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Entries for March 2008

This is a surprisingly effective idea: using

This is a surprisingly effective idea: using a Google Maps zoomable, scrollable interface to read magazines. (via information aesthetics)

This short blog post by Sasha Frere-Jones

This short blog post by Sasha Frere-Jones about rock show patron drink tipping practices is impossible to excerpt…lots of lovely little bits. Ok, twist my arm:

When Chromeo played, their crowd drank house vodka and Budweiser. Didn’t tip. Some of them did what I’ll call the slide-backs. They put a dollar down on the bar, wait until you turn your back, then palm their buck and walk away. Classy. When your night starts out with “What’s your cheapest drink?” that’s also not good.”

In The Year of Living Biblically, AJ

In The Year of Living Biblically, AJ Jacobs followed all the rules in the Bible as literally as he could.

The book that came out of the year has several layers.

- An exploration of some of the Bible’s startlingly relevant rules. I tried not to covet, gossip, or lie for a year. I’m a journalist in New York. This was not easy.

- An investigation of the rules that baffle the 21st century brain. How to justify the laws about stoning homosexuals? Or smashing idols? Or sacrificing oxen? And how do you follow those in modern-day Manhattan?

Jacobs was recently interviewed by Jewish culture magazine Jewcy about the book and will be talking about his experience tomorrow at the 92nd St. Y.

Despite a common heritage, the social, economic,

Despite a common heritage, the social, economic, and political differences between the United States and Britain are, in some cases, great.

Like most west Europeans, Britons tend to have more left-wing views than Americans, but the first chart shows that this is often by a surprising margin. (“Left” and “right” are harder to locate than they were: here “left” implies a big-state, secular, socially liberal, internationalist and green outlook; right, the reverse.) The data are derived by subtracting left-wing answers from right-wing ones, for each country and for each main political grouping within each country. A net minus rating suggests predominantly left-wing views and a positive rating suggests a preponderance of right-wing views.

Compared to Britain, the US is a remarkably conservative nation. The companion chart is a good look at some of the data. (via gongblog)

Jamie Zawinski, one of the developers responsible

Jamie Zawinski, one of the developers responsible for the early versions Netscape Navigator, has declared that today is Run Some Old Web Browsers Day. In celebration, he’s hosting an archive of old Mosaic/Netscape broswers and rolled back the clock on the original domain. and all URLs under it just redirected to, then redirected a dozen more times before taking you to some AOL portal page. The old URLs that were baked into the toolbar buttons of the original web browsers didn’t work any more. But now, if you fire up a copy of Mosaic Netscape 0.9, and click on the various toolbar buttons, they will work again! For example, in the old browsers, when you clicked on the “What’s New” toolbar button, it went here. is now a snapshot of that web site from 21-Oct-1994. is now a snapshot of that web site from July 1994. That’s from just after the company was announced, but before the first browser beta was released. I think that by Oct 1994, both and were redirects to, but I can’t remember any more.

Evolt also maintains an extensive archive of browsers old and new. I have a smaller archive that I put together for an episode of 0sil8 more than 10 years ago.

Interview with chefs Grant Achatz of Alinea

Interview with chefs Grant Achatz of Alinea and Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck, mostly about the cookbooks that they’re working on. Achatz is self-publishing the Alinea Book and using the exact recipes from the restaurant:

For us, we felt the most important thing was to express the restaurant in its most accurate fashion, and try to convey to the reader what Alinea and the food are all about. We felt that if we eliminated some of the techniques because they were too difficult, or some of the ingredients because they were too hard to find, then you would be left with something that’s not representative of the restaurant or of the cuisine itself. So our effort was to convey the emotion, the expression, the essence of the restaurant, and also hopefully-if the recipes are written well enough-to dispel the myth that cooking in this style is impossible for somebody who isn’t a professional cook.

He also mentions that the ingredient amounts in the recipes are metric, meaning that a digital scale is required. Maybe they should make the cookbook itself a digital scale…just make the cover a little thicker, throw some sensors in there with a digital display in the lower right hand corner, and there you go!

I’ve received several emails in the past

I’ve received several emails in the past few weeks containing a variation of the following message:

Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

One message even formatted this line in green text. Treehugger recommended this course of action back in March 2007, but this post predates Treehugger’s. Wonder where it came from?

The business of parenting

Salon had an interview with Pamela Paul the other day, author of Parenting, Inc., a book about the business of parenting. Paul starts out by disparging the $800 stroller phenomenon. Ollie’s stroller was somewhat expensive (not $800 but not $100 either) but it’s well built, flexible in use, nicely designed (functionally speaking), and was far and away the best one for our needs. We didn’t feel good about spending so much money, but the eventual cost-per-use will be in the range of cents, so we’re really happy with our choice so far. Some parents buy expensive strollers more as a fashion statement, so I can see where Paul is coming from on this one.

I thought the rest of the interview was quite good. We’re still new to this parenting thing, but Paul seems to be on the right track. Here’s her take on the best toys for kids:

When you think back to the ’60s and ’70s, all the right-thinking progressive parents thought toys should be natural and open-ended. Crayola and Kinder Blocks and Lego were considered raise-your-kid-smart toys. Then, all this data that came out which said that kids need to be stimulated. They need sound! They need multi-sensory experiences! Now, the more bells and whistles a toy has, the supposedly better it is.

Our parents’ generation actually had it right. The less the toy does, the better. Everyone thinks: “Toys need to be interactive.” No, toys don’t need to be interactive. Children need to interact with toys. The best toys are 90 percent kid, 10 percent toy, the kind of thing that you can use 20 different ways, not because it has 20 different buttons to press, but because the kid, when they’re 6 months old is going to chew on it, and toss it, but when they’re a year they’re going to start stacking it.

And then later:

At the most basic level reuse, recycle, repurpose. The average American child gets 70 new toys a year. That is just so far beyond what is necessary. Most child gear, toys, books are a lot cheaper, relatively speaking, than they were decades ago. In the aggregate it ends up being a lot more expensive, because we’re buying a lot more of it, but kids just don’t need that many toys. Kids lose out when things become less special.

We’ve been avoiding toys that make noise and light up. Half of his toys are garbage — old toilet paper rolls, bags that our coffee pods come in, 20oz soda bottles filled with colored water or split peas, scraps of fabric, etc. — or not even toys at all — pots and pans, measuring spoons, etc. It seems like the right approach for us; Paul’s “90 percent kid, 10 percent toy” really resonates.

Paul also talks about not overstimulating kids. When I get up in the morning or come home from the office, it’s hard not to scoop Ollie up and give him constant attention until he goes to bed or down for a nap. Instead, I’ve been trying to leave him alone to play and explore by himself. He’s getting old enough that when he wants me involved, he’ll come to me. In this way, parenting is like employee management; give people the resources they need and then let them do their jobs.

This last bit reminded me of our trip to Buy Buy Baby (subtle!!) to procure baby proofing supplies. They totally had a Wall of Death designed to entice parents to coat their entire house in cheap white plastic.

The baby-proofing industry completely preys on parents’ worst anxieties and fears. It really doesn’t take a brain surgeon to baby-proof a house, and every store has the “Wall of Death” with like 10,000 products in it that you can affix to any potentially sharp surface in your house, if you choose to go that route.

It’s difficult not to feel incredibly manipulated by the Wall of Death. You know deep down that it’s ridiculous; your parents didn’t have any of this crap and you turned out fine. But then the what-ifs start gnawing away at your still-shaky confidence as a new parent. Our encounter with the Wall paralyzed us, and with the exception of those plastic wall outlet plugs, we’ve punted on baby proofing for now. We’re letting Ollie show us where all the problem areas are before committing to any white plastic solutions.

Dolphins and tuna can swim so fast

Dolphins and tuna can swim so fast that the water around their tails cavitates.

When the bubbles [formed by cavitation] collapse, they produce a shockwave, which eats away the metal in propellers. To dolphins, it is painful. According to the researchers’ calculations, within the top few metres of the water column, this happens when the dolphins reach 10 to 15 metres per second (36 to 54 kilometres per hour).

Tuna don’t have this pain problem; their tails don’t have nerve endings.

How uncanny is her valley? Very. Never

How uncanny is her valley? Very. Never has one of those Flash move-your-mouse-around applets been this creepy.

This a bit old but the dude

This a bit old but the dude that runs the stylish cameron i/o site (who is coincidentially named Cameron) built a trumpet-like bell for the iPhone out of a used toilet paper tube.

I wanted to listen to my music in the shower but the iPhone’s speaker would get lost in the noise from the shower. So I directed the iPhone’s audio straight towards me. Worked pretty well. Just ask my neighbors.

The top five reasons why “the customer

The top five reasons why “the customer is always right” is wrong. I like the idea that a company should be as ready to fire bad customers as they are to fire bad employees.

Video of Charlie Rose’s conversation with chef

Video of Charlie Rose’s conversation with chef Thomas Keller the other night. Good stuff as always, although I’m disappointed about how completely he’s embraced the idea of the chef as empire-tender rather than as a person who cooks.

I realized the other day that I prefer eating at places where the person that owns the place is in the kitchen because no one else is going to care as much about your meal and experience as that person. Which doesn’t mean that you can’t find excellent food and experiences at Per Se or the diner around the corner, but the increasingly prevalent fine dining empires feel like, in the words of Bilbo Baggins, “too little butter spread over too much toast”. (via eater)

Philippe Starck says that design is dead

Philippe Starck says that design is dead and that he’s retiring. Says Starck:

I was a producer of materiality and I am ashamed of this fact. Everything I designed was unnecessary. I will definitely give up in two years’ time. I want to do something else, but I don’t know what yet. I want to find a new way of expressing myself …design is a dreadful form of expression.

Solar furnaces

A solar furnace is a structure used to harness the rays of the sun in order to produce high temperatures. This is achieved by using a curved mirror (or an array of mirrors) acting as a parabolic reflector to concentrate light (Insolation) on to a focal point. The temperature at the focal point may reach up to 3,000 degrees Celsius, and this heat can be used to generate electricity, melt steel or make hydrogen fuel.

Whoa! Here’s a great photo of a solar furnace in Uzbekistan and an even better photo of said furnace melting aluminum (close-up).

Solar furnace

If you’ve got an old TV, you can use the Fresnel lens to make a solar furnace of your own. Caveats apply:

DANGER! This device is extremely dangerous. It should not be constructed or operated by anyone who does not observe proper safety precautions. It will instantly destroy flesh. It will melt metals, ceramics, and most any other material. Always wear welding goggles when operating this device! DO NOT leave this device unattended.

This DIY solar furnace is capable of melting brick (!!) and will “boil” a quarter in ~25 seconds.

Solar furnaces and the like have been around for centuries. In the 3rd century BC, Archimedes allegedly used a mirror to burn up the entire Roman fleet during the seige of Syracuse:

When Marcellus withdrew them [his ships] a bow-shot, the old man [Archimedes] constructed a kind of hexagonal mirror, and at an interval proportionate to the size of the mirror he set similar small mirrors with four edges, moved by links and by a form of hinge, and made it the centre of the sun’s beams—its noon-tide beam, whether in summer or in mid-winter. Afterwards, when the beams were reflected in the mirror, a fearful kindling of fire was raised in the ships, and at the distance of a bow-shot he turned them into ashes. In this way did the old man prevail over Marcellus with his weapons.

This assertion was tested at MIT and on Mythbusters with mixed results. (via delicious ghost)

Related to yesterday’s post about online media

Related to yesterday’s post about online media archives, Footnote is compiling an gigantic archive of historical documents and photos and invites you to do the same…your shoebox + the world’s archives = let’s make history together. For example, their collection from the US National Archives is exclusive to the web.

Footnote also recently launched an interactive version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that allows anyone to annotate names on the wall.

Julio Diaz got mugged on his way

Julio Diaz got mugged on his way home from work. But not really…that’s not where the story ends.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, “Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you’re going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”

The Navy Federal Credit Union has embraced

The Navy Federal Credit Union has embraced green architecture, but not for any of the usual reasons.

“You’ve been asking for data,” Ebbesen says to me. “Well, we definitely have energy savings: we’ve had one study that said 25 percent and another that said 40 percent. We pay a lot of attention to the energy model because we want to be efficient, because that leads to less pollution. But that’s not where the savings are. The savings are all related to productivity.” Navy Federal’s wealth (they don’t exactly have trouble getting long-term financing) means that Ebbesen could swallow higher up-front costs if it means a longer life span-and indeed this building is designed for a 40-year cycle (generous for its type). But to be conservative he sticks to 30 years for the following calculation: over that time 92 percent of the organ-ization’s costs goes to employees, 6 percent go to maintenance and operation, and a mere 2 percent are represented by the initial construction investment. “When I show that on a slide,” Ebbesen says, “it’s kind of like, ‘Duh, now are you paying attention?’”

With their new environmentally friendly buildings, Navy Federal has reduced their annual employee turnover rate from 60% to 17%.

Top ten artists suffering the Lindsey Buckingham

Top ten artists suffering the Lindsey Buckingham Paradox.

The Lindsey Buckingham Paradox is what happens when otherwise brilliant musicians decide they’re better than their bandmates (creative differences, natch), strike out on their own with solo “careers”, and somewhat curiously never again manage to grasp his or her own genius in the way we all know is possible.

Sting clocks in at #2:

Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers brought their own special flavors to the Police party, and without them, Sting is just a big bowl of goddamned puffy cheetos. Like Bono, maybe, without the passion or, you know, cred.

GQ interview with Keith Richards. Do I

GQ interview with Keith Richards. Do I even need to say it’s rambling?

Q: You should sell your body on eBay.
Yeah, I think so. Apparently, I do have an incredible immune system. I had hepatitis C and cured it by myself.

Q: How?
Just by being me.

Q: Do you regret not moisturizing your face?
No. I leave that up to other people.

Q: Ever think about getting Botox?
No one’s ever talked me into doing that. You’re lucky if you walk out of there alive. God bless you.

Q: Are you still cutting your own hair? You’ve done that all your life, right?
Yes. I did this bit here yesterday. [holds up a few strands on the side of his head] Also, I’m letting the dye grow out, since I’m not on the road. If the wife likes it, I’ll keep it.

(via goldenfiddle)

Eiffel Tower to get flowery-looking viewing stand

Eiffel Tower to get flowery-looking viewing stand glomed onto the top of it.

The design is already causing controversy, with critics questioning the wisdom of tinkering with the famous silhouette and spending money on upgrading a tourist attraction which attracts 6.9 million visitors a year.

(via spurgeonblog)

Update: The architect who submitted the above design says that it was an unsolicited “spontaneous design”. (thx, tim)

David Serero, principal of Serero Architects, said in a telephone interview that his firm’s proposal was merely a spontaneous design it had submitted to the Eiffel Tower management group in view of the tower’s approaching 120th anniversary and, he said, was neither a response to a design competition nor solicited by the tower’s management.

Update: Here are the “spontaneous designs” done by Serero.

Ridley Scott is set to direct a

Ridley Scott is set to direct a film about Gorbachev and Reagan’s 1986 summit in Iceland. Looks like I may get my wish. (thx, gunnar & brian)

The recent discovery of a phonautogram by &

The recent discovery of a phonautogram by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville may be the earliest recording of sound in the world, predating that of Thomas Edison by almost 20 years.

Scott is in many ways an unlikely hero of recorded sound. Born in Paris in 1817, he was a man of letters, not a scientist, who worked in the printing trade and as a librarian. He published a book on the history of shorthand, and evidently viewed sound recording as an extension of stenography. In a self-published memoir in 1878, he railed against Edison for “appropriating” his methods and misconstruing the purpose of recording technology. The goal, Scott argued, was not sound reproduction, but “writing speech, which is what the word phonograph means.”

Here’s an mp3 snippet of his 1860 recording.

Flickr photoset of an abandoned amusement park

Flickr photoset of an abandoned amusement park in Ohio called Chippewa Lake.

Hidden on a lakeshore in Medina County is one of the state’s most unique forgotten treasures: the abandoned amusement park called Chippewa Lake. What you’ll find there today is the tragic shell of a once-glorious family fun park, one with a history going back to the 1840s. The crying shame is that it’s been reduced to an inadequately-fenced-off stretch of acres, overgrown with every imaginable form of vegetation native to this state and festooned with faded NO TRESPASSING signs.

(via maggie)

Our collective recent history, online

In past few years, several prominent US magazines and newspapers have begun to offer their extensive archives online and on DVD. In some cases, this includes material dating back to the 1850s. Collectively it is an incredible record of recent human history, the ideas, people, and events that have shaped our country and world as recorded by writers, photographers, editors, illustrators, advertisers, and designers who lived through those times. Here are some of most notable of those archives:

Harper’s Magazine offers their entire archive online, from 1850 to 2008. Most of it is only available to the magazine’s subscribers. Associate editor Paul Ford talks about how Harper’s archive came to be.

The NY Times provides their entire archive online, most of it for free. Most of the stories from 1923 to 1986 are available for a small fee. The Times briefly launched an interface for browsing their archive called TimesMachine but withdrew it soon after launch.

Time Magazine has their entire archive online for free, from 1923 to the present.

Sports Illustrated has all their issues online for free, dating back to 1954.

The Atlantic Monthly offers all their articles since Nov 1995 and a growing number from their archive dating back to 1857 for free. For a small fee, most of the rest of their articles are available as well, although those from Jan 1964 - Sept 1992 are not.

The Washington Post has archives going back to 1877. Looks like most of it is for pay.

The New Yorker has free archives on their site going back to 2001, although only some of the articles are included. All of their articles, dating back to 1925, are available on The Complete New Yorker DVD set for $40.

Rolling Stone offers some of their archive online but the entire archive (from 1967 to 2007) is available as a 4-DVD set for $79.

Mad Magazine released a 2-DVD set of every issue of the magazine from 1952-2006.

And more to come…old media is slowly figuring out that more content equals more traffic, sometimes much more traffic.

Update: Nature has their entire archive online, dating back to 1869. (thx, gavin)

Mario Kart Wii out soon

Mario Kart Wii will be out in the US on April 27!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why so many exclamation points? Feast thine eyes on this:

This game has been announced as supporting the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service. This will feature online racing and battle modes, both of which are capable of up to 12 simultaneous players. It has also been confirmed that there will be online leagues, with international and local rankings. This will take place from within an entirely separate Wii Channel. This channel will also feature the option of sending saved time-trial ghost data.

IGN has several videos for your online viewing pleasure.

Is the Mighty Mouse Apple’s worst product

Is the Mighty Mouse Apple’s worst product ever? Google says yes. (I dislike mine as well.)

Death Proof

Delicately knit human organs (brain, heart, intestines)

Delicately knit human organs (brain, heart, intestines) by Sarah Illenberger. See also the Brain Bag. (via this is that)

I don’t really want to imagine a 9

I don’t really want to imagine a 9-year-old heroin junkie.

Cheese heroin is Mexican black-tar heroin that has been diluted with crushed tablets of over-the-counter sleep medication such as Tylenol PM.

Sniffing heroin is not particularly new, but addiction experts say this outbreak in Dallas is unprecedented. Typically, people who inhale heroin are older and they’re white. In Dallas, however, users are mostly Latino, and they’re young.

“Reports that we were seeing were pretty striking. Kids as young as 9 or 10 years of age coming to the hospital emergency rooms or detox facilities in acute heroin withdrawal,” says Dr. Carlos Tirado, a psychiatry professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center and medical director of a drug treatment center in Dallas.

(via cameron)

Anders Weberg makes true P2P art.

Anders Weberg makes true P2P art. Weberg shares his videos on Bittorrent until a single other user downloads them. Then he stops sharing it and…

After that the artwork will be available for as long as other users share it. The original file and all the material used to create it are deleted by the artist. […] Feel free to don’t or download the film, watch it and share it for as long as you like. Or delete it immediately.

Eastern Promises

A list of 98 nicknames for New York

A list of 98 nicknames for New York City, including The City of Friendly People, The University of Telephony, and Father Knickerbocker. (via gothamist)

A sampling of typewriter typefaces. (via reference library)

A sampling of typewriter typefaces. (via reference library)

Cold War giants in tiny rooms

In Arsenals of Folly, Richard Rhodes details the making of the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, with a particular focus on the roles of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. The book is fantastic and a full review is forthcoming, but I wanted to share a couple of passages that would be worthy of cinematic adaptation.

A pivotal event in the book is the 1986 summit meeting between the two leaders in Reykjavik, Iceland. For two full days, Gorbachev and Reagan discussed drastically reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the two countries’ arsenals with the eventual goal of eliminating nuclear weapons altogether. Gorbachev proposed meeting in Iceland because it was halfway between the US and the Soviet Union, but the tiny country was unprepared in some ways for the number of people participating in the negotiations.

Back at the American Embassy, Shultz assembled Donald Regan, John Poindexter, Paul Nitze, Richard Perle, Max Kampelman, Kenneth Adelman, and Poindexter’s military assistant, Robert Linhard, inside what Adelman calls “the smallest bubble ever built” — the Plexiglas security chamber, specially coated to repel electromagnetic radiation and mounted on blocks to limit acoustic transmissions, that is a feature of every U.S. Embassy in the world. Since the State Department had seen no need for extensive security arrangements for negotiating U.S. relations with little Iceland, the Reykjavik Embassy bubble was designed to hold only eight people. When Reagan arrived, the air-lock-like door swooshed and everyone stood up, bumping into each other and knocking over chairs in the confusion. Reagan put people at ease with a joke. “We could fill this thing up with water,” he said, gesturing, “and use it as a fish tank.” Adelman gave up his chair to the president and sat on the floor leaning against the tailored presidential legs, a compass rose of shoes touching his at the center of the circle.

And later, the US team deliberated in an even tinier space:

Gorbachev and Reagan returned. The leaders retreated upstairs with their teams. Reagan’s advisors briefed him in the only place where they could meet in private, Rowny recalled, “a little ten by twelve bathroom where about ten of us crowded in. Several stood in the bathtub, Reagan was on the throne. I was agitated, I was worried about the idea of giving up all nuclear weapons.”

The metaphorical possibilities of these two scenes are endless. I hope someone working with a good cinematographer makes a movie out of the book.

THEBLOG WEEMADE is about “sharing the artwork

THEBLOG WEEMADE is about “sharing the artwork and creativity of kids”, and they’re inviting you to contribute. My favorite post is by the guy who runs the’s a poem he wrote about terrorism when he was 8 years old in 1984.

What’s the matter Ghadafi?
Why are you so blue?
Has someone put glue
Upon your shoes?
Well, the glue may not be on your shoe,
But the glue is certainly all over you.
You’re stuck, stuck, stuck,
You’re a terrorist,
You’re the most murderous
Terrorist on our list!

Frontline’s two-part report on Bush’s War is

Frontline’s two-part report on Bush’s War is getting good reviews.

A two-part special series that tells the epic story of how the Iraq war began and how it has been fought, both on the ground and deep inside the government.

Davenetics sums up the program’s findings:

It really was a perfect storm of bad judgment, malicious intent, a power structure out of balance, a weak Natl Sec Adviser, a marginalized secretary of state, an all-powerful veep, a lazy Congress, and outplayed British PM, a foolishly managed French foreign policy, an ignored military leadership, an Oedipal complex hall of fame President, and a media that focused on Rumsfeld’s funny press conference delivery instead of highlighting the fact that he was wrong, horribly wrong, on just about any point that mattered.

Both parts of the series are available for viewing in their entirety on the Frontline site.


MovieStamper lets you permalink and tag your favorite movie scenes. For instance, check out the timestamps for The Departed or Office Space. (Oh, and I know you’re eventually going to click on the boobs tag, so here you go. NSFW.)

It’s all a bit proof of concept right now, but if people start using it in earnest, it could be a fantastic resource.

Update: Looks like the Moviestamper site is no more. The URL now links to a parked domain with ads so I removed the link. (thx, jeff)

Leopard slugs get busy

David Attenborough narrates a sexual encounter between two leopard slugs. I know slug sex probably isn’t your thing, but this is worth a look. Beautiful.

(thx, alex)

99-cent fine dining

The NY Times dining section has a fun pair of articles today about cooking on the cheap. First, Henry Alford prepared all his meals for a week using ingredients purchased from 99-cent stores.

Because the main Jack’s store can have an unpredictable inventory — yesterday’s huge display of Progresso soup is today’s much-smaller hillock of marinated mushrooms is tomorrow’s sad heap of slightly battered boxes of Royal gelatin — shopping there is a return to the improvisatory cooking of yore, when people made dinner with whatever was in the market.

Trader Joe’s shoppers are already accustomed to those constraints. The Times also enlisted Eric Ripert, chef/owner of NYC’s 4-star Le Bernadin, to construct an entire menu using primarily 99-cent items; 5 dishes and 3 desserts for $40.

A butter sauce was whisked into shape to dress frozen crab cakes and Seabrook Farms vegetables. Canned coconut milk went into the jasmine rice and the jarred marinara sauce for baked salmon filets. “Wild salmon for 99 cents!” Mr. Ripert said, in disbelief.

Here’s a slideshow of Ripert and his team creating their dishes and his recipe for tuna rillettes. Take that, Sandra Lee.

Update: NPR recently aired a show on Cooking Gourmet with 99¢ Food, featuring Christiane Jory’s The 99¢ Only Stores Cookbook, which is due to be released on April 1. Neither Times article makes mention of Jory’s book, which seems like an obvious influence (or an incredible coincidence). If the book was an influence, this is bad form on the part of the Times. (thx, janelle)

Budget cuts at NASA means that one

Budget cuts at NASA means that one of the two Mars rovers will be shut down, even though it’s still doing useful science.

Besides resting Spirit, scientists also likely will have to reduce exploration by Opportunity, which is probing a large crater near the equator. Instead of sending up commands to Opportunity every day to drive or explore a rock, its activities may be limited to every other day, said John Callas, the Mars Exploration Rover project manager at JPL.

The rovers were originally deployed for three-month missions but have operated for more than four years.

Update: NASA decided not to go through with Mars rover budget cuts. (thx, jeff)

In a review (of sorts) of the

In a review (of sorts) of the Paris Hilton vehicle The Hottie and the Nottie on the eve of its UK release, critic Joe Queenan picks his worst movie of all time, along with the criteria he used to choose it.

To qualify as one of the worst movies ever made, a motion picture must induce a sense of dread in those who have seen it, a fear that they may one day be forced to watch the film again — and again — and again.

Gigli wasn’t that bad. Neither was Jersey Girl.

Awesome trippy video made in 1971 that demonstrates

Awesome trippy video made in 1971 that demonstrates through dance the process of amino acids linking to form protein. Skip ahead to ~3:30 for the dance itself. This film is still being shown in class at MIT. (thx, jeff)

A NY Times reporter was assaulted while

A NY Times reporter was assaulted while taking photos of some men putting up illegal posters near Madison Square Park. The rationale for his inclination not to press charges is an interesting one:

While my assailant’s actions were frightening, they resulted in part from what he interpreted as provocation: that is, my taking pictures after he had explicitly warned me not to. He did not take my wallet, cash or briefcase; something he could easily have done while I was on the ground. Nor do I recall him using much more force than was needed to wrest the camera from me. He didn’t kick me gratuitously when I was down. He did what he threatened to do, but no more.

In the greater scheme of things, my quarrel isn’t with him, anyway. It’s with the suits who made the decision in the first place to undertake an illegal marketing campaign.

Update: Maybe Rocko got his logo from the Rocky comic strip? (thx, joakim)

Chekhov’s gun is the literary technique whereby

Chekhov’s gun is the literary technique whereby an element is introduced early in the story, but whose significance does not become clear until later on. For example, a character may find a mysterious object that eventually becomes crucial to the plot, but at the time of finding the object, does not seem to be important.

That’s Anton, not Pavel (who in turn should not confused with tennis player Pavel Chekhov (who has a brother named Anton!)).

Peeping shrubbery

Peeping Shubbery

I *love* this photo. Found it here; it was taken by Mindy Meyers.

Ok, this is the last one of

Ok, this is the last one of these, I promise. This is the most elaborate Line Rider track ever created. Dear god, how much time did that take to make?

Say this three times fast: sea shrinks

Say this three times fast: sea shrinks foam cups. (It helps if you sing the words to the tune of Frère Jacques.)

The [styrofoam] cups were then gingerly sent into the deep. During the historic dive, led by Russian scientists, the pressure of the surrounding water crushed the cups to the size of thimbles, also squeezing their whimsies of writing and drawing. Afterward, the tiny cups became instant mementoes of the polar dive, offering striking proof of the descent into an unfamiliar zone and silent testimony to the crushing power of plain old water.

The “open-skies” agreement goes into effect at

The “open-skies” agreement goes into effect at the end of this month, which means that airlines based in the US and Europe can fly into and out of any two airports in each area.

The new pact is expected to be game-changing for Europe-bound travel. More routes are expected to open, and prices could fall thanks to the new competition. The agreement is also likely to encourage European carriers to compete more aggressively with one another across the Continent. Lufthansa, the German airline, for example, could set up a hub in Paris; or Air France could set up a hub in Frankfurt.

The article also states that Ireland-based Ryanair wants to offer fares to/from secondary markets in the US and Europe as low as $16. !!!

Comparison of old versions (5,10,12 years ago) of

Comparison of old versions (5,10,12 years ago) of popular web sites (Yahoo, CNN, Starbucks) with the current versions. Here’s a comparison from a less popular site of your acquaintance. (via vitamin briefcase)

Interview with Errol Morris in the Columbia

Interview with Errol Morris in the Columbia Journalism Review about Standard Operating Procedure.

Somebody comes up to you and says, “I’m a postmodernist; I don’t care about truth; it’s subjective.” My answer is, “So it doesn’t matter who pulled the trigger? It doesn’t matter whether someone committed murder, or whether someone in jail is innocent or not?” I believe that it does matter. What happens in the world matters a great deal.

Morris also says that there will be a web site that accompanies the film where you can view all the Abu Ghraib photos in the order that they were taken.

You can click on a photograph and an iris opens up — you go into the photograph, and inside of the photograph is context. Take, just for example, the Gilligan photograph, the one on the box, with the wires. I rubber-band that photograph with the other ones taken at the same time, so that it becomes a group of related photographs. There’s software that allows you to reconstruct the room from the different angles of the photographs. Then I have biographies that you can click on for all the people who were in the room, and their own accounts. Plus you can see stuff that I recorded for this movie. In other words, you can really enter the world of the photograph.

Canada is seeing a small influx of

Canada is seeing a small influx of American deserters who would rather not serve in Iraq.

Most of them, like Colby, say they joined the military in part out of patriotism. “I thought Iraq had something to do with 9/11,” Colby says, “that they were the bad guys that attacked our country.” But unlike Hinzman, most did not apply for conscientious-objector status. They tend to say they aren’t opposed to all wars in principle — just to the one they were ordered to fight. It wasn’t until Colby arrived in Iraq that he started to see the conflict as “a war of aggression, totally unprovoked,” he says. “I was, like, ‘This is what my buddies are dying for?’

The Canadian government will soon decide whether or not to let those soldiers apply for citizenship on the basis that the conflict in Iraq is “a war not sanctioned by the United Nations”.

Talented people are leaving Pixar because very

Talented people are leaving Pixar because very few people get a shot at directing a film of their own.

For all the success, however, there’s very little room atop Pixar’s food chain. While live-action movie studios might crank out more than a dozen movies annually, the digital animation company built by Apple’s Steve Jobs barely makes a film a year — and had no features at all in 2005 or 2002. What’s more, all Pixar movies so far have been directed by an inner circle of animation all-stars: John Lasseter (“Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Toy Story 2” and “Cars”), Brad Bird (“The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille”), Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo” and summer’s forthcoming “Wall-E”) and Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.” and 2009’s “Up”).

Brad Bird is set to direct a live-action movie about the earthquake that hit San Francisco in 1906.

Point. Being nasty can improve your life.

Point. Being nasty can improve your life.

Next month sees the arrival of Asshole: How I got Rich and Happy by Not Giving a S*** About You, by New York author Martin Kihn. “I was the nicest guy in the world - and it was killing me,” he says in the book. “My life was a dictionary without the word ‘no’. If you asked me for a favour — even the kind of favour that required me to go so far out of my way that I needed a map, a translator and an oxygen tank — even if I didn’t know you that well, I might hesitate a second, but I’d always say yes.”

Kihn walked other people’s dogs, traipsed out of his way to bring back the most complicated lunch orders for colleagues and handed over his money to whichever charity or sales scam asked for it. The result of such “kindness” was a dead-end job and a second-rate apartment.

While Gryzb recommends subtle personality changes, Kihn takes it a step further. He picked up tips from the masters - Donald Trump, Scarface and “the guy in my building with a tattoo on his face” — and decided to “blowtorch away my old personality and uncover the rock-hard warrior within”. In his book, Kihn devises a “10-step programme to assholism” for anyone wanting to acquaint themselves with their darker side. He himself signed up to the National Rifle Association, started kickboxing, screamed at colleagues and ate garlic bagels on public transport.

Counterpoint. The secret to happiness is giving.

Think you’d be happier if you won the lottery or just had a few extra bucks in your pocket? Think again. Overturning classic economic wisdom, new research shows that it’s not how much you have that matters, it’s how you spend it. People who donate their dollars to charities or splurge on gifts for others are more content than those who squander all the dough on themselves.

(via 3qd)

A fantastic pair of maps, courtesy of

A fantastic pair of maps, courtesy of Strange Maps:

- A map of the area covered by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on their Apollo 11 moon walks, superimposed on a soccer pitch for comparison purposes.

- The same map, superimposed on a baseball diamond.

Update: Here’s a look at the traverse map overlaid on the moon’s surface.

Update: For all you conspiracy theorists out there, LVHRD superimposed the traverse map onto a Universal Studios soundstage.

Ben Saunders, North

My pal Ben Saunders is headed North, in an attempt to set a new world record for the fastest trip to the North Pole.

The current record was set in 2005 by a guided team using dog sleds and numerous re-supplies in a time of 36 days 22 hours. Ben’s expedition will be solo and unsupported and on foot. This route has only ever been completed once solo and unsupported, by Pen Hadow in 2003. Ben aims to halve his time and complete it in 30 days. More than geographic exploration, Ben is exploring the limits of his own human potential.

Unsupported means that Ben will carry everything he needs to make the trip with him from the beginning. Check out the gear he’s bringing with him, including the tech he’ll use to update his journal along the way. Good luck, Ben!

Last week, PZ Myers, an outspoken critic

Last week, PZ Myers, an outspoken critic of creationism, was booted from a screening of Expelled, a film defending intelligent design co-written by Ben Stein.

They singled me out and evicted me, but they didn’t notice my guest. They let him go in escorted by my wife and daughter. I guess they didn’t recognize him. My guest was…

Richard Dawkins.

Here’s an account of the affair in the NY Times and a review of the film by Dawkins called Lying for Jesus.

Is that upcoming Judd Apatow produced/written/

Is that upcoming Judd Apatow produced/written/directed/presented by/executive produced movie going to be any good? Use this handy scoring system to find out.

Drillbit Taylor is written by Apatow acolyte Seth Rogen (3), but directed by Steven Brill, the auteur behind Little Nicky (-2). It stars Owen Wilson (-1) and is sadly free of Apatow’s repertory company of comedians, though Leslie Mann does play a supporting role (1). As far as we know, it contains no wangs, no seasoned dramatic actress, and no McLovin. It should score about a 1, which is to say it will be slightly better than Anchorman.

The Anchorman Is Not As Funny As You Remember sidebar is spot on as well. Will Ferrell needs to rethink his shit.


During the conference Xerxes sent a man of horseback to ascertain the strength of the Greek force and to observe what the troops were doing. He had heard before he left Thessaly that a small force was concentrated here, led by Lacedaemonians under Leonidas of the house of Heracles. The Persian rider approached the camp and took a thorough survey of all he could see — which was not, however, the whole Greek army; for the men on the further side of the wall which, after its reconstruction, was now guarded, were out of sight. He did, none the less, carefully observe the troops who were stationed on the outside of the wall. At that moment there happened to be the Spartans, and some of them were stripped for exercise, while others were combing their hair. The Persian spy watched them in astonishment; nevertheless he made sure of their numbers, and of everything else he needed to know, as accurately as he could, and then rode quietly off. No one attempted to catch him, or took the least notice of him.

Back in his own camp he told Xerxes what he had seen. Xerxes was bewildered; the truth; namely that the Spartans were preparing themselves to die and deal death with all their strength, was beyond his comprehension, and what they were doing seemed to him merely absurd. Accordingly he sent for Demaratus, the son of Ariston, who had come with the army, and questioned him about the spy’s report, in the hope of finding out what the behavior of the Spartans might mean. ‘Once before,’ Demartus said, ‘when we began our march against Greece, you heard me speak of these men. I told you then how I saw this enterprise would turn out, and you laughed at me. I strive for nothing, my lord, more earnestly than to observe the truth in your presence; so hear me once more. These men have some to fight us for possession of the pass, and for that struggle they are preparing. It is the custom of the Spartans to pay careful attention to their hair when they are about to risk their lives. But I assure you that if you can defeat these men and the rest of the Spartans who are still at home, there is no other people in the world who will dare to stand firm of lift a hand against you. You will now have to deal with the finest kingdom in Greece, and with the bravest men.

That’s from Book VII of Herodotus’ The Histories, translation by Aubrey de Selincourt. Why was none of this hair-combing business in the movie? That would have been great in slow motion.

Which reminds me. My other question about 300 is why the filmmakers, having wonderfully distilled and reduced the Hollywood action movie down to its fantastically violent essence, padded the remainder of the film with 45 minutes of the most boring slow-motion-filmed plot since Plutarch’s Watching Paint Dry? 300 would have benefitted greatly from a little worship at the altar of Jason Bourne: don’t stop the fucking action, ever.

Buzzfeed gets a little love in this

Buzzfeed gets a little love in this week’s New Yorker article about the “death and life of the American newspaper”.

The Huffington Post’s editorial processes are based on what Peretti has named the “mullet strategy.” (“Business up front, party in the back” is how his trend-spotting site BuzzFeed glosses it.) “User-generated content is all the rage, but most of it totally sucks,” Peretti says. The mullet strategy invites users to “argue and vent on the secondary pages, but professional editors keep the front page looking sharp. The mullet strategy is here to stay, because the best way for Web companies to increase traffic is to let users have control, but the best way to sell advertising is a slick, pretty front page where corporate sponsors can admire their brands.”

Here’s the mullet strategy page on Buzzfeed. (Disclosure: I’m an advisor to Buzzfeed.)

From the outgoing NY Times Paris bureau

From the outgoing NY Times Paris bureau chief, eight lessons in the ways of the French.

A doctor I know told me he once bought a coat at a small men’s boutique only to discover that it had a rip in the fabric. When he tried to return it, the shopkeeper gave him the address of a tailor who could repair it - for a large fee. They argued, and the doctor reminded the shopkeeper of the French saying, “The customer is king.”

“Sir,” the shopkeeper replied, “We no longer have a king in France.”

Michael Chabon on why real-life superhero costumes

Michael Chabon on why real-life superhero costumes don’t work.

This sad outcome even in the wake of thousands of dollars spent and months of hard work given to sewing and to packing foam rubber into helmets has an obvious, an unavoidable, explanation: a superhero’s costume is constructed not of fabric, foam rubber, or adamantium but of halftone dots, Pantone color values, inked containment lines, and all the cartoonist’s sleight of hand. The superhero costume as drawn disdains the customary relationship in the fashion world between sketch and garment. It makes no suggestions. It has no agenda. Above all, it is not waiting to find fulfillment as cloth draped on a body. A constructed superhero costume is a replica with no original, a model built on a scale of x:1. However accurate and detailed, such a work has the tidy airlessness of a model-train layout but none of the gravitas that such little railyards and townscapes derive from making faithful reference to homely things. The graphic purity of the superhero costume means that the more effort and money you lavish on fine textiles, metal grommets, and leather trim the deeper your costume will be sucked into the silliness singularity that swallowed, for example, Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin and their four nipples.

Steve Nash directed his own Nike commercial.

Steve Nash directed his own Nike commercial. Nash’s original concept for the commercial is clever:

At first, the idea was to shoot on different mediums — camera phone, 8-millimeter, 16-millimeter (the eventual choice), security footage. My idea was the city was watching me. The genesis was a lot of people film me or take a picture of me in the city on cellphones. If it’s such an appetite to see me do normal things, it was an idea to do something people like.

(via truehoop)

How do you describe a smell or

How do you describe a smell or a taste? John Lanchester discusses that and a recent book of perfume reviews in this recent New Yorker article.

The language of taste has, therefore, reached something of an impasse. On the one hand, we have the Romantic route, in which you are free to compare a taste to the last unicorn or the sensation you had when you were told that you failed your driving test-and others are free to have no idea what you are talking about. On the other, we have the scientific route, which comes down to numbers, and risks missing the fundamental truth of all smells and tastes, which is that they are, by definition, experiences.

Photos of people in their beds by

Photos of people in their beds by Thierry Bouet. Dumb Flash interface alert: click on “au lit” to see the beds. (thx, juliette)

The opera Tristan and Isolde has had

The opera Tristan and Isolde has had more than its fair share of mishaps over the years. The current engagement of the opera at the Met has been through 4 Tristans already.

Ed Boyden on How to Think “in

Ed Boyden on How to Think “in a world where problems are extremely complex, targets are continuously moving, and our brains often seem like nodes of enormous networks that constantly reconfigure”.

Make your mistakes quickly. You may mess things up on the first try, but do it fast, and then move on. Document what led to the error so that you learn what to recognize, and then move on. Get the mistakes out of the way. As Shakespeare put it, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

(via spurgeonblog)

Mike Johnston on the camera he would

Mike Johnston on the camera he would like to own, a decisive moment digital (DMD) camera.

So there you have it: a small, light, unobtrusive carry-around camera with great handling and world-class responsiveness, capable of being used in all manner of lighting conditions and yielding DSLR-quality results on the gallery wall. The 21st-century equivalent of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s stealthy street-shootin’ Leica.

There Will Be Vader, a mashup of

There Will Be Vader, a mashup of There Will Be Blood and Star Wars, with Daniel Plainview playing the part of Vader.

(via house next door)

Lost Prada glasses, Brooklyn, NY, an experiment

Lost Prada glasses, Brooklyn, NY, an experiment in internet chivalry.

The reading glasses pictured below were found on Friday, March 21, 2008 on Prospect Park West, on the side of the park, somewhere between 9th and 12th streets around 8:00 a.m.. Instead of just leaving them there waiting to be crushed by a Bugaboo or bike, or chewed up by a dog or pigeon, they were picked up in hopes of finding their rightful owner. All through the magic of the internet and the generous linkage of those interested in solving a good cause.

Trailer for Errol Morris’ Standard Operating Procedure. (via crazymonk)

Trailer for Errol Morris’ Standard Operating Procedure. (via crazymonk)

Paul Ford has plans to make a

Paul Ford has plans to make a better TV show than The Wire, “set in even worse parts of Baltimore”.

I’ll use cave paintings as the model for my series. Omar will chase mammoths through the streets and Carcetti will wear a robe made from a wolf and Beadie will chew bear meat for her children before passing it from her mouth. And everyone will speak proto-Indoeuropean without subtitles and the hidden cultural theme that no one sees will be land-bridge migration and phenotype variation.

I have already pre-ordered seasons 1 through 261,492.

Posts from the International Association of Time

Posts from the International Association of Time Travelers forum.

At 14:52:28, FreedomFighter69 wrote:
Reporting my first temporal excursion since joining IATT: have just returned from 1936 Berlin, having taken the place of one of Leni Riefenstahl’s cameramen and assassinated Adolf Hitler during the opening of the Olympic Games. Let a free world rejoice!

At 14:57:44, SilverFox316 wrote:
Back from 1936 Berlin; incapacitated FreedomFighter69 before he could pull his little stunt. Freedomfighter69, as you are a new member, please read IATT Bulletin 1147 regarding the killing of Hitler before your next excursion. Failure to do so may result in your expulsion per Bylaw 223.

At 18:06:59, BigChill wrote:
Take it easy on the kid, SilverFox316; everybody kills Hitler on their first trip. I did. It always gets fixed within a few minutes, what’s the harm?

A list of foods that were unknown

A list of foods that were unknown in Europe in the Middle Ages. A good resource for Renaissance Faire planners.

You can see it coming…just like

You can see it coming…just like in 1999/2000, the failure of all these shitty businesses built on sand will be blamed on an economic downturn and not that companies who make widgets for Facebook are not worth anything close to $500,000,000.

Surveilling yourself

If you tell photographer Izaz Rony where you’ll be at a particular time, he’ll come and take your picture without you knowing it.

Using information provided earlier about their weekly routine, the photographer will arrive on the scene, and unseen, take shots of the subject. The subject will be photographed walking through the streets, going about their daily business. Without posing and artifice, the camera captures only the natural beauty of the person.

Andrew Hearst calls it “surveilling yourself”.

Permanent Vacation, a piece by Cory Arcangel

Permanent Vacation, a piece by Cory Arcangel consisting of “two unattended computers send endlessly bouncing out-of-office auto-responses to each other”. (via vitamin briefcase)

Dan’s 20th Century Abandonware page showcases one

Dan’s 20th Century Abandonware page showcases one man’s collection of “legacy software, computer systems and memorabilia”. I’ve got a CD of FutureSplash (an early version of Flash) somewhere. And a NeXT pencil! (via mark)

Funny restaurant names

A list of amusing restaurant names presented somewhat oddly in scholarly paper format. Pony Espresso is a coffeehouse in Wyoming, Wiener Takes All in a hot dog place in Illinois, and Wholly Mackerel is a Gulf Coast seafood place.

Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing

Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down is the latest is a series of dispatches from Rosecrans Baldwin during his Parisian residence.

“So who would win in a fight,” the Welshman asked me, “New York or Los Angeles?”

It took me a second. “Los Angeles. New Yorkers would be too busy to fight,” Then I asked him: “OK, imagine it’s you and a hundred five-year-olds in a locked room. The children are overcome with a desire to kill you. How many could you put down?”

He thought for a second. “Can I use one of them as a weapon against the others?”

“Sure. But you have to remember they’re a mob.”

“Yeah, I can’t let them get me on the ground.”

A minute later we gave the game over to the French: “Who wins, Coca-Cola or Uma Thurman?”

The French didn’t answer and remained staring out the windows-it might have been Battersea, or Shepherd’s Bush. Then the French director said, “That is not a game.” He started coughing. “It is so Anglo, this game. It is not a game. How do you judge this? It is a soda and a woman. Then how do you decide?”

“One wins, one loses. Just pick,” I said. But he refused: “It is nothing a French person would think is a game. It is so stupid.”

The traffic wasn’t moving. I asked him then to suggest a French game instead that we could play. “OK, OK, here is a French game,” he said. “We will talk about something for a little while. It will be about nothing. We will talk and talk and talk about it. Sometimes I will take the other side of the conversation, just to say you are wrong. And then we will stop.”

He resumed his brooding silence. The composer turned to say he agreed, this was a classic French game.

The Desire Paths Flickr pool. Desire paths

The Desire Paths Flickr pool. Desire paths are improvised paths built collectively by pedestrians trying to find the shortest way across the grass, like ants laying down pheromone trails to food. I’ve heard of some clever institutions who wait for desire paths to be laid down by pedestrians and then put permanent sidewalks in those places.

It’s been awhile since the last conversation

It’s been awhile since the last conversation about gender diversity at web conferences. Here’s a particularly high profile example of more of the same: Google’s just-announced Web Forward conference appears to have a single woman speaker out of 38 total speakers.

Rent Vs. Buy Myths That Ruined the

Rent Vs. Buy Myths That Ruined the Housing Market.

Myth #1: Renting is Like Throwing Your Money Away
Buyers throw their money away for the first five years they own a home, because they simply give money to the bank for the privilege of borrowing money. Renters, on the other hand, pay for one thing every month: shelter. They don’t pay interest to the bank, property taxes or maintenance fees. They pay rent.

Short is In. Kevin Kelly collects a

Short is In. Kevin Kelly collects a bunch of short media, including 4-word film reviews, 6-word music reviews, and 7-word wine reviews. To which I would add Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity In Words of Four Letters or Less.

The Abu Ghraib article by Errol Morris

The Abu Ghraib article by Errol Morris and Philip Gourevitch which I wrote about here and was subsequently taken down is back online. For now. Get it while you can. (thx, tom)

Craig Oldham’s Nudist typeface is flesh-colored with

Craig Oldham’s Nudist typeface is flesh-colored with some bits pixelated out. Other “weights” include a fig leaf version and a black censor bar version. Entirely SFW.

Short post about the favorite letters drawn

Short post about the favorite letters drawn by H&FJ type designers, including the awesomely named Sulzbacher Eszett character.

The designers at H&FJ are often asked if there are particular letters that we especially enjoy drawing. Office doodles testify to the popularity of the letter R, perhaps because it synopsizes the rest of the alphabet in one convenient package (it’s got a stem, a bowl, serifs both internal and external, and of course that marvelous signature gesture, the tail.)

I would love to see a collection of those office doodles.

A collection of film stills on LiveJournal.

A collection of film stills on LiveJournal. Click through to see more from each film.

A German fighter ace has just learned

A German fighter ace has just learned that one of his 28 wartime ‘kills’ was his favourite author. Messerschmidt pilot Horst Rippert, 88, said he would have held his fire if he had known the man flying the Lightning fighter was renowned French novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. (via clusterflock)

DMX hasn’t heard of Barack Obama

In the middle of this interview with rapper DMX, it becomes clear that he’s never heard of Barack Obama before.

Q: Barack Obama, yeah.
A: Barack?!

Q: Barack.
A: What the fuck is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa?

Q: Yeah, his dad is from Kenya.
A: Barack Obama?

Q: Yeah.
A: What the fuck?! That ain’t no fuckin’ name, yo. That ain’t that n***a’s name. You can’t be serious. Barack Obama. Get the fuck outta here.

Q: You’re telling me you haven’t heard about him before.
A: I ain’t really paying much attention.

Q: I mean, it’s pretty big if a Black…
A: Wow, Barack! The n***a’s name is Barack. Barack? N***a named Barack Obama. What the fuck, man?! Is he serious? That ain’t his fuckin’ name. Ima tell this n***a when I see him, “Stop that bullshit. Stop that bullshit” [laughs] “That ain’t your fuckin’ name.” Your momma ain’t name you no damn Barack.

(via ah)

Long long but good good roundbrowser** discussion

Long long but good good roundbrowser** discussion about which is the best TV drama ever: The Wire, Deadwood, or The Sopranos.

MZS: And I would be, frankly, stunned if, as great an actor as Ian McShane is, he ever did anything that was as demanding and as complex as what he did on Deadwood. Same thing for Gandolfini. And there are even smaller players I think that’s true of as well. Molly Parker, you know, my God, look at all the things she got to do. When is she going to be able to do all those things again?

AS: A lot of that comes from the fact that these people were doing series, and now they’re trying to move on to movies, and no movie part will ever be as complex as Tony Soprano or Al Swearengen or Bubbles.

MZS: Is that an inherent strength of the medium, then, as opposed to movies?

AS: Yeah.

Obviously, there are spoilers here if you haven’t seen all three shows in their entirety.

** A roundbrowser discussion is a roundtable discussion that takes place online. Ok, yeah, I didn’t think it was all that clever either. Oh well.

Here’s a few hundred words on why

Here’s a few hundred words on why that Stuff White People Like site is “weak satire”.

When black people dance, they dance like this. But when white people dance, they dance like this.

You have now essentially experienced every episode of “The Arsenio Hall Show.” You have also now essentially read the entirety of Stuff White People Like, a comedic blog which may have recently popped up in your inbox, forwarded to you by an enthusiastic friend (him or herself no doubt, like the blog’s author, white).

My take is somewhat shorter: it’s just kinda dumb.

Andy Baio has digitized and put online

Andy Baio has digitized and put online a VHS tape from 1995 called “Internet Power!” Gape in wonder at its mid-90s-ness.

The Big Dog robot

Robots are getting better…the Big Dog robot can recover itself from slipping on ice, walk in the deep snow, and keep its balance when kicked hard in the side.

Great video. (via mouser)

We started watching HBO’s John Adams miniseries

We started watching HBO’s John Adams miniseries last night. Going in, I thought Paul Giamatti was going to be too familiar to play Adams; I’m happily wrong. He and Laura Linney are nearly perfect as America’s first power couple. Guess we’re going to hold off canceling that cable for a few weeks, at least until — SPOILERS!!! — the Americans win the Revolutionary War.

Tyler Cowen has a short review of

Tyler Cowen has a short review of Peter Moskos’ book, Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore’s Eastern District.

This is one of the two or three best conceptual analyses of “cops and robbers” I have read. It is mandatory reading for all fans of The Wire and recommended for everyone else.


This week’s New Yorker has a profile

This week’s New Yorker has a profile of David Chang, chef/owner of the Momofuku family of restaurants. The profile isn’t online but Ed Levine has a nice write-up with some quotes.

Just because we’re not Per Se, just because we’re not Daniel, just because we’re not a four-star restaurant, why can’t we have the same fucking standards? If we start being accountable for not only our own actions but for everyone else’s actions, we’re gonna do some awesome shit. […] I know we’ve won awards, all this stuff, but it’s not because we’re doing something special — I believe it’s really because we care more than the next guy.

Reading the article, it appears that Chang is using Michael Ruhlman’s The Soul of a Chef as a playbook here. Caring more than the next guy is right out of the Thomas Keller section of the book…with his perfectly cut green tape and fish swimming the correct way on ice, no one cares more than Keller.

Interesting gallery of Freakonomics book covers from

Interesting gallery of Freakonomics book covers from around the world. I enjoyed the Turkish version — “just put a hot chick on the cover” — and the Penguin UK version.

NY Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman

NY Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman wrote a paper when he was an assistant professor in 1978 called The Theory of Interstellar Trade. Here’s the abstract:

This paper extends interplanetary trade theory to an interstellar setting. It is chiefly concerned with the following question: how should interest charges on goods in transit be computed when the goods travel at close to the speed of light? This is a problem because the time taken in transit will appear less to an observer travelling with the good than to a stationary observer. A solution is derived from economic theory, and two useless but true theorems are proved.

The Virginia Quarterly Review analyzed their poetry

The Virginia Quarterly Review analyzed their poetry submissions for use of poetic cliches and found that the cliches do get published more often than not. Also of note is that “darkness” is an undervalued poetic cliche…it was in only 4% of submitted poems but in 17% of published poems. Poets, “darkness” is your way into VQR.

Here’s a novel interview technique: AJ Jacobs

Here’s a novel interview technique: AJ Jacobs sits George Clooney down in front of a computer and talks about what the internet says about him.

We are logged on to a Facebook group called “George Clooney is NOT the sexiest man alive.”

“Ninety-four members,” says Clooney as he looks at the photo of himself with a red X through it. “What the fuck?”

He reads the site’s manifesto aloud:

I for one am sick and tired of George Clooney thinking hes the sexiest man alive, like jesus hes so old! It’s just not right. That man is so full of himself it isn’t funny. Join this group if you totally agree with me.

“Should I defend myself in this one?”

Clooney dictates and I type:

That’s bullshit. He looks great for a 70-year-old.

The Novelists Guild of America strike is

The Novelists Guild of America strike is having no discernible impact on the nation.

“We must, as a people, achieve a resolution to this strike soon,” novelist David Foster Wallace said at a rally Monday at Pomona College in Claremont, CA, where he is a professor. “The thought of this country being deprived of its only source of book-length fiction is enough to give one the howling fantods.”

“I thank you both for coming,” he added.

Powerful and disturbing article by Philip Gourevitch

Powerful and disturbing article by Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris from this week’s New Yorker about the photographs taken at Abu Ghraib.

Later, when the photographs of crimes committed against Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib were made public, the blame focussed overwhelmingly on the Military Police officers who were assigned to guard duty in the Military Intelligence cellblock — Tiers 1A and 1B — of the hard site. The low-ranking reservist soldiers who took and appeared in the infamous images were singled out for opprobrium and punishment; they were represented, in government reports, in the press, and before courts-martial, as rogues who acted out of depravity. Yet the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was de facto United States policy. The authorization of torture and the decriminalization of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of captives in wartime have been among the defining legacies of the current Administration; and the rules of interrogation that produced the abuses documented on the M.I. block in the fall of 2003 were the direct expression of the hostility toward international law and military doctrine that was found in the White House, the Vice-President’s office, and at the highest levels of the Justice and Defense Departments.

Never mind liberty, it would seem that we’re giving up our humanity for security.

Update: Nuts, they took the article offline for some reason…

Update: Looks like the article is back up. For now.

This talk by neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor

This talk by neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor was universally considered the best talk at the TED conference last month. In it, she describes the lessons she learned from studying her stroke from inside her own head as it was happening.

And in that moment my right arm went totally paralyzed by my side. And I realized, “Oh my gosh! I’m having a stroke! I’m having a stroke!” And the next thing my brain says to me is, “Wow! This is so cool. This is so cool. How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out?”

New trailer for Speed Racer…watch it

New trailer for Speed Racer…watch it in full HD glory if your internet connection can take it. The courses remind me even more of Mario Kart than in the first trailer.

We’ve heard from the sex workers about

We’ve heard from the sex workers about the Spitzer affair. Now the psychologists. This article compiles many ideas about why Spitzer did what he did:

Psychologist Christopher Ryan, author of “Sex in Prehistory,” says the desire for sex with more than one person has always been there — for leaders and followers alike. “The desire is not a function of status or power — it’s a question of availability.”

What’s relatively new to the human race, he said, is the ability to exercise power and the connection between power and sex.

That’s because, for most of human existence, there was only so far a man could coerce others when food was essentially free and hard to hoard. And until relatively recently, sex with multiple partners was the norm. “It would have been very unusual 100,000 years ago for a person to have one sexual partner for 30 years,” said Ryan in an interview from Barcelona.

And here’s the evolutionary psychological point of view:

She points out that, while powerful men throughout western history have married monogamously (they had only one legal wife at a time), they have always mated polygynously (they had lovers, concubines, and female slaves). Many had harems, consisting of hundreds and even thousands of virgins. With their wives, they produced legitimate heirs; with the others, they produced bastards (Betzig’s term). Genes and inclusive fitness make no distinction between the two categories of children. While the legitimate heirs, unlike the bastards, inherited their fathers’ power and status and often went on to have their own harems, powerful men sometimes invested in their bastards as well.

As a result, powerful men of high status throughout human history attained very high reproductive success, leaving a large number of offspring (legitimate or otherwise), while countless poor men in the countryside died mateless and childless.

(thx, anne)

Update: And one more from Natalie Angier:

Yet as biologists have discovered through the application of DNA paternity tests to the offspring of these bonded pairs, social monogamy is very rarely accompanied by sexual, or genetic, monogamy. Assay the kids in a given brood, whether of birds, voles, lesser apes, foxes or any other pair-bonding species, and anywhere from 10 to 70 percent will prove to have been sired by somebody other than the resident male. is ten years old today

Three cities, two serious relationships, one child, 200,000 frequent flier miles, at least seven jobs, 14,500 posts, six designs, and ten years ago, I started “writing things down” and never stopped. That makes one of a handful of the longest continually updated weblogs on the web…something to be proud of, I guess. The only thing I’ve done longer than is sported this haircut. (Perhaps not something to be proud of…the hair-in-stasis, I mean.)

Being a digital packrat, I have screenshots of all the past designs the site has had. When I started, the posts were actually hosted on another site of mine, 0sil8, that I’d been doing since 1996. I didn’t know at the time that would eventually kill 0sil8. This was the first design (full size):, initial design, 1998

It’s a little misleading because there’s only one post shown on the page…there were usually more, displayed reverse chronologically. The stars were a rough rating of how well that day had gone called the fun meter.

When I moved the site to its own domain after a few months, I redesigned it to look like this (full size):, circa early 1999

The aesthetic was influenced by the pixel grunge style of Finnish designer Miika Saksi…you can see some of his older work here. The font in the navigation is Mini 7Silkscreen was still several months away at that point. The fun meter is still present as is the all-lowercase text, a house style I thankfully dropped a few months later. The cringeworthy writing took a few more years to iron out…if it ever fully was.

This one’s still my favorite; it turned a lot of heads back in the day (full size):, circa late 1999

With dozens of spacer gifs and five concentric tables, it was a bitch to code. There was also a capability to modify the look and feel of the site…you could choose between this design, the older design pictured above, and a text-only version. Inline permalinks were introduced on in March 2000 and subsequently the idea was spread across the web by Blogger.

But it only lasted for about a year. In late 2000, I swapped it for this one (full size):, circa 2000

The familiar burn-your-eyes-out yellow-green makes its first appearance. I never really meant to keep it or for it to become the strongest part of the site’s identity. After this design launched, I cycled through a few colors (the old yellow, blue, red) before getting to the yellow-green…and then I just got lazy and left it. For 8 years and counting. The post style underwent several changes with this design. In June 2002, I switched to Movable Type after updating the site by hand for four years. Soon after that, I added titles to my posts. In late 2002, I added a frequently updated list of remaindered links to the sidebar. In late 2003, the remainders moved into the main column and have become an integral part of the site. I also started reviewing movies and books around this time… became a bit of a tumblelog.

In July 2004, I refreshed the design a bit…tightened it up (full size):, circa 2004

After about a year, I changed it again to the current look and feel (full size):, circa 2005

Sorry, that got a little long…there’s a lot I didn’t remember until I started writing. Anyway, I didn’t intend for this to become a design retrospective. Mostly I wanted to thank you very sincerely for reading Over the last ten years, I’ve poured a lot more of myself than I’d like to admit into this site and it’s nice to know that someone out there is paying attention. [Cripes, I’m choking up here. Seriously!] Thanks, and I’ll see you in 2018.

Due to “when will the ice break

Due to “when will the ice break up” contests in Alaska and other records dating back more than 150 years, climate scientists are able to study the onset of spring thaws.

Seventeen lakes in Europe, Asia and the U.S. with records going back 150 years are thawing, on average, 13 days earlier now than when first recorded, said Wisconsin lake scientist Barbara Benson.

Frustrating that there’s no charts associated with the story; this is a case where a picture would be worth 1000 words.

Forgotten Architects.

Forgotten Architects.

Nearly 500 Jewish architects were working in Germany before 1933; today the fate of most of them is unknown. Following is a look at 43 of these architects whose groundbreaking work is sadly forgotten.

Here’s some context about the project.

Google Sky is like Google Earth for

Google Sky is like Google Earth for the, er, sky. The historical constellation drawing overlay is very cool.

P.S. I starting sobbing like a little baby when I saw this.

Only three men have ever graced the

Only three men have ever graced the cover of American Vogue. LeBron James is on the cover this month with Gisele Bundchen…see if you can guess the other two before you click through.

Chef Dan Barber, proprietor of NYC’s Blue

Chef Dan Barber, proprietor of NYC’s Blue Hill, is planning on writing a book or two. I still fondly remember Barber’s Food Without Fear op-ed in the NY Times in 2004.

The Eliot Spitzer affair and the business of sex

One of the side effects of the Eliot Spitzer situation is the discussion of prostitution happening in various places online by those with experience in or knowledge of that profession. Here are a few I’ve run across.

On the Freakonomics blog, an interview with a “high-end call girl” named Allie about the Spitzer affair.

Almost all of my clients are married. I would say easily over 90 percent. I’m not trying to justify this business, but these are men looking for companionship. They are generally not men that couldn’t have an affair [if they wanted to], but men who want this tryst with no stings attached. They’re men who want to keep their lives at home intact.

Susannah Breslin talks about her twin web projects, Letters from Johns and Letters from Working Girls and what light they could shed on Spitzer’s actions.

But one high-end call girl I spoke to about the Spitzer affair said there are lots of reasons a man in such a prominent position might seek high-stakes sex with a prostitute. Why not just have an affair, which probably wouldn’t have destroyed his career? She said that Spitzer, if he did use prostitutes, was probably one of those men for whom the payoff was the excitement of doing something really taboo. “What could be more taboo than going to an agency when you’re a crusader for all that is moral and good?” she theorized. “It’s only natural,” this call girl asserted, “that they’d hire a girl to get off.” She speculates that there was probably a “midlife crisis element” there too.

Former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss chimes in:

Look, it’s going to go on. You’re never going to stop prostitution. The way to do it is to regulate it. Clean it up a bit. Make it fair-fair for the girls, fair for the clients. At the end the government gets money out of it.

A Former Sex Worker’s Thoughts About Eliot Spitzer.

I’m a former sex worker. I still have many sex worker friends that are dear to me. Ones who both face all the risks of being a sex worker, but also fight for sex worker rights in public. They are at risk from the very policies of men like Spitzer. Eliot could have done something groundbreaking. He could have been a governor that dared to advocate for sex worker human rights. But he didn’t. Eliot persecuted sex workers. He made it easier for sex workers to be exploited, to be violated, to be stigmatized, to face discrimination, to face rape, assault and other crimes.

Sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh has done research on high-end sex workers in NYC and elsewhere. He explains how it works in this Slate article.

What high-end clients pay for may surprise you. For example, according to my ongoing interviews of several hundred sex workers, approximately 40 percent of trades in New York’s sex economy fail to include a physical act beyond light petting or kissing. No intercourse, no oral stimulation, etc. That’s one helluva conversation. But it’s what many clients want. Flush with cash, these elite men routinely turn their prostitute into a second partner or spouse. Over the course of a year, they will sometimes persuade the woman to take on a new identity, replete with a fake name, a fake job, a fake life history, and so on. They may want to have sex or they may simply want to be treated like King for a Day.

If you run across any similar links, send them along.

Practicing relaxation

A post by Jonah Lehrer about thinking under pressure links deliberate practice with another of my favorite concepts, relaxed concentration. For novice golfers, thinking more about a putt increases their chances of making it. But for experts, thinking about the mechanics of the putt in the same way makes it less likely that they’ll sink it.

Rather than think about the mechanical details of their swing, [expert] golfers should focus on general aspects of their intended movement, or what psychologists call a “holistic cue word”. For instance, instead of contemplating things like the precise position of the wrist or elbow, they should focus on descriptive adjectives like “smooth” or “balanced”. An experimental trial demonstrated that professional golfers who used these “holistic cues” did far better than golfers who consciously tried to control their stroke.

Related: a reader recommended George Leonard’s Mastery as a good read about deliberate practice. (thx, jd)

Update: Another recommendation: Inner Tennis. reader Stuart says:

Reading this book a couple of years ago quite honestly transformed my tennis game: I am good at deliberate practice, which had allowed me to become technically very sound, but until then I was completely unable to consciously enter a state of relaxed concentration and execute in a match situation: I was a classic “over thinker”. Gallwey’s book treats relaxed concentration as a skill to be deliberately practiced, and gives an approach to do so. Highly recommended, and fascinating for any (thoughtful) sportsman.

(thx, stuart)

The world’s 50 best works of art and

The world’s 50 best works of art and where to go to see them. Random Knowledge has links to all the art so you can check them out virtually in less time and for less money.

The 100 best last lines from novels. (via clusterflock)

The 100 best last lines from novels. (via clusterflock)

If you can ignore the stupid one-logo-per-page

If you can ignore the stupid one-logo-per-page interface, check out the 25 best band logos.

Stephen Dubner wrote a short article on

Stephen Dubner wrote a short article on one of my favorite topics of the recent past: deliberate practice.

This means that, your level of natural talent notwithstanding, excellence is accomplished mainly through the tenets of deliberate practice, which are roughly:

1. Focus on technique as opposed to outcome.
2. Set specific goals.
3. Get good, prompt feedback, and use it.

(via clusterflock)

Maybe this is surprising to you: when

Maybe this is surprising to you: when compared to Roman Catholicism, Islam is less conservative when it comes to sexual ethics.


Puddleblog documents the life and times of a persistent puddle in Brooklyn. I totally know that puddle and it is old. (via clusterflock)

Update: The Euston Puddle, another long-lived collection of water.

Five great audio illusions. (thx, marshall)

Five great audio illusions. (thx, marshall)

A guy who started working as a

A guy who started working as a game programmer for Atari when he was 21 years old recounts his experiences, notably his work on the Donkey Kong cartridge.

Basically, Atari’s marketing folks would negotiate a license to ship GameCorp’s “Foobar Blaster” on a cartridge for the Atari Home Computer System. That was it. That was the entirety of the deal. We got ZERO help from the original developers of the games. No listings, no talking to the engineers, no design documents, nothing. In fact, we had to buy our own copy of the arcade machine and simply get good at the game (which was why I was playing it at the hotel - our copy of the game hadn’t even been delivered yet).

(via girlhacker)

Rating the critics: the Economist’s More Intelligent

Rating the critics: the Economist’s More Intelligent Life blog picks their favorite movie and book critics. They will be offering picks in more categories in the coming days. (via mr)

Michael Bierut on the concept of bershon,

Michael Bierut on the concept of bershon, defined by Sarah Brown thusly:

The spirit of bershon is pretty much how you feel when you’re 13 and your parents make you wear a Christmas sweatshirt and then pose for a family picture, and you could not possibly summon one more ounce of disgust, but you’re also way too cool to really even DEAL with it, so you just make this face like you smelled something bad and sort of roll your eyes and seethe in a put-out manner. Kelly Taylor from Beverly Hills, 90210 is the patron saint of bershon, as her face, like most other teenagers’, was permanently frozen in this expression.

Bierut notes that Jennifer Grey’s performance in Ferris Bueller embodies the spirit of bershon, but Molly Ringwald does bershon pretty well in Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club.

The Photoshop Disasters blog catalogs missteps in

The Photoshop Disasters blog catalogs missteps in photo retouching and graphic design. The most recent post shows the cover of a Nintendo DS game that has an embarrassingly invisible iStockPhoto watermark on it. The three-handed lady is my favorite.

Short piece on how to tell if

Short piece on how to tell if you’re being followed.

If you must check for surveillance, don’t keep glancing over your shoulder. Appearing to suspect you’re being followed suggests you’re doing something to merit it. Anyway, if you’re being tailed by a serious outfit they won’t only be behind you, but ahead and to the side as well; there won’t just be one or two people on your case, but a whole team, with others in reserve. Maybe the whole street is following you.

I read a lot of Tom Clancy in high school and some of my favorite parts were the descriptions of how surveillance worked.

Photo slideshow of an architecture office fashioned

Photo slideshow of an architecture office fashioned out of the rusted carcass of an auto repair shop.

All of TV is fake

The final episode of St. Elsewhere revealed that all of the action of the show took place in the mind of an autistic child. Two detectives from Homicide: Life on the Street investigate a doctor from St. Elsewhere. Thus Homicide is a fiction. And so are 280 other shows that are connected to those two shows through crossovers and references. This page contains a map of all the crossovers, encompassing such disparate shows as Doctor Who, The King of Queens, and Leave It to Beaver. Wonderful.

Flowchart: exposed to Dungeons and Dragons early

Flowchart: exposed to Dungeons and Dragons early in life, yes or no? I didn’t play a whole lot of D&D as a kid (maybe three time total) but I’ve flowed through several of these points nonetheless.

The end of The Wire

WARNING, **EXTENSIVE SPOILERS** ABOUT SEASONS 1-5. So, The Wire is over. The 60th and final episode of the show aired on Sunday night. I watched it last night and felt very sad afterwards. Sad that it’s over and that doing a sixth season could not and would not work. A good chunk of my morning was spent clinging to the show’s final moments; I must have read close to 50 or 60 pages of interviews and analysis concerning the end of the show. Here are a few of those articles worth reading:

Heaven and Here is providing their usual excellent coverage of the end of the show.

I don’t know if Cheese’s speech about the game was one of the more definitive the show’s ever put forth, or the ultimate in dime store Wire-isms. I also don’t know which way it was supposed to be perceived by the characters. But that it was immediately followed by a murder that contradicted everything it contained — one that went against a lot of what’s been both depressing and demoralizing about the show — was kind of awesome.

Alan Sepinwall has the definitive end-of-the-show interview with David Simon. It’s long but oh so good.

We knew that if we got a long enough run, all three of the chess players would be out of the game, so to speak. Prison or dead. We did not chart all of their fates to a specific outcome, but we knew that the Pit crew would be subject to an exacting attrition.

We knew, for example, that when Carcetti declares that he wants no more stat games in his new administration that the arc would end with his subordinates going into Daniels’ office and demanding yet another stat game. Or that McNulty would end up on the pool table felt like Cole, albeit quitting rather than dead. Or that Carver’s long arc toward maturity and leadership would begin with him making rank under ugly pretenses and then being lectured by Daniels about what you can and can’t live with. (It’s at that point that Carver slowly begins to change, not merely when he encounters Colvin’s integrity.) We knew that the FBI file that Burrell would not be put into play in season one would eventually be used to deny Daniels the prize.

Sepinwall also wrote an extensive recap of the final episode.

Heather Havrilesky’s interview with David Simon on Salon covers some of the same ground as Sepinwall’s interview but is still quite fine. Here’s David Simon explaining what the whole season five newspaper thread was all about:

[The season] begins with a very good act of adversarial journalism — they catch a quid pro quo between a drug dealer and a council president — which actually happened in Baltimore. Not necessarily the council president, but between a drug dealer and the city government. That whole thing with the strip club? That really happened in real life. It was news. The Baltimore Sun did catch that, it was good journalism, so I was honoring good journalism. It ends with an honorable piece of narrative journalism, about Bubbles. And the Baltimore Sun has, on occasion, done very good narrative journalism.

In between those bookends, which I thought were important, because in our minds we weren’t writing a piece that was abusive to the Sun or any other newspaper … the paper misses every story. They miss that the mayor wants to be governor, so ultimately the guy who was the reformer ends up telling people to cook the stats as bad as Royce ever did. Well, in Baltimore that happened. And they missed the fact that the third-grade test scores are cooked to make it look like the schools are improving, when in fact it doesn’t extend to the fifth grade, and that No Child Left Behind is an unmitigated disaster. They set out to do a story on the school system, but they abandoned it for homelessness because they’re sort of reed thin. Prosecutions collapse because of backroom maneuvering and ambition by various political figures, speaking of Clay Davis … And when a guy like Prop Joe dies, he’s a brief on page B5.

That was the theme, and we were taking long-odd bets that very few journalists would even sense it. That would be the critique of journalism that really mattered to me, because we’ve shown you the city as it is, and as it is intricately, for four years. It was all rooted in real stuff.

The last of Andrew Johnston’s recaps for The House Next Door. He remains skeptical about the newspaper part of season five’s main plot:

In my decade-plus as a professional journalist, I’ve seen a lot of people compromise their principles in order to stay employed, but never have I seen so many people compromise so much. At the risk of seeming terminally naive, I have to ask if things are really that much worse in the newspaper world than they are in the magazine biz (and now that I’ve raised the question, I’m sure more than one person will provide evidence in the comments below that yes, things are that bad).

Yanksfan vs. Soxfan views The Wire through the lens of Baltimore sports.

From the air, the picture isn’t quite so romantic. The satelite image above shows the site that was once home to Memorial Stadium. An entire neighborhood is oriented in a horsehoe around it. But there’s practically nothing on the site now. It’s a void. The last remnant of Memorial Stadium came down in 2002. That was a concrete wall dedicated to the soldiers who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars. It read, “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.”

The Orioles moved into Camden Yards in 1994. You’d think that, when the city agreed to build a new home for the team, there would have been a plan for the old site. But that’s not how the development game works. A rising tide doesn’t necessarily lift all boats. The money was downtown, and that’s where it stayed.

Assorted other articles that I’ll leave unexcerpted: AV Club interview with Simon, final episode recap from Thoughts on Stuff, and a letter on HBO’s site from David Simon to the fans of the show.

And finally, a few other tidbits.

  • According to Simon in his interview with Sepinwall, the superhero-like jump taken by Omar in season five from an apartment balcony was based on a real-life experience by the real-life Omar.
  • Did you catch Simon’s cameo in the newsroom at The Sun? Did Ed Burns have a cameo of his own at McNulty’s wake?
  • Aside from Ziggy Sobotka, Brother Mouzone, and maybe Horseface, season five featured every surviving main character in the show’s five season run. Mr. Prezbo was the last to turn up as the subject of Dukie’s transparent short con.
  • At the beginning of season four, I wished that season five would be a Godfather II-style prequel showing how the main characters (Avon, Stringer, McNutty, Daniels, Omar, etc.) got to where they did. Turns out that Simon and company had that in mind all along; in seasons four and five, we simultaneously see the beginnings and ends of several characters. Michael and Dukie are explicitly set up as the new Omar and Bubbles, respectively. Carver is the new Daniels. Sydnor is the new McNulty (with some Freamon sprinkled in). I’m also guess that, more or less, Kima is the new Bunk, Kenard is the new Avon/Marlo, and Randy is the new Cheese (Simon has confirmed that Cheese is Randy’s dad). Namond is the only season four kid that doesn’t really morph into one of the other characters…maybe Bunny.
  • Slim Charles shooting Cheese in the head was the most satisfying moment I’ve ever witnessed on TV.

Now that it’s done, I think we’re going to cancel HBO and everything but basic cable. I doubt it’ll be missed much…aside from sports and movies, The Wire was only thing we watched on TV.

The UK Sunday newspaper The Observer recently

The UK Sunday newspaper The Observer recently published a list of the world’s 50 most powerful blogs. is fourth on the list. “Powerful” seems to be a word used here for its succinct headline value…that adjective doesn’t fit many of the blogs on the list. But The Observer has made an effort to build a wide-ranging list of blogs that you should be reading…it’s very nice to be included.

Related to last month’s post about monochromatic

Related to last month’s post about monochromatic outfits, here’s some photos of children who do the same thing, pink for the girls and blue for the boys.

korean artist jeongmee yoon’s ‘pink and blue project’ was inspired by her daughter. she would only wear pink and buy pink toys.

I find it interesting/odd that the children, some of whom aren’t more than five years old, are the ones presumed to be making the color choice here. (via a.whole)

Typographica’s list of their favorite typefaces of 2007.

Typographica’s list of their favorite typefaces of 2007. Some great work in that list. I also enjoyed Mark Simonson’s explanation of the difference between a font and a typeface:

The physical embodiment of a collection of letters (whether it’s a case of metal pieces or a computer file) is a font. When referring to the design of the collection (the way it looks) you call it a typeface.

Oh and also good was that they were thoughtful enough to wait until 2007 was actually over to make their selections.

Why would you want to live in

Why would you want to live in Park Slope with children? So ponders David Galbraith, who notes that Brooklyn schools look like prisons.

This is the local elementary school — which looks like a Northern Irish prison, before the ceasefire, with a sarcastic multi colored sign by Banksy.

The Believer has a transcript of a

The Believer has a transcript of a conversation between film directors Werner Herzog and Errol Morris.

WH: And you have a great sense for the afterthought. The interview is finished, it’s over, and Errol is still sitting and expecting something. Then all of a sudden there comes an afterthought, and that’s the best of all.

EM: Yes, often.

WH: Very often, yes. And I have learned that, in a way, from you. Wait for the afterthought. Be patient. Don’t say, “Cut.” Just let them do it.

I don’t get out to the theater much these days, but I’m going to make an exception for Morris’ upcoming Standard Operating Procedure.

The celebrated food vendors at Red Hook’s

The celebrated food vendors at Red Hook’s ball fields have been awarded a six-year permit to “operate an ethnic and specialty food market in Red Hook Park, Brooklyn”. Says NYC food meister Ed Levine of the vendors:

The Red Hook Ballfields, where Latino families put up makeshift restaurants serving real, honest food of their home countries, is one of the last bastions of real food to be found in NYC. If it’s replaced by a Starbucks or a series of dirty water dog carts or some generic high bidder, it would be a travesty.

Remember the Wii Tennis competition held last

Remember the Wii Tennis competition held last year at Barcade in NYC? The organizers are taking on the road with Wiinnebago this summer.

Wiimbledon’s back, and this year we’re kicking it 3,000 miles clockwise from NYC to San Francisco. The plan: Leaving the first week in June, we’ll ‘Bago it Madden-style cross-country, stopping here and there for mini-tournaments, and gas, and probably your couch. We’ll hit SF June 20th. The 2nd Annual Wiimbledon Tournament’ll be held Saturday, June 21st.

A thoughtful memorandum from the archives of

A thoughtful memorandum from the archives of the RAND Corporation as they contemplated designing a new building for the optimal accomplishment of work in 1950.

This implies that it should be easy and painless to get from one point to another in the building; it should even promote chance meetings of people. A formal call by Mr. X on Mr. Y is the only way X and Y can develop such a tender thing as an idea — the social scientists have taught me to use X and Y in that bawdy manner. If the interoffice distances are to be kept reasonable, the building must be compact. It need not be circular; a square is often a good substitute for a circle, and even a rectangle is not bad, if the aspect ratio does not get out of hand.

The memo’s author even gets into lattice theory in attempting to keep inter-office travel times down. As a contemporary example, Pixar’s office in Emeryville was designed to bring the company’s employees randomly together during the day:

I was the first person from the group of journalists to arrive, giving me plenty of time to look around the lobby, which is actually a gigantic football-field length atrium, the centerpiece of the entire building.

As it was explained to me later, Steve Jobs originally proposed a building with one bathroom, something that would drive foot traffic to a central area all day long. Obviously, they’ve got more than one bathroom in the building, but just standing there and watching as everyone arrived to start their day, it was obvious that Jobs had managed the feat.

The mailboxes, the employee cafe, and the common room where all the games are all open into that atrium, and people lingered, talking, exchanging ideas and discussing the various projects they’re working on. It seemed like a fertile, creative environment, and I felt like Charlie Bucket holding a golden ticket as I examined the larger-than-life Incredibles statues in the center of the atrium and the concept paintings hung on the walls.

(thx, jean-paul)

Ok, I’m back from a week of

Ok, I’m back from a week of sickness, grueling travel, little sleep, and nothing done on some projects I wanted to tackle. Time off is a bit different with an 8-month-old. But I’d like to thank Deron for holding down the fort while I was gone…I enjoyed his contribution to the site; I hope you did as well. Thanks, Deron.

Regular posting to commence after a short mental nap.

A recent favorite Buzzfeed trend: Insane Sandwiches.

A recent favorite Buzzfeed trend: Insane Sandwiches.

A hundred and twenty year old photo

A hundred and twenty year old photo of a young Helen Keller has been found.

The photograph, shot in July 1888 in Brewster, shows an 8-year-old Helen sitting outside in a light-colored dress, holding Sullivan’s hand and cradling one of her beloved dolls.

The Haikuvies blog provides summaries of movies

The Haikuvies blog provides summaries of movies in haiku form. From the Princess Bride summary:

Iocane powder
brings end to battle of wits
ha ha ha ha… flop

Good Thangs. It’s like Martha Stewart. But different.

Good Thangs. It’s like Martha Stewart. But different.

File this one under holy crap!

File this one under holy crap!

It starts with clapclap, goes by way of waxy, has a via clusterflock, on to Kottke (who has a guest blogger, no less), then designing god Michael Beirut puts it in Design Observer’s column, bloggies like this one join suit….and…voila: “Hallelujah” is the number one song on iTunes. Awesome.

Jason responds:

I just checked, and sure enough, Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah is the #1 single on iTunes right now. Not sure it’s an exact cause and effect, but cool nonetheless.

Update: Jon writes:

I noticed the same thing and blogged a very similar post earlier today, but my guess is that the itunes ranking has more to do with the song being sung by the contestant on american idol this week and the judges subsequently mentioning their love for the buckley version — thus driving the american idol traffic to itunes. not that we aren’t the web of course but … .

Four words that prove how difficult the

Four words that prove how difficult the English language is: lose, loose, chose, choose.

Update: Doug points out: bough, cough, dough, rough, through.

Update: Ubi says: I can point out one that is really hard to deal with for us Italians. We always pronounce ‘steak’ with the ‘ea’ of ‘freak’. So, here’s my list: steak, stake, freak, break, weak.

Update: Anissa points us to Hints on pronunciation for foreigners.

Update: BJ says: This post reminded me of a word constructed to demonstrate that fact explicitly: ghoti (pronounced ‘fish’).

Update: Ben says: I’m reminded of the Dr. Seuss compilation The Tough Coughs As He Ploughs the Dough.

An amazing article on the first hand

An amazing article on the first hand experience of a photojournalist who falls in love with a female assassin.

There comes a point in every new relationship when your girlfriend wants to share a secret. Usually it’s to do with sex — how many other partners she’s had (with a few conveniently erased) — that sort of thing. Often, the secret changes the basis of the relationship; honesty comes with consequences. But what happens if your new girlfriend has a much darker and more sinister secret than having slept around a bit?

(via conscientious)

Okay, I’ll probably post a few more

Okay, I’ll probably post a few more things over the weekend but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Jason again for allowing me to hang out this week. The experience has been remarkable and exhilarating, if not a wee bit terrifying. It is obvious to me now how much effort is involved in what Jason makes look so effortless.

I would also like to thank the many of you who wrote in with suggestions and tips; they went a long way toward allowing me to feel like I was on top of things.

And finally, a thank you to all of those who had a chance to look at the documentary. Your comments have been greatly appreciated.

So, thanks again for making this an extraordinary week, and perhaps we will see each other again sometime.

Aesthetics has been at the heart of

Aesthetics has been at the heart of a lot of political discussions this season. Whether it’s Obama’s choice of font or McCain’s logo, the design web has been full of observations.

Which is why Tyler Cowen’s thoughts about the relative aesthetics of Clinton and Obama caught my eye. He starts by questioning how there can be such animosity between two campaigns when both candidates share such similar views.

Any fan of Dr. Seuss will know that policy similarity hardly matters. The two candidates represent two diametrically opposed portraits of the relationship between aesthetics and politics. Should we expect beauty, grace and universality, or should we derive our feel-good sentiments about politics from righteousness, confrontation, and sheer dogged persistence and feelings of ultimate desert?

At the end, Tyler shifts the conversation away from aesthetics toward the relationship of power and politics, but of course, power has a relationship to aesthetics. It’s simply a question of how it is wrapped.

It starts simply enough. At some point

It starts simply enough. At some point you decide you like cheeseburgers better than hamburgers. No big deal. Then one day you try your cheeseburger with bacon. And then after a while you think, you know what would be really good on this? Jalapeños. Jalapeños would be really good on this. And then you’re stuck. Hooked on Jalapeño Bacon Cheeseburgers, and you realize you can never go back.

Update: Speaking of cheeseburgers, feel free to blast these to bits. (thx, jeff & swissmiss)

Update: Aaron points me to the Luther Burger: “a hamburger, specifically a bacon cheeseburger, which employs a glazed donut in place of each bun.”

A video stream of yesterday’s iPhone SDK

A video stream of yesterday’s iPhone SDK presentation.

Update: Jason at SVN speculates on the implications of yesterday’s announcements.

A list of drag queen names compiled

A list of drag queen names compiled so far. Perhaps when we are through we can get John Hodgman to draw caricatures of each.

Update: Lenny reminds me: “Hodgman didn’t draw the hoboes, he just named them. A bunch of cartoonists drew them, most notably Ape Lad, a.k.a. Adam Koford.”

A Brief Tour of the Exceptional

I’d like to take a quick moment to point out a few people whose work I find extraordinary.

Aaron Winslow, who is creating a small bestiary of contemporary office life.

Barry Stone, whose photography I mentioned earlier this week.

Cooper Renner, current editor of elimae and NYPL selected poet of the 21st century.

Daryl Scroggins, a fellow clusterflocker and fiction writer whose work Gordon Lish praised in Esquire.

Diane Williams, who edits NOON, and whose fiction needs no introduction, but whose work I consider to be among the strongest in American literature.

Jane Unrue, for her extraordinary fictional voice.

Mike Sarki, whose book Zimble Zamble Zumble I designed for elimae, and whose poetry has been championed by Gordon Lish.

Mike Topp, also published at elimae and The Quarterly, whose poetry redefines the category.

Norman Lock, author of A History of the Imagination, among many others, whose writing deserves an audience as vast as his intelligence.

And, of course, Amy Mabli, who, when she presents herself to the world, will own it.

An economic discussion about the implications of

An economic discussion about the implications of trading with aliens. No, not illegal aliens.

FUH2 is a site dedicated to pictures

FUH2 is a site dedicated to pictures of people flipping off Hummers.

(via cathy)

A short article about coffee and its

A short article about coffee and its relationship to The Enlightenment, and smart drugs and body enhancements that may lead to a second Enlightenment. Short on details, but long on implications.

This exterior latex paint fights diarrhea.

This exterior latex paint fights diarrhea.

An extensive — and I mean extensive

An extensive — and I mean extensive — overview of the recording history of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Complete with graphs.


Damn, I love that song.

(via andrew @ clusterflock)

Good notes from today’s Apple event at

Good notes from today’s Apple event at which they announced the developer’s kit for the iPhone. VC John Doerr also announced the iFund, a $100 million fund that will give money to companies wanting to develop applications for the iPhone. (via df)

LeBron James dropped 50 points on the Knicks

LeBron James dropped 50 points on the Knicks in Madison Square Garden last night to chants of MVP from the New York crowd. It’s good to be the king.

Update: Did you see the buzzer beating three pointer at the end of the first quarter?! He shot it almost from mid-court, floating left. It looked effortless. It was almost like Jordan’s game ending shot against the Jazz in game six of the ‘98 Finals, but, again, from almost mid-court.

What do saw dust, cow manure, car

What do saw dust, cow manure, car prices, chainsaw art, and alternative energy have in common?

1. It seems that the slow housing market means that fewer scraps of wood are being reduced down to dust, which is used in the manufacture of certain interior components, like steering wheels.

2. Apparently, there are a few substitutes to sawdust in the farming industry, like cow manure.

3. Sawdust swirled as Paul Jones worked his chainsaw magic in Howard Amon Park, converting a dying tree into a work of art.

4. “Imagine a vat of liquid cow manure covering the area of five football fields and 33 feet deep,” Reuters tells us. “Meet California’s most alternative new energy.”

American scientists have harnessed MRI technology to

American scientists have harnessed MRI technology to accurately predict what image a person is seeing. The implications in the long term are that we may one day be able to record visual evidence of our dreams or “reconstruct a picture of a person’s visual experience at any moment in time.”

(via marginal revolution)

Where to begin?

Where to begin?

Do you like squirrels?

Do you like dress-up?

Sugar Bush Squirrel — The Superstar Squirrel — Supermodel & Military Mascot.

Hope all of you are enjoying your summer as much as I’m enjoying my new yellow sandals!

(via mary @ clusterflock)

Alison Stokke diet plan helps Oprah lose 10,000 lbs.

Or, “with all the dogmatism of brevity”, Ogilvy & Mather show us how to create advertising that sells. (via coudal)

Update: The link to the image was being blocked so I fixed it by pointing to a local copy.

Update: This post is now fifth when you google “Alison Stokke”. (thx, jack)

Forget the Red State / Blue State labels;

Forget the Red State / Blue State labels; the real question is Wal-Mart State or Starbucks State.


(thx, jason)

David Sedaris delivers a pizza.

David Sedaris delivers a pizza.

(via felt up)

There’s a big kerfuffle (how many points

There’s a big kerfuffle (how many points do I get for that?) over Hasbro, makers of Scrabble, suing Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla over their popular Facebook application, Scrabulous.

I got two great things in the

I got two great things in the mail yesterday. I’ll talk about the second one in a bit, but the first is Kim Chinquee’s book of flash fictions and prose poems, Oh Baby. Here’s an excerpt:

She sent me pictures of the cake. They had a flaming onion, whisky sours, steak and fried potatoes. They gambled at the Soaring Eagle, losing hundreds and then thousands. “You got married to my mom,” I said to him on my end. I got married at the Justice of the Peace, picking up two people, offering to pay them. The first said no thanks and the second said he was too injured. We found another couple who seemed angelic, their voices a team, an echo. “She’s a catch,” he said, kind of laughing. I heard him on the exhale. He smoked on the back porch that faced a lake, where we’d once gone fishing, catching nothing worth keeping.

The placebo effect is real apparently even

The placebo effect is real apparently even when you know it’s a placebo, and, alternately, the possibility exists that cultural expectations of whether a drug works may have an effect on how well the drug works:

There are various possible interpretations of this finding: it’s possible, of course, that it was a function of changing research protocols. But one possibility is that the older drug became less effective after new ones were brought in, because of deteriorating medical belief in it.

April 18 is Poop For Peace Day.

April 18 is Poop For Peace Day.

Mark your calenders!


Update: Mandar suggests everyday is poop for peace day.

Update: If it so moves you — sorry! — Bennett has a post at the Utne Reader Blog about The Politics of Poop.

We are having a lot of fun

We are having a lot of fun with drag queen names (aka, porn star names) over at clusterflock. Feel free to join in the fun.

An (animated (and condensed (and brief (and

An (animated (and condensed (and brief (and truncated)))) history of evil. Almost as interesting for the comments as for the video itself.

A lot of sweat goes into every bottle.

A lot of sweat goes into every bottle.

(thx, aaron)

It looks like humans are just as

It looks like humans are just as capable of forming bonds with robots as they are with dogs. Perhaps the robot dogs will comfort us while we propagate memes for our machine overlords.

37signals is running some experiments with the

37signals is running some experiments with the goal of making people happy in the workplace. So far they have implemented shorter work weeks, funding people’s passions, and discretionary spending accounts. The funding people’s passions idea reminds me of my time as an internet developer at Nortel in the mid-90s. We set up informal lunch-time sessions where each of us would take turns teaching others something we knew. I learned more in my time there, because of that, than I have in any other work environment. Of course, our sessions were spontaneous and definitely not institutional. They were the result of a great boss and motivated people. The idea that this sort of innovation exists institutionally speaks strongly for the culture 37signals is creating and perhaps hints at why some companies survived the initial internet bubble and others didn’t.

Update: This just in:

I am perfectly willing to acknowledge that not all of us excel at the same things, but I’m coming to believe more and more firmly that this whole “typical person” entity is a myth. I’ve never met a typical person. There are only people who are passionate about what they do, and people who aren’t. When the latter become the former, they become “atypical”, because suddenly they are self-motivated, insightful, excited, optimistic, and happy.

The way infants and adults see color

The way infants and adults see color is processed in the brain differently. The infant brain sees color in a pre-linguistic part of the brain. Adults, in a part of the brain that deals with language. It’s not known when or how that transition is accomplished, but:

“As an adult, color categorization is influenced by linguistic categories. It differs as the language differs,” said Kay, who is renowned for his studies on the ways that different cultures classify colors. He cited recent research on the ability of Russian speakers to detect shades of blue that English speakers classify as a single color.

Is this the contemporary equivalent of Eskimo words for snow?

The Earth and Moon as seen from Mars.

The Earth and Moon as seen from Mars.


In case you’re wondering if Kottke is

In case you’re wondering if Kottke is blogging this week.

(A nice addition to Jason’s list of Single Serving Sites.)

Update: Brought to us — ironically? — by, Jason.

The world of competitive crossworld puzzles, apparently,

The world of competitive crossworld puzzles, apparently, is a lot like the world of professional golf. One no longer asks who will win the Masters, for instance. One asks, Tiger or the field? For crossword puzzle tournaments, the appropriate question, now, is, Tyler or the field?

(thx, john)

Update: Tyler Hinman was in the crossword puzzle documentary Wordplay.

I never played Dungeons & Dragons, but I

I never played Dungeons & Dragons, but I did play RuneQuest in the back room of a bookshop in Bonham Texas with high school students some ten years older than me.

(One of them, a young woman I had a crush on, responded to “What’s your point?” with “I wish I could see it through all that hair.”

I thought that was pretty cool.)

All this to say a first look at the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons has leaked onto the web, and, sadly, “Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, has passed away, aged just 69.”

(thx, david)

My friend, the incredibly talented photographer, Barry

My friend, the incredibly talented photographer, Barry Stone is exhibiting an outdoor installation of large photographs of Galaxies made from flour at the BBAP in Houston.

Brett Favre retires.

Brett Favre retires.

Short video as contemporary photography

I’m interested in short video as a contemporary equivalent of the photograph. Here are two examples. My lovely wife talking about her lovely mother. My nephew a few years ago singing his favorite song. I love these moments, not only because they are people I love, but because I think they show, as snapshots do, how spectacular a moment can be.

Rob Haggart, aka A Photo Editor, does

Rob Haggart, aka A Photo Editor, does a great job introducing this video of Annie Leibovitz photographing Queen Elizabeth.

What I find interesting in photo shoot videos is not the 11 assistants or the lighting setup but watching the photographer interact with the subject.

As Rob says, “Annie really shows her tenacity in this video when she immediately tries to get the Queen to remove her crown after deciding it doesn’t look good in the first shot and not giving up on an original request to shoot the Queen on horseback inside the state apartments.”

Simultaneously fascinating and terrifying — like watching a trapeze artist at work.

Speaking of memes, Susan Blackmore theorizes that

Speaking of memes, Susan Blackmore theorizes that humans are just machines for propagating them.

Memes are using human brains as their copying machinery. So we need to understand the way human beings work.


Up until very recently in the world of memes, humans did all the varying and selecting. We had machines that copied — photocopiers, printing presses — but only very recently do we have artificial machines that also produce the variations, for example (software that) mixes up ideas and produces an essay or neural networks that produce new music and do the selecting. There are machines that will choose which music you listen to. It’s all shifting that way because evolution by natural selection is inevitable. There’s a shift to the machines doing all of that.

When asked what the future will look like, she says, “it will look like humans are just a minor thing on this planet with masses (of) silicon-based machinery using us to drag stuff out of the ground to build more machines.”

Good times.

Milkshake chart

(thx, amy)

Chalk one up for environmental pollutants.

Chalk one up for environmental pollutants.

Male starlings with the highest levels of endocrine disruptors in their bodies also possessed unusually developed high vocal centers, an area of the brain associated with songbirds’ songs.

Accordingly, the polluted male starlings sang songs of exceptional length and complexity — a birdsign of reproductive fitness.

Money quote: “Female starlings preferred their songs to those of unexposed males, suggesting that the polluted birds could have a reproductive advantage, eventually spreading their genes through starling populations.”

21 accents in 2 minutes 30 seconds.

21 accents in 2 minutes 30 seconds.

(via gracefulflavor)

Does your cat need a wig?

Does your cat need a wig?

(via cindy @ clusterflock)

Henry Markram has built a supercomputer comprised

Henry Markram has built a supercomputer comprised of 2,000 IBM chips that can handle 22.8 trillion operations per second. “Each of its microchips has been programmed to act just like a real neuron in a real brain.”

Blue Brain scientists are confident that, at some point in the next few years, they will be able to start simulating an entire brain. “If we build this brain right, it will do everything,” Markram says. I ask him if that includes selfconsciousness: Is it really possible to put a ghost into a machine? “When I say everything, I mean everything,” he says, and a mischievous smile spreads across his face.

Agnes Martin is one of my favorite

Agnes Martin is one of my favorite painters. Her advice for how to make progress in life ties in nicely with the articles I posted on options, gusto, and blogging.

To progress in life you must give up the things you do not like. Give up doing the things that you do not like to do. You must find the things that you do like. The things that are acceptable to your mind.

I keep reloading to see

I keep reloading to see if there are new posts.

Update (from Jason): I keep reloading and seeing new posts. Excellent!

Update (from Deron): It’s like magic.

Steve Jobs, encouraging the conspiracy theory in all of us

When Steve Jobs disregards a market segment — think mp3 players or cell phones — that sometimes means Apple is about to jump in and take over. When asked about Amazon’s Kindle a few months ago, Jobs said:

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

Of course, that set off speculation that Apple was about to do just that, integrate a book reader into a series of portable internet devices.

It’s speculation like this that feeds the conspiracy theory in all of us. Being an Apple fan is like that — except once every few product cycles the conspiracy actually plays out.

Do you love Will Ferrell? Do you sweat?

Do you love Will Ferrell? Do you sweat?

Seems like this would have made a

Seems like this would have made a better mockumentary.

Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger escaped an assassination plot hatched in 1969 by the Hells Angels, a new British Broadcasting Corp. documentary has claimed.

The men tried to reach Jagger by sea. “The boat was hit by a storm and all of the men were thrown overboard.” They all survived but made no other attempt on his life.

2point8 points us to the portraiture and

2point8 points us to the portraiture and street photography of Arlene Gottfried:

“You get the sense that Gottfried didn’t necessarily leave her house to go get the picture wherever that picture might be, but that she lived her life with gusto and was ready for the pictures when the pictures came to her.”

Kind of a good metaphor for blogging.

Keeping too many doors open narrows our

Keeping too many doors open narrows our options.

“Closing a door on an option is experienced as a loss, and people are willing to pay a price to avoid the emotion of loss,” Dr. Ariely says. In the experiment, the price was easy to measure in lost cash. In life, the costs are less obvious — wasted time, missed opportunities. If you are afraid to drop any project at the office, you pay for it at home.

If Saul Bass did the titles for

If Saul Bass did the titles for Star Wars.

(thx, jason)

Oh, I was supposed to start with

Oh, I was supposed to start with a joke. You’re supposed to start with a joke.

What does a termite eat for breakfast?


(thx, aaron)

Okay, I’ll see everybody tomorrow.

An article in the Times about the

An article in the Times about the transition of sales in high-end galleries to the web.

Mr. Gupta said about half of his sales take place without the presence of the buyer. “Being in Chicago, without the walk-in traffic of a gallery in New York or even L.A., I can’t imagine working without digital images,” he said. “We have a ton of European collectors, and we reach them through art fairs and digital images, a combined effort.”

(via ev +/-)

Thanks for the intro, Jason. I am

Thanks for the intro, Jason. I am honored to be hanging out for the week. I think for a lot of us, has been a touchstone for life on the web. I remember stumbling across the site in the late ’90s, full of the invigoration many of us felt about the directions the internet allowed us to go. Even though I’ve only gotten to know Jason recently, there was a camaraderie I felt for him, this site, the work he was doing. Like I say, I’m honored to be along.

Your host for the next week: Deron Bauman

Clusterflock’s Deron Bauman is going to be editing for the next week or so. Here’s what he’s all about:

I am the founding editor of elimae, for which I designed, produced, and distributed a series of hand-made books. I am the author of Mockingbird, reviewed favorably by Guy Davenport in the April 2002 edition of Harper’s. I founded and blog at clusterflock, a group blog dedicated to pretty much everything. I am the director of The World Come of Age, a documentary about the life of a gay man living in a rural north Texas county. I am in the process of deciding what to do next.

Clusterflock is one of my favorite blogs (and trial member of The Deck) and it’s a treat to have Deron helming for the week. Welcome, Deron!

What I Learned Today asked an interesting

What I Learned Today asked an interesting question on Friday:

What is the fastest “0 to global” brand? Basically, what brand (company, product, person, any entity that holds a brand identity) do you think gained awareness the fastest. Reblog your answer, if you’re so inclined. TBC Monday (taking a snowboard trip to Stowe this weekend).

Tumblr doesn’t allow comments, so let’s open them up here. What’s your best guess?

As of today, David Watanabe’s excellent NewsFire

As of today, David Watanabe’s excellent NewsFire RSS reader for OS X is completely free. I love NewsFire.

Archives · February 2008