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.
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 directorial debut of Alex Garland, screenwriter of Sunshine and 28 Days Later, looks interesting.
Ex Machina is an intense psychological thriller, played out in a love triangle between two men and a beautiful robot girl. It explores big ideas about the nature of consciousness, emotion, sexuality, truth and lies.
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)
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.
Confirmed: metal shavings flung off of drill bits in slow motion are beautiful.
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.
That's a movie poster for Argo, the fake movie that the CIA "made" as a cover for getting six American diplomats out of Iran in 1980. Ben Affleck's Argo, which cements the former prettyboy actor's status as one of the best young American directors, is somewhat loosely based on The Master of Disguise, a book written by the guy Affleck plays in Argo, and a 2007 Wired magazine article by Joshuah Bearman called The Great Escape. Argo is up for several Oscars and is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Update: Here's a CIA report written by Mendez about the caper. And I'm listening to the soundtrack right now.
In this music video for Roy Kafri, a bunch of iconic album covers come alive and start singing.
Among them, The Smiths, Madonna, David Bowie, and Michael Jackson. (via colossal)
At Reddit, a user called Cabbagetroll posted a very short summary of the Bible.
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.
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.
People: We did the things.
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.
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.
Syndicated from NextDraft. Subscribe today or grab the iOS app.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
Reminds me of Jill Greenberg's monkey portraits...expressive in the same way.
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.
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.
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)
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)
John Gruber's tweet last night reminded me I'd never written up a review for Room 237, the documentary about Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Gruber writes:
Broke down and watched "Room 237". It was bad. Really bad. Boring bad. Crazy people.
Just watch "The Shining" again instead.
I agree. I watched it earlier this year and disliked the film so much, I didn't even finish it, which is rare for me. As I hinted at on Twitter, I'm exposed to enough anti-vaccine, anti-evolution, anti-anthropogenic climate change, anti-science, and religious fundamentalist "theories" in my day-to-day reading that are genuinely harmful to humanity that an examination of how the minds of conspiracy theory crackpots take the smallest little details and weave them into fantastical stories that make no sense is not how I want to spend my time.
As if to underscore my dislike of the film, the following arrived in my inbox shortly after I watched it.
To: Jason Kottke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Prospective Story: Re: Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining"
i'm not good at salesmanship so i'll get right to the point. i've solved the mystery of room 237 in stanley kubrick's 'the shining' i'm shopping this information to various media sources. here's the deal:
*** the price is $13,000.00
*** i'm aware of the documentaries, the scholarly analyses and the terrabytes of web space dedicated to the topic
*** nobody has gottten it right
*** i guarantee satisfaction
*** there's no risk. either you think the solution to the greatest cinematic mystery of all time is worth 13k or you don't. all i require beforehand is a conditional agreement protecting me from ip theft
*** i remain anonymous. once the transaction is complete the information is yours. i don't care who receives credit or what you do with it
it's been over 30 years. this information should be public. YOU can be the first.
i look forward to your response
Putting on my tin foil hat for a minute, DONT YOU SHEEPLE UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS MEANS? That someone is watching what I'm watching! How did this person know I had just watched Room 237?! I bet it's the NSA! Or something! They are watching for people with large audiences to plant lies about Kubrick to deflect attention away from the faked Moon landing! For some reason! THIS IS THE PROOF WEVE BEEN WAITING FOR!??
Yep: "Really bad. Boring bad. Crazy people."
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.
Syndicated from NextDraft. Subscribe today or grab the iOS app.
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.
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.
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.
At this point it's almost a Pavlovian response; a natural disaster hits and we hit the Red Cross donate button. We feel better, but do the victims benefit? NPR and ProPublica looked at internal emails and confidential reports and uncovered The Red Cross' Secret Disaster.
During Isaac, Red Cross supervisors ordered dozens of trucks usually deployed to deliver aid to be driven around nearly empty instead, 'just to be seen' ... During Sandy, emergency vehicles were taken away from relief work and assigned to serve as backdrops for press conferences, angering disaster responders on the ground.
Syndicated from NextDraft. Subscribe today or grab the iOS app.
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.
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)
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.
From the Guardian's photo editor, an annotated list of the 25 best photographs of Muhammad Ali. My favorite is by Neil Leifer:
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.
This is a great way to think about how big the planets of our solar system are: in terms of fruits.
(via boing boing)
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.
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.
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.
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:
You can view the full-size image here. (via @themexican)
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."
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."
"I listen to where media is headed and figure out how our brands can win in that environment."
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.
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."
"A thousand per cent," Shingy said.
"Shingy is my muse," Nardini said.
There is something so polarizing about Shingy, but also so unifying.
He is passionate about spaces, and when a space is not working he reboots it, taking everything out and starting over.
This is a space I recently rebooted for Tim.
"Do you like the scent?" Shingy said. A diffuser released a fragrance (called London) designed by Tom Dixon into the air.
Armstrong looked around. "I have meetings here, and people don't know where to sit," he said.
"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."
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.)
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.
When you look really closely at record grooves, like at 1000x magnification, you can see the waveforms of the music itself. Sooo cool.
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)
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.
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?
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 Strange Maps book is out today. The book is based on the awesome Strange Maps blog, one the very few sites I have to exercise restraint in not linking to every single item posted there. The content of the book is adapted from the site, so of course it's top shelf.
My only reservation in recommending the book is the design. When I cracked it open, I was expecting full-bleed reproductions of the maps, large enough to really get a detailed look at them. The maps *are* the book, after all. But that's not the case...only a few of the maps get an entire non-full-bleed page and some of the maps are stuck in the corner of a page of text, like small afterthoughts. The rest of the design is not much better, cheesy at best and distracting at worst. I wasn't expecting Taschen-grade production values, but something more appropriate to the subject matter would have been nice.
I straight-up loved this movie. It's a fascinating look at the creative process of a team with strong leadership operating at a very high level. The trailer is pretty misleading in this respect...the main story in the film has little to do with fashion and should be instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever worked with a bunch of people on a project. Others have made the comparison of Anna Wintour with Steve Jobs and it seems apt. At several points in the film, my thoughts drifted to Jobs and Apple; Wintour seems like the same sort of creative leader as Jobs.
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)
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.
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)
It can be difficult to understand how large (or small) astronomical objects are, so here are some handy comparisons to things on Earth. Here's the size of Mars compared to the United States & Canada:
And here's a neutron star nestled next to Liverpool on the northwest coast of England:
A neutron star also crams in over 1.5 times the mass of the Sun into a tiny ball maybe not much bigger than your daily commute to work, and the Sun is huge (see the size of the Sun later). So this thing is incredibly dense, so dense in fact that just a tea spoon of it would weigh over a billion tonnes, and if you could stand on its surface you'd feel the gravitational pull of 200 billion times that of our planet...not that you'd ever survive it of course.
Robert Wright has a new book out soon called The Evolution of God. Andrew Sullivan has a review.
From primitive animists to the legends of the first gods, battling like irrational cloud-inhabiting humans over the cosmos, Wright tells the story of how war and trade, technology and human interaction slowly exposed humans to the gods of others. How this awareness led to the Jewish innovation of a hidden and universal God, how the cosmopolitan early Christians, in order to market their doctrines more successfully, universalised and sanitised this Jewish God in turn, and how Islam equally included a civilising universalism despite its doctrinal rigidity and founding violence.
Last month's issue of The Atlantic contained an excerpt.
For all the advances and wonders of our global era, Christians, Jews, and Muslims seem ever more locked in mortal combat. But history suggests a happier outcome for the Peoples of the Book. As technological evolution has brought communities, nations, and faiths into closer contact, it is the prophets of tolerance and love that have prospered, along with the religions they represent. Is globalization, in fact, God's will?
I loved two of Wright's previous books, The Moral Animal and especially Nonzero. (via marginal revolution)
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.
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)
Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, which has been influential in both halls of business and hip-hop circles, has written a new book with rapper 50 Cent called The 50th Law. Greene was initially skeptical of 50 Cent as a co-author but was impressed by their initial meeting.
He was in the midst of a power struggle with a rival rapper and he talked quite openly about the strategies he was employing, including mistakes he had made along the way. He analyzed his own actions with detachment, as if he were talking about another person. Over the last few years he had witnessed a lot of nasty maneuvering within the music business, and he seemed to want to discuss this with somebody from the outside. He was not interested in myths but reality. Contrary to his public persona, he had a Zen-like calmness that impressed me.
The main theme of the book is about fear and "the reverse power that you can obtain by overcoming [it]".
We found stories from his own life that would illustrate these ideas, many of them culled from his days as a hustler and even highlighting mistakes along the way that taught him valuable lessons. Later, from my own research, I would bring in examples from other historical figures who exemplified this trait. Many of them would be African Americans--Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Miles Davis, Malcolm X, Hurricane Carter, et al--whose fearless quality was forged by their harsh struggles against racism. Others would come from all periods and cultures--the Stoics, Joan of Arc, JFK, Leonardo da Vinci, Mao tse-tung, and so on.
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.
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.
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:
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?
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.
One of the most difficult things to get right in movies about aliens or the future is matching the cultural and technological sophistication of a people with their environment and history. In Avatar, the Na'vi are portrayed as a Stone Age tribe, living in relatively small groups and essentially ignorant or uninterested in technology beyond simple knives and bows. But the Na'vi are also very physically capable, obviously very intelligent, aware of their global environment, well-nourished, healthy, omnivorous, adaptive, and even inventive. They have domesticated animals, are troubled by few serious natural predators, can live in different environments, have easy access to many varied natural resources (for sustenance and building/making), and can travel and therefore communicate over long distances (dozens if not hundreds of miles a day on their winged animals).
And most importantly, the Na'vi have regular and intimate access to a moon-sized supercomputer -- a neural net supercomputer at that -- that connects them to every other living thing on their world and have had such access for what could be millennia.
It just doesn't add up. The Na'vi are too capable and live in an environment that is far too pregnant with technological possibility to be stuck in the Stone Age. Plot-wise it's convenient for them to be the way they are, but the Na'vi really should have been more technologically advanced than the Earthlings, not only capable of easily repelling any attack from Captain Ironpants but able to keep the mining company from landing on the moon in the first place.
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?