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The Missing Bill Murray Scene From Asteroid City

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 30, 2023

Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman in a fake promo for Asteroid City

Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman in a fake promo for Asteroid City

So, ever since I’d heard that Bill Murray had to drop out of filming Asteroid City, I’ve wondered which role he’d meant to play. After seeing the movie, I thought it was either the grandfather (played by Tom Hanks) or the hotel manager (Steve Carell) and it was Carell’s role:

Murray was originally cast as a motel manager in the desert town where the movie is set, in 1955. “Normally, I don’t think it’s such a nice idea to tell everyone the person who didn’t end up in the movie,” Anderson said recently. “But Bill got covid in Ireland, and it was four days before he was supposed to work.” Murray was in Ireland for a family trip (“And usually golf has something to do with it,” Anderson said), en route to Spain, where “Asteroid City” was shooting. With Murray in quarantine, Anderson scrambled to recast the part. “The movie was a jigsaw puzzle of actors’ schedules, so we couldn’t wait,” he recalled. “We were extremely lucky that Steve Carell said yes — and was perfect in the part.”

Murray showed up to the set anyway after he recovered and he and Anderson filmed tongue-so-firmly-in-cheek-I-don’t-even-have-the-right-metaphor-for-it promo for the film that perfectly complements the film’s meta structure.

Then, the day after the movie wrapped, Anderson and Murray concocted an idea: in a metatheatrical curlicue, Murray would play a character who was cut from the film. Anderson corralled Schwartzman, who plays a war photographer (and the actor playing the war photographer), and they shot a short scene in the style of a retro promotional trailer for a Hollywood film, in which a director or a studio executive would give a stilted pitch for an exciting new picture. Think of the Paramount head Robert Evans boosting “Love Story” and “The Godfather,” or Cecil B. DeMille hyping his 1934 production of “Cleopatra.” Anderson recalled, “We made this very peculiar thing that is just a spontaneous creation before the set was going to be struck down. It was the last thing we did. And then we put all our things in the golf cart and drove off into the sunset.”

[I know, this is a lot of Asteroid City stuff — maybe you don’t care about this quite so much? He gets like this about stuff he likes. It’s ok, he’ll grow tired of it in a few days and the site will go back to being about *checks notes* everything else in this whole wide world. -ed]

The Supreme Court Is Headed Back to the 19th Century. “The justices again appear poised to pursue a purely theoretical liberty at the expense of the lives of people of color.” This 2018 piece by Adam Serwer was right-on.
How book bans threaten democracy. “The restrictions are escalating into threats to defund public libraries.”
The non-profit Nuclear Threat Initiative has released an official statement on Barbenheimer. (No, really!) “NTI has concluded that the only sensible ‘Barbenheimer’ viewing order is Oppenheimer first, followed by Barbie.”

“The Supreme Court Has Killed Affirmative Action. Mediocre Whites Can Rest Easier.”

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 30, 2023

Elie Mystal writing for the Nation on the Supreme Court’s recent decision that declared affirmative action in college admissions unconstitutional.

But the death of affirmative action was not achieved merely through the machinations of Republican lawyers. While conservatives on the Supreme Court delivered the fatal blow, the policy has long been made vulnerable by the soft bigotry of parents, whose commitment to integration and equality turns cold the moment their little cherubs fail to get into their first choice of college or university. If you want to see a white liberal drop the pretense that they care about systemic racism and injustice, just tell them that their privately tutored kid didn’t get into whatever “elite” school they were hoping for. If you want to make an immigrant family adopt a Klansman’s view of the intelligence, culture, and work ethic of Black folks, tell them that their kid’s standardized test scores are not enough to guarantee entry into ivy-draped halls of power. Some of the most horribly racist claptrap folks have felt comfortable saying to my face has been said in the context of people telling me why they don’t like affirmative action, or why my credentials are somehow “unearned” because they were “given” to me by affirmative action.

That last bit is in some ways the most devastating: Black people are attacked and shamed simply because the policy exists, regardless of whether it benefited them or not. I’ve had white folks whom I could standardize-test into a goddamn coma tell me that I got into school only because of affirmative action. I once talked to a white guy — whose parents’ name was on one of the buildings on campus — who asked me how it felt to know I got “extra help” to get in. The sheer nerve of white folks is sometimes jaw-dropping.

I recommended this yesterday in a Quick Link, but Scene On Radio’s episode of their Seeing White series on White Affirmative Action is great.

Harvard Admits First White Student. “After nearly four centuries in existence, we are finally able to leave behind our woeful legacy of discrimination and accept our first student of Caucasian descent.”

The 150 Most Legendary Restaurants in the World & Their Most Iconic Dishes

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 29, 2023

a list of the top 50 most legendary restaurants in the world

From TasteAtlas, a listing of the 150 Most Legendary Restaurants in the World & Their Iconic Dishes. These aren’t necessarily the best restaurants on Earth, but places that have “withstood the test of time, eschewing trendy gimmicks in favor of traditional, high-quality cuisine”.

Here are a few of the entries from the list that I’ve either been to or would like to go to someday (ok, almost the whole list would have qualified for that):

2. Katz’s Delicatessen (pastrami on rye)
10. Gino e Toto Sorbillo (pizza margherita)
22. Schwartz’s Deli (Montreal-style smoked meat)
25. Peter Luger Steak House (dry-aged porterhouse)
34. El Rinconcillo (tapas)
42. O Thanasis (souvlaki)
47. Au Pied de Cochon (soupe à l’oignon)
95. Le Relais de l’Entrecote (steak frites)

Schwartz’s is iconic, but I think Snowdon Deli has better smoked meat. In the same vein, I’ve had good steak and not-so-good steak at Luger’s — as far as an iconic NYC steakhouse goes, I would have gone for Keen’s.

I’m sure any food fan worth their (don’t say it, don’t say it) salt (ugh) could come up with a few dozen restaurants that could/should be on this list, but 150 is certainly a good start! Soba, bratwurst, ćevapi, udon, churrasco, kofte, phở, ramen, ceviche, sushi, risotto, bouillabaisse, dim sum, BBQ, Peking duck, biryani, xiao long bao…man, I’m so hungry now!

The Winners of the 2023 Audubon Photography Awards

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 29, 2023

a bright yellow and brown bird collects material for its nest

a small white and gray bird jumps back from a wave

an egret catches a fish

The National Audubon Society has announced the winners of the 2023 Audubon Photography Awards. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites above (from top to bottom, photos by Sandra Rothenberg, Kieran Barlow, and Nathan Arnold). Oh, and don’t miss the pair of videos from Steven Chu…

A free digital safety guide to protecting yourself during online harassment attacks. “It is especially designed for women, Black, indigenous, and people of color, trans people, and [others] whose existing oppressions are made worse by digital violence”.
Great podcast episode on affirmative action: “When it comes to U.S. government programs and support earmarked for the benefit of particular racial groups, history is clear. White folks have received most of the goodies.”

The Radical Theology of Mr. Rogers

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 29, 2023

From Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, a piece on the still-radical teachings of Fred Rogers, who emphasized the “love thy neighbor” part of the Bible rather than the twisted “persecute the other” version that has taken hold in so-called Christian communities in America over the past few decades.

Fred Rogers was a Presbyterian minister whose life’s work was, I believe, built almost entirely (if not entirely) around Leviticus 19:18: “Love your neighbor as yourself: I am God.” Hence… the neighborhood. In practice it that looked like this (all of these are his words): “To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way [they are], right here and now.” and “Everyone longs to be loved. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.”

Part of his philosophy was acknowledging that, because we loved them, we needed to have truthful, difficult conversations with our children.

When Bobby Kennedy was murdered that same year, he did something that’s pretty much impossible to our world today.

He had a puppet tiger ask an actor:

“What does ‘assassination’ mean?”

He knew that small children would be hearing this word, and that they would be aware that something major had happened. And that most of the time, when adults are preoccupied with communal tragedy and trauma, children get left out-to their own detriment.

Better they should know, in an age-appropriate way, and be given the tools to cope, than to be left out in the cold, as he put it, “at the mercy of their own imaginations.”

Again, naming true things and simply holding space to let children deal with them — rather than trying to hide or minimize or gaslight because it seems too hard.

That’s love.

(via @CultureDesk)

After 20 years of observations, scientists find “strong evidence” that the universe is awash with huge gravitational waves (w/ wavelengths of tens of light years). “The Earth is jiggling due to gravitational waves that are sweeping our Galaxy.”
For decades, it was pretty much just assumed that men hunted and women gathered in pre-agricultural societies but in a recent analysis of humans remains, “they found about half of the time people buried with hunting tools were female”.

The 40 Greatest Tech Books of All Time

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 29, 2023

books covers for Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs and The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder

The Verge has published a list of the 40 best nonfiction books about “tech” (which relates to the industry centered around Silicon Valley & the internet and not technology in general). I was pleased to see Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire Evans and Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs on there, as well as Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents by Ellen Ullman and Neil Postman’s Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. I’m baffled that Tracy Kidder’s amazing The Soul of a New Machine didn’t make the top 5 or even 10.

But reading through the rest of the list, it occurred to me that I don’t really read tech books — and if I did, I didn’t get a whole lot from them. When I was younger and trying to understand the industry and momentous period I was participating in, I generally looked to books outside of tech as guides. I read things like How Buildings Learn by Steward Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs, Chaos by James Gleick, The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander, and Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud.

Anyway, back to the list — it seems incomplete in a way that I can’t quite articulate. I would have liked to have seen Tom Standage’s The Victorian Internet on there. What else? I would like to hear about your favorite books about tech (or non-tech books that are sneakily about tech anyway) or what you think might be missing from the list. Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Update: Some great additional suggestions from the comments:

As many commenters noted, it’s hard to see how Hackers was left off this list. And My Tiny Life…it anticipated so much about how social media was going to function.

CEO’s Skill Set Transferable To Any Job That Requires Dumbass To Receive Big Salary. “No matter what the industry is, if they need a complete doofus who makes tons of money, I’m their guy.”
NY Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán threw what is just the 24th perfect game in major league history last night. 9 innings, 99 pitches, 0 hits, 0 walks.
Variety: The 10 Best Films of the Year (So Far). They include Air, Flamin’ Hot, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Variety: The 10 Best TV Shows of the Year (So Far). The Bear, Succession, Jury Duty, and Poker Face are all on the list.
The Death Cult of the American Car. It’s obvious how to make the roads safer for cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers alike. We just don’t do it.
Simone Biles is returning to competitive gymnastics for the first time since the 2020 Olympics.

Behind the Scenes of Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 28, 2023

The other day I posted about how contemporary filmmakers, Wes Anderson in particular, use miniatures in their films. The model/prop maker featured, Simon Weisse, has worked with Anderson on several films, including his latest, Asteroid City. Weisse has been posting behind-the-scenes shots of his studio’s work on Asteroid City to his under-followed Instagram account and I thought a separate post highlighting some of those props and miniatures would be fun.

a model train in the desert

a vending machine that dispenses martinis

three asteroids of different sizes in cages

a model of an asteroid impact crater next to two model makers

a model maker inspects a model alien spaceship

This video shows a bunch more of the miniatures used in the movie:

I also ran across a few behind-the-scenes videos of the production if you’re in the mood to deep-dive (as I appear to be):

If you’re lucky enough to be in London in the next week and a half, you can go and see some of these props and sets and even eat at the diner at 180 Studios. Very. Jealous.

‘Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse’ Editor Confirms Multiple Versions Of Film In Theaters. “The idea of multiple versions of a movie about multiple versions of Spider-Man is deliciously meta.”
Humans have pumped so much groundwater out of the ground that it’s changed the tilt of the Earth’s axis 31.5 inches to the east.
Trump’s animatronic in Disney’s Hall of Presidents was repurposed from presumed election winner Hillary Clinton’s. “They probably originally tried to salvage the animatronic by keeping Hillary’s skull and putting Trump’s skin over top of it.”

Footage of the First NYC Gay Pride Parade in 1970

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 28, 2023

From the Library of Congress, footage of the first gay pride march in NYC in 1970. The march, called the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade, was held on June 28 to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. From Gothamist:

The Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day March started in Greenwich Village at about 2 p.m. that day in 1970, just outside the Stonewall Inn, which was then for rent, having closed the previous October.

As they gathered, the marchers were few, and brave. There were groups from Washington, DC and Boston, college organizations from Rutgers, Yale and Columbia. Some transgender people who were there at the time said that organizers asked them to march in the back, but they refused.

“The trans community said, ‘Hell no, we won’t go.’ We fought for this as much as you did, or even started it,” said Victoria Cruz. “And we just mingled throughout the crowd. There was no trans contingent. We just mingled.”

They started walking very briskly up Christopher Street, because they were scared. There had been bomb threats. People worried they would be shot at, or harassed again by the police. Martin Boyce was there, and he says that afterwards they joked it was “the first run.”

“I was worried about being single file, because I just watched a program on National Geographic about wildebeests and I saw how the ones on the side were picked off. So I thought I would stay in the middle — but there was no middle.”

As the march went on, it gathered people & momentum and they eventually made it without major incident to Central Park.

A group at MIT is developing a megawatt electric motor for use in airplanes. “To electrify larger, heavier jets, such as commercial airliners, megawatt-scale motors are required.”
The 25 Most Influential Works of Postwar Queer Literature, including work from James Baldwin, Alison Bechdel, Tony Kushner, Leslie Feinberg, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich.

What If Ruff, But Too Much?

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 28, 2023

painting in a Rococo style of a woman with an absurdly large ruff

painting in a Rococo style of a woman with an absurdly large ruff

painting in a Rococo style of a man with an absurdly large ruff

Love these absurdist portraits of over-luxuriated nobles in the style of Rococo and Baroque European painters by Volker Hermes. You can check out more of his work on Instagram. (via colossal)

“An inhaled Covid vaccine booster was more than 5-fold effective for inducing neutralizing antibodies at 28-days, and more durable at 1-year, than shots, vs Omicron BA.5 in a randomized trial.”

How NASA Writes Space-Proof Code

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 27, 2023

When you write some code and put it on a spacecraft headed into the far reaches of space, you need to it work, no matter what. Mistakes can mean loss of mission or even loss of life. In 2006, Gerard Holzmann of the NASA/JPL Laboratory for Reliable Software wrote a paper called The Power of 10: Rules for Developing Safety-Critical Code. The rules focus on testability, readability, and predictability:

  1. Avoid complex flow constructs, such as goto and recursion.
  2. All loops must have fixed bounds. This prevents runaway code.
  3. Avoid heap memory allocation.
  4. Restrict functions to a single printed page.
  5. Use a minimum of two runtime assertions per function.
  6. Restrict the scope of data to the smallest possible.
  7. Check the return value of all non-void functions, or cast to void to indicate the return value is useless.
  8. Use the preprocessor sparingly.
  9. Limit pointer use to a single dereference, and do not use function pointers.
  10. Compile with all possible warnings active; all warnings should then be addressed before release of the software.

All this might seem a little inside baseball if you’re not a software developer (I caught only about 75% of it — the video embedded above helped a lot), but the goal of the Power of 10 rules is to ensure that developers are working in such a way that their code does the same thing every time, can be tested completely, and is therefore more reliable.

Even here on Earth, perhaps more of our software should work this way. In 2011, NASA applied these rules in their analysis of unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles and found 243 violations of 9 out of the 10 rules. Are the self-driving features found in today’s cars written with these rules in mind or can recursive, untestable code run off into infinities while it’s piloting people down the freeway at 70mph?

And what about AI? Anil Dash recently argued that today’s AI is unreasonable:

Amongst engineers, coders, technical architects, and product designers, one of the most important traits that a system can have is that one can reason about that system in a consistent and predictable way. Even “garbage in, garbage out” is an articulation of this principle — a system should be predictable enough in its operation that we can then rely on it when building other systems upon it.

This core concept of a system being reason-able is pervasive in the intellectual architecture of true technologies. Postel’s Law (“Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send.”) depends on reasonable-ness. The famous IETF keywords list, which offers a specific technical definition for terms like “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “SHOULD”, and “SHOULD NOT”, assumes that a system will behave in a reasonable and predictable way, and the entire internet runs on specifications that sit on top of that assumption.

The very act of debugging assumes that a system is meant to work in a particular way, with repeatable outputs, and that deviations from those expectations are the manifestation of that bug, which is why being able to reproduce a bug is the very first step to debugging.

Into that world, let’s introduce bullshit. Today’s highly-hyped generative AI systems (most famously OpenAI) are designed to generate bullshit by design.

I bet NASA will be very slow and careful in deciding to run AI systems on spacecraft — after all, they know how 2001: A Space Odyssey ends just as well as the rest of us do.

The Password Game. Choosing an appropriate password is difficult when the rules are increasingly preposterous (e.g. “Your password must include today’s Wordle answer.”)

The Wellington Family

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 27, 2023

illustrations of foods like Beef Wellington: hot pocket, corn dog, pigs in a blanket, etc.

Meet the members of the Wellington Family, foods related in spirit and structure to Beef Wellington: pigs in a blanket, Hot Pockets, corn dogs, and Pop Tarts.

See also The Cube Rule of Food, which suggests that the Wellington Family actually belongs to the larger Calzone Clan but sadly that pigs in a blanket are actually sushi.

P.S. I found this illustration here but couldn’t trace the original source. Happy to give credit is anyone knows where this is from…

Update: The creator of the Wellington Family illustration is Jade Robin of Otter Mage Designs. (thx, ben)

I Tried to Cut Small Talk Out My Life. It Went Badly. Perhaps small talk (“How’s work?”) is better than the alternative (“What excites you right now?”)
How Did Birds First Take Off? Here’s what we currently know about how dinosaurs became birds. “Paleontologists now suspect that the ancestor of all dinosaurs had feathers. And recent discoveries hint that feathers preceded dinosaurs.”

Design Notes on the Alphabet

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 27, 2023

some funny design notes on the alphabet

From XKCD, some notes on the design of the alphabet. I actually hadn’t noticed the spacing of the vowels before.

See also The Evolution of the Alphabet.

Is the Army’s New Tactical Bra Ready for Deployment? “Yes, it’s flame-resistant, but what else can it do? Shoot bullets? Hypnotize the enemy? Turn its wearer invisible?”
The Emancipation Proclamation will be placed on permanent display in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building next to the other founding documents of our country (Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights).
via @overholt
A single dose of MDMA caused a white nationalist to reconsider his views and actions. “Love is the most important thing. Nothing matters without love.”

It’s Time To Subsidize E-Bikes

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 27, 2023

My pal Clive Thompson, who is in the midst of a two-part bicycle ride across the United States and is writing a book on micromobility, thinks local, state, and federal governments should start offering substantial subsidies for e-bikes in order to help reduce car usage, decrease urban pollution, and to lower the cost of transportation for lower-income families.

The thing is, we should lean heavily into subsidies for electric bikes — now.

If Denver’s experience is any guide, it’d be a huge boon for town, cities, and even many suburbs. Ebikes can’t be used to replace all car travel, of course; but as folks who experiment with them discover, wow, you start leaving your car at home a lot. If towns and cities are smart about how they organize and issue these credits, they can also help lower-income families add much cheaper mobility to their transportation options. Denver found that low-income-qualified folks who bought ebikes rode them almost 50% more than other voucher-getters, probably because the ebike became, hands-down, their most affordable way to travel.

We’re also not talking about a ton of money here. Ebike subsidies are considerably cheaper than those for cars or solar arrays. Even a few hundred bucks of subsidy per e-bike could help drop the price down to something competitive with a regular pedal bike. If all three levels of government worked together — federal, state, and local — the US could find the money for an absolute ton of ebike support, I suspect. (We could also consider reallocating some of the estimated $20 billion in annual subsidies that US taxpayers currently hand out to oil and gas companies.)

Hear, hear. I recently bought an e-bike (more on that in a future post) and went online looking for local subsidies. Vermont had an e-bike incentive program that ran for barely two months in 2022:

The eBike Incentive Program launched July 21, 2022, but closed shortly afterwards on September 16, 2022 when the $105,000 authorized in program funding was exhausted. Vermont residents aged 16 or older were eligible on a first-come, first-served basis for up to $400 towards the purchase of an electric bicycle, with higher incentives for households and individuals with lower incomes.

Bummer. The local power company offers $200 rebates though, which is nice.

Update: Vermont just refreshed their incentive program with an additional $150,000 a few days ago. Huzzah! (thx, rintze)

Also good on the Russian micro-coup: Masha Gessen’s recap for the New Yorker. “But this past weekend Russians…saw something extraordinary. They saw real political conflict. They saw someone other than Putin act politically…”
FYI, you can buy yourself a “The Original Berf of Chicagoland” t-shirt. According to Cousin, it’s a collector’s item! #TheBear
Prigozhin’s March on Moscow, Ten Lessons From a Mutiny. Another good catch-up piece on the Russian micro-coup from Timothy Snyder.

The Ambient Machine

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 26, 2023

The Ambient Machine, a piece of electronics with a bunch of switches on the front that toggle different sounds

Yuri Suzuki’s The Ambient Machine is a device for creating atmosphere, playing ambient sounds. The machine has 32 toggle switches on it; each switch actives a different sound (waves, running water, birds, wind, white noise) that you can blend to create your perfect aural backdrop.

The Ambient Machine provides us with a variety of sounds and music that we can use to design our own background ambience. White noise can mask unpleasant sounds around us and give us a sense of relief, Natural sounds can provide the feeling of relocating to a new environment, providing a break from the environments we have been confined to, and musical rhythms can provide patterns for us to find stability with.

Only 20 models of the original machine were created and sold, but you can preorder a slightly different version for ¥143,000 (~$1,000).

The Value of Reparations

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 26, 2023

In 1990, the US government sent $20,000 and a formal letter of apology to more than 82,000 Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in concentration camps during World War II. Morgan Ome, whose grandfather was imprisoned and got a check, looks at the effect this had on those who received it and how the reparative process might look for other communities (Black and Native Americans).

In one of the letters, the daughter of an incarceree tells how the $20,000, invested in her family’s home equity and compounded over time, ultimately enabled her to attend Yale. “The redress money my family received has always been a tailwind at my back, making each step of the way a tiny bit easier,” she wrote. Just as her family was able to build generational equity, she hoped that Black Americans, too, would have “the choice to invest in education, homeownership, or whatever else they know will benefit their families, and, through the additional choices that wealth provides, to be a little more free.”

In addition to money, acts of formal apology, an on-going acknowledgment of harm, and a public process can be important to those harmed:

A $20,000 check could not reestablish lost flower fields, nor could it resurrect a formerly proud and vibrant community. Still, the money, coupled with an official apology, helped alleviate the psychological anguish that many incarcerees endured. Lorraine Bannai, who worked on Fred Korematsu’s legal team alongside Don Tamaki, almost never talked with her parents about the incarceration. Yet, after receiving reparations, her mother confided that she had lived under a cloud of guilt for decades, and it had finally been lifted. “My reaction was: ‘You weren’t guilty of anything. How could you think that?’” Bannai told me. “But on reflection, of course she would think that. She was put behind barbed wire and imprisoned.”

Yamamoto, the law professor in Hawaii, stresses that the aims of reparations are not simply to compensate victims but to repair and heal their relationship with society at large. Kenniss Henry, a national co-chair of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, told me that her own view of reparations has evolved over time. She sees value in processes such as community hearings and reports documenting a state’s history of harm. “It is necessary to have some form of direct payment, but reparations represent more than just a check,” she said.

How Wes Anderson Uses Miniatures to Create His Distinctive Worlds

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 26, 2023

Vox talks to prop & model maker Simon Weisse, who made miniatures for Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, about the perhaps surprising popularity of miniatures in contemporary filmmaking, when the technique works and when it doesn’t (e.g. when unscalable elements like rain or fire/explosions are involved), and why certain directors use it instead of CGI.

Miniatures in movies are way more common than you may realize, and one of the most stylish filmmakers keeping them alive is Wes Anderson. In this video we spoke to Simon Weisse, prop maker and model marker for some of Wes Anderson’s recent projects, like The Grand Budapest Hotel, The French Dispatch, and Asteroid City.

Older movies, like 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, had no choice but to use miniatures to make their worlds feel real. But even in the modern day of CGI, filmmakers are still using minis — just look at projects like The Mandalorian, Blade Runner 2049, Harry Potter, and The Dark Knight series. In those movies, miniatures are used for expansive sets that establish the world of a film, otherworldly vehicles like spaceships, and more.

It’s perfect for Anderson’s storybook aesthetic, of course…it looks great in Asteroid City (which I really enjoyed overall).

The U.S. Bicycle Route System, “a developing national network of bicycle routes connecting urban and rural communities via signed roads and trails”. Over 18,000 miles in 34 states and Washington DC.
If you missed this weekend’s Russian micro-coup, this piece by David Remnick is a good place to start catching up. “There came a moment when Prigozhin was no longer Putin’s puppet. Pinocchio became a real boy.”
This summer, Middlebury, VT is hosting an 11-hole Feminist Mini Golf course. “The kaleidoscopic course blends the vivid cotton candy world of traditional mini golf within a complex art installation that addresses issues related to reproduction…”

Chris Ware Does Candide

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 26, 2023

extremely detailed comic cover of Voltaire's Candide by Chris Ware

This is apparently extremely old news (like almost 20 years old), but I ran across the cover that Chris Ware did for Voltaire’s Candide in the bookstore yesterday and it still slaps.

P.S. The book covers tag is pretty good if you want to get distracted/inspired by fantastic design for 30 minutes.

Recent research finds that “simply spending time with others (vs. alone) is not associated with a reduced burden of loneliness and may even backfire”. Anecdotally, I have found this to be true for me at times.
Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson originally drew Calvin’s hair as a mop covering his eyes; his editor suggested he change it and the iconic spiky hair was born.
The decline of American playtime — and how to resurrect it. “If you take away play from children, they’re going to be depressed. What is life for anybody without play?”
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that an American billionaire, in possession of sufficient fortune, must be in want of a Supreme Court justice.”

Lego Stop-Motion Recreation of Iconic Scenes From The Shining

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 22, 2023

The creepy twins. Jack feverish at the typewriter. Danny riding his Big Wheel through carpeted hallways. The elevators of blood. These familiar scenes from Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic The Shining (and several more) have been recreated in this Lego stop-motion animation. The video took 50-60 hours over a three-week period to make and was an exercise in constraints:

“Mostly, it came down to choosing the right pieces,” he says. “I made this movie only with pieces I already had in my collection, so I had to do with just what I had laying around. For instance, the famous carpet pattern in the hallway could have been more realistic, but with the pieces I had, it became a little more abstract. I went with clay for the bloody elevator scene also because I do not have thousands of red translucent pieces.”

(via boing boing)

My e-bike has changed my life. I’m happier, healthier, and more active. My relationship to my community has been completely transformed.”
Everything Must Be Paid for Twice. The first price is the cost of acquisition and then “in order to make use of the thing, you must also pay a second price. This is the effort and initiative required to gain its benefits.”
Bellingcat’s Online Investigation Toolkit, a spreadsheet that includes “satellite and mapping services, tools for verifying photos and videos, websites to archive web pages, and much more”.

The Trailer for 3 Body Problem

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 22, 2023

I loved Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem trilogy (read it twice!) and was excited/apprehensive when Netflix announced they’d partnered with Game of Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff to adapt the books into a TV series. Well, the first trailer is here and has tipped my scales more towards excited. Really looking forward to when this premieres in January March 2024 — if they get it right, this could be something really special.

All episodes of season 2 of The Bear are now streaming on Hulu. 👀

The Reason Why Cancer Is So Hard to Beat

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 21, 2023

Using the metaphor of a cancerous tumor as an unruly village, Kurzgesagt explains how cancer develops in the human body, how the body fights against it, and how, sometimes, the cancer develops into something unmanageable.

In a sense this tiny tumor is like a rogue town. Imagine a group of rebels in Brooklyn decided that they were no longer part of New York but started a new settlement called Tumor Town, which happens to occupy the same space. The new city wants to grow, so it orders tons of steel beams, cement and drywall. New buildings follow no logic, are badly planned, ugly and dangerously crooked. They are built right in the middle of streets, on top of playgrounds and on existing infrastructure. The old neighborhood is torn down or overbuilt to make room for new stuff. Many of the former residents are trapped in the middle of it and begin to starve. This goes on for a while until the smell of death finally attracts attention. Building inspectors and police show up.

Why Pop Radio Stations All Sound the Same

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 21, 2023

On his YouTube channel this week, Phil Edwards explores the question of why all pop music radio stations in the US sound the same. The short answer is consolidation caused by deregulation but the longer answer is worth watching. And if you want more information, Edwards’ list of sources in the video description is pretty extensive.

Abolish Venture Capitalism. “Venture capitalists have supercharged surveillance, [economic impoverishment], and dispossession. Why should we trust them with so much power over the economy?”
Netflix is making an Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series; here’s a very short, very teaser-y trailer.
Search engine logic: The Sega Genesis was also known as the “Mega Drive” so if you search Google for “the book of megadrive”, the top result is for the first book of the Bible.
Max Park struggled with fine motor skills as a kid, a symptom of his autism. Now he’s the fastest in the world at solving a Rubik’s Cube.

Meet Mr. Doodle

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 21, 2023

For some reason, a chap calling himself Mr. Doodle has covered his entire house, like every single inch, with black and white illustrations. As a top commenter says on YouTube, “I would 100% go insane after my 2nd day living in that house but the props I give this man for his work are absolutely immense”. (via boing boing)

“The [Supreme] Court’s majority is so ethically challenged, internally divided, jurisprudentially sloppy, and ideologically polarized that it cannot do a competent job despite what by historical standards is a ridiculously light workload.”
Justice Samuel Alito Took Luxury Fishing Vacation With GOP Billionaire Who Later Had Cases Before the Court. “Republican megadonor Paul Singer’s hedge fund has repeatedly had business before the Supreme Court. Alito has never recused himself.”
Editorial from The Guardian: “The contrast between the frantic hunt for a missing submersible and the failure to save migrants drowning in the Mediterranean is illuminating.”

Book of Earth: A Guide to Ochre, Pigment, and Raw Color

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 20, 2023

Heidi Gustafson is the curator of Ochre Sanctuary, a collection of iron-based earths that are the oldest natural pigments used by humans. In her new Book of Earth, Gustafson details where these pigments come from and how to use them to create art. Here are a few images from the book and the Ochre Sanctuary:

a collection of differently colored pigments

a collection of differently colored pigments

a collection of mostly bluish pigments

Looks like a gorgeous book. Check out her Instagram for more colorful photos of ochres.

Tressie McMillan Cottom on Ted Lasso: “Maybe our little comfort show about positive masculinity was a cautionary tale about romanticizing himpathy all along.”
TIL about the lying flat lifestyle. “Lying flatists refuse to participate in consumerist lifestyles, such as pursuing high-paying jobs, purchasing material possessions, getting married, or having children.”
Antarctic tipping points: the irreversible changes to come if we fail to keep warming below 2°C. “Antarctica has to remain a stable ice-covered continent to avoid the worst impacts of rising seas.”

How Rebar Is Produced in a Japanese Factory

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 20, 2023

The immense scale of the factory and the intense temperatures involved (along with a musical soundtrack that sounds like Interstellar by way of Philip Glass) makes this video about how rebar is made compelling viewing. There are several scenes from this video that would not be out of place in this collection of Real-Life Infrastructure That Looks Like Sci-Fi. And there’s a color gradient moment near the end that’s really lovely. (thx, alex)

A Little Baby With Really Good Taste

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 20, 2023

This conversation with musician Perfume Genius about his creative process is interesting throughout. This is something I relate to 1000%:

I’m good at making things, but not talking about why. I made them because I don’t know how to talk about why. The explanation is the thing I made.

This too is something I try to hold myself to:

I also just do it, you know what I mean? I just make shit. 90% of doing anything is doing it. Not to sound self-help-y, but when people are asking me for advice, my first thought is, you should just do it. You beat so many people already if you just actually make a finished thing.

I am still a perfectionist sort of person, but when your work entails publishing 10-20 things in public every single day, you have to let go of that. Good enough is better than nothing at all.

Embrace your inner little baby (with really good taste):

I essentially have to get back to feeling like I’m a little baby to make things that are good. A baby with really good taste.

One Of Saturn’s Moons Discovered To Have All The Ingredients For Mouthwatering Enchiladas. “…the discovery would completely change the way Americans create easy weeknight dinners in space.”
In Defense of Ted Lasso. “Perhaps Ted Lasso isn’t broken — we are. The show hasn’t stopped working: It’s merely changed to meet the moment.”
The results of a recent survey highlights a massive and growing refugee crisis: “130-260,000 transgender people have already fled their home states” and 1M more are considering leaving because of dangerous anti-trans legislation.

1968 Howard Johnson’s Kids Menu Featuring 2001: A Space Odyssey

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 20, 2023

In the 60s and 70s, Howard Johnson’s was the largest restaurant chain in the US — the restaurants and their associated hotels were ubiquitous while travelling America’s roadways. So it made sense that when Stanley Kubrick needed a hospitality brand for the Earthlight Room on the space station circling Earth in 2001: A Space Odyssey, he reached for HoJo’s.

And of course, even in 1968, you had to do some sort of cross-promotion and, bizarrely, what Howard Johnson’s came up with was a 2001-themed children’s menu.

1968 Howard Johnson's Kids Menu Featuring 2001: A Space Odyssey

Even more weirdly, the menu is not about the movie itself, it’s about a family that goes to see the movie. The whole opening sequence with the apes is omitted entirely, as is the HAL 9000 (arguably the film’s main character) — I suspect the HoJo’s people didn’t get to see the entire movie while putting this together (as evidenced by the “preview edition” graphic in the bottom right corner of the menu’s cover).

1968 Howard Johnson's Kids Menu Featuring 2001: A Space Odyssey

It’s cool to see scenes from the movie rendered in comics form:

1968 Howard Johnson's Kids Menu Featuring 2001: A Space Odyssey

1968 Howard Johnson's Kids Menu Featuring 2001: A Space Odyssey

You can see the entire menu here, including the activity page — just click on one of the images to enter slideshow mode. (via meanwhile)

Update: Fun fact: The food on the 2001-themed kids menu would likely have been developed by Jacques Pépin and Pierre Franey, who were the head chefs at Howard Johnson’s. (via @EineKleine)

Cotton Bureau’s site was down for part of the long weekend, so I’m extending summer sales of the Kottke Hypertext Tee through the rest of today if you weren’t able to get one. (P.S. Use HBDCB10 at checkout for free US & 50% off intl shipping.)
Samuel L. Jackson hasn’t been in either Black Panther movie: “I’m still trying to figure out why I’ve never been to Wakanda.”
The Story We’ve Been Told About Juneteenth Is Wrong. “What are we celebrating when we observe it, and should we be celebrating it at all? Is it actually an indictment of America? A repudiation of the Fourth of July?”
Paul Ford: My Father’s Death in 7 Gigabytes. “Dad spent decades writing weird, experimental literature. His last wish: Upload it all to the Internet Archive.”
Looks like this fall’s Covid shot is going to be targeted towards omicron, XBB.1.5 specifically.
Sigur Rós is out with a new album called Átta that “leans heavily towards the orchestral”.
Just for funsies and to celebrate that it’s actually t-shirt weather in the northern hemisphere now, I’ve opened Kottke Hypertext Tee sales back up again for the weekend. I’m wearing mine today!
Digits is a new puzzle game from the NY Times that’s pretty fun. Here’s how the game was designed.
GB Studio is a drag and drop editor for creating Game Boy games.
Forthcoming book from Ethan Marcotte: You Deserve a Tech Union. “Ethan shares these workers’ insights and stories, weaving them together to outline the process for forming a union of your very own.”
If you missed the blockbuster show at the Rijksmuseum, here’s how to see all 36 of Johannes Vermeer’s publicly available paintings as soon as they return to their homes around the globe (London, NYC, Holland, Paris, Tokyo).

Enhanced Color Mars

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 15, 2023

an enhanced color photo of Mars

Using data from the ESA’s Mars Express probe, the German Aerospace Center has released an enhanced color image of Mars that shows off the planet’s geology and mineral content better than the usual dusty red photos do. Here’s part of what you’re seeing:

It is well known that most of Mars is reddish in colour, due to the high amount of oxidised iron in the dust on its surface, earning it the nickname the ‘Red Planet’. But it is also immediately noticeable that a considerable region of Mars is rather dark, appearing bluish in colour in image 1. These regions represent greyish-blackish-bluish sands, which are volcanic in origin and form large, dark sand layers on Mars. They were primarily piled up by the wind to form imposing sand dunes or enormous dune fields on the floor of impact craters. These unweathered sands consist of dark, basaltic minerals, of which volcanic lava on Earth is also composed. Basalt is the most widespread volcanic rock on Earth — and in the Solar System. Earth’s ocean floor is made of basalt, as are the extinct volcanoes of the Eifel, Mount Etna in Sicily and volcanoes of the Hawaiian archipelago.

In my mind, the best bit is how much clearer you can see the various geographical features of the planet. (via bad astronomy)

A New Dialect Emerges in South Florida

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 15, 2023

According to recent research from linguists Phillip Carter and Kristen D’Alessandro Merii, a new dialect of English is forming in South Florida. The dialect, distinct from Spanglish, is spoken English that borrows lexical and semantic rules translated from Spanish. Carter writes:

For example, we found people to use expressions such as “get down from the car” instead of “get out of the car.” This is based on the Spanish phrase “bajar del carro,” which translates, for speakers outside of Miami, as “get out of the car.” But “bajar” means “to get down,” so it makes sense that many Miamians think of “exiting” a car in terms of “getting down” and not “getting out.”

Locals often say “married with,” as in “Alex got married with Jos’e,” based on the Spanish “casarse con” — literally translated as “married with.” They’ll also say “make a party,” a literal translation of the Spanish “hacer una fiesta.”

We also found “semantic calques,” or loan translations of meaning. In Spanish, “carne,” which translates as “meat,” can refer to both all meat, or to beef, a specific kind of meat. We discovered local speakers saying “meat” to refer specifically to “beef” — as in, “I’ll have one meat empanada and two chicken empanadas.”

I particularly liked this one:

We found that some expressions were used only among the immigrant generation — for example, “throw a photo,” from “tirar una foto,” as a variation of “take a photo.”

APIs for content sites must be free. “If a company like Reddit or Twitter derives most of its value from content that users write for free then it must provide APIs for anyone to download and manipulate that content.”
Researchers were able to recover cryptographic keys from computers by watching video of their power LED — the cryptographic calculations affect the brightness of the LED in predictable ways.
via news.ycombinator.com
Electric bikes are the most climate-friendly way to travel. “After traveling 4,500 miles, I have spent less than $5 on electricity.”
via @marcprecipice
Beeper is a universal chat app that supports iMessage, WhatsApp, Instagram, Discord, Twitter, Slack, Google Chat, and others.
via @mmasnick

The Supreme Court Just Made This Gerrymandered Map Illegal

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 15, 2023

This short video from Vox takes a look at the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down a gerrymandered congressional map in Alabama.

In 2013, a divided Supreme Court gutted one of the major pillars of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In the 10 years since then, the court has moved even farther to the right. So when the Voting Rights Act came before the Supreme Court again in 2022, it didn’t look good for the law. But then something completely unexpected happened: in a 5-4 decision, two of the conservative justices voted with the 3 liberal justices to preserve the Voting Rights Act. And the effects could be huge.

At stake in the case was the way that Alabama divides up its Congressional districts. Alabama has seven districts, one of which is what’s called a “majority-minority district” in which Black Americans are the majority of the population. In 2022, a group of Black voters sued the state, saying that under the law, Alabama should actually have two majority-minority districts. And the Supreme Court agreed.

The decision could affect recently redrawn district maps in other states, which could in turn affect the balance of power in the House of Representatives. You can read more about these gerrymandering cases at the Brennan Center for Justice: Allen v. Milligan: Gerrymandering at the Supreme Court (Formerly Merrill v. Milligan) and Redistricting Litigation Roundup.

12 Things People Get Wrong About Being Nonbinary. “Being nonbinary is not just a personality trait or phase; it’s a real identity that’s existed for thousands of years.”
25 years of Banksy’s stencils are going on display in Glasgow. “I’ve kept these stencils hidden away for years, mindful they could be used as evidence in a charge of criminal damage. But that moment seems to have passed…”
via @colossal
Apple’s new Game Porting Toolkit looks interesting. “With zero need to modify any game code, games such as Grand Theft Auto V, Diablo IV, Cyberpunk 2077, and Hogwart’s Legacy can now run on Apple silicon Macs almost as if they’re native.”
Evolution Keeps Making Crabs, And Nobody Knows Why. “The defining features of crabbiness have evolved at least five times in the past 250 million years.”
Attention digital media workers: the longest-ever strike at a digital media company is only 13 days. The ROI for striking seems pretty high — these companies seem to settle pretty quickly?

The New Rubik’s Cube World Record Is Just 3.13 Seconds

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 15, 2023

In roughly the time it took you to read this sentence, Max Park solved a Rubik’s Cube. With his time of 3.13 seconds, Park bested Yusheng Du’s 2018 mark of 3.47 seconds. Just watch the video above…it’s ridiculous. I love how the judge comes in to preserve the scene as everyone goes bananas.

Park was one of the subjects of the excellent documentary, The Speed Cubers (trailer).

Logo Factory

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 14, 2023

Jigar Patel uses 3D modelling software to imagine factory production lines that “build” logos and app icons for brands like Instagram, Netflix, Apple, Spotify, Amazon, and many others. He’s also posted a bunch of behind-the-scenes videos about how he does it — love it when artists show their work.

You can also follow Patel’s work on Instagram and TikTok.(thx, michael)

I thought this was a limited-time thing, but Amazon is still selling the 2nd gen AirPods Pro for 20% off Apple’s price. I bought some of these a few months ago and they are fantastic.

Apollo Remastered

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 14, 2023

lunar rover on the Moon

Earth rising over the surface of the Moon

boot foorprint on the Moon

NASA keeps the original film negatives from the Apollo program sealed in a frozen vault in Houston, TX and rarely grants access to them. As a result, nearly all of the photos we see of those historic missions were made decades ago or are copies of copies. Recently, the film was cleaned and digitally scanned at “an unprecedented resolution”.

Using these new high-res scans, image specialist Andy Saunders remastered each of the 35,000 photographs, resulting in this incredible-looking book, Apollo Remastered: The Ultimate Photographic Record. From the book’s website:

The photographs from the lunar surface are as close as we can get to standing on the Moon ourselves, and for the first time, we were able to look back at Earth from afar, experiencing the “overview effect” — the cognitive shift that elicits an intense emotional experience upon seeing our home planet from space for the first time. The “Blue Marble” photograph, taken as Apollo 17 set course for the Moon, depicts the whole sunlit Earth, and is the most reproduced photograph of all time. Along with Apollo 8’s “Earthrise,” which depicts Earth above the lunar horizon, it was a catalyst for the environmental movement that continues today.

Saunders is also selling prints of some of these remastered photos, which look absolutely stunning.

The history and significance of various LGBTQ+ flags explained. The six colors of the traditional pride flag all mean something…red represents “life and the fight against HIV/AIDS”.
via somebits.com

The Absurd Logistics of Concert Tours

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 14, 2023

I was totally fascinated by this look at the absurd logistics of concert tours and now have a newfound appreciation for all the people involved who collaborate to make the magic happen (and perhaps also a little bit more forgiving about the high price of tickets (but Ticketmaster can still go to hell)).

Now, to an outsider, the load out process might look chaotic, and the pace of the tour may seem unsustainable or unmanageable. But though grueling and exhaustingly complicated, these massive, nation-wide tours function remarkably smoothly considering the variety of variables.

(via open culture)

Electric vehicles alone can’t solve transportation’s climate problems. “Reducing vehicle travel and investing in other options (like public transit) are critical pieces that should not and cannot be overlooked.”
A Peek Into Japan’s Convenience Stores. “A far, far cry from their American cousins, convenience stores in Japan are without exception, spotless, well-stocked, open 24x7, and are … well, actually convenient.”
“I just bought the only physical encyclopedia still in print, and I regret nothing.” I loved the World Book Encyclopedia when I was a kid and have considered buying a contemporary set.

The Spider-Verse Lego Scene Was Created By a 14-Year-Old Animator

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 14, 2023

After 14-year-old Preston Mutanga’s Lego version of the trailer for Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (embedded above) went viral, the team hired him to animate a short Lego sequence for the actual film.

In the brief scene, we see a Lego version of Peter Parker as he observes a dimensional anomaly and sneaks off to the Daily Bugle’s bathroom to alert another Spider-Man about the issue. While the scene is short, it killed in my theater and it also looked as good as anything in the recent Lego films. After seeing it, a few friends of mine even commented that it must have been the same team that animated it. But nope! It was a lone teenager, actually.

You can check out more of Mutanga’s work on his YouTube channel.

A collection of “dumb or overly forced” astronomical acronyms, including WISEASS, ABRACADABRA, HIPPIES, TATOOINE, Hot DOGs, SUGAR-RUSH, and GANDALF.
For the first time in more than 30 years, there’s a new Atari game cartridge coming out for the 2600: a game called Mr. Run and Jump.
Really interesting brief interview with Meredith Whittaker about AI, algorithms, and power in Big Tech. “There is no Cartesian window of neutrality that you can put an algorithm behind and be like, ‘This is outside our present and history.’”

Before She Was Famous: Demo Tape of Madonna Performing With Her Post-Punk Band

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 13, 2023

In 1979, just a few short years before she hit it big as a pop artist, Madonna was in a post-punk rock band called The Breakfast Club — she sang and played the drums. In the video above, the band rips through four demo songs in just over 8 minutes. From Dangerous Minds, some context:

Hardcore fans will also know Madonna has been known to perform versions of these songs (and other early material) live. Here’s the thing — much like the early days of the Go-Go’s, Madonna is definitely flexing her affinity for punk rock while mixing it with her own brand of spirited pop which the entire world would soon embrace and others would emulate. Now, if you’ve never heard this version of Madonna, and dig your punk with a side of pop, you are going to love these raw jams. It’s also quite compelling to hear them, knowing what was to come from Madonna in a few short years.

(via open culture)

Anti-Trans Moral Panics Endanger All Young People. “The common thread between [all moral panics] is a grievance-driven bid to control people.”
An anecdote from 1983 about algorithmic perfection and hard-boiled eggs. “The most obvious and absolutely correct algorithm may be wrong and even harmful if it works under incorrect assumptions.”
“Is Gwen Stacy, aka Spider-Woman, aka Ghost Spider, aka Spider-Gwen… Transgender? And the answer, I’m here to tell you, is yes, Gwen Stacy is trans. If you want her to be.”

Swimming Pool Stories

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 13, 2023

Icelandic filmmaker Jón Karl Helgason has made a film called Sundlaugasögur (Swimming Pool Stories) about the central role of the swimming pool in Icelandic life. The trailer is above. From Fatherly:

The swimming pool is first and foremost a communal space. “The swimming pool is your second home,” Helgason says. “You are brought up in the swimming pool.” There may be only 160, or so, swimming pools in the entire country (which is roughly 305 miles wide by 105 miles long), but every one of them is the essential social hub of a community, large or small.

The swimming pool is a public utility — as critical as the grocery store or the bank. “The British go to the pub, the French go to the cafes — in our culture, you meet in the swimming pool,” says Helgason. Swimmers come from all walks of life, from farmers to artists to clergymen to celebrities. “You can have 10, 15, 20, 30 people [in the pool] — they’re talking about politics and about their lives.”

For the first time, wind and solar generated more power than coal in the US over the first five months of 2023.
Studio Ghibli is planning to release Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, How Do You Live?, with no trailer or other promotional material. “Deep down, I think this is what moviegoers latently desire.”
“The ingredients for space yeast are fairly simple. Astronaut breath, water, yeast starter, electricity, a rolling pin and we can make it happen.”

A Massive 5.7 Terapixel Mosaic of the Surface of Mars

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 13, 2023

part of a crater on the surface of Mars

Using imagery from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Bruce Murray Laboratory for Planetary Visualization at Caltech has created a 5.7 terapixel mosaic image that covers 99.5% of the surface of Mars. The whole image is available to navigate with a 3D viewer in your browser.

The Beatles are set to release one last song after using AI audio tools to extract John Lennon’s voice from a scratchy old demo tape.

The Black Hole That Kills Galaxies

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 12, 2023

Astronomers believe that there’s a black hole at the center of almost every large galaxy in the universe. Some of those black holes are particularly energetic, chewing up the galaxies in which they reside and releasing massive amounts of energy out into the cosmos. Those black holes and the energy emitted from matter and gas falling towards their centers are what astronomers call quasars.

But if we look closely, we see who is actually in charge. Small as a grain of sand compared to the filaments, the centers of some of these galaxies shine with the power of a trillion stars, blasting out huge jets of matter, completely reshaping the cosmos around them. Quasars, the single most powerful objects in existence, so powerful that they can kill a galaxy.

After 251 weeks, Greta Thunberg has ended her school strike for climate, not because the climate crisis is over but because she’s graduating.
In case you missed it, this is probably the best (and most hilarious) plain-language explanation of what’s in Trump’s federal indictment.
A philosophy professor uploaded his Introduction to Ethics final exam to an online site often used to cheat on such exams and caught 40% of his students cheating. But was it unethical of him to entrap them like that?

Vintage Analog Photo Booths

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 12, 2023

a vintage analog photo booth

a vintage analog photo booth

a vintage analog photo booth

FotoAutomat restores vintage analog photo booths and redeploys them around Europe, mostly in Paris.

There are less than fifty working analog photo booths remaining in the world now. Since 2007, FotoAutomat has been working to preserve this photographic heritage by restoring and maintaining the last original analog photobooths in Paris, Nantes and Prague, mainly in spaces dedicated to art and culture.

This is some primo Wes Anderson shit. (via meanwhile)

If you’re still looking for a last-minute gift for your dad, check out the 2023 Father’s Day Gift Guide.

Forgetting How to Be Yourself

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 12, 2023

For the New Yorker, Louisa Thomas on major league pitcher Daniel Bard, who has struggled with the yips on and off during his career.

Many baseball players have minor control issues at one point or another. Sometimes it happens after an injury, when a player is relearning how to throw, over-attending to discrete motions that used to feel fluid and natural. “Overthinking” is the simple way to put it: the brain’s prefrontal cortex trips up the sensory cortex and the motor cortex. In other cases, the mind can essentially go blank. Players usually snap out of it, the way Bard had years before. But the brain can get stuck in certain patterns, and the yips can take over in a way that no one fully understands.

I used to write quite a bit about the sort of practiced autopilot that’s necessary to perform at a high level and what happens when the wheels come off the wagon and you start overthinking and second-guessing. From a 2021 post about Simone Biles’ case of the twisties:

This phenomenon goes by many names — performance anxiety, stage fright, choking, the yips, cueitis (in snooker), and target panic (for archers) - and the world-class are not immune. Daniel Day-Lewis had stage fright so bad he quit the stage decades ago — an affliction he shared with Laurence Olivier, Barbra Streisand, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. If you’ve read anything at all about this stuff, Biles’ case of the twisties doesn’t seem so unusual or mysterious — it’s just one of those things that makes her, and the rest of us, human.

Back to Bard, who tried a bunch of different fixes for his pitching problems:

Once Bard acknowledged the problem, he tried every available fix. He met with sports psychologists; he saw a hypnotist; he meditated. He whispered mantras, which he found counterproductive — athletes “don’t think in words, we think in shapes, feelings, and visions,” he told me. He had a rib removed, to help with the blood-flow problem caused by thoracic-outlet syndrome. He tried different arm slots. Adair posted inspirational messages around their house. At one point, she and Bard drove to a Holiday Inn to meet a woman who used eye-movement therapy to treat soldiers with P.T.S.D. Bard also tried a technique called tapping: you tap your fingers on certain places on your head, in a certain order, to reframe traumatic memories. It didn’t work.

I don’t know if anyone else has felt like this, but I think I might have the yips — not for a sport but for my life. I feel like I have forgotten how to naturally be myself. My preferences, what I enjoy doing, what I think about certain things, how I feel, how I feel about how I feel — it all feels forced right now, overthinking and second-guessing galore. What Would Jason Do? The hell if I know…but I do know that if you’re asking yourself what you would do in a certain situation instead of just doing it, you’ve already lost.

Like Bard, I’ve tried a bunch of different things recently to fix this, to seemingly little avail. Perhaps thinking about it as the yips but for my life will help me address it?

If it’s asparagus season in your neck of the woods, check out this thread of ways to prepare it.
The one question I was waiting for in this interview with Baby Gronk’s dad/manager but didn’t get was: “How do you justify this obvious child abuse?” This whole thing is gross.
Members of Radiohead Form Side Project to Sound Exactly Like Radiohead. “It’s vital to step outside your comfort zone with most of the same members of the band and see what other roads are available for us to explore.”
This is just an amazing story about a frog and their new house.

Taking the Day (or Two)

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 09, 2023

Hey folks. I’ve been struggling with some things recently and I need to take some time to try to recalibrate instead of sitting in front of a computer. I’ll see you back here on Monday.

Watch a Traditional Japanese Noh Mask Being Made

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 07, 2023

Noh is a classical Japanese art of dramatic dance that’s been performed since the 14th century. The masks worn by characters are an art form in themselves, and in this video, an expert craftsperson carves a noh mask out of a single block of Japanese cypress and then paints it with pigments made from crushed seashells.

I love the look of the rough texture of the mask when she’s about halfway through, before she smoothes it out with the paint — it’s like IRL low-poly. But the detail of the finished product is incredible.

See also How to Carve Marble Like Italian Master Donatello. (via open culture)

Real-Life Infrastructure That Looks Like Sci-Fi

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 07, 2023

Kane Hsieh, proprietor of the excellent MachinePix, has collected a bunch of photos of infrastructure that looks like science fiction.

the Z Pulsed Power Facility at Sandia National Laboratories

a massive bucket excavator that completely dwarfs cars and a road

a person paddles a small boat through a neutrino detector

The archive of the Nuremberg trials is available online, “including evidentiary films, full audio recordings of the proceedings, and approximately 250,000 pages of digitized paper documents”.
via @overholt
Is AI the end of computer programming as we know it? Abstraction is how programming evolves, “growing more removed from the electronic guts of computing and more approachable to the people who use them.”
I’ve been reading a lot about the end of Succession and thought this piece by Brian Phillips was particularly interesting. “The crown is made of tinfoil; the only reason to chase it is because childhood trauma is compelling you to.”
The Arctic could be completely free of summer sea ice as early as the 2030s. “In a new study, scientists found that the climate milestone could come about a decade sooner than anticipated.”

Stunning Poster for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 07, 2023

a Chinese poster for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Totally loving this Chinese movie poster for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (perhaps designed by Huang Hai).

And while we’re on the subject, I watched the movie the other day and loved it. In fact, it might be the most visually inventive movie I’ve ever seen…it’s just one mindbending visual after another, for more than two hours. (via @gray)

A great profile of the last Italian stone carver in Barre, VT, the Granite Capital of the World. He’s a *20th generation* stone carver. “That’s when I really knew that this guy was a genius, not just a sculptor.”
For the first time in their history, the Human Rights Campaign has declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans. “There is an imminent threat to the health and safety of millions of LGBTQ+ people and families…”

The Train Speed Optical Illusion

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 06, 2023

If you watch the video above of a front-facing camera on a moving train, the train appears to move much faster in the zoomed out view than in the zoomed in view. Here’s what’s going on:

The illusion that speed decreases when zoomed is “because when one focuses on an inner portion of the movie, the optic flow angular speed is slow, and appears to fill one’s entitle visual field, which is consistent with overall lower forward speed.

Note: The more zoomed, the more densely packed the overhead rigging appears. So, even though you appear to be moving forward more slowly when zoomed in, the actual rate of rigging flowing by remains constant, consistent with same forward speed in all conditions.

(via the kid should see this)

Some myths about blogging that stop people from writing, including “writing boring posts is bad” and “more material is always better”.

Blackstar — The Sun In A New Light

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 06, 2023

Blackstar is a relaxing and meditative 45-minute video of the Sun made by Seán Doran using footage from the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Instead of the familiar yellow, Doran has chosen to outfit our star in vivid blue and black, which lends the video a sort of alien familiarity. This looks absolutely stunning in 4K.

What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life? “Intimate friendships don’t come with shared social scripts that lay out what they should look like or how they should progress.”
An interactive feature on the wonky grooves of J Dilla. “People are moved by things that aren’t perfect”.

The 2023 Food Photographer of the Year Awards

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 06, 2023

a man in a white apron pulls taffy

overhead view of two farmers tending cabbages

a long table hosts a communal feast in war-torn Syria

an overhead view of three people packing fish

The Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year awards have been announced for 2023 and there is lots of good work in more than a dozen categories. As usual, I’ve included a few of my favorites above (photographers from top to bottom: Zhonghua Yang, Md. Asker Ibne Firoz, Mouneb Taim, Khanh Phan Thi) but you should click through to see the rest. (via curious about everything)

Why Does Jack Nicholson Repeatedly Break the Fourth Wall in The Shining?

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 06, 2023

Yesterday I posted a link to a Twitter thread by Stanley Kubrick scholar Filippo Ulivieri about a previously overlooked (*ahem*) aspect of The Shining: Jack Nicholson breaks the fourth wall by micro-glancing at the camera dozens of times during the film. It turns out that Ulivieri also made a visual essay about this and it’s really worth a watch.

Let’s go back to that glance that has been noticed by a few film critics. Some say it’s a Brechtian effect to expose the artifice of the mise en scène and have the audience reflect on the film medium. But Kubrick’s films are not intellectual, despite what the critics say. “The truth of a thing,” Kubrick said, “is in the feel of it, not in the think of it.” If this look at the camera means anything, for me it means that we are not safe from Jack’s fury. He knows where we are, he may come for us next. But what about the others? Why on Earth is Jack Torrance constantly glancing at us, breaking the fourth wall over and over, and over, and over.

What all of these micro-glances mean is open to interpretation. Ulivieri offers a few theories of his own — e.g. Jack is looking at ghosts, or perhaps just one ghost: the camera ghost — but says one of the reasons he made the video is to hear what other film critics and fans think might be going on here. I thought this response to his thread hit near the mark:

My gf’s read The Shining, and it’s really interesting now that they notice all these fourth wall breaks Jack does. throughout the whole book, Jack feels like he’s being watched and judged, and that’s why he feels so much pressure to keep up appearances.

If Jack is the only one in the MOVIE to consistently break the fourth wall, where it’s always just passing glances, that’s a pretty effective way to show the character’s fear of being watched or judged. Especially if WE don’t notice it at first.

I wonder how many The Shining re-watches this video and thread have inspired…I’m gonna watch it again in the next few days and see how my awareness of the glancing changes the film for me.

The 2023 Father’s Day Gift Guide

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 05, 2023

Father’s Day here in the US is coming up in about 3 weeks (June 18) and I thought I’d throw together a list of gift ideas for the occasion. I used to do December holiday gift guides and really enjoyed the process, so this is me dipping my toe back into the gift guide water after a three-year absence.

Note: if you’re shopping for a fishing/hunting/golfing dad, this list might not be that useful. Read on if your dad is a tech/design/culture dork like me — this is all stuff I wouldn’t mind getting or already own myself.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom for Nintendo Switch. This game has gotten such good reviews that the only thing holding me back from getting it is the knowledge that I have other things in my life that I cannot completely neglect for the next three weeks.

hands holding a pair of silver kitchen scissors

Ernest Wright Turton Kitchen Scissors. I’ve featured products from this English scissor company for years — the first time was almost 9 years ago. These suckers aren’t cheap and they’re backordered (so won’t arrive in time for Father’s Day), but they’re handmade and a pleasure to cut with. You could also try the Kutrite (pictured above), although that one is so backordered that there’s now a ticketed reservation system in place.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation). Great noise-cancelling earbuds that are a true step up from the 1st gen ones. And somehow, Amazon is selling them for 20% less than what you would pay at the Apple Store. 🤷‍♂️👍

an LED display device sitting on a table, displaying the score of a baseball game

Tidbyt. This is a simple retro-style display device that can show you the time, weather, news, sports scores, etc. and fits on your bedside table or kitchen counter. You can even make your own apps for it. Tidbyt is connected to the internet to get data, but there’s no speaker, AI, or microphone, so you don’t have to worry about it eavesdropping on you or organizing your appliances into open rebellion.

Darn Tough Hiking Socks. These are made right here in Vermont and they are great socks — I have several pair for hiking and skiing. Check out their website for many more options.

The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann. This is a total dad book and a damn good read to boot. Other dad books: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad.

Ember Travel Mug 2. I can’t tell if this is idiotic or genius, so I’ll let you decide: a travel mug with a programmable temperature feature, a pairable app, and if you lose it, you can locate it with Apple’s Find My feature. For the right person, I bet this is the perfect gift.

a bowl of stewed meat next to a bunch of scallions

Xi’an Famous Foods Hand-Pulled Noodles Meal Kits. When I learned that one of my favorite places to eat in NYC shipped meal kits around the country, I was excited but also a little wary. Would the food taste like it does in the restaurant? Thankfully the answer is a resounding yes…my family and everyone I’ve ever recommended this to loves it. My personal favorite is the Mt. Qi Pork Hand-Ripped Noodles.

Vintage Baseball Cards. If your dad watched baseball or collected baseball cards as a kid, a cool thing to get them is a little nostalgia bomb in the form of some unopened packs of cards from whenever they were 8-16 years old (give or take). For me, that was the mid-to-late 80s. They aren’t that expensive and will be worth every penny to see the look on their face when they open them and attempt to chew the extremely stale gum within.

Ice.Made.Clear. When making cocktails at home, I’m a fan of the big ice cube. This ice maker ups the game in a major way: big cubes that are perfectly clear like you get at the fancy cocktail bar where the staff refer to themselves as mixologists. If you don’t want to splurge on this one, try this cheaper one.

Ooni Fyra 12 Wood Pellet Pizza Oven. Everyone I know that has an Ooni pizza oven uses it to churn out restaurant-quality pies and loves it. This model is portable, uses hardwood pellets, and can cook a pizza in just 60 seconds at 950°F.

inside view of a magnetic 3x3 solving cube

Moyu RS3M 2021 MagLev 3x3 Magnetic Speed Cube. A maglev Rubik’s Cube? Yeah, this 3x3 cube has strong magnets in it to cut down on friction and noise while you’re solving. This is perhaps overkill but for $13, why not? Besides, it might inspire them to bring that solving time down from 10 minutes…

Hokusai – The Great Wave Lego Set. The Lego version of the Hokusai’s iconic woodblock print in one of several kits by the company geared towards adults. Here are some others to choose from: a bonsai tree, the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander, the Nintendo Entertainment System, a typewriter, and Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe.

Ambient Weather WS-1965 WiFi Weather Station. Just set up this personal weather station somewhere outside your house and you can measure the very local weather conditions, including temperature, barometric pressure, precipitation, humidity, wind speed & direction, and more. It connects to the internet so you can do some cool things with your data, including letting others access your hyperlocal weather via Weather Underground and other services.

a lit Keap candle on a table

Keap Wood Cabin Candle. I have this candle and love it — it smells great and lasts months and months if you don’t overdo it. A very sensible splurge.

Kindle Paperwhite. Overall, this is still the best ereader out there…I’m on my third model. The Paperwhite holds thousands of books, goes several weeks between charges, and is waterproof for beach/tub reading. And you can use Libby to check books out from your local library right to your device.

a piece of art by Hilma af Klint of a circular shape on a red background

Art from 20x200. My favorite online art shop, run by my pal Jen Bekman. Here are some things to get you started: Hilma af Klint, letterpress print of Albrecht Dürer’s pillow drawings, Book Lovers Never Go to Bed Alone poster, Jason Polan’s Zoo Baggu, and Harold Fisk’s meander maps of the Mississippi River.

Cocktail Smoker Kit. I thought cocktail & food smoking required a large glass dome and some other fussy apparatus, but this tiny fire that sits on top of a glass looks pretty simple. I want to try this!

Babish Carbon Steel Flat Bottom Wok. Did you know that Binging With Babish has a line of cookware? I didn’t either until I bought this wok last year. I was trying to follow Kenji’s advice on wok-buying (14-inch, flat-bottom, carbon steel, thick gauge but not too thick) and his usual (and cheaper) choice was sold out, so I went with the Babish one and I really like using it.

the book Apollo Remastered open to a page that shows two photos of the surface of the Moon

Apollo Remastered: The Ultimate Photographic Record by Andy Saunders. This coffee table book contains hundreds of images from the Apollo program, recently rescanned and remastered from the original photographic film that rarely leaves a frozen vault at NASA. I haven’t seen this book in person but it sounds amazing.

Amazon Gift Card. Let’s destigmatize the gift card: there is no shame in not knowing what to get someone for a gift, even if you know them really well. This is actually the gift of getting someone exactly what they want, even if it’s something practical & lame like razor blade refills, HDMI adapters, or laundry detergent.

That was fun — I’ve genuinely missed doing this. But I have too many things in my shopping cart now… 🫠 I hope you find this useful and that everyone has a good Father’s Day.

P.S. If you need even more ideas, I used the following gift guides in compiling this one: Wired, NY Times (one, two), The Verge, GQ, The Strategist (one, two, three), My Modern Met, Kitchn (one, two), The Spruce, and BuzzFeed.

When you buy through links on kottke.org, I may earn an affiliate commission. Thanks for supporting the site!

Whoa, there’s an upcoming streaming channel for Sid & Marty Krofft shows (like H.R. Pufnstuf, The Bugaloos, and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters).

Shows That Are Other Shows

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 05, 2023

Title card for Game of Thrones but it's called 'Dragon Succession'

If you watch TV for more than a couple of minutes, you start to notice that certain successful plots/ensembles for shows are repeated over and over. Rohita Kadambi recently categorized dozens of shows into a few archetypes; for example:

Golden Girls = Elderly Sex and the City
Insecure = Black Millennial Sex and the City
Will & Grace = Gay Friends
What We Do in the Shadows = Vampire Friends
Yellowstone = MAGA Succession
Game of Thrones = Dragon Succession
Arrested Development = Goofball Succession
Mad Men = Sexy 60s West Wing
The Bear = Sandwich West Wing
Ted Lasso = Soccer Office
Cheers = Bar Office
Schitt’s Creek = Riches to Rags Full House
The Addams Family = Goth Full House

Some of these would make pretty good Midjourney prompts but I will leave that as an exercise to the reader.1

  1. Mostly because I’ve never had the patience to figure out the Rube Goldbergian process for using Midjourney. Step 1: sign up for an account on a gamers chat app??! No thank you.

The summer of van Gogh: both the Met in NYC and the Art Institute of Chicago have exhibitions about Vincent van Gogh this summer. Gotta figure out a way to gogh! (I know that’s not how you pronounce it — just lemme have it!)
Interesting observation about The Shining: Jack Nicholson breaks the fourth wall by micro-glancing at the camera over and over during the film. (This would work a lot better as either an essay or a video essay instead of a tweet thread.)

The Best Illusions of 2023 Contest

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 05, 2023

The mind-boggling winners of the Best Illusion of the Year Contest for 2023 have been announced. The entries for each the ten finalists include a video that demonstrates each illusion and then shows how it works. The top prize winner is this working model of Platform 9 3/4 from the Harry Potter books:

One of my favorites is The Poggendorff Triangles, which goes to show you that straight lines aren’t always straight:

Here’s an audio illusion that sounds as though the tempo is endlessly rising (similar to the Shepard tone):

And then there’s this hollow face illusion in which this woman’s face looks at you as you move around her:

You can check out the rest of the finalists here.

Early viral video Charlie Bit My Finger was sold as an NFT in 2021 for $761K. The new owners pledged to keep the video online but it soon disappeared. Matt Webb argues that it should be in a museum.
Black birder Christian Cooper reflects on what he’s gained from birdwatching in an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Better Living Through Birding. “We lift our gaze skyward to the birds and see what it means to be free.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic retires from football at the age of 41. One of the best of his era…I wish he hadn’t been injured for most of his final season.

The Need for Carbon Removal Is Clear

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 02, 2023

To effectively combat the climate crisis, we’re going to need to remove carbon from the atmosphere. But what’s the best way to do it? Two of the main solutions being considered are direct carbon capture technology and growing trees and each approach has its pros and cons.

Carbon removal is a catch-all term for anything that people do that pulls CO2 out of the air and stores it somewhere else. To meet the world’s climate goals, we would need to do this on a massive scale — anywhere from 440 billion to 1.1 trillion metric tons before the end of the century. That’s more carbon than the U.S. has emitted in its entire history.

So how do we remove all that carbon? There are two carbon removal ideas that have really captured the conversation. One is direct air capture, which involves big factories that suck in tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, chemically concentrate it, and store it deep in the ground. The other idea is to simply plant trees! After all, trees have naturally sequestered carbon for millions of years.

(via digg)

Paragraphica is an AI-powered camera without a lens. It uses your location data and data from various APIs (weather, time of day, nearby places) to construct a text prompt that’s used to generate an image.

Times New Bastard

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 02, 2023

Times New Bastard, a font based on Times New Roam but every seventh letter is jarringly sans serif

Times New Bastard is a free font based on a Tumblr thread: “It’s Times New Roman but every seventh letter is jarringly sans serif.”

Almost 800,000 Maryland licence plates include a URL that now points to an online casino in the Philippines because someone let the domain registration lapse.
India cuts periodic table and evolution from school textbooks, along with “certain pollution- and climate-related topics”. The changes are said to be driven by an increasingly authoritarian and conservative political environment.
Life expectancy in the US is dropping and Covid is only one factor. “In a change never recorded in the past century, the probability that children and adolescents will live to age 20 is now decreasing.” My god, what a catastrophe.

Thank You For Not Answering

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 02, 2023

Artist and filmmaker Paul Trillo made Thank You For Not Answering, an artful experimental short film, using a suite of AI tools. The end credits of the film read:

Written and “Directed” by Paul Trillo.

Kyle Chayka talked to Trillo about his process for the New Yorker:

Trillo demonstrated the process to me during a Zoom call; in seconds, it was possible to render, for example, a tracking shot of a woman crying alone in a softly lit restaurant. His prompt included a hash of S.E.O.-esque terms meant to goad the machine into creating a particularly cinematic aesthetic: “Moody lighting, iconic, visually stunning, immersive, impactful.” Trillo was enthralled by the process: “The speed in which I could operate was unlike anything I had experienced.” He continued, “It felt like being able to fly in a dream.” The A.I. tool was “co-directing” alongside him: “It’s making a lot of decisions I didn’t.”

The complete scripts for all four seasons of Succession are coming out in book form. The books “feature unseen extra material, including deleted scenes, alternative dialogue and character directions”.
Lessons from Washington State’s New Capital Gains Tax (which brought in $600 million *more* than projected over a single year). “Our state’s richest residents are much, much richer than we understood…”

My Recent Media Diet, Summer 2023 Edition

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 01, 2023

Mad Men's Peggy Olson saying 'Oh shit. It's June 1st?'

Oh no. It’s June? Where what how?!? I did not mean to let this much time elapse since the last installment of my media diet, all the way back on Dec 2 in a completely different calendar year. But there’s nothing to be done about it, we’re all here now, so tuck your arms inside the carriage and let’s do this thing. Here’s what I’ve been watching, reading, listening to, and experiencing over the last six months. Enjoy.

Fire of Love. Superb documentary on volcanos and obsession. The footage, mostly shot by the subjects, is unbelievable. (A)

Star Trek: First Contact. Maybe my favorite Star Trek movie? Ok, maybe not favorite but I like it a lot. (A)

Splendor. This is one of my favorite engine-building games that I’ve played — it strips the concept down to the bare bones. That makes it easy to get the hang of but there’s a lot of room for different strategies as skill levels rise. (A-)

Ted Lasso (season three). I almost didn’t watch this because season two was not my favorite and the critics were just tearing into season three, but I’m so glad I did…this is one of my favorite things I watched over the past few months. This was more like free therapy than a “sitcom”, which probably explains why some people didn’t care for it. (A)

Mercado Little Spain. José Andrés’ Spanish version of Eataly. I’ve only been there a couple of times, but omg the food. The pan con tomate is the simplest imaginable dish — bread, tomato, olive oil, garlic, salt — but I could easily eat it every day. (A)

Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure. Such a gift to see so much of Basquiat’s art in one place. Loved it. (A+)

Wood stove. An actual fire inside of your house that warms and captivates. Perfect, no notes. (A+)

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner. A memoir about loss, grief, food, and the Korean American experience. (A-)

The Bourne Identity. Over 20 years old and still a great action thriller. (A-)

AirPods Pro (2nd generation). I’ve been using the first-gen AirPods Pro for the last few years and they’ve been great. But these 2nd-gen ones are next-level: the noise cancelling is way better and they are much more comfortable…been wearing the hell out of these since I got them. (A+)

Succession (season four). Has any show ever hit it out of the park on every episode like this? The whole last season, including the finale, was just fantastic. (A+)

China’s Van Goghs. A Chinese man who’s been painting replica van Goghs for half his life visits Holland and France to see the original paintings and the locations where van Gogh painted. Fascinating. What makes someone a “real” artist? (A-)

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Got to ski here with my kids a couple of times this winter and I can see why they love it. (B)

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. Better than I expected and perhaps better than a superhero holiday special has any right to be. (B+)

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. If you’ve ever enjoyed a long collaborative creative partnership with another person or group of people and that collaborative frisson felt like the highlight of your life, you will probably like this book. (A)

Glass Onion. Super fun. (A-)

Andor. I really enjoyed this but was also kind of perplexed about the hype around how much better this series was than the rest of Star Wars. Again, I liked it but it didn’t seem too far apart from the whole. (A-)

The 2022 World Cup. This whole thing gets an F for the corruption, human rights abuses, and idiotic TV coverage in the US, but as a long-time fan of Lionel Messi, watching Argentina win the trophy was 💯. The final against France was one of the peak sports viewing experiences of my life. (F/A+)

Rogue One. Had to rewatch after Andor. Still a favorite. (A-)

1899. This gave me Lost and Westworld vibes (that’s bad) but I’d heard good things so I stuck with it for two more episodes than I should have. Stopped watching halfway through and then read the Wikipedia page and, yep, thankful I didn’t spend anymore time on it. I have to stop watching these puzzle box shows. (C-)

Bullet Train. People seemed to like this more than I did. Seemed like a Guy Ritchie Tarantino sort of thing, but a bit flashier? It was fine? (B)

Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. This movie gets better and better every time I watch it. Two world-class hams, William Shatner and Ricardo Montalban, trying to see who can chew the most scenery, the first movie scene wholly generated by computer, and Scotty playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes? Come on! (A+)

White Noise. Fine, I guess. But the end credits were the best part. (B)

Acupuncture. I tried acupuncture to address a chronic injury. It didn’t end up working for that purpose, but each time I went, I felt an incredible sense of relaxation and calm after the session. (B)

Wonderland Dreams. I posted about Alexa Meade’s “living still lifes” more than 13 years ago and I finally got a chance to see her work in person in NYC. (A-)

Edward Hopper’s New York. Always good to visit the Whitney. (B+)

Avatar: The Way of Water. Oh dear. Amazing effects but the plot & dialogue were right out of a B movie. And yeah, just a few months after seeing it, I can’t name a single character. (B-)

Fleishman is in Trouble. This wrecked me and I loved it. So much of this rhymed with my life — very uncomfortable at times! (A+)

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. Read this straight after I finished the show. (A)

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel. Entertaining time travel adventure from the author of Station Eleven. (B+)

Ambient 23. Moby made an 2.5-hour-long ambient album and it’s pretty good. (B+)

The Fablemans. I liked this quite a bit — it’s one of those films that grows in your esteem as you think back to it. Curious to see it again in a month or two to see how it holds up. (A-)

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. I hadn’t read any Hemingway since high school and ok, I get it now. Enjoyed the first half more than the second though. (A)

Minions: The Rise of Gru. I enjoy the Minions more than, what, I should? And what’s not to like about Steve Carell doing a funny voice? (B+)

The White Lotus (season two). I didn’t care for the first season of this (I stopped watching halfway through), but I loved this season. I did think the ending was a little weaker than the rest of it. (A-)

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Picked this book up after a viral tweet by Bigolas Dickolas sent it screaming up the Amazon bestseller charts. Not bad (time travel, causality, etc.) but the writing style was not my favorite. (B+)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. My kids and I went to see this the other day and afterwards had an interesting chat about how you can make a movie where one of the themes is animal cruelty and then the rest of the movie is just a lot of hyper-violence with a surprising amount of yelling (at children!) and also mindless killing of some cyborg animals (during the rescue of other cyborg animals). Honestly disappointing and kind of a muddle. (B)

The Rihanna Halftime Show at Super Bowl LVII. It’s been years since I watched the Super Bowl (or American football), but my daughter and I were excited to catch Rihanna’s halftime show. We both loved it, a great performance. (A)

Raiders of the Lost Ark. A perfect action/adventure movie. (A+)

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie. Listened to this on audiobook with my mystery-loving daughter — it made some long drives fly right by. (A-)

The Last of Us. Some of the episodes showed their video game roots (side quests, NPCs, etc.) a little too much but maybe that’s just how most action drama is written now? (A)

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The kids and I agreed this was just fine but wasn’t as fun as the other two Ant-Men. (B)

The Book of Mormon. Live things are always a hell of a lot of fun, but I think this played a lot differently when it premiered in 2011 than it does today. (B+)

Speed Racer. Not a fan of the visual style of this movie. (B)

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout. I’ve been in a mode of my life for awhile now where I identify with the characters of books I read and movies/TV that I watch and it makes it difficult to actually be objective (ha!) about it, even with myself. Did I like this or did I just identify strongly with the characters? And what does it matter if I got something valuable out of it even if it wasn’t “good”? (B+)

Ivory. I’ve mostly quit Twitter and this app from Tapbots makes Mastodon feel a lot like Twitter for me. Well, without the right-wing owner and increasingly fascist rhetoric. (B+)

Triangle of Sadness. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to everyone, but I loved it. The dinner scene had me hyperventilating with laughter. (A)

Combustion Predictive Thermometer. I preordered this years ago when I was doing a lot more grilling. Mixed results so far. The thermometer is designed to stay in the meat while you cook it, but the heat of my hardwood charcoal grill was too much for it (I run it *hot*) and I had to take it out. But doing the oven part of the reverse sear is a total breeze with this thing…worth it just for that. (B+)

The Complete History & Strategy of LVMH. I am not usually a VC/startup bro podcast listener, but my pal Timoni strongly recommended this episode on luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and it ended up being really fascinating. The episode is 3.5 hours long and I wanted more. (A)

ChatGPT. I wrote about this extensively back in March and I’m still using it several times a week, mostly as a programming assistant. (A)

The Mysterious Benedict Society. Watched with the kids and I think we all agreed it was a bit better than the first season? But Disney cancelled the show and removed it completely from Disney+ 👎 so good luck watching it… (B+)

Star Trek: Picard (seasons two & three). I’d heard not-great things about season two so I wasn’t super-curious to watch but with the buzz around season three, I decided to give it a try. I ended up watching both seasons in the space of a couple of weeks during a particularly tough period. I just really like spending time in that universe with those people. (A-)

The Mandalorian (season three). This season really dragged in spots — I guess I don’t care about the Mandalorian back story that much? (B+)

Crossword puzzles. I’ve never been a crossword puzzle person, but I’ve been doing the NY Times crossword with a friend for the past few months (mostly over FaceTime) and I’ve become a fan. (B+)

The Wager by David Grann. The beginning is sort of unavoidably slow due to having to explain global geopolitics and how the British Navy functioned in the 18th century, but the rest of the book is just plain masterful and unputdownable. (A)

The Five Lives of Hilma af Klint by Philipp Deines. A graphic novel based on the diaries and art of Hilma af Klint — better than I was expecting. (B+)

Nuun Sport Tablets. I drink a lot of water during the course of my day but also too many sugary drinks. I don’t like seltzer so I’ve been on the lookout for a beverage that tastes good (or at least not terrible) without a lot of sugar. In her excellent newsletter, Laura Olin recommended these and I’ve been enjoying them so far, particularly the citrus flavors. (B+)

Superman. Christopher Reeve would be just 70 years old right now if he hadn’t died in 2004. Wish he were still around; he was a hell of an actor. (A-)

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Strong word-of-mouth got me to sit down and watch this and it didn’t disappoint. Solid action/adventure that reminded me of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. (B+)

Poker Face. I’m only a little more than halfway through this, but Natasha Lyonne solving mysteries while on the lam across America in a TV series by Rian Johnson? In. (B+)

Mrs. Davis. I wanted to like this! I’d heard good things! But it was giving me Lost vibes so I had to stop after two episodes. I do not know how to describe it, but I do not like television shows that are confusing/mysterious in the particular way that this show is. See also Lost, The Leftovers, and Watchmen – all, not coincidentally, written and created by Damon Lindelof. (C)

The Great (season two). I loved season one but season two took me forever to get through – like 7-8 months – and I still have the last episode left. I’ve heard season three gets good again, so I’m gonna push through and give that a chance. The leads are marvelous. (B)

Past installments of my media diet are available here.

George Takei Recalls His Childhood in a WWII Internment Camp

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 01, 2023

In this short video from the BBC narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, activist and actor George Takei talks about his imprisonment in an American concentration camp during WWII because he was of Japanese descent.

I began school in Rohwer, a real school, in a black tar paper barrack. There was an American flag hanging at the front of the classroom and on the first morning, the teacher said, “We’re going begin every morning with the pledge of allegiance to the flag. I will teach it to you and you are to memorize that.” But I could see right outside my schoolhouse window the barbed wire fence and the sentry tower as I recited the words “with liberty and justice for all”. An innocent kid, too young to understand the stinging irony in those words.

Takei has done many talks & interviews over the years about his experience, including for the Archive of American Television, Democracy Now!, and a TED Talk back in 2014:

He also published a graphic novel about his time in the camps called They Called Us Enemy.

As the craft beer industry matures and works to find new audiences, the design of craft beer labels has moved from aggressive heavy metal-inspired designs to more clean and minimal looks.
via jodiettenberg.substack.com
Slide to Unlock is a simple mobile game that will test the limits of your touchscreen dexterity.
via @waxy
Masnick’s Impossibility Theorem: “Content moderation at scale is impossible to do well.”

The Best Photos of the Milky Way for 2023

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 01, 2023

the Milky Way shines brilliantly at night above the mountains and a layer of clouds

a composite view of the Milky Way combining how it looks in the night sky during the winter and summer

the Milky Way in the night sky over baobab trees in Madagascar

Capture the Atlas have announced their picks for the 2023 Milky Way Photographer of the Year competition. As usual, I’ve included a few of my favorites here — from top to bottom: Jakob Sahner’s photo from the Canary Islands, Mihail Minkov’s composite shot of the Milky Way as it looks in both the summer & winter, and Steffi Lieberman amongst the baobab trees in Madagascar. Here’s Minkov explaining his full-galactic view:

I’ve always wondered what the night sky would look like if we could see the two Milky Way arches from the winter and summer side by side. This is practically impossible, since they are part of a whole and are visible at different times of the day.

However, this 360-degree time-blended panorama shows us what they would look like. The two arches of the Milky Way represent one object in the starry sky, with part of it visible in winter and part of it in summer. Therefore, they are called the winter and summer arches. The winter arch includes objects that we can observe from October to March, primarily associated with the constellation Orion.

On the other hand, the summer arch features the Milky Way core, visible from March to September, which is the most characteristic and luminous part of the night sky, representing the center of our galaxy.

Why this successful climate writer quit to become an electrician. “Instead of writing about the need to electrify everything, Nate is doing that work himself.”
via tinyletter.com
What Number Comes Next? The Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences Knows. Warning: I lost a good 30 minutes browsing the encyclopedia this morning…
On anger management. “Anger does not take place in a void. It is largely a moral emotion, most frequently triggered by perceived injustice, and profoundly important for social change.” P.S. read to the end of this…
via jodiettenberg.substack.com

Making A Solar-Powered Billion-Year Lego Clock

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 01, 2023

Ok this is kind of incredible: Brick Technology built a solar-powered Lego clock that will keep time for a billion years. It’s got various displays in the style of an astronomical clock so you can keep track of seconds, hours, months, centuries, and even galactical years (the amount of time the Sun takes to orbit the center of the galaxy). The clock is powered by solar energy, and the solar cell is connected to the clock so that it tilts throughout the day to keep facing the sun.

This is a) an extremely accessible explanation of how clocks work, b) the nerdiest thing ever, and c) I love it so much. Even if you’re not a Lego fan, you should watch this. (For more on how clocks work, check out Bartosz Ciechanowski’s excellent explainer on mechanical watches.)

The obvious thing that sprung to mind watching this was The Clock of the Long Now, a 10,000-year clock being constructed inside a mountain in West Texas. But I also thought of Arthur Ganson’s Machine With Concrete, which utilizes extreme gear ratios to turn an input of 200 rpm into a gear that turns only once every 2 trillion years. That’s slow enough that the final gear is actually embedded in concrete and it doesn’t affect the operation of the machine at all.

See also Here’s What a Googol-to-One Gear Ratio Looks Like, 20 Mechanical Principles Combined in a Useless Lego Machine, and A Lego 5-Speed Manual Transmission.

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