 percent to 28 percent less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005. That is double the pace of reduction it targeted for the period from 2005 to 2020.

China’s pledge to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, if not sooner, is even more remarkable. To reach that goal, Mr. Xi pledged that so-called clean energy sources, like solar power and windmills, would account for 20 percent of China’s total energy production by 2030.

Here’s the official statement from the White House. The NY Times calls the agreement “ambitious” and a “landmark”, but Tyler Cowen says:

People, the China emissions “deal” isn’t much more than a press release…

But James Fallows, who has written extensively on China recently, is more positive.

The United States and China have apparently agreed to do what anyone who has thought seriously about climate has been hoping for, for years. As the No. 1 (now China) and No. 2 carbon emitters in the world, and as the No. 1 (still the U.S.) and No. 2 economies, they’ve agreed to new carbon-reduction targets that are more ambitious than most people would have expected.

Revisiting Stephen Glass

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 11, 2014

In 1998, it was revealed that The New Republic writer Stephen Glass had fabricated many of the stories he had written for the magazine. Sixteen years down the road, Hanna Rosin, a colleague and friend from the New Republic days, writes about confronting and reconnecting with Glass about his lies and betrayal.

Once we knew what he’d done, I tried to call Steve, but he never called back. He just went missing, like the kids on the milk cartons. It was weird. People often ask me if I felt “betrayed,” but really I was deeply unsettled, like I’d woken up in the wrong room. I wondered whether Steve had lied to me about personal things, too. I wondered how, even after he’d been caught, he could bring himself to recruit me to defend him, knowing I’d be risking my job to do so. I wondered how I could spend more time with a person during the week than I spent with my husband and not suspect a thing. (And I didn’t. It came as a total surprise). And I wondered what else I didn’t know about people. Could my brother be a drug addict? Did my best friend actually hate me?

The Knowledge of London

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 11, 2014

Great piece about The Knowledge, the collection of geographical information that all London taxi drivers must learn before becoming a cabbie.

The guidebook issued to prospective cabbies by London Taxi and Private Hire (LTPH), which oversees the test, summarizes the task like this:

To achieve the required standard to be licensed as an “All London” taxi driver you will need a thorough knowledge, primarily, of the area within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. You will need to know: all the streets; housing estates; parks and open spaces; government offices and departments; financial and commercial centres; diplomatic premises; town halls; registry offices; hospitals; places of worship; sports stadiums and leisure centres; airline offices; stations; hotels; clubs; theatres; cinemas; museums; art galleries; schools; colleges and universities; police stations and headquarters buildings; civil, criminal and coroner’s courts; prisons; and places of interest to tourists. In fact, anywhere a taxi passenger might ask to be taken.

If anything, this description understates the case. The six-mile radius from Charing Cross, the putative center-point of London marked by an equestrian statue of King Charles I, takes in some 25,000 streets. London cabbies need to know all of those streets, and how to drive them — the direction they run, which are one-way, which are dead ends, where to enter and exit traffic circles, and so on. But cabbies also need to know everything on the streets. Examiners may ask a would-be cabby to identify the location of any restaurant in London. Any pub, any shop, any landmark, no matter how small or obscure — all are fair game. Test-takers have been asked to name the whereabouts of flower stands, of laundromats, of commemorative plaques. One taxi driver told me that he was asked the location of a statue, just a foot tall, depicting two mice sharing a piece of cheese. It’s on the facade of a building in Philpot Lane, on the corner of Eastcheap, not far from London Bridge.

The goal is to install a complete map of London in the brain of every licensed taxi driver. And indeed, according to neuroscientist Eleanor Maguire, the part of the brain responsible for memory becomes physically bigger as The Knowledge is absorbed.

Seeing, for a Knowledge candidate, is everything — at its heart, the Knowledge is an elaborate exercise in visualization. When McCabe called-over, he closed his eyes and toggled between views: picturing the city at street level, the roads rolling out in front of him as if in a movie, then pulling the camera back to take in the bird’s eye perspective, scanning the London map. Knowledge boys speak of a Eureka moment when, after months or years of doggedly assembling the London puzzle, the fuzziness recedes and the city snaps into focus, the great morass of streets suddenly appearing as an intelligible whole. McCabe was startled not just by that macroview, but by the minute details he was able to retain. “I can pull a tiny little art studio just from the color of the door, and where it’s got a lamppost outside. Your brain just remembers silly things, you know?”

I could go on and on…I loved this piece. Don’t miss the video of a prospective cabbie calling out the route he would use to go from Rotherhithe Station to the Natural History Museum, entirely from memory without looking at a map. Compare with Google’s driving directions.

Update: View From the Mirror is a blog written by a London cabbie, which includes his experience training for The Knowledge. (thx, bryan)

We’re landing on a comet

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 11, 2014

Comet Landing

A European Space Agency landing craft the size of a washing machine is scheduled to land on a comet tomorrow, November 12, 2014. How cool is that?

Never before has a space mission put a lander on a comet. But the European Space Agency (ESA) plans to change that. Its Rosetta craft has been orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko since August and is set to release the washing-machine-sized lander, Philae, on 12 November. This would set in motion a nail-biting seven-hour fall designed to deliver Philae to a landing site called Agilkia on the comet’s surface. Philae is programmed to beam data and images back to Earth to help scientists to understand comets, including whether these conglomerations of ice, rock and dust supplied our planet with water and other building blocks of life when they smashed into it billions of years ago.

You can watch the landing live (or here too)…touch down on the comet’s surface is scheduled for 11:03 AM EST. Here’s a full rundown of the events on landing day. Good luck, Philae!

Update: Randall Munroe of XKCD is live drawing the landing.

Everybody sexts

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 11, 2014

Jenna Wortham talked to a bunch of people about intimate texts they send and concludes that Everybody Sexts.

I think that everybody sexts. Not everyone sends nude photos, of course, for a variety of reasons. But many people I’ve talked to define a sext as anything sent with sexual intent, be it a suggestive Gchat exchange, a racy photo, a suggestive Snapchat, or even those aqua-blue droplets of sweat emoji.

I asked people I knew — and many I didn’t — to talk to me about sexts and the stories behind them, the risks, perceived and real, and why they did it, knowing that they could be shared beyond their control. Lastly, I asked them to share a nude that they had sent to someone. And so many people did, without hesitation, or requiring anything in exchange. I was floored by their openness, and the expanse of human emotions and experiences on display. What I discovered, mainly, is that sexting - like anything else done on our phones - was mostly just meant to be fun, for fun, grown folks doing what grown folks do.

NSFW.

Renting Lego sets

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 11, 2014

My kids and I went to the new Lego Store in the Flatiron this weekend, and I again noticed how freaking expensive Lego sets are. The Death Star set is $400 + tax and even small sets are $30-40. Afterward I wondered if renting Lego sets would be an economically viable business and sure enough, someone is giving it a go: Pley. It works a bit like Netflix’s DVD service: you pay a flat subscription fee each month and can check out as many sets as you want, one at a time. Doesn’t look like they rent out Lego Stephen Hawking or Lego Mona Lisa though.

There is no Digital Media but AOL and Shingy is its Prophet

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 10, 2014

Here is every super-quotable line from the New Yorker’s recent profile of Shingy, AOL’s Digital Prophet that everyone loves to hate. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll roll your eyes. It starts:

How does Shingy know? Because he is a digital prophet. Literally. His business card has a microchip embedded in it, and it reads “Digital Prophet, AOL.”

Then:

AOL pays him a six-figure salary for-for doing what, exactly? “Watching the future take shape across the vast online landscape,” Shingy says. “I fly all around the world and go to conferences.”

And:

“I listen to where media is headed and figure out how our brands can win in that environment.”

But also:

He arrived at AOL headquarters in the Village wearing black nail polish and high-top sneakers with leather wings. His jacket, T-shirt, and pants were black, and he had decorated them with wide stripes of white paint.

And so:

He ran into a Ward Cleaver-ish advertising executive named Jim Norton. “My man!” Shingy said, offering his trademark three-part handshake, ending in a hug.

Which leads to:

“Wanted to show you a little brain fart I had on the plane,” he said. It was a cartoon he had drawn of a bear wearing zebra-print pants and a shirt covered in ones and zeros.

For which else is:

“Love it, love it, love it,” Nardini said. “I’m thinking of the bears more as a metaphor.”

Yep:

“A thousand per cent,” Shingy said.

Nope:

“Shingy is my muse,” Nardini said.

Maybe:

There is something so polarizing about Shingy, but also so unifying.

Still, this:

He is passionate about spaces, and when a space is not working he reboots it, taking everything out and starting over.

OMFGROFLCOPTER:

This is a space I recently rebooted for Tim.

Derp:

“Do you like the scent?” Shingy said. A diffuser released a fragrance (called London) designed by Tom Dixon into the air.

Snuh:

Armstrong looked around. “I have meetings here, and people don’t know where to sit,” he said.

Flurbitz:

“They’ll figure it out, man,” Shingy said.

This, I can’t even, is everything:

He took an Uber car uptown

Is it a hard-G like “GIF” or a soft-G like “GIF”?:

“I think some folks from Applebee’s are going to be in the house,” he said. “I’m more of a caffeine-free, gluten-free, raw-food sort of guy, but I am able to find something to like in every brand once I hear their story.”

And finally:

Everyone is talking about SoLoMo — social, local, mobile — but they should be talking about HoMo: home/mobile, cell phones used on the couch.

That’s a full 44% of the article right there. Bravo Andrew Marantz on your stratospheric quotability quotient! Bonus quote from Valleywag’s Kevin Montgomery:

David Shing has the kind of gig that can only exist mid-bubble, when dinosaur corporations chase Snapchat into extinction.

(Ok, the Uber thing isn’t quotable, but had to include it because Uber.)

Sorry I Murdered Everyone, But I’m An Introvert

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 10, 2014

As an introvert myself, this piece really resonated with me.

Sorry I killed everybody! I just really need my alone time.

Sorry that everyone is dead. They weren’t respecting my quiet power and inner strength. It’s a common misconception that introverts can’t lead; we’re just not always the first to speak up.

Sorry I butchered all of your friends in front of you. It’s just that I’d rather curl up at home with a good book than go to a party.

The science of Interstellar

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 10, 2014

Kip Thorne is a theoretical physicist who did some of the first serious work on the possibility of travel through wormholes. Several years ago, he resigned as the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics from Caltech in part to make movies. To that end, Thorne acted as Christopher Nolan’s science advisor for Interstellar. As a companion to the movie, Thorne wrote a book called The Science of Interstellar.

Yet in The Science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne, the physicist who assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of Interstellar, shows us that the movie’s jaw-dropping events and stunning, never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science. Thorne shares his experiences working as the science adviser on the film and then moves on to the science itself. In chapters on wormholes, black holes, interstellar travel, and much more, Thorne’s scientific insights — many of them triggered during the actual scripting and shooting of Interstellar — describe the physical laws that govern our universe and the truly astounding phenomena that those laws make possible.

Wired has a piece on how Thorne and Nolan worked together on the film. Phil Plait was unimpressed with some of the science in the movie, although he retracted some of his criticism. If you’re confused by the science or plot, Slate has a FAQ.

Update: Well, well, the internet’s resident Science Movie Curmudgeon Neil deGrasse Tyson actually liked the depiction of science in Interstellar. In particular: “Of the leading characters (all of whom are scientists or engineers) half are women. Just an FYI.” (via @thoughtbrain)

Update: What’s wrong with “What’s Wrong with the Science of Movies About Science?” pieces? Plenty says Matt Singer.

But a movie is not its marketing; regardless of what ‘Interstellar”s marketing said, the film itself makes no such assertions about its scientific accuracy. It doesn’t open with a disclaimer informing viewers that it’s based on true science; in fact, it doesn’t open with any sort of disclaimer at all. Nolan never tells us exactly where or when ‘Interstellar’ is set. It seems like the movie takes place on our Earth in the relatively near future, but that’s just a guess. Maybe ‘Interstellar’ is set a million years after our current civilization ended. Or maybe it’s set in an alternate dimension, where the rules of physics as Phil Plait knows them don’t strictly apply.

Or maybe ‘Interstellar’ really is set on our Earth 50 years in the future, and it doesn’t matter anyway because ‘Interstellar’ is a work of fiction. It’s particularly strange to see people holding ‘Interstellar’ up to a high standard of scientific accuracy because the movie is pretty clearly a work of stylized, speculative sci-fi right from the start.

(via @khoi)

The lottery sucks

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 10, 2014

On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver takes down the lottery.

$68 billion. That’s more than Americans spent last year on movie tickets, music, porn, the NFL, major league baseball, and video games combined.

The lottery is a defacto tax on poor people. Despicable. Horrible. But fun!

Update: More from The Atlantic, Lotteries: America’s $70 Billion Shame.

The researchers made another damning discovery: Local lottery ticket sales rise with poverty, but movie ticket sales do not. In other words, lotto games are not merely another form of cheap entertainment. They are also a prayer against poverty. This fits what the researchers call the “desperation hypothesis”: States are making their most hopeless citizens addicted to gambling to pay for government services.

Obama’s plan for “a free and open internet”

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 10, 2014

Today, President Obama came out strongly for net neutrality and asked for the FCC’s help in implementing his plan.

More than any other invention of our time, the Internet has unlocked possibilities we could just barely imagine a generation ago. And here’s a big reason we’ve seen such incredible growth and innovation: Most Internet providers have treated Internet traffic equally. That’s a principle known as “net neutrality” — and it says that an entrepreneur’s fledgling company should have the same chance to succeed as established corporations, and that access to a high school student’s blog shouldn’t be unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money.

That’s what President Obama believes, and what he means when he says there should be no gatekeepers between you and your favorite online sites and services.

Tim Wu, who coined the term “net neutrality”, reacted positively to the President’s statement.

With another compromise looming, the President today released a video that suggests, in short, that he’s had it. In unusually explicit terms, he has told the agency exactly what it should do. Enough with the preëmptive compromises, the efforts to appease the carriers, and other forms of wiggle and wobble. Instead, the President said, enact a clear, bright-line ban on slow lanes, and fire up the agency’s strongest legal authority, Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, the “main guns” of the battleship F.C.C.

Motherboard notes that the classification of the internet as a utility would not include rate regulations.

To do this, Obama said the FCC should reclassify internet services as a utility, but should do it in a way that has slightly different rules than say, an electric company. Obama’s suggested rules focus specifically on net neutrality and service interruption, not prices, a concession to big telecom companies.

“I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services,” he said.

In a series of tweets, historian Yoni Appelbaum connects the dots between net neutrality and the Affordable Care Act a bit more elegantly than Ted Cruz did:

Obama’s call for net neutrality his latest effort to grow the economy by defending equality of opportunity. The ACA is the biggest boon for entrepreneurs in generations, allowing individuals to take economic risks without risking their health. The common thread here is a policy framework giving individuals the same access to essential resources as enormous institutions. Obama prefers to stress commonalities than to define his policies in such oppositional terms. But still, that’s what he’s doing here.

This makes me think of Tom Junod’s piece on increased access passes at a water park, The Water-Park Scandal and the Two Americas in the Raw: Are We a Nation of Line-Cutters, Or Are We the Line?

It wouldn’t be so bad, if the line still moved. But it doesn’t. It stops, every time a group of people with Flash Passes cut to the front. You used to be able to go on, say, three or four rides an hour, even on the most crowded days. Now you go on one or two. After four hours at Whitewater the other day, my daughter and I had gone on five. And so it’s not just that some people can afford to pay for an enhanced experience. It’s that your experience — what you’ve paid full price for — has been devalued. The experience of the line becomes an infernal humiliation; and the experience of avoiding the line becomes the only way to enjoy the water park. You used to pay for equal access; now you have to pay for access that’s more equal than the access afforded others. The commonality of experience is lost, and the lines are striated not simply by who can pay for a Flash Pass and who can’t; they’re also striated by race and class. The people sporting the Flash Passes are almost exclusively white, and they tend to be in better shape than those stuck on line. They tend to have fewer tattoos, and to look less, well, pagan. And by the end of the day, they start cutting lines where Flash Passes don’t even apply — because they feel entitled to — and none of them, not even their kids, will so much as look at you.

I think 2008 and 2012 Obama voters are nodding their heads here at Appelbaum’s and Junod’s thoughts…Obama’s statement on net neutrality and the rationale behind it is what they voted for. If you watched any of Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts on PBS, you’ll recognize this is right out of TR’s and FDR’s playbooks. Worth noting also that Teddy was a Republican and FDR a Democrat.

Gorgeous time lapse of the Sun

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 10, 2014

This is a time lapse of the surface of the Sun, constructed of more than 17,000 images taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory from Oct 14 to Oct 30, 2014. The bright area that starts on the far right is sunspot AR 12192, the largest observed sunspot since 1990.

The sunspot is about 80,000 miles across (as wide as 10 Earths) and it’s visible from Earth with the naked eye. Best viewed as large as possible…I bet this looks amazing on the new retina iMac. (via @pageman)

How wax food models are made

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 07, 2014

In 1985, German director Wim Wenders travelled to Japan and made a film called Tokyo Ga. In this clip of the film, Wenders visits a studio where fake food for display in restaurant windows is made. The clip starts a little slow so give it a bit of time.

What’s surprising is how much the process of making fake food is like the process of making real food. (via open culture)

Information Graphics: Space

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 07, 2014

Space Information Graphics

A children’s book about space featuring information graphics illustrated by the completely awesome Jennifer Daniel!?

The third in a visually stunning series of information graphics that shows just how interesting and humorous scientific information can be. Complex facts about space are reinterpreted as stylish infographics that astonish, amuse, and inform.

INSTANT PURCHASE. February 2015 cannot come fast enough.

A cat says yo yo yo

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 07, 2014

It’s apparently silly video day on kottke.org. No idea what this is or why it’s happening or who’s involved or how this situation even came up or anything, but just watch it with the sound on it’ll take you six seconds. Well, until you watch it 200 more times because WITAF.

Oh shit, this is a funny cat video I am posting a funny cat video what the hell is wrong with me please someone help me daaisy daaaisyyy giiiiiivve mmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeee (via @daveg)

Too Many Cooks

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 07, 2014

Adult Swim did something magical with this 11-minute 80s sitcom intro:

I didn’t have high hopes for this when I started watching, but it’s like the Terminator of 80s sitcoms: it just will not stop introducing people. Better quality here. (via waxy)

Microscopic photo of vinyl record grooves

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 06, 2014

When you look really closely at record grooves, like at 1000x magnification, you can see the waveforms of the music itself. Sooo cool.

Microscope Vinyl

This video shows how the stylus moves through the grooves.

As Lisa Simpson would say, “I can see the music!

Update: Here’s a great visual explanation of how you get stereo sound out of a record. (via @pcnofelt & @marcrobichaud)

The Internet of Perverted Things

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 06, 2014

Matt Haughey’s pervy internet-connected motion-sensing security camera recently snapped a photo of him in the nude and emailed it to him. Hilarious, right? Sort of?

But then I realized that image is on Dropcam’s system. And Google bought Dropcam so my photo is somewhere in Google’s cloud. There’s a web-accessible photo of my naked ass (with no black bar added above) somewhere and I have no idea where it is or how easy it is for anyone to find. Wonderful.

Slow motion metal shavings

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 06, 2014

Confirmed: metal shavings flung off of drill bits in slow motion are beautiful.

(via digg)

The Diatomist

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 06, 2014

Klaus Kemp is one of the last great practitioners of arranging diatoms, tiny single celled algae. The art is only visible under microscopic magnification.

More information about Kemp and his images is available on his web site. (via waxy)

Ballet stories

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 06, 2014

city.ballet is a video series about the workings of the New York City Ballet. The twelve episodes of season two cover everything from apprentice dancers to injuries to the sacrifices the dancers make to pursue their onstage dreams.

Imagine a city unto itself — a place where 16 year olds are professionals, 18 year olds are revered and many 30 year olds are retirees. Imagine a world so insular that nearly every one of these virtuosos has trained together in an academy since childhood, their lives forever intertwined by work, play, competition, friendship and love. Imagine a world in which the bottom line standard is to be, simply, the best on the planet, and where each night, an empty stage, in front of thousands, beckons with a challenge. This enclave has a name — New York City Ballet — and you are invited into this world, one that has never opened up to the outside before.

Season two just came out and is available at AOL. (via cup of jo)

The Berlin Wall, 25 years after the fall

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 05, 2014

In Focus has a photo retrospective of the Berlin Wall, 25 years after it fell. This is one of the most iconic photos, depicting East German border guard Conrad Schumann leaping over the Wall during the early days of construction, when it was only barbed wire.

Berlin Wall Jumper

Schumann made a clean getaway, settled in Bavaria, and lived to see the fall of the Wall in 1989. But Schumann struggled with the separation from his family, birthplace, and old life and, suffering from depression, died of suicide in 1998. Walls may fall, but that’s not the same as never having built them in the first place.

Kowloon Walled City

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 05, 2014

Overseen and designed by its residents until its destruction by the Hong Kong government in 1993, Kowloon Walled City was once the most densely populated place on Earth. Before demolition, a group of Japanese researchers scoured the city, documenting every inch of the cramped settlement, resulting in a book full of dense drawings of the city. Here’s just some of the detail from one of the drawings:

Kowloon Walled City

You can view the full-size image here. (via @themexican)

Fearless Genius

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 05, 2014

Fearless Genius

Beginning in 1985, photographer and filmmaker Doug Menuez wrangled access to some of the people at the center of the Silicon Valley technology boom, including Steve Jobs as he broke away from Apple to create NeXT. Menuez has published more than 100 of those behind-the-scenes photos in a new book, Fearless Genius.

In the spring of 1985, a technological revolution was under way in Silicon Valley, and documentary photographer Doug Menuez was there in search of a story — something big. At the same time, Steve Jobs was being forced out of his beloved Apple and starting over with a new company, NeXT Computer. His goal was to build a supercomputer with the power to transform education. Menuez had found his story: he proposed to photograph Jobs and his extraordinary team as they built this new computer, from conception to product launch.

In an amazing act of trust, Jobs granted Menuez unlimited access to the company, and, for the next three years, Menuez was able to get on film the spirit and substance of innovation through the day-to-day actions of the world’s top technology guru.

The web site for the project details some of the other things Menuez has in store, including a feature-length documentary and a TV series. Ambitious. For a sneak peek, check out the NeXT-era photos Menuez posted at Storehouse. This image of Jobs, labelled “Steve Jobs Pretending to Be Human”, is a particular favorite:

Steve Jobs Beach Ball

(via df)

Miss Banksy, if you’re nasty

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 05, 2014

Everyone knows graffiti artist extraordinaire Banksy is a man. What this post presupposes is, maybe she’s a woman?

But what Banksy Does New York makes plain is that the artist known as Banksy is someone with a background in the art world. That someone is working with a committee of people to execute works that range in scale from simple stencil graffiti to elaborate theatrical conceits. The documentary shows that Banksy has a different understanding of the street than the artists, street-writers, and art dealers who steal Banksy’s shine by “spot-jocking” or straight-up pilfering her work-swagger-jackers who are invariably men in Banksy Does New York.

All of which serves as evidence against the flimsy theory that Banksy is a man.

Or maybe Banksy’s like the Dread Pirate Roberts?

When your dad is a serial killer

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 05, 2014

Melissa Moore’s dad was Keith Jesperson, aka The Happy Face Killer. In this piece, she talks about what it was like growing up with a serial killer as a dad. This is the most disturbing thing I’ve read this week.

It was during this meal that my dad said, “Not everything is what it appears to be, Missy.” And I said, “What do you mean Dad?”

I watched him wrestling with something internally. Then he said: “You know, I have something to tell you, and it’s really important.” There was a long silence before I asked him what it was. “I can’t tell you, sweetie. If I tell you, you will tell the police. I’m not what you think I am, Melissa.”

I felt my stomach drop, like I was on a rollercoaster and had just hit the lowest part of the loop. I had to run to the bathroom. When I returned to the booth I felt calm again and I found to my relief that my dad was willing to just drop the conversation.

But I go back to that incident so often and I think: “If he had told me, what would have happened next? If he had told me about his seven murders — it was very soon to be eight — would I have gone to the police? Having revealed his secrets, would he have given me the chance?”

Could my father have killed me? That has been a huge question mark in my life.

(via digg)

Red Hot Chili Orchestra

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 04, 2014

What is more fun than watching the Danish National Chamber Orchestra play a piece after having eaten some of the world’s hottest chili peppers? Probably a few things, but this is pretty entertaining nonetheless.

Chili consumption happens at 1:36. Classic highbrow + lowbrow stuff here. The brass and woodwind instrument players in particular should get some kind of award…I can’t imagine blowing on a trumpet in that condition. See also Hot Pepper Game Reviews.

Chappie and the computing rights movement

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 04, 2014

Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) is coming out with a new film in the spring, Chappie. Chappie is a robot who learns how to feel and think for himself. According to Entertainment Weekly, two of the movie’s leads are Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$ of Die Antwoord, who play a pair of criminals who robotnap Chappie.

Discussions of AI are particularly hot right now (e.g. see Musk and Bostrom) and filmmakers are using the opportunity to explore AI in film, as in Her, Ex Machina, and now Chappie.

Blomkamp, with his South African roots, puts a discriminatory spin on AI in Chappie, which is consistent with his previous work. If robots can think and feel for themselves, what sorts of rights and freedoms are they due in our society? Because right now, they don’t have any…computers and robots do humanity’s bidding without any compensation or thought to their well-being. Because that’s an absurd concept, right? Who cares how my Macbook Air feels about me using it to write this post? But imagine a future robot that can feel and think as well as (or, likely, much much faster than) a human…what might it think about that? What might it think about being called “it”? What might it decide to do about that? Perhaps superintelligent emotional robots won’t have human feelings or motivations, but in some ways that’s even scarier.

The whole thing can be scary to think about because so much is unknown. SETI and the hunt for habitable exoplanets are admirable scientific endeavors, but humans have already discovered alien life here on Earth: mechanical computers. Boole, Lovelace, Babbage, von Neumann, and many others contributed to the invention of computing and those machines are now evolving quickly, and hardware and software both are evolving so much faster than our human bodies (hardware) and culture (software) are evolving. Soon enough, perhaps not for 20-30 years still but soon, there will be machines among us that will be, essentially, incredibly advanced alien beings. What will they think of humans? And what will they do about it? Fun to think about now perhaps, but this issue will be increasingly important in the future.

The kottke.org t-shirt

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 04, 2014

For about 50 years now, I’ve wanted to do a kottke.org t-shirt. But I could never decide on a design I liked enough to wear. A few months back, I came across a service called Print All Over Me, which uses a process called “reactive dye digital printing” to seamlessly cover an entire t-shirt with a design, and I had a tiny eureka moment. After much futzing about in Photoshop, I came up with the perfect simple design for the limited edition kottke.org tee shirt, featuring the familiar blue gradient that wraps all the way around the shirt.

Kottke Tee Shirt

The shirt is made of fabric, has sleeves, and features a hole for your head. It’s everything you need in a shirt. Due to the unique printing process, the shirts are custom-dyed, cut & sewn to order, cost $38 plus shipping, and will only be available to order for the next two weeks. After that, poof. Order yours today.

(BTW, when ordering, select the “Print” option under “Back”. For some of the other shirts PAOM offers, it might make sense to not get the print on the back, but for this shirt, it’s the whole point.)

2001: A Space Odyssey sequel miniseries planned

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 04, 2014

Syfy is doing a 2001: A Space Odyssey sequel miniseries based on Arthur C. Clarke’s final book in his four-book Space Odyssey series, 3001: The Final Odyssey. Here’s the book’s synopsis:

One thousand years after the Jupiter mission to explore the mysterious Monolith had been destroyed, after Dave Bowman was transformed into the Star Child, Frank Poole drifted in space, frozen and forgotten, leaving the supercomputer HAL inoperable. But now Poole has returned to life, awakening in a world far different from the one he left behind — and just as the Monolith may be stirring once again

Ridley Scott is executive producing and Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean, Collateral) will do the heavy adaptational lifting.

Kurt Cobain’s Montage of Heck

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 04, 2014

In 1987 or 1988, Kurt Cobain made a mixtape called Montage of Heck. The Guardian has the backstory.

The tape itself is a surreal, often psychedelic insight into the mind of the 20-year-old Cobain: cut-ups of 60s, 70s and 80s TV shows interspersed with the sound of the toilet flushing and people vomiting, bits of the Beatles and Led Zeppelin interspersed with troubled Austin singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston screaming about Satan, and white noise so intense that when Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound Of Silence starts up it comes as physical relief.

There are snippets of a few unreleased Nirvana songs, too, among the tumult and screaming and dead-end repetition, amid the excerpts of William Shatner, The Partridge Family, Queen, Queensryche, Butthole Surfers, James Brown. In many respects, Montage Of Heck echoes and predates turntable culture, the ubiquitous YouTube mash-up and the Beatles’ experimental sound collage Revolution No 9.

The entire mixtape is available on Soundcloud and Vimeo.

Here’s a rough tracklist. Just a year or two after Cobain recorded Montage of Heck, Nirvana released their debut album, Bleach, and they were off to the races.

The physics of mosh pits

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 03, 2014

In 2013, a group of researchers published a paper called Collective Motion of Moshers at Heavy Metal Concerts. The paper’s abstract reads:

Human collective behavior can vary from calm to panicked depending on social context. Using videos publicly available online, we study the highly energized collective motion of attendees at heavy metal concerts. We find these extreme social gatherings generate similarly extreme behaviors: a disordered gas-like state called a mosh pit and an ordered vortex-like state called a circle pit. Both phenomena are reproduced in flocking simulations demonstrating that human collective behavior is consistent with the predictions of simplified models.

The authors built an interactive mosh pit simulation based on their simplified models. You can try it out right here:

(via @nickrichter)

The Dawn of Def Jam

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 03, 2014

Thirty years after starting Def Jam in his NYU dorm room, Rick Rubin returns to the room in question and talks about how Def Jam began.

(via ★interesting)

Galileo still right about gravity

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 03, 2014

If you believe in gravity, then you know that if you remove air resistance, a bowling ball and a feather will fall at the same rate. But seeing it actually happen, in the world’s largest vacuum chamber (122 feet high, 100 feet in diameter), is still a bit shocking.

In the late 1500s, Galileo was the first to show that the acceleration due to the Earth’s gravity was independent of mass with his experiment at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but that pesky air resistance caused some problems. At the end of the Apollo 15 mission, astronaut David Scott dropped a hammer and a feather in the vacuum on the surface of the Moon:

Science!

On kindness

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 03, 2014

Cord Jefferson with a beautiful piece about his mother, illness, and the importance and difficulty of being kind.

I’d just returned home from a meeting when she called again. It had been only a few hours since we’d last talked and, as she stammered when I picked up, my heart sank with the anticipation of more bad news. “I didn’t tell you everything I wanted to earlier,” she said after gathering her tongue. “I wanted to say that I’m scared. I know you can’t do anything to change this, but it makes me feel better to let you know that I’m afraid.”

(via @jessicalustig)

Grandma the murderer

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 02, 2014

John Reed thinks his grandma poisoned a number of her relatives over many years. Maybe.

But here’s the thing: You don’t want to believe your grandmother is poisoning you. You know that she loves you — there’s no doubt of that — and she’s so marvelously grandmotherly and charming. And you know that she would never want to poison you. So despite your better judgment, you eat the food until you’ve passed out so many times that you can’t keep doubting yourself. Eventually, we would arrive for holidays at Grandma’s with groceries and takeout, and she’d seem relieved that we wouldn’t let her touch our plates. By then, her eyesight was starting to go, so she wouldn’t notice the layer of crystalline powder atop that fancy lox she was giving you.

So the question became: How did we explain to guests, outsiders, that they shouldn’t eat grandma’s food? One time, maybe on Passover, my brother brought his new girlfriend, an actress. Grandma had promised not to prepare anything, and it seemed she’d kept her word, so we didn’t mention the poisoning thing to the girlfriend, but after we’d eaten lunch, Grandma came out of the kitchen with these oatmeal raisin cookies that looked terrible. They were bulbous, like the baking soda had gone haywire. My brother’s girlfriend ate two of them, maybe out of politeness. We looked on, aghast. She had a rehearsal in the city, but she passed out on the couch and missed it.

Prince on SNL

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 02, 2014

Prince played Saturday Night Live last night at the request of host Chris Rock, doing one 8-minute medley of songs instead of two separate short performances during the show. Here’s the whole performance:

If Hulu isn’t working for you, try the video embed on Deadspin. A set list is available on Rdio and Spotify. (via @anildash)

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