A Letter of Note

"…say Freddy? Will that be great or not."


Since 2001, law has required pig farmers in the European Union to provide some form of entertainment to their livestock as a way of keeping them in good emotional health[!!! -ed.], which in turn helps curb aggression and anxiety. Often, toys and other materials are placed inside the sties for animals to interact with, but perhaps unsurprisingly, some farmers have found it quite difficult to turn their pigpens into playpens.

With that in mind, designers from Utrecht School of the Arts and Wageningen University in the Netherlands ventured to create new ways to make swine swoon -- resulting in a project called Playing with Pigs. But with a shortage of literature on entertaining pigs, developers soon found themselves experts in the field.
via MetaFilter

Downhill. Fast.

This video is impressive, but it's the audio that really makes it. I've never heard such enthusiastic commentary in all my life. But I've never heard these two guys, either, so maybe they're always this way. Turn it up.

via The Science of Sport (the whole post is worth checking out), via MetaFilter.

Free Ideas III

Twea: tea for Hipsters

Business plan:
  1. Buy some Lipton Tea leaves, ideally in bulk through a direct-from-the-factory discount program.
  2. Package the tea in organic, recycled, hand-letterpressed, small-batch, sustainable teabags and boxes. If you can claim that the teabags are produced sustainably and/or help employ single mothers in the developing world using capital infused through an experimental microfinance program, all the better.
  3. Profit!

BlackBerry Stampede

I swear I thought this was an Onion headline when I saw it:

BlackBerry Bold 9790: Several Faint In Crush As Thousands Line Up To Get New Phone

Yelping with Cormac

I added Yelping with Cormac to my RSS feed awhile ago, but hadn't read any posts until last night. Why did I wait so long?

Olive Garden, Apple Store, and Whole Foods are my favorites so far.

Shanghai, Then and Now

Let's set the over/under on these pictures at 50 years apart. What do you take?

The whole post is worth scrolling through.

Does This Count?

via the Daily Mail
"Do one thing every day that scares you."
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Does "watching other people do things that scare you" count?

What if it's so scary you can't bear to watch for more than a minute? I mean, WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT?!

And with this post, I introduce a new tag, which I'll try to apply retroactively as well as to future posts: WOTEDTSY: Watch One Thing Every Day That Scares You.

So, They DO Know!

"‘Yes we know it’s Christmas’ say African musicians as they finally record a response to Band Aid"

I share Chris Blattman's disappointment that this story is not real; and I thank him for the pointer:
Speaking at the launch of the single, whose proceeds will go towards teaching discipline, literacy and contraception at British schools, composer and singer Boomtown Gundane said that for years he had been irked by Geldof's assumption that hungry Africans were also stupid.

"Or was he just saying that Africans were stupid? Of course we knew it was Christmas."


Who says science and Christianity can't live happily together?

via xkcd.com

Death to Pennies

I would suggest (as the narrator does) that we rip this Band-Aid off fast by abolishing the Nickel and maybe even the Dime while we're at it.

via Everyone, awhile ago.

An Unspecified Medical Issue

Attorneys for John Edwards asked again Thursday to delay his criminal trial, saying the former presidential candidate and U.S. senator has an unspecified medical issue. 
In June, the Justice Department charged Edwards with conspiracy, issuing false statements and violating campaign contribution laws. He has pleaded not guilty. 
In September, the trial was delayed until January 30 after Edwards' attorneys said he needed more time, in part due to his position as the sole caretaker of his two youngest children, ages 11 and 13, after his wife, Elizabeth, passed away in December 2010.
I hope he doesn't have cancer. After all that poor man has been through these past few years, I really hope he doesn't have cancer.

iPhone Case

To whom it may concern: if your smartphone case is also a bottle opener, then I think it's fair to assume you're addicted to either the phone, the drink, or both.

The Best or Worst Hockey Game Ever

I'm not much of a sports fan, but this caught my attention:
The Worst Hockey Game Ever
On Nov. 9, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay Did Literally Nothing for Long Stretches; 'Horrible'
Tyler Cowen calls it "the best and deepest game of hockey ever. Seriously." and I have insufficient data to disagree with him (is this ever not the case?). I probably would not have enjoyed watching the game, but Mike Sielski's account of it is fascinating:
Twenty-seven seconds after the puck was dropped, as the Flyers took possession in their own end, things got weird. Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds passed the puck backward to defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who slid it over to fellow defender Braydon Coburn in the right faceoff circle. There Coburn just leaned on his stick, with the puck at rest behind the blade. 
The aim of this tactic, Laviolette said in an interview later, was to force Tampa to drop the defensive style it had used to such great effect before. By having Coburn stand still, Laviolette hoped to draw the Tampa forward at the top of the 1-3-1 alignment out to challenge the puck-carrier—thereby taking Tampa's defense out of the trap. 
What Laviolette didn't anticipate is that the Lightning's forward, Martin St. Louis, would never go anywhere near Coburn. Instead, he stayed in the circle in the middle of the ice in his proper spot. 
After watching Coburn do nothing for close to 30 seconds, referees Rob Martell and Chris Rooney blew their whistles to stop play, then told Laviolette that his players have to keep the puck in motion. The crowd began to boo.
The article and the Lightning fans blame the Flyers for the slow pace of play, but that seems unfair to me. The Flyers brought an unorthodox game plan in an effort to dismantle a defensive strategy that had given them trouble in the past. Whether their game was strictly "hockey" or not is up for debate, but they evidently played by the rules. On the other side of the puck, the Lightning stubbornly refused to break out of the defensive set that so stumped the Flyers in the past. Both teams stuck to their guns; neither wanted to bend or compromise merely to get the game moving. 

Why not blame both teams equally? Would the game have been reported differently if it were played in Philly? Would the booing have still happened, and if so could it have been attributed to the defensive strategy rather than the home-team offense?

10,000 Watts

This is hilarious:
Behringer, a maker of professional audio and music equipment, is launching the world's loudest -- and largest -- iPhone dock. The iNuke Boom is 4 feet tall, 8 feet wide, weighs 700 pounds, and costs $29,999.
The photo reminds me of Phil Hartmann perched atop 2.5 million bowls of oat bran at the end of the classic Super Colon Blow commercial.

via MacRumors.


I'm sure it's always hard to be an atheist here in America, but probably never more so that at Christmas the end of the calendar year. And maybe at the official unveiling of particularly significant memorials.

And while we're on the subject, now might be a nice time to revisit Ricky Gervais' essay from last Christmas.

(Incidentally, according to Google Analytics, I get a small number of referrals from the keyword search "bloviator ricky gervais" every week. Does anyone know how or why this would be? Also, I get a few hits for "she & him christmas album tracklist" and I'm inexplicably at the top of the list for that search.)

Night and Day and Night

Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong-Il died over the weekend. The timing is unfortunate, since Havel will no-doubt fail to get the attention he deserves and Kim will mostly get the wrong kind.

Havel shed light on a dark regime, and helped kindle a raging fire of freedom from a couple tiny sparks.

Kim (literally) did just about the opposite.

"North Korea is Dark" via globalsecurity.org

The 40 Most Memorable Tweets Of 2011

Is this the new template for the "Year in Review" concept?

How many 3rd-tier cities' last remaining newspapers are going to reprints this verbatim during the week between Christmas and New Year's? I'll set the over/under at 13.

Siri Translates

It hurts to watch, but I can't look away. (Caution: adult themes and swears.)


I've never seen a more concise summary of my current feeling about politicians than this Onion headline:
Man Whose Every Move Is Calculated For Personal Gain Represents 750,000 Constituents

1% from the 1%

I'd like to say I stopped reading this story after the opening clause ("A day after three Connecticut asset managers claimed the largest Powerball jackpot in the state's history..."), but that would be a lie. The truth is, it's a charming little tale of riches-to-even-more-riches. And they've given $1 million of their $100 million to charity!

I'll highlight one of my favorite passages and let the jokes tell themselves:
"Everybody is extremely excited -- these numbers are huge," said the trio's attorney, Jason Kurland. "This is going to benefit many people."

Jobs 2.0


You finally got [done reading] the latest and greatest [book about the world's most brilliant] tech gadget [creator], and now they announce they're coming out with an even better one next year. It's not even Christmas yet, and your gift is already obsolete!

Bacon Neck

Not long ago Hanes identified (or invented) a new problem apparently plaguing men throughout the first world. They even performed a public service by highlighting this problem with a clever and memorable ad.

When I first saw the ad, I laughed at the poor guys who'd be foolish enough to obsess over their wrinkly-collared undershirts. But, much like George Costanza's jingle, the message embedded itself into my sub-conscious.

On a recent morning, to bring things full-circle, I found myself pulling an old t-shirt from the bottom of my drawer - a Hanes t-shirt, mind you! - and looking with supreme dissatisfaction at its ripply collar. How can I go out in public wearing this?

So now I need to upgrade all my non-bacon-neck Hanes t-shirts? To new bacon-neck-proof Hanes t-shirts? Diabolical geniuses!

It's Cold

I think this is my new favorite rendition of my favorite wintertime song. (via Chris Blattman.)

In related news, I'm sad to say I was disappointed by She & Him's version. The twist was clever (has anyone done it this way before? I can't find it if they have.), but Zooey's performance came off as really awkward. And I know that awkwardness is supposed to be part of her charm, but there's a threshold beyond which I start to feel nervous for her and in this song she crosses that line.

I still love her with Leon Redbone, though.


Consistent with U.S. kids' 2010 wish lists, the Apple iPad is the most desired consumer electronic among kids ages 6-12 for holiday 2011. In fact, the iPad increases its stronghold, with nearly half (44%) of kids expressing interest in the product, up from 31 percent in 2010.
"Ages 6-12" is a pretty broad cohort, but don't these little monsters know we're in a recession? And how did Nielsen conduct this poll? Did they call or text the kids' iPhones? Perhaps pre-teens with cell phones should be forgiven for possessing enough sense of entitlement to expect a $500 gadget for Christmas.

Huck and Gus - I know neither of you can read yet, but mark my words: unless you've just earned a full scholarship to Yale, then you can expect to get a lump of coal the year you have the nerve to ask for (and, I assume, expect to receive) a $500 Christmas present.

Get Rich Quick!

Follow the Louis C.K. model, and you too can get rich in five easy steps:
  1. Have a talent. Preferably a marketable one. 
  2. Work really hard, within an established industry, for a long time and become famous based on your talent. Ideally, become one of the best people around at doing what you do. 
  3. Use your own money* to put on a show that exhibits your talent, essentially by-passing the established industry that helped make you famous. 
  4. Sell that show to a lot of people in a really short period of time. Sell it cheap, because your costs are relatively low and they're all sunk
  5. Profit! 
It remains to be seen whether this will be the catalyst for disrupting the media industry's existing business model as Dan Frommer (and others, I'm sure) have suggested, but it's an interesting experiment and I'm happy for Louis C.K. My guess is that this will do no more to put HBO and Comedy Central out of business than Radiohead did to drive record companies into obsolescence.

UPDATE: Louis C.K. took questions on reddit recently, and the exchange is well worth reading. (Caution: between the questions, answers, and comments, there's a 100% chance of adult themes.)

*This model assumes you've already been getting rich slowly for awhile, and therefore have your own money. If this assumption is false, then you might need another model.

How Come You're Not Rich?

Megan McCardle asks a great question: If Everyone Else is Such an Idiot, How Come You're Not Rich? and then explores some possible answers. Her thoughts are well worth reading.

I especially love her restraint; I get the sense that if she really wanted to tear into the topic she could hurt a lot of feelings:
If you've found it maybe not quite that easy to make a pile of money by outguessing all these benighted fools, then perhaps you should consider the possibility that they aren't quite as stupid as you are making them sound when you sniffily ask "Why don't they just . . . ?


Lots and lots of dots. Not only is the work of art beautiful, the video about the making of the work of art is beautifully done too.

Yahoo Serious Festival

T. Franklin Williams, Early Geriatric Specialist, Dies at 90

So, did he limit his studies to the first couple years of geriatricity?

Or did he arrive at old-age sooner than most? Would this be better described as premature geriatriculation?

Maybe he studied geriatrics when he himself was a relatively young age, or when the field was just beginning to take off.

All of the above?

Ice Cube, Design Aficionado

Click this. Read, watch, prepare to have your perspective changed. There's at least one person, place, or thing in the video that you'll never see the same way again.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

What Walker Percy did for bourbon drinking, and Michael P. Foley did for tobacco smoking, Jason Peters has just done for the martini.

This trio of tributes to life's simple pleasures is utterly beyond description. I'm tempted to elaborate on each essay; but nothing I could say would be enough, and anything at all would be too much.

Best. Raincheck. Ever.

The following is not a paid promotion.

I hate shopping, but I love buying stuff at Bonobos. Their pants fit perfectly, and they're well-made. The (discontinued) polo shirts I got from them a couple summers ago are my all-time favorites. Their suits look impressive, and if I needed a suit more than three times a year I'd probably own one of theirs.

Bonobos offers free shipping both ways on every order, so I routinely buy the same item in two or more sizes then send back the ones that don't fit. And sometimes, I send the whole order back. This is my kind of shopping!

But how is their business model sustainable? It has the feel of a late-90's internet venture: we lose money on every transaction, so we'll have to make money on volume! I think the answer is that the company is staffed by customer service superstars. They know that if they can delight every customer every time, then within a few years they'll have a choir of enthusiastic evangelists singing their praises.

I've called customer service a few times over the years, and I always leave the conversation feeling like I made a new friend who's empowered to give me free things or discounts.

Ever since Cyber Monday, Bonobos has been having some technical difficulties. Obviously, this is an inopportune time of year for an e-commerce site to start crashing. I love the way they've handled the crisis, though. In addition to the very candid aforelinked Quora article, they posted the image above on their homepage during outages, along with this apology:
Bonobos.com is experiencing technical issues that prevent us from offering the service level you deserve. We're truly sorry for that. Instead of asking you to spend time today wrangling with a broken website, we're offering a rain check on our Cyber Monday discounts. When we get things sorted, we'll shoot you an email offering the same great discounts.
I can't imagine a better way to handle the situation. Well, except maybe with a personal apology from the CEO.

Kids on Fire

As I continue to write up my long-overdue and now-stale thoughts on the Kindle Fire (an anxious world awaits!), please enjoy this entertaining story about one of the hazards of letting kids play with Fire:
Because Kindle Fire is one of the hottest products this holiday season, R. J. Hottovy, director of Global Consumer Equity Research for Morningstar, says he expects that consumers will look past the security issue.

"It will probably triumph over any concerns on that end," he says.
See also: Toddler Mode for iOS.

Is It Legal to Shoot Them?

Four really calm guys in a boat. One really calm great white shark circling the boat. (Caution: swears.)

I, Cheeseburger

First, they came for the pencils, and I did not listen because I use pens.

Then, they came for the toasters, and I ignored them because dry bread always scratches the roof of my mouth and I don't like to eat it.

Now, they're here for the cheeseburgers, and I think I'm finally starting to get the picture: the allocation of scarce resources with alternative uses is really, really difficult to manage without the spontaneous order and wisdom found in the free (though often tacit or altogether unseen) cooperation of thousands and thousands of people.

No one person, no cartel of exceedingly smart people, no government (even of, by, and for the people), can replace or improve upon the choreography and creativity of the people.

Irving Franklin

There's room for a range of quality within any publication, and I'm not saying everything the NYTimes produces has to be worthy of a Pulitzer; but this obituary seems a little flat to me. More than one sentence feels like it could've been extracted from the first draft of a middle schooler's book report. Like this, the second-to-last sentence in the piece:
Irving Franklin was particularly pleased about his batting gloves because the name of his company was so easy to see when television cameras closed in on a hitter.
I will say, to the writer's credit, that the last sentence is worth the slog it takes to get there.


We know that Apple has their reasons for every conceivable choice they make. No detail or decision is arbitrary.

When a clock or watch is displayed in advertising or some other prominent setting, it is always set to 10:10 and either :00 or :30 seconds. I know I've seen exceptions to this, but I think those have either been similarly symmetrical or else attributable to carelessness (1:50 is probably the second-most common time).

Why did Apple set the clock face for their iOS Clock icon to 10:15:00? Has it always been that way? I don't recall noticing before now.

Bacon-Infused Old-fashioned

They had me at bacon-infused, and while I think of bourbon as tending to make anything better; they nearly lost me there. I don't remember seeing this on the menu last time I visited. I shall have to go again soon.

Side-note: this is my first post to incorporate both the "Bacon" and "Whiskey" tags, although we've seen a "Bacon" and "Gin" post before.


Plenty of racially...uhh, colorful...language here, so be warned. But if it's coming from a black guy, it's OK, right?!

And on a serious note, I love his answer to the obvious question, about two and a half minutes in: what are you selling?

Flight of the Frenchies

I wouldn't even want to be the camera guy who just stands on the edge as they jump off.


The following list was politely rejected by McSweeney's:


Manhattan Neighborhoods I Discovered While Searching for a Vacation Rental.

by Trey Miller


WeBroEHu: West of Broadway, East of Hudson. The Fertile Crescent of high art and public hipsterism.

Rose Murray Hill: Where Rose Hill and Murray Hill meet, you can eat the perfect $25 hamburger while having your fortune told; and you'll still make your train to Connecticut!

TriBeGreViSoHoTribeca: The Triangle between Greenwich Village, SoHo, and Tri[angle]be[low]ca[nal]. You must be this hip to enter.

Chelsea Clinton's Kitchen: Most of Manhattan's "Midwest." There's something here for everyone.

BeNoSoHo: Between NoHo* and SoHo*. Sometimes just called "Houston" or "Ho" for short, this unusual neighborhood is less than a block wide, and runs the entire width of Manhattan. Tourists should note that while the street from which this neighborhood derives its name is pronounced "HOW-stun," the neighborhood itself is pronounced just like it's spelled: "houston."

Ansonia: Ansonia.

EChiToSoLita: East of China Town, South of Little Italy. Just northwest of heaven.

Carnegie Hill: How do you get to Carnegie Hill? From Trenton, take NJ-129 to US-95, which feeds NJ-495 into the Lincoln Tunnel. Come out of the tunnel and turn left on 40th. Take another left onto Madison, and then turn towards the park anywhere from 86th to 96th Street. If you don't turn in time, you'll find yourself in Spanish Harlem, so watch out! Also, practice.

LoMaWiaNa: An irregular polygon made up of the portions of Lower Manhattan that are Without a Name. This barren wasteland, where I can only assume no one lives or works, is bordered by the East River, the Financial District, Chinatown, and Coop Village.

Telegraph Point: This infinitely small space without dimension exists only theoretically, adjacent to Radio Row in Lower Manhattan. The name is an allusion to the "dit" notation used when transcribing the shorter of the two sounds comprising morse code.

Van Buren Rhombus: A small area contained by the non-abutting borders of Lincoln Square and Columbus Circle. No one using the internet to book a short-term rental will find anything here they can afford.

*If these names are taken literally, all of Manhattan can be divided into two neighborhoods: SoHo and NoHo. However, a categorization this broad makes it very difficult to distinguish the hip people from the rich people, and impossible to identify the ultra-rare hip and rich.

Happy Black Friday!

Sometimes someone sums up your thoughts on something so well, even if you never took the time to think the thoughts yourself:
Thanksgiving is a one [sic] of our better ideas. We, theoretically, reflect on how fortunate we are to have what we have. The day after Thanksgiving would be a great day to start thinking how we might start addressing wrongs perpetuated on anybody trampled in the process of putting together the comfort and security we are so thankful for. Instead, we’ve turned it into a symbolic date for acquiring shinier objects in anticipation of how we can best miss the point of our next major holiday. Perhaps worse, it infects Thanksgiving itself, turning the holiday into, effectively, a paean to culinary gluttony in preparation for commercial gluttony.
It's almost as if, after gorging ourselves on Gratitude and Gravy one day, we have to shake off the hangover by declaring unequivocally that too much is simply not enough.

And by we, of course, I mean other people.




But Take Little Notice

A cool letter. I love the casual tone: "…and please write back saying how much money you would like."

Shame Brand

This is hilarious:
Microsoft on Thursday opened its first East coast store at the Tysons Corner mall in McLean, Virgnia.[…]
The opening also carried an unintentional irony for Microsoft, since it revealed in a photo that the DJ hired to entertain the waiting line was using a Mac. Microsoft had him cover the back of his MacBook Pro with a "Microsoft Store" sheet.
Every now and then I'll see someone, usually a teen- or college-aged person, at a coffee shop or an airport with an Apple sticker slapped on the lid of their Dell laptop to cover logo. I don't know who they're fooling; and I can't imagine how fragile their sense of self-worth must be if this charade boosts it by any measurable amount.

In telling friends about such sightings, I've predicted that you'll never see an Apple computer with a Dell or Windows sticker covering its logo; but I never took this scenario into account. How could I have been so blind?

via The Loop.

A Time to Talk

Robert Frost, via Signal vs. Noise:
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
See also, Scott Simpson's standard of cool.

Quantity vs. Quality

This visualization, via John Gruber, is amazing. Samsung sells 144 different mobile phone models in the US. Apple sells 4. Based on the accompanying chart, we can conclude that Apple just happens to sell the 4 that people really, really want.

Seven Bar Jokes Involving Grammar and Punctuation

I should probably just write a script to auto-post every McSweeney's list immediately after it's published.


Tyler Cowen suggests: ponder this photo for an hour.

From the article:
Gulls are utterly fearless, as shown by this remarkable image of a white-tailed eagle under attack.
Herring gulls dive-bomb predatory birds at a steep angle from above and behind, as they make a piercing shriek - "kaiow!".
The attacks typically occur when the gulls are defending themselves and are most frequently seen during the breeding season, when adults protect vulnerable offspring. Some gulls also defecate or even vomit on the predator for good measure.

288,000 Jelly Beans

This would be a tragic waste of time if the song totally sucked. Fortunately for me, it hits the sweet spot of a pretty voice combined with an innocuous pop melody.


11/11/11, 11:11am. "Where can you go from there? Where? Nowhere, exactly!"

See also: Hell Holes.

Dial-Up Inertia

Dann Frommer: Amazingly, AOL still has 3.5 million dialup subscribers.

I don't think it's that amazing, actually, because inertia is a very powerful force. Maybe more powerful than compounding interest. And the kind of people who still use AOL for anything at all are probably not aware that they can use virtually all of it for free. These same people either see the $10-25 monthly fee and assume they still need to pay it; or they don't even notice it on their credit card bill anymore. Because they don't even review their credit card bill, except to see if the total feels about right.

Frommer cites AOL's citation of a "price rationalization program" that has helped AOL maintain a surprisingly high number of subscribers. I will translate this programn into plain English:
For the past few years, people have begun to realize that the only thing they use AOL for is checking a very, very old e-mail address that probably involves some embarrassing and antiquated handle to the left of the "@" symbol (and, let's face it, a fairly embarrassing domain name to the right of the "@" symbol), and that they can continue to access this old address for free. 
We needed a way to rationalize increasing the prices we charge to the dwindling number of people who do not yet realize this. 
We considered rolling AOL dial-up service into the monthly phone rental fee these people are probably still paying to Ol' Ma Bell, but we ran into legal and licensing roadblocks on that. So instead, we just licensed a bunch of crappy services at bargain-basement prices (it's amazing how cheap Lifelock is when you're buying 3,000,000 licenses!) and we'll keep nudging our prices up. 
Problem solved: prices rationalized!
The metric I'd really like to see is the number of actual dial-in connections that AOL serves in any given month, and the number of unique users who actually use the service. I would be shocked if more than 1% of their paid users have dialed in to AOL within the past year, and I'd be even more surprised if AOL serves up more than 3.5 million connections per month. Does AOL have the stones to reveal these numbers?

Clap Hands

For all the crappy and hit-or-miss episodes of SNL that I've suffered through over the years, how did I not see this when it originally aired?

In hand-clap-related news, here's one of my favorite McSweeney's lists from awhile ago: I CAN NEVER RECALL THE NAME OF BROOKLYN’S NEW HIP BAND.


Great use of a yoga ball, and a few other things.

via The Verge.

St. Vincent

Indie Rock Iwo Jima
I had the great pleasure of seeing St. Vincent earlier this week at the 9:30 Club in DC. NPR was there to record it, and you can download the audio here.

If you're not doing anything tonight at 9, you can stream the New York concert live at MTVHive.com.

The second encore of Tuesday's show ended with an epic (even by Annie Clark standards) guitar freak-out that brought Annie off the stage and into the crowd. It featured a lot of improvised riffs and noises made by the sweaty hands of her adoring fans. Five seconds after I took this picture I was one of those adoring, sweaty hands. Good times. I wound up hanging on to her capo for a bit, but gave it back to a roadie after the show. A guitar pick is a legitimate souvenir, but anything beyond that feels like stealing.

The Porsche of Smartphones

Engadget: Porsche Design P'9981 BlackBerry provides a long-awaited design jolt, compensates for a lot

John Gruber: "Easily the best-designed new phone of 2005." Perfect.

Reminds me of this, from June 2010: Nokia Announces Treo-Killer.

Cheese or Font

Can you tell a random font name from that of a cheese, and vice versa? Had you ever even considered the question before now?

I did surprisingly well until about halfway through.

via Kottke, who also recently showed us Halloween or Williamsburg.

In Defense of Embarrassing Music

Ann Althouse comments on the recent revelation that Steve Jobs' iTunes library over-represented the 60's and 70's by a considerable margin, and contained nothing beyond the year 1989:
What if your iPod contents were splattered across the headlines? Would you be embarrassed?
I would, to a degree. In my defense, though, any list of ~25,000 songs will invariably contain some duds (from albums that were inconsistent at best) as well as some guilty pleasures. Why should mine be any different?

I often suspected that The A.V. Club's "Random Rules" participants must do some serious paring down of their library specifically to avoid this sort of embarrassment. I mean no one's taste is that good.

Pick a Kindle

When I composed my thoughts on the new Kindles awhile ago, one of my concerns was that the lineup was becoming too splintered. Potential buyers might have a hard time knowing which one they want, especially when comparing their options to the relatively straight-forward iPad lineup. This was my attempt to demonstrate the confusion:
from theunderstatement.com
When including Special Offers in the pricing mix, a purchase decision could go something like this: "I want the cheapest Kindle. That's only $79. But, for $109 I could have the same thing without any potentially annoying ads. Buuut, for $99, I could have an even better Kindle and put up with the ads. Or, spend $139 to get rid of the ads. But then, for only $10 more I could add 3G. And add ads. Or wait, maybe I want the one with the keyboard. Same prices as the touch one? Oh. And they're both $189 without ads? Very appealing...but hey! for only $10 more I could have the one that looks just like a little iPad!"
It turns out that Michael Degusta at The Understatement found a visual way to communicate the problem. I've included his chart in this post, but made it too-tiny-to-read, so you'll have to visit Michael's site to see it full-size. It's worth the proverbial thousand words.

Incidentally, and for what it's worth, I'm as excited about the Kindle Fire as I have been for any non-Apple product that I can remember.

Print Is Not Dead, But It May Be Soon

My grandfather owned and operated a printing company for the vast majority of his professional life.

For about half of my corporate career, I worked at the company responsible for stuffing your Sunday papers with five pounds of recyclable materials. You're welcome!

In short, I've heard for a long time that print is dying; and over the same period I've heard insider and outsider explanations for why this is, isn't, or never will be true.

I used to subscribe to Architectural Digest. If I could pick up a subscription for less than $10/year, I'd do it simply because I like looking at beautiful architecture in a glossy magazine. But towards the end of my last subscription, I started seeing the Power of Print ad pictured at right with alarming frequency.

This always struck me as the print equivalent to a giant, tacky "Your Ad Here" message on a battered billboard along a rarely travelled stretch of highway. It reeked of desperation and self-delusion. Ironically, the target audience of this ad is the potential advertiser; not the reader, and definitely not one of the 300 million paid subscribers (who says you have to be a tech company to practice user hostility?). You don't demonstrate your value to potential customers by showing off your excess inventory.

The implicit message of the Power of Print is: "We sustain our business by selling ads, but for this issue we came up a couple pages short. So we decided to use the space to remind you (and convince ourselves) that our format is still relevant, valuable, and - dammit - thriving! Don't over-think this, just take our word for it. And hey, if you're a media buyer for a company with a substantial marketing budget, let's do lunch! Have we got a deal for you!"

Incidentally, I think "300 million paid subscriptions" is a totally meaningless value proposition. Advertisers today place a diminishing value on anything they can't measure. "This magazine shows up in someone's mailbox every month" says absolutely nothing about the recipient's interaction with the magazine itself, or the ads therein.

My continued stupefaction* with the popularity and existence of Twitter notwithstanding, I consider myself to be neither ahead of nor behind most cultural trends. So, for what it's worth, here's how an average guy has come to use magazines in their print form:
  • I will probably never subscribe to AD again. They reached their zenith with their coverage of Jennifer Aniston's house; and every issue seemed to contain one project I loved, one I hated, and a bunch that were meh. Also, about 50 pages of ads for stuff I'll never, ever own. Between the lost time and the $10/year, this became a net drain.
  • I've kept a current subscription to Esquire for the past few years, the most recent of which was a much-appreciated gift from a thoughtful friend. I still find time to flip through it cover-to-cover every month, and Lori likes to read it too, for some reason. I think it's the interviews.
  • Around the time iOS 5's Newsstand was announced, I picked up 1-year subscriptions to GQ and Wired for $4.99 each, and another for The Atlantic for about the same price, because I figured the print subscriptions would come with free access to their iPad counterparts (and I was right!). I wanted some content to view in Newsstand, and I'd be damned if I was paying $4.99 per month to get that content. My point is, the print versions of these magazines were an afterthought; a means to an end.
  • When packing for a flight to San Francisco a month or so ago, I scooped up about half a dozen of these magazines that had accumulated unread around the house. I figured I'd need something to read in that critical time between the closing of the airplane door and the ascension to 10,000 feet, when all electronic are (supposed to be) turned off. I pulled the first magazine out in the waiting area of the airport, because I'd already become annoyed by the weight they added to my bag. I flipped through two and a half magazines before boarding, and - in what I thought was a stroke of minor genius - tore off the half of the one magazine I'd already read. That amounted to about 2.5 pounds in the airport recycling bin. I also tore out an article that I thought a friend might appreciate. I gave it to him, folded and crumpled, and I'm quite sure he threw it away unread. (Would he have read it if I'd e-mailed him a link? Probably.) By the time I landed, I'd flipped through the rest of the magazines, but I was surprised at how much of their content I'd already stumbled across elsewhere and read (usually in Instapaper). I left them in the seat-back pocket. I spent most of the flight catching up on Reeder and Instapaper stuff I'd stashed away. Also, inexplicably, I listened to the Dead Milkmen's first three albums. Overall, good flight!
  • When packing for another recent long weekend, I again scooped up the magazines laying around; but this time they were all still in their plastic wrappers. This is not a good sign for the Power of Print. I got through about half of these over the course of the weekend, and left them all at the house where we stayed.
Recently, Darrell Etherington at GigaOM reported that Newsstand has been very good for digital publishers:
[Condé Nast], which puts out many top-tier magazines including Wired, GQ and The New Yorker, has seen digital subscriptions rise 268 percent since Newsstand arrived with the iOS 5 update almost two weeks ago. 
Not only did subscriptions increase, but single issue sales also skyrocketed with a 142 percent increase when compared with the eight weeks prior to Newsstand’s launch. Both represent increases as measured across all nine of Condé Nast’s digital titles available on the iOS platform.
I wonder if the Power of Print ads will run inside the iOS versions of these magazines. At least that way their impressions will actually be measurable.

*Today I Learned that stupefication is not a word. Has this always been true? Is this like nucular and resauranteur, or am I the only one who had this wrong?

Steve Jobs' [Missing] License Plate

It's now common knowledge that Steve Jobs liked to drive a Mercedes SL55 without a license plate on it. There's no coherent explanation for why he did this. And until now, there's been no clear explanation of how he did it without running into constant trouble with the police.

iTWire has the scoop:
Some outlets have suggested that he doesn't care and will happily pay a fine if ever confronted by police; others, quoting Steve Wozniak, suggest that he had some kind of permit to do so. 
Neither is true.  In fact the truth is far simpler. 
Steve (or someone close to him) spotted a loophole in the California vehicle laws.  Anyone with a brand new car had a maximum of six months to affix the issued number plate to the vehicle. 
So Jobs made an arrangement with the leasing company; he would always change cars during the sixth month of the lease, exchanging one silver Mercedes SL55 AMG for another identical one.  At no time would he ever be in a car as old as six months; and thus there was no legal requirement to have the number plates fitted.
I'm actually surprised no one figured this out on their own. The loophole can't be that obscure, can it?

Merely the Next Step in Evolution

Mutant life imitates artThree Eyed Fish Caught Outside a Nuclear Power Plant

Salad Bar Arbitrage Update

I think I've finally beaten the salad bar. At $5.99/lb., here's my winning lunch recipe:
  • Lots (ideally, half a pound or more) of field greens and baby spinach for nutrient density, plus a little romaine for crunch. The romaine is probably my least profitable choice in the Green Leafy Vegetable section, so I don't add much. This should go without saying, but iceberg lettuce is for fools and horses.
  • As many blueberries and blackberries as I can eat in one sitting.
  • A little bit of quinoa salad (quinoa, roasted corn, tomato, black beans, and I think a little sesame oil), which may eat into my profit margin, but it gives the greens some flavor. It's like a nutrient-dense substitute for dressing and it adds some protein to boot.
That's it. I recently measured out a sample salad, and here's the breakdown:

Greens: 0.4 lbs. ($7-9/lb. retail, if you buy it by the tub)
Quinoa: 0.1 lbs. (let's say it would be $4/lb. if they sold it at the deli)
Blackberries: 0.25 lbs. ($11.40/lb. in the produce aisle today, which seems higher than normal)
Blueberries: 0.25 lbs. ($14.51/lb. today, which is simply ridiculous)

My total cost at the salad bar was $6 vs. $10.07 in the produce aisle, for a 40% savings. Plus! the convenience of grab-and-go without the minor hassle of leftovers.

Win-win. Or, the victimless salad.

On a related note (and in "why didn't I think of that?" news), there's a company that arbitrages gift cards; and they just got bought for an undisclosed sum (read: "a skillion dollars") by the company that stocks all your favorite gift cards in all your favorite stores. You know - the display case where you grab last-minute gifts for second-tier friends and relatives.

Correction of the Year

Dan Frommer puts this in the form of a question, but I declare it emphatically: this will go down as the correction of the year.
Correction: October 22, 2011 An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the premise of “Angry Birds,” a popular iPhone game. In the game, slingshots are used to launch birds to destroy pigs and their fortresses, not to shoot down the birds.


Last night a Ravens player was ejected from the game, and the Ravens were penalized, for "punching a player in the facemask."

They say virtue is its own reward. Likewise, I think punching someone in the facemask should be its own penalty. If you're dumb enough to think you're going to harm someone by slamming your fist into the stout metal cage that protects their face, then you should just live with the broken fingers and your team should be able to carry on without you.

On the other hand, I firmly believe that the NFL rule against "using a helmet (not worn) as a weapon" should stand.

A New Perspective on the US Budget

My natural tendency is to think of "remove eight zeroes" as a subtractive operation, as in "take away $99,999,999," but it's division. The difference is eight orders of magnitude, as in "divide by 100,000,000."

There are about 115 million households in the US.  That's about $18,800 per household in federal revenues and $33,200 in expenditures. These numbers represent revenue and expenditures at the Federal level only.

Note the numbers depicted at right are out of sync with current data, so they are likely from a recent year.


Did I spend an hour last weekend watching videos of industrial shedders devouring everything from washers and dryers to whole engine blocks and transmissions?

Yes I did.

It's absolutely mesmerizing.

Note, this is one of only two limited contexts in which I will use the word "shred," so enjoy!

Logging with Love

I'm mildly surprised that Maine has a surfing culture, but positively shocked that people actually make surfboards there. Local, sustainable craftsmanship. Beautiful:
People ask us why the business is in Maine and not in California or Hawaii or something, and the short easy answer is that it's in Maine because we're in Maine and this is a business that's partially about trying to make a place for people where they want to be. And that should start first with you answering the question "where do you want to be?" and...we wanna be in New England.
via %$#^ Yeah Made in USA, which came via kottke.org.

How to Peel Garlic

You will never peel a head of garlic the old way again:

via MetaFilter.

Tyler Cowen is the Chuck Norris of Economists

Who happens to be "passing by the Perugian courthouse when they announced the acquittal of Amanda Knox" and, of that small number of people, who can speak of it so casually and off-the-cuff?

We have chucknorrisfacts.com; why no tylercowenfacts.com? If 1% of Marginal Revolution's readership bought a t-shirt, I'd guess the revenue would justify the investment of (someone else's) time and effort.

The Taking Tree

If nothing else, the narration is hilarious.

In Memoriam: Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

I have nothing personal to add to all the remembrances of Steve Jobs, so I'm collecting links to others' thoughts and reflections for future reference. I will update and appended this post as new stories emerge.

Notable videos, some of which are referenced in one or more of the items below, are: Steve's Stanford University commencement address, Steve's iPhone announcement, a version of the "Crazy Ones" TV spot that never aired, narrated by Steve, and (one of my personal favorites) Steve's presentation to the Cupertino City Council concerning the proposed new Apple headquarters. The authoritative video collection can be found at Devour.

MacRumors.com had the first of the best story and quote collections, from which I get several of the links below.

Wired.com came in a little later, but their tribute is more artfully presented.

As with just about everything he does, Randall Munroe (whose artwork sits atop this post) is sublime. Be sure to visit the picture at Randall's site, though, because the hover-over text is the most pitch-perfect, succinct tribute you will see.

Steve Jobs, RIP

Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple. 
If you would like to share your thoughts, memories and condolences, please email rememberingsteve@apple.com


After any Apple product launch, it's fun to make fun of the people who got their predictions all wrong. Or, in the case of those who made so many predictions they couldn't possibly be all wrong, it's fun to make fun of the ones they got the wrongest.

But, the really fun thing would be to prove how smart you were by debunking these now-obviously-stupid predictions. Can anyone show me some of that?

The Devil's in the Details

Apple announced the iPhone 4S today. This was their first product launch in the post-Jobs era. Everyone else in the world can comment all they want on the gadget itself, but I was floored by a detail on their website that violates the standard of perfection Jobs hewed to for so long.

The iPhone page features some cool HTML5 animation (highlighted by John Gruber), but look at the corners of the iPhone images. What is that sloppy white border?! It's mysteriously absent from the iPad and iPhone on the "iCloud" slide, but it's there throughout the rest of the animation.

Eating Your Spirit Animal

For future reference:
Is my spirit animal tied to my consciousness?
Yes, your spirit animal is inextricably tied to your consciousness. It sees everything you see. You cannot sneak up on it.
How can I kill it if it can see what I see?
Use a blindfold. There's one provided in your welcome kit. You can then poke your spirit animal with your tree branch.
That sounds like a piñata! Are you just fleecing me out of $7500?
A small number of people do get piñatas as their spirit animal. This is not a trick though; it's just the spirit animal they were dealt by the cosmos.

Thereof On Steroids

I think I've tried to use insofaras once or twice before being rebuked by spellcheck.

Alarming Innovation

If this had existed when I was in college, I might have been a C+ student.

Cocktail Prices

This explains a lot.  New York drinks seem cheap all of a sudden.

via MR.

Spontaneous Human Combustion

Life imitates art.

Being Elmo

Watching him on Jimmy Fallon the other night with Andy Samberg reminded me of what a comic genius "Elmo" is. Kevin Clash, Elmo's puppeteer, is probably the most underrated physical comedian of our time, to say nothing of his wit and impeccable timing.

See also: Elmo and Ricky on Sesame Street, and at Ricky's office. But do not miss these outtakes, which may be one of the funniest things Elmo or Ricky has done.

via Kottke.

Bruce Dan

Photo via NYTimes
You earned your bachelor’s degree in aeronautics from MIT; and a master’s in biomedical engineering from Purdue a year later. You decided to become a doctor, so you went off to Vanderbilt School of Medicine. You did some interesting research, made some contributions to the field of epidemiology, and even won some awards. Later in your career, you went to work for The Journal of the American Medical Association, and even a Chicago TV station as an on-camera medical expert.

You leave behind two parents, three siblings, two children, and one wife - a woman who describes you as "a Renaissance man."

And this is the headline the NYTimes puts over your obituary?

There is No Step Five

This phenomenon has been pointed out before, but I think it's worth mentioning again.

I wanted to add the Ravens' schedule to my calendar, and found one at their website. They were helpful enough to provide installation instructions for both Mac and PC users. Mac users must complete four simple steps, and most Mac users probably don't even need the instructions.  PC users have to follow three steps, but Step 1 contains three sub-steps, and Step 2 contains eleven sub-steps, one of which has nine sub-sub-steps. For what it's worth, Step 3 is extremely simple: "Synchronize your computer with your PDA!"

Bumper sticker soon to be spotted around town:  Daddy, what were PDAs like?

eBay for the Rich and Famous

Chris Vellacott, for Reuters:
In an upstairs room in London's plush St James's district, around 30 people mostly in their 20s chatted politely in fluent English, their accents Russian, Arabic, South Asian and Chinese. After a three-course dinner of salmon and roast lamb, the program began: a role-play in which teams bid in an imaginary auction for various works of art. 
A crew of experts was on hand to advise on the value of the pieces. The bidding gathered pace. Staff took fake phone calls and bid on behalf of "mystery buyers." A young woman shouted encouragement in Arabic. One team bid hard, driving prices far higher than the recommended valuations. At the last minute they pulled out, landing rivals with an exorbitant bill. A large plasma screen showed the real-life bidding going on downstairs. George Stubbs' "Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath" sold for 22.4 million pounds ($35 million), making it the third most valuable Old Master ever sold at auction. 
For the young would-be buyers, the event was one of a series of workshops aimed at grooming them for the responsibilities of inheriting vast wealth. A taster of how to invest in alternatives to stocks and bonds, the session showed how some of their 'high net worth' parents are protecting their wealth from the market ructions of the financial crisis...
It only gets crazier from there.

Worth A Thousand Words

But is there any future in these so-called "electronic books"?

Burning Man

Is this the only collection of Burning Man photos on the Internet that contains no evidence of nudity or cross-dressing?

Kindle News and Observations

Amazon announced three new Kindles today:
  • Kindle is now an ultra-light e-reader with no keyboard or 3G support.
  • Kindle Touch is basically a touchscreen version of Kindle, with optional unlimited 3G.
  • Kindle Fire is a 7-inch tablet running a fork of the Android OS developed by Amazon and designed to be "fresh and easy-to-use," according to Bloomberg.
If Kindle Fire doesn't succeed, then no 7-inch tablet stands a chance for at least another year. But I believe Kindle Fire will succeed. I believe it will be the top-selling non-iPad tablet by December 31st, 2011. Which isn't saying much.

I don't think there will be a ton of competition between Kindle Fire and the iPad - they will not lose many sales to each other - but Kindle Fire is the first non-iPad tablet that I could see someone my parents' age wanting, buying, and actually using.

Until now, as has been noted a thousand times, there has not been a "Tablet Market." There's only been an "iPad Market" and then a bunch of failed efforts to produce iPad-like devices. Kindle Fire will either create a "Kindle Fire Market" or it will be the first entrant into a legitimate Tablet Market. That is, a market for devices that don't have 9-inch screens and run iOS.

Some random thoughts to support my beliefs:

Girl Fight!

Just a charming story, all around:
Starting this week, 14-year-old Lexi Peters will be stick handling past men twice her size as she plays in the starting lineup for the Buffalo Sabres. Or the Vancouver Canucks. Or any NHL team the 90-pound left-winger chooses. 
Because when video game publisher Electronic Arts releases the latest edition of its popular NHL series on Tuesday, Lexi will be the first female in its virtual hockey roster.
Other highlights:
She sent a typewritten letter to the executives of one the largest video game makers in the world, asking them to add women players. 
She wrote: "It is unfair to women and girl hockey players around the world, many of them who play and enjoy your game. I have created a character of myself, except I have to be represented by a male and that's not fun." 
...The 4 foot 11 teen has played hockey for four years. She and a teammate spent hours creating a whole custom hockey team, modeling the players after their own all-girls team, the Purple Eagles. The best they could do was give the characters long "hockey" hair. 
..."I was so excited," says Lexi. "My dad called my grandpa immediately, who called my Uncle Chris, like a chain reaction."
I've heard the mullet referred to as a Soccer Rocker, but never Hockey Hair.  Must be a Canadian thing.

I Gotta Feelin'

In honor of the release of Wilco's latest album, a video featuring Jeff Tweedy as sort of a Slack-Eyed Pea, which is totally worth five minutes of your time:

Which feeling hits you harder:  appreciation of Tweedy's irony, or pity for the Black-eyed Peas's sincerity?

Also, if the clock in the background is accurate, the video was shot around 8:00.  So, what time did the show start?  Is this a Dinner Theater?

via Paste.

Let's Talk iPhone

Apple just announced a media event on the 4th of October, 10:00am local time, at their headquarters in Cupertino, CA. The topic of this event will the the iPhone.

Therefore, the four icons depicted on the invitation tell you everything you need to know (especially if the clock reads 10, as in "October" as well as "10:00"). When, Where, What/Why. (The "Who" is implied by receipt of the invitation, of course). Brilliant.

Spadiohead II

A friend warned me that some sort of Hipster Mafia may be lobbing a brick through my window for making fun of Thom Yorke. He compared it to expressing doubts in Spring 2008 about Obama's ability to preside over the country.

But it turns out others have noticed the same thing I mentioned and have (presumably) not received retributive responses from Radiohead fans. Yet.

The truth is, I've always considered Thom to be an "oddly handsome man." This is the exact phrase I've used for years. Are we OK now, hipsters?

Incidentally, I Googled "spadiohead" so see if I'd coined a new term. Note Google's estimate of the number of results:  "About 2."  Note also the actual number of results:  Exactly 3. This really undermines my faith in Google's whole enterprise. Are they using "very large values of 2" in their algorithm, and if so what are the implications of this practice?

On Writing

I used to call myself a "Non-practicing Writer." No one ever laughed when said this, so I've always wondered if it was an instance of the Dennis Miller Ratio in action or if it simply wasn't funny. I adapted this designation from a favorite Reality Bites line, and by it I meant that I liked to write but rarely ever got around to actually doing it.

About a year ago, a teacher gave me a very simple tip:  Writers write, and writers are read. This changed everything for me. I thought of this today when I read Seth Godin's post on writing, the gist of which is:
Writer's block isn't hard to cure. 
Just write poorly. Continue to write poorly, in public, until you can write better.
The patent implication in almost everything I've written at this site is that I'm figuring things out as I go along. And now, thanks to Seth, I have permission to keep doing what I'm doing. Not bad for a Monday.

Other recent posts have also gotten me thinking about writing, so (hold your breath!) I may visit this again from different angles in the next couple weeks.

NFL Stat of the Day

Over the weekend, the Ravens' new wide receiver Torrey Smith made his first five receptions as an NFL player. The first three were for touchdowns. I can't find any official records for this, but has anyone scored touchdowns on more than their first three receptions? If so, did they do it in the same game or even the same quarter quarter, like Smith? Has anyone (at any point in their career) ever caught more than three consecutive passes for touchdowns?


Am I the only one who had these two thoughts while watching the SNL season premiere this weekend?

1) It's good to see David Spade back for an appearance!

2) But when did he become the lead singer of Radiohead?

Barefoot Running

I've never liked running.

I've often hated it.

I've always assumed it's too punishing a form of exercise to be worth doing, and that a lifestyle built around it would be riddled with constant injury and long-term damage to every moving part in my body.

Then, a month or so ago, I read Christopher MacDougall's five-year-old article in Men's Health entitled The Men Who Live Forever. I was intrigued. A few days later, I put on the thinnest-soled shoes in the house and went out for a 2.5-mile run on my tip-toes. My calves ached beyond description for the next four days.

I did some research and discovered a couple of critical errors in my form and method.

And now, as far as I can tell, I'm hooked.

I bought a pair of New Balance MT20s. I bought Michael Sandler's Barefoot Running and read it the day it arrived. I bought the book on which MacDougall's article is based: Born to Run. I discovered sites like birthdayshoes.com, chirunning.com, and runbare.com and concluded that we need a general corollary to Rule 34: for any conceivable topic, product, lifestyle, or area of interest, there is an online community devoted to discussing the matter in excruciating detail. (See also: straight razor shaving.)

I've been running barefoot (i.e., soft, tender skin on the hard, abrasive roads) for a couple weeks now. Within a few more weeks, I expect my feet to be strong and tough enough to go out in my MT20s for 3-5 miles every other day. I hope by winter to be running a few miles every day. And all without injury or long-term damage! Theoretically.

For what it's worth, Barefoot Running is a good book, but could be condensed from 320 pages to about 25 if you only need technique and training plans. Most of the book is philosophical and borderline religious. This might provide good motivational underpinnings for some people, but I just wanted to know how to get in good form and build up safely to good distances. The book does provide practical instruction in this area, and so far it's been helpful for me.

I will probably revisit this topic from time to time, but for now I wanted to get the above information recorded for future reference, and for anyone else who might find it helpful. I've become fairly zealous about this, and it will be more convenient to send friends a link to this post than to essentially re-write it every few days. I wish I'd had an outlet like this website when I discovered Eat to Live. That would've saved everyone I know a lot of patient listening and patronizing head-nodding.

Overheard in the Diner

This morning I sat at the counter and overheard the following exchange from the booth behind me:
Guy 1:  I mean, the problem is when people find out they have cancer, they get depressed, then they get chemo, then they get sick and die.
Guy 2:  That's not how it works, man.
Guy 1:  No, think about it...if I never knew I had cancer, I'd never get sick and die.
Guy 2:  No, because cancer winds up attacking your whole body and killing you.
Guy 1:  [I think I heard this part correctly] Well, right now, it's only in my throat.
On a semi-related note, 50/50 looks really good to me.  I might even see it in a theater.


Call me lazy, but I would love to reach a place in my career where I could get hired as CEO after being fired from my previous job, only to be fired as CEO and handed a $25 million consolation prize on my way out the door.

Wasted Headlines

Reuters:  Some lawmakers doubt ex-SEC lawyer broke the law

In unrelated-but-equally-true news, a Mad-Lib headline:  Some [plural noun] doubt ex-[singular noun] [verb, past tense]


This bird is an incredible impersonator. (via Kottke)

But can he do Freddie Mercury? (via The Loop)

I close my eyes, and can discern no difference between this dude in his attic and the erstwhile lead singer of Queen.  Between the bird and the dude, Marc Martel wins this round.

And I love these two top comments at YouTube: