Entries for June 2011 (July 2011 »    August 2011 »    September 2011 »    Archives)

A “new” Leonardo painting

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 30, 2011

Art scholars have authenticated a painting by Leonardo da Vinci that has been lost for centuries.

New Leonardo

Simon brought the panel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art about two years ago to have it examined by several curators and conservators. “It was brought in for inspection in the conservation studio,” said a person close to the Metropolitan who asked not to be identified. “The painting was forgotten for years. When it turned up at auction, Simon thought it was worth taking a gamble. It had been heavily overpainted, which makes it look like a copy. It was a wreck, dark and gloomy. It had been cleaned many times in the past by people who didn’t know better. Once a restorer put artificial resin on it, which had turned gray and had to be removed painstakingly. When they took off the overpaint, what was revealed was the original paint. You saw incredibly delicate painting. All agree it was painted by Leonardo.”

The world’s 100 best Unicode characters

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 30, 2011

Using a Hot or Not style interface, Daniel Temkin is trying to crowdsource a list of the world’s top Unicode charaters. (via @cory_arcangel)

Kind of Bloop album postered on Jay Maisel’s building

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 30, 2011

A pair of fair use crusaders hired some “street art underground” friends to place several posters of the Kind of Bloop album cover on the building that Jay Maisel owns in Manhattan as payback for Maisel threatening to sue Andy Baio over using a representation of Maisel’s photo of Miles Davis for Bloop’s cover.

I hope that every time Jay leaves the house, he sees these posters — and as he looks at them or tries to tear them down he thinks about how evil what he did was. Maybe he’ll realize that at some level all art borrows from other art, and suing another artist for fair use appropriation undermines all artists. Maybe he’ll feel guilty about being such a thief. And then maybe he’ll think about giving that money back — or donating it to charity or something. But probably not.

Something tells me this isn’t going to end well. (via @jakedobkin)

Drunken African animals

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 30, 2011

Watch and listen as Randall narrates some footage of animals getting drunk from the fruit of the Marula tree. You may remember Randall from the narration on this honey badger video (“Honey Badger don’t care, Honey Badger don’t give a shit”). (via ★moth)

Restoring an 1870s photograph

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 30, 2011

A photo restorer walks through the process of restoring a tintype photograph from the 1870s.

My standard operating procedure is to use an ultra-high resolution camera combined with a top-of-the-line macro lens to photograph tintypes. I use strobe lights to illuminate the artwork. Strobes produce “hard” light, much like the sun on a clear day. In addition to the strobes, I place a polarizer over the camera lens and polarizer gels over the strobe lights. This eliminates all reflections and enables the camera to pick up a greater tonal range along with more detail.

1870s retouch

The original photo is on the left and an intermediate step on the right; you’ll need to click through to see the finished product.

Update: This is a better restoration…the one above is too airbrushed, like the photo on the cover of a fashion magazine.

Updates on previous entries for Jun 29, 2011*

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 30, 2011

Oxford Writing and Style Guide no longer recommending the Oxford comma orig. from Jun 29, 2011

* Q: Wha? A: These previously published entries have been updated with new information in the last 24 hours. You can find past updates here.

Oxford Writing and Style Guide no longer recommending the Oxford comma

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 29, 2011

What the hell? Is the sky still blue?

As a general rule, do not use the serial/Oxford comma: so write ‘a, b and c’ not ‘a, b, and c’. But when a comma would assist in the meaning of the sentence or helps to resolve ambiguity, it can be used — especially where one of the items in the list is already joined by ‘and’.

The kottke.org style guide still advocates the use of the Oxford comma, but take that with a grain of salt; I also misuse semicolons, use too many (often unnecessary) parentheses — not to mention m-dashes that are actually rendered as two n-dashes in old-school ASCII fashion — use too many commas, and place punctuation outside quotation marks, which many people find, in the words of Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan, “bogus”. Oh, and in another nod to the old-school, I also use “dumb quotes” instead of the fancier and, I guess, technically more correct “smart quotes”. (via, who else?, @tcarmody (or should that be “whom else?”))

Update: The document I linked to above is from a branding style guide for Oxford University. It recommends against using the Oxford comma in most cases. The Oxford Style Manual, meant for the general public and last published in 2003 by Oxford University Press, “a department of the University of Oxford”, recommends using the Oxford comma in all cases. So basically, Oxford is telling us to use the Oxford comma but isn’t going to use it internally. Oxford gone schizo, y’all! (thx, @rchrd_h)

Update: Further clarification comes in the form of this official statement from Oxford University Press…they are definitely in favor of the Oxford comma.

Vegan Black Metal Chef

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 29, 2011

A chef cooks a vegan pad thai dish to a black metal song.

Cut the tofu! Turn the plate! (thx, jay)

First online handles

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 29, 2011

From Good, an article by Amanda Hess on The Eternal Shame of Your First Online Handle.

So how did I choose to define myself in this new world? I booted up my parents’ modem and launched head-first into online forums with an alias inspired by my cat’s name. Later, I spent hours negotiating with AOL’s log-in field, testing out various combinations of Nine Inch Nails lyrics until I found one that hadn’t already been snagged by an equally tortured soul (I was later forced to explain to a college admissions counselor why my e-mail address was [email protected]).

My first handle was “derbis”, which is how I thought “debris” was spelled until far later in my schooling than one might expect of a native English speaker. It actually started as a self-imposed nickname IRL…these guys I knew in college DJ’d parties and they all had their DJ names and not wanting to be left out, I picked one for myself. To date, I still have not DJ’d a single event, but the first thing I ever designed was a flyer for a friend’s rave party; I signed it “cybergraphics by derbis” (all lowercase, naturally). It had a lot of fractals on it.

And if you thought that wasn’t sufficiently embarrassing, my AIM name is still “damptrousers”. IIRC, Greg remarked that the phrase “damp pants” was hilarious right around the time I signed up for AIM but “damppants” was taken (?!!) so yeah. (via ★natalie)


posted by Jason Kottke Jun 29, 2011

Can’t remember who tipped me off to this (Cederholm? Hoefler? Pieratt?), but Colossal is a top-notch visual art/design blog. There are a dozen things on the first two pages that could slide right into kottke.org quite easily. He’s on Stellar too!

Recycling computer files

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 28, 2011

Dumpster Drive is an OS X app that fileshares the contents of your computer’s Trash so that others can grab them and make use of them.

OS X only, but the source is on GitHub.

Internet predictions from 1982

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 28, 2011

From 1982, a NY Times article on a study from the Institute for the Future commissioned by the NSF that made predictions about how internet-like technology would transform life in the US. They got the details wrong but many of the broad strokes were spot on:

- The home will double as a place of employment, with men and women conducting much of their work at the computer terminal. This will affect both the architecture and location of the home. It will also blur the distinction between places of residence and places of business, with uncertain effects on zoning, travel patterns and neighborhoods.

- There will be a shift away from conventional workplace and school socialization. Friends, peer groups and alliances will be determined electronically, creating classes of people based on interests and skills rather than age and social class.

Slo-mo cymbal strike

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 28, 2011

A drumstick hitting a cymbal at 1000 frames/sec. More flex there than I would have assumed.

(via mlkshk)

Hedgehog Launch for iPhone

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 28, 2011

Why didn’t anyone tell me that Hedgehog Launch was available on the iPhone? You’re all fired!

Splitscreen: A Love Story

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 28, 2011

Lovely editing and shot entirely on a Nokia mobile phone. (via stellar)

How Cuomo delivered same-sex marriage legalization

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 28, 2011

A few days after the fact, but still a fascinating read on how the political sausage gets made.

Over time, however, championing same-sex marriage had become personal for Mr. Cuomo. He campaigned on the issue in the race for governor last year, and after his election, he was staggered by the number of gay couples who sought him out at restaurants and on the street, prodding him, sometimes tearfully, to deliver on his word.

The pressure did not let up at home. Mr. Cuomo’s girlfriend, Sandra Lee, has an openly gay brother, and she frequently reminded the governor how much she wanted the law to change.

Something else weighed on him, too: the long shadow of his father, Mario, who rose to national prominence as the conscience of the Democratic Party, passionately defending the poor and assailing the death penalty. During his first few months in office, the younger Mr. Cuomo had achieved what seemed like modern-day miracles by the standards of Albany - an austere on-time budget and a deal to cap property taxes. But, as Mr. Cuomo explained by phone to his father a few weeks ago, he did not want those accomplishments to define his first year in office.

“They are operational,” he told his father. Passing same-sex marriage, by contrast, “is at the heart of leadership and progressive government.”

“I have to do this.”

Midcentury modern retirement gear

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 24, 2011

midcentury modern retirement gear

View the whole thing at at Core77 and Fueled By Coffee (the rest of which is worth a look). (via mlkshk)

Crazy job interview questions

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 24, 2011

CBS MoneyWatch recently posted a list of unusual questions asked in job interview at companies like Google, Facebook, and Pottery Barn. Over at The Morning News, Giles Turnbull decided to answer them all.

UBS: If we were playing Russian roulette and had one bullet, I randomly spun the chamber and fired but nothing was fired. Would you rather fire the gun again or respin the chamber and then fire on your turn?

I’d rather get the fuck out of your office and run away very fast. What the hell are you people on? Haven’t you heard of email? Or official dispute procedures? Jesus.

Based on his answer to P&G’s “sell me an invisible pen”, I’d hire Turnbull in a second if I were selling invisible pens.

The invention of social computing

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 24, 2011

I’m going to link again to Errol Morris’ piece on his brother’s role in the invention of email…the final part was posted a few hours ago…the entire piece is well worth a read. As is the case with many of his movies, Morris uses the story of a key or unique individual to paint a broader picture; in this instance, as the story of his brother’s involvement with an early email system unfolds, we also learn about the beginnings of social computing.

Fernando Corbato: Back in the early ’60s, computers were getting bigger. And were expensive. So people resorted to a scheme called batch processing. It was like taking your clothes to the laundromat. You’d take your job in, and leave it in the input bins. The staff people would prerecord it onto these magnetic tapes. The magnetic tapes would be run by the computer. And then, the output would be printed. This cycle would take at best, several hours, or at worst, 24 hours. And it was maddening, because when you’re working on a complicated program, you can make a trivial slip-up - you left out a comma or something - and the program would crash. It was maddening. People are not perfect. You would try very hard to be careful, but you didn’t always make it. You’d design a program. You’d program it. And then you’d have to debug it and get it to work right. A process that could take, literally, a week, weeks, months -

People began to advocate a different tactic, which came to be called time-sharing. Take advantage of the speed of the computer and have people at typewriter-like terminals. In principle, it seemed like a good idea. It certainly seemed feasible. But no manufacturer knew how to do it. And the vendors were not terribly interested, because it was like suggesting to an automobile manufacturer that they go into the airplane business. It just was a new game. A group of us began to create experimental versions of time-sharing, to see if it was feasible. I was lucky enough to be in a position to try to do this at MIT. And we basically created the “Compatible Time Sharing System,” nicknamed CTSS from the initials, that worked on the large mainframes that IBM was producing. First it was going to be just a demo. And then, it kept escalating. Time-sharing caught the attention of a few visionary people, like Licklider, then at BBN, who picked up the mantle. He went to Washington to become part of one of the funding agencies, namely ARPA. ARPA has changed names back and forth from DARPA to ARPA. But it’s always the same thing.

And it was this shift from batch processing to time-sharing that accidentally kickstarted people using computers in a social way…programming together, sending notes to each other, etc.

Robert Fano: Yes, the computer was connected through telephone lines to terminals. We had terminals all over the MIT campus. People could also use CTSS from other locations through the teletype network. CTSS was capable of serving about 20 people at a time without their being aware of one another. But they could also communicate with each other. A whole different view of computers was generated.

Before CTSS, people wrote programs for themselves. The idea of writing programs for somebody else to use was totally alien. With CTSS, programs and data stored could be stored in the common memory segment and they were available to the whole community. And that really took off. At a certain point, I started seeing the whole thing as a system that included the knowledge of the community. It was a completely new view. It was a remarkable event. In retrospect, I wish I had gotten a very smart social psychologist on the premises to look at and interpret what was happening to the community, because it was just unbelievable.

There was a community of people using the computer. They got to know each other through it. You could send an e-mail to somebody through the system. It was a completely new phenomenon.

It seems completely nutty to me that people using computers together — which is probably 100% of what people use computers for today (email, Twitter, Facebook, IM, etc.) — was an accidental byproduct of a system designed to let a lot of people use the same computer separately. Just goes to show, technology and invention works in unexpected ways sometimes…and just as “nature finds a way” in Jurassic Park, “social finds a way” with technology.


posted by Jason Kottke Jun 24, 2011

The SnorriCam is the chest-mounted camera that directors like Darren Aronofsky have used to great effect. You can see a bit of Aronofsky’s use of the SnorriCam in these clips from Requiem for a Dream. (Note: that second clip is a bit graphic.)

Rave On Buddy Holly

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 23, 2011

Rave On Buddy Holly is an album-length compilation of Buddy Holly cover songs sung by the likes of Cee Lo Green, Fiona Apple, Lou Reed, and Paul McCartney. You can listen now on Soundcloud, via the embed below, or pre-order the album on Amazon.

The Talks

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 23, 2011

A new interview site launched yesterday with an impressive roster out of the gate, including Mick Jagger, Sofia Coppola, and Mike Tyson.

Vivian Maier self portraits

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 23, 2011

A lovely collection of self portraits by Vivian Maier.

Vivian Maier self portrait

Maier, you’ll recall, is the street photographer whose photos were discovered at a Chicago thrift store in 2007.

Andy Baio was sued for Kind of Bloop

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 23, 2011

Andy Baio got sued for using a pixel-art representation of Jay Maisel’s iconic photo of Miles Davis on the chiptune album of Davis’ music he commissioned in 2009. He settled with Maisel by paying him $32,500 and agreeing to stop using the artwork.

After seven months of legal wrangling, we reached a settlement. Last September, I paid Maisel a sum of $32,500 and I’m unable to use the artwork again. (On the plus side, if you have a copy, it’s now a collector’s item!) I’m not exactly thrilled with this outcome, but I’m relieved it’s over.

But this is important: the fact that I settled is not an admission of guilt. My lawyers and I firmly believe that the pixel art is “fair use” and Maisel and his counsel firmly disagree. I settled for one reason: this was the least expensive option available.

At the heart of this settlement is a debate that’s been going on for decades, playing out between artists and copyright holders in and out of the courts. In particular, I think this settlement raises some interesting issues about the state of copyright for anyone involved in digital reinterpretations of copyrighted works.

Unfortunately, Baio’s post does nothing to dissuade me that Maisel is a joyless putz. Seeing this kind of behavior from large clueless companies is almost expected but from a a fellow creative artist? Inexcusable. Surely some reasonable arrangement could have been made without visiting enormous stress and a $30K+ bill onto a man with a young family. Disgusting.

Mad Men season five is a go

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 23, 2011

Everyone has shaken hands with everyone else, so Mad Men season five can finally happen. But here’s the part you’re not going to like…the new episodes won’t air until March 2012.

Updates on previous entries for Jun 22, 2011*

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 23, 2011

New book from Michael Lewis: Boomerang orig. from Jun 22, 2011

* Q: Wha? A: These previously published entries have been updated with new information in the last 24 hours. You can find past updates here.

New book from Michael Lewis: Boomerang

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 22, 2011

Michael Lewis’ next book will be out in October; the subtitle is Travels in the New Third World. It’s a business book about the economic bubbles he’s been writing about in Ireland, Iceland, Greece, and the US.

The tsunami of cheap credit that rolled across the planet between 2002 and 2008 was more than a simple financial phenomenon: it was temptation, offering entire societies the chance to reveal aspects of their characters they could not normally afford to indulge.

Icelanders wanted to stop fishing and become investment bankers. The Greeks wanted to turn their country into a pi~nata stuffed with cash and allow as many citizens as possible to take a whack at it. The Germans wanted to be even more German; the Irish wanted to stop being Irish.

Michael Lewis’s investigation of bubbles beyond our shores is so brilliantly, sadly hilarious that it leads the American reader to a comfortable complacency: oh, those foolish foreigners. But when he turns a merciless eye on California and Washington, DC, we see that the narrative is a trap baited with humor, and we understand the reckoning that awaits the greatest and greediest of debtor nations.

No Kindle version available yet, just like last time. If you’d like to see one, click on the “I’d like to read this book on Kindle” below the cover image. (thx, brian)

Update: Just got word from Lewis’ publisher that the ebook version (including Kindle) will be available the same day as the hardcover.

A journalist shares his experience as an undocumented immigrant

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 22, 2011

For this coming weekend’s NY Times Magazine, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas shares the story of his Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.

One day when I was 16, I rode my bike to the nearby D.M.V. office to get my driver’s permit. Some of my friends already had their licenses, so I figured it was time. But when I handed the clerk my green card as proof of U.S. residency, she flipped it around, examining it. “This is fake,” she whispered. “Don’t come back here again.”

Vargas won a Pulitzer and wrote this article about Mark Zuckerberg for the New Yorker. I hope he can work out a way to stay in the United States…we need more people like him on our team.

The economics of an ice cream cone

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 22, 2011

At a Boston ice cream shop, the cost of ice cream cone has risen 10% in the last four months. The Boston Globe investigated down the supply chain and detailed where the price increases are coming from.

Ice cream may be a deliciously simple combination of milk, butter, and sugar, but the true cost of an ice cream cone is no simple business calculation. Toscanini’s price tag is part of complex and increasingly interconnected world economy, one that links a dairy farm in the tiny Western Massachusetts town of Colrain to the sprawling neighborhoods of Beijing.

Also of note: pistachio ice cream might be difficult to find this summer because the cost of pistachios has increased sharply in recent months. (via girlhacker)

Our lefty military

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 22, 2011

The US military is often thought of by many Americans as being identified with conservative politics, making it an unlikely blueprint for progressive reform. But a recent pair of articles demonstrates that the US as a whole might have something to learn about the US Armed Forces’ liberal leanings. In the NY Times, Nicholas Kristof argues that the US military’s universal healthcare and focus on education is worth looking at as a model:

The military is innately hierarchical, yet it nurtures a camaraderie in part because the military looks after its employees. This is a rare enclave of single-payer universal health care, and it continues with a veterans’ health care system that has much lower costs than the American system as a whole.

Perhaps the most impressive achievement of the American military isn’t its aircraft carriers, stunning as they are. Rather, it’s the military day care system for working parents.

While one of America’s greatest failings is underinvestment in early childhood education (which seems to be one of the best ways to break cycles of poverty from replicating), the military manages to provide superb child care. The cost depends on family income and starts at $44 per week.

And the WSJ recently covered remarks made by Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett, the top non-commissioned officer in the Marine Corps and general all-around hardass, about gays in the military:

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution is pretty simple, It says, ‘Raise an army.’ It says absolutely nothing about race, color, creed, sexual orientation. You all joined for a reason: to serve. To protect our nation, right? How dare we, then, exclude a group of people who want to do the same thing you do right now, something that is honorable and noble? … Get over it. We’re magnificent, we’re going to continue to be. … Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines.

Now that’s some semper fi I can get behind. (thx, meg)

How to write books

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 22, 2011

Before embarking on writing his new book, Steve Silberman asked a bunch of authors (like Cory Doctorow, Jonah Lehrer, and Carl Zimmer) for their best advice about writing books.

A few things became clear as soon as their replies came in. First of all, I’ll have to throttle back my use of Twitter and Facebook to get this writing done (and I may never rev up my idle Quora account after all.) Secondly, scheduling intervals of regular exercise and renewal amid the hours of writing will be essential.

Eddie Murphy, circa 1982

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 21, 2011

From the Oct 11, 1982 issue of New York magazine, a profile of Eddie Murphy. Murphy was then two years into his four-year stay on SNL and only a couple months away from his feature film debut in 48 Hrs.

Murphy heads downstairs to do his first stand-up routine in months. The audience is mostly black. He goes onstage after a CBS vice-president, who has spoken at great length about the perilous state of the record industry. Murphy aggresively thanks CBS for signing him to do an album just when “things are all f—-ed up.” Cheap humor, but the crowd loves it. Murphy zips through his routines (“Guy who shot the pope wants to go straight to hell”) and then puts sunglasses and staggers around the stage, doing a cruelly accurate — and funny — impression of Stevie Wonder, complete with a rendition of the blind singer’s wandering smile.

Murphy finally sits back down at his table and is astonished when Stevie Wonder is led over to meet him. They have never met before. Murphy rises. Wonder shakes his hand and then throws a right fist at Murphy and says, “Mutha, you do me one more time and I’ll whip you!” But he’s laughing and so is Murphy.

Here’s a more recent Eddie Murphy experience.

The Blind Man Who Can See

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 21, 2011

Daniel Kish had both eyes removed as an infant but uses echolocation to see the world around him with remarkable detail.

I accompanied Kish on several occasions as he cruised the busy streets of Long Beach. The outside world is an absolute cacophony. Every car, person, dog, stroller, and bicycle makes a sound. So do gusts of wind, bits of blowing garbage, and rustling leaves. Doors open and close. Change jangles. People talk. Then there are the silent obstacles — what Kish calls urban furniture: benches, traffic signs, telephone poles, postal boxes, fire hydrants, light posts, parked vehicles. Kish hears the sonic reflections from his click even in a place teeming with ambient noise. “It’s like recognizing a familiar voice in a crowd,” he says. The load upon his mind is undoubtedly immense. Yet he casually processes everything, constructing and memorizing a mental map of his route, all while maintaining an intricate conversation with me. It’s so extraordinary that it seems to border on the magical.

When we walk into a restaurant - never a simple choice with Kish, since he’s a strict vegan - he makes a much quieter click. Kish describes the images he receives as akin to a brief flick of the lights in a dark room; you get enough essential information — tables here, stairway there, support pillars here — to navigate your way through. “It becomes as ridiculous for blind people to run into a wall as it is for sighted people,” he once wrote in his FlashSonar manual. He strolls casually across the restaurant, making one or two more clicks as we approach our table, then sits down. It’s both smooth and subtle. Kish says that it is rare a sighted person even notices he’s making an unusual noise. Almost all blind people instantly do.

“New” mix by The Hood Internet

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 21, 2011

This looks to be about a year old, but it’s new to me: 57 minutes and 37 seconds of goodness from The Hood Internet.

It’s a little more chill than their usual stuff — “Trillwave is the soundtrack to the party after the afterparty or maybe to a sun-drenched backyard barbecue the next day” — but I like it a lot so far. (via @djgeekdout)

How books are made, circa 1947

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 21, 2011

A video from 1947 showing how books are made.

(thx, damien)

Everything is a Remix, the ideas episode

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 21, 2011

The third episode of Kirby Ferguson’s excellent Everything is a Remix has been posted. The first episode was about music, the second dealt with movies, and the third is on technological innovation.

“I invented nothing new. I simply assembled the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work. Had I worked fifty or ten or even five years before, I would have failed. So it is with every new thing. Progress happens when all the factors that make for it are ready and then it is inevitable. To teach that a comparatively few men are responsible for the greatest forward steps of mankind is the worst sort of nonsense.” — Henry Ford

FYI: the credits are actually in the middle of the video…there’s another few minutes of material after they run.

Ten myths about introverts

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 20, 2011

Myth #5 - Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Here’s the full list.

1982 street views of NYC

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 20, 2011

A bunch of street level panoramas of midtown Manhattan from 1982. 1982 has never seemed so long ago. This link has been up and down for the past two weeks so it may not be available, so bookmark it for later checking-out.

Focus on WWII

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 20, 2011

As part of his new-ish gig as editor of In Focus at The Atlantic, Alan Taylor is running a 20-week series of photo essays on World War II. The first essay, Before the War, has been posted and is excellent.

The years leading up to the declaration of war between the Axis and Allied powers in 1939 were tumultuous times for people across the globe. The Great Depression had started a decade before, leaving much of the world unemployed and desperate. Nationalism was sweeping through Germany, and it chafed against the punitive measures of the Versailles Treaty that had ended World War I. China and the Empire of Japan had been at war since Japanese troops invaded Manchuria in 1931. Germany, Italy, and Japan were testing the newly founded League of Nations with multiple invasions and occupations of nearby countries, and felt emboldened when they encountered no meaningful consequences. The Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, becoming a rehearsal of sorts for the upcoming World War — Germany and Italy supported the nationalist rebels led by General Francisco Franco, and some 40,000 foreign nationals traveled to Spain to fight in what they saw as the larger war against fascism.

(thx, david)

The invention of email

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 20, 2011

This is the first part of a five-part blog post by Errol Morris investigating whether his brother Noel Morris
co-wrote the first working email system at MIT in the mid-1960s. From an MIT colleague of Noel’s, Tom Van Vleck:

In 1965, at the beginning of the year, there was a bunch of stuff going on with the time-sharing system that Noel and I were users of. We were working for the political science department. And the system programmers wrote a programming staff note memo that proposed the creation of a mail command. But people proposed things in programming staff notes that never got implemented. And well, we thought the idea of electronic mail was a great idea. We said, “Where’s electronic mail? That would be so cool.” And they said, “Oh, there’s no time to write that. It’s not important.” And we said, “Well, can we write it?” And we did. And then it became part of the system.

Van Vleck maintains a web page about what he, Noel Morris, and their team were working on at the time. To go along with Morris’ article, the NY Times has an MIT Compatible Time Sharing System emulator that you can use to send email much as you could back in the 60s.

The uneven pick-up basketball experience

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 17, 2011

A field guide to some of the people, places and things you might encounter playing pick-up basketball this summer. For instance, you might run into, literally, the guy who persistently sets needless picks:

We cannot end this discussion without addressing this guy. He has seen just enough basketball to notice that players occasionally set picks, but not enough to understand what they are actually for. He rightly recognizes that he best serves society as a fencepost, but his picks, which he sets on nearly every play, are usually counterproductive.

Unbelievably, he often sets picks on his own teammates, and on one occasion, I have actually heard him express disapproval when his pick was ignored. “I picked you, dude!”

(via @tcarmody)

Game of Thrones food blog

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 17, 2011

The Inn at the Crossroads is a blog dedicated to exploring the cuisine of George R.R. Martin’s Fire and Ice book series, from which HBO’s Game of Thrones is adapted.

The Queen took a flagon of sweet plum wine from a passing servant girl and filled Sansa’s cup. “Drink,” she commanded coldly. “Perhaps it will give you courage to deal with truth for a change.”

A Brief History of the Corporation: 1600 to 2100

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 17, 2011

Venkat Rao has written a fascinating post on the history of the corporation and, in his estimation, the end of the Golden Age of corporations. From Fareed Zakaria, here’s a small taste of what the corporations helped do in the West:

We get a much clearer picture of the real standing of countries if we consider economic growth and GDP per capita. Western Europe GDP per capita was higher than that of both China and India by 1500; by 1600 it was 50% higher than China’s. From there, the gap kept growing. Between 1350 and 1950 — six hundred years — GDP per capita remained roughly constant in India and China (hovering around $600 for China and $550 for India). In the same period, Western European GDP per capita went from $662 to $4,594, a 594 percent increase.

But in the future, corporations will find it more difficult to achieve such easy growth:

Attention behaves the same way. Take an average housewife, the target of much time mining early in the 20th century. It was clear where her attention was directed. Laundry, cooking, walking to the well for water, cleaning, were all obvious attention sinks. Washing machines, kitchen appliances, plumbing and vacuum cleaners helped free up a lot of that attention, which was then immediately directed (as corporate-captive attention) to magazines and television.

But as you find and capture most of the wild attention, new pockets of attention become harder to find. Worse, you now have to cannibalize your own previous uses of captive attention. Time for TV must be stolen from magazines and newspapers. Time for specialized entertainment must be stolen from time devoted to generalized entertainment.


Each new pocket of attention is harder to find: maybe your product needs to steal attention from that one TV obscure show watched by just 3% of the population between 11:30 and 12:30 AM. The next displacement will fragment the attention even more. When found, each new pocket is less valuable. There is a lot more money to be made in replacing hand-washing time with washing-machine plus magazine time, than there is to be found in replacing one hour of TV with a different hour of TV.

Neanderthal sex made modern humans fitter

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 17, 2011

There is evidence that modern humans mating with Neanderthals helped humans spread out of Africa to distant parts of the globe.

While only 6 per cent of the non-African modern human genome comes from other hominins, the share of HLAs acquired during interbreeding is much higher. Half of European HLA-A alleles come from other hominins, says Parham, and that figure rises to 72 per cent for people in China, and over 90 per cent for those in Papua New Guinea.

This suggests they were increasingly selected for as H. sapiens moved east. That could be because humans migrating north would have faced fewer diseases than those heading towards the tropics of south-east Asia, says Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London.

Time-compressed panoramas

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 17, 2011

Peter Langenhahn will take hundreds of photos at a sporting event and stitch them together to make a single time-compressed panorama of the event’s action, like this image of every foul committed during a soccer match. Here’s a short video showing how he does it.

See also Peter Funch’s composite NYC street scenes. (via petapixel)

Moneyball movie trailer

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 16, 2011

Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill…I’m not so sure about this…

Of bicycles, drugs, and traffic accidents

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 16, 2011

The author of the A Girl and Her Bike blog tells the story of how she and her bike were “nudged” from behind by a car (twice, on purpose) and what happened when the driver discovered that she was a police officer.

The light turned green and I started to proceed. And then I felt *BUMP!!!!!* again, this time a bit harder.

Oh no. No. No. No. I can’t ignore this. I just can’t.

So I stopped. Pulled out my police badge (yes, I’m a cop if you didn’t know before. No I really don’t want to talk about it, thanks) showed it to the driver and motioned him to stay right where he was.

And that’s when he panicked.

(thx, nichol)

The machine that destroys everything

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 16, 2011

Forget Will It Blend…this machine asks “will it be destroyed?” and the answer is always yes.

Don’t forget the sound on this one…the machine crushing noise and soundtrack shouldn’t be missed. (via stellar)

NYC summer movies

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 16, 2011

Today’s service journalism: here’s a simple one-page list of outdoor movie screenings in NYC this summer. The lineup includes Rosemary’s Baby, Airplane!, and Spiderman. (thx, matthew)

Werner Herzog reads Go the Fuck to Sleep

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 15, 2011

For completenessesses’s sake, here’s Werner Herzog reading Go the Fuck to Sleep. The video was shot at the book’s launch at the New York Public Library last night.

See also Samuel L. Jackson’s reading. All we need now are readings by Walken, Pacino, Oprah, Ian McShane, Joan Cusack, Alec Baldwin, David Ogden Stiers, David Attenborough, and Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Internet, make it happen!

Go the Fuck to Sleep read by Samuel L. Jackson

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 15, 2011

If you thought a children’s book called Go the Fuck to Sleep couldn’t get any funnier, here’s the ultimate f-bomb thespian, Samuel L. Jackson, reading it.

Werner Herzog is also voicing an audiobook version of the book. (via devour)

Year-long Moon timelapse

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 15, 2011

This is a timelapse animation of the surprisingly wobbly Moon over a period of one year.

Note: this is an animation, not a timelapse video…i.e. there’s CG involved. More info here.

100 greatest non-fiction books

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 15, 2011

The Guardian compiles their list of the 100 best non-fiction books ever written.

Mobius ships

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 14, 2011

Artist Tim Hawkinson makes model boats twisted into mobius strips.

Mobius Ships

Partying with Captain America

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 14, 2011

In this profile of Chris Evans (aka Captain America) for GQ, Edith Zimmerman catches a movie actor on the rise testing the boundaries of his soon-to-be mega-fame.

Since we’re both single and roughly the same age, it was hard for me not to treat our interview as a sort of date. Surprisingly, Chris did the same, asking all about me, my family, my job, my most recent relationship. And from ten minutes into that first interview, when he reached across the table to punctuate a joke by putting his hand on top of mine, Chris kept up frequent hand holding and lower-back touching, palm kissing and knee squeezing. He’s an attractive movie star, no complaints. I also didn’t know how much I was supposed to respond; when I did, it sometimes felt a little like hitting on the bartender or misconstruing the bartender’s professional fliirting for something more. I wanted to think it was genuine, or that part of it was, because I liked him right away.

Is this the part of a celebrity profile where I go into how blue the star’s eyes are? Because they are very blue.

(via @choire)

The amazing pen-spinning, phone-catching, rope-tying robotic hand

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 14, 2011

I think I’ve featured this robot on the site before (yep, here it is), but she seems to have acquired some new skills. Throwing the mobile phone into the air and catching it is flat-out unbelievable but I liked the quiet deftness of the hand’s rice tweezing.

See also the universal gripper, the salami sorter, the robot who considers towels, and the pancake sorter. (via ★mouser)

Fellowship of the Ring back in theaters tonight

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 14, 2011

A bunch of theaters in NYC (and around the US I would assume) are showing the extended edition of Fellowship of the Ring at 7pm tonight.

The event will include a personal introduction from director Peter Jackson captured from the set of his current film and “Lord of the Rings” prequel “The Hobbit,” immediately followed by the feature presentation.

The same thing will happen with Two Towers on June 21 and Return of the King on June 28. Can’t believe Fellowship came out 10 years ago already.

Playboy Bunny manual

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 14, 2011

Here’s a Playboy Bunny employee manual from 1969.

Bunnies must allow enough time before going to their assigned rooms to report to the Bunny Mother for appearance inspection. The Bunnies’ hair, nails, shoes, makeup and costume must be “Bunny-perfect” and no Bunny is permitted to begin working unless appearance specifications are met. Demerits may be issued for carelessness in this regard. When the Bunny reports to her scheduled room, the Room Director, too, will note her appearance and suggest improvements if necessary.

NSFW if having “PLAYBOY BUNNY” on your screen in huge pink letters is not safe in your workplace.

Planes, a “sequel” to Pixar’s Cars

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 13, 2011

Pixar’s not involved — DisneyToon Studios is making it — but a direct-to-video Cars spin-off that features airplanes will go direct-to-video in spring 2013.

This movie is mostly a commercial for the inevitable billion-dollar toy/theme park tie-ins, but in general I am in favor of any kids movie that features White Zombie in the trailer. (via devour)

ps #1: This is probably going to get yanked from YT pretty quick. Sorry.

ps #2: My 3-yo son calls the main character in Cars “Lightening the Queen”. That would be an interesting movie.

Unexpected photos of historical figures

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 13, 2011

There’s a great thread over at Quora with photos of famous people in unexpected places, situations, or company. For example, there’s a photo of a young Bill Clinton meeting John F. Kennedy and one of Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla hanging out. My two favorites are a photo of Tank Man captured from an unusual angle and a chilling photo of John Wilkes Booth at Lincoln’s second inauguration, taken a little over a month before he killed Lincoln.

Booth Lincoln

See also awesome people hanging out together. (thx, david)

The quicker ketchup picker-upper

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 13, 2011

Not quite sure how to describe this semi-liquid picker-upper in an enticing way, but I can say that my mouth dropped open about 5 seconds in to the demo.

And here I am, still using paper towels like a sucker!

Lady Gaga’s musical family tree

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 13, 2011

Do you get that funny feeling that you’ve heard Lady Gaga’s Born This Way somewhere before? Maybe when it was called Express Yourself or Waterfalls or God is a DJ?

A+ for the performance too. Everything is a Remix, folks.

Where has all the drama gone?

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 13, 2011

From very small array, an infographic look at which movie genres have done well at the box office and at awards time. Dramas have all but vanished from the box office chart in recent years. (thx, jon)

Hula hooping from the hoop’s perspective

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 10, 2011

It’s just a person tumbling around inside a hoop. (via ★interesting)

A taxonomy of wine labels

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 10, 2011

The major types of wine bottle label include Animals Doing Things, Indie Designer, and the Euro-Trash A-hole.

A rare sighting, the A-Hole label is usually more than a label. Often, the whole bottle is some unique shape. Look! I’m a wine bottle in the shape of a shampoo bottle! Deal with it! Whatever. What to Expect: I wouldn’t know, for I do not condone this sort of behavior. And neither should you.

(via @hodgman)

Fractal Tom Selleck

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 10, 2011

Fractal Tom Selleck

No words. They should have sent a poet. (via capndesign)

London version of “what song are you listening to?”

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 10, 2011

You may remember the New York version. This is the same deal — asking people on the street what song they’re listening to on their headphones — except in London.

(via stellar)

2001 ads for HAL and Pan Am

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 10, 2011

HAL-9000 Ad

Love these. Prints are available.

Trailer for Tabloid, Errol Morris’ new film

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 09, 2011

It’s a documentary about Joyce McKinney and the so-called Mormon sex in chains case.

Here it is on Apple Trailers in case the YouTube one gets yanked.

I read Playboy.com for the Miles Davis articles

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 09, 2011

From 1962, Alex Haley interviews Miles Davis for Playboy magazine.

Why is it that people just have to have so much to say about me? It bugs me because I’m not that important. Some critic that didn’t have nothing else to do started this crap about I don’t announce numbers, I don’t look at the audience, I don’t bow or talk to people, I walk off the stage, and all that.

Look, man, all I am is a trumpet player. I only can do one thing — play my horn — and that’s what’s at the bottom of the whole mess. I ain’t no entertainer, and ain’t trying to be one. I am one thing, a musician. Most of what’s said about me is lies in the first place. Everything I do, I got a reason.

The article is SFW but the ads are NSFW…here’s a completely SFW version.

Brooklyn in pictures, 1974

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 09, 2011

No idea what these have to do with business or being inside business or whatever, but Business Insider has a nice selection of photos by Danny Lyon of Brooklyn in 1974.

Danny Lyon Brooklyn

Risk, politics, and texting Weiners

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 09, 2011

This is a very smart take on the Anthony Weiner situation from Amy Davidson at the New Yorker. Davidson argues that Weiner’s recent sextual actions are politically relevant because they demonstrate that he’s not very good at evaluating risk.

Measuring risk is what politicians do for a living — from when they decide to run, to voting to hire policemen or teachers or to go to war. One doesn’t want them to be completely, or even mostly cautious: politicians who never say anything that causes anyone to cringe, and never take a political risk, are useless. […] That is why it is, sad to say, a matter of legitimate interest that Weiner’s wife was pregnant when he sent those tweets. It widens our sense of just how careless he is with the lives of others, particularly those of people who are more vulnerable than he is. That is good to know about a politician; it is distinct from the question of whether someone who lies to his wife will lie to the public and, I’d argue, is more important.

ASCII pointillism

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 09, 2011

Textify.it is a web app that uses text to make alphabetic pointillist representations of images. I turned a photo of the Most Photographed Barn in America into this:

ASCII pointillism

It’s also available as an iOS app. (via prosthetic knowledge)

Jordan vs. LeBron

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 08, 2011

I watched this video the other day:

I’m grateful to Bill Simmons for covering my main thoughts about this video so well in his piece about “LeBron’s playoff irrelevancy”. Which are:

1. “Jordan never would have done THAT.” The THAT in question is not bringing it in the playoffs. Taking your foot off the pedal in the playoffs is just not done if you’re supposedly one of the top players in the game.

2. “We made so much fuss about LeBron these past two years and he’s not even the most important dude on his own team.” LeBron might be the better pure player, but Wade is a leader and winner.

The Heat may go on to win the title this year and for six or seven years to come but unless something changes with LeBron’s approach to the game, he’ll never be as great as Jordan was. There’s more to being the best than just talent.

A blind, one-armed David fighting Goliath without a rock

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 08, 2011

From the just-launched Grantland (Bill Simmons’ new thing w/ ESPN), Chuck Klosterman writes about the greatest sporting event he’s ever witnessed: a 1988 junior college basketball game in North Dakota. Why that game? Because one team, the underdog, started the game with only five players, finished with three players, and won.

The Tribe had opened the season with a full 12-man roster, but people kept quitting or getting hurt or losing their eligibility. By tournament time, they were down to five. It was bizarre to watch them take the court before tip-off — they didn’t have enough bodies for a layup line. They just casually shot around for 20 minutes.

“It was always so goofy to play those guys,” says Keith Braunberger, the Lumberjacks’ point guard in 1987-88. Today, Braunberger owns a Honda dealership in Minot, N.D. “I don’t want to diss them, but — at the time — they were kind of a joke. They would just run and shoot. That was the whole offense. I remember they had one guy who would pull up from half-court if you didn’t pick him up immediately.”

Hollywood Career-O-Matic

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 08, 2011

Taking ratings data from Rotten Tomatoes, Slate made a neat little toy called the Hollywood Career-O-Matic that tracks the movie ratings of actors and directors since 1985.

Most Improved: Josh Brolin, Dakota Fanning, and Ken Loach. If the average Hollywood career is a slow decline into mediocrity, an actor or director whose films actually improve deserves special recognition. Among actors with at least 20 films in the Rotten Tomatoes database since 1985, Brolin has seen the greatest increase in average rating from the first half of his career to the second half — an improvement of 28.4 percentage points. Despite Brolin’s early appearance in The Goonies (63 percent), the first half of his career was marred by abominations like The Mod Squad (4 percent), and Hollow Man (27 percent). His later transition into gems like No Country for Old Men (95 percent), Milk (94 percent), and True Grit (96 percent) is a tale of redemption that not even Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (54 percent) could derail. The most improved actress is Fanning, with a 20.1-point increase from such duds as I Am Sam (34 percent) to critical darlings like Coraline (89 percent). Among directors, the award goes to Ken Loach, the British filmmaker whose reviews went from great in the first half of his career (80 percent) to stunning in the second half (88.1 percent).

For actors it would be interesting to see a similar analysis of box office gross and especially a weighted analysis that takes both critical acclaim and box office gross into account…the RT ratings for many actors are all over the place as they bounce from crappy big gross/paycheck blockbusters to lower grossing/paying critical darlings.

Apple’s new campus

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 08, 2011

I don’t really know why exactly, but I found Steve Jobs’ presentation to the Cupertino City Council about Apple’s proposed new campus fascinating.

Really smart and eco-friendly design. (via @daveg)

Behind the scenes

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 08, 2011

A great collection of behind-the-scenes shots from famous movies. Here’s Kubrick and Sellers on the set of Dr. Strangelove:

Kubrick & Sellers

(via df)

Africa from the air

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 07, 2011

Paragliding photographer George Steinmetz takes beautiful aerial photos of Africa and other places from what is basically a chair attached to a motor and parachute.

George Steinmetz

Steinmetz was the subject of a New Yorker profile last year.

The dangerous three-way dance at NYC street intersections

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 07, 2011

3-Way Street is a fascinating video by Ron Gabriel that highlights bad interactions between cars, bikes, and pedestrians at a typical NYC street intersection.

There are lots of ways to show these interactions…the overhead view and highlighting are particularly effective design choices. Well done. (thx, janelle)

The state of Stellar

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 07, 2011

It’s been nearly three months since I launched Stellar in closed beta, so I thought it might be time for a status update.

I’ve been working steadily on the site since then and have made several improvements, notably in the scaling department, but it’s been slow-going because it’s just me and I’m not the world’s quickest programmer. (God, I’m learning a ton though.) Right now I’m working on a pretty major feature (in terms of modification to the site’s backend) that will hopefully make Stellar’s reading experience even better and, more importantly, pave the way for other additions and improvements in the future. After that’s done, there are lots of little improvements I want to push out to upgrade the reading experience in other ways. Can you tell that I’m focused on “the reading experience”?

Next: invites. When I opened up the invite request form in March, 7000 people (!!) signed up in fewer than 24 hours. The invite request form is still closed and I am still working on getting all of those folks off the waiting list (there are thousands still on the list but new invites go out every day). To everyone on the waiting list and to those waiting for the invite request form to open up again, I thank you for your patience. Like I said, I’m letting people in “reeeeally sloooowly”.

And thanks also to everyone for their feedback via email and Twitter…it’s been quite helpful in chasing down bugs and plotting out the future of the site. I’ve also been collecting some of the nice things people have been saying about the site here.

Finally, I’ve set up a Stellar leaderboard of sorts that shows some of the most-faved stuff on the site. It’s a regular Stellar account so you can follow it if you’re signed up. But it’s also publicly available for bookmarking, etc.

Pssst. If you’re on the waiting list (and only if you’re on the waiting list), bug me on Twitter and I’ll try (no promises!) to send an invite your way.

The unpleasant Roald Dahl

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 07, 2011

Sometimes children’s author Roald Dahl was not a very nice man. This Recording explains.

His early writing in the short story form was impacted by the political situation on the world stage. He believed in a world government and he was extremely sympathetic to Hitler, Mussolini, and the entire Nazi cause. His stories were filled with caricatures of greedy Jews. One suggests “a little pawnbroker in Housditch called Meatbein who, when the wailing started, would rush downstairs to the large safe in which he kept his money, open it and wriggle inside on to the lowest shelf where he lay like a hibernating hedgehog until the all-clear had gone.” In 1951 he visited Germany with Charles Marsh and luxured in Hitler’s former retreat at Berchtesgaden. His dislike of Jews and especially of Zionists was egged on by Marsh’s Israel hatred, later encapsulated in a revolting letter to Marsh where he mocked the head of East London’s B’Nai B’rith Club.

Dahl’s dark side is on display in his short story collection, Tales of the Unexpected, which I read as a teen (twice!) and loved. A more charitable take on Dahl is available at Wikipedia.

Neverending shampoo

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 07, 2011

This one’s pretty simple: one guy tries to rinse off some shampoo while another guy surreptitiously applies more and more shampoo to the first guy’s head.

(via ★interesting)

Harvard dropouts, 40 years later

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 06, 2011

Harvard tracked down three people who dropped out of the school in the late 60s to see what had happened to them in the meantime.

“I knew I didn’t want to do city planning, to play in that bureaucratic world,” he continues. “I also knew that if I stayed another semester they would hand me a diploma, and that diploma is going to open a whole lot of doors that I don’t want to go through. And I know that I am not real strong, and if I have that key, at some point I’m going to be seduced and want to go through one of those doors. So by not having the diploma, I will remove the temptation. That actually worked out very well, because I was tempted, more than once.”

That’s from a man who became a world-renowned knife expert.

Mark Twain on the telephone

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 06, 2011

From the June 1880 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Mark Twain writes about the telephone, then a relatively recent invention. Or rather, he writes about hearing other people use the telephone:

Then followed that queerest of all the queer things in this world, — a conversation with only one end to it. You hear questions asked; you don’t hear the answer. You hear invitations given; you hear no thanks in return. You have listening pauses of dead silence, followed by apparently irrelevant and unjustifiable exclamations of glad surprise, or sorrow, or dismay. You can’t make head or tail of the talk, because you never hear anything that the person at the other end of the wire says.

No more fish in the sea

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 06, 2011

David McCandless made a data visualization comparing the Atlantic Ocean fishing stocks in 1900 and in 2000. It’s a literal jawdropper…here’s just a little bit of it:

Fish all gone

That’s not just depleted…the fish are just gone. Click through for the full craziness. (via @daveg)

Visual exploration of Infinite Jest

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 06, 2011

Chris Ayers is designing posters, logos, and magazine spreads for the fictional people, places, and things in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, including movie posters for Himself’s films, a magazine layout for an article on Orin, and this poster for the Whataburger Southwest Junior Invitational tennis tournament:

Whataburger Invite

(via @tcarmody)

Timelapse clouds

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 03, 2011

A ten-minute video shows clouds forming and dissipating at timelapse speed. Quite relaxing.

Best viewed in fullscreen HD.

An Open Letter to the Gentleman Blow-Drying His Balls in the Gym Locker Room

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 03, 2011

Oh McSweeney’s, sometimes you’re just perfect.

You’re actually doing it. I mean, we’ve all dreamt of blow-drying our balls out in the open, but you’re actually doing it in front of me and at least sixteen other people that just finished exercising at this pricey sports club. Some of us will do it in private in our homes, or in a hotel room using a hairdryer a stranger might have just used to style their hair for that big business meeting in Denver. But not you. You are not confined to such social norms, norms that usually keep flapping, flag-like balls out of my eyes.

(via delivereads)

The Groupon IPO

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 03, 2011

I don’t really have an opinion about it, but David Heinemeier Hansson does:

Groupon has filed its S-1 and hopes to raise $750M in its initial public offering. Given they’re currently losing a staggering $117M per quarter, despite revenues of $644M, they’ll be burning through that cash almost as soon as it hits their account.

At the moment, it’s costing them $1.43 to make $1, and it doesn’t look like it’s getting any cheaper. They’re already projected to make close to three billion dollars in revenues this year. If you can’t figure out how to make money on three billion in revenue, when exactly will the profit magic be found? Ten billion? Fifty billion?

To which John Gruber adds:

I feel like the Groupon IPO is an elaborate practical joke.

It was a different time and (as DHH notes) a different company, but when Amazon IPOed in 1997, they lost $27.6 million that year on net sales of $147.8 million. That’s an 18% loss for Amazon compared to Groupon’s, hey, 18% loss. Amazon didn’t report their first profit until Q4 2001. No guarantee whether Groupon will ever turn a profit but something to consider anyway. Oh, and probably not relevant but interesting nonetheless: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is an investor in DHH’s company, 37signals…and until recently, 37signals co-founder Jason Fried was on Groupon’s board of directors.

Subway waltz

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 03, 2011

Two NYC subway trains dancing down the tunnels…what a charming little video.

(via ★leela)

Rough space

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 03, 2011

Space photography and videography all looks pretty much the same: high contrast, lots of black backgrounds, smooth, and often sterile. Designer Chris Abbas took a bunch of photos from the Cassini Mission (to Saturn) and made them into something that is definitely not your usual NASA video.

(via stellar)

Gene Hackman interview

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 02, 2011

A short interview with Gene Hackman in GQ…he says he’s done with acting.

GQ: Sum up your life in a phrase.
Hackman: “He tried.” I think that’d be fairly accurate.

How to open a bag of charcoal

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 02, 2011

A little late for Memorial Day but useful for the rest of the summer: how to work the little stringie thing at the top of a bag of charcoal.

I’m talking about those rugged paper bags of hardwood charcoal that are bound at the top with a zipper-like string seam that looks as if it was made to cleanly unravel. Sometimes it doesn’t and then you can yank and yank to no avail. And even when it does there seems to be some magic involved, like the gods of charcoal are smiling down on you.

Service journalism at its finest…now I won’t have to tug on the string like an uncomprehending chimp and then just rip the bag. Ok fine, fail to rip the bag because I’m not strong enough and go inside and get the scissors and cut it. Like a fancy gentleman.

Tour of Earth from orbit

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 02, 2011

This is a wonderful seven-minute HD video tour of Earth using video shot from orbit.

Look at this neat picture of Great Salt Lake in Utah. And the variation in color? That’s due to an almost a complete blockage of the circulation of the lake by a trestle for a railroad that crosses from one side to the other. It stops the circulation and things get a little bit saltier and certainly saltier at the north end of the lake.

Never knew that about the Great Salt Lake, but you can see the effect on Google Maps as well. (via ★interesting)

Olafur Eliasson’s rainbow panorama

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 02, 2011

Olafur Eliasson’s latest project is now on display at the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Denmark…it’s a circular viewing platform with rainbow-hued glass.

Olafur Eliasson Rainbow

Massive collection of TV channel logos

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 02, 2011

These are just a few of the 9000+ TV channel logos collected here.

TV channel logos

(thx, tanner)

Pit crews and not cowboys needed in hospitals

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 01, 2011

In his recent commencement address at Harvard Medical School, Atul Gawande argued that medical practitioners need to shift from thinking of themselves as cowboys to thinking of themselves as pit crews.

Two million patients pick up infections in American hospitals, most because someone didn’t follow basic antiseptic precautions. Forty per cent of coronary-disease patients and sixty per cent of asthma patients receive incomplete or inappropriate care. And half of major surgical complications are avoidable with existing knowledge. It’s like no one’s in charge-because no one is. The public’s experience is that we have amazing clinicians and technologies but little consistent sense that they come together to provide an actual system of care, from start to finish, for people. We train, hire, and pay doctors to be cowboys. But it’s pit crews people need.

The biggest ollie ever

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 01, 2011

Aaron Homoki is, what, 20 feet in the air here? Wow.

Shaq retires!

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 01, 2011

Whoa, I think Shaquille O’Neal just announced his retirement on Twitter:

im retiring Video: http://bit.ly/kvLtE3 #ShaqRetires

A look back at the Magic (and Lakers and Celtics and Cavs and Heat and Suns and Fighting Tigers):

Doctor Who gonna bust a cap in yo ass

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 01, 2011

Sometimes the simple things in life are best…like a compilation of clips of The Doctor shooting guns with a gansta rap soundtrack.

(via ★interesting)

Bill Simmons: superwriterfan

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 01, 2011

In this coming weekend’s issue, the NY Times Magazine (appropriately) goes long on Bill Simmons and his new web venture, Grantland (horrible name chosen by ESPN and not Simmons).

At the center of Simmons’s columns is not the increasingly unknowable athlete but the experience of the fan. His frame of reference is himself. He might not be able to tell you how a ballplayer felt performing a particular feat, but he can tell you how he felt watching it, what childhood memories it evoked, the scene from the movie “Point Break” it brought to mind, which one of his countless theories — newcomers to his column can consult a glossary on his home page — it vindicates.

Weezer covers Paranoid Android

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 01, 2011

Depending on how you feel about Weezer and Radiohead, this is either the best thing in the world or nails on a chalkboard.

(via devour)

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