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Beautifully Arranged Rock Sculptures

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2021

colorful rocks arranged neatly

colorful rocks arranged neatly

colorful rocks arranged neatly

colorful rocks arranged neatly

Jon Foreman neatly arranges rocks into colorful sculptures. He also does similar sand, leaves, debris, and shells. You can order prints on his site or check out more of his stuff on Instagram. (via colossal)

What?! Fashion designer Virgil Abloh has died of cancer at the age of 41.

The WHO has named the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 a “Variant of Concern”. This really doesn’t look good.

This list of "10 Things That Could Go Wrong In The 21st Century" written for Wired magazine in 1997 seems uncannily accurate, particularly regarding Russia, Covid, EU problems, and "social and cultural backlash stops progress dead in its tracks".

The Covid booster shot doesn't just restore immunity against symptomatic infection, it "elevates protection well above the peak level from two doses". Booster shot = increased safety for yourself and your community.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture has launched an online counterpart called the Searchable Museum, "a place to explore history and culture through an African American lens".

NASA launched a mission this morning to demonstrate the capability to knock a potentially hazardous asteroid away from Earth.

Is that the Three Identical Strangers with Madonna on the streets of NYC?! (Yes, and it turns out this is from Desperately Seeking Susan.)

Covid vaccination rates vs death rates in Europe. There appears to be an inflection point around 75%. (The US is currently at 71%.)

Quick Links Archive

The Colorful Winners of the 2021 AAP Photo Competition

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2021

five women holding white balls that mirror the light fixtures above them

overhead view of a green soccer field in a green forest

overhead view of a beach

a hand raised, bathed in blue light

an overhead view of a person surrounded by containers of fish

AAP Magazine has announced the winners of their 21st annual photo competition. This year’s theme was “Colors” and I’ve embedded a few of my favorites above (from top to bottom: Miloš Nejezchleb, Vitaly Golovatyuk, Graham Earnshaw, Joanna Borowiec, and Pham Huy Trung).

  listen to the latest episode of kottke ride home  

Engineering a Capable Climbing Lego Car

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2021

In this video, a simple Lego car is repeatedly modified to navigate more and more difficult obstacles until it can climb up and down almost anything. This fun exercise also doubles as a crash course in engineering and how to build a capable all-terrain vehicle as it “demonstrates what you need to consider: wheel diameter, gear ratio, 4-wheel drive, tire grip, breakover angle, weight distribution”. (via the prepared)

Grief Is Unexpressed Love

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 23, 2021

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert asked Andrew Garfield how performing and art helps him deal with grief. The relevant bit starts at around the 4:05 mark and continues for three minutes — just give it a watch…there’s not much more I can add to what Garfield says and how he says it.

Update: Colbert is no stranger to conversations about grief — here’s his 2019 conversation with Anderson Cooper. (thx, david)

The Ten Rules of Golden Age Detective Fiction

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 23, 2021

The Golden Age of Detective Fiction describes a period between the world wars in which a certain style of murder mystery novel took hold, led by the prolific and talented Agatha Christie. Scott Stedman explains about the rise and fall of the genre in today’s issue of Why is this interesting?

It wasn’t until Agatha Christie introduced the world to Poirot that the genre shifted into its strictest and most enduring form: the garden variety murder mystery.

“I specialize in murders of quiet, domestic interest.” —Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie is the most popular modern writer to ever live (outmatched in sales by only Shakespeare and the Bible). Christie is unrelenting in her ability to surprise — she killed children, popularized the unreliable narrator, introduced serial killers. Still, she was a fiercely disciplined adherent to a form created by her community of fellow writers, developed in the legendary Detection Club (including Dorothy Sayers, Ronald Knox, and the remarkable GK Chesterton). In an age sandwiched between two world wars — her stories brim with pride for a stiff British moral certitude that was impervious to the most heinous acts against it.

A central feature of many of these whodunits was that the reader had access to all the same information as the detective and could, in theory, figure things out before they did. In 1929, Ronald Knox wrote down 10 rules that made this possible:

1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.

2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.

3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.

4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.

5. No racial stereotypes.1

6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.

7. The detective must not himself commit the crime.

8. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.

9. The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.

10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.

It’s interesting to see how these rules are applied and broken in TV and films these days. I feel like “hitherto undiscovered poisons” and “appliances which will need a long scientific explanation” (not to mention the “unaccountable intuition” of characters) are now regularly deployed, which can lead to feelings of being cheating as a viewer if it’s not done well. (via why is this interesting?)

  1. I follow Stedman here in restating this point…Knox’s original text used a derogatory term.

A Whole Day of Sunlight at the South Pole

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 23, 2021

From September to March each year, the Sun never sets at the South Pole. This time lapse video, taken over 5 days in March, shows the sun circling the entire sky just above the horizon, getting ready to set for the first time in months. (via sentiers)

Watch an AI Break Tetris

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 23, 2021

With nearly instant reaction times, superhuman button tapping frequency, and an inability to fatigue, an AI called StackRabbit can play Tetris better than any human player. But how much better? Well, it can play all the way to the end of the game, which…did you know Tetris ended? I didn’t. But before that happens, it plays flawlessly through hundreds of levels while the game itself is throwing up weirdo color schemes and scores from random places in its memory — the game’s creators didn’t imagine anyone or anything would get anywhere close to these levels. Also, I got surprisingly anxious watching this — it was just so fast with so much constant peril! (via waxy)

Stunning, Ultra-HD Short Films of National Parks

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 22, 2021

For the past 5 years, More Than Just Parks, an organization established by two self-professed “National Park nuts”, have been making short films about America’s National Parks and Forests. Each ultra-HD video is only 3-4 minutes long, extended trailers for the beauty and grandeur of parks like Zion, Grand Teton, and the Badlands and forests like Black Hills, Green Mountains, and Bridger Teton.

You can check out all of the videos on their YouTube channel.

An Online Collection of American Prison Newspapers (1800-2020)

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 22, 2021

cover of the Anarchist Black Dragon, a prison newspaper

cover of Scroll, a prison newspaper

an article called The Wheat Field at Gettysburg published in a prison newspaper

cover of Our Thing, a prison newspaper

cover of The Bridge, a prison newspaper

Since 1800, when the first newspaper was published in a NYC prison, over 500 newspapers have been published in prisons around the country. JSTOR is hosting a growing archive of such publications: American Prison Newspapers 1800-2020: Voices from the Inside.

With the United States incarcerating more individuals than any other nation — over 2 million as of 2019 — these publications represent a vast dimension of media history. These publications depict and report on all manner of life within the walls of prisons, from the quotidian to the upsetting. Incarcerated journalists walk a tightrope between oversight by administration — even censorship-and seeking to report accurately on their experiences inside. Some publications were produced with the sanction of institutional authorities; others were produced underground.

(thx, caroline)

The Best Street Photography of 2021

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 22, 2021

a pigeon in front of a dog, positioned so it looks like the dog has wings

a woman on the subway with two children

a man steps off of a bus holding an umbrella

a person in a Minnie Mouse costume walking across the street

a number of people walking on the street in NYC

The Street Photographers Foundation has announced the winners of the Street Photography Awards for 2021. What an amazing selection of photos — it was so hard to pick just a few favorites (embedded above). From top to bottom, Subhran Karmakar, Paul Kessel (like a Renaissance painting), Akib Amjad (so reminiscent of this iconic photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson), Andy Hann, and Dimitri Mellos. (via curious about everything)

One Month of the Sun

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 22, 2021

Seán Doran took 78,846 frames of data compiled by the Solar Dynamics Observatory over the course of a month and made this absolutely fantastic time lapse of the Sun slowly rotating and burning and flaring. Put this on the biggest, high-resolution screen you can and pretend you’re in the solar observation room of the Icarus II in Sunshine.

See also A Decade of Sun and Gorgeous Time Lapse of the Sun. (via colossal)

Blonde Drawings

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 18, 2021

drawing of a colorful wig

drawing of a colorful wig

drawing of a colorful wig

CJ Hendry has done a series of photorealistic drawings of hair called BLONDE. You can see some of the work in progress on her Instagram and see it in person in NYC Dec 10-12. Love these. (via @downtown.collective)

The Voice Break Choir

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 18, 2021

Puberty is tough on everyone but for members of boys’ choirs, it can be especially hard. When their voices start to crack, an instrument that they’ve spent years tuning and perfecting is suddenly thrown all out of whack, shifting from soprano to alto or even bass in a matter of months. Their once-reliable voices become irregular, they don’t know where they are going to settle, and once they finally do, they almost have to learn how to sing all over again.

Often teen boys will quit singing in the choir when their voices crack, but the Stockholm Boys’ Choir works with boys going through these changes, empowering them to perform while they wait for their voices to develop, an essential intermediate step between the high notes of the boys’ choir and the deeper tones of the mens’ choir. In many ways, these challenges mirror the larger struggles of puberty.

“We really thought it was a good metaphor for this time in life,” Holmqvist said. In the film, the choristers perform songs with lyrics derived from their own interviews in the documentary, in which they bare their young souls. “Maybe I’m just weird. / Is there something wrong with me?” the fourteen-year-old Dan sings, worried about his lack of interest in the soccer his classmates play. “I just like other things, / Like drawing figures.”

He’s not alone in his doubts. “I don’t think I’m a typical boy,” Ludwig says, also fourteen, in an interview. “Right now, at this age, I’m hanging around more with girls, since they’re easier to talk to.” The fifteen-year-old Andrey, on the other hand, can’t bring himself to ask out the girl he longs to take to prom. “If she turns me down, everyone will laugh at me,” he frets.

This is a lovely little film.