Entries for November 2011 (December 2011 »    January 2012 »    February 2012 »    Archives)

All Beatles songs played at the same time

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 30, 2011

Every song by The Beatles played simultaneously. The start times are staggered so that every song ends at the same time.

As a commenter notes, “Gets very complicated in the end. So did the Beatles.” (via waxy)

Hedy Lamarr, the most beautiful inventor in the world

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 30, 2011

Richard Rhodes, author of two of my favorite books of all time (Making of the Atomic Bomb and Dark Sun), has written a book about one of the most intriguing people of the 20th century, Hedy Lamarr, big-time Hollywood bombshell and inventor of a frequency-hopping spread-spectrum communication system.

Hedwig (Hedy) Kiesler may be one of the greatest unsung heroes of twentieth century technological progress. An opportunistic Austrian immigrant driven by curiosity and a desire to make it as a Hollywood actress in the early years of World War II, Hedy worked with avant-garde composer George Antheil to create the technology that we depend upon today for cell phones and GPS: frequency hopping. Though Richard Rhodes presents details about everyone involved in the separate experiences that the two inventors drew upon to make their breakthrough in Hedy’s Folly, the invention itself takes center stage, driving the remarkable story with precision. Rhodes skillfully weaves together all the disparate parts of the story, from how Hedy learned about Nazi torpedoes to why George’s knowledge of player pianos was key to the invention, in order to create a highly readable genesis of the technology that influences billions of lives every day.

Five best toys ever

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 30, 2011

Jonathan Liu over at GeekDad compiled a list of the five best toys of all time.

2. Box
Another toy that is quite versatile, Box also comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Need proof? Depending on the number and size you have, Boxes can be turned into furniture or a kitchen playset. You can turn your kids into cardboard robots or create elaborate Star Wars costumes. A large Box can be used as a fort or house and the smaller Box can be used to hide away a special treasure. Got a Stick? Use it as an oar and Box becomes a boat. One particularly famous kid has used the Box as a key component of a time machine, a duplicator and a transmogrifier, among other things.

Love it. (via @jsnell)

Golden rules to live by while travelling the world

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 30, 2011

Lists of travel tips usually suck (get to the aiport early! make sure your passport is up to date!) but this list contains a number of good ideas that I haven’t really seen before.

13. Buy your own fruit. It sounds simple. It is simple. Just do it. You’ll love it. And I don’t mean, if there happens to be a fruit stand outside your hotel door you should buy some, because you need to have 9 servings a day. What I mean is, find fruit and buy it. Make it a daily task that you’re going to track down a fruit stand, a farmers’ market (they’re not just in San Francisco) and get some good fresh fruit. The entire process will expose you to elements of daily life you would have otherwise ignored. Trust me: You’ll have memories from your trips to buy fresh fruit.

Opening quotes from The Wire

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 29, 2011

The beginning of each episode of The Wire featured a short quote of dialogue from that episode…here are the characters saying all those quotes:

(via supercut.org)

Who buys cars for surprise Christmas gifts?

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 29, 2011

On Twitter the other day, I asked:

Someone please write this article: profile of people who give their spouses automobiles for Christmas. Do they exist? Are they insane?

@bswest pointed me towards this 2005 NY Times piece, A Lexus for Christmas? It Happens.

“I didn’t think that happened until I sat on the showroom floor and heard someone say, ‘I’m not going to pick the car up until the 24th,’” said Rosario Criscuolo, the owner of two Lexus dealerships in Michigan. “It blew my mind. But if your wife needs a car, it’s a good way to do it, right? It saves you from having to go to the malls.”

Mr. Criscuolo said that each year, about a half-dozen customers wait until Christmas Eve to pick up their new cars.

And the demand for the oversize red bows is so strong that Lexus stockpiles them in a warehouse near its North American headquarters in Torrance, Calif.

Street snowboarding

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 29, 2011

The street skiing video has more narrative structure but the tricks pulled in this urban snowboarding video are just filthy.

(thx, river)

Girl Walk // All Day NYC premiere

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 29, 2011

Girl Walk // All Day is a feature-length dance music video set in NYC…the soundtrack is Girl Talk’s All Day. Kickstarter is hosting a premiere for the film (+ dance party) on December 8 at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple…and it’s free (you just need to RSVP). Here’s the trailer:

Little Printer publishes tiny personal newspapers

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 29, 2011

BERG have announced an intriguing pair of products: Little Printer and BERG Cloud.

Little Printer lives in your front room and scours the Web on your behalf, assembling the content you care about into designed deliveries a couple of times a day.

You configure Little Printer from your phone, and there’s some great content to choose from - it’s what Little Printer delivers that makes it really special. We have an incredible group of launch partners, and in the run-up to shipping we’re working with them all on custom publications.

Underlying Little Printer is our new technology for connecting and controlling wireless products in the home, and we call it BERG Cloud.

We think of BERG Cloud as the nervous system for connected products. It’s built to run at scale, and could as easily operate the Web-enabled signage of a city block, as the playful home electronics of the future.

Here’s a short video of Little Printer in action:

Updates on previous entries for Nov 28, 2011*

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 29, 2011

Stephen Colbert in conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson orig. from Nov 28, 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.

Stephen Colbert in conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 28, 2011

80-minute video of a conversation between Neil deGrasse Tyson and of an out-of-character Stephen Colbert “about science, society, and the universe”. Someone needs to get this on YouTube or something…the video streaming is slooooow.

Update: Ah, here’s a mirror on YouTube. (thx, aaron)

Crime scene panoramas

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 28, 2011

Over the past two years, the NYPD has been taking panoramic images of crime scenes in an attempt to better record the evidence.

Each panorama takes between 3 to 30 minutes to produce, depending on the available light, and is added to a database where detectives can access it. Before the switch to the Panoscan, crime scene images sometimes took days to process. Now, soon after the photos are posted, investigators can point and click over evidence from a scene that they might have missed in the hectic hours after the crime.

Grimaldi’s is moving…and Grimaldi is moving in?

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 28, 2011

Famed pizzeria Grimaldi’s is being forced out of their space under the Brooklyn Bridge and is moving up the block…without their coveted coal oven. But now comes word that Patsy Grimaldi, former owner of Grimaldi’s, is moving into the old space with a new restaurant called Juliana’s. If I recall correctly, about half of the Grimaldi’s menu is devoted to a telling of the Patsy’s/Grimaldi’s feud…looks like they’re gonna need another page or two.

KitchenAid Pro mixer on sale for $210

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 28, 2011

Black Friday and Cyber Monday suck. But! (There’s always a but.) The thing is, there are good deals to be had if you’re in need of something. Like a KitchenAid 6-quart professional mixer for only $210 after sales and rebates.

Oh, and as long as you’re here, a few other holiday gift ideas:

- Han Solo encased in carbonite ice cube tray.

- Get yourself a yearly membership to Mlkshk. It’s $24 and Mlkshk is great.

- Do not buy Patagonia. So says Patagonia. (But seriously, if you need winter gear, buy Patagonia…it kicks ass and lasts a looong time.)

- A huge red bow to put on the Lexus you’re getting for your wife.

- Legos are too complicated these days. Just get your kid a box of plain-old Lego bricks…they’re going to get enough Potter, Star Wars, and Barbie from every other vector.

The ice finger of death

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 28, 2011

When dense briny water (left behind by newly formed sea ice) sinks, it freezes the water around it, forming an icicle that stretches to the sea floor. Then it freezes water and wildlife on the sea floor. David Attenborough narrates:

Lorem ipsum on French wine label

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 28, 2011

Oof…a wine by Roland Tissier has lorem ipsum on the label.

Wine lorem ipsum

(via stellar)

Street skiing

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 27, 2011

This is like street skating except with alpine skis down hilly city terrain. Includes jumps over hung laundry & parked cars, railslides down stairs, etc. Crazy.

(thx to @gnuhaus for the better embed)

Update: The skier in this video, JP Auclair, was killed in a Chilean avalanche while working on a film project. (thx, david)

Meet LUCA, our distant Earth-sized ancestor

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 25, 2011

Here’s an interesting hypothesis: that all current life on Earth originated from a planet-wide super-organism named LUCA.

The latest results suggest LUCA was the result of early life’s fight to survive, attempts at which turned the ocean into a global genetic swap shop for hundreds of millions of years. Cells struggling to survive on their own exchanged useful parts with each other without competition — effectively creating a global mega-organism.

It was around 2.9 billion years ago that LUCA split into the three domains of life: the single-celled bacteria and archaea, and the more complex eukaryotes that gave rise to animals and plants (see timeline). It’s hard to know what happened before the split. Hardly any fossil evidence remains from this time, and any genes that date that far back are likely to have mutated beyond recognition.

(via @daveg)

Susan Kare’s sketchbook

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 23, 2011

Steve Silberman has a nice piece on Susan Kare, the woman who designed the original icons for the Macintosh, including a never-before-seen look at her initial sketches for some of them.

Inspired by the collaborative intelligence of her fellow software designers, Kare stayed on at Apple to craft the navigational elements for Mac’s GUI. Because an application for designing icons on screen hadn’t been coded yet, she went to the University Art supply store in Palo Alto and picked up a $2.50 sketchbook so she could begin playing around with forms and ideas. In the pages of this sketchbook, which hardly anyone but Kare has seen before now*, she created the casual prototypes of a new, radically user-friendly face of computing - each square of graph paper representing a pixel on the screen.

Tony Stewart wins NASCAR’s Sprint Cup

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 22, 2011

I can’t find a great account of it (go here and here for the basics), but the story of how Tony Stewart won the 2011 Sprint Cup Championship at the Ford 400 in Homestead, FL is flat-out amazing and as thrilling as anything that’s happened in sports over the past 12 months: an aging former champion wins five out of the last ten NASCAR races (more than 10% of his total career victories), including a final race in which he recovered from two slow pit stops (one of which was agonizingly slow), passed 118 cars total, came from back of the pack twice, made several ballsy four-across passes, and was saved from defeat by a passing rain shower. And the guy he was chasing the whole time (in this race and the points standings) was driving great…it’s just that Stewart was racing insanely great, right on the edge.

I’ve seen very little coverage of this on the big generalist sports blogs…nothing on Deadspin and only a short “Tony Stewart won some NASCAR thingie” on Grantland. Come on! Simmons, Klosterman, someone, get on this!

The craziest thing you’ll ever see on the web

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 22, 2011

I’ve been on the web for 17 years now, I’m a professional link finder, and I have never in my life seen anything like these guys performing on an Indian talent show. They *start off* by biting into fluorescent light bulbs and it just gets more nuts from there.

You never really see this much bleeding on American Idol… (via unlikely words)

Terry Gilliam talks about his Monty Python animations

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 22, 2011

In this 15-minute video, Terry Gilliam talks about how he does the cut-out animations that defined the Monty Python visual aesthetic. Gilliam’s technique is all about simplicity and embracing constraint.

(via ★thoughtbrain)

The Umbrella Man

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 22, 2011

On the 48th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, Errol Morris talks to Tink Thompson about “The Umbrella Man”, a gentleman who was pictured in the Zapruder film standing with an open umbrella near where Kennedy was shot on a sunny day. The result is a nifty six-minute film.

For years, I’ve wanted to make a movie about the John F. Kennedy assassination. Not because I thought I could prove that it was a conspiracy, or that I could prove it was a lone gunman, but because I believe that by looking at the assassination, we can learn a lot about the nature of investigation and evidence. Why, after 48 years, are people still quarreling and quibbling about this case? What is it about this case that has led not to a solution, but to the endless proliferation of possible solutions?

The Updike piece from the New Yorker is available here (subscribers only, but the abstract is informative):

For example, “the umbrella man”: though the day was clear and blowy, he can be detected, in photographs, standing on the curb just about where the assassination would in a few seconds occur, holding a black umbrella above him; seconds later he is again photographed, walking away, gazing tranquilly at the scramble of horrified spectators. His umbrella is now furled. Who was he? Where is he now?

The film pairs nicely with Morris’ recent interview of Stephen King about the latter’s new novel based on the Kennedy assassination.

Either the best or the worst DVD commentary ever

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 22, 2011

This is Arnold Schwarzenegger doing the DVD commentary for Total Recall. Instead of adding any context to the film, he simply describes exactly what was happening in each scene.

I have three guesses as to what’s going on here:

1. It’s a fake from a really good impersonator.

2. Arnold is dumb and he’s unaware of how dumb he is.

3. But my money’s on this one: Arnold was contractually obligated to do the DVD commentary but when it came to it, he didn’t really want to. So he torpedoed the whole thing and had some fun in the meantime. (via stellar)

A chart of almost all the money

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 21, 2011

An epic chart from XKCD: Money - A chart of almost all of it, where it is, and what it can do. It’s broken out into “dollars, thousands, millions, billions, trillions”…here’s just a little snippet of the billions section:

Xkcd Money

More obsolete sounds

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 21, 2011

From the Smithsonian, a 1964 album of office sounds…”rustling papers, draws closing, typing and footsteps are just a few of the sounds heard on this album”. See previous obsolete sounds. (via @ian_crowther)

How Romenesko left Poynter

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 21, 2011

The sordid tale of how Jim Romenesko ended up leaving The Poynter Institute.

“How did this go off the rails?” Poynter’s attorney asked me during a Nov. 12 phone conversation about my threat to file a cease and desist order against the institute for using my name on their website after being taken off the payroll.

Leonardo da Vinci’s to-do list

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 21, 2011

While travelling, Leonardo kept a small notebook at the ready for notes and sketching. In one of these notebooks, he listed a number of things he wished to accomplish in one week or month in the late 1490s.

Leonardo to-do list

What a jumble! Cannons, wall construction, studying the sun, ice skating in Flanders, optics, and that oh-so-casual, “Draw Milan.” It’s like his mind could wander off in any direction at any time. How did he concentrate? How did he focus?

Maybe he went in and out, plunging into a task that concentrated him fully, and then, once done, he’d spring back to the rough and tumble of Anything Goes. Great minds can go as they please.

Another giant, Michel Montaigne, the inventor of the essay, wrote that no single idea could hold him. “I cannot keep my subject still,” he wrote. “It goes along, befuddled and staggering, with a natural drunkenness.”

I like being drunk like that.

(via sly oyster)

Hidden Radio

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 21, 2011

Remember the cleverly designed Hidden Radio?

Hidden Radio

The team behind it has turned it into a radio/Bluetooth speaker and is doing a Kickstarter campaign to get production up and running…all they need is to pre-sell 1000 units.

ps. That “absurdly clever” quote they attribute to Boing Boing? That’s mine! (thx, john)

Woody Allen: A Documentary

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 21, 2011

American Masters is airing a two-part documentary on Woody Allen this week on PBS.

Beginning with Allen’s childhood and his first professional gigs as a teen — furnishing jokes for comics and publicists — American Masters — Woody Allen: A Documentary chronicles the trajectory and longevity of Allen’s career: from his work in the 1950s-60s as a TV scribe for Sid Caesar, standup comedian and frequent TV talk show guest, to a writer-director averaging one film-per-year for more than 40 years.

The first part aired last night (it’s rerunning throughout the week so check listings, etc.) and the second part is tonight.

Updates on previous entries for Nov 20, 2011*

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 21, 2011

Acidic candy orig. from Nov 17, 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.

Obsolete sounds

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 18, 2011

Mental Floss has a collection of clips of familar sounds from 20-30 years ago that are no longer around, including the TV channel selector clunk-clunk, manual typewriter clicking, and one of my favorite sounds: that of the rotary telephone dial. One I would have added: the manual credit card imprinter.

Forging art like no one is buying

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 18, 2011

Since the late 1980s, Mark Landis has been donating forged paintings he’s painted to a number of museums around the country. No one really knew why…until John Gapper from The Financial Times tracked him down.

For nearly three decades, Landis has visited museums across the US in various guises and tried to donate paintings he has forged. As well as Father Scott, he has posed as “Steven Gardiner” among other aliases. He never asks for money, although museums have often hosted meals for him and made small gifts. His only stipulation is that he is donating in his parents’ names — often his actual father, Lieutenant Commander Arthur Landis Jr, a former US Navy officer.

Landis has been prolific and amazingly persistent. A few weeks before he came to Lafayette, “Father Scott” arrived at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, with a forgery of Head of a Sioux by Alfred Jacob Miller that he said he was giving in memory of his mother, “Helen Mitchell Scott”. Landis has so far offered copies of that work to five other museums. Yet in all this time, although curators speculate about his motives, no one has found out why he is doing it.

Update: Landis is the subject of a documentary film called Art and Craft.

Mark Landis has been called one of the most prolific art forgers in US history. His impressive body of work spans thirty years, covering a wide range of painting styles and periods that includes 15th Century Icons, Picasso, and even Walt Disney. And while the copies could fetch impressive sums on the open market, Landis isn’t in it for money. Posing as a philanthropic donor, a grieving executor of a family member’s will, and most recently as a Jesuit priest, Landis has given away hundreds of works over the years to a staggering list of institutions across the United States.

Send in the Republican clowns

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 18, 2011

I wish these were bipartisan, but this suprisingly large collection of prominent Republicans made up with clown paint is still pretty amazing. Here’s Texas governor Rick Perry:

Clown Perry

AC/DC, the Westinghouse Edison rivalry

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 18, 2011

The battle between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse over direct and alternating current got ugly. Really ugly, with Edison gleefully electrocuting dozens of dogs, an elephant, and even a man with “dangerous” alternating current.

When New York State sentenced convicted murderer William Kemmler to death, he was slated to become the first man to be executed in an electric chair. Killing criminals with electricity “is a good idea,” Edison said at the time. “It will be so quick that the criminal can’t suffer much.” He even introduced a new word to the American public, which was becoming more and more concerned by the dangers of electricity. The convicted criminals would be “Westinghoused.”

Westinghouse was livid. He faced millions of dollars in losses if Edison’s propaganda campaign convinced the public that his AC current would be lethal to homeowners. Westinghouse contributed $100,000 toward legal fees for Kemmler’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was argued that death in the electric chair amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Both Kemmler and Westinghouse were unsuccessful, and on August 6, 1890, Kemmler was strapped into Harold Brown’s chair at Auburn prison and wired to an AC dynamo. When the current hit him, Kemmler’s fist clenched so tight that blood began to trickle from his palm down the arm of the chair. His face contorted, and after 17 seconds, the power was shut down. Arthur Southwick, “the father of the electric chair,” was in attendance and proclaimed to the witnesses, “This is the culmination of ten years work and study. We live in a higher civilization today.”

Yet behind the dentist, Kemmler began to shriek for air.

(thx, peter)

Updates on previous entries for Nov 17, 2011*

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 18, 2011

Acidic candy orig. from Nov 17, 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.

Searching the web for planes in the sky

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 17, 2011

If you search Wolfram Alpha for “planes overhead”, it returns a list of planes passing over your current location along with a sky map of where to look.

Planes sky map

Free music from Moby

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 17, 2011

Moby has a web site where filmmakers can download his music for use in non-profit projects. Cool!

this portion of moby.com, ‘film music’, is for independent and non-profit filmmakers, film students, and anyone in need of free music for their independent, non-profit film, video, or short. to use the site you log in(or on?) and are then given a password. you can then listen to the available music and download whatever you want to use in your film or video or short. the music is free as long as it’s being used in a non-commercial or non-profit film, video, or short.

Something to keep in mind when you’re tempted to slap a Sigur Ros song on your viral video. (via ken murphy)

Acidic candy

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 17, 2011

Sour candy is sour because of the acidity level. The Minnesota Dental Association has compiled a chart listing several popular sour candies, all of which are acidic enough to cause tooth enamel loss and some of which are almost as acidic as battery acid! Here’s part of the chart:

Sour Candy Acid

(via mlkshk)

Update: I meant to add that the ph scale is logarithmic (like the Richter scale) so that a pH of 3.0 is 10 times more acidic than a pH of 4.0. That means that even the pH 1.6 & 1.8 candies on the list aren’t quite battery acid, but it also means that a pH 2.0 candy has 100x more acidity than is required to cause enamel loss, not just 2x.

Year-long sky time lapse

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 17, 2011

This is not your typical sky time lapse…instead of looping through 365 days in one video, each day gets its own little movie in a grid.

A camera installed on the roof of the Exploratorium museum in San Francisco captured an image of the sky every 10 seconds. From these images, I created a mosaic of time-lapse movies, each showing a single day. The days are arranged in chronological order. My intent was to reveal the patterns of light and weather over the course of a year.

Best viewed at YouTube in full-screen HD. (via data pointed)

A supposedly fun thing…

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 16, 2011

One hundred and seventy-one people have vanished from cruise ships in the past decade. Here’s the sad and depressing story of one of them, Rebecca Coriam.

I wander into one of the bars and get talking to a waiter. “What’s it like working here?” I ask.

“It’s all about the show,” he replies. “When you’re out among the guests, you’re always on show. Even if you’re a waiter, or a cleaner, or a deck hand.”

“How long have you been on board?” I ask.

“Seven months. I’ll be going home in 40 days - 44 to be exact.” He laughs. “Seven months is long enough. Being away from your family is hard.”

“Were you on board when Rebecca Coriam vanished?” I ask.

He narrows his eyes. “I don’t know anything about it,” he says. There’s a long silence. “It didn’t happen,” he says. He looks at me. “You know that’s the answer I have to give.”

Between this and the illness oubreaks and the lawlessness and the soul-deadening, there’s no chance in hell I’ll ever take a cruise.

Match booze to your music

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 16, 2011

Drinkify matches up the music you’re listening to with a suggested drink. According to the site, Daft Punk pairs best with 6 oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin served neat, Philip Glass should be accompanied by a bottle of red wine, The Clash goes with 1 oz. cocaine + 1 oz. grenadine served in a highball, and you can probably guess what you drink while listening to Snoop Dogg:

Snoop Drinkify

(via coudal)

The Fantastic and Inglourious Mr. Fox

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 16, 2011

A trailer for Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox using dialogue from Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

(via biancolo)

The first Next cookbook

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 15, 2011

Now that the folks at Next Restaurant are done with their initial menu (Paris, 1906), they’re giving it all away in a cookbook available exclusively for iBooks. And they’re going to do the same thing for each of their menus.

Next is a restaurant like no other. Every season the menu and service explore an entirely different cuisine. Buying a ticket is the only way to get in… and the entire season sold out in a few hours. The inaugural menu took diners back to Paris: 1906, Escoffier at the Ritz for a multi-course pre fixe dinner that was described by the New York Times as “Belle Epoque dishes largely unseen on American tables for generations.”

Ok, someone needs to do this: 1. Open a restaurant (in New York, say) that features old menus from Next every three months using the Next cookbooks to plan menus. 2. Call it Previous. 3. Profit!

Downhill skateboard racing

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 15, 2011

Speaking of going fast, this is a lovely 22-minute documentary about a downhill skateboarding race in Teutonia, Brazil where the competitors reach speeds in excess of 70 mph on almost unbelievably rough pavement.

(via ★acoleman)

Don Draper, 1927-2011?

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 15, 2011

In a recent interview reported over at Grantland, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner talked about how Man Men will end in its seventh season.

“I do know how the whole show ends,” he told us. “It came to me in the middle of last season. I always felt like it would be the experience of human life. And human life has a destination. It doesn’t mean Don’s gonna die. What I’m looking for, and how I hope to end the show, is like … It’s 2011. Don Draper would be 84 right now. I want to leave the show in a place where you have an idea of what it meant and how it’s related to you.”

The Manhattan grid extended worldwide

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 15, 2011

ExtendNY extends Manhattan’s street grid worldwide. Here’s 64908th Street and 12,778th Avenue in Paris, France.

Paris In NYC

(via @bdeskin)

Remote control helicopter coverage of Warsaw riots

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 14, 2011

Rival protesting groups clashed with police and each other during Independence Day festivities in Warsaw, Poland and someone caught some of it on a camera mounted on a remote control helicopter.

This shorter video of police double-timing it down a narrow Warsaw street is almost cinematic. It reminds me of how the different camera views in the Madden NFL video games inspired the NFL broadcasting networks to invent camera systems to provide similar views. In the future, the news will look more and more like movies. (via @coudal)

What does 462 mph look like?

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 14, 2011

One of the many micro-genres featured on kottke.org is the “going fast video”. In that spirit, here’s a car going 462 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

My favorite part is right around 30 seconds, when he hits the gas and you can see the dirt fly up from the rear wheels. Also, the driver’s demeanor is an odd combination of frightened and bored, like Bill Murray on the elliptical in Lost in Translation. Help! (via devour)

2011 National Geographic photo contest submissions

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 14, 2011

Over at In Focus, Alan Taylor has a selection of submissions from the upcoming National Geographic photo contest. Some really beauties in ther…whoa, UFO!

UFO cloud

Hip hop horse

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 14, 2011

Andreas Helgstrand at the World Equestrian Games 2006 wowing the crowds with his unconventional music choice.

Compare with the original. (via ★acoleman)

How to make your own feral raccoon suit

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 14, 2011

If not for the photos, I would not have believed this story: a woman duct-taped a bunch of food to her body in order to attract raccoons. No, really:

Raccoon Suit

Just before entering coon HQ, duct-tape your bounty of trash food all over yourself. Raccoons’ propensity to enjoy garbage-can snacks, coupled with their shitty attitude and distinct facial markings, makes them the crust punks of the animal kingdom (without the heroin problem and terrible taste in music). And just like crusties, they’ll approach without warning and snatch a turkey sub right out of your hands, so you can only imagine how appetizing you’re going to look with two-week-old baguettes for arms.

One comestible raccoons seem to find yucky, however, is broccoli. Use their aversion to your aesthetic and protective advantage by surrounding danger zones (i.e., your junk) with appropriate amounts of the leafy green stuff.

Hey Edith, Kreayshawn is nothing…join me in waving your cane at this girl in the food suit. The kids today, really.

Michael J. Fox performs Johnny B. Goode at Parkinson’s benefit

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 14, 2011

Michael J. Fox recently took the stage at his annual benefit for Parkinson’s disease and played a familiar favorite: Johnny B. Goode. Marvin, get on the phone to your cousin!

And if that’s not Mike Fox awesomeness for one day, here he is on a recent episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Amazing HD time lapse taken from the International Space Station

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 12, 2011

Perhaps you’ve seen the recent videos of the Earth at night taken from the ISS…they were a bit rough. This? This is five minutes of gorgeous HD:

You can watch it embedded here but what you’ll really want to do is head over to Vimeo so that you can watch it in fullscreen HD. (via colossal)

World War II, tweeted in realtime

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 11, 2011

The @RealTimeWWII Twitter account is tweeting the events of World War II as they happened 72 years ago. A sample tweet from a few hours ago:

Germany has announced (again) that it will respect the neutrality of Belgium & Holland; “No German troops will enter the Low Countries”

Meanwhile back in 1668, Samuel Pepys is having trouble with his wife because he had a dalliance with the maid.

To dinner. The girle with us, but my wife troubled thereat to see her, and do tell me so, which troubles me, for I love the girle.

Penn State is the #1 party school

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 11, 2011

In late 2009, after Penn State was named the #1 party school in America by The Princeton Review, This American Life devoted an entire show to the school and its festive status.

Most of the This American Life production staff spent the weekend at Penn State, and found that drinking is the great unifier at the school. Ira Glass, Sarah Koenig, Lisa Pollak and Jane Feltes report on tailgating parties, frat parties, an article of clothing known as a “fracket,” and a surprising and common drunken crime.

(via ricky van veen)

Unicode character recognition

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 11, 2011

This is way more fun than I was expecting: you draw a shape and a recognition engine finds Unicode characters with shapes similar to what you drew. (via stellar)

New Werner Herzog film on the death penalty

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 11, 2011

It’s called Into the Abyss and it opens today. Trailer is here:

There’s an interview with Herzog about the film on the Tribeca Film Festival site and Ebert gave it four stars.

Classic video game deaths

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 10, 2011

A video compilation of deaths from old school video games, from Pong and Space Invaders right on up to Afterburner.

The music is a MIDI version of Mad World, originally done by Tears for Fears but probably best known in the gaming community as the music in the most poignant trailer ever done for a violent third-person shooter game.

The 35mm film movie camera

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 10, 2011

New from Lomography: the Lomokino, a movie camera that can shoot a 144-frame movie on any 35mm film. And you hand-crank it! Here’s a sample:

Kubrick movie collections on sale

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 10, 2011

Collections of Stanley Kubrick’s movies are on sale at Amazon today only: on DVD for $31.50 and on Blu-ray for $63…both collections are 58% off retail.

SPARTACUS (1960) The genre-defining epic tale of a bold gladiator (Kirk Douglas) who leads a triumphant Roman slave revolt.

LOLITA (1962) Academic Humbert Humbert (James Mason) is obsessed with a blithe teen (Sue Lyon) in a dark comedy from Vladimir Nabokov’s novel.

DR. STRANGELOVE (1964) “Accidental” nuclear apocalypse, anyone? Peter Sellers heads the cast of one of the most blazingly hilarious movies of all time.

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) “The most awesome, beautiful and mentally stimulating science-fiction film of all time” (Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic).

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE: 40th Anniversary Edition (2-Discs) (1971) Future world neo-punk Malcolm McDowell becomes the guinea pig for a government cure of his tendency toward “the old ultraviolence.”

BARRY LYNDON (1975) The visually spellbinding tale of an 18th-century Irish rogue’s (Ryan O’Neal) climb to wealth and privilege.

THE SHINING (1980) In a macabre masterpiece adapted from Stephen King’s novel, Jack Nicholson falls prey to forces haunting a snowbound mountain resort.

FULL METAL JACKET (1987) Marine recruits endure basic training under a leather-lunged D.I., then plunge into the hell of Vietnam.

EYES WIDE SHUT (1999) A wife’s admission of unfulfilled longing plunges a Manhattan doctor into a bizarre erotic odyssey. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman star.


posted by Jason Kottke Nov 10, 2011

Mixel, a free iPad app from Khoi Vinh and Scott Ostler, has launched. Khoi explains what it’s all about here.

Our app is called Mixel. It’s a collage-making tool and a social network rolled into one. With Mixel, anyone can create and share digital collages using images from the Web, Mixel’s library, or your own personal photos from Facebook or what’s right on your iPad.

Mixel is such a great name…can’t wait to play with this when I get home tonight (I left my f’ing iPad at home today).

Monster 104-disc set of Law and Order: The Complete Series

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 09, 2011

For Law & Order superfans only: a 104-disc set of every episode of the show. 20 seasons, 456 episodes, weighs in at 10 pounds, and costs $450 from Amazon. (via nextdraft)


posted by Jason Kottke Nov 09, 2011

This is likely the best piece you’ll read about the economics of the McRib and McDonald’s motivation in its periodic reintroduction.

At this volume, and with the impermanence of the sandwich, it only makes sense for McDonald’s to treat the sandwich as a sort of arbitrage strategy: at both ends of the product pipeline, you have a good being traded at such large volume that we might as well forget that one end of the pipeline is hogs and corn and the other end is a sandwich. McDonald’s likely doesn’t think in these terms, and neither should you.

Oh and speaking of pipelines:

And for its part, the McRib makes a mockery of this whole terribly labor-intensive system of barbecue, turning it into a capital-intensive one. The patty is assembled by machinery probably babysat by some lone sadsack, and it is shipped to distribution centers by black-beauty-addicted truckers, to be shipped again to franchises by different truckers, to be assembled at the point of sale by someone who McDonald’s corporate hopes can soon be replaced by a robot, and paid for using some form of electronic payment that will eventually render the cashier obsolete.

There is no skilled labor involved anywhere along the McRib’s Dickensian journey from hog to tray, and certainly no regional variety, except for the binary sort — Yes, the McRib is available/No, it is not — that McDonald’s uses to promote the product. And while it hasn’t replaced barbecue, it does make a mockery of it.

(via @joeljohnson)

Honey laundering

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 09, 2011

Recent tests conducted by Food Safety News show that about 75% of the honey sold in US grocery stores isn’t officially honey.

The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled “honey.” The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world’s food safety agencies.

The food safety divisions of the World Health Organization, the European Commission and dozens of others also have ruled that without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey. However, the FDA isn’t checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.

It’s that last sentence that really pisses me off…the FDA and USDA are pathetic jokes.

Anyway, there is speculation that the pollen removal is masking the use of unregulated, uninspected, and illegally imported Chinese honey.

Eric Wenger, director of quality services for Golden Heritage Foods, the nation’s third largest packer, said his company takes every precaution not to buy laundered Chinese honey.

“We are well aware of the tricks being used by some brokers to sell honey that originated in China and laundering it in a second country by filtering out the pollen and other adulterants,” said Wenger, whose firm markets 55 million pounds of honey annually under its Busy Bee brand, store brands, club stores and food service.

“The brokers know that if there’s an absence of all pollen in the raw honey we won’t buy it, we won’t touch it, because without pollen we have no way to verify its origin.”

A billion years in the blink of an eye

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 08, 2011

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things on one of my favorite shows (3-2-1 Contact) was Al Jarnow’s Cosmic Clock, a short video animation showing a billion years of time passing in fewer than two minutes. There’s so much science in this little video.

This is one of those things I thought I’d just never see again. YouTube is truly a global treasure.

Bullet time surfing

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 08, 2011

Using a rig of 30 GoPro cameras, these guys captured surfers in Matrix-esque bullet time.

(via petapixel)

The secret train platform beneath the Waldorf=Astoria

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 08, 2011

Gothamist has a collection of photos of the abandoned train platform underneath the Waldorf=Astoria.

Over the weekend we had a chance to visit the long-abandoned Waldorf-Astoria train platform, which allowed VIPs to enter the hotel in a more private manner — most famously it was used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, possibly to hide the fact that he was in a wheelchair suffering from polio. The mysterious track, known as Track 61, still houses the train car and private elevator, which were both large enough for FDR’s armor-plated Pierce Arrow car. Legend has it that the car would drive off the train, onto the platform and straight into the elevator, which would lead to the hotel’s garage.

FDR train

Photos by Sam Horine.

The shoe makes the dancer

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 08, 2011

A short but fascinating look at how changes in ballet shoe technology altered the way ballerinas moved and even how their bodies looked.

In the 1840s, when Marie Taglioni went on pointe for a few seconds in La Sylphide, her momentary weightlessness became an icon of the transcendent power of ballet. A pair of her shoes sold for 200 rubles and was cooked and eaten by her admirers.

(via @alexismadrigal)

Updates on previous entries for Nov 7, 2011*

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 08, 2011

Stephen Fry vs Christopher Hitchens orig. from Nov 07, 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.

M83 vocal audition

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 07, 2011

If you like M83 and have listened to their new album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, you’ll probably love this M83 backup singer audition video.

I literally LOL’d when he started singing. (via stellar)

The Pixar of the iPad age

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 07, 2011

From Sarah Rich and Alexis Madrigal, a story on a company that might be “the Pixar of the iPad age”, Moonbot Studios. Moonbot made a wonderfully inventive iPad book called The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Morris Lessmore may be the best iPad book in the world. In July, Morris Lessmore hit the number one spot on Apple’s iPad app chart in the US. That is to say, Morris Lessmore wasn’t just the bestselling book, but the bestselling *app* of any kind for a time. At one point or another, it has been the top book app in 21 countries. A New York Times reviewer called it “the best,” “visually stunning,” and “beautiful.” Wired.com called it “game-changing.” MSNBC said it was “the most stunning iPad app so far.” And The Times UK made this prediction, “It is not inconceivable that, at some point in the future, a short children’s story called ‘The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore’ will be regarded as one of the most influential titles of the early 21st century.”

Stephen Fry vs Christopher Hitchens

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 07, 2011

This Wednesday, FORA will host an online video conversation between Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens.

For over forty years Christopher Hitchens has written and spoken with passionate commitment on matters that others fear to broach. His life has been one of defiance, wit and humility. Now his life is threatened by cancer, but his devotion to the truth and his extraordinary courage are undiminished. In this special event for Intelligence^2, Hitchens will be in conversation via satellite in Washington D.C. with his friend Stephen Fry who will be onstage at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, London, in front of a sell-out audience of 2,500. Don’t miss this chance to hear one of the great public intellectuals of our age discussing politics, literature and, as he puts it, “the things that make life worth defending - foes like faith and false consolation”.

It’s £5 for a live-stream and 30 days of unlimited on-demand viewing.

Update: Nuts, Hitchens has pneumonia, so Fry will be joined instead by Martin Amis and Richard Dawkins.

They will be examining their own and Christopher’s ideas of what constitutes the good life and the good death — seen against the backdrop of Christopher’s career, the causes dear to his heart, the controversies that he has so enjoyed provoking and the things that make life worth defending.

Unusual Yelp reviews

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 07, 2011

For Gourmet, Todd Levin imagines the Yelp reviews for the world’s worst restaurant, Mama Mia That’s Italyen Authentic Food Café.

I was planning on suing this restaurant but kept driving past it. Later, the mold in my ravioli also triggered a rare neurological disorder called “Geoagnosia.” It’s an inability to recognize or remember familiar places, like my home or office.


And Cormac McCarthy of all people has a Tumblr where he posts his Yelp reviews of places ranging from Taco Bell to Chez Panisse. Here’s his three-star review of a Cheesecake Factory in Houston, TX:

There were a variety of cakes and sweet things there. The desserts paraded by in their desperate decadence, at once a fading and colorless memory.

A Bavarian chocolate cake stood apart, on a simple plate. Like a rancher’s wife it was seasoned by hardships and nature’s brutal arithmetic. Flourless, it awaited a lonely fate.

A Tiramisu teetered like the oldest prostitute in a mining town, reeking of saccharine liqueur. The faint scent of virtue lost amid the hellish musk of ten thousand outrages.

A torte, covered in glistening fruit, a lie as old as memory. Its flavor joyless, a pyrrhic dessert atop a mountain of meaningless artifice. Hasn’t been real sugar in this torte since before the highway was built here. Since before the first settlers came through with bibles and Henry rifles. The slow mockery of corn syrup.

He reached for the Tiramisu with a hand that had been dried by the sun and wind and bathed in the steaming blood of another human being. All that now was behind him.

Update: Yelping With Cormac found its way into The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013.

Do the dishes like nobody’s watching

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 07, 2011

Be honest…isn’t this how we all do the washing up when no one’s around? (via interesting)

Steve Jobs, tweaker

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 07, 2011

In a review of Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, Malcolm Gladwell says that Jobs was much more of a “tweaker” than an inventor…he took ideas from others and made them better.

Jobs’s sensibility was editorial, not inventive. His gift lay in taking what was in front of him-the tablet with stylus-and ruthlessly refining it. After looking at the first commercials for the iPad, he tracked down the copywriter, James Vincent, and told him, “Your commercials suck.”

“Well, what do you want?” Vincent shot back. “You’ve not been able to tell me what you want.”

“I don’t know,” Jobs said. “You have to bring me something new. Nothing you’ve shown me is even close.”

Vincent argued back and suddenly Jobs went ballistic. “He just started screaming at me,” Vincent recalled. Vincent could be volatile himself, and the volleys escalated.

When Vincent shouted, “You’ve got to tell me what you want,” Jobs shot back, “You’ve got to show me some stuff, and I’ll know it when I see it.”

Watch Bill Cunningham New York on Hulu for free

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 04, 2011

Bill Cunningham New York, the documentary on street fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, is available to watch on Hulu for free. (US-only probably.)

Dam breached, reservoir drained

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 04, 2011

On October 26th, a hole was blasted in the base of 125’ tall Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in Washington. In less than 2 hours, the reservoir behind the dam drained completely and the White Salmon flowed unimpeded by a dam for the first time in 100 years.

The time lapse at the end of the reservoir draining is awesome. (★interesting)

If the Nazis conquered America

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 04, 2011

Matthew Porter’s photo composite Empire on the Platte is arresting.

Empire On The Platte

Pairs nicely with Melissa Gould’s Neu-York, “an obsessively detailed alternate-history map, imagining how Manhattan might have looked had the Nazis conquered it in World War II”.


In 1942, Life magazine speculated about what an Axis invasion of North America might look like.

Nazi invasion plan

Payment in your pants

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 04, 2011

Square’s Card Case app for iPhone or Android automatically opens a tab for you at your favorite spots (using your phone’s location) and you just pay by saying your name.


posted by Jason Kottke Nov 03, 2011

Saw Koyaanisqatsi last night (with great seats), accompanied by the New York Philharmonic and the Philip Glass Ensemble…Glass played one of the emsemble’s two keyboards. It was really fantastic.

KOYAANISQATSI, [Godfrey] Reggio’s debut as a film director and producer, is the first film of the QATSI trilogy. The title is a Hopi Indian word meaning “life out of balance.” Created between 1975 and 1982, the film is an apocalyptic vision of the collision of two different worlds — urban life and technology versus the environment. The musical score was composed by Philip Glass.

The entire film is available on both YouTube and Hulu.

Franzen’s The Corrections on HBO

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 03, 2011

HBO is doing a show (or is it a movie?) based on Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections.

With 2 Oscar winners, Chris Cooper and Diane Wiest, already cast as the leads, this was a no-brainer, but it’s now official: HBO’s drama pilot The Corrections is proceeding to production.

A collection of starlings is called a murmuration

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 03, 2011

I wish the video were of better quality, but it’s still something to see.

(via @daveg)

Do a barrel roll

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 03, 2011

The most fun on the internet right now: go to Google and search for “do a barrel roll” (no quotes). Whee!

Knives, made by hand

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 03, 2011

Another excellent video by Made By Hand: The Knife Maker.

Writer turned knife maker Joel Bukiewicz of Cut Brooklyn talks about the human element of craft, and the potential for a skill to mature into an art. And in sharing his story, he alights on the real meaning of handmade-a movement whose riches are measured in people, not cash.

At Cut Brooklyn, Bukiewicz also does knife sharpening, holds open shop hours in his workshop, holds knife skills classes, and has various knives for sale.

Made By Hand’s first video was about the Breuckelen Distilling Company.

Sword dancing

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 03, 2011

Dancing skills + sword fighting skills + old lady sitting motionless in a chair skills + huge boom box skills + dog almost gets beheaded skills + it gets magical around 52 seconds =

(via @thanland)

The skydiving car

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 02, 2011

Who knew that watching a freefalling car would be so beautiful?

(thx, gregory)

An oral history of MTV

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 02, 2011

Pitchfork has an excerpt of I Want My MTV, an oral history of the first decade of MTV.

I got word that Pepsi had bought the first spot in the 1984 Grammy telecast and they were gonna play a new Michael Jackson Pepsi ad. I’m like, “Michael Jackson belongs to MTV, not the Grammys.” I wasn’t gonna let it happen. So I called Roger Enrico, the head of Pepsi, and said, “Roger, I’ve got a major problem. This Pepsi Michael Jackson spot that’s gonna run in three weeks on the Grammys? That should run on MTV first.”

“Well, Garland, I’ve already made a deal with the Grammys.” I go, “Wait a minute. You know how we do world premieres of videos. What if I world premiere the commercial? And what if I give you 24 promos a day for two weeks leading up to it? Would that interest you?”

He goes, “How much do you want for this?” I said, “Nothing.” He goes, “What? You’re telling me you would promote a commercial 24 times a day for two weeks before playing it? Garland, I like your style. Done.” So it played for the first time on MTV.

(thx, jon)

Stephen Colbert breaks character

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 01, 2011

I nearly wet my pants at work watching this:

(via stellar)

Speedometer design

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 01, 2011

A collection of Chevy speedometer designs. My favorite is this one, from the 1970 Nova:

Speedometer design

My dad had a bunch of different cars when I was growing up and I remember staring at this particular speedometer for hours…I loved the way the numbers scrunched together in the middle. (via ★vuokko)

It’s just apps on apps on apps

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 01, 2011

Riffing off of a short observation I sent him, John Gruber speculates about what an Apple TV ecosystem might look like.

Why not the same thing [as Newsstand] for TV channels? We’re seeing the beginnings of this, with iPhone and iPad apps like HBO Go, Watch ESPN, and the aforementioned Bloomberg TV+. Letting each TV network do their own app allows them the flexibility that writing software provides. News networks can combine their written and video news into an integrated layout. Networks with contractual obligations to cable operators, like HBO and ESPN, can write code that requires users to log in to verify their status as an eligible subscriber.

This smells right to me…it’s a very Apple-y way of approaching the TV/movie problem. Rather than fight with the studios and networks over content sold through the iTunes Store (where the studios control the licensing rights), just provide a platform (iPhone + iPad + iTV + App Store) controlled by Apple and if the studios/networks want to reach those customers, they need to provide an app…with Apple taking a 30% cut of the App *and* content sales.

Robot more human than human?

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 01, 2011

You remember the BigDog robotic prototype constructed by Boston Dynamics? Now they have a human robot that can run, do push-ups, and just generally acts pretty human.

Take this robot, some super-realistic human masks, and a Siri-powered iPhone 4S, and we’re in Terminator territory. (via ★interesting)

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