Showing posts with label Miscellany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Miscellany. Show all posts

February 23, 2010

Nuts Allergy

These are particularly fine examples of the cake wreck genre.

Hat tip to my wife.

February 22, 2010

One is the Loneliest Number, Silver is the Saddest Medal

If you can't win gold, go for bronze:
"On average, bronze medalists are happier than silver medalists," said Victoria Medvec, a psychologist and professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Managementv in Illinois.

The phenomenon is a case of counterfactual thinking - thoughts about "what might have been," she explained.

Third-place winners have upward thoughts ("at least I won") that increase satisfaction, researchers have found, whereas those who come in second tend to have downward "if only" thoughts that decrease happiness.

Unhappy Hipsters

If you haven't subscribed to Unhappy Hipsters yet then get thee to the feed reader.

November 9, 2009

Desire Lines

From Wikipedia:
A desire path (also known as a desire line or social trail) is a path developed by erosion caused by animal or human footfall. The path usually represents the shortest or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination. The width and amount of erosion of the line represents the amount of demand. The term was coined by Gaston Bachelard in his book The Poetics of Space.[1] Desire paths can usually be found as shortcuts where constructed pathways take a circuitous route.

They are manifested on the surface of the earth in certain cases, e.g., as dirt pathways created by people walking through a field, when the original movement by individuals helps clear a path, thereby encouraging more travel. Explorers may tread a path through foliage or grass, leaving a trail "of least resistance" for followers.

The lines may be seen along an unpaved road shoulder or some other unpaved natural surface. The paths take on an organically grown appearance by being unbiased toward existing constructed routes. These are almost always the most direct and the shortest routes between two points, and may later be surfaced. Many streets in older cities began as desire lines, which evolved over the decades or centuries into the modern streets of today.
A short piece in the New York Times entitled "Ploughing Detroit into Farmland" points to this nice post from Sweet Juniper that explicates the emerging desire lines around the vacant urban landscape of Detroit and which can be seen in the photo above, also from Sweet Juniper.

It's not a term that I was familiar with, though one that I'm now glad I know as I've always been a bit of an intrepid desire path follower. If you've spent any time in a developing country, and Africa in particular I think, you know that desire lines are as ubiquitous as feet and you've no doubt seen vast stretches of forlorn untrodden sidewalk as everyone wisely follows their own much more efficient and no less demarcated desire paths across, around and over it. My own favorite encapsulation of the difference between desire paths and paved roads always came when asking if I was following the right road from one village to another village in the Botswana bush, the reply would inevitably be: "This is a road but it is not the road."

August 19, 2009

Engineers are a Matter of Fact People

Names of telescopes:

The only conclusion can be that all the creative energy of astronomers goes into thinking about what aliens look like and therefore they have no time left over to think up names for their equipment. That, or space dementia. Gleaned from this little piece in the Economist on the future of astronomy and the possible implications of it being guided by computerized robots rather than the hunches of mere mortals in the line of Galileo, Kepler, et al.

May 12, 2009


Posts have been a bit scarce of late and will be more so in the next few days, as we just had a baby.  We are sleepy, we are excited, we are parents.  

PS - In the meantime If you missed Justin Timberlake on SNL, I'm up late these days, there are a couple of skits that are worth watching - I don't love his music but the guy has skills - that monologue was brilliantly done.  The Geithner opening was a couple minutes too long but funny:

May 5, 2009

Markets in Everything: Home Victories

With the usual apologies to Marginal Revolution, from the AJC:
Georgia, which has beaten New Mexico State by an average of 32 points in three previous meetings, will pay the Aggies $925,000 to come to Athens for another game.

The Bulldogs will play New Mexico State on Nov. 5, 2011, in Sanford Stadium.

Georgia is to pay New Mexico State the $925,000 — believed to be the largest payout UGA has made to a visiting team — by Jan. 31, 2012, according to the contract between the schools, obtained this morning by the AJC.
By my calculations that's an average margin of victory cost of $28,906.25 per point.  Memo to Coach Richt, pull the offense back in the second half and you could save a few hundred thousand dollars the next time contract negotiations come around.

April 17, 2009

Your Depressing Map of the Day

Slate took data from the Labor Department's local area unemployment statistics starting in January 2007 and running up to February 2009 and mashed it into an interactive map on which you can watch employment bleed out of the country - further visual evidence that the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 have been simply brutal on the jobs front.

April 11, 2009

Building Codes: Mapping Technology and Tradition

Heads up to all the loyal readers in or passing through Baton Rouge, LA next week. Do yourself a favor and check out David West's (one of those rare persons with no discernible "web presence" as he spends most of his time making actual things . . . luddite) show at the Glassell Gallery.  The gallery is located downtown in the Shaw Center, which is worth a trip in and of itself, so you really can't miss with this one - definitely worth your time.

Disclaimer:  Amongst other things, David and I share parents.

April 1, 2009

Tauntaun Sleeping Bag

By far the best April fools bit I saw today was this one from ThinkGeek -  the tauntaun sleeping bag:
This high-quality sleeping bag looks just like a Tauntaun, complete with saddle, internal intestines and glowing lightsaber zipper pull. Now when your kids tell you their favorite Star Wars movie is "Attack of the Clones" you can nestle the wee-ones snug in simulated Tauntaun fur while regaling them with the amazing tale of "Empire Strikes Back".

Use the glowing lightsaber zipper pull on the Tauntaun sleeping bag to illustrate how Han Solo saved Luke Skywalker from certain death in the freezing climate of Hoth by slitting open the belly of a dead Tauntaun and placing Luke inside the stinking (but warm) carcass. If your kids don't change their tune on which Star Wars film is the greatest ever, you can do your best Jar Jar impression until they repent.

Perhaps even better is this seemingly legitimate bit recently added to the sidebar, apparently after ThinkGeek received a deluge of emails from customers:
ATTN Tauntaun Fanatics! Due to an overwhelming tsunami of requests from YOU THE PEOPLE, we have decided to TRY and bring this to life. We have no clue if the suits at Lucasfilms will grant little ThinkGeek a license, nor do we know how much it would ultimately retail for. But if you are interested in ever owning one of these, click the link below and we'll try!
Looks like something just got added to the baby registry.

March 29, 2009

Two of My Favorite Things

Two of my favorite things get connected in this piece from the NYT - Wikipedia and Jane Jacobs:
Mr. Lih at one point enlists the urban reformer Jane Jacobs to back up this point. For him, urban stability is replicated through the transparency of wikis — every change ever made at Wikipedia (every discussion as well) is recorded. Ms. Jacobs, he writes, “argued that sidewalks provided three important things: safety, contact and the assimilation of children.” She may as well have been talking about wikis, he says: “A wiki has all its activities happening in the open for inspection, as on Jacobs’s sidewalk. Trust is built by observing the actions of others in the community and discovering people with like or complementary interests.”

February 27, 2009

Rose McCoy

NPR did a great piece on songwriter Rose Marie McCoy this afternoon. You can tell just by listening to her conversation with the interviewer that she made her money with words so listen to it if you have time (though it looks like most of the transcript is there).  These were a couple of my favorite lines:  
In 1954, McCoy and Singleton wrote a song called "Trying to Get to You," which was first recorded by a black vocal group called The Eagles. Elvis Presley heard their version in a record store in Memphis, and he decided to record the song on his debut album for RCA Records in 1955.

"Elvis did that just exactly like The Eagles, exactly," McCoy says. "Every breath, every sound, everything. Amazing how he did that. ... He wasn't a big star at that point, and we thought he was terrible because we thought he couldn't sing. We didn't understand, but we was grateful. Thank God for Elvis."

. . . . .

"They wanted to hear what you had," she adds. "And if they liked it, they didn't care if you was black or white. We thought it was the blues and they called it rock 'n' roll; I still don't know the difference."

February 19, 2009

"Extinct" Bird Seen, Eaten

From National Geographic, an early contender for blog post title of the year.


February 11, 2009

If You Don't Know Now You Know

My brother is the only actual artist I know personally and he's already one of the hardest working guys around so maybe he doesn't need the advice but for those of you who are like myself and find your artistry expressed in the more mundane tasks of your day I'm going to add my recommendation to the plethora of others already out there and suggest you watch Elizabeth Gilbert's TED Talk.  Gilbert's writing isn't my particular taste but the good Judge John Hodgman, her friend and fellow TED attendee, nailed it as to why this particular talk is so effective (and interesting to me in particular).:
BUT WHILE SHE IS ADORED in this video, and I adore her as well, the magical thing you may not be able to get through this embedded video is how skeptical the audience initially was of her, and how masterfully she won over this bunch of jaded billionaire/genius TEDTOPIANS through simple, good storytelling.

PS - Come to think of it, David, you should watch this one too.

February 6, 2009

La Machine in Liverpool

The Big Picture has another amazing photo set up, this time of an "event" that was part of Liverpool's Capital of Culture year.  The best way to describe it seems to bit this bit pulled from one of the photographer's captions: "street theatre on a city scale with a 50 foot spider."


There is, of course, plenty of You Tube coverage as well.

January 20, 2009



Tough to fool a baby, even more so if said baby is a Jedi.

January 9, 2009