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Entries for March 2016 (April 2016 »    May 2016 »    June 2016 »    Archives)

 

A list of nonbinary gender identities

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 31, 2016

From the nonbinary.org wiki, a list of gender identities that aren’t male or female.

transgender is an umbrella term for all genders that go beyond society’s ideas of gender, which includes some kinds of binary gender people. Some call their gender identity simply “transgender,” as a nonbinary identity itself.

genderfuzz. Coined by lolzmelmel in 2014. “having multiple genders that are fuzzy and blurred together, making it impossible to identify each one individually or separate one from the rest. alternative names: blurgender (not to be confused with genderblur)

cosmicgender. Coined by dragon-friker in 2014. “A gender so vast and complex that you are only able to process a small bit of it at a time. like viewing the night sky through a telescope you cannot hope to see all of it at once however you may gain more knowledge about parts of it the longer you focus on one part. may contain any number of sub genders within it that may present themselves to you. it is infinite in its possibility. name from the vast reaches of space filled with things we cannot begin to imagine.”

hijra. In south Asian countries including India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, the Hijra are people assigned male at birth who have a feminine gender expression. This is a very ancient tradition. Today, Hijra are legally recognized as a gender other than female or male.

nocturnalgender. Coined by passengender in 2014. Any gender that feels more intense during the night, “but weak/nonexistent when it is light out.” Syn. batgender, owlgender, moongender. Counterpart: flowergender.

Fascinating.

Update: Sam Escobar answers some frequently asked questions about non-binary gender.

The gender binary separates those who identify as male or female, simple as that. Non-binary genders, however, don’t fit neatly within these two-they can be a combination of male and female, a fluid back-and-forth, or totally outside of the binary. Cisgender people, on the other hand, are folks whose identities align with the gender they were assigned at birth.

(via @djacobs)

We Work Remotely

Text editor restricted to 1000 most common words

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 31, 2016

Simple Language Editor

Inspired by Randall Munroe’s Thing Explainer, Morten Just built a simple text editor for OS X that restricts your writing to the 1000 most common English words. You can also use Munroe’s Simple Writer on the web.

New EP from Com Truise

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 31, 2016

Com Truise’s new EP, Silicon Tare, comes out tomorrow but you can listen on Soundcloud right now. Grab the mp3s or vinyl at Ghostly or Amazon. (Previously.)

Status report: How’s the climate doing?

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 31, 2016

In the past two weeks, the results of three surveys and studies about the Earth’s climate have been released: a paper on a possible dramatic climate shift, a survey of coral bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef, and a study on the West Antarctic ice sheet. All three investigations tell the story of climate change happening quicker than was previously anticipated.

From the paper published last week by former NASA climate scientist James Hansen and a number of colleagues:

Virtually all climate scientists agree with Dr. Hansen and his co-authors that society is not moving fast enough to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, posing grave risks. The basic claim of the paper is that by burning fossil fuels at a prodigious pace and pouring heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, humanity is about to provoke an abrupt climate shift.

In Australia, more than 40% of the Great Barrier Reef has been damaged by coral bleaching.

Scientists who have dedicated their careers to studying the reef and its ecosystem say the current bleaching is unprecedented, and perhaps unrecoverable. The emotion in their responses so far have been palpable.

“I witnessed a sight underwater that no marine biologist, and no person with a love and appreciation for the natural world for that matter, wants to see,” said Australian coral scientist Jodie Rummer in a statement, after spending more than a month at a monitoring station in the Great Barrier Reef.

Though corals comprise only about 0.2 percent of the global oceans, they support perhaps a quarter of all marine species.

And just yesterday, a study on the West Antarctic ice sheet was released that says the ice sheet could melt much faster than previously thought, raising global sea levels by 3 feet in less than 90 years. Even the normally staid NY Times invoked the Sword of Damocles in the lede.

The great ice sheet, larger than Mexico, is thought to be potentially vulnerable to disintegration from a relatively small amount of global warming, and capable of raising the sea level by 12 feet or more should it break up. But researchers long assumed the worst effects would take hundreds — if not thousands — of years to occur.

Now, new research suggests the disaster scenario could play out much sooner.

Continued high emissions of heat-trapping gases could launch a disintegration of the ice sheet within decades, according to a study published Wednesday, heaving enough water into the ocean to raise the sea level as much as three feet by the end of this century.

Miami might not make it to the end of the century.

Oh and BTW, the maximum extent of sea ice in the Arctic was a record low in 2016, February was a total Messi-esque outlier in terms of how unusually hot it was, March, while not as warm, will still be the hottest March ever, and just look at the 2016 trend in the first chart here.

You can think of the Earth as a massive machine, with many interconnected, resilient, and redundant systems. For a long time, humans thought it was too big for our actions to affect this machine in a meaningful way. But the Industrial Revolution’s release of hundreds of millions of years of stored greenhouse gases in less than 300 years put a strain on that entire machine. We didn’t notice that strain for a long time, but we’re starting to now in the form of higher temperatures, weird weather, bleaching coral reefs, rapidly melting ice sheets in Greenland & Antarctica, and dozens of other ways. I hope there’s still time to do something meaningful about it before the slower moving parts of the machine fail permanently.

The 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 31, 2016

In this 25-minute film, director Amanda Murray profiles The 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair through rare color film footage and talking to people who attended.

A modernist, techno-utopia landed in New York in 1939, rocketing kids from the Depression into ‘The World of Tomorrow.’

I had to stop myself from falling down a major research rabbit hole here, but just one of the tidbits I ran across was the IND World’s Fair Line, an NYC subway line built especially for the fair. (via @jcormier)

The invention of the jump shot

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 30, 2016

Jump Shot

It is perhaps difficult to believe, but the jump shot was not always a part of basketball. It had to be invented. Rise and Fire by Shawn Fury is the story of that invention, which is still — *cough* Steph Curry — being tinkered with in the lab.

In his short post about the book (he calls it “new and fun”), Tyler Cowen shares this excerpt:

But in March 1963, a month before his final game for the Celtics, [Bob] Cousy complained to the Associated Press, “I think the jump shot is the worst thing that has happened to basketball in ten years.” Cousy’s objections? “Any time you can do something on the ground, it’s better,” he said, sounding very much like a coach who would have enjoyed benching Kenny Sailors or Bud Palmer. “Once you leave the ground, you’ve committed yourself.” Jump shot critics discouraged players from flying into the air because they feared the indecision that came when someone left their feet. They feared the bad passes from players who jumped with no clear plan of what they’d do in the air. Staying grounded meant fewer mistakes. It was simply a safer way to play the game, if not as exciting.

1963 was more than 50 years ago, but well into the modern era in the NBA. (I know, pre-merger, but still. We’re not talking George Mikan here.) Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, and Jerry West were all playing, as was a rookie named John Havlicek, who played for the Celtics until the late 70s.

The next 100 years of humans in space

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 30, 2016

Integrated Space Plan

In 1989, a Rockwell engineer named Ron Jones published his Integrated Space Plan, a detailed outline of the next 100 years of human space travel, from continuing shuttle missions in the 1990s to the large scale habitation of Mars. The plan includes all sorts of futuristic and day-dreamy phrases like:

Create new moons for Mars if required
Humanity begins the transition from a terrestrial to a solar species
Humanity commands unlimited resources from the Moon and asteroids
Space drives global economy
Independent spacefaring human communities

Wired has a good look at how the plan came to be.

The graphic is divided into nine columns that show, in chronological order, the path toward human exploration of deep space. The center row of boxes, the “critical path,” outlines the major milestones Jones decided were attainable within the next century of space travel; the boxes to the left and right of the critical path are support elements that must be realized before anything on the critical path can happen. The Integrated Space Plan can be read top to bottom and left to right. The big circles intersecting the boxes are the the plan’s overarching long-range goals, which include things like Humanity begins the transition from a terrestrial to a solar species and Human expansion into the cosmos. In many ways, it’s a graphical to-do list.

The keen observer will note that we are waaaaay behind in the plan. A lunar outpost was supposed to be up and running before 2008 and a self-supporting lunar base is due to happen in the next year or two. Can Musk and Bezos get us back on track? (via @ftrain)

Documentary on chess champion Magnus Carlsen

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 30, 2016

Using behind-the-scenes footage shot over the past decade, Magnus is a feature-length documentary about reigning world chess champion Magnus Carlsen.

From a young age Magnus Carlsen had aspirations of becoming a champion chess player. While many players seek out an intensely rigid environment to hone their skills, Magnus’ brilliance shines brightest when surrounded by his loving and supportive family. Through an extensive amount of archival footage and home movies, director Benjamin Ree reveals this young man’s unusual and rapid trajectory to the pinnacle of the chess world. This film allows the audience to not only peek inside this isolated community but also witness the maturation of a modern genius.

An early Beatles gig for only 18 people

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 30, 2016

Beatles

Beatles

You’ve got to start somewhere, and for The Beatles, that somewhere included Palais Ballroom in Aldershot, England, where they played in front of only 18 people in 1961.

When the Beatles arrived after being driven nine hours from Liverpool by Leach’s friend Terry McCann, their posters were nowhere to be found, and they had to wait to be let into the venue.

That night, the Beatles played their usual covers of Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis to about 18 very bored people.

Business jargon we got used to

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 29, 2016

Everybody hates management-speak and corporate jargon, but here are some terms that people used to think of as horrible jargon that we all got used to. Maybe one day we’ll all be leveraging deliverables without a second thought.

(via @mulegirl)

The off-kilter cinematography of Mr. Robot

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 29, 2016

Using traditional cinematography, characters are not usually confined to the bottom third of the screen, crammed all the way in the corner, or placed right at the edge of the screen, looking offscreen. But rules are meant to be broken and the director of photography for Mr. Robot uses these unconventional shots to tell the audience about what’s happening on the screen.

P.S. Season 2 is coming in July.

P.P.S. I love that episode titles for season 1 are modeled after the filenames of pirated videos on BitTorrent: eps1.0_hellofriend.mov, eps1.4_3xpl0its.wmv, eps1.7_wh1ter0se.m4v, etc.

P.P.P.S. Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting doesn’t like the framing in Mr. Robot, called it a gimmick. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even notice the unusual framing when I watched it. I am flunking out of internet film school, aren’t I? :(

How to dumpster dive in NYC

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 29, 2016

Jeff Seal digs through garbage bags outside of NYC grocery stores, delis, bakeries, and supermarkets to find perfectly good food that’s been thrown out.

The Beach at Night

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 28, 2016

Elena Ferrante, the mysterious Italian novelist of the critically acclaimed Neapolitan Novels, is coming out with a children’s book called The Beach at Night.

Elena Ferrante returns to a story that animated the novel she considers to be a turning point in her development as a a writer: The Lost Daughter. But this time the tale takes the form of a children’s fable told from the point of view of the lost (stolen!) doll, Celina.

The book has been out in Italy since 2007, but with so much interest in Ferrante (and her true identity), the English language version is now on its way.

BTW, I started reading the Neapolitan Novels last week and have barely put them down since…I should finish the second book tonight. So good.

Founding Fathers, the untold story of hip hop

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 28, 2016

Founding Fathers is a full-length documentary film about the history of hip hop narrated by Public Enemy’s Chuck D. Everyone knows that hip hop originated in the Bronx. What this film presupposes is, maybe it didn’t? Maybe hip hop started even earlier than commonly thought in places like Brooklyn with DJs like Grandmaster Flowers.

I don’t know if this film ever found release anywhere…it’s not even on IMDB or Wikipedia. (via @sampotts)

The unexpected vistas of the world’s coastlines

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 28, 2016

Beyond The Sea

Beyond the Sea is a neat project by Andy Woodruff that visualizes what lies across the ocean from the world’s coastlines. For instance, standing on the coast in North America looking straight out, you might see Brazil or the west coast of Africa, but also the east coast of Africa, India, and even Iran.

In the northern reaches of Newfoundland, near the town of St. Anthony, is the Fox Point Lighthouse. I’ve never been there, but I know it has one of the most impressive ocean views in the world. If you face perpendicular to the right bit of rocky coastline there and gaze straight across the ocean, your mind’s eye peering well beyond the horizon, you can see all the way to Australia.

What’s really across the ocean from you when you look straight out? It’s not always the place you think.

Increasing the efficiency of photosynthesis

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 28, 2016

Stewart Brand wrote a summary of a seminar given by Jane Langdale about how the efficiency of photosynthesis might be improved for some of the world’s plants, particularly rice.

Most plants use what’s called C3 photosynthesis to produce sugars and starch, but the process is not very efficient. Some plants, like corn and sugarcane, have evolved the capability to produce sugars and starch using the much more efficient C4 photosynthesis process. So if you could modify rice to use C4 instead of C3, yields would increase dramatically.

Rice is a C3 plant — which happens to be the staple food for half the world. If it can be converted to C4 photosynthesis, its yield would increase by 50% while using half the water. It would also be drought-resistant and need far less fertilizer.

You can read more about the efforts in developing C4 photosynthesis in Technology Review.

135 design facts

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 28, 2016

Design Facts

Design Facts is just what it says on the tin.

Design Facts is a platform for sharing the inspiring, shocking, passionate, brilliant, revolutionary, carefully crafted and relatively young history of our craft, all in bite-sized servings.

Warning, once you start reading, you’re probably not going to be able to stop until you’ve seen all 135 facts. (Also, there’s is something charmingly old school about this site. Sure, it’s a slideshow, but in a 1997 sort of way.)

NY Times-style obituary of Jesus of Nazareth

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 26, 2016

Vanity Fair had Sam Roberts, an obituary writer from the NY Times, come up with an obit for Jesus, as it might have been written 2000 or so years ago.

His father was named Joseph, although references to him are scarce after Jesus’s birth. His mother was Miriam, or Mary, and because he was sometimes referred to as “Mary’s son,” questions had been raised about his paternity.

He is believed to have been the eldest of at least six siblings, including four brothers-James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon-and several sisters. He never married-unusual for a man of his age, but not surprising for a Jew with an apocalyptic vision.

The “about 33” in reference to his age is a nice touch.

Dr. Strangelove joins the Criterion Collection

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 25, 2016

Dr Strangelove Criterion

The Criterion Collection is coming out with a Blu-ray version of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Features include a restored 4K digital transfer and a bunch of interviews and short documentaries about the film. Strangelove is one of my top two favorite films of all time. (via df)

Classic NYC street photos, from the 1930s and now

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 25, 2016

Berenice Abbott, Then and Now

The WSJ dispatched Matthew Riva to re-shoot classic NYC street scenes first captured by Berenice Abbott in the 1930s.

Visual evidence that The Force Awakens is an homage to Star Wars

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 25, 2016

One of the things that a number of people commented on after seeing The Force Awakens (including me) was that the movie seemed to be a remix or an homage to the original Star Wars.

With The Force Awakens, JJ Abrams did the same thing, but instead of pulling from Flash Gordon and Kurosawa like Lucas did, he pulled from what he grew up with as a kid and in film school…Star Wars and Spielberg. In a way, The Force Awakens is a reboot of the original 1977 Star Wars, similar plot and all. And even if it isn’t a true reboot, it sure does rhyme.

Although some of the comparisons are a stretch, this video does a nice job highlighting the visual similarities of the two movies.

Related: Kenji Lopez-Alt took off his food nerd hat for a second and donned his Star Wars nerd hat with this piece at Medium: Rey is a Palpatine.

Apple Inc. turns 40

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 25, 2016

Apple turns 40 years old next week on April 1. To celebrate in their typical “don’t dwell on the past but whoa look at all the cool stuff we’ve done” fashion, Apple debuted a 40-second commercial at an event earlier this week featuring 40 significant things from the company’s history. Stephen Hackett annotated each of things in the video.

April 1, 1976: Apple Computer, Inc. is founded.
The Happy Mac used to greet you as your machine booted up. It got replaced way back in 2002.
iMac: The computer that saved Apple.
The iPod mini made music fashionable and the iPod nano made it colorful.
Multi-Touch: If you see a stylus, they blew it!
Touch ID: Unlock your device with just your fingerprint.

Hackett also notes only a handful of products from the non-Jobs era Apple are featured. (via df)

Update: Former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée wrote about Apple’s 40th. I liked these two paragraphs:

Apple 2.0 began in late 1996 when Jobs managed what turned out to be a reverse acquisition of Apple. We owe much gratitude to then-CEO Gil Amelio who unwittingly saved the company hiring Steve to “advise” him. Jobs’ advice? Show Amelio the door and install himself as “interim” CEO. Jobs then made an historic deal with Bill Gates which gave him time to let his team of NeXT engineers completely rebuild the Mac OS on a modern Unix foundation. Steve also rummaged through the company and found Jony Ive who gave us the colorful iMacs, the first of a series of admired designs.

What followed is recognized as the most striking turnaround story in any industry, one that has been misunderstood and pronounced as doomed at almost every turn. The list of Jobs’ “mistakes” includes killing the Macintosh clone program by canceling Mac OS licenses; getting rid of floppies and, later, CD/DVD-ROMs (mostly); entering the crowded MP3 player field; introducing iTunes and the micropayment system; the overpriced, underpowered $500 iPhone; the stylus-free iPad (ahem)…

Update: To mark the anniversary, Apple flew a pirate flag over their headquarters in honor of the original Macintosh team.

The building looked pretty much like every other Apple building, so we wanted to do something to make it look like we belonged there. Steve Capps, the heroic programmer who had switched over from the Lisa team just in time for the January retreat, had a flash of inspiration: if the Mac team was a band of pirates, the building should fly a pirate flag.

A few days before we moved into the new building, Capps bought some black cloth and sewed it into a flag. He asked Susan Kare to paint a big skull and crossbones in white at the center. The final touch was the requisite eye-patch, rendered by a large, rainbow-colored Apple logo decal. We wanted to have the flag flying over the building early Monday morning, the first day of occupancy, so the plan was to install it late Sunday evening.

Wii music turns Koyaanisqatsi jaunty

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 24, 2016

In this clip from Koyaanisqatsi, Andy Kelly replaced Philip Glass’ score with music from the Wii Shop Channel. As he notes, the movie doesn’t seem quite as haunting now. (via @daveg)

How to make a bow and arrow from scratch

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 24, 2016

The latest video from Primitive Technology (previously, awesome) is about making a bow and set of arrows from scratch.

The bow is 1.25 m (55 inches) long and shoots 60 cm (2 feet) long arrows. I don’t know the draw weight — safe to say greater than 15 kg (35 pounds) perhaps? The stave was made from a tree that was cut with a stone axe and split in half with a stone chisel. I don’t know it’s name but it’s common here and is the same wood I use for axe handles.

I love how these videos are shot and edited. The editing feels very contemporary — quick-fire pacing with very little superfluous material — but the lack of narration, dialogue, or explanatory text feels old school. Reminds me of the super-effective and efficient Buzzfeed Tasty vids.

Trailer for The Lego Batman Movie

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 24, 2016

People seem to like this, but I don’t know…I’ve got a bad feeling about it. Batman in The Lego Movie was cool and all, but is it enough to hang an entire film around? Not that this question isn’t totally moot…in 10 years, every movie will feature Lego superheroes.

Update: And now there’s a second trailer? Already?

At this rate, we’ll be able to cut the whole movie together by the time it comes out next year, just from the trailers.

Update: The first full trailer is out and, sure, I’ll go see this with the kids when it opens.

(via Trailer Town which also has a few other Lego Batman trailers, so why don’t you go watch them there because Trailer Town is soooo coooool. Oh, oh, you’re leaving? You know what? Fine, go. That’s right go. If you like F’ING TRAILER TOWN SO MUCH, JUST FUC — [sorry, Jason has been invited into the cooldown room for awhile])

Time lapse video of a year’s worth of sunrises

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 24, 2016

A man in Germany rigged a camera to take a photo 10 minutes after sunrise every day for an entire year. Phil Plait explains the Sun’s motion:

The video starts at the vernal equinox in 2015, on March 21, and runs through to March 20, 2016. The Sun rises due east, then moves left (north) every morning at a rapid rate. You can then see it slow, stop at the June solstice, and then reverse direction, moving south (right). It slows and stops again at the December solstice (note the snow on the rooftops!), then reverses, moving north again. The weather gets pretty bad, but you can still see enough to get a sense that the Sun moves most rapidly at the equinoxes and most slowly at the solstices, just as I said.

Photoviz: information visualization through photography

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 23, 2016

Photoviz

Nicholas Felton is out with a new book on information visualization and photography called Photoviz.

The stories told with graphics and infographics are now being visualized through photography. Fotoviz shows how these powerful images are depicting correlations, making the invisible visible, and revealing more detail than classic photojournalism.

Ahhhhh, this looks amazing. And is right up my alley as well…I quickly looked through some of the images featured in the book and I’ve posted many of them here before (see time merge media for instance). Can’t wait for this one to arrive.

A portrait session with a twist

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 23, 2016

This is an experiment about expectations. Six photographers are given an assignment to shoot photos of one man. Each photographer is told a different story about the man: he’s a millionaire, a lifesaver, an ex-con, a fisherman, a psychic, a recovering alcoholic. As you might expect, the photos taken by the different photographers of the same person are pretty different.

A history of electronic music in 476 songs

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 23, 2016

UbuWeb is hosting a massive collection of electronic and electroacoustic songs from 1937-2001.

This is from a 62 CD set called “The History of Electroacoustic Music” that was floating around as a torrent, reputedly curated by a Brazilian student. It’s sketchy. The torrent vanished and the collection has long been unavailable.

It’s a clearly flawed selection: there’s few women and almost no one working outside of the Western tradition (where are the Japanese? Chinese? etc.). However, as an effort, it’s admirable and contains a ton of great stuff.

Take it with a grain of salt, or perhaps use it as a provocation to curate a more intelligent, inclusive, and comprehensive selection.

(via open culture)

Update: The tongue-in-cheek Flash-only interface is terrible, but if you get past that, Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music is an amazing resource. (via @xRageous)

20 movies scenes before and after CGI

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 23, 2016

A quickfire look at scenes from 20 movies (Gravity, The Revenant, Planet of the Apes) that were done with the help of green screens and computer animation. What, no Carol?!

The unlikely relaxation of watching 6000 matches burn

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 22, 2016

Lighting 6000 closely grouped wooden matchsticks takes less than a minute, but waiting for the resulting fire to extinguish takes quite a bit longer and is surprisingly relaxing to watch. (Two is a trend, right…it is also surprisingly relaxing and satisfying to watch a tomato being unsliced. Is there an entire genre of videos like this out there?) (via digg)

The University of XKCD

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 22, 2016

Randall Munroe’s best-selling Thing Explainer, in which he explains scientific concepts using only the 1000 most common words, will be incorporated into the upcoming editions of some of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s high school science textbooks.

Mr. Munroe, 31, said the project appealed to him. He recalled as a child a foldout diagram showing different animals at the starting line of a race and then sprinting/flying/crawling to show the different speeds of different species. “For some reason, I fixated on that illustration,” he said. “It stuck with me my entire life.”

Mr. Munroe said he hoped his drawings would break up the monotony and pace of a typical textbook. “I’m hoping it will be, ‘Oh, here’s a kind of fun and unexpected component,’” he said.

I think Bill Gates would approve.

20 rules for making money from P.T. Barnum

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 22, 2016

The American showman P.T. Barnum published a book of rules for making money called The Art of Money Getting. Here are the 20 rules from the book:

1. Don’t mistake your vocation
2. Select the right location
3. Avoid debt
4. Persevere
5. Whatever you do, do it with all your might
6. Depend upon your own personal exertions
7. Use the best tools
8. Don’t get above your business
9. Learn something useful
10. Let hope predominate but be not too visionary
11. Do not scatter your powers
12. Be systematic
13. Read the newspapers
14. Beware of “outside operations”
15. Don’t indorse without security
16. Advertise your business
17. Be polite and kind to your customers
18. Be charitable
19. Don’t blab
20. Preserve your integrity

The book is also available in a convenient paperback format.

P.S. If you find it difficult to believe that this book was written by the same man who said “there’s a sucker born every minute”, then you’ll be pleased to know that Barnum probably never said that.

Scientists warn of dramatic climate shift much sooner than expected

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 22, 2016

A new paper by climate scientists, including ex-NASA scientist James Hansen, warns that our climate could dramatically change within decades, not centuries.

Virtually all climate scientists agree with Dr. Hansen and his co-authors that society is not moving fast enough to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, posing grave risks. The basic claim of the paper is that by burning fossil fuels at a prodigious pace and pouring heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, humanity is about to provoke an abrupt climate shift.

Non-linear systems, man. Gradually, then all at once.

Update: Slate’s Eric Holthaus has more on the paper and its potential implications.

In addition to the risk of “several meters” of sea level rise this century, which Hansen calls the most important finding, the final version of Hansen’s paper gives new emphasis to the possibility that the ocean’s heat circulation system may be in the process of shutting down. The circulation shutdown would precede the rapid increase in global sea levels. If the shutdown happens, simultaneous cooling of the waters near Greenland and Antarctica and warming in the tropics and midlatitudes could spawn frequent strong storms on the order of Hurricane Sandy or worse.

If that sounds a lot like the plot of The Day After Tomorrow to you, you’re not alone.

Hansen also released a 15-minute video about the paper:

Things Organized Neatly

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 21, 2016

Things Organized Neatly

The Tumblr Things Organized Neatly is now a book of the same name.

See also Always. Be. Knolling.

The creative flow of Richie Jackson on a skateboard

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 21, 2016

It’s been awhile; let’s check in on what skateboarder Richie Jackson is doing. Oh, more incredibly creative and chill tricks? Niiiiiiice.

The Phantom Menace Anti-Cheese Edit

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 21, 2016

This is a fan edit of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace with all of the crappy bits removed and several other scenes reworked. Among the changes:

- Jar Jar is now a useful character instead of an annoying tag-along
- Queen Amidala’s voice is pitch-shifted back to her normal pitch
- Midichlorian references removed
- Anakin is edited to be a more deliberate hero instead of an accidental one

Pro tip: the best Star Wars prequel is still Triumph The Insult Comic Dog interviewing people standing in line for Attack of the Clones.

Will anyone accept responsibility for the Flint water crisis?

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 18, 2016

If you’ve been following along, various politicians at all levels of the government have basically been kicking the can down the road when it comes to taking responsibility for the water crisis in Flint, MI.

[Michigan Governor Rick] Snyder and [Environmental Protection Administrator Gina] McCarthy were both asked, strongly and repeatedly, to resign. The two officials, for their part, blamed each other: The governor faulted the EPA for its slow and “ineffective” response, while McCarthy took aim at state officials for obfuscating the poor water quality. Both also suggested they weren’t fully aware of the problem’s scope until far too late.

Dave Pell from Nextdraft says:

This is a common refrain we’ve heard from national, state and local officials. We’ve had hearings, debates, and nationally televised town halls. What we don’t have is a solution for the people bathing in bottled water. In times of war, we can get running water to the deserts of Iraq. But all we can get to Flint is politics as usual.

Also via Nextdraft, Erin Brockovich wrote about Flint and the other places around the country where similar things are happening.

How many digits of pi does NASA use?

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 18, 2016

Mathematicians have calculated pi out to more than 13 trillion decimal places, a calculation that took 208 days. NASA’s Marc Rayman explains that in order to send out probes and slingshot them accurately throughout the solar system, NASA needs to use only 15 decimal places, or 3.141592653589793. How precise are calculations with that number? This precise:

The most distant spacecraft from Earth is Voyager 1. It is about 12.5 billion miles away. Let’s say we have a circle with a radius of exactly that size (or 25 billion miles in diameter) and we want to calculate the circumference, which is pi times the radius times 2. Using pi rounded to the 15th decimal, as I gave above, that comes out to a little more than 78 billion miles. We don’t need to be concerned here with exactly what the value is (you can multiply it out if you like) but rather what the error in the value is by not using more digits of pi. In other words, by cutting pi off at the 15th decimal point, we would calculate a circumference for that circle that is very slightly off. It turns out that our calculated circumference of the 25 billion mile diameter circle would be wrong by 1.5 inches. Think about that. We have a circle more than 78 billion miles around, and our calculation of that distance would be off by perhaps less than the length of your little finger.

When was humanity’s calculation of pi accurate enough for NASA? In 1424, Persian astronomer and mathematician Jamshid al-Kashi calculated pi to 17 digits.

Five iconic female photographers

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 18, 2016

Lomography has a list of the Top Five Iconic Female Photographers. I had never heard of Julia Margaret Cameron before — you can check out some of her fantastic work here — but Diane Arbus, Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, and Vivian Maier are all favorites of mine. Here’s a photograph from each:

Arbus Grenade

White Bread Line

Migrant Woman

Maier Reflection

Proof of evolution that you can find on your body

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 18, 2016

There are some things that humans don’t need to survive anymore still hanging around on our bodies, including unnecessary arm muscles and vestigial tail bones.

How to start a fire with a lemon

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 17, 2016

If you left the house with a lemon, some copper clips, some zinc nails, some wire, and steel wool but somehow forgot your matches, you can still start a fire. I imagine if you had a large enough lemon and enough wire and metal bits, you could also jumpstart a car or a human heart. (via @kathrynyu)

A Pinterest board full of letterforms

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 17, 2016

Letterforms

Curated by Zach Davenport, this Pinterest board features all sorts of different letterforms, from A to Z.

Making shiny balls of mud

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 17, 2016

Jenna Close and Jon Held recently shot a short video profile of Bruce Gardner, who practices the Japanese art of hikaru dorodango…making shiny balls out of mud.

Dorodango

Ever since reading about them years ago, I’ve been making sand versions at the beach. No more excuses…I’m making a mud version this summer.

Why aren’t all cocktails served in the same glass?

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 17, 2016

The PBS Ideas Channel talks to Brooklyn bar owner Ivy Mix about all the different kinds of glassware that cocktails are served in. The most interesting bits are about how factors other than taste influence how people enjoy drinks, as with wine. Men in particular seem to have a difficult time enjoying themselves with certain types of glassware and drink colors.

Superbugs, the antibiotic apocalypse explained

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 16, 2016

The latest video from Kurzgesagt is an explainer on antibiotics and superbugs (drug resistant bacteria).

What would you say if we told you that humanity is currently making a collaborative effort to engineer the perfect superbug, a bug that could kill hundreds of millions of people?

The Maker

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 16, 2016

Even though I love watching videos of people who make things, you’ve got to admit that many of them share an aesthetic that can get a little tiresome.

Simulating the world with emoji

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 16, 2016

Emoji Epidemic

Nicky Case built a tool for simulating systems with emoji. You populate your world with things (represented by emoji), add a few rules about how those things interact, and boom, you’ve got yourself a little world. The default simulation is of a forest fire, but others have made simulations of predator/prey cycles, animal skin patterns, and epidemics. Try making your own here.

People in prison drawing people who should be

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 16, 2016

Captured

Captured

For the Captured project, prison inmates drew pictures of people they felt should be in jail instead, “the CEOs of companies destroying our environment, economy, and society”. All 1000 books have sold out with the proceeds going to Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

Button, crimini, and portobello are all the same mushroom

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 15, 2016

The common button or white mushroom, the crimini or brown mushroom, and the portobello mushroom are all the same species of mushroom.

Agaricus bisporus has increased in popularity in North America with the introduction of two brown strains, Portabella (sometimes also spelled portobello, portabello, or portobella) and Crimini. The three mushrooms you see to the right are all actually the same species. Portabella is a marketing name the mushroom industry came up with for more flavorful brown strains of Agaricus bisporus that are allowed to open to expose the mature gills with brown spores; crimini is actually the same brown strain that is not allowed to open before it is harvested.

See also the magical Brassica oleracea plant (cabbage, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, collard greens, and cauliflower are all the same species of plant). (via @dunstan)

Working together, tiny robots pull a car

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 15, 2016

A team of researchers at Stanford built a small army of tiny robots that pulled a car across a concrete floor.

With careful consideration to robot gait, we demonstrate a team of 6 super strong microTug microrobots weighing 100 grams pulling the author’s unmodified 3900lb (1800kg) car on polished concrete.

As any good tug of war team knows, the trick was to ensure that the tiny bots all pulled together at the same time. (via ny times)

Questlove’s book about food and creativity

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 15, 2016

something to food about

Questlove is coming out with a book about food and creativity next month called something to food about.

In conversations with ten innovative chefs in America, he explores what makes their creativity tick, how they see the world through their cooking and how their cooking teaches them to see the world. The conversations begin with food but they end wherever food takes them. Food is fuel. Food is culture. Food is history. And food is food for thought.

Love that cover.

Moby Dick Big Read

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 15, 2016

As part of the Moby Dick Big Read project, dozens of people collaborated on an unabridged audiobook of Moby Dick. Each chapter has a different reader and the readers included Stephen Fry, David Attenborough, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Tilda Swinton started things off with chapter one:

(via @sampotts)

Relax and watch someone unslice a tomato

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 15, 2016

It’s so soothing and satisfying watching this person unslicing tomatoes. (via digg)

New book by James Gleick: Time Travel

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 14, 2016

James Gleick, Time Travel

James Gleick, author of The Information, Chaos, and Genius, is coming out with a new book this fall called Time Travel. William Gibson has given it his thumbs up. Really excited for this one (it comes out on my birthday!) and curious to see how liberally he treats his subject…for instance, cameras are time machines.

DIY orthodontics

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 14, 2016

Diy Braces

Amos Dudley wanted to improve his smile but didn’t want to pay thousands of dollars for Invisalign, so he 3D printed his own orthodontic aligners.

I took a mold of my teeth with some cheap alginate powder, Permastone, and a 3d printed impression tray, to get a better picture of what was really going on. Notice LI-r (right lateral incisor) projected outward, and CI-r (right central incisor) depressed inward and overlapping.

At the time of writing this, I’m an undergrad, which means that a) I’m broke, and b) I have access to expensive digital fabrication tools - definitely an unusual dichotomy. I was researching [name brand clear-aligner treatment], and I ran across a photo that caught my eye.

Those look like the layer striations from a 3D print!

What is to stop someone, who has access to a 3D printer, from making their own orthodontic aligners?

Update: Unsurprisingly, orthodontists feel that DIY dentistry is not such a great idea.

Belli notes, “He moved these teeth in only 16 weeks. You can cause a lot of problems with that. If you move a tooth too fast, you can actually cause damage to the bone and gums. And if you don’t put the tooth in the right position, you could throw off your bite,” leading to additional damage and wear on the teeth.

A walk down Broadway

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 14, 2016

Yesterday, in need of a chance to think, inspired by a friend’s recent long run, and in celebration of no longer being sick (mostly), I took the A train up to the last stop at 207th St, got out, and started walking down Broadway. Some observations:

When we first moved to NYC in late 2002, Meg and I did an “urban bushwhack” in Manhattan, very much like the one described here. We hiked around upper Manhattan for 15 miles — the heel on my right foot hurt for months afterwards — but it remains one of the best activities I’ve ever done in the city.

Broadway is the oldest north/south road in NYC. It was originally a Native American trail called Wickquasgeck. Today, even though it runs the length of the island, I’m not sure it’s in any way representative of Manhattan or NYC as a whole. As a main thoroughfare, it’s mostly businesses; there’s very little in the way of residential.

I walked past approximately 50,000 nail salons, most of them north of 125th St. Also a lot of tax prep places up there, although I don’t know if that’s seasonal or what.

I totally forgot to jog over a couple of blocks in the 140s to see the house from The Royal Tenenbaums and Alexander Hamilton’s house. :(

Times Square was the worst stretch of Broadway by a wide margin.

The weather was nice and for a stretch in the 120s, 130s, and 140s, people were out sitting on the sidewalks, eating, playing dominos, shooting the shit. I passed a group of guys talking about the Bulls/Knicks rivalry from the late 80s and early 90s, about whether Scottie Pippen was actually a good player.

The increasing number of chain stores and restaurants as you travel south is striking. Relatively speaking, Manhattan below 86th St. is all chains.

I ended up stopping at Houston…my legs were getting kinda sore and I didn’t want to push my luck. I walked home from there, which as I look at the map now, turns out to be about the same distance as if I would have walked the rest of the way down Broadway. Oh well. Perhaps next time. 200+ blocks and about 10.7 miles total.

Dire Straits’ Walk of Life improves every movie

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 13, 2016

It is the assertion of The Walk of Life Project that the Dire Straits song Walk of Life is the perfect thing to play at the end of movies. I have watched more than a dozen of these and they are all great, but I picked Lost in Translation, There Will Be Blood, and Terminator 2 to embed here.

Our creative, beautiful, unpredictable machines

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 11, 2016

I have been following with fascination the match between Google’s Go-playing AI AlphaGo and top-tier player Lee Sedol and with even more fascination the human reaction to AlphaGo’s success. Many humans seem unnerved not only by AlphaGo’s early lead in the best-of-five match but especially by how the machine is playing in those games.

Then, with its 19th move, AlphaGo made an even more surprising and forceful play, dropping a black piece into some empty space on the right-hand side of the board. Lee Sedol seemed just as surprised as anyone else. He promptly left the match table, taking an (allowed) break as his game clock continued to run. “It’s a creative move,” Redmond said of AlphaGo’s sudden change in tack. “It’s something that I don’t think I’ve seen in a top player’s game.”

When Lee Sedol returned to the match table, he took an usually long time to respond, his game clock running down to an hour and 19 minutes, a full twenty minutes less than the time left on AlphaGo’s clock. “He’s having trouble dealing with a move he has never seen before,” Redmond said. But he also suspected that the Korean grandmaster was feeling a certain “pleasure” after the machine’s big move. “It’s something new and unique he has to think about,” Redmond explained. “This is a reason people become pros.”

“A creative move.” Let’s think about that…a machine that is thinking creatively. Whaaaaaa… In fact, AlphaGo’s first strong human opponent, Fan Hui, has credited the machine for making him a better player, a more beautiful player:

As he played match after match with AlphaGo over the past five months, he watched the machine improve. But he also watched himself improve. The experience has, quite literally, changed the way he views the game. When he first played the Google machine, he was ranked 633rd in the world. Now, he is up into the 300s. In the months since October, AlphaGo has taught him, a human, to be a better player. He sees things he didn’t see before. And that makes him happy. “So beautiful,” he says. “So beautiful.”

Creative. Beautiful. Machine? What is going on here? Not even the creators of the machine know:

“Although we have programmed this machine to play, we have no idea what moves it will come up with,” Graepel said. “Its moves are an emergent phenomenon from the training. We just create the data sets and the training algorithms. But the moves it then comes up with are out of our hands — and much better than we, as Go players, could come up with.”

Generally speaking,1 until recently machines were predictable and more or less easily understood. That’s central to the definition of a machine, you might say. You build them to do X, Y, & Z and that’s what they do. A car built to do 0-60 in 4.2 seconds isn’t suddenly going to do it in 3.6 seconds under the same conditions.

Now machines are starting to be built to think for themselves, creatively and unpredictably. Some emergent, non-linear shit is going on. And humans are having a hard time figuring out not only what the machine is up to but how it’s even thinking about it, which strikes me as a relatively new development in our relationship. It is not all that hard to imagine, in time, an even smarter AlphaGo that can do more things — paint a picture, write a poem, prove a difficult mathematical conjecture, negotiate peace — and do those things creatively and better than people.

Unpredictable machines. Machines that act more like the weather than Newtonian gravity. That’s going to take some getting used to. For one thing, we might have to stop shoving them around with hockey sticks. (thx, twitter folks)

Update: AlphaGo beat Lee in the third game of the match, in perhaps the most dominant fashion yet. The human disquiet persists…this time, it’s David Ormerod:

Move after move was exchanged and it became apparent that Lee wasn’t gaining enough profit from his attack.

By move 32, it was unclear who was attacking whom, and by 48 Lee was desperately fending off White’s powerful counter-attack.

I can only speak for myself here, but as I watched the game unfold and the realization of what was happening dawned on me, I felt physically unwell.

Generally I avoid this sort of personal commentary, but this game was just so disquieting. I say this as someone who is quite interested in AI and who has been looking forward to the match since it was announced.

One of the game’s greatest virtuosos of the middle game had just been upstaged in black and white clarity.

AlphaGo’s strength was simply remarkable and it was hard not to feel Lee’s pain.

  1. Let’s get the caveats out of the way here. Machines and their outputs aren’t completely deterministic. Also, with AlphaGo, we are talking about a machine with a very limited capacity. It just plays one game. It can’t make a better omelette than Jacques Pepin or flow like Nicki. But not only beating a top human player while showing creativity in a game like Go, which was considered to be uncrackable not that long ago, seems rather remarkable.

Old Order: Blue Monday

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 11, 2016

Watch as Orkestra Obsolete plays a version of New Order’s Blue Monday using only instruments that would have been available in the 1930s, including the diddley bow, the harmonium, the zither, the theramin, and the musical saw. (via @tcarmody)

The Chart of Cosmic Exploration

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 11, 2016

Cosmic Exploration

A new print from Pop Chart Lab “traces the trajectories of every orbiter, lander, rover, flyby, and impactor to ever slip the surly bonds of Earth’s orbit and successfully complete its mission — a truly astronomical array of over 100 exploratory instruments in all.” Awesome. Basically, I am a sucker for things with curvy lines and planets.

1000 hours of early jazz recordings freely available online

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 11, 2016

David W. Niven collected jazz records from as early as 1921 and with the help of the Internet Archive, copies of those records have been made available online…that’s 1000 hours of jazz.

My 20-year-old cousin introduced me to jazz when I was 10. It was a 10” 78 RPM OK recording of “My Heart” made in Chicago on November 12, 1925, by Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five with Kid Ory, trombone; Johnny Dodds, clarinet; Lil Armstrong, piano; and Johnny St. Cyr, banjo. On the reverse was “Cornet Chop Suey.”

(via @ftrain)

Comedians Sitting on Vibrators Getting Coffee

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 10, 2016

This is really NSFW but also really ROFL: Comedy Central’s Not Safe with Nikki Glaser took Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and mixed it with Clayton Cubitt’s Hysterical Literature project to create the magical Comedians Sitting on Vibrators Getting Coffee. I laughed at this until I was red in the face.

The Cocktail Cube

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 10, 2016

Cocktail Cube

The Booker and Dax Cocktail Cube is a plastic cube you put into your cocktail shaker to simulate a big ice cube and achieve “awesome texturizing effects” for your cocktails.

One year in front of a large audience I ran a test intended to prove that big ice cubes were all show. I shook with different types of ice and dumped the drinks into graduated cylinders to measure the amount of foam the shaking had produced. To my surprise, and embarrassment, the large cube had a positive, repeatable effect on foam quantity. I don’t know why the big cube does a better job, it just does.

I’m not sure my homemade cocktail game is quite good enough to be worrying about texture at this point, but yours might be.

Map of the United Repositioned States

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 10, 2016

US Scrambled Map

Randall Munroe has made a map of the United States with all of the states in different places but still retaining the same general shape. Particularly clever is the Michigan/Maryland combo to recreate the Bay Area.

What does the most expensive steak on Earth taste like?

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 10, 2016

Chef Joshua Smookler took a hunk of waygu steak and dry-aged it for a ridiculous 400 days. No surprise, it tasted like “funk”.

Quentin Blake’s handwriting typeface

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 09, 2016

Twits

If you’ve read a book like Danny the Champion of the World or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you have seen the work of illustrator Quentin Blake.

Type foundry Monotype have created a typeface from Blake’s distinctive handwriting. Each letter has four variants so the text looks more random, like actual handwriting:

Quentin Blake font

Seven things you didn’t know about Fargo

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 09, 2016

The Coen brothers’ Fargo was released 20 years ago and to celebrate, Cinefix has a video about seven things you (probably) didn’t know about Fargo. The movie, not the city. There are probably way more than seven things you don’t know about Fargo, North Dakota.

Fun fact: I was living in WI near the MN border when Fargo came out and remember all the Minnesotans complaining about the accents. While I won’t say the accents were entirely accurate, all you had to do was turn on the MN State hockey tournament on channel 9 and listen to the announcers for a few minutes to confirm that they weren’t all that far off. (See also the 2016 Minnesota State High School All Hockey Hair Team. Uff da.)

Prison Ramen

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 09, 2016

Prison Ramen

Prison Ramen is a cookbook of instant ramen recipes from prison inmates and celebrities (Samuel L. Jackson wrote the foreword).

Instant ramen is a ubiquitous food, beloved by anyone looking for a cheap, tasty bite-including prisoners, who buy it at the commissary and use it as the building block for all sorts of meals. Think of this as a unique cookbook of ramen hacks. Here’s Ramen Goulash. Black Bean Ramen. Onion Tortilla Ramen Soup. The Jailhouse Hole Burrito. Orange Porkies — chili ramen plus white rice plus 1/2 bag of pork skins plus orange-flavored punch. Ramen Nuggets. Slash’s J-Walking Ramen (with scallions, Sriracha hot sauce, and minced pork).

(via @marcprecipice)

Satellite view of a total eclipse

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 09, 2016

The Japanese satellite Himawari caught yesterday’s total solar eclipse as it moved across the Pacific Ocean.

Update: @paulmison sent along some better views of the eclipse: here and here. I tried to find a better YouTube embed, but no dice. This one, taken of the eclipse in Micronesia, is pretty amazing though…you can see the solar flares coming off the surface of the Sun as it reaches totality. Holy shit, I’m getting excited for Eclipsathon 2017!

Chef’s Table back for 3 more seasons on Netflix

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 08, 2016

Chef’s Table, the excellent Netflix show by filmmaker David Gelb (Jiro Dreams of Sushi), which I like to think of as Other Chefs Dreams of Other Foods, is coming back with three additional seasons.

“The idea was to do a series about chefs with a really cinematic quality.” As Gelb has said before, the BBC’s Planet Earth was his visual inspiration. With one season behind him, Gelb now has a process. “The hardest thing is to choose the chefs… choosing chefs that are at the absolute top of their field, are dynamic story tellers, have interesting stories in their personal lives,” he explains. He asks a lot of questions: “What are the epiphanies that made them want to be a chef? How do their cooking and personal lives intersect?”

And then from a practical perspective, do they have the time and will to commit to this shoot? “We shoot two weeks very intensively, and they have to be willing to give us their time. Finally it’s about how do we balance the chefs, how do we make it so each story is different, so that the different stories complement each other. While each film can stand alone, together they should form a greater whole.”

Among the chefs to be featured are Grant Achatz, Ivan Orkin,1 and Michel Troisgros. If you’re curious about season 1 (trailer), the Francis Mallmann and Massimo Bottura episodes are the ones to watch.

Update: The trailer for the second season is out. May 27th!

  1. My favorite NYC ramen is the shoyu ramen at Ivan. Beats out a lot of other great bowls for me.

Game of Thrones season 6 trailer

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 08, 2016

I said at the end of last season that I wasn’t going to watch this show anymore but as I am a waffling coward, I of course am going to watch it. Not that I probably won’t regret it! Anyway, looks good I guess? Better than reading any of the books at any rate.

The day we make first contact with another world (and they’re jerks)

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 08, 2016

First contact with an alien civilization will be a momentous event in the history of Earth. Unless the other civilization is kind of a dick. Tim Urban didn’t quite cover this scenario in his post about the Fermi Paradox.

Gordon Ramsay: how to master 5 basic cooking skills

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 08, 2016

Gordon Ramsay shows us how to chop an onion, cook rice, debone a fish, cook pasta, and sharpen a knife. We’ve been watching a lot of Gordon Ramsay videos at our house recently. My daughter’s class is studying how restaurants work1 — they’re operating a real restaurant in their classroom today — so she’s been really curious about food.

On a recent weekend when it was just the two of us, we watched Ramsay cook his soft-scrambled eggs (and then made them the next morning), which sent us down a rabbit hole of beef wellington, tacos, turkey, and donuts. If you’ve only ever seen him yelling at mediocre chefs and restaurant owners on TV, you should give his cooking videos a try…he’s a super engaging chef that gets you excited about food and cooking.

  1. The kids’ school is big on social studies. As the students move through the grades, they first study the school, then their block, their neighborhood, Manhattan, Mannahatta (same location but adding the dimension of time), and eventually the country and wider world. Minna’s group is studying the neighborhood this year and to that end have visited several local businesses, including restaurants, to observe their role in the neighborhood dynamic.

DJ Time Travel

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 08, 2016

Evan Puschak of Nerdwriter fame asked an interesting question on Twitter yesterday:

It’s 2006. You’re DJing a club. You have a 2016 iPod. What song do you put on to make everyone go nuts?

Puschak compiled the responses into a Spotify playlist:

What would you pick? It depends on what sort of club you’re talking about but in general, for maximum impact, it would have to be instantly catchy but also with adventurous production that sounds like it’s from the future (in a way that, say, Uptown Funk doesn’t).

Top 10 movie plot twists of all time

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 08, 2016

There are spoilers galore in Cinefix’s look at the best ever plot twists in movies, sorted into categories including It Was All a Dream, Not Dead, and Unexpectedly Bad.

Simple advice for personal finance

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 07, 2016

Index Card

The Index Card is a new book by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack about simple advice for personal finance. The idea for the book came about when Pollack jotted down financial advice that works for almost everyone on a 4x6 index card.

Now, Pollack teams up with Olen to explain why the ten simple rules of the index card outperform more complicated financial strategies. Inside is an easy-to-follow action plan that works in good times and bad, giving you the tools, knowledge, and confidence to seize control of your financial life.

I learned about their book from a piece by Oliver Burkeman on why complex questions can have simple answers.

But there’s a powerful truth here, which is that people dispensing financial advice are even less neutral than we realise. We’re good at spotting the obvious conflicts of interest: of course mortgage providers always think it’s a great time to buy a house; of course the sharp-suited guys from SpeedyMoola.co.uk think their payday loans are good value. But it’s more difficult to see that everyone offering advice has a deeper vested interest: they need you to believe things are complex enough to make their assistance worthwhile. It’s hard to make a living as a financial adviser by handing clients an index card and telling them never to return; and those stock-tipping columns in newspapers would be dull if all they ever said was “ignore stock tips”. Yes, the world of finance is complex, but it doesn’t follow that you need a complex strategy to navigate it.

There’s no reason to assume this situation only occurs with money, either. The human body is another staggeringly complex system, but based on current science, Michael Pollan’s seven-word guidance — “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” — is probably wiser than all other diets.

Burkeman wrote one of my favorite books from the past year, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.

The trouble with transporters

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 07, 2016

In Star Trek, do you die every time you use the transporter? How would you know if you did or didn’t? I love the Ship of Theseus vs Cutty Sark comparison.

Update: See also John Weldon’s animated short To Be from The National Film Board of Canada and philosopher Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons. From the Wikipedia entry on the latter:

Part 3 argues for a reductive account of personal identity; rather than accepting the claim that our existence is a deep, significant fact about the world, Parfit’s account of personal identity is like this:

At time 1, there is a person. At a later time 2, there is a person. These people seem to be the same person. Indeed, these people share memories and personality traits. But there are no further facts in the world that make them the same person.

Parfit’s argument for this position relies on our intuitions regarding thought experiments such as teleportation, the fission and fusion of persons, gradual replacement of the matter in one’s brain, gradual alteration of one’s psychology, and so on. For example, Parfit asks the reader to imagine entering a “teletransporter,” a machine that puts you to sleep, then destroys you, breaking you down into atoms, copying the information and relaying it to Mars at the speed of light. On Mars, another machine re-creates you (from local stores of carbon, hydrogen, and so on), each atom in exactly the same relative position. Parfit poses the question of whether or not the teletransporter is a method of travel — is the person on Mars the same person as the person who entered the teletransporter on Earth? Certainly, when waking up on Mars, you would feel like being you, you would remember entering the teletransporter in order to travel to Mars, you would even feel the cut on your upper lip from shaving this morning.

Then the teleporter is upgraded. The teletransporter on Earth is modified to not destroy the person who enters it, but instead it can simply make infinite replicas, all of whom would claim to remember entering the teletransporter on Earth in the first place.

(via @DailyNousEditor & marko)

Update: But maybe you can build a Star Trek transporter with built-in no-cloning rules using quantum teleportation.

Daughter of Civil War vet still getting a pension

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 07, 2016

Private Mose Triplett was 19 when the Civil War ended in 1865. Later in life, he married a woman 50 years younger than him and, in 1930, they had a daughter Irene. Irene Triplett is now in her mid-eighties and gets a monthly benefit check from US Department of Veterans Affairs for her father’s service so many years before.

Eric Shinseki, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, often cites President Abraham Lincoln’s call, in his second inaugural address, for Americans “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.”

“The promises of President Abraham Lincoln are being delivered, 150 years later, by President Barack Obama, ” Secretary Shinseki said in a speech last fall. “And the same will be true 100 years from now-the promises of this president will be delivered by a future president, as yet unborn.”

A declaration of war sets in motion expenditures that can span centuries, whether the veterans themselves were heroes, cowards or something in between.

This story is from 2014, but I looked for Triplett’s obituary and found nothing, so I’m assuming she’s still alive and collecting that pension. See also The Great Span. (via @mikekarlesky)

The movies of Steven Spielberg, summed up in 30 iconic shots

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 07, 2016

From Duel in 1971 to this year’s The BFG, Steven Spielberg has made 30 feature-length movies. This short video features one iconic scene from each one in chronological order. Interesting to note that Spielberg has used Janusz Kamiński as his director of photography for every film since Schindler’s List, a film that marked a new phase of his career. 1

Some friends were playing a game recently: name your favorite Tom Cruise movie and your least favorite Tom Hanks movie.2 I thought it would be fun to play a similar game with Spielberg standing in for Hanks but I can’t really think of who the other director would be… Who is the directorial equivalent of Tom Cruise? Respected, huge box office, but is more sizzle than substance. Michael Bay? James Cameron? Roland Emmerich? One of these guys?

  1. Schindler’s List also occurs almost exactly halfway between the beginning of his career and the present, both time-wise and in film count.

  2. Magnolia and The ‘Burbs, respectively, although I could be talked into A Few Good Men or Eyes Wide Shut for Cruise and The Money Pit for Hanks.

Plagiarism of crossword puzzles

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 06, 2016

Not to be outdone by the recent New Yorker piece on cheating in bridge, FiveThirtyEight has written about allegations of plagiarism by a prominent crossword puzzle editor. Much like in the pro bridge case, an online repository of games has led to people uncovering inconsistencies in dozens of Timothy Parker’s crossword puzzles that would not have been otherwise noticed.

Crossword Plagiarism

There are two types of Parker’s puzzle duplications that the database has laid bare: what I’m calling the “shady” and the “shoddy.” The shady are puzzles that appeared in Universal or USA Today with themes and theme answers identical to puzzles published earlier and in separate, unrelated publications, most often The New York Times and occasionally the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. In every such case I saw - roughly 100 cases - the theme answers were in identical locations within the grid, and in many cases, the later puzzle also replicated the earlier puzzle’s grid and some of its clues.

(via waxy)

Ray Tomlinson, inventor of email, dies at 74

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 06, 2016

Ray Tomlinson, who implemented the first email system on the ARPANET (the Internet’s precursor) and decided on the @ symbol for use in email addresses, died on Saturday at the age of 74. From his biography at the Internet Hall of Fame:

Tomlinson’s email program brought about a complete revolution, fundamentally changing the way people communicate, including the way businesses, from huge corporations to tiny mom-and-pop shops, operate and the way millions of people shop, bank, and keep in touch with friends and family, whether they are across town or across oceans. Today, tens of millions of email-enabled devices are in use every day. Email remains the most popular application, with over a billion and a half users spanning the globe and communicating across the traditional barriers of time and space.

“By the time you read this, I’ll be dead”

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 05, 2016

John Hofsess helped eight people die and just before he died late last month at an assisted death facility in Switzerland, he wrote this piece.

I was horrified anew in 1999 when the gifted conductor Georg Tintner, who was dying from a rare form of melanoma, jumped from the balcony of his 11th-floor apartment in Halifax to end his agony. Many Canadians would hear such news, shake their heads, utter a few sympathetic platitudes and move on. But I couldn’t just sit back and wring my hands. That year, I went from advocating for assisted suicides to facilitating them. Let’s not mince words: I killed people who wanted to die.

(via nextdraft)

The importance of character entrances in movies

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 04, 2016

Just by watching how characters are introduced in movies, you can learn who’s important, what someone is thinking, the film’s theme, or a character’s flaws.

How to become a sushi chef

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 04, 2016

From a new video series by Eater featuring “culinary-minded individuals who are hard at work perfecting their crafts”, sushi chef David Bouhadana visits a sushi apprentice honing her skills in NYC.

The Backyard Astronomer

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 04, 2016

With the homemade telescope in his backyard observatory, amateur astronomer Gary Hug has discovered over 300 asteroids.

Mythbusters for the Impatient

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 03, 2016

I’ve pretty much stopped watching science and engineering TV shows because their information density is often so low. Mythbusters is no exception, but this clever YouTube channel helpfully edits the 44-minute episodes down to a svelte and info-packed 2-5 minutes. (via digg)

Visual survey of NYC’s disposable coffee cups

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 03, 2016

Coffee Cups

Gear Patrol collected a number of coffee cups from coffee shops around NYC. Prices for a small cup ranged from $1 to $4.50. I’m guessing the latter was not 4.5 times tastier than the former. (via @mccanner)

Professional bridge has a cheating problem

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 03, 2016

Players in the top ranks of the world’s professional bridge organizations have been caught cheating and the evidence is on YouTube.

On deals in which Fisher and Schwartz ended up as declarer and dummy, they cleared away the tray and the board in the usual manner. But when they were defending-meaning that one of them would make the opening lead-they were wildly inconsistent. Sometimes Fisher would remove the tray, and sometimes Schwartz would, and sometimes they would leave it on the table. Furthermore, they placed the duplicate board in a number of different positions — each of which, it turns out, conveyed a particular meaning. “If Lotan wanted a spade lead, he put the board in the middle and pushed it all the way to the other side,” Weinstein said. If he wanted a heart, he put it to the right. Diamond, over here. Club, here. No preference, here.”

Here’s a video showing what Fisher and Schwartz were doing:

Once you see it, it’s obvious they’re cheating.

What an odd seeming game when played at the professional level, BTW. Players seated so they can’t see their teammates. Information is passed through bidding, but only through signals that everyone is aware of. And some available information you can use and some you can’t:

Expert poker players often take advantage of a skill they call table feel: an ability to read the facial expressions and other unconscious “tells” exhibited by their opponents. Bridge players rely on table feel, too, but in bridge not all tells can be exploited legally by all players. If one of my opponents hesitates during the bidding or the play, I’m allowed to draw conclusions from the hesitation — but if my partner hesitates I’m not. What’s more, if I seem to have taken advantage of information that I wasn’t authorized to know, my opponents can summon the tournament director and seek an adjusted result for the hand we just played. Principled players do their best to ignore their partner and play at a consistent tempo, in order to avoid exchanging unauthorized information — and, if they do end up noticing something they shouldn’t have noticed, they go out of their way not to exploit it.

As the story goes on to say, there are technological fixes that would curtail the cheating, but would get rid of the actual cards in a card game. Why not get rid of the humans as well and just run games as computer simulations? Again, odd game. (via @pomeranian99)

Trailer for the new Ghostbusters movie

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 03, 2016

Paul Feig is your director; Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones are your Ghostbusters; and NYC is the backdrop. I hope the movie is better than the trailer.

Update: A second trailer is out:

I love the concept, the cast, and the director. I want this to be good. But I’m just not feeling it from these trailers.

The color thesaurus

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 03, 2016

Color Thesaurus

Color Thesaurus

Designer and author Ingrid Sundberg collects the names of colors and has compiled them into a color thesaurus.

As Time Goes By

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 02, 2016

Barbara Davatz

In 1982, photographer Barbara Davatz took photographs of 12 pairs of people. In 1988, she photographed them again. Same thing in 1997. And in 2014. A new book, As Time Goes By, collects all those photos in one place.

Their ranks have swelled over the years, with the addition of 14 children and even some grandchildren in the meantime, so the project now covers three generations. Other themes have long since been added to the original one of self-presentation. Without revealing any specific personal information, the series narrate a wide array of changes — physical, biographical and sartorial — over time. They tell of separations, of aging and loss, of the growth of families and the inheritance of family traits. But also of current urban society in each period.

See also many other “Passage of Time” photo projects and the Up Series. (via swiss miss)

The sad state of US gun violence, explained in 7 minutes

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 02, 2016

One of the video’s main points:

It’s not that America has much more crime. It’s that crime in the US is much more lethal.

Similar to a sentiment I tweeted out a few months ago:

Easy access to guns turns bad moods, bad politics, bad religion, bad brain chemistry, and bad ideas into murder.

(via @atul_gawande)

First trailer for Finding Dory

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 02, 2016

Hmm. I… Hmm. Up until Wall-E, Finding Nemo was my favorite Pixar film. And…I’m not sure about this. (via trailer town)

Aging 70 years in 4 minutes

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 02, 2016

This fantastic short video from Anthony Cerniello shows a person imperceptibly aging from youth to old age.

The idea was that something is happening but you can’t see it but you can feel it, like aging itself.

I would love to know how this was done. Benjamin Button-esque FX, I would imagine.

Update: Oh hey, luckily for me, this blogger named Jason Kottke posted this video more than two years ago and noted how the video was made.

Anthony Cerniello took photos of similar-looking family members at a reunion, from the youngest to the oldest, and edited them together in a video to create a nearly seamless portrait of a person aging in only a few minutes.

I think I’ll have to subscribe to this fella’s site. (via @jniemasik)

Photos from a year in space

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 01, 2016

Scott Kelly

Scott Kelly

Scott Kelly

After nearly a year in space, astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will return from the ISS to Earth. During his stay in space, Kelly took hundreds of photographs and posted them to his Twitter account. You can view all the photos here or a selection of the best ones chosen by In Focus’ Alan Taylor.

Why the War on Drugs Is a Huge Failure

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 01, 2016

In their latest video, Kurzgesagt tackles the War on Drugs. The Stop the Harm website, which they mention at the end of the video, says this about the failed efforts to curb drug use:

The global drug policy system is well and truly broken. Despite aiming to ‘protect’ people from drugs, its punitive approach has instead increased the harms of these substances, punishing and demonizing the people and communities most impacted by them. This punishment has disproportionately impacted people and communities of color, indigenous peoples, and the economically marginalized, while stoking public health crises by restricting access to essential medicines and exacerbating the spread of HIV, hepatitis C, and other blood borne viruses.

Oscars book club

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 01, 2016

Not all of them are direct adaptations, but a number of the movies up for Oscars this year were based on books (or otherwise have book versions). We’ve already talked about The Revenant, The Martian, and The Big Short — collectively henceforth known, along with The Danish Girl, as The The Media1 — but I was unaware that Bridge of Spies and Carol were both based on books (Strangers on a Bridge and The Price of Salt, or Carol respectively). As for best picture winner Spotlight, the Boston Globe’s investigative team wrote a book about the events that inspired the movie, Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church.

  1. Apologies to The The, whose lack of Googleability likely hasn’t helped their popularity.

The Mindblowing Special Effects Used on Carol

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 01, 2016

Mad Max, Star Wars, and Ex Machina have gotten all the VX press this year, but the special effects in Carol are off the chain, yo! I had no idea Andy Serkis played Rooney Mara’s character in certain heavy VX scenes.

Side-by-side comparisons of movies and their remakes

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 01, 2016

A quick three-minute look at how the same scenes were filmed in movies and their remakes. Includes scenes from Oldboy, Psycho, The Ring, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Cape Fear, Planet of the Apes, Carrie, and Solaris.

Loving Vincent

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 01, 2016

Loving Vincent is an upcoming feature-length film about Vincent van Gogh that is animated in an unusual way: using 12 oil paintings per second. They’ve trained dozens of painters — and are looking for more if you’re interested — in the style of van Gogh to illustrate every instant of the film. Here are some of the painters working on the movie:

Loving Vincent

(via colossal)

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