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Entries for April 2022 (May 2022 »    Archives)

 

The Discomfort of Self-Immolation

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 29, 2022

In the wake of climate activist Wynn Bruce setting himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court on Earth Day to protest political inaction on climate change, Jay Caspian Kang writes about the difficulty of figuring out how to think about self-immolation.

Self-immolation forces the witnesses, whether in person or through the news, to confront an intensity of conviction that goes well beyond what they may think is possible. In this way, self-immolators like Thich Quang Durc become almost inhuman, even holy. At the same time, the act establishes an entirely personal connection because the real question at hand isn’t really, “Why did he do that?” Rather, the self-immolator is asking you — with all the intimidation and self-righteousness a person can muster — “Why don’t you care even half as much as I do?”

Kevin Kelly: 103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 29, 2022

On the occasion of his 70th birthday (happy birthday!), Kevin Kelly shares 103 bits of wisdom he wished he had known when he was younger. Here are a few of my favorites:

Cultivate 12 people who love you, because they are worth more than 12 million people who like you.

Anything you say before the word “but” does not count.

When you forgive others, they may not notice, but you will heal. Forgiveness is not something we do for others; it is a gift to ourselves.

Efficiency is highly overrated; Goofing off is highly underrated. Regularly scheduled sabbaths, sabbaticals, vacations, breaks, aimless walks and time off are essential for top performance of any kind. The best work ethic requires a good rest ethic.

If winning becomes too important in a game, change the rules to make it more fun. Changing rules can become the new game.

The best way to get a correct answer on the internet is to post an obviously wrong answer and wait for someone to correct you.

Don’t wait for the storm to pass; dance in the rain.

We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day, and underestimate what we can achieve in a decade. Miraculous things can be accomplished if you give it ten years. A long game will compound small gains to overcome even big mistakes.

A wise man said, “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?” At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?” At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”

To rapidly reveal the true character of a person you just met, move them onto an abysmally slow internet connection. Observe.

Take note if you find yourself wondering “Where is my good knife? Or, where is my good pen?” That means you have bad ones. Get rid of those.

If you loan someone $20 and you never see them again because they are avoiding paying you back, that makes it worth $20.

Copying others is a good way to start. Copying yourself is a disappointing way to end.

The chief prevention against getting old is to remain astonished.

Ok that got out of hand…there’s a lot of good stuff on that list! I am definitely in receiving mode these days for wisdom.

How We Do Money in America Is Insane

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 28, 2022

I enjoyed this roast of how we handle money in America by The Daily Show’s Ronny Chieng.

He goes after income & sales taxes:

America decided filing taxes should be as quick and painless as getting a root canal at the DMV. You got your 1099s, your Form 1040, your Schedule C, your R2-D2, your Blink-182. You spend days trying to figure out what you owe the government and then the government tells you if are you right because apparently they knew the whole frigging time. It is like the world’s most pointless game show.

Tipping:

Everywhere else, a tip is a show of appreciation, not a GoFundMe for someone who doesn’t earn a living wage. A waiter’s ability to pay rent shouldn’t be dependent on how generous Becky feels after three martinis.

And our currency:

In other countries, every denomination is a different size because it makes it easier to tell them apart, especially if you are blind. But apparently blind people don’t need to use money in America ‘cause look at this shit. Same exact size, all of it. You gotta look over each individual bill to figure out which slaveowner to hand over.

(thx, meg)

Mars Helicopter Spots Perseverance Rover’s Landing Debris

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 28, 2022

wreckage from the landing of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars

wreckage from the landing of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars

On the 26th flight of Ingenuity, NASA’s helicopter on Mars, it spotted and photographed the wreckage of the Perseverance rover’s landing gear, protective shell, and parachute. From a NY Times article on the photos:

“There’s definitely a sci-fi element to it,” Ian Clark, an engineer who worked on Perseverance’s parachute system, said of photographs released on Wednesday. “It exudes otherworldly, doesn’t it?”

Part of the reason NASA had Ingenuity go take a look is to see how all of that equipment held up during the landing process. Data from the photos will inform future missions.

“Perseverance had the best-documented Mars landing in history, with cameras showing everything from parachute inflation to touchdown,” said JPL’s Ian Clark, former Perseverance systems engineer and now Mars Sample Return ascent phase lead. “But Ingenuity’s images offer a different vantage point. If they either reinforce that our systems worked as we think they worked or provide even one dataset of engineering information we can use for Mars Sample Return planning, it will be amazing. And if not, the pictures are still phenomenal and inspiring.”

In the images of the upright backshell and the debris field that resulted from it impacting the surface at about 78 mph (126 kph), the backshell’s protective coating appears to have remained intact during Mars atmospheric entry. Many of the 80 high-strength suspension lines connecting the backshell to the parachute are visible and also appear intact. Spread out and covered in dust, only about a third of the orange-and-white parachute — at 70.5 feet (21.5 meters) wide, it was the biggest ever deployed on Mars — can be seen, but the canopy shows no signs of damage from the supersonic airflow during inflation. Several weeks of analysis will be needed for a more final verdict.

It is really remarkable, the images we’re seeing from Mars, taken by a robotic helicopter.

Clever Cutout Portraits

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 28, 2022

Rudy Willingham holds up paper cutouts of people (and Muppets!) against carefully chosen backgrounds and photographs the results, resulting in these witty portraits.

cutout portrait of Big Bird

cutout portrait of Beyonce

cutout portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

cutout portrait of Prince

You can find more of Willingham’s work across his various social media platforms: website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.

Octopuses, Seahorses, and the Amazing Biodiversity of the Ocean

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 27, 2022

a colorful drawing of several different kinds of octopuses

a colorful drawing of several different kinds of seahorse

Zoe Keller’s Ocean Biodiversity Print Series celebrates the diversity of the animals that live in the sea. Each of the four prints concerns a different sea creature or region of the ocean: the octopus, the jellyfish, the seahorse, and the deep sea. (via dense discovery)

A History of Birth Control

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 27, 2022

From Lindsay Holiday, an engaging history of birth control, covering the ineffective and often dangerous methods used in the ancient world, the rhythm method, proto-condoms, actual condoms, Lysol (!!), and of course one of the modern world’s most impactful inventions, the hormonal birth control pill.

Through most of history pregnancy and childbirth were a very dangerous undertaking for women. In medieval Europe 1 in 3 women died in their child-bearing years and 1 in 4 children did not live to see their first birthday. Even when both mother and child survived the ordeal of birth women were not always able to provide for a child. And in most cultures pregnancy outside of wedlock was considered a great sin and often resulted in the shunning of the woman and child while the man often got away scot-free. It is no surprise therefore that women throughout history have been trying a wide variety of methods to prevent conception.

(via open culture)

Earth Clock

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 27, 2022

Earth Clock is a digital clock where the digits are satellite photos of geographic and architectural features that look like numbers, complete with a colon in the middle. A few screenshots from this morning…you get the idea:

digital clock with satellite images as digits

digital clock with satellite images as digits

digital clock with satellite images as digits

This sort of thing always reminds me of Christian Marclay’s The Clock. (via @njvack)

Swirling Ink Cosmos

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 27, 2022

There is something deeply soothing to the human brain, at least to this human brain, about watching liquids flow. A burbling brook, cascading waterfall, crashing waves. Even better when it looks like outer space, like this video by Vadim Sherbakov of wonderfully whirling colorful inks with glitter. (via colossal)

P.S. A reminder if you’re into this sort of thing, there are dozens of similar videos in this mesmerizing collection.

Spoiler Paintings

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 26, 2022

Spoiler Paintings by Mario Garcia Torres

Spoiler Paintings by Mario Garcia Torres

Spoiler Paintings by Mario Garcia Torres

For his series of Spoiler Paintings, Mario García Torres silkscreened short texts on colorful backgrounds that reveal major plot points of movies like The Usual Suspects, The Matrix, E.T., Basic Instinct, Heat, and Fight Club.

Although the Spoiler Paintings may seem conventional and harmless, they were produced with the intention of displacing the reaction in a work of art by producing tension even before seeing the piece. This objective is achieved by using the widespread notion that knowing the end of a film destroys its experience.

Molten Iron Fireworks

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 26, 2022

In the small Chinese village of Nuanquan, they make fireworks displays by throwing molten iron against the wall, which causes it to explode in a shower of sparks.

For the past 30 years, Wang De has been practicing the ancient art of Da Shuhua, a 500-year-old tradition that first began with blacksmiths in the Nuanquan village of China. Wanting a way to celebrate Chinese New Year, but without the means to afford traditional fireworks, these blacksmiths devised a new form of entertainment. By tossing molten iron against the walls, they created beautiful showers of sparks, beginning a practice that would soon become a part of their cultural heritage. Now, it’s a special part of Nuanquan’s legacy as there’s no place else on Earth to witness the fiery spectacle.

This would be something to see in person — thousands of tiny sparks flying around at great speeds is exactly the sort of thing that compressed online video doesn’t depict that well.

Michelle Yeoh and the Daniels Break Down a Scene from Everything Everywhere All At Once

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 26, 2022

I saw Everything Everywhere All At Once a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it — best movie I’ve seen all year and I can’t remember having a better time seeing a film in the theater in the past 3-4 years. So watching this short making-of featurette of Michelle Yeoh and the Daniels was really nice. It’s not surprising how thoughtful yet open to creative chaos they are, given the magic of the end result.

Solving the World’s Hardest Puzzle Would Take You Until the Heat Death of the Universe

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 26, 2022

In an excerpt in The Atlantic from his new book about puzzles, A.J. Jacobs writes about the puzzle he commissioned from Dutch puzzle creator Oskar van Deventer, a “generation puzzle” that will take him almost literally forever to solve.

And then, on a Friday morning, I woke up to an email from Oskar. He had finished making the puzzle — and it worked. He had made a 55-pin Jacobs’ Ladder. Solving it would take 1.2 decillion moves1 (the number 1 followed by 33 digits). Written out, that’s: 1,298,074,214,633,706,907,132,624,082,305,023 moves.

We’d crushed the old record by 13 orders of magnitude. Oskar did some delightfully nerdy calculations on just how long it would take to solve this puzzle. If you were to twist one peg per second, he explained, the puzzle would take about 40 septillion years. By the time you solved it, the sun would have long ago destroyed the Earth and burned out. In fact, all light in the universe would have been extinguished. Only black holes would remain. Moreover, Oskar said, if only one atom were to rub off due to friction for each move, it would erode before you could solve it.

Here’s a video about the puzzle from the guy who designed and built it:

FYI: Jacobs’ book, The Puzzler, includes a “a hidden, super-challenging but solvable puzzle that will earn the first reader to crack it a $10,000 prize”. Good luck!

  1. Small rounding error here…it’s actually 1.3 decillion moves.

The Curious Afterlife of Pop Stars

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 25, 2022

For his forthcoming book Exit Stage Left: The Curious Afterlife of Pop Stars, journalist Nick Duerden interviewed pop stars who had made it big about what happened after the bright spotlight of fame moved on. Here are a few interesting bits from an adapted excerpt in The Guardian:

“The pain I feel from the Slits ending is worse than splitting up with a boyfriend,” Albertine wrote, “This feels like the death of a huge part of myself, two whole thirds gone … I’ve got nowhere to go, nothing to do; I’m cast back into the world like a sycamore seed spinning into the wind.”

So what’s it like, I wondered, to still be doing this “job” at 35, and 52, and beyond? What’s it like to have released your debut album to a global roar, and your 12th to barely a whisper? Why the continued compulsion to create at all, to demand yet more adulation? Frankly, what’s the point?

[Suzanne] Vega’s tour, haemorrhaging money, was cut short. When she arrived back at JFK, she looked out for the car her record label would always send to collect her. But there was no car. Not any more. “I took a taxi,” she says.

When Tanya Donelly, of 90s US indie darlings Belly, quit after winning a Grammy (and promptly suffering burnout), she craved normal work and became a doula. When 10,000 Maniacs’ Natalie Merchant grew tired of being a marketable commodity, she quit for the quieter life of a solo artist, and was then duly horrified when her debut album, 1995’s Tigerlily, sold 5m copies, because “then came the treadmill again”. The next time she tried to retire, she did so more forcefully, and now teaches arts and crafts to underprivileged children in New York state. “I look at people like Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney,” she says, referring to the way both legends continue to tour, “and I think to myself: ‘If I were you, I’d just go home and enjoy my garden.’ It’s a question of temperament, clearly.”

Massive New Book Collection Offers Unprecedented Views of the Sistine Chapel

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 25, 2022

page spreads from a book featuring photos of the Sistine Chapel

page spreads from a book featuring photos of the Sistine Chapel

page spreads from a book featuring photos of the Sistine Chapel

There are famously no photos allowed when visiting the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. So, this new book series “that includes 1:1 scale images of the masterpieces by Michelangelo, Botticelli, and other Renaissance artists” from the chapel might be your best bet to enjoying this wonder of the art world at home. But here’s the bad news: the 20-pound volume costs $22,000 and has been limited to 1999 copies, no reprints.

Published by Callaway Arts & Entertainment and Italy’s Scripta Maneant, the book uses state-of-the-art color printing to ensure its colors match those used in the Chapel. The close-up detail of each image provides a perspective that cannot be obtained by visiting the Chapel in person. Readers can see the artist’s brush strokes and texture of the paint, as well as the small cracks and imperfections that line the walls and ceiling.

The publishing agreement with the Vatican stipulated that only 1,999 copies could be printed. Six hundred of them are in English. The Italian language copies have already sold out. The deal also stipulates no reprints.

This book looks incredible — two photographers took 270,000 images over 65 nights that were stitched together using 3D software to accurately portray the paintings done on the chapel’s curved surfaces. (via open culture)

Feynman’s Ode to the Wonder of Life

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 25, 2022

In the last installment of a video series called The Universe in Verse, Maria Popova, Yo-Yo Ma, and Kelli Anderson have collaborated on a video that features words spoken by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman in a 1955 speech, a poem of sorts on the wonder of life.

Deep in the sea, all molecules repeat the patterns of one another till complex new ones are formed. They make others like themselves… and a new dance starts.

Growing in size and complexity… living things, masses of atoms, DNA, protein… dancing a pattern ever more intricate.

Out of the cradle onto the dry land… here it is standing… atoms with consciousness… matter with curiosity.

Lovely. And of course I love the visuals by Kelli Anderson.

Man Self-Immolates in Front of the Supreme Court on Earth Day in Protest of Climate Change Inaction

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 25, 2022

Hoping to draw attention to the climate crisis, activist Wynn Bruce set himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court on Earth Day. He later died from his injuries.

A Colorado man who set himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court on Friday in an apparent Earth Day protest against climate change has died, police said.

The Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C., said that Wynn Bruce, 50, of Boulder, Colo., had died on Saturday from his injuries after being airlifted to a hospital following the incident. Members of his family could not be reached immediately for comment.

Kritee Kanko, a climate scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund and a Zen Buddhist priest in Boulder, said that she is a friend of Mr. Bruce and that the self-immolation was a planned act of protest.

“This act is not suicide,” Dr. Kritee wrote on Twitter early Sunday morning. “This is a deeply fearless act of compassion to bring attention to climate crisis.”

It’s shocking and sad but perhaps not surprising how little media attention this has gotten. Bruce, a Buddhist, seems to have planned this action for several weeks or even months, leaving clues in a repeatedly edited comment on Facebook. His action mirrors that of Thích Quảng Đức in 1963, who self-immolated in Saigon in 1963 to protest the persecution of Buddhists in South Vietnam. Rest in peace, Wynn Bruce.

The Bagworm Caterpillar’s DIY Mobile Log Cabin

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 22, 2022

The bagworm caterpillar is quite the animal architect. In preparation for its transformation into a moth, the caterpillar builds itself a house that it carries around on its back out of materials it finds in its habitat, like sticks or leaves. When it enters the pupa stage, the caterpillar fastens the house to something solid and hunkers down inside.

a little house a bagworm caterpillar has built on its back out of twigs

a little house a bagworm caterpillar has built on its back out of twigs

a little house a bagworm caterpillar has built on its back out of twigs

I couldn’t source the top photo but the bottom two were taken by John Horstman, who has a bunch of incredible photos of bagworm caterpillar houses on Flickr. Nicky Bay has also taken many photos of bagworm caterpillar architecture.

The Birdsong of Printed Circuit Birds

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 22, 2022

As part of her Circuit Garden project, artist Kelly Heaton makes birds out of electronic circuitry that can be adjusted to produce a wide variety of birdsong. Here she demonstrated with a printed circuit bluejay:

As Heaton explains, the sounds made by the birds aren’t recordings…they’re generated by the electronics, like a synthesizer.

My “printed circuit birds” are self-contained sound generators. The electronics are [100%] analog: no audio recordings or software are involved. By “analog” I mean that the sound is dynamically produced by the bird’s body (circuit), like a vintage synthesizer. In this video, I adjust knobs to change resistance in the circuit, thereby altering the song quality. You can think of this like adjusting neurons in a bird’s brain to alter the impulse by which it vocalizes.

one of Kelly Heaton's printed circuit birds

(via clive thompson)

A Custom-Built Moon Motorcycle

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 22, 2022

an electric motorcycle designed to drive on the Moon

an electric motorcycle designed to drive on the Moon

an electric motorcycle designed to drive on the Moon

Based on a digital rendering by Andrew Fabishevskiy, motorcycle design company Hookie Co. built a real-life prototype of an electric motorcycle designed to be driven on the Moon. Named Tardigrade after the hearty micro-animal, the 2-wheeled rover weighs almost 300 pounds, is constructed out of aluminum, Kevlar, carbon fiber, and other materials, has a top speed of 9 mph, and a battery with a range of 62 miles. You can check out how it was built in this video. I want one! Electric motocross on the Moon does sound pretty fun:

Regarding flat track racing on the moon, I would prefer some big gaps and jumps more than turning left around an oval. With almost one-sixth of Earth’s gravity, I’d need only a small bump to jump 10 meters — that would be fun! Maybe the Tardigrade inspires space-addicted people and engineers for upcoming lunar missions, and I would be more than happy to be a tiny part of that.

The Best Photos From the Shot on iPhone Macro Challenge

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 21, 2022

dewdrops on a delicate spider web

closeup shot of the structure of a plant leaf

Apple recently announced the winners of a competition to highlight the best macro photos shot on the newest iPhones. Amazing photos from a phone. The camera is really the only reason I upgrade my iPhone every year…it just gets better and better.

The Mass Delusion of the Pandemic Being Over

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 21, 2022

Theater historian Debra Caplan published a Twitter thread yesterday about Eugene Ionesco’s 1959 play, Rhinoceros.

In 1959, Eugene Ionesco wrote the absurdist play Rhinoceros in which one by one, an entire town of people suddenly transform into rhinos. At first, people are horrified but as the contagion spreads, (almost) everyone comes to accept that turning into a rhinoceros is fine.

Rhinoceros is a play about conformity and mob mentality and mass delusion, about how easy it is for people to accept outrageous/unacceptable things simply because everyone else is doing it.

In the end, the protagonist Berenger is the only human left.

Even reading that first bit of the thread, my mind jumped immediately to the pandemic, particularly the present moment we’re in with falling mask mandates and other discarded and ignored public safety protections. And that’s Caplan’s take too:

Over the last few weeks, as mitigation measures drop, millions of Americans who were previously cautious about Covid (and millions more who never were) have decided that it’s time to move on and pretend that it’s 2019 again.

Bars and restaurants are packed with unmasked people, mask mandates hardly exist anywhere and are no longer tied to infection rates, the new CDC map makes it look like everything is under control, and we seem to have all collectively decided that Covid is “over.”

Let’s be clear about what is actually happening here.

The idea that we can live with Covid WITHOUT any mitigation measures and expect things to turn out ok (both for individuals and as a society) is a lie.

We are watching an astounding mass delusion unfold in real time.

See also The New Normal, about shifting baselines.

Fear tends to diminish over time when a risk remains constant. You can only respond for so long. After a while, it recedes to the background, seemingly no matter how bad it is.

Contra Chrome

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 21, 2022

Back in 2008, Google commissioned comic artist Scott McCloud to create a comic book to celebrate/explain the launch of their Chrome web browser. Since then, Chrome has become a vital part of Google’s core business, an advertising juggernaut that works by tracking users and their interests across the entire web. To better reflect the reality that “Google’s browser has become a threat to user privacy and the democratic process itself”, comic artist and activist Leah Elliott has cheekily created an updated comic book in the style of the original. She calls it Contra Chrome.

a page from Leah Elliott's comic about the Chrome web browser

a page from Leah Elliott's comic about the Chrome web browser

The Fluid Dynamics of Oreo Cookie Twisting

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 21, 2022

Oreo cookies that have been twisted apart, with the creme sticking to one side of the cookie

You may have noticed, while twisting apart Oreos (aka the world’s favorite “trilayer laminate composite”) to get at the creme inside, that the creme tends to mostly stick to one half of the cookie. MIT graudate student Crystal Owens decided to study this phenomenon and has co-authored a paper about the failure mechanics of the Oreo’s layer of creme in the journal Physics of Fluid. From Ars Technica:

“I had in my mind that if you twist the Oreos perfectly, you should split the creme perfectly in the middle,” said Owens. “But what actually happens is the creme almost always comes off of one side.” The experiments showed that this creme distribution is not affected by rotation rate, the amount of creme filling, or the flavor. Rather, the pre-existing level of adhesion between the creme and the chocolate wafers seemed to be the determining factor. Cookies from the package within any one box typically separated with the same preferred orientation most of the time. This suggests that it has something to do with how the cookies are manufactured and then oriented during packaging, as well as how they are stored.

They even built a 3D printed “oreometer” so that people can study this phenomenon without using an expensive rheometer.

As a very amateur kitchen scientist myself, the Oreo situation reminds me of what happens when you try to tear three connected pieces of paper towel apart in one move by pulling on the outside pieces in opposite directions: the middle piece of paper towel almost always ends up attached to one of the outside pieces. In fact, in extensive testing over the past 3-4 years, this maneuver has only separated all three pieces a few times.1 (thx, eric)

  1. There’s always a lot of hootin’ and hollerin’ and victory laps around the kitchen when a perfect pull happens. It’s a rare event!

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Sees Solar Eclipse on Mars

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 20, 2022

Wow, NASA just released a video shot by the Mars Perseverance rover of a solar eclipse by the moon Phobos. The video description calls it “the most zoomed-in, highest frame-rate observation of a Phobos solar eclipse ever taken from the Martian surface”. According to this article from JPL, the video of the eclipse is played in realtime; it only lasted about 40 seconds.

Captured with Perseverance’s next-generation Mastcam-Z camera on April 2, the 397th Martian day, or sol, of the mission, the eclipse lasted a little over 40 seconds — much shorter than a typical solar eclipse involving Earth’s Moon. (Phobos is about 157 times smaller than Earth’s Moon. Mars’ other moon, Deimos, is even smaller.)

Just a hunk of space rock passing in front of a massive burning ball of gas recorded by a robot from the surface of an extraterrestrial planet, no big deal.

Out Sick Today

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 20, 2022

sign that says 'it's been 0 days since I've taken a sick day'

Welp, I woke up feeling like garbage and it seems I’ve finally gotten the cold that’s been going around in my family for the past two weeks. It’s weird being sick — it’s been such a long time. Aside from a couple of 1-day post-vaccine reactions and a stomach bug I picked up in Mexico last summer, the last time I was sick was when I got Covid way back in early February 2020.

You know, feeling the way I do right now, I don’t enjoy being sick. So I’m going to continue to mask up at the grocery store, on planes, subways, and buses, and generally anywhere else where a lot of strangers are sharing air. I’m just fine without frequent respiratory illness, thanks.

Anyway, I’m taking the day off to rest up and recuperate — I hope to be back with you tomorrow at something approaching full strength.

High-Res View of a Martian Crater

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 19, 2022

Seán Doran strikes again. In this short flyover rendered in 8K resolution by Doran, we’re treated to a detailed look at a crater on Mars. The imagery is from the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Beautiful — worth taking a second or third pass to catch all the details.

Messy Modern Type

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 19, 2022

a messy modernist typeface made from red and black geometric elements

I love this messy modernist typeface from LA-based designer Adam Goldberg. Maybe the J is my favorite?

the letter J from a messy modernist typeface made from red and black geometric elements

I also quite like the concept of messy modernism — that seems like my wheelhouse. (via colossal)

The Magic of Invisible Mending

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 19, 2022

A father and daughter at a tailoring workshop in Japan have mastered kaketsugi, the art of invisibly mending clothes — that is, repairing holes and tears in fabric so seamlessly and completely that they appear to never have been damaged in the first place. The before and after photos are incredible…you absolutely cannot tell where the repair was made, even under close inspection.

before and after views of a piece of repaired clothing

before and after views of a piece of repaired clothing

A short 5-minute video of the pair at work is available on YouTube while a 25-minute feature is available here. (via iancu)

A Lego 5-Speed Manual Transmission

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 19, 2022

From the Brick Technology YouTube channel, a demonstration on how to build a 5-speed manual transmission with Lego. It even has a gear stick and goes in reverse. Unloaded, 1st gear spins an axel at 384 rpm and 5th gear spins at 3000 rpm. Really impressive.

See also Designing a Lego Car to Cross Gaps and Engineering a Capable Climbing Lego Car.

Ten Ways to Confront the Climate Crisis Without Losing Hope

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 18, 2022

If we’re going to address the climate crisis, we need to fight despair and keep hope alive. Rebecca Solnit wrote a piece for The Guardian about 10 ways we can guard against our feelings of dread and fear.

2. Pay attention to what’s already happening

Another oft-heard complaint is “nobody is doing anything about this”. But this is said by people who are not looking at what so many others are doing so passionately and often effectively. The climate movement has grown in power, sophistication and inclusiveness, and has won many battles. I have been around long enough to remember when the movement against what was then called “global warming” was small and mild-mannered, preaching the gospel of Priuses and compact fluorescent lightbulbs, and mostly being ignored.

One of the victories of climate activism — and consequences of dire climate events — is that a lot more people are concerned about climate than they were even a few years years ago, from ordinary citizens to powerful politicians. The climate movement — which is really thousands of movements with thousands of campaigns around the world - has had enormous impact.

See also We Have the Tools to Fix the Climate. We Just Need to Use Them. (via life is so beautiful)

Why Algorithms Are Called Algorithms

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 18, 2022

Because of their relevance to social media, the algorithm has become an everyday concept. Why do we see the posts we see on Instagram or TikTok? Oh, it’s the algorithm. This video from BBC Ideas explains that the term has its roots in the work of 9th century Persian mathematician Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, who also gave the world the word “algebra”. (via the morning news)

Coming Soon: Muppet Lego Minifigs

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 18, 2022

Starting on May 1, Lego is introducing minifigs of The Muppets!

Kermit and Miss Piggy Lego figures

Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker Lego figures

Statler and Waldorf Lego figures

The Muppets are such a sprawling concern that not all your favorites are here, but you’ve got Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Rowlf, Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, Animal, Janice, The Swedish Chef, and Statler & Waldorf — that’s a pretty good lineup.

Update: I love this Lego-ized version of The Muppet Show opening theme they did. So good.

How Did Roman Aqueducts Work?

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 18, 2022

I had always heard that the engineering of Roman aqueducts was impressive, but as this video demonstrates, I didn’t know the half of it. The stuff about how precise the descending slope of the aqueducts were over several hundred miles is just incredible. (via open culture)

How Loud Can Sound Physically Get?

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 15, 2022

Is there a physical limit to how loud a noise can be? As you might imagine, the answer is somewhat complicated, even if you assume normal atmospheric conditions. In video, Benn Jordan discusses a few possible answers, as well as how we should think about the question in the first place. One possible answer is 194 decibels, although experiencing a sound that loud would probably kill you.

See also The World’s Loudest Sound, aka the sound generated by the Krakatoa volcanic eruption in 1883, which Jordan mentions in the video.

Can Documentaries Change the World?

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 15, 2022

The Thin Blue Line got Randall Adams out of jail after 12 years. Blackfish almost bankrupted Seaworld and pressured them to end their orca breeding program. Making A Murderer almost got Brendan Dassey out of jail. But in this video essay, Eliz Mizon “argues that documentaries start conversations, but they can’t spark real change.”

Haboob: A Decade of Dust Storms

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 14, 2022

I’ve featured storm chasing photographer Mike Olbinski’s work here on kottke.org pretty frequently. His latest video celebrates a decade of capturing haboobs (dust storms). Here’s a haboob primer:

Just how do haboobs form? When air is forced down and pushed forward by the front of a traveling thunderstorm cell, it drags with it dust and debris. Winds of speeds up to 60 mph can stir up dust and sand and create a blowing wall as high as 10,000 feet. Haboobs usually last only 10 to 30 minutes, but on rare occasions can last longer and create hazardous conditions for ground transportation systems, air traffic and motorists.

An Interview with a Professional Jump Roper

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 14, 2022

I have to admit: before watching this video, I was unaware that there were professional jump ropers. But of course there are, and Tori Boggs is perhaps the best one in the world. She’s won dozens of world championships and holds some impressive world records. And the tricks she can do with a rope…it’s a joy to watch someone who so obviously loves what they do perform at such a high level. (via the kid should see this)

Garry Kasparov: Stand With Ukraine in the Fight Against Evil

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 14, 2022

In an uncompromising TED Talk from a few days ago, Garry Kasparov warns we must confront “true evil” in the world when we see it, in this case Vladimir Putin and his regime.

Actually, my first article of warning was published in “The Wall Street Journal” on January 4, 2001. I saw evil because I heard evil. Putin was telling us what he was. All we had to do was listen. When Putin said that there was no such thing as a former KGB agent, I knew Russia’s fragile democracy was in danger. When Putin said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, I knew Russia’s newly independent neighbors were at risk. And when Putin talked at the Munich Security Conference in 2007 about a return to spheres of influence, I knew he was ready to launch his plan. It was the language from the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, 1939. The language Hitler and Stalin used to divide Europe. And a year later, in 2008, Putin invaded the Republic of Georgia. 2014, Ukraine.

It’s a paradox, isn’t it? Dictators lie about everything they have done, but often they tell us exactly what they’re going to do. Just listen. Anyone who is surprised at Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine must not be aware about his long record, beginning with the Second Chechen War in Grozny more than two decades ago. Vladimir Putin has been a war criminal from the start.

When he was talking about the problem with compromising with authoritarians, I was reminded of a phrase I’ve heard in a couple of different contexts recently: meeting a racist halfway on their views is still racism; meeting a fascist halfway on their views is still fascism. As Rebecca Solnit put it in an article about the 2020 election: “Who the hell wants unity with Nazis until and unless they stop being Nazis?” Meeting a brutal authoritarian halfway, Kasparov is arguing, is still tyranny.

Black Sun: Starling Murmurations

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 13, 2022

a large flock of starlings form a pattern in the sky

a large flock of starlings form a pattern in the sky

For his project Black Sun, Danish photographer Søren Solkær travelled all over Europe to capture the murmurations of migrating starlings.

The starlings move as one unified organism that vigorously opposes any outside threat. A strong visual expression is created — like that of an ink drawing or a calligraphic brush stroke — asserting itself against the sky. Shapes and black lines of condensation form within the swarm, resembling waves of interference or mathematical abstractions written across the horizon. At times the flock seems to possess the cohesive power of super fluids, changing shape in an endless flux: From geometric to organic, from solid to fluid, from matter to ethereal, from reality to dream — an exchange in which real time ceases to exist and mythical time pervades.

These photographs are also available on Instagram and in book form from Solkær’s website. (via ny times)

Time Lapse of a Very Busy Day in the Port of Amsterdam

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 13, 2022

The port of Amsterdam is one of the busiest seaports in Europe. But it gets really busy when there are tall ships from all over the world and everyone wants to get out on the water to see them. This is a time lapse video taken at the 2015 SAIL maritime festival that shows the port absolutely teeming with ships and boats of all shapes and sizes.

Visualizing How Rich Jeff Bezos Is

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 13, 2022

a comparison of the wealth of Jeff Bezos with the median US household

In 9 Ways to Imagine Jeff Bezos’ Wealth, Mona Chalabi provides us with some data visualizations that can help us wrap our heads around just how much money Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has. For instance, if the width of an Oreo cookie represents the median net worth of a US household, Bezos’ wealth is twice the width of the Grand Canyon.

See also 1 pixel wealth, Printing Money, and Spend Bill Gates’ Money.

How Ukrainians Are Saving Art During the War

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 13, 2022

Building on the lessons of World War II, Ukrainians are trying to save their art and other important cultural artifacts from destruction during Russia’s invasion. When an invader repeatedly tries to deny the cultural distinction of a people for decades and even centuries, like Russia has done with Ukraine, saving buildings and statues and paintings can be of great importance.

Because under the 1954 convention, “damage to cultural property means damage to the cultural heritage of all mankind”. So attacks on cultural heritage are a considered war crime. But treaties can only do so much. In the years since, conflicts around the world have rendered immeasurable damage to cultural heritage. A lot of it intentional. Like the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan buddhas. And Isis’ attacks on ancient sites all over Syria.

“That cultural heritage is not only impacted, but in many ways it’s implicated and central to armed conflict. These are things that people point to that are unifying factors for their society. They are tangible reflections of their identity.”

And Putin has made it clear that identity is at the ideological center of Russia’s invasion: “I would like to emphasize again that Ukraine is not just a neighboring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture, and spiritual space.”

“He thinks that we don’t really exist and they want to destroy all the signs of our identity.”

BTW, regarding the destruction of the museum that housed works by Maria Prymachenko at the start of the video: according to the Ukrainian Institute, the works were saved from burning by local residents.

Beautiful News: Positive Trends, Uplifting Stats, Creative Solutions

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 12, 2022

For the past few years, David McCandless at Beautiful News Daily has been sharing infographics about positive developments in the world, the “stuff we can’t always see because we’re fixated on the negativity of the news”. Now all that good news has been bundled into a new book, Beautiful News: Positive Trends, Uplifting Stats, Creative Solutions. Here are a couple of sample pages from the book:

charts showing the power and potential of geothermal energy

graph showing that world hunger has reached its lowest point in 20 years

The Rembrandt Book Bracelet

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 12, 2022

a bracelet made out of tiny Rembrandt drawings of hands being worn on someone's wrist

a bracelet made out of tiny Rembrandt drawings of hands

Inspired by the online availability of high resolution images from the Rijksmuseum’s collection, design firm Duinker and Dochters created a book of 1400 images of hands from Rembrandt’s work that is wearable as a bracelet. From the Cooper Hewitt:

Designers Lia Duinkers and Lyske Gais, are fascinated by the details Rembrandt achieved in his depiction of hands. From hundreds of images of Rembrandt’s hand illustrations, they created an intriguing book-bracelet, an intricate piece that not only pays homage to the talent of Rembrandt, but also spotlights the genius of Duinker and Gais’s skills in graphic design, bookbinding, and jewelry design. Entitled “Rembrandt’s Hands and a Lion’s Paw” the book-bracelet is comprised of 1400 miniature pictures of hands derived from 303 Rembrandt etchings and drawings in the collection of the Rikjsmuseum and available as high-resolution images on the museum’s website.

Here’s what the bracelet looks like in its storage box:

a bracelet made out of tiny Rembrandt drawings of hands in its storage box

What a fantastic little object…you can marvel about how it was made on their website. (via colossal)

Life on Delay: Making Peace with a Stutter

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 12, 2022

In January 2020, John Hendrickson wrote an article for The Atlantic about Joe Biden’s stutter…and his own. Hendrickson has written a memoir about his “lifelong struggle to speak”: Life on Delay: Making Peace with a Stutter.

In Life on Delay, Hendrickson writes candidly about bullying, substance abuse, depression, isolation, and other issues stutterers like him face daily. He explores the intricate family dynamics surrounding his own stutter and revisits key people from his past in unguarded interviews. Readers get an over-the-shoulder view of his childhood; his career as a journalist, which once seemed impossible; and his search for a romantic partner. Along the way, Hendrickson guides us through the evolution of speech therapy, the controversial quest for a “magic pill” to end stuttering, and the burgeoning self-help movement within the stuttering community. Beyond his own experiences, he shares portraits of fellow stutterers who have changed his life, and he writes about a pioneering doctor who is upending the field of speech therapy.

Sounds fascinating and the cover is fantastic (who designed it?):

book cover for Life On Delay

See also Austin Kleon’s Our Stutter:

Around Christmastime, my son started stuttering differently and more frequently.

“Why are you so glitchy?” my 5-year-old asked him. “I’m worried about you.”

We might’ve been worried, too, except that we’d been through it before. The previous Christmas, we’d called Dr. Courtney Byrd at the Lang Stuttering Institute here in Austin, Texas, and she assured us that it was perfectly normal for stuttering to change during the holidays and that even good, exciting events can cause changes in stuttering.

So now, when Our Stutter changes, our listening changes.

We listen with more love.

The segment he references from This American Life featuring JJJJJerome Ellis is fantastic and a must-listen if you’ve never heard it before.

Update: Hendrickson reports that the cover is by Oliver Munday, whose work I admire greatly.

Severance Intro with The Office Theme Song

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 11, 2022

When you think about TV shows about the workplace, The Office is likely top of mind. So, cutting an intro to new workplace darling Severance to match the visual style of The Office intro with The Office theme song was going to happen eventually…and here it is. Nicely done.

See also The Unskippable Opening Credits for Severance.

Life Advice from NYC Chess Hustlers

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 11, 2022

Anne Kadet interviewed some chess hustlers in Washington Square Park about their chess work in the park and what they’ve learned about life playing chess.

If you want a game, I say one game, five dollars, five minutes. So we play a five-minute game for five dollars. If you said you don’t want no clock, I might say I give you one game, $10, because without the clock, it’s longer. You’re wasting time.

Some people say $5 to the winner. That means, we play each other and whoever wins gets the $5. That’s tricky, because I don’t know how strong you are. You might beat me and I lose $5. I’ve wasted time AND I’ve lost money! So I’m one of those people who don’t say $5 to the winner.

I’ll give you a lesson, a half hour for $20. I have some children that come just to see me once a week and I give them a lesson — $20 for a half hour. And there’s a lot of NYU students that come by, we give them a discount for being students. One hour for 40 bucks.

Marcel A. offered this advice that applies to nearly any situation:

The one thing I tell my students is that when you get to a confrontation of any type, you have to remain calm. When you remain calm, you can see the board a lot clearer. You can see the person you’re playing or arguing with a lot more clearly, for who and what they are. So you don’t even have to entertain that shit. You understand?

Nathaniel W. shares what he’s learned about people:

They timid, they’re not willing to take a chance. See this? [He moves a pawn forward one space.] That means sometimes people don’t want to be hurt. They have a fear of losing.

And E.G.G.S. offers perhaps the wisest advice of all:

I’m stuck right now. I can’t give any life advice.

The whole thing is worth a read.

See also The Last Chess Shop in NYC. (via fave 5)

Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 11, 2022

painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat with text that says 'King Pleasure'

painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat that features two large figures accosting a smaller figure

Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure is a new exhibition of the life and work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, curated by his two younger sisters, Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux. It opened this past weekend in NYC and includes a bunch of work that’s never been exhibited before. From the NY Times:

The show, “Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure,” features more than 200 artworks and artifacts from the artist’s estate — 177 of which have never been exhibited before — in a 15,000-square-foot space designed by the architect David Adjaye. Providing perhaps the most detailed personal portrait to date of Basquiat’s development, the show comes at a time when the artist’s market value continues to soar and his themes of race and self-identity have become especially resonant. (The mayor’s office is to proclaim Saturday, the show’s opening, Jean-Michel Basquiat Day.)

“They’re literally opening up the vaults,” said Brett Gorvy, a dealer and a former chairman and international head of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s. “These are paintings I’ve only seen in books.”

This looks great; definitely hitting this the next time I’m in NYC. Tickets are available here. (via pentagram, who did the identity for the exhibition)

Tales of Filmmaking From Edward Zwick

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 11, 2022

On his Twitter account, filmmaker Edward Zwick (Glory, Legends of the Fall, The Last Samurai) is writing these amazing short threads on the films that he’s made and the lessons he’s learned, many of them celebrating actors he’s worked with (these are my favorites). Here are some selections from some of the threads.

Daniel Craig:

The Fates can kiss or kill. I’d been working on Defiance, off and on, for ten years. Daniel read the script the night it arrived as he sat in bed and wrote back the next day to say yes. I was floored. It was only the first of many times he would astonish me.

Daniel simply said he was moved by the script. I later learned that his grandfather was among the first British soldiers to enter the camps at Bergen-Belsen. I found this out from Dan’s girlfriend; it would have been unlike Daniel to talk about himself.

We shot in freezing rain and snow. Our forest set was miles from base camp and Dan never set foot in his trailer. When I once dared compliment him at the end of a scene, he looked perplexed, “Not hard to act cold when you’re freezing your nuts off,” he said.

Movie fashion:

Anthea Sylbert tried two hundred jackets on Warren Beatty before finding one sexy enough for SHAMPOO. Imagine Anna Taylor-Joy’s character without outfits evoking chess pieces in The Queen’s Gambit? The costumer doesn’t dress actors, she clothes the movie.

Getting personal:

All good writing is personal. That doesn’t mean autobiographical. Whether a period piece or a sci-fi space opera, characters aren’t created, they pre-exist and must be found within you. Imagine yourself as a sinner or a saint and you’ll find their voices.

Why write something personal when the studios want superheroes? The secrets you think are yours alone are the ones people will respond to. Ask yourself, what is my own story about? What is it REALLY about? And why the fuck should anyone care?

Matt Damon’s first big role:

During rehearsals, I kept Matt and the others apart from Denzel Washington, whose interrogation of them drives the plot. As fate would have it, his first day of shooting was scheduled opposite Denzel. And his close-up was up first.

You can tell something special is happening on set by watching the crew. Even the dolly grip, who had made hundreds of movies, was paying attention. As the two actors began to work, it was as if a spell had been cast over the set…

As we finished Matt’s coverage, Denzel caught my eye and nodded approvingly. Later, he took me aside. “Who is the kid?” he asked? I told him it was Matt’s first big role. “Damn,” he said, “Better get my game on. He almost blew me off the screen.”

The house that Apocalypse Now built:

Joe was cast as the Sergeant who brings a drunk Martin Sheen his orders and throws him into the shower. It was the most exciting day of Joe’s life. Shooting went slowly and they planned to finish the scene the next day. That night, though, Sheen had a heart attack.

They sent Joe home, promising to bring him back when Sheen recovered. But Joe had been hired as a day player rather than on a ‘drop-and-pick-up’ so they were obliged to keep him on salary. Every producer’s nightmare was Joe’s dream. Then the Hurricane hit.

Anne Hathaway and crying on cue:

I asked Jake Gyllenhaal to go first. He was every bit as anxious but agreed without hesitation. As we rolled, though, it just wasn’t happening and he knew it. Off-camera, Anne could see he was having trouble and realized he needed help.

It’s impossible to exaggerate how much one actor’s work influences another’s. But as Jake found the magic and his performance blossomed, I happened to glance off-camera and saw Anne’s face wet with tears. She was giving herself to him completely.

Some of the threads are a series of blind items, slices of life about the movie biz. Like:

The lead actor wouldn’t take direction. His co-star sensed disaster. She begged him to help her run lines each morning, during which she would subtly direct the scenes. The stellar reviews credited the director with eliciting great performances from them both.

What happens in season 3 of a TV show?:

You’ve worn out the various permutations of relationships among the principal cast. Do you… a) go around once more? B) kill off a character? C) introduce a new lead? Why not surprise them and break the mold. Remember, The Wire was reinvented every year.

Working with Brad Pitt:

At times our disagreements erupted. We yelled, swore, threw chairs. The crew would walk away and let us have it out. But after each blow up, we’d make up and mean it. It was never personal; Brad’s a good guy. The movie we made reflects our passion.

Brad wasn’t pleased with my cut. He felt I’d underplayed the character’s madness. He was also unhappy when People Magazine named him Sexiest Man of the Year. After we were both nominated (and lost) at the Golden Globes, Brad and I didn’t speak for a year.

There can be only one:

When Zemeckis was directing Used Cars, Spielberg started to take over. Kurt Russell told him, ‘I can take direction from you or I can take direction from Bob. I don’t care who, but it can only be one of you.’ Spielberg apologized. He didn’t on Poltergeist, though.

Ahead of schedule:

By lunch on Welles’ first day the studio was angry he hadn’t gotten a shot. By 3 they were apoplectic. Minutes before wrap they were about to fire him when he called action. The 7 minute opening shot of Touch Of Evil is genius. “Cut!” he yelled. “We’re 3 days ahead!”

Jim Belushi:

As we stood on the platform shouting ‘Fuck You, No, Fuck You’ the train sped off for another loop. With it went the crew. I remember the producer’s horrified face pressed against the window as they disappeared. The deserted platform was suddenly quiet.

After a few more fuck you’s we were running out of dialogue. Suddenly I heard myself say, “Jim… I’m scared. If we fall behind, I’ll get fired. Maybe they’ll fire us both.” He looked at me. “Aw, don’t worry,” he said, “I got ya.” And pulled me into a hug.

All this has got to be for a book or something, right? Or should be…

Giving Is a Form of Attention

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 08, 2022

I’ve been reading David Whyte’s Consolations over the past couple of weeks, skipping around, seeking illumination, counsel, and understanding for some of life’s present challenges. The chapter on giving was particularly resonant; here’s an excerpt:

Giving means paying attention and creating imaginative contact with the one to whom we are giving; it is a form of attention itself, a way of acknowledging and giving thanks for lives other than our own.

The first step in giving may be to create a budget, to make a list or to browse a shopfront or the web, but the essential deed is done through the door of contemplation: of the person, the charity, the cause, finding the essence of the need, the person or the relationship. Out of this image comes the surprise of understanding and the ability again to surprise the recipient by showing that someone else understands them and, through a display of virtuosity, can even identify needs they cannot admit themselves. The full genius of gift-giving is found when we give what a person does not fully feel they deserve, but that does not overstretch the point; it is the appropriate but surprising next step in their lives. It disarms and moves and empowers all at once, while gratifying the one who gives beyond most everyday satisfactions.

To give is to make an imaginative journey and put oneself in the body, the mind and the anticipation of another. To give is to make our own identities more real in the world by committing to something specific in the other person and something tangible that could represent that quality. To give is also to carry out the difficult task of putting something of our own essence in what we have given. The perfect gift may be tiny and inexpensive, but accompanied by a note that moves the recipient; the perfect gift may be enormous, extravagant, expensive and jaw-dropping as a courageous act of flamboyance and devil-may-care love, but to give appropriately always involves a tiny act of courage, a step of coming to meet, of saying I see you, and appreciate you and am also making an implicit promise for the future.

See also Friendship, an essay of Whyte’s I revisit every few months.

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On, The Movie

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 07, 2022

Dean Fleischer-Camp and Jenny Slate are turning the subject of their series of short films into a feature length movie. Marcel The Shell With Shoes On, shot in a mockumentary style, features the titular character searching for his family. The trailer is very cute. Here’s the original short, from 2010. (via cool stuff ride home)

Alphabet Truck

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 07, 2022

Over a period of four years and after thousands of miles of driving, Eric Tabuchi photographed the backs of semi-trailers with letters of the alphabet on them, eventually compiling all 26 letters. Here’s the first dozen:

Alphabet Truck

(via present & correct)

The Holodomor: When Stalin Starved Ukraine

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 07, 2022

In the early 1930s, desiring the bountiful wheat harvests of its farmlands to sell to Europe and wanting to subjugate its people, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin carried out a genocide in Ukraine that killed millions and hid it behind the guise of food shortages. It’s known as the Holodomor.

In Ukraine, it’s become known as “the Holodomor,” meaning “death by starvation.” It was a genocide carried out by a dictator who wanted to keep Ukraine under his control and who would do anything to keep it covered up for decades.

In the 1930s, Soviet leaders under Joseph Stalin engineered a famine that killed millions as they sought to consolidate agricultural power. In Ukraine, they used additional force as they sought to clamp down on a burgeoning Ukrainian national identity. There, at least 4 million died. As hunger spread among residents, Stalin spearheaded a disinformation campaign to hide the truth from other Soviet citizens and the world. So many Ukrainians died that officials had to send people to resettle the area, setting off demographic shifts that last to this day.

Collecting Bodies in Bucha

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 07, 2022

The details of the atrocities committed against the people of Bucha, Ukraine by Russian soldiers are more horrifying than language has words for. Luke Mogelson and photographer James Nachtwey are reporting for the New Yorker from Bucha as loved ones and volunteers try to make sense of the destruction. Note: the descriptions and photos in this piece may be disturbing (but IMO, we cannot turn away from this). This is one of the tamer paragraphs:

On the far side of a stretch of railroad tracks, two elderly women had been killed in their house. One lay in the doorway, another in the kitchen. Both were bundled in heavy winter coats. Neighbors said that they had been sisters, both in their seventies. Their small house was filled with hardcover books, and they did not own a television; it was impossible not to imagine their quiet, literary life together before it was annihilated. In the only bedroom, two narrow mattresses were pushed together and covered by a single blanket.

Update: From the NY Times, Bucha’s Month of Terror.

As the Russian advance on Kyiv stalled in the face of fierce resistance, civilians said, the enemy occupation of Bucha slid into a campaign of terror and revenge. When a defeated and demoralized Russian Army finally retreated, it left behind a grim tableau: bodies of dead civilians strewn on streets, in basements or in backyards, many with gunshot wounds to their heads, some with their hands tied behind their backs.

We Have the Tools to Fix the Climate. We Just Need to Use Them.

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 06, 2022

A new video from Kurzgesagt is designed to provide a little hope that humans can figure a way out of the climate crisis, without being overly pollyannish.

And so for many the future looks grim and hopeless. Young people feel particularly anxious and depressed. Instead of looking ahead to a lifetime of opportunity they wonder if they will even have a future or if they should bring kids into this world. It’s an age of doom and hopelessness and giving up seems the only sensible thing to do.

But that’s not true. You are not doomed. Humanity is not doomed.

There’s been progress in the last decade, in terms of economics, technology, policy, and social mores. It’s not happening fast enough to limit warming to 1.5°C, but if progress continues, gains accumulate, people keep pushing, and politicians start to figure out where the momentum is heading, we can get things under control before there’s a global apocalypse.

The Del Monte $20 Bill

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 06, 2022

A misprinted $20 bill with a Del Monte banana sticker on it

Somehow, during the printing process at a US Treasury Department printing facility, this $20 bill got a Del Monte banana sticker affixed to it…and then the seal and serial number was printed over it. The bill, known as the Del Monte Note, was sold at auction in January 2021 for $396,000.

The Museum of Endangered Technology Sounds

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 06, 2022

screenshot from The Museum of Endangered Sounds website

The Museum of Endangered Sounds is a soundboard of dozens of sounds from old technologies, from the ICQ message notification (“uh oh!”) to the Windows 95 startup sound to a rotary telephone to a dial-up modem. Suuuuper nostalgic.

See also Conserve the Sound. (via swissmiss)

Yes, But…

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 06, 2022

you should wash your hands after using the bathroom, but then you need to pull the door to exit

spring flowers are pretty but they will make you sneeze

the finished cake does not look like the photo from the recipe

you bought your cat a huge play tower, but all she wants to do is sit in a cardboard box

the package says 'Happy Chicken' but it still got butchered

I love this series of simple comics that contrast two opposing views of the same situations. (via @thegreaterbombay)

Michelin Star Onions

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 05, 2022

I don’t know why I thought that chefs at really high-end restaurants cut onions the same way I do at home (except perhaps more carefully), but it turns out that they absolutely do not. The rationale behind the fussiness makes sense: the pieces need to be small enough to “melt away” when you’re making sauces. (via digg)

Aerial Photos of Vast Solar Farms

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 05, 2022

a solar farm photographed from the air

a solar farm photographed from the air

a solar farm photographed from the air

For his Solar Power Series, photographer Tom Hegen aerially photographed solar power plants in France, Spain, and the US. It’s not an accident that some of these look like flowers and plants — the compact geometry to ideally capture solar power is similar in both instances.

In a single hour, the amount of power from the sun that strikes the Earth is more than the entire world consumes in a year. Having this in mind, renewable energy sources could be the key to combating climate change.

What does transforming towards more sustainable sources of energy look like?

(via colossal)

There’s No One In That Spider-Man Suit: Superhero Movies and Digital Doubles

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 05, 2022

If you’ve seen a superhero film in the past 10-15 years, chances are that when you see a character wearing a suit, what you’re seeing is almost 100% computer generated. Sometimes the character on the screen is motion-captured but sometimes it’s completely animated. It’s amazing how much these movies are made like animated movies — they can make so many different kinds of changes (clothes, movements, body positioning) way after filming is completed. (via @tvaziri)

Overseen Text Messages

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 05, 2022

a photo of a text message chat between two people who miss each other

a photo of a text message chat about the future and strawberries

#nyc is photographer Jeff Mermelstein’s collection of photos he’s taken on the streets of NYC of text messages on people’s phone screens. From a review of the book at LensCulture:

At once detached and intimate, we are offered a collection of fragmentary texts that register the daily life events and feelings of a city’s occupants, a raw vox pop assortment of broken and interrupted and incomplete messages. We watch users reading, texting and even editing on their phones. There are texts about break ups, declarations of love, dreams, lusts, illnesses, affairs, abortion, pregnancy, death, sexual proclivities, money, as well as recipes, cooking, dirty shower curtains and roach traps. Some messages remain unfathomable and enigmatic: “The nun said, ‘That’s OK…”

I wonder about the privacy aspect of this, but it’s always fascinating to see how other people communicate.

“Things Have Gotten Less Clear As I Have Gotten Older”

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 04, 2022

I have been really in my feelings lately — about relationships, work, parenting, the general state of the world, and my own bullshit — and well, this video meditation by Hank Green was really lovely to watch with my emotional thermostat turned up to 11. He called the video “I Don’t Have a Good Title for This Video” and I don’t really have a good way to describe it either, so maybe just take 4 minutes and watch it? (via waxy)

Impressive Drone Fly-Through Video of a New Tesla Factory

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 04, 2022

This drone fly-through of Tesla’s new factory in Berlin is amazing. I’ve never seen anything quite like this — the drone flies through the robotic machinery in between cycles of stamping out parts and also through the cars as they are being assembled. A uniquely effective how-things-are-made video.

Recently Unearthed Film Footage of Prince at 11 Years Old

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 04, 2022

While reviewing some old film footage of a 1970 teacher’s strike stored in the archives of WCCO in Minneapolis, a production manager stumbled across an amazing artifact: a brief interview with Prince. I love when they show the clip to his childhood friends for confirmation that it’s actually him. (via, who else, anil)

Update: The NY Times did a piece on the discovery of the video.

Short as the interview is, it gives context to the causes Prince would later support, such as public education, labor rights and fair compensation for artists, said Elliott H. Powell, a professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota who teaches a course on Prince.

The interview with the young Prince was conducted in north Minneapolis, a predominantly Black part of the city where young activists led uprisings in the 1960s protesting police brutality, the harassment of young Black people in white-owned businesses, and commercial development that was decimating the neighborhood, Professor Powell said.

“Prince is growing up in that environment and seeing the impact of Black youth activists,” he said.

An Elegant Bamboo Structure in Vietnam

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 01, 2022

the exterior view of a welcome center made from bamboo

interior view of a welcome center made from bamboo

Vo Trong Nghia Architects designed this resort welcome center on Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam out of approximately 42,000 pieces of bamboo, rope, and bamboo pins. Beautiful. From Dezeen:

Skylights incorporated into the building’s thatched roof also allow daylight to illuminate the interior, while the grid system enables breezes to ventilate the space naturally.

“The light comes in beautifully and, along with the natural colour of bamboo, creates a warm and intimate atmosphere, even though the structure is very open in terms of airflow,” the studio added.

(via colossal)

Comic Helvetic, an Unholy Combo of Comic Sans and Helvetica

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 01, 2022

text reads 'this font is good for official documents'

In some workplaces, people use Helvetica to conduct business because it conveys a sense of order and authority. In other workplaces, people use Comic Sans, which conveys a sense of casual chaos. Designer Alexander Pravdin decided to combine the two typefaces into one diabolical font: Comic Helvetic. You can download it here.

the words 'Comic Helvetic' set in three different typefaces

a list of some OpenType features

If you need me for the rest of the day, I’ll be over in the corner trying to decide where these three typefaces fit on the alignment chart. (via print)

Update: See also Comic Neue. (via @DirkOlbrich)

The Highest Resolution Photo of the Sun Ever Taken

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 01, 2022

very high resolution image of the Sun

The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter recently took 25 images of the Sun from a distance of 46 million miles that, when stitched all together, form the highest resolution photo of the Sun (and its corona) ever created.

The high-resolution telescope of EUI takes pictures of such high spatial resolution that, at that close distance, a mosaic of 25 individual images is needed to cover the entire Sun. Taken one after the other, the full image was captured over a period of more than four hours because each tile takes about 10 minutes, including the time for the spacecraft to point from one segment to the next.

In total, the final image contains more than 83 million pixels in a 9148 x 9112 pixel grid. For comparison, this image has a resolution that is ten times better than what a 4K TV screen can display.

You can zoom in on the image here to see how remarkably detailed it is.

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