Whiskey Sidecar v2.0

We're back to Brown Liquor Season, and I've updated my previous recipe this year.

Today I took an hour or so to make a syrup that will vastly simplify the mixing process through the winter. Here's what I did:
  1. Juice 2 Lemons, 2 Limes, and 2 Oranges into a measuring cup. I got about 1 3/4 C out of mine.
  2. Make a simple syrup of equal volume. I used [Whole Foods 365 Organic Turbinado] Raw Sugar, for what it's worth.
  3. Combine 1 + 2 into a bottle, and refrigerate the resultant syrup.
Now, at cocktail hour, your drink is five easy steps away:
  1. Fill a shaker halfway with ice.
  2. Add 1-1/2 oz. syrup.
  3. Add 3 oz. whiskey. I prefer Maker's Mark.
  4. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass with a big ice cube in it.
  5. Tell the kids to pipe down, and Enjoy!

Rothko defaced at Tate Modern

This is no longer news, but my question is timeless: what makes this form of vandalism a crime, and Banksy's serial public defacements "art"?

Just Checking

It bothers me a fair bit that we still need pads of paper called "checkbooks" to pay for goods and services. It really irks me that my new favorite bank doesn't offer the once-requisite starter set of 100 or so checks for free. What makes my blood boil, though, is stuff like this:

Chat Connecting
System: Connecting... An agent will be with you shortly.
[Agent's Name Redacted]: Welcome to Web Chat. How may I help you today?
Trey Miller: I just noticed that you're charging $18 for UPS ground shipping. If you don't have a free shipping option, I'm going to cancel my order. Time is of no consequence, so there's no rush.
Trey Miller: Do you have a free shipping option?
[Agent's Name Redacted]: We do not have a free shipping option.
Trey Miller: . My order total is $24. does $18 seem right to mail an envelope full of paper?
[Agent's Name Redacted]: What is the item number you are ordering?
[Agent's Name Redacted]: And where are you located?
Trey Miller: North Carolina
[Agent's Name Redacted]: What is the quantity?
Trey Miller: 200 for 2 separate accounts.
Trey Miller: 400 total
[Agent's Name Redacted]: The shipping amount is independent of the cost of the item. the 24 dollars is for the items. and it is about 9 dollars for shipping per item.. that is correct.
Trey Miller: I'm sure it's correct, but does it seem *right* to you?
[Agent's Name Redacted]: I am sorry, I can not waive your shipping
Trey Miller: .
[Agent's Name Redacted]: May I help you with anything else today?
Trey Miller: Nope.

I guess Amazon Prime has spoiled me.

In a weird twist, I went back a couple days later and tried again, and sailed through checkout with free shipping.

Cuts of Wood

Say what you want about industrial waste, some industries don't waste much.


I think this would solve a first-world problem I had awhile back: when our bedroom was on the second floor and the laundry was in the basement, it was inconvenient to run down two flights of stairs to change a load from the washer to the dryer. Even worse, on a cold night, was getting down there 3-5 minutes before the washer was done.

In a world where refrigerators are connected to the Internet, it's inconceivable to me that my washing machine can't text or email me when it's finished.

Star Wars

Everyone with a website seems to care more about the Disney/Lucasfilm merger than I do, so I have nothing at all to add to the conversation. Well, except to say that as usual The Onion has nailed it.

Silver and Gold

For the first time in years, I bought an actual, physical CD. Technically, it's a 5-disc box set, and to be totally precise, I pre-ordered it. The purchase? This.

I'm appalled that I just now heard Sufjan Stevens has a new Christmas collection coming out, but delighted nonetheless. His previous set of songs plays nonstop in the Miller home from Midnight on Thanksgiving until New Year's Day.

If anyone happens to have a few extra tickets to the Haw River Ballroom on 11/25 (or a plausible explanation as to why he's playing there), do let me know.

Pants or Trousers?

I was discussing my new Indochino suit (full review forthcoming, no doubt) with a friend recently, and he kept referring to pants as "trousers." This friend is a blue-blooded American, not an affected wannabe Brit, so I became curious about his conspicuous use of the word. Turns out, he worked for a time at a high-end haberdasher (my word, not his) in the south, where he sold (and bought for himself) bespoke suits and related accoutrements (my word, not his).

I asked at one point: would you ever refer to trousers as "pants"? He flinched at the question, both of his hands twitching reflexively. But he managed to immediately conceal the scandalous nature of my inquiry and simply replied, No.

I'm a khaki pants man, myself. And I've made no secret about my love for Bonobos. Now, for a limited time, if you purchase a pair of Bonobos pants using this link, I'll earn a little referral credit. What's in it for you? A nice pair of trousers, I guess.

The Actress Who Loved Only Numbers

Google can calculate any Bacon Number in real-time. For some reason, the dozen or so people I tried all came back with a Bacon Number of 2.

I was delighted to discover that there's such a thing as an Erdős–Bacon number, and the four actors with the lowest Erdős–Bacon numbers are women…take THAT Larry Summers!

Can Cricket Thrive in the US?

My guess is "no." The end of this article identifies a number of obstacles, and I suspect there are many more. Proponents may also be trying to sell it in the wrong terms:
The league will be launched in direct competition to the English season with ambitions to attract many of the world's top stars for what Neil Maxwell, one of the main proponents, is presenting to the States as "baseball on steroids."
We already have a "baseball on steroids" here in the US. We call it "baseball."

I grew up with a mild interest in, and average understanding of, our national pastime. During the year I lived in Australia, I set my mind to understanding cricket, and it was only after I stopped trying to compare it to baseball that I made any progress at all. Of the two sports, I find cricket much more fascinating, although I suspect that's mostly because of the novelty.

Summer's Over

Hola, amigos. I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I been puttin' out fires left and right. The truth is, I never planned to take the summer off, but about halfway through July I realized that's just what I'd been doing. So, in my mind, I made it official and decided I'd start posting again after Labor Day.

Did you miss me? Are you still around? I suspect that most people don't visit websites directly anymore, and 99% of my loyal fans have this site tucked safely into their RSS reader, in which case the answers are likely "no," and "yes," respectively.

At least two people, both of whom had much busier summers than I did, inquired as to my whereabouts and general state of being. There's nothing more humbling than telling someone who has (in the span of three months): consolidated residences from two different states into a single NY apartment, changed jobs, made multiple international trips with a toddler in-tow, and still managed to put up high-quality content on his own website...there's nothing worse than telling that guy you've been "kinda busy lately." But "busy" is a relative term, right?

Now that the summer's over, I'm excited to get back to writing. If that's what we can call this. I've been using my time off to conjure up some grand plans for my little corner of the Internet:

100 Riffs in 12 Minutes

Alex Chadwick plays A Brief History of Rock and N' Roll…

Between riff 60 and 61 he tunes to drop-D in a single twist of the peg, and then later goes back to a standard-E, without ever losing tempo (he does it again at 72/73 and 75/76). Unbelievable. Also, the way he deftly picks up the slide for Seven Nation Army #88 while holding a hammered note with his right hand is fairly impressive.

I was surprised and pleased by his pick for #100.

Some friends and I were discussing recently how different technical proficiency is from "soul" or whatever characterizes the musicianship of great artists. (See: Steve Gadd vs. just about any other dude trying to teach a Steve Gadd rhythm.) Alex seems to have a feel for all of these songs beyond technical rudiments. I get the sense that he could play any song with a band and have groupies waiting backstage. Is this because Alex is a musician and the aforelinked drummers are merely technicians? Is it easier to fake "soul" on the guitar than the drums? Something else?

Read It Now

With Twitter now offering "expanded tweets," I predict this will be the next big twist on a recent revolution:
Sometimes, you want to read a piece of longform content online.
But if your Instapaper queue has swelled to a completely unmanageable size,
you might want to read that content now, not later.

That's when you'll click the Read It Now button.
I've already maxed out my Read It Now queue, though...so what will come after what's next?

Braking with the Throttle

Of all the fantastic camera angles and positions that make up a Formula One broadcast, I can't believe we never see the driver's feet in action. Granted, with paddle-shifting, it's probably a lot less interesting, but still: it'd be nice to see something...something more than this, that is. Case in point:

Around the 1:55 mark, you see how much speed a great driver can scrub off with nothing but throttle modulation and steering input. Remarkable.

Gladwell-Simmons IV

Malcolm Gladwell and Bill Simmons had another extended email conversation a couple weeks ago, and I just got around to reading it. Well worth the time. Sample:
GLADWELL: My turn for a quick tangent: I was in the Orlando airport not long ago, waiting in one of those endless security queues, when I looked up and saw that the ticket agent was escorting someone to the head of the line. She takes him past at least a hundred people and inserts him right in front of the conveyer belt. He wasn't in a hurry. In fact, the guy turned out to be on the same flight I was, which didn't leave for another hour. Who was it? Ray Lewis. Two things. One — there is no way she does that for anyone but a sports star. She would have stopped Albert Einstein if his driver's license looked a little fishy. Second — no one said anything. We all just kind of nodded and looked at each other and said, "Cool! Ray Lewis." Here's a man who makes millions of dollars for hitting people really hard and it somehow makes complete sense to the rest of us that he should be able to cut in ahead of teachers, salesmen, nurses, working moms, and hack writers. If you are someone like Ray Lewis and that kind of thing happens to you every single day of the year, how do you stay normal? Standing in line in airports and other everyday rituals of modern life are the kinds of things that civilize us: As annoying as they are, they remind us that we are all equal and they teach us patience, and they grant us a kind of ultimately useful anonymity. Ray Lewis and celebrities of his ilk never have the privilege of those moments. By the way, Lewis was wearing a daring ochre, Caribbean-style pantsuit that, at some future point, deserves its own Grantland exposé. So yes. It's not easy being LeBron.

Kake Korner

An unremarkable story about a local bakery. But was it written by a middle schooler or a professional journalist? Here's the opening paragraph, in its entirety; you be the judge:
Customers stepping out of their cars in the parking lot of Kake Korner in North Laurel are immediately greeted with the smell of baking cakes wafting through the air. Once they step inside the pink building, the smell grows even stronger.

"All of my friends were on the shelves above."

Ray Bradbury's passing was noted with equal aplomb by the NYTimes and The Onion. And here's a lovely story about how he produced his earliest draft of Fahrenheit 451. The cheapskate in me (along with the guy who never gets anything done without a deadline of some sort) wonders whether paying $0.20/hr. created a series of "mini-deadlines" to keep his fingers tapping.

Big Wooden Balls. Literally.

I found this video charming, and oddly fascinating; but the big surprise was the utter lack of double-entendres.

Perhaps it's our culture's over-saturation in post-Michael-Scott "that's what she said" punchlines, but I hear a phrase like the one at :40, for example, and I assume the next words will be "HEY-O" or at least we'll see a wink.



Strangers in the Night...

...exchanging music...

Naked Came the Stranger

Mike McGrady, Known for a Literary Hoax, Dies at 78. The story behind the hoax is fascinating and entertaining:
That year, The Village Voice rapturously described the book as being “of such perfectly realized awfulness that it will suck your soul right out of your brainpan and through your mouth, and you will happily let it go.” 
First published in summer 1969, “Naked Came the Stranger” quickly sold 20,000 copies. Later that summer, Mr. McGrady and his co-conspirators came clean, and news of the book’s genesis made headlines round the world. By the end of the year, the novel had spent 13 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. 
“What has always worried me,” Mr. McGrady told Newsday in 1990, “are the 20,000 people who bought it before the hoax was exposed.”
The last sentence of the article is the kicker.

Make Your Own Balance Bike in Fifteen Minutes or Less

If I'd known what a balance bike was two years ago, we would've gotten one for Huck instead of the traditional bike-with-training-wheels setup. I've seen three-year-olds effortlessly wheeling around the neighborhood on a balance bike, and it seems like a great way to get started.

Until this past weekend, I figured we'd get Gus a balance bike for his next birthday; but this didn't help Huck, who's been on training wheels for a couple years. I tried taking Huck's training wheels off last year, and it was not a good day. His disposition, and my lack of patience that day were an unhealthy combination. I was not looking forward to the next two-wheel trial. Then it dawned on me that I could turn Huck's existing pedal bike into a balance bike.

If you follow the three simple steps below, you'll save $150 on a balance bike and get your kid confidently riding as quickly as possible. By reversing Step 2, you'll then have a pedal-bike that should last another couple years (depending on how fast your kid grows).


Adam "MCA" Yauch died over a week ago. With Yauch's passing, a significant chunk of my generation's post-pubescent-to-college-aged memories have come bubbling up to the surface. These were our Wonder Years. Most popular accounts of Yauch's unfortunate and untimely death after a three-year battle with cancer seem to use his career as a prism through which to view the arc of the writer's own life. So, in that vein, here's my childhood, as told by the Beastie Boys' discography.

Licensed to Ill
I don't think I owned a legitimate copy of Licensed to Ill until it came out on CD. I know I owned a few copies of the disc over the years. In 1986, my cassette copy was dubbed off my friend Jen's original. Jen (actually, "Jenny" at the time) and her big sister Michelle had all the good music. Jen(ny) and I were in the same grade, and our families were closest friends, but she was obviously much cooler than I was. On Friday nights in middle school, I'd be at her house babysitting her little sisters and dubbing tapes non-stop while Jen was out at a party and our parents were out to dinner. "Was it 'high-speed' dubbing?" you ask. You bet it was!

I blame the poor quality of those dubs for the fact that I never really knew about 2/3 of the words on Licensed to Ill. I sort of knew the sounds and shapes of the words. My lack of cultural knowledge probably didn't help, either. I was re-listening to the album this week for probably the first time in a decade, and I could not believe the subject matter it covers. I can't comprehend the immense cultural and social vocabulary these three kids possessed in their early 20's. Where could a kid go to get an education like the one the Beastie Boys had?

As an almost-40-year-old suburban father of two (not-yet-beastie) boys, I take solace in how little of this album I understood when I was young, and how even-littler was its effect on my middle school mind and behavior.

My 8th grade year, the Beastie Boys played a concert in the DC area, at what was then called the Capital Centre*. I went to that concert with three classmates and our art teacher. I think we had a sense then, but I really appreciate now, just how cool this woman had to be to load us into her station wagon on a Sunday night and drive us into what must have seemed like Satan's Pool Room. Wikipedia provides some perspective:
...the Licensed to Ill tour[...]was a tour clouded in controversy featuring female members of the crowd dancing in cages and a giant motorized inflatable penis similar to one used by The Rolling Stones in the 1970s. The tour was troubled by lawsuits and arrests, with the band accused of provoking the crowd. This culminated in their notorious gig at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, England on May 30, 1987 that erupted into a riot approximately 10 minutes after the Beasties hit the stage and the arrest of Adam Horovitz by Merseyside Police on assault charges.
We went later in the tour, and the erstwhile controversial hydraulic apparatus had been converted to a benign microphone. Nevertheless, could a teacher even consider doing something like this today without risking her job?

The concert was sort of predictable, since we'd already heard all about what happened in previous cities, but there were a couple things no 8th grader could be prepared for:

Timer Reviews

Forget Instapaper...this is Marco Arment at his best:
The problem with bathroom fans is that they’re inconvenient to use: ideally, you want the fan to run for a little while after you leave the bathroom. If you turn it off when you leave, it’s not very effective, and if you leave it running, you’ll probably forget about it for hours and waste tons of electricity. It may even be a fire risk.
I hope he keeps this stuff up as he continues to renovate, or whatever he's doing.

And, don't think I didn't notice that all the screws on his switchplates are parallel to the earth. I prefer perpendicular myself, but...tomato/tomahto.

We Had Joy, We Had Fun...

This quote sums up my current suspicions about solar/wind/etc. "renewable" energy:

"These types of projects are part of the dreaming that we do," he said.

It seems like it's all "dreaming" for now, and entropy ensures that we'll always be using some form of "non-renewable" energy to keep these "renewable" projects going. In other words, a solar array factory will never be powered solely by solar arrays.

Stereotypes Are a Real Time Saver

Admit it, you want to give a dollar to see the outtakes.

I love the top comment at the YouTube page:
All Africans play rugby and 3/4 of Africans have careers in clinical medicine.
via Chris Blattman. See also.

A Frog Sitting on a Bench Like a Human

Nothing more, nothing less:

via MetaFilter.

Furniture for Inanimate Objects

What do you get for the d-bag whose bag already has everything? A piece of furniture for the bag, of course!

On Range

Pat Dryburgh, quoted in full redacted slightly:
Not long ago, I was trying so hard to sing like Ben Gibbard. Just as I had once tried so hard to sing like Dave Grohl, as I had tried so hard to sing like James Hetfield, as I had tried so hard to sing like Billie Joe Armstrong.
But they weren't in my range.
Pat's conclusion:
Your most reliable work will always be within your range. Go just a bit outside of that to show your passion and stretch yourself. But go too far beyond that and you'll be so strained that ultimately the work will suffer.
This is an elegant way of restating and illustrating the principle that Steve Jobs made famous: for everything you say "yes" to, there are innumerable things you're implicitly saying "no" to. If you want to be your best (as a company or a person), you need to learn to say "no" to a lot of seemingly good things. Then, you can apply your whole self to the best things.

'I gave him some key points...'

Reminds me of the Vonnegut scenes in Back to School.


I haven't commented on the Flashback for Mac malware issue, because I've had nothing original to add to the discussion. That, and I assume it's of little interest to my reader(s).

This seems noteworthy, though: about 85% of the infected systems have been repaired in the space of about 2 weeks. When was the last time you heard about anyone effectively cleaning a PC of malware?

'You don't wanna get rich AND die tryin'…'

This should be good. When Doug E. Fresh comes in at 1:35, I'm instantly in middle school again.

How to Drive Your Wife Crazy

Albert Einstein was many things: mathematical genius, visionary scientist, philosopher, sartorial ne'er-do-well. Let's add another descriptor to that list: asshole

In his defense, though, Condition D is a perfectly reasonable request. And, let's be honest, Condition C.2 is just a good all-around rule for living. And what husband hasn't wanted to play the Condition B.1 card from time to time. Frankly, come to think of it, A.1-3 are pretty appealing even if they're a little sternly worded.

Wait. Maybe I'm an asshole too. I've always suspected as much, I just never realized how bad it was 'til now. Maybe Einstein was just ballsy enough to own his assholery by putting his demands in writing. Then again, ballsy assholery is not exactly the Secret to a Happy Marriage.

Texting While Walking

How fast did this guy's heart rate accelerate between 0:13 and 0:18 in this video?

Questionable Conduct

So, conductors really are important. At least, according to one high-profile conductor.

But let's be honest with ourselves: this guy is totally phoning it in.

Idle Hands

If idle hands are the Devil's workshop, then what is this?

Thanks to Alece and Alec for sharing, and for not mocking me too much because I hadn't seen it before.

'I'm Crazy About Music...'

Unless there's a cure for alzheimer's in the next 30-40 years, this is going to be me. Of course, I'll be a pasty old man with liver spots, not an aging jazz man like Hank.

I just hope my grandchildren know which playlist to put on.

via Kottke.

Pretty Pegs

Brilliant idea: replacement/alternative legs for IKEA furniture. How did this take so long to happen?

'Navy SEALs do.'

Marc Parent writes the best pice of non-fiction I've read in a long time:
"I heard you went for a run yesterday," I said to Bronco. I took a bite of chicken and nodded. What I'd actually heard is that he had run mile repeats pushing a car, did a five-mile cooldown jog wearing a 100-pound pack, and finished off with an hour of sustained kickboxing. "I've been running a little myself," I continued. I took a sip of the beer. His eyes narrowed and grew serious. "So, you know, I'd love to join you at the end of one of your workouts if you'd let me tag along." He shifted to face me and lowered his head.
"What are your goals?" he said.
I made a squawk of some sort and began to stammer. If you're suddenly asked what your goals are by someone who is not joking—whose eyes are pinned to yours, who is a Navy SEAL—you're abruptly thrust into a lightning-round assessment of your entire life that leaves you giggling in a high, unattractive way. "My goals?" I said. I looked at my beer and chicken and thought about how I'd like to lose weight. That would sound stupid even if my hands were empty. No self-respecting guy tells a Navy SEAL he'd like to fit into smaller jeans. I struggled to say something. I could tell him I'd like to try to be mighty. I would like to be a little more epic, every now and then...
The entire story is phenomenal.

Thanks to Steve D for passing this along.

Every Jump

Every jump of the General Lee, taken from six seasons of vintage broadcast television (embedding disabled). How many Dodge Chargers were harmed during the Dukes of Hazzard's production run? It depends who you ask, but probably somewhere between 250 and 325(!). Or, on average, more than one per show(!!). Read the entire wikipedia page for lots more interesting information, including this bit of trivia:
LEE 1 was salvaged out of a Georgia junkyard in August 2001 by Travis Bell and Gary Schneider. The car has since been fully "restored" to its on screen appearance. It was officially unveiled to the public November 11, 2006 with John Schneider behind the wheel. It is now owned by PGA Tour golfer Bubba Watson, who purchased it for $110,000 at the Barrett-Jackson automobile auction in January 2012.
via Daring Fireball.

Casa Corallo


The Times, They Are a-Becoming Quite Different*

So, the real Springfield is in Oregon.

Here's how we know The Simpsons will be over soon: if this news broke twenty years ago, it would've been an ALL-CAPS headline on the 1992 equivalent of the Drudge Report (which was what, a newspaper?) and every evening news show would've led with the story. Today, it barely elicits a follow-up question (although, hats off to Claudia De La Roca (any relation? unlikely...they spell and pronounce their names differently) for noting that the exact location had never been revealed before).

*see also, Eat up Martha.

Art Lesson

Chuck Jones, on drawing Bugs Bunny:
The simplest way, if you're gonna draw Bugs, the best way to do is to learn how to draw a carrot and then you can hook a rabbit onto it.

Reminds me of Annie Dillard's advice on spotting a deer in the woods, but I can't find the exact quote anywhere. The gist of it is, as I remember it: look for the deer-shaped holes, not the actual deer.

via SvN.

Slowly Twisting in the Wind

The Marshall Dorm Fridge: how did it take so long for someone to think of this?

Related news: Jim Marshall, who invented the eponymous amps, died recently.

Almost-totally unrelated They Might Be Giants verse that comes to mind every time I see a Marshall amp:
She's not your satellite - she doesn't miss you
so turn off your smoke machine and Marshall stack
she doesn't have to have her Young Fresh Fellas tape back
there's not a lot of things that she'll take back

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (in a Room Full of His Paintings)

Thomas Kinkade has died at age 54. One of his fans eulogized him on Twitter:
Rest in peace, Thomas Kinkade. May your afterlife be as beautiful as your art.
Ironically, most of his detractors probably wish him the same fate.

My opinion of Kinkade's work would be unpopular or offensive to some people I love dearly, so I've resisted publishing my essay "Thomas Kinkade: Pornographer of Light™." (Thesis: Kinkade's portrayal of light in his art is a distortion to the point of idolatry, just as pornography is a destructive distortion of true sex.)

Technically, my "essay" is just a catchy title* and a thesis. But be honest: shouldn't the rest just write itself? As it turns out, no; but the AV Club did publish an obituary that hits a lot of nails on the head, and will probably serve as my final excuse for never swinging the hammer myself. It may just preserve some of my dearest friendships too.

*And I owe that title to a friend (who I won't name here unless he asks me to) who once remarked: "I'd rather find porn under my son's mattress than a Thomas Kinkade painting on his wall." I'm pretty sure he was exaggerating, but the juxtaposition got me thinking.


A better writer than me* could produce either a hilarious send-up or a heart-rending deconstruction of this screenshot. Here are some notes to get that writer started:
  • I'm surprised the NYTimes is still running slideshows in this genre. It seemed like they jumped the shark with their "Brooklyn Trust-Fund Hipster Distilleries"piece a couple years ago.
  • The first half of the caption reads "Ian Knauer, a food writer who lives in Brooklyn, makes soft-boiled eggs with watercress on crostini with eggs from his hens..." Assuming this wasn't written by an intern, we can trust that the verb tense was chosen judiciously. Was it Ian, then, or the caption writer, who wanted to project this subtle pretense with the present tense "makes"? As if this is his morning routine...soft-boiling eggs just-so, hand-crusting the crostini, and foraging in his backyard for some watercress; then snapping a perfectly lit photo of each plateful before devouring it. Just be honest and say he made it especially for your photographer on a Tuesday afternoon.
  • Note that this slideshow is ostensibly about the "urban farming movement" but the second half of the caption reads "...which he keeps on his family’s farm in Pennsylvania." You can't fool me with those yolks. Those are rural eggs. At best, they may be suburban. They're not part of the Movement, though!
  • Finally, I note the ad that was served up on this page: "Help the Obamas stand up for working Americans." You know, the hard-working cement truck drivers and forklift operators who barely have time to choke down their own soft-boiled eggs with watercress on crostini before they run out the door for work, let alone go online to drool over someone else's.

*Or is it "than I"? A better writer than myself would know for sure.


If you don't go out and do this right now for your child, you are a crappy under-achieving parent. I don't care how much you spend on strollers and preschool. Shame on you.

...at the Met

Adding "...at the Met" to anything should make it instantly classier:
  • I was eating a six-pack of Cinnabons...at the Met.
  • I had a job interview in the afternoon, but I hadn't showered in a couple days; so I scrubbed down with some paper towels and hand sanitizer in a public bathroom...at the Met.
  • For some reason, I noticed a lot of red lint the last time I cleaned out my belly button...at the Met.

And, mathematically speaking, highbrow art + lowbrow comedy should be at least middlebrow cultural fare.

So, why do I feel so dirty when I laugh and laugh and laugh at this?

Empty Sky

Jersey City 9/11 Memorial. Perfect.

Trike Drifting

Local News

Least informative news story ever? I mean, really. Technically, it's neither "news" nor a "story," but it was published on the website of a legitimate news outlet. And re-tweeted (as of this post time) FOUR TIMES.

xkcd: Formal Logic

This intersects four of my favorite things: xkcd, bumper stickers, honking, and logic. Grand Slam.

Catching up on the Simpsons

via Kottke (speaking of), and he's got a good breakdown there.

Miscarriage of Justice

Jokes about miscarriages are never funny. Except when they are jokes about hypothetical future miscarriages. And if that sad day comes, the joke won't be funny anymore, so enjoy it while you can!

Them Robots

First they came for the auto workers, then they took over Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. How long before this guy takes Danny MacAskill's job?

Mini iPad

This is the first credible explanation I've seen for how/why Apple might release a smaller iPad (or, if you prefer, "another bigger iPod Touch, but not as big as the really big iPod Touch called the iPad").

Also, for what it's worth, I have yet to see a compelling case for why Apple would ever produce an actual TV, as in the big, expensive flat screen you hang on your wall and replace every decade or so. I can imagine the AppleTV as we know it getting better and better, and maybe even becoming the only thing that your wall-mounted TV is tuned to, but the idea that any normal person would go out and replace their $2,000+ HD display with a new one just because Apple made the new one beautiful is crazy to me.

Glen Meets Van

Every story is more charming when told by the Irish.

"Nice voice, nice songs, blah, blah, blah..."

How to Drive Dogs Crazy

How to Drive Girls Crazy

Why does there always seem to be an inverse proportion between a man's creative genius and his ability to maintain a sane family life?

Exhibit #421453, from an otherwise charming little letter sent by F. Scott Fitzgerald to his daughter while she was away at camp:
I think of you, and always pleasantly; but if you call me "Pappy" again I am going to take the White Cat out and beat his bottom hard, six times for every time you are impertinent. Do you react to that?
Then, later:
P.S. My come-back to your calling me Pappy is christening you by the word Egg, which implies that you belong to a very rudimentary state of life and that I could break you up and crack you open at my will and I think it would be a word that would hang on if I ever told it to your contemporaries. "Egg Fitzgerald." How would you like that to go through life with — "Eggie Fitzgerald" or "Bad Egg Fitzgerald" or any form that might occur to fertile minds? Try it once more and I swear to God I will hang it on you and it will be up to you to shake it off. Why borrow trouble?
Or was he just being playful?

The Million Little Barbs Of "Lighten Up"

This is eye-opening, and makes me sad.

UPDATED to link to the correct page. Thanks to several readers who alerted me to the problem.

Maddie on Things

The latest addition to my RSS feed's "Visual Snacks" category is Maddie on Things. It's just a Tumblr of charming photos of a Coonhound* perched precariously - sometimes almost impossibly - on various things.

The pictures generally fall into two categories: beautifully composed photographs that WHOA! happen to have a slender dog balanced somewhere in the frame (these pictures would be remarkable even without the dog); and less-remarkable compositions in which the point seems to be, "Can you believe a dog can do this? Who's a good girl?! MADDIE'S A GOOD GIRL!!"

An example of the former:

And the latter:

*Can we still call it a "coonhound"? The jury's still out, but it seems its days are numbered.

The Redditor

Sign of the times: a monthly 'zine condensing reddit.com's most popular and interesting items into a very long, gorgeous PDF. In other words, a technology that has subverted its predecessor is now being re-published in that subverted format to make the subverting technology more accessible.

This solves a very real problem for me: I can't handle the volume or velocity of information on reddit (same with Twitter), but I know that there's a lot of interesting stuff going on there. If someone else has the time and talent to filter through it all and turn it into something beautiful, I'm in. I might even pay $1 a month to read it. Can it be long before this shows up in Newsstand?

On My Calendar

The Only Place: Best Coast, out May 15th 2012.

In the meantime, this is scratching the itch for $4.

Thank Yous

Annoyingly presented in slideshow format, but worth flipping through nonetheless. All gleaned from Letters of Note, so if you frequent that site you may have already seen it all.

From my favortie:
In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future.
I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.


Children and grownups everywhere should watch this once a week. Her shadow at the end captures her joy perfectly.

via Kottke.

Thank You!

Does Barack Obama understand sign language? I'm not convinced. I suspect that he just reflexively (and, I would argue, wisely) smiled, nodded, and gave a "Thank You" sign.

Think about it: in that context, what could someone possibly be signing to which a signed "Thank You" would not be a perfectly appropriate response? And even if the audience member was hurling ASL insults at the President, I think "Thank You" would be the least-bad response he could muster in spoken or signed communication.

If President Obama speaks sign language, that's impressive. If he doesn't, and acted this quickly and smoothly on his feet, that's even more impressive. For the record, though, and not to take anything away from President Obama here, every middle- to upper-middle class over-achieving American who's raised kids in the last 20 or so years knows a handful of sign language (Please, Thank You, More, Milk, etc.), so merely knowing "Thank You" is actually the least impressive part of the video.

The Need for Steed

Quick: Is this picture from The Onion of for real?

via Gizmodo.
It's for real! But shouldn't there be a form-fitting hood to eliminate the ears' drag coefficient?


How to respond to fan mail. My favorite:
(e) Humble aspirations of would-be writers. If attractive a letter of discouragement. If unattractive a post-card.
And, remember kids: it's pronounced "Eev-lyn."  Also, she's a man.

Free Idea: Powers of Tech

I was driving to work this morning thinking about pixels. There are well over a million pixels in any "HD" display, whether it's an iDevice, a computer screen, or a flat panel TV; and I suspect that there's more technology in each pixel than...what? It's the end of this sentence that has me stumped.

Is there more tech (R&D, manufacturing processes, patents, etc.) in a single pixel than the Titanic? Apollo  XIII? I don't know, but I'd like to.

And the display is rarely the most technically sophisticated component of any given device.

This animated scale of the universe got me thinking about the Eames's Powers of Ten and the many derivative works it inspired.

Can the Internet please get to work on a video of some sort that explores the immense breadth and depth of complexity inside any given gadget?

Thanks in advance.

Living The Life

A free ice cream cone to my first reader who can watch this video in its entirety.

I couldn't come close. I watched enough to learn that there is some (apparently enviable) ontological state called "De Life" (although "De" seems to be pronounced with the rare "soft D" so it actually sounds like the word traditionally spelled t-h-e), and that the man in this video (whoever he is...something to do with casinos?) seems convinced that he is "Livin" in said state. He is not content to remain alone in this conviction, though. He wants, nay needs, to convince us on this point too. Consider me convinced.

Definition of terms would be helpful, though: does he ever identify the distinguishing characteristics of this so-called life? As I said, I couldn't watch long enough to find out; but what little I did see was not promising.

McSweeney’s List: Honest Spotify Playlists

Brilliant. (Caution: swears.)

My favorite: "The New People are Early for Brunch Quick Just Type in Miles Davis"

We're All Fat II

A few comments after this clip:

  1. That olde-timey newscaster voice can make almost anything sound hilarious, even something so sad as this.
  2. I thought we were finally going to see a story about fat people that didn't involve Americans, until the pot-shot at 1:25.
  3. What was the setting of this video? As it progresses, we seem to go from a living room to a soundstage to a bizarre coliseum in which old people tease the obese with chocolate bars. Was this a thing in 1935?
  4. The child's name is Leslie Downes. I did a cursory "where is he now" search, but found nothing notable. In the process, though, I remembered a character with a similar name from a very old TMBG song, which led to an afternoon stroll down memory lane.
See also, last week's story. This is not a series.

via Kottke.

Why They Left

James Whittaker, Why I left Google:
As it turned out, sharing was not broken. Sharing was working fine and dandy, Google just wasn't part of it. People were sharing all around us and seemed quite happy. A user exodus from Facebook never materialized. I couldn't even get my own teenage daughter to look at Google+ twice, "social isn't a product," she told me after I gave her a demo, "social is people and the people are on Facebook." Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn't invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google's party became the elephant in the room.
Greg Smith, Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs:
To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

xkcd: Drawing Stars

I found this surprisingly funny. Such a simple concept, so cleverly executed.

And I'm not to proud to admit that I found Monday's comic utterly inscrutableeven after reading the explanation and subsequent comments. Perhaps that was the point..

(Cargo) Hold Your Horses

How does a horse get to the 2012 Olympics in England? Practice. And a wide-body cargo plane.

This article has many of the details of the fascinating shipping process, but tactfully side-steps the price. I suppose the combination of Horse People + Olympic-caliber Athletes + International Travel makes for a proverbial trifecta case of "if you have to ask...you can't afford it," but still - it would've been nice if they'd given us a ballpark.

A friend of mine who dropped out of college to train horses, but never got much farther in his apprenticeship than scrubbing their haunches and withers and whatnots with warm soapy water, guessed $5-10K, but this seems low to me.

Anyone have first-hand knowledge in this matter? Drop me a line, and I'll send you a gift card for a free salt lick from Southern States.

NPR Story via Marginal Revolution.

1.3 Billion Little Pieces

Mike Daisey made it up.

Coverage: This American Life (the Oprah to Daisey's James Frey), John Gruber (and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here!…not bad for a Friday night!), Ben BrooksRob SchmitzDan Frommer.

Sparrow Mail for iOS

I've always been happy with Apple's Mail.app for OS X, so I wasn't all that interested in Sparrow for Mac. But for $3, Sparrow for iOS is a no-brainer. The built-in iOS Mail app is OK, but I think it could be improved in a few small but important ways. Sparrow seems to get most of the improvements out of the box, and they'll hopefully be more agile than Apple in addressing feature requests as they mature.

It's too soon to say that one is hands-down better than the other: Apple is constrained by a need to meet the top needs of 100+ million iOS users, whereas Sparrow has the counter-intuitive advantage of a very small install base made up primarily of nerds. Apple needs to constantly choose what (if anything) to add to their elegantly simple mail program so that everyone from Tech Writers to Grandfathers can use it easily. Sparrow is trying to fill a small but growing niche, and really only needs to make themselves (and a million or so people like them, eventually) happy with the product.

Things I love about Sparrow:
  • Different signature for each account(!!!). Why has Apple not gotten to this yet?
  • Reply to a message, then - without leaving the reply panel - decide to Reply All with one tap. If you're really indecisive, you can easily toggle back to Reply
  • Easy (i.e. 1 tap vs. 2…first world problems) to mark a message Unread
  • Really easy navigation to system folders (Sent Mail, All Mail, Spam, etc.) vs. Apple's Mail

Things I'd love to see in future releases:
  • Push, of course. This ball is in Apple's court, not Sparrow's, and hopefully Apple will make a way to grant approval soon.
  • TextExpander integration. With this, I would probably ditch the built-in Mail app for good.
  • Ability to "de-thread" messages so that they fill the Inbox chronologically, not grouped by conversation
  • Corollary to above: ability to flip from one message to next without navigating back to the inbox. (Or am I missing this in the current version?) Reeder has spoiled me on this, and again - I don't know why Apple hasn't done it yet. I can't tell you how often I've come into Mail after 10-15 minutes in Reeder, and found myself trying to flip from the end of one message to the beginning of the next. I typically try two or three times before I remember that it's not possible. (See: Insanity, Einstein's definition of.)
I may update this post as I think of other items for the above categories, so stay tuned!

Windows 8

The good newstech support companies are about to get really busy.

The bad news: they're going to be busy supporting Windows 8.

To be fair, as commenter Doguhan points out on the original post, "Majority of the people didn't discover the Start button on their own, they've been instructed to use it. Windows 8 needs only one instruction: the corners are hot spots." It's probably wildly optimistic to say that Windows 8 (or any OS, for that matter) needs only one instruction, but I'll grant his point. Nevertheless, the day the average person upgrades to Window 8 will be a day fraught with confusion and frustration.

Truth in Advertising

"Just Like Church," indeed.
The Miller Family is planning to move to North Carolina this summer, so we're starting to look at real estate on the Internet. There's no shortage of exaggeration in any form of advertising, of course, but it seems like real estate brochures and listings are particularly rife with it.

Perhaps the best way to counteract this tendency is to go contrarian and just tell it like it is:
A Most Unusual Property. It Looks Like The Previous Owners Had A Vision - Just Not Sure What It Was! There's Lots of Space, Fancy Deck And Pergola (With A View of Wendover Avenue), And Ginormous Space That Appears To Have Once Been A Hair Salon ["...or was it a two car garage? Hard to say!" -ed.]. And Wait Till You See The Upstairs Bathroom. Talk About Easy Access ;) Then There's The Room On The Main Floor That Has A Vaulted Ceiling And Stained Glass Window. Just Like Church!

Paul Graham: Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas

I started my Free Ideas series because I'd come to the conclusion that ideas have a near-zero value unless they are followed by action, perseverance, and some sort of actual product or service.

What I should've said was that seemingly good ideas have these traits. The really valuable ideas (which do still need to be followed by action, etc. in order to have their value realized) are the ones that seem utterly frightening, foolish, or confounding to most people. Paul Graham makes this case convincingly.

Holy Guacamole

On Attribution

Marco's not a curator.

Now: to whom, and by what mechanism, should I attribute my "discovery" of this recent tempest in a teapot? 

Gruber got me thinking about all this last Summer, and I think his observations hold up. The upshot is: don't mislead your readers, and don't steal other peoples' work. To ensure the former, make attribution as clear and simple as possible so your readers to understand what you're reporting and where you got your information. To ensure the latter, don't obfuscate links or via's or hat-tips in some convoluted way.

I consider myself a collector and disseminator of internet ephemera. A guy who points out interesting things. A Jason Kottke for sub-urbane suburbanites. I make no pretense of offering anything profound or even important in any lasting sense. I will occasionally offering some supplementary commentary when I think I have something funny or clever or insightful to add, but that's about it.

But before I click "publish" I always ask myself: am I contributing something of value to my readers' lives? Or is this a net drain on the world's scarce resources of time and attention? I've deleted many, many posts after having written and scheduled them for publication because I ultimately decided the answers to these questions were wrong.

KONY 2012

I rely on only one person to keep me abreast of the international aid and development economics world; and since that one person is on an extended "vacation" (the word means different things to different people, obviously) in southeast Asia, I arrived late to this party:

KONY 2010: he's the worst.

In these days of domestic political strife where you either love one candidate and hate the other, or you honestly can't tell the difference between any of them, it's nice when someone stands out from the pack as demonstrably worse than anyone else walking planet earth today.

But I guess the meta-story has evolved beyond whether or not Kony is a bad man; it's now about whether or not the #KONY2012 campaign is a bad idea.

If, like me, you're a fairly cynical person who's seen and heard it all before, you owe it to yourself to take 30 minutes and watch the video. I will admit that my eyes welled up several times. No tears actually streaked down my face, mind you, but I had to be careful not to blink once or twice in order to avoid such a catastrophe.

If, unlike me, you find yourself constantly striving to do something, anything on behalf of every group of people who ever faced a disadvantage in this world, often without even evaluating your actions or efforts to determine whether your somethings and anythings  are helping or harming their recipients, then you owe it to yourself (and the world) to read Chris Blattman's off-the-cuff remarks. And then take 30 minutes to watch the video. And then, just to be safe, you might want to read this round-up of opinions on the campaign (via Blattman). Suffice to say: nothing's simple here.

I have nothing substantive to add to the debate and discussion, but I'd like to point out how brilliantly executed the whole campaign is. With over 100-million views in less than a week, the video's message is surely getting out there. And the 20/12 strategy of targeting 20 people with cultural capital and 12 global policy power-brokers is genius. The whole campaign may be misguided, patronizing, insulting, or outright harmful to the people of Uganda, but you have to admit: they got people's attention.

On top of all this, in a tiny flourish of detail, I note that they merged the GOP Elephant and DNC Donkey into a peaceful white dove. Has anyone made this visual connection before them? If so, I'd never seen it.

This Wendell Berry quote a friend sent me the other day is apt:
I would rather go before the government with two men who have a competent understanding of an issue, and who therefore deserve a hearing, than with two thousand who are vaguely dissatisfied.
Competent Understanding is in short supply these days, all around the world and especially here at Grandiloquent Bloviator. With patience and perseverance, though, we can keep taking tiny steps toward achieving it.

Undercover Billionaire

Sara Blakely Joins The Rich List Thanks To Spanx
Blakely has strong views about her wealth. "I feel like money makes you more of who you already are," she says from behind a mirrored desk in her plush Atlanta office, stirring a bowl of take-out soup and exhausted from a sleepless, flu-ridden night. "If you're an asshole, you become a bigger asshole. If you're nice, you become nicer. Money is fun to make, fun to spend and fun to give away." Most fun: anonymously buying dinner for an entire restaurant crowd at her favorite Japanese steak house in Atlanta...


I played lacrosse from grade school through the first half of high school, and then again in college for a couple years. I switched from Attack to Goalie right around the time I realized that I really don't like getting hit by big dudes wielding metal sticks.

By the time I realized that I also don't like being hit by a hard rubber ball travelling at nearly 100 mph, it was too late: I'd made the team. I think the two years off in high school helped me get ready for a couple more seasons in college, in much the way that a woman will sometimes give birth to a second, third, etc., child. The passage of time dims the pain and highlights the pleasantness.

All this is a long way of introducing an observation: I would probably be really bad at Ultimate Tak Ball.

via Kottke.

March Madness Madness

It's that special time of year in America, where the sports-crazed go well and truly insane and the sports-ambivalent learn to at least feign an interest in college basketball. I was never a member of the former group, and find myself increasingly aligned with the latter. Last week, I wondered on several occasions (but never bothered to check) whether the NCAA tournament was starting this weekend or next. I assumed that I'd have heard about it if it were imminent, but kept thinking: heard from where? Turns out the tournament did not start last weekend, a fact that was confirmed by a female co-worker at a lunch meeting last Friday. Or, what - for all I knew until then - might've been Day Two of the Big Dance.

As one lawyer said to another in The Social Network: Cy...

All the above notwithstanding, there's a >80% chance that I'll plunk down $3.99 for this app this week on purely principled grounds. The principle in this case: If your 20-year-old self knew that your practically-40-year-old self could watch every game in the the tournament on a wafer-thin screen he held in one hand, for less than $4, how could you let your younger self down by not doing it?


I got two A's in college. One was for an independent study (when you design the course, you damn-well better get a good grade!) and the other was in Ceramics (an A+!).


We're living in the future, people!

Invisible Car

Even in the second decade of the 21st century, it's not uncommon to see an old $5,000 Honda Civic outfitted with more than $5,000 in "performance" modifications: massive spoiler, low-profile tires on 20-inch rims, high-flow exhaust system, etc.

It's much less common to see a $50,000+ car outfitted in a cloak of invisibility, so it's probably worth taking note when one drives by.

Rick Warren: "We're all fat."

I submit that this article could be published word-for-word in The Onion, and no one would know the difference.

We've got a hilarious premise:
"On that particular day, I was baptizing 858 people," Warren told his congregation last fall. "That took me literally four hours."
"As I'm baptizing 858 people, along around 500, I thought this ... 'We're all fat.' "
Of course, since he's Rick Warren, he sees this as an opportunity for spiritual and community growth. He calls in a couple contributors and one Dr. All-Star to form the supporting cast:
Warren recruited three doctors to develop the plan: Daniel Amen[!!! -ed.], a psychiatrist; Mark Hyman, a family doctor; and Mehmet Oz, a TV host and cardiac surgeon.
Add a few hilarious, if slightly puerile, pull quotes:
"The secret sauce of Saddleback is we do this as a community," said Amen, one of the medical contributors. "It's very different than most health plans where you do it with yourself or your wife. You get to do this with a whole community."
And I think we've basically got a story for next week's issue. If anything, the article needs a better closing paragraph. I mean, The Onion would never resort to something this cheesy and formulaic:
Warren often repeats the same phrases when discussing the Daniel Plan. "The Father made your body, Jesus paid for your body, the Spirit lives in your body. You better take care of it."

Dollar Shave Club Dot Com

At first, this idea struck me as something akin to lightbulbs.com. After watching the two-minute promo, though, I want to sign up for blades, invest in the company, and go to work for them! Of course, I expect them to be out of business within a year, but we could have a lot of fun 'til then.

See also: F&*# Everything, We're Doing Five Blades.

via Steve D.

Press On

Calvin Coolidge:
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is filled with educated derelicts. Persistence & determination are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and will forever solve the problems of the human race.


(Penn and) Teller

Teller reveals his secrets.
A magician's data sample spans centuries, and his experiments have been replicated often enough to constitute near-certainty. Neuroscientists—well intentioned as they are—are gathering soil samples from the foot of a mountain that magicians have mapped and mined for centuries.


Social Media Explained using donuts. Google+ is my favorite.


In our 140-character culture, it's hard to see how this video couldn't have been made a little shorter, and I didn't watch every minute of it. Nevertheless: fascinating.

via MetaFilter.

Zuckerberg’s Share

A friend and I were discussing this over the weekend, and we agreed with John Gruber's take:
[T]hat Zuckerberg was able to hold onto so much stock and an astounding majority of the voting rights is proof that his success is no fluke. The guy must be a badass at the negotiating table.
The kid is 27. For years he's sat across the table from some of the most powerful and successful potential investors in the world, and he has managed to preserve total control over his company. How could they all fail so consistently to gain control along with their ownership stakes, and how could he succeed so persistently in keeping both? Badass.

Swim Suits in Feburary

You could fill a book with the First World Problems highlighted by The Sartorialist, but this one's rich even by Scott Shuman's standards:
About a year ago I did a post called Why can’t I buy gloves right now? which I’ve been thinking about lately while riding my bike in the cold to Fall shows. I talked about how the delivery of goods to fashion stores each season (like Barneys or Saks) never really seems to be at the right time. 
The problem is on cold days like these, when it’s freezing cold in February, I can’t find a pair of gloves because stores are full of swim suits and spring merchandise...
I judge the irony of this particular post by my original mis-reading of its title. At first glance, I thought it was Why Are There No Swimsuits in February. I assumed that Scott was off to some sunny island and couldn't find a stylish pair of trunks for the trip. The story wrote itself in my head: Woe betide the poor fashionista, who must depart for Turks and Caicos packing last year's board shorts! Did they even wear board shorts last year, or was that 2010? How has my life come to this!?

But the real story was just as entertaining and revealing. I maintain that he could've bought gloves on February 16, 2010 (the date of his original lament). He just couldn't have gotten the sort of profound and awe-inspiring accoutrements he was after on that particularly dreary day in Manhattan. I'd wager that his jaunt that day took him past a dozen or more folding tables heaped with the kind of machine-knit acrylic gloves, scarves, and hats that never go out of style in suburbia; he just decided he'd rather be cold and complain.

In related news, on that same cold day two winters ago, a homeless guy without gloves or a website to call his own wondered aloud to an unusually well-dressed street photographer passing by, why can't I buy lunch right now?

We're Sick of This!

After 11 years and five students with cystic fibrosis, Elkridge Elementary holds last fundraiser to help fight disease.

So, if you have CF, don't go enrolling in Elkridge Elementary and expect any handouts! Sell some lemonade. Have a bake sale. Whatever you want, but you're on your own.

For Two?

When you study art history as closely as I have, you learn - much to your surprise - that many of the greats got their start in exactly this way.

“Bacon Alphabet” by Henry Hargreaves

Just what it sounds like, but (sadly) uncooked.

'...meaning, someone who designs fonts...'

Is this a fan letter, an unsolicited job application, or just a public display of nit-pickery? All three?
A number of scenes had subtitles or captions. All of these were set in the font Verdana. There are two problems with Verdana.
via Kottke.

9:42 AM

At Apple, nothing's arbitrary.

Wartime Golf Rules

In perhaps the greatest-ever example of "A Good Walk Spoiled," Shaun Usher reports:
As the Battle of Britain began to take hold in 1940, a bomb fell on an outbuilding belonging to Richmond Golf Club in Surrey, England. As a result, the club — rather than halt future rounds of golf — issued an incredible list of temporary golf rules to all members that took into account the potentially life-threatening conditions on the course.
The list is impossible to edit for favorites:

Temporary Rules, 1940
  1. Players are asked to collect Bomb and Shrapnel splinters to save these causing damage to the mowing machines.
  2. In competitions, during gunfire, or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
  3. The positions of known delayed-action bombs are marked by red flags placed at reasonably, but not guaranteed safe distance therefrom.
  4. Shrapnel/and/or bomb splinters on the Fairways, or in Bunkers within a club’s length of a ball may be moved without penalty, and no penalty shall be incurred if a ball is thereby caused to move accidentally.
  5. A ball moved by enemy action may be replaced, or if lost or destroyed, a ball may be dropped not nearer the hole without penalty.
  6. A ball lying in a crater may be lifted and dropped not nearer the hole, preserving the line to the hole without penalty.
  7. A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place. Penalty, one stroke.

Spontaneous Order

You're gonna think this isn't worth 12 minutes of your time, and I don't know what your time is worth, so I can't guarantee it is. But it probably is.
The Great Boatlift of 9/11 became the largest sea evacuation in history. Larger than the evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II, where 339,000 British and French soldiers were rescued over the course of nine days. On 9/11, nearly five hundred thousand civilians were rescued from Manhattan by boat. It took less than nine hours.

Quinary Effects

I'm not saying there would be no unexpected results or unintended consequences of shuttering the NFL, but on the other hand you can't argue that Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier failed to think things through.

Favorite quotes:
Heck, just getting rid of fantasy football probably saves American companies hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
To the extent that fans replace football with another sport (instead of meth or oxy), high-octane basketball is the natural substitute.


I really could've used a chart like this as a high school freshman. Then again, I didn't go to high school in 1890's New Zealand.

Free Idea - Backward in Time

xkcd #1017
Randall Munroe has outdone himself. Today's xkcd is a fascinating exercise in backwards time travel, and it even links to a spreadsheet so you can tweak the variables as you like.

How long before someone takes this to the next logical step and builds a little web app to scroll through time automatically, pulling "On This Day" data from Wikipedia?

I'd love to sit down at the beginning of a 1-hour meeting, enter today's date and my birthdate, start the timer, and watch the historical events of my lifetime scroll by.

It can't be that hard, can it?

For a smart person, I mean.

Make 'Em An Offer They Can Refuse

For your Valentine's Day entertainment, Paul Kafasis deconstructs Pizza Hut's recent "Tie the Knot" engagement package:
There's certainly a set of people willing to spend $10,000 on a proposal. It's likely there's also a set of people who would propose with chain restaurant pizza. Still, it's disheartening to think that the intersection of those two sets may not simply be zero. Thankfully, it's simultaneously hilarious.
I enjoyed Seth Myers' take on this during Saturday's Weekend Update:
For Valentine's Day, Pizza Hut is offering a $10,000 engagement package, which includes limo service, a ruby engagement ring, a $10 dinner box, and - hopefully - ninety-seven hundred dollars in cash."
Also notable, from the same broadcast: "Red Lobster - where people are sentenced to dinner."

via Marco Arment.

Kosher Meat and Gehry

Would this be the first Frank Gehry-designed grocery store in the world?

I used to work in the building, which (if Wikipedia is correct) was one of Gehry's very first projects. You know...back when his buildings made sense to normal people? When they couldn't be confused with the wreckage left in the wake of a devastating tornado?

I've heard a lot of nightmare stories about what a hassle it is to work and mingle in some of his most celebrated recent buildings; to say nothing of how said buildings seem to have trouble coping with the immutable laws of physics. But I can offer first-hand testimony to the power of his work in those early days. There were times when I was miserable at that job, and days when I wanted to be anywhere else on earth, and then I'd step out of my office into this transcendently beautiful building and my heart would be cheered a bit. I've been much happier in other jobs, and I'm happiest now that my "job" is running a business, but I've never been more encouraged simply by being in a particular building.


While we're talking passwords, here's another one from recent news:
The attack took place overnight Sunday and the target was the mail server of the Syrian Ministry of Presidential Affairs. Some 78 inboxes of Assad's aides and advisers were hacked and the password that some used was "12345". Among those whose email was exposed were the Minister of Presidential Affairs Mansour Fadlallah Azzam and Assad's media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban.

Dog Locker Update

I've received a few notes from readers concerning last month's post on the Scandinavian Dog Lockers (is that what "hundförvaring" means?). I can't vouch for my correspondents' authority on the subject, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt because their names sound sufficiently Nordic.

Here's what I've learned:
  1. The original post to which I linked was written in Swedish, although the Dog Lockers are found on Norwegian sidewalks. In Oslo, to be exact.
  2. They are Dog Lockers.
  3. Many people commented on the Swedish website, registering their contempt for the storing of canines in lockers. Evidently, threatening e-mails were also sent.
  4. I've never been so glad that I don't allow comments on my site.
  5. According to a stateside Swede who translated one Norwegian commenter's remarks for me, the cages have cooling fans, and they get automatically sanitized nightly. No word on whether it's even possible to ever really sanitize the stench of dog-fear and regret out of a stainless steel crate.
  6. According to that same insightful Swede, it is not uncommon in his home country for people to leave their dog in front of a store while they're inside shopping. Incredibly, babies are not infrequently left out front as well. I presume the babies are in a stroller in such cases, not lashed to a post by a leather lead. 
So, how long until we see baby lockers on the sidewalks of Oslo? Or perhaps people are already surreptitiously stashing their tots in the Dog Lockers. Would the outrage over baby lockers be more or less than over the dogs?