// Let's begin our XHTML webpage code. The DOCTYPE is supposed to be the very first thing, so we'll keep it on the same line as the closing-PHP tag. ?>
Watch as a trio of trials riders zoom across rusty old bridges, up rocky mountains, and down dry water slides on skinny-tired road bikes. An eye-popping collection of tricks.
There's a bit of a backstory to this video. It's a sequel to a similar video performed solo by Martyn Ashton. In the middle of filming this sequel, Ashton broke his back during a demonstration and is currently paralyzed from the waist down. Friends and fellow trials riders Chris Akrigg and Danny MacAskill stepped in to help Ashton complete the video. (via digg)Tags: Chris Akrigg Danny MacAskill Martyn Ashton cycling video
Source: kottke.org | 10 Dec 2013 | 12:50 pm PST
In thinking about what sort of holiday gift guide (I know, I know) to do, I settled upon doing what I usually do here: highlight other people's guides and sprinkle in a bit of my own perspective here and there. Here goes.
Somewhat awkwardly, I'm gonna lead with my friend Jake's advice: don't buy anything for anyone for the holidays. Instead, give something to charity in their name/stead/honor/whatever. Check out Charity Navigator or GiveWell for good donation options or make a microloan. Any family or friends who think you're a jerk for doing this are annoying and you should make new friends and find a different family. (To be fair, Jake also recommends these two powered skateboards, Boosted Board ($1300) and Z-Board ($649+) so he's not entirely a Scrooge McBlog.)
When I do feel the need to buy things (which I rarely do), The Wirecutter is my spirit guide. This year, they have a proper gift guide and a list of the best holiday deals available on the Internet; both are great. Too much on these lists to pick just a few items but here goes: WD My Passport Ultra 2TB Portable External Hard Drive ($115), Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share ($10), The Wes Anderson Collection ($24) is a no-brainer, and the Blade Nano QX RTF quadracopter ($90).
Star Wars fans, you can buy the actual blaster used by Han Solo in Empire and Jedi ($200,000+). Hey, it's cheaper than the Death Star.
Tinybop's Things We Love highlights many great things for the younger set. Two items that popped out at me from this list are James Mollison's Where Children Sleep ($22), a collection of large-format photographs of children's bedrooms from around the world, and Who Needs Donuts? ($14), a reissue from the year of my birth.
Two things I love recommending as gifts for food & drink folks: Tovolo King Cube Ice Tray ($9) for making those big cocktail ice cubes at home and the KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart Stand Mixer ($400). This year, I'll add two more: Hella Bitter Salt & Pepper pack of aromatic and citrus bitters ($19) and the Anova Sous Vide Immersion Circulator ($205), which The Sweethome recommends as the best budget sous vide thinger out there.
Boing Boing Gift Guide 2013 is full of the expected quirky gifts. Among them are Palomino Blackwing 602 pencils ($23 for 12)...I have some of these and they are great, LifeSpan Fitness TR1200-DT5 Treadmill desk ($2350+), and a 55-gallon drum of Passion Natural Water-Based Lubricant ($1250) previously highlighted here on kottke.org.
If I read more books, I'd definitely pick up a Kindle Paperwhite ($119+). Is there any way to buy more time to read books? Can someone get me that for the holidays?
For your sportsball friends and family, rely on the 2013 SB Nation Holiday Gift Guide. Some items of note include a motorized Cooler Scooter ($400+) for tailgating and Flip Flop Fly Ball: An Infographic Baseball Adventure ($19).
You've likely seen the (probably staged) letter to Santa that's mostly a long Amazon URL written out in crayon. Here's what the kid wanted: Kid Galaxy Morphibians Killer Whale ($21), a remote-controlled car.
For the booze hound in your life, get a bottle of W.L. Weller 12 Year Kentucky Straight Wheated Bourbon Whiskey ($29). According to these guys, it's the same stuff as the highly coveted Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year ($890) but aged three fewer years and a whole lot cheaper.
By a wide margin, the thing that has provided me with the most joy in 2013 is Rdio ($5+/mo). This musical buffet has big-time rekindled my interest in music of all shapes and sizes. My musical diet, a bloated spreadsheet of old favorites, had grown stale over the past few years. Now I love playing stuff on Rdio for the kids in the morning while they have breakfast and I make their lunch...we sing along to Burl Ives, Mary Poppins, and Lorde. I listen all day at work to writing/coding music. Dinners are accompanied by music tuned to the food (I found a corny Italian dinner playlist to go along with some homemade gnocchi; it was perfect). I'm filling in the gaps in my musical listening, including post-Chronic rap & hip-hop. I'd happily pay $50/mo for Rdio...it's that valuable to me.
I don't have a lot of time for many magazines anymore, but Lucky Peach ($28 for 4 issues) continues to knock it out of the park. Runners up: subscriptions for National Geographic ($15/yr) and Wired ($5 for 6 mo of print/digital) at Amazon are super reasonable.Tags: kottke.org
Source: kottke.org | 10 Dec 2013 | 9:24 am PST
In a clip from The Daily Show in August, Jessica Williams completely skewers the Bloomberg administration's asinine stop-and-frisk policing by advocating for a stop-and-frisk policy for white collar criminals on Wall Street (aka Business Harlem).
[Deleted the embed because of some reports of autoplaying. Why can't anyone but YT and Vimeo get this right?]Tags: crime Jessica Williams Michael Bloomberg NYC
Source: kottke.org | 10 Dec 2013 | 7:49 am PST
Ok, bear with me here...this is a video of a helicopter harvesting Christmas trees in Oregon. But the pace at which the pilot is moving those trees into the trucks is almost literally unbelievable.
Update: And here's the helicopter cockpit view from a similar harvest:
(via @iEddyG)Tags: flying video
Source: kottke.org | 10 Dec 2013 | 6:45 am PST
In part 2 of this year's review of the most memorable events and images of 2013: protesters rally in Turkey, Egypt, and elsewhere; a massive tornado flattens much of Moore, Oklahoma; and Malala Yousafzai celebrates her 16th birthday with a speech to the United Nations. Click here for part 1 of our photo summary, covering January to April. Come back tomorrow for part 3. The series will comprise 120 images in all. Warning, some of the photos may contain graphic or objectionable content. [40 photos]
Source: In Focus | 10 Dec 2013 | 6:41 am PST
Source: Grantland: Bill Barnwell | 10 Dec 2013 | 12:00 am PST
We are divided by an increasingly wide income gap. Often, this gap can be seen from across a street or park (even if we sometimes try not to look). The NYT takes us for a journey into the world of a homeless girl named Dasani in a multipart piece called Invisible Child:
On the Brooklyn block that is Dasani's dominion, shoppers can buy a $3 malt liquor in an airless deli where food stamps are traded for cigarettes. Or they can cross the street for a $740 bottle of chardonnay at an industrial wine shop accented with modern art.
Here's David Simon, creator of The Wire, on the two Americas:
Tags: David Simon economics USA
I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It's astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity.
Source: kottke.org | 9 Dec 2013 | 1:38 pm PST
Inspired by the A History of the World in 100 Objects project done by the BBC and the British Museum, Adrian Hon presents A History of the Future in 100 Objects, presented from the perspective of someone writing in 2082. From the introduction:
Every century is extraordinary, of course. Some may be the bloodiest or the darkest; others encompass momentous social revolutions, or scientific advances, or religious and philosophical movements. The 21st century is different: it represents the first time in our history that we have truly had to question what it means to be human. It is the stories of our collective humanity that I hope to tell through the hundred objects in this book.
I tell the story of how we became more connected than ever before, with objects like Babel, Silent Messaging, the Nautilus-3, and the Brain Bubble - and how we became fragmented, both physically and culturally, with the Fourth Great Awakening, and the Biomes.
With the Braid Collective, the Loop, the Steward Medal, and the Rechartered Cities, we made tremendous steps forward on our long pursuit of greater equality and enlightenment -- but the Locked Simulation Interrogations, the Sudan-Shanghai Letter, the Collingwood Meteor, and the Downvoted all showed how easy it was for us to lapse back into horror and atrocity.
We automated our economy with the UCS Deliverbots, the Mimic Scripts, the Negotiation Agents, and the Old Drones, destroying the entire notion of work and employment in the process; and we transformed our politics with Jorge Alvarez's Presidential Campaign, and the Constitutional Blueprints.
The book is available on the Kindle.Tags: Adrian Hon books lists
Source: kottke.org | 9 Dec 2013 | 11:31 am PST
The teeterboard is an acrobatic apparatus that looks like a seesaw. This is a pair of acrobats training on a Korean-style teeterboard, where instead of getting catapulted off the board, the participants land back on the board after each jump:Tags: sports video
Source: kottke.org | 9 Dec 2013 | 10:01 am PST
In the early 1960s, French director Jean-Luc Godard put together a list of the Ten Best American Sound Films. The list included:
The Great Dictator (Charles Chaplin)
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
Singin' in the Rain (Kelly-Donen)
The Lady from Shanghai (Orson Welles)
Source: kottke.org | 9 Dec 2013 | 7:10 am PST
December is here, and it's time for a look back at some of the most memorable events and images of 2013. Among the events covered in this essay (the first of a three-part photo summary of the year), Americans inaugurated President Barack Obama for a second term, a 13,000 ton meteor burned up in the sky over Russia, two young men detonated bombs at the Boston Marathon, and Dennis Rodman and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un enjoyed a basketball game together in Pyongyang. Please come back tomorrow and Wednesday for parts 2 and 3. The series will comprise 120 images in all. Warning, some of the photos may contain graphic or objectionable content. [40 photos]
Source: In Focus | 9 Dec 2013 | 6:21 am PST
Source: Grantland: Bill Barnwell | 9 Dec 2013 | 12:00 am PST
Using a black & white workprint of The Dark Crystal that Jim Henson and Frank Oz wanted to release, YouTube user scoodidabop made a full-length director's cut of the film. It's a bit rough in spots, but the original vision is all there.
Production was supposed to have begun on a Dark Crystal sequel, but according to the Muppet Wiki, the project has been shelved.Tags: movies The Dark Crystal video
Source: kottke.org | 6 Dec 2013 | 12:47 pm PST
Vimeo user Subterminally appears to have had the worst 13 seconds of his life last week when he hit the cliff off of which he was base jumping. Subterminallyill received a "Compression Fracture of the T12 Vertebra, 5 stitches to the eye, 6 stitches to the chin, severely sprained Back, wrist and hand. multiple bruised areas," which is not too bad considering he FELL OFF A FUCKING CLIFF.
Alternate copy for this post, "No. No, no no no no no no. No. No. No. No, no, no, no, no. No."
(via just about everyone)
Source: kottke.org | 6 Dec 2013 | 10:25 am PST
Which gray block is actually darker? Hold something over the seam to find out.
Mindblowing, right? Now for the fun science part: how does this effect work? Well, it works because whoever made this thing is a fucking witch. I mean, Jesus. QED. (via ★interesting-links)Tags: optical illusions
Source: kottke.org | 6 Dec 2013 | 8:43 am PST
From Pitchfork, a list of the best album covers from 2013. My favorite is this one from Tyler, The Creator, which looks more or less like the opposite of a rap album.
best of best of 2013 design lists Michael Cina music
Source: kottke.org | 6 Dec 2013 | 7:30 am PST
Nelson Mandela passed away yesterday at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the age of 95. The former anti-apartheid activist, imprisoned for decades, was freed in 1990 and rose to become South Africa's first black president just four years later. Once in office, he actively sought reconciliation and peace, inviting former adversaries to help him create a new "Rainbow Nation." After leaving the presidency, Mandela remained an inspirational activist until his failing health forced him to retire from public view in 2004. The day after his death, millions around the world are remembering his legacy. [38 photos]
Source: In Focus | 6 Dec 2013 | 6:15 am PST
Source: Grantland: Bill Barnwell | 6 Dec 2013 | 12:00 am PST
Source: Grantland: Bill Barnwell | 6 Dec 2013 | 12:00 am PST
Helvetica has gone on to become arguably the most ubiquitous and widely used typeface in history.
It is in this spirit that we have created the ultimate Modernist perfume -- a scent distilled down to only the purest and most essential elements to allow you, the content, to convey your message with the utmost clarity.
Air. Water. You.
2 oz. of distilled water. Precious bodily fluids, Mandrake.Tags: perfume typography
Source: kottke.org | 5 Dec 2013 | 2:03 pm PST
Using a large piece of spandex (representing spacetime) and some balls and marbles (representing masses), a high school science teacher explains how gravity works.
The bits about how the planets all orbit in the same direction and the demo of the Earth/Moon orbit are really neat. And you can stop watching around the 7-minute mark...the demos end around then.
Update: Here's another video of a similar system with some slightly different demos.Tags: physics science video
Source: kottke.org | 5 Dec 2013 | 12:46 pm PST
This Lego Mona Lisa is amazing:
art Legos Mona Lisa
Source: kottke.org | 5 Dec 2013 | 10:56 am PST
In a clip from Eye of the Leopard narrated by Jeremy Irons, we see a female leopard kill a baboon. And then the leopard notices the baboon has just given birth to a tiny baby. Her reaction is unexpected:Tags: Jeremy Irons video
Source: kottke.org | 5 Dec 2013 | 9:21 am PST
In celebration of his 44th birthday, Jay Z ranked his solo albums:
Here's the annotated list:
1. Reasonable Doubt (Classic)
2. The Blueprint (Classic)
3. The Black Album (Classic)
4. Vol. 2 (Classic)
5. American Gangster (4 1/2, cohesive)
6. Magna Carta (Fuckwit, Tom Ford, Oceans, Beach, On the Run, Grail)
7. Vol. 1 (Sunshine kills this album... fuck... Streets, Where I'm from, You Must Love Me...)
8. BP3 (Sorry critics, it's good. Empire (Gave Frank a run for his money))
9. Dynasty (Intro alone...)
10. Vol. 3 (Pimp C verse alone... oh, So Ghetto)
11. BP2 (Too many songs. Fucking Guru and Hip Hop, ha)
12. Kingdom Come (First game back, don't shoot me)
(via @anildash)Tags: best of Jay-Z lists music
Source: kottke.org | 5 Dec 2013 | 7:49 am PST
As I said last year, the photos are always my favorite end-of-the-year media to check out. It's only early December, but a few media outlets are out of the gate already with their year-end lists.
Best photos of the year 2013 from Reuters.
The Top 10 Photos of 2013 from Time.
2013 Pictures of the Year from Agence France Presse.
The 80 Most Powerful Photos of 2013 from The Roosevelts.
Las mejores fotos del 2013 from Yahoo En Español.
The 45 Most Powerful Photos Of 2013 from BuzzFeed.
2013: The Year in Photos from In Focus.
Do you have a list for this list? Send it along!Tags: best of best of 2013 photography
Source: kottke.org | 5 Dec 2013 | 7:15 am PST
Weather conditions in Arizona's Grand Canyon last week gave rise to a rare phenomenon called total cloud inversion. Last Friday, and again on Sunday, the ground apparently released some of its heat rapidly enough at dawn to create a layer of cool, damp air inside the canyon, trapping it beneath the unusually warmer sky above the canyon walls and filling the space with a sea of fog. Park officials said the phenomenon is a once-in-a-decade occurrence and ran to capture these fantastic photos. (If your display can support it, I recommend selecting the 1280px option below.) [12 photos]
Source: In Focus | 5 Dec 2013 | 6:35 am PST
From a blog about the science of dogs, a comparison of photos of purebred dogs from 1915 to those of today. You can see how much the dogs have changed in just under 100 years, in some cases for the worse. For instance, the difference in the Bull Terrier (aka the Spuds MacKenzie dog) is marked and a bit disturbing:
Pure breeding has also introduced medical problems for some breeds.
The English bulldog has come to symbolize all that is wrong with the dog fancy and not without good reason; they suffer from almost every possible disease. A 2004 survey by the Kennel Club found that they die at the median age of 6.25 years (n=180). There really is no such thing as a healthy bulldog. The bulldog's monstrous proportions makes them virtually incapable of mating or birthing without medical intervention.
(via @mulegirl)Tags: biology dogs genetic science
Source: kottke.org | 4 Dec 2013 | 1:25 pm PST
In a masterfully edited video, David Ehrlich presents his 25 favorite films of 2013.
Fantastic. This video makes me want to stop what I'm doing and watch movies for a week. It's a good year for it apparently...both Tyler Cowen and Bruce Handy argue that 2013 is an exceptional year for movies. I'm still fond of 1999... (via @brillhart)Tags: best of best of 2013 Bruce Handy David Ehrlich movies music remix Tyler Cowen video
Source: kottke.org | 4 Dec 2013 | 11:10 am PST
From a 1968 film shot by director Jean-Luc Godard, here's the Rolling Stones in the recording studio, working on refining Sympathy for the Devil.
(via openculture)Tags: Jean-Luc Godard music The Rolling Stones video
Source: kottke.org | 4 Dec 2013 | 9:34 am PST
Linda Holmes writes about the gender roles of the main characters in the Hunger Games movies and how unusual they are for a mainstream blockbuster film.
But one of the most unusual things about Katniss isn't the way she defies typical gender roles for heroines, but the way Peeta, her arena partner and one of her two love interests, defies typical Hollywood versions of gender roles for boyfriends.
Consider the evidence: Peeta's family runs a bakery. He can literally bake a cherry pie, as the old song says.
He is physically tough, but markedly less so than she is. He's got a good firm spine, but he lacks her disconnected approach to killing. Over and over, she finds herself screaming "PEETA!", not calling for help but going to help, and then running, because he's gone and done some damn fool thing like gotten himself electrocuted.
Mimi Schippers, riffing on Holmes' piece, argues that Katniss is such an interesting character because she's not tied to a particular gender...she's the "movie boyfriend" with Peeta and the "movie girlfriend" with Gale.
Forcing Katniss to choose is forcing Katniss into monogamy, and as I suggested above, into doing gender to complement her partner. Victoria Robinson points out in her article, "My Baby Just Cares for Me," that monogamy compels women to invest too much time, energy, and resources into an individual man and limits their autonomy and relationships with others. What Robinson doesn't talk about is how it also limits women's range of how they might do gender in relationship to others.
It also limits men's range of doing gender in relationships. Wouldn't it be nice if Peeta and Gale never felt the pressure to be something they are not? Imagine how Peeta's and Gale's masculinities would have to be reconfigured to accommodate and accept each other?
Maybe this is why the end of Catching Fire (minor spoilers!) -- Katniss as the cliched irrational hysterical woman who can't be trusted with information -- felt so out of place compared to her gender fluidity throughout the rest of the movie.Tags: gender Linda Holmes Mimi Schippers movies The Hunger Games
Source: kottke.org | 4 Dec 2013 | 8:09 am PST
Tags: Coen brothers movies
Right now, the brothers are plainly excited about what they're writing, which they proudly explain, is set in ancient Rome. It's the allure of the unexpected, all over again.
"It's like: Would you ever do a sandal movie?" laughs Joel. "It's big," says Ethan, grinning. "We're interested in the big questions. And we don't (expletive) around with subtext. This one especially."
Though their movies usually revel in the absurdity of life's predicaments, Ethan promises this film has answers: "It's not like our piddly 'A Serious Man.'" Chimes Joel: "That was a cop-out. We just totally chickened out on that one."
Source: kottke.org | 4 Dec 2013 | 7:11 am PST
Source: Grantland: Bill Barnwell | 4 Dec 2013 | 12:00 am PST
Source: Grantland: Bill Barnwell | 4 Dec 2013 | 12:00 am PST
This is what it's like to be poor orig. from Dec 02, 2013
* Q: Wha? A: These previously published entries have been updated with new information in the last 24 hours. You can find past updates here.Tags: post updates
Source: kottke.org | 3 Dec 2013 | 10:11 pm PST
Merck is working on a new insomnia drug that they claim has few of the sometimes nasty side effects of other drugs like Ambien. Ian Parker reports for the New Yorker.
Tags: drugs Ian Parker medicine Merck
If the Merck scientists succeeded at the F.D.A., they would be the first to bring an orexin-related drug to market. "It's an amazing achievement," Richard Hargreaves, the fourth colleague at the Hilton, said. "Everyone should be really proud." But, he added, "my worry is that a new mechanism is being evaluated on the science of an old mechanism."
"With Ambien, you've got a drug that's got basically only onset," Renger said, dismissively. That is, it sends you to sleep but might not keep you asleep. "Suvorexant has the onset, but it has the great maintenance, especially in the last third of the night, where other drugs fail." And even though suvorexant keeps working longer than Ambien, suvorexant patients don't feel groggier afterward, as you might expect. Impassioned, Renger imagined himself addressing the F.D.A.: "Why aren't you giving this a chance?"
"Drugs usually have some side effects," Schoepp said. "It's all benefit-risk." He added, "There is some dose where suvorexant will be ultimately safe-because nothing will happen. If you go low enough, it becomes homeopathic."
They stood to go to their rooms. Schoepp murmured, "I'd love to take it right now."
Source: kottke.org | 3 Dec 2013 | 2:31 pm PST
Errol Morris is at it again, publishing book-length blog posts for the NY Times. This time, he's examining the photograph evidence of Abraham Lincoln and, I think, what those photos might tell us about Lincoln's death. Here's the prologue and part one (of an eventual four).
Tags: Abraham Lincoln Errol Morris photography
My fascination with the dating and interpretation of photographs is really a fascination with the push-pull of history. Facts vs. beliefs. Our desire to know the origins of things vs. our desire to rework, to reconfigure the past to suit our own beliefs and predilections. Perhaps nothing better illustrates this than two radically different predispositions to objects -- the storyteller vs. the collector.
For the collector the image with the crack [in one of Lincoln's photographs] is a damaged piece of goods -- the crack potentially undermining the value of the photograph as an artifact, a link to the past. The storyteller doesn't care about the photograph's condition, or its provenance, but about its thematic connections with events. To the storyteller, the crack is the beginning of a legend -- the legend of a death foretold. The crack seems to anticipate the bullet fired into the back of Lincoln's head at Ford's Theater on Good Friday, April 14, 1865.
It should have a name. I call it "the proleptic crack."
Source: kottke.org | 3 Dec 2013 | 12:08 pm PST
From Rap Genius, a chart showing mentions in rap songs of popular social sites and apps like Twitter and Instagram:
Compare with the graph for the same terms from Google News:
And here's the graph for general search terms. (I excluded Snapchat from the Google graphs because Google wouldn't allow 6 search terms at a time...it barely showed up in either case.) Twitter rules the rap roost, but Facebook demolishes everyone in general and news search traffic.Tags: Facebook infoviz music Twitter
Source: kottke.org | 3 Dec 2013 | 10:05 am PST
In a video analogue of Alvin Lucier's I Am Sitting in a Room, this YouTube video is uploaded and then downloaded 1000 consecutive times until the image becomes all artifacts.
(via digg)Tags: Alvin Lucier remix video
Source: kottke.org | 3 Dec 2013 | 8:52 am PST
While Saint Nicholas may bring gifts to good boys and girls, ancient folklore in Europe's Alpine region also tells of Krampus, a frightening beast-like creature who emerges during the Yule season, looking for naughty children to punish in horrible ways -- or possibly to drag back to his lair in a sack. In keeping with pre-Germanic Pagan traditions, men dressed as these demons have been frightening children on Krampusnacht for centuries, chasing them and hitting them with sticks, on an (often alcohol-fueled) run through the dark streets. [20 photos]
Source: In Focus | 3 Dec 2013 | 8:14 am PST
(via gizmodo)Tags: art iPad apps Kyle Lambert Morgan Freeman video
Source: kottke.org | 3 Dec 2013 | 7:25 am PST
From the cotton in the fields to the manufacturing machines to the container ships, NPR's Planet Money looks at the often complex world behind the making of a simple t-shirt.
Tags: business economics fashion tshirts video
We flew drones over Mississippi. We got mugged in Chittagong, Bangladesh. We met people whom we'll never forget -- the actual people who make our clothing. At every location we had radio reporters and videographers.
Source: kottke.org | 3 Dec 2013 | 6:21 am PST
Source: Grantland: Bill Barnwell | 3 Dec 2013 | 12:00 am PST
This is what it's like to be poor orig. from Dec 02, 2013
* Q: Wha? A: These previously published entries have been updated with new information in the last 24 hours. You can find past updates here.Tags: post updates
Source: kottke.org | 2 Dec 2013 | 10:11 pm PST
A few weeks ago, David Sedaris had a piece in the New Yorker about his recently deceased sister Tiffany.
In late May of this year, a few weeks shy of her fiftieth birthday, my youngest sister, Tiffany, committed suicide. She was living in a room in a beat-up house on the hard side of Somerville, Massachusetts, and had been dead, the coroner guessed, for at least five days before her door was battered down. I was given the news over a white courtesy phone while at the Dallas airport. Then, because my plane to Baton Rouge was boarding and I wasn't sure what else to do, I got on it. The following morning, I boarded another plane, this one to Atlanta, and the day after that I flew to Nashville, thinking all the while about my ever-shrinking family. A person expects his parents to die. But a sibling? I felt I'd lost the identity I'd enjoyed since 1968, when my younger brother was born.
On Wicked Local Somerville, a close friend of Tiffany's lets Sedaris have it with both barrels:
I found David Sedaris' article, "Now we are five," in the Oct. 28 New Yorker to be obviously self-serving, often grossly inaccurate, almost completely unresearched and, at times, outright callous. Some of her family had been more than decent, loving and kind to her. "Two lousy boxes" is not Tiffany's legacy. After her sister left with that meager lot, her house was still full of treasures.
Not only could Tiffany have been saved, she could have blossomed. While her friends had done pretty much all they could, at least half of her mental health issues stemmed from, or were exaggerated by, her poverty and unstable housing situation, but also from David's occasional mockery of her in his writings.
(thx, matt)Tags: David Sedaris
Source: kottke.org | 2 Dec 2013 | 9:58 am PST
The Rolling Stones favorite American dish is something the band invented called Hot Dogs on the Rocks:
5 potatoes, or enough instant mashed potatoes to serve five
1 large can baked beans
Prepare instant mashed potatoes, or boil and mash the potatoes. (Use milk and butter, making regular, every-day mashed potatoes.) Cook the frankfurters according to the package directions and heat the baked beans.
On each plate, serve a mound of creamy mashed potatoes ringed by heated canned baked beans. Over all the top of this, slice up the frankfurters in good-sized chunks.
Emily from Dinner is Served made some Hot Dogs on the Rocks; this is what the finished product looks like:
The recipe is from a 1967 "scene-makers cook book" called Singers & Swingers in the Kitchen (at Amazon). In addition to the Stones' contribution, the book contained recipes like Paul Anka's Party Spaghetti, Crepes Suzette by Liza Minelli, Leonard Nimoy's Cold Soup Nimoy, and Barbra Streisand's Instant Coffee Ice Cream. I dunno...I think I'd take burgers from Sinatra, Dean Martin, or even Hemingway over any of this celebrity fare. (via if charlie parker was a gunslinger)Tags: food music The Rolling Stones
Source: kottke.org | 2 Dec 2013 | 7:54 am PST
Over the weekend, hundreds of thousands of people in Ukraine took to the streets to demonstrate against President Viktor Yanukovich's decision to abandon an EU integration pact, as he works to strengthen economic ties to Russia, rather than Europe. Protesters blockaded government buildings and occupied Independence Square in Kiev today, seeking to force Yanukovich from office. After harsh crackdowns last night, demonstrations continued this morning, with leaders calling for a nationwide strike. [30 photos]
Source: In Focus | 2 Dec 2013 | 7:24 am PST
Kinja user KillerMartinis provides some perspective on what it's like to live in poverty.
Rest is a luxury for the rich. I get up at 6AM, go to school (I have a full courseload, but I only have to go to two in-person classes) then work, then I get the kids, then I pick up my husband, then I have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 1230AM, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I'm in bed by 3. This isn't every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to clean the house and soothe Mr. Martini and see the kids for longer than an hour and catch up on schoolwork. Those nights I'm in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won't be able to stay up the other nights because I'll fuck my pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can't afford to be sleepy. I never get a day off from work unless I am fairly sick. It doesn't leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn't in the mix.
Her response to the first (agressively negative) comment is worth reading as well.
Update: We can't have nice things on the Internet...looks like KillerMartinis was not exactly forthcoming with regard to her financial status. (thx, @j4)money
Source: kottke.org | 2 Dec 2013 | 6:23 am PST
You're probably sick of this news already, but Amazon says they're working on 30-minute package delivery by drone.
The goal of this new delivery system is to get packages into customers' hands in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles.
Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations.
More likely that Amazon will buy a fledgling drone delivery company in the next year or two and begin rolling out same-day delivery of items weighing less than 2 pounds in non-urban areas where drone flights are permitted.
Tyler Cowen is already out of the gate this morning talking about the economics of drone delivery:
You would buy smaller size packages and keep smaller libraries at home and in your office. Bookshelf space would be freed up, you would cook more with freshly ground spices, the physical world would stand a better chance of competing with the rapid-delivery virtual world, and Amazon Kindles would decline in value.
But for now, Amazon Prime Air sure is providing lots of Cyber Monday PR for Amazon.Tags: Amazon drones economics Tyler Cowen
Source: kottke.org | 2 Dec 2013 | 5:55 am PST
Source: Grantland: Bill Barnwell | 2 Dec 2013 | 12:00 am PST
Brits label American states poorly orig. from Nov 27, 2013
* Q: Wha? A: These previously published entries have been updated with new information in the last 24 hours. You can find past updates here.Tags: post updates
Source: kottke.org | 27 Nov 2013 | 10:11 pm PST
Leo Tolstoy probably wasn't thinking of an American Thanksgiving when he opened Anna Karenina with this line: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." These days, all families -- happy or not -- are less alike than ever. In the NYT, Natalie Angier takes a look at the changing definition of family:
Families are more ethnically, racially, religiously and stylistically diverse than half a generation ago -- than even half a year ago. In increasing numbers, blacks marry whites, atheists marry Baptists, men marry men and women women, Democrats marry Republicans and start talk shows.
And they're all coming over to your house for Thanksgiving, which brings us to another quote -- this one from Oscar Wilde: "After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations."Tags: Natalie Angier USA
Source: kottke.org | 27 Nov 2013 | 2:45 pm PST
Tags: Apple books iPhone Jony Ive Leander Kahney
Excited by Kerr's explanation of what a sophisticated touch interface could do, the team members started to brainstorm the kinds of hardware they might build with it.
The most obvious idea was a touchscreen Mac. Instead of a keyboard and mouse, users could tap on the screen of the computer to control it. One of the designers suggested a touchscreen controller that functioned as an alternate to a keyboard and mouse, a sort of virtual keyboard with soft keys.
As Satzger remembered, "We asked, How do we take a tablet, which has been around for a while, and do something more with it? Touch is one thing, but multitouch was new. You could swipe to turn a page, as opposed to finding a button on the screen that would allow you turn the page. Instead of trying to find a button to make operations, we could turn a page just like a newspaper."
Jony in particular had always had a deep appreciation for the tactile nature of computing; he had put handles on several of his early machines specifically to encourage touching. But here was an opportunity to make the ultimate tactile device. No more keyboard, mouse, pen, or even a click wheel-the user would touch the actual interface with his or her fingers. What could be more intimate?
Source: kottke.org | 27 Nov 2013 | 1:50 pm PST
Buzzfeed asked some Brits to label states on a US map. They didn't do so well:
My favorite is "Further South Dakota". In fairness, most US citizens would be hard pressed to name any of the counties of England, much less place them on a map.
Update: See how Americans fared on placing European countries. (Not well.)Tags: maps USA
Source: kottke.org | 27 Nov 2013 | 12:46 pm PST
Source: kottke.org | 27 Nov 2013 | 8:50 am PST
Time is running out to enter this year's National Geographic photo contest, the deadline for submissions is Saturday, November 30. One first-place winner will be chosen from each of the three categories, and the winning photographs will be published in National Geographic magazine. The overall grand-prize winner will be announced in December of 2013. National Geographic was once more kind enough to let me choose among its entries so far, for display here on In Focus. Gathered below are 36 more images, with captions written by the individual photographers. Be sure to also see Part I, earlier on In Focus. [36 photos]
Source: In Focus | 27 Nov 2013 | 7:35 am PST
Source: Grantland: Bill Barnwell | 27 Nov 2013 | 12:00 am PST
Matt Krumwiede is a sergeant in the U.S. Army. Last year, while on patrol in southern Afghanistan, he stepped on an improvised explosive device. Fifteen pounds of explosive tore into his body, destroying both his legs and badly damaging his torso and left arm. Medics on the scene and a quick Medevac flight saved his life but started him on a long, painful journey toward recovery. More than a year later, he has undergone around 40 surgeries and is now learning to walk with prosthetic legs. His end goal is to once again be a soldier in the infantry. Reuters photographer Shamil Zhumatov, who was embedded with Sgt. Krumwiede's regiment last year, happened to be present on the day he stepped on the IED and took several photos of the immediate aftermath, including the painful impact on both Sgt. Krumwiede and his uninjured comrades who remained in the field. Earlier this year, Reuters photographer Jim Urquhart started meeting up with Sgt. Krumwiede, documenting his recovery in Texas -- his support system of therapists, family, and friends, and the daily trials of recovering from such a traumatic set of injuries. This entry is part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan. [25 photos]
Source: In Focus | 26 Nov 2013 | 8:00 am PST
Far off the coast of Yemen lies isolated Socotra island, where hundreds of plants and animals have developed into species unique to the island. The best-known of these might be the Dragon Blood trees, with their densely-packed crowns and blood-red sap. Socotra, sometimes referred to as "the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean," is slowly emerging from its long isolation -- in 1999, the first airport opened, and tourism began to pick up. In an effort to counter any negative impacts, UNESCO recognized the island as a World Natural Heritage Site in 2008, promoting conservation of the unique environment and some of its endangered species. [20 photos]
Source: In Focus | 25 Nov 2013 | 6:42 am PST
Source: Grantland: Bill Barnwell | 25 Nov 2013 | 12:00 am PST
Fifty years ago, mobile devices, Twitter, and Instagram didn't exist, but the basic technologies of transmitting voice, text, and image electronically were well-established. Reporters in far-flung news bureaus could broadcast text through teletypesetter machines, and images via wirephoto machines, approaching real-time reporting of breaking events. When President John F. Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963, Associated Press staffer James Altgens was photographing the motorcade, and became an eyewitness. His quick phone call to the AP's Dallas bureau became the first news bulletin about the shooting distributed across the AP's teletypesetter circuit. Hours of frantic reporting followed, supplying newspapers and broadcasters with information as events unfolded. If news is the first draft of history, then these pages of raw wire copy are pieces of the rough draft. [28 photos]
Source: In Focus | 21 Nov 2013 | 6:20 am PST
After losing their boats and houses in Super Typhoon Haiyan, fishermen from a destroyed village in Tanauan started building two-seated boats out of abandoned refrigerators and wood. Fisherman Jimmy Obaldo got the idea for the first boat from his children, and soon others followed his lead. These improvised vessels appear to be successfully afloat, and the fishermen are making small catches, as documented by Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj. [15 photos]
Source: In Focus | 20 Nov 2013 | 6:50 am PST
In America's postwar years, architects and builders were redefining modernism, taking advantage of new construction techniques and materials to create a visual language for the 20th century. Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen was amazingly prolific and successful throughout this era, designing projects large and small, from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the TWA Flight Center at New York's JFK Airport to community churches and individual homes. Photographer Balthazar Korab worked for Saarinen, skillfully capturing the nuances, shapes, and lines of his structures and documenting the creative process involved. In the process, he earned a reputation as a well-respected architectural photographer. Korab, who passed away earlier this year, graciously donated nearly 800 of these photographs to the Library of Congress in 2007. [44 photos]
Source: In Focus | 19 Nov 2013 | 9:27 am PST
In Indonesia's North Sumatra province, Mount Sinabung, a 2,600-meter (8,530-foot) tall volcano, has erupted several times over the past few days, spewing massive clouds of superheated gas and ash into the sky, and down its slopes in deadly pyroclastic flows. Sinabung has been active off and on since September, following a re-awakening in 2010, after more than 400 years of dormancy. Thousands of villagers and farmers living nearby have been evacuated, hoping to be able to return home soon. [19 photos]
Source: In Focus | 18 Nov 2013 | 6:12 am PST
National Geographic has once again opened its annual photo contest, with the deadline for submissions coming up on Saturday, November 30. One first-place winner will be chosen from each of the three categories, and the winning photographs will be published in National Geographic magazine. The overall grand-prize winner will be announced in December of 2013. National Geographic was kind enough to let me choose among its entries so far for display here on In Focus. Gathered below are 39 images, with captions written by the individual photographers. [39 photos]
Source: In Focus | 15 Nov 2013 | 6:32 am PST
It's now one week after Super Typhoon Haiyan made landfall, wreaking unprecedented damage and killing thousands. The islands of Leyte and Samar were hardest hit, with entire cities and towns reduced to rubble and debris. The past week was a desperate one for survivors as they struggled to find food, clean water, shelter, and security. Widespread destruction left roads impassable, electricity cut, government services in a shambles, and 600,0000 homeless. International aid is only now starting to arrive in significant amounts, and bodies are still being discovered among the debris. See also this earlier post on In Focus. [41 photos]
Source: In Focus | 14 Nov 2013 | 6:25 am PST
Officials are now estimating that as many as 10,000 deaths may have been caused in the Philippines by the landfall of one of the most powerful storms on record, Super Typhoon Haiyan. Wind gusts were measured up to 195 mph, and the storm's reach extended over a thousand miles as it approached the Philippines last Friday. The extent of the devastation is still being assessed by humanitarian groups, but all measures so far indicate a historic level of damage, requiring millions in aid and years for recovery. [26 photos]
Source: In Focus | 11 Nov 2013 | 5:50 am PST
Photographer Louie Palu is no stranger to conflict photography. After covering Afghanistan for more than five years, he returned to North America to cover the bloody drug-related crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border. Traveling the length of the border, working on both sides, he covered key cartel territory as well as government-controlled areas. Palu: "I feel that organized crime groups pose a greater risk to each one of us on a daily basis than terrorists or the Taliban. Their daily goal is to corrupt all government and law enforcement in order to carry out their business on both sides of the border." Since 2006 over 60,000 Mexicans have been killed and numerous journalists have been murdered or reported missing -- from 2006-2012 Mexico ranked as one of the deadliest places in the world for journalists. Funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center On Crisis Reporting and a fellowship from the New America Foundation, Palu was able to capture these powerful images of crisis in northern Mexico. Warning, some of the images below are graphic. [20 photos]
Source: In Focus | 8 Nov 2013 | 6:57 am PST
Chinese artist Liu Bolin has been disappearing for years now. Using his own body as a canvas, painting himself into the background, Bolin creates scenes that are statements about our relationship to our surroundings, and reflections on Chinese artists and their status in modern China. Beginning as performance art in 2005, his work includes series titled "Hiding in the City" and "The Invisible Man." Collected below are several of his performances from the past few years. [28 photos]
Source: In Focus | 6 Nov 2013 | 7:14 am PST
Fifty years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, The Atlantic has resurfaced some of its best journalism about the 35th president and his legacy in a new collection: JFK In His Time and Ours. Although Kennedy was in office for barely more than a thousand days, his presidency and his presence on the world stage had a huge historical impact. Much of that was captured in photographs of the time, following the handsome son of a wealthy businessman from childhood to the most powerful office in the world, until it all ended in tragedy in Dallas. [50 photos]
Source: In Focus | 5 Nov 2013 | 7:42 am PST
Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus has been covering conflicts from Bosnia to Afghanistan for more than 20 years, earning a Pulitzer Prize in 2005, as part of a team of AP photographers covering the Iraq War. She has traveled to Afghanistan numerous times, photographing events from 2001 until today, sending photos from Kandahar as recently as yesterday. Documenting a decades-long story like the Afghanistan War is a challenge for any photojournalist, from simple logistical issues, to serious safety concerns, to the difficulty of keeping the narrative fresh and compelling. Niedringhaus has done a remarkable job, telling people's stories with a strong, consistent voice, an amazing eye for light and composition, and a level of compassion that clearly shows through her images. Gathered here are just a handful of her photos from the war-torn nation, part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan. [40 photos]
Source: In Focus | 4 Nov 2013 | 6:15 am PST
An idea dreamed up at the height of the depression, the theme of the 1939 World's Fair in New York was "The World of Tomorrow." Planners were given permission to develop 1,200 acres in Queens, on the site of a former ash dump . Government agencies, corporations, civic groups, and smaller organizations from around the world arrived in huge numbers, building extraordinary pavilions and setting up exhibitions. The iconic Trylon and Perisphere structures became the symbols of the entire fair; they housed a diorama called "Democracity," a utopian city of the future. Over the course of two seasons, 44 million people attended the fair, catching glimpses of a possible future, and enjoying entertainments from marionette shows and thrill rides to girlie shows and choreographed aquatic extravaganzas. [42 photos]
Source: In Focus | 1 Nov 2013 | 9:51 am PDT
Nikon has just announced the winners of the 2013 Small World Photomicrography Competition. Started back in 1974, the contest invites photographers and scientists to submit images of all things visible under a microscope. I was fortunate enough to have been asked to be a judge in this year's competition, and am happy to finally be able to share some of the winning images with you. Taking first place this year is a 250x view of a marine diatom by Wim van Egmond (photo #2 below), showing the complexity and stunning detail of its fragile helical chain. Other entries include close-up views of ladybug feet, mollusc radula, dinosaur bones, nerve structures in embryos, and much more. Enjoy a trip into a miniature world through the images shared here with us by Nikon, all from the 2013 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. [32 photos]
Source: In Focus | 30 Oct 2013 | 5:41 am PDT
At the beginning of October, the famous street artist known as Banksy announced an upcoming "residency" on the streets of New York City, titled "Better Out Than In". Nearly every day this month, Banksy's website announced the appearance of a new piece somewhere in New York's five boroughs. New Yorkers flocked to catch a glimpse of stencils, tags, sculptures, and moving works of art before they disappeared, or were defaced or painted over. [23 photos]
Source: In Focus | 29 Oct 2013 | 7:32 am PDT
Reuters photographer Ina Fassbender recently traveled with a group to a former East German bunker near the city of Ilmenau. Built in the 1970s as an emergency shelter for the district's command unit, the bunker has now been transformed into a museum. For 109 euros ($150 USD), visitors can participate in a "reality experience" in which they wear National People's Army (NVA) uniforms and are treated as East German soldiers for a night. [25 photos]
Source: In Focus | 24 Oct 2013 | 7:03 am PDT
The days are getting shorter and the nights chillier as fall descends on the Northern Hemisphere. Autumn is the season of harvests, festivals, migrations, winter preparations, and of course, spectacular foliage. Across the north, leaves are reaching peak color, apples and pumpkins are being gathered, and animals are on the move. Collected here are more images from this year's autumn. Be sure to also view Part I, from earlier this season. [38 photos]
Source: In Focus | 23 Oct 2013 | 6:16 am PDT