homeaboutarchivenewslettermembership!
aboutarchivemembership!
aboutarchivemembers!

kottke.org posts about video

My Recent Media Diet, Spring 2022 Edition

posted by Jason Kottke   May 07, 2022

Well hey there, it’s been a few months, so it’s time for another roundup of what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to, and experiencing recently. In addition to the stuff below, I have a few things in progress: the second season of Russian Doll, Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks, and I just started dipping into Rebecca Woolf’s forthcoming memoir, All of This. Oh, and I’m listening to Russell Shorto’s The Island at the Center of the World on audiobook and the third season of Michael Lewis’ Against the Rules podcast. All always, don’t sweat the letter grades too much.

Everything Everywhere All at Once. This movie is a little bit of a miracle: action, comedy, heartfelt, and a little bit of a mess, all together in a perfect balance. This is the best movie I’ve seen in ages. (A+)

Encanto. The kids and I liked it fine. (B+)

The Expanse (season six). I’m going to miss spending time in this world with these people. (A-)

Matrix by Lauren Groff. Was delighted and moved by this work of historical fiction about Marie de France. (A)

Station Eleven. I loved the slow burn and resolution of this show. I didn’t think I wanted to watch a TV show about a flu pandemic causing the end of civilization, but it was actually perfect. Both actresses who played Kirsten were fantastic. (A/A+)

The Last Duel. Every director is entitled to their Rashomon I guess? And I’m not sure Matt Damon was the right choice here… (B)

Pig. Had no idea what to expect from this one. Even so, Taken + Truffle Hunters + Fight Club + Ratatouille was a surprise. (B+)

Strafford ice cream. This Black-owned dairy farm makes the richest, creamiest ice cream I’ve ever had. So glad I randomly bought a pint of it a few months ago…I’m never going back to anything else. (A)

Severance. Fantastic opening credits sequence and while I wasn’t as enamored as many were after the first few episodes, the show definitely grew on me. (A-)

My Brilliant Friend (season three). I don’t know why there’s no more buzz about this show. The acting, world-building, story, and Max Richter’s soundtrack are all fantastic. And the fight against fascism! (A)

The Gilded Age. Exactly what I wanted out of a period drama from the maker of Downton Abbey and Gosford Park. (B+)

Exhalation. Second time through, this time on audiobook. I love these stories - Chiang is a genius. (A)

The Book of Boba Fett. This turned into season 2.5 of The Mandalorian and I am totally ok with that. (B+)

Other People’s Money podcast. As a snack-sized in-between season for his excellent Against the Rules podcast, Michael Lewis revisits his first book, Liar’s Poker, written about his experience working for Salomon Brothers in the 80s. (A-)

The King’s Man. Not as fun as the first movie but more fun than the second one? But they all could be better. (B)

Turning Red. I loved Domee Shi’s short film, Bao, and this film is similarly clever and heartfelt. (A-)

Drive My Car. Really appreciated the cinematography of this one; wish I could have seen it in the theater. (A-)

Jennifer Packer at The Whitney. I was unfamiliar with Packer’s work before seeing this exhibition, but I’m a fan now. (A-)

Licorice Pizza. I’m really flabbergasted at the two pointless racist scenes in this film. PT Anderson is a better filmmaker than this. It’s a shame because I enjoyed the rest of the film — the two leads are great. Can’t recommend it though. (D)

Death on the Nile. These movies are fun. Sometimes all you want to do is watch Kenneth Branagh chew scenery as Hercule Poirot. (B+)

Moonfall. Not as fun or coherent (I know, lol) as some of Emmerich’s other movies. The acting in this is…not great. (C+)

Hawkeye. Fun but I don’t know how many more Marvel things I want to keep up with. (B)

Spider-Man: No Way Home. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is always fun. (B+)

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. Better than the overcomplicated sequel and Mikkelsen was a better Grindelwald than Depp. The story wrapped up so nicely that who knows if there will be a fourth movie. (B)

The Tragedy of Macbeth. Brilliant cinematography and set design. (B+)

The Batman. Oh I don’t know. I guess this was a pretty decent detective story, but I’m not sure why Batman needed to be involved. (B)

The Northman. This would have been much better had it ended 20 minutes sooner. Not sure we needed another movie that concludes with ultimately pointless violent masculine revenge. (B-)

Kimi. Soderbergh does Rear Window + The Conversation. The direction is always tight and Zoë Kravitz is great in this. (A-)

The Mysterious Benedict Society. The kids and I enjoyed this solid adaptation of the first book of a popular series. (B+)

Armageddon. The pace of this movie is incredible — it just drops you right into the action and never stops for more than 2 hours. Also, the top question when searching this movie title on Google is “Is Armageddon movie a true story?” *sigh* (B-)

Past installments of my media diet are available here.

Cars vs Giant Bulge and Other Outlandish Vehicular Simulations

posted by Jason Kottke   May 06, 2022

It is Friday and this is the perfect Friday sort of post. BeamNG is a video game of sorts that’s “a dynamic soft-body physics vehicle simulator capable of doing just about anything”. In the simulator, you can quickly devise all sorts of situations with a variety of cars and then press play to see what happens, with (mostly) realistic physics and collisions. For instance, here’s Cars vs Big Bulge:

Chained Cars vs Bollards:

Cars vs 100 Fallen Trees:

Trains vs Giant Pit:

And many many more. My god if this simulator had been around when I was 12 years old, I might not have done anything else. Hell, if I downloaded and installed this right now, I might not ever get anything done ever again. (via @tvaziri)

Extreme Pogo Stick Riding

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2022

Inspired by this short video I found on Twitter of people doing extreme stunts on pogo sticks, I found a few videos on YouTube that showcase what’s possible on what’s commonly thought of as an old-fashioned children’s toy.

Gotta admire the spirit of humanity that turns absolutely everything into an extreme sport.

Arctic Midnight Sun

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2022

This 360° time lapse video, filmed by meteorologist Witek Kaszkin in 2015, follows the never-setting Sun in a 24-hour trip around the sky above the Arctic Circle as the icy Arctic landscape is bathed in constant summer sunlight.

See also — and I may be burying the lede here — Kaszkin’s video of a total solar eclipse filmed from the same location. Wow. (via the kid should see this)

Delia Derbyshire Demonstrates How Electronic Music Was Made at BBC Radiophonic Workshop

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2022

In this video from 1965, electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire, who arranged the original theme music for Doctor Who, demonstrates how electronic music was made at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. It’s such a treat watching her construct songs from electronic sound generators and sampled sounds played at different speeds and pitches; you can even see her layering sounds on different tape machines and beat matching, just like DJs would years later.

Amazingly, you can try your hand at layering and looping this music yourself with this Tape Loops demo from the BBC. You can also make Dalek and Cybermen noises with the Ring Modulator, create Gunfire Effects, or use the Wobbulator (my favorite).

See also The Definitive Guide to Doctor Who Theme Music, the trailer for Delia Derbyshire: The Myths and the Legendary Tapes, and this incredible proto-techno track Derbyshire made in the 60s. (via @austinkleon)

Trailer for Obi-Wan Kenobi

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2022

May the 4th be with you and here’s the trailer for the upcoming Disney+ series, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The story begins 10 years after the dramatic events of “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” where Obi-Wan Kenobi faced his greatest defeat — the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, who turned to the dark side as evil Sith Lord Darth Vader.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2022

You have to admire Daniel Radcliffe for his movie & theater role choices since Harry Potter. He’s done Swiss Army Man, Equus on Broadway, all sorts of small & independent films, several on- and off-Broadway plays, and now he’s starring as Al in a Weird Al Yankovic biopic. And……it works? Variety calls it a “scripted mockumentary”. I’ll watch.

The Brain Eating Amoeba, the Most Overhyped Monster on Earth

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2022

In retrospect, maybe today wasn’t such a good day to watch a video about how incredibly scary brain-eating amoebas are. But, as you might guess from the title, we don’t actually need to worry too much about them.

While the Naegleria fowleri is clearly extremely deadly and the infection truly horrible, there have only been a few hundred cases in the last few decades. You are way more likely to drown in a pool than to get infected.

A reminder that in our current media environment, calibrating personal risk can be challenging.

The Invention of Coca-Cola, Miracle Brain Tonic

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2022

Spurred by a near death experience in the Civil War (after sustaining a saber wound to the chest) and looking for a way to manage the resultant addiction to morphine, pharmacist Dr. John Pemberton invented the drink that would become the globally famous and lucrative fizzy drink, Coca-Cola. I’d heard bits and pieces of this story over the year — it’s part of America’s consumerist mythology and therefore hard to ignore completely — but had never really had the whole thing explained to me. (via open culture)

Natasha Lyonne Revisits Her Breakout Characters

posted by Jason Kottke   May 02, 2022

Today I discovered that all I want to do is listen to Natasha Lyonne talk about her experiences in showbiz. But instead I got a little more than 7 minutes and that’s just fine:

I’m a few episodes into the second season of Russian Doll right now and it’s so good.

How an Architect Redesigns NYC Streets

posted by Jason Kottke   May 02, 2022

In this video, using before-and-after satellite imagery, Claire Weisz of WXY, an architecture and urban design firm, explains how her company helped redesign three of NYC’s unruliest intersections: Astor Place, Cooper Union, and Albee Square. Unsurprisingly, the redesigns all involved taking space away from cars and giving it to larger sidewalks and more green space, to benefit people other than drivers.

How We Do Money in America Is Insane

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 28, 2022

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

He goes after income & sales taxes:

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

Tipping:

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

And our currency:

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

(thx, meg)

A History of Birth Control

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 27, 2022

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

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

(via open culture)

Swirling Ink Cosmos

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 27, 2022

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

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

Molten Iron Fireworks

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 26, 2022

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

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

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

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

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 26, 2022

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

Feynman’s Ode to the Wonder of Life

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 25, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

The Birdsong of Printed Circuit Birds

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 22, 2022

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

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

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

one of Kelly Heaton's printed circuit birds

(via clive thompson)

A Custom-Built Moon Motorcycle

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 22, 2022

an electric motorcycle designed to drive on the Moon

an electric motorcycle designed to drive on the Moon

an electric motorcycle designed to drive on the Moon

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

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

The Fluid Dynamics of Oreo Cookie Twisting

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 21, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Sees Solar Eclipse on Mars

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 20, 2022

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

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

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

High-Res View of a Martian Crater

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 19, 2022

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

A Lego 5-Speed Manual Transmission

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 19, 2022

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

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

Why Algorithms Are Called Algorithms

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 18, 2022

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

How Did Roman Aqueducts Work?

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 18, 2022

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

How Loud Can Sound Physically Get?

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 15, 2022

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

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

Can Documentaries Change the World?

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 15, 2022

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

Haboob: A Decade of Dust Storms

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 14, 2022

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

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

An Interview with a Professional Jump Roper

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 14, 2022

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

Garry Kasparov: Stand With Ukraine in the Fight Against Evil

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 14, 2022

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

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

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

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