Week 2

So, that was week 2.

I celebrated my birthday on Friday the 13th, had a busy week at work and generally didn’t spend as much time reading as the week before. I also didn’t see as many movies (actually only a re-watching of Scorsese’s The Departed).

Still, a pretty solid week—especially in the Top 5.

Here is what I liked from the past week:

Top 5

Scouting An Abandoned Cold War Missile Base Hidden In The Adirondacks by Nick Carr:

When you first see it in the distance, you wouldn’t think it anything other than a picturesque home in the Adirondacks. But this house has a secret.

The Ballad of @Horse_ebooks by John Herman:

Of the accounts that follow me on Twitter, half are spambots. About 15% are companies or organizations whose social media interns found me on a list somewhere, and another 15% are something in between: not definitely bots, but not exactly humans. Whatever they are, they’re not “listening” in any meaningful sense. Among the remaining group are some people I like, some people I like a lot, some people I don’t know, and a bunch of technology PR professionals who don’t really have a choice.

Jay-Z’s ‘Glory’ for Blue: One of Hip-Hop’s Greatest Love Songs by Touré:

This week, one of the greatest love songs in hip-hop history was released, a song that made some cry. Hip-hop has not always dealt as well with the deeper emotions of the mature soul as the blues, jazz and soul music. But hip-hop has a grownup wing now and is becoming more comfortable with deep emotions. Case in point: the new, poignant, melancholy love song by Jay-Z called “Glory” that reminds me a little of Stevie Wonder’s classic “Isn’t She Lovely?” They sound nothing alike but are emotional cousins as both are powered by a man’s heart bursting over a young child. Jay’s chorus: “The most amazin’ feeling I feel/ Words can’t describe the feeling, for real/ Maybe I paint the sky blue/ My greatest creation was you, you. Glory.”

Ricky Gervais Would Like to Nonapologize by Dave Itzkoff, The New York Times:

In a onetime mess hall on a decommissioned Royal Air Force base outside London, Ricky Gervais was directing the 4-foot-6 star of a low-budget re-enactment of “The Passion of the Christ” on how to play the Crucifixion for more laughs.

Fever Dream of a Guilt-Ridden Gadget Reporter by Mat Honan, Gizmodo:

I trudge past several million dollars worth of 3DTVs, looking for a good place to take a shit. The toilets are all filthy. CES attendees are overwhelmingly men. Men are filthy, especially when they’ve been drinking too much coffee and eating Vegas buffets.

Guantánamo: An Oral History by Cullen Murphy, Todd S. Purdum, David Rose and Philippe Sands, Vanity Fair:

January 11, 2012, marks the 10th anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees at the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay—the first of what would be nearly 800 prisoners to cycle through the camp. One hundred and seventy one are still there. Despite President Obama’s pledge, the facility remains open, a prisoner of fear-mongering and politics—and it continues to be a symbol of mistreatment and missteps in the prosecution of the war on terror. Vanity Fair has interviewed dozens of people associated with Guantánamo—lawyers, soldiers, diplomats, former detainees—in order to tell the story in their own words.

Instapaper

Cory Doctorow: A Vocabulary for Speaking about the Future by Cory Doctorow:

Science fiction writers and fans are prone to lauding the predictive value of the genre, prompting weird questions like “How can you write science fiction today? Aren’t you worried that real science will overtake your novel before it’s published?” This question has a drooling idiot of a half-brother, the strange assertion that “science fiction is dead because the future is here.”

Succession in North Korea — Grief and fear by The Economist:

If North Korea were not so tragic and dangerous, the scenes broadcast to the world after the funeral of Kim Jong Il would have been comic. Waves of mourners outdid each other in grief. Men, women and children tore at their clothes in homage to a man who for 17 years kept his people in a state of isolation, poverty and indoctrination unparalleled in the modern world. According to the state news agency, “even the sky seemed to writhe in grief” at the demise of the “great saint born of Heaven”. There was pathetic gratitude when tin mugs of warm milk were put into trembling hands—proof, it was reported, of the solicitousness of Kim Jong Un, third son of the “Dear Leader” and heir to his murderous regime.

All posts

News

Cracking the paywall by Frédéric Filloux:

But here is the interesting point: The strongest players don’t just bow to the inevitable, they accelerate their transition to digital. This week, I was struck by the fact two such leaders made the same move: The New York Times and the Financial Times both announced serious price hike for their newsstand price (respectively 25% and 13.6%).

Did Apple change its core values? by Jon Talton, The Seattle Times:

Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook, has been awarded compensation of nearly $378 million. This is 376 million times the amount made by the late Steve Jobs, who famously worked for $1 a year. To be fair, Cook will take home a $900,000 salary. The remainder is in a one-time award of stock, half of which vests in 2016 and the remainder in 2021. And Jobs held a large amount of Apple stock from the 1990s.

This isn’t news per se, but a glorious example of how you shouldn’t do reporting (because what’s being reported is plain wrong), why having one article per update on the same news story is dumb and a general reminder to be vary about people reporting on the economy.

Productivity

On Distraction by Alain de Botton:

One of the more embarrassing and self-indulgent challenges of our time is the task of relearning how to concentrate. The past decade has seen an unparalleled assault on our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything. To sit still and think, without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine, has become almost impossible.

How Larry Page Changed Meetings At Google After Taking Over Last Spring by Matt Rosoff, Business Insider:

Last spring, when Larry Page retook the reins at Google, sources tell us that one of his first acts was to send a companywide email explaining how to run meetings more efficiently — like a hungry startup instead of a 30,000 person company.

Today, Google finally revealed a little more about what he said.

Culture

In praise of a second (or third) passport by The Economist:

Seen from the state’s point of view, multiple citizenship is at best untidy and at worst a menace. Officials would prefer you to be born, live, work, pay taxes, draw benefits and die in the same place, travel on one passport only, and bequeath only one nationality to your offspring. In wartime the state has a unique call on your loyalty—and perhaps your life. Citizenship is the glue keeping individual and state together. Tamper with it, and the relationship comes unstuck.

You Say You Want a Devolution? by Kurt Andersen, Vanity Fair:

For most of the last century, America’s cultural landscape—its fashion, art, music, design, entertainment—changed dramatically every 20 years or so. But these days, even as technological and scientific leaps have continued to revolutionize life, popular style has been stuck on repeat, consuming the past instead of creating the new.

Jaw-dropping video: iPad survives fall from outer space by Tariq Malik, space.com:

“We are usually known for making the most protective gear on the planet,” said Thom Cafaro, G-Form’s vice president of innovations, in a Jan. 6 statement. “So we decided why not raise the bar to off the planet too.”

What the hell is dubstep anyway? by Jason Kottke:

“So, a dubstep or grime is kinda like this ultra slow, ultra dirty spawn of hip hop, but it’s almost at a breakbeat speed, but it’s at a halftime breakbeat speed. So it feels, like, abnormally slow, and just gives this really heavy feel.”

U.S. Agents Aided Mexican Drug Trafficker to Infiltrate His Criminal Ring by Ginger Thompson, The New York Times:

American drug enforcement agents posing as money launderers secretly helped a powerful Mexican drug trafficker and his principal Colombian cocaine supplier move millions in drug proceeds around the world, as part of an effort to infiltrate and dismantle the criminal organizations wreaking havoc south of the border, according to newly obtained Mexican government documents.

Related:

Language is irrational. Gloriously so. by Simen:

Literally is in good company: words like very and really have undergone the same change. It’s funny that articles like this one decry replacing “very” with “literally”, given that “very” itself evolved from “true, real, genuine” via “actual, sheer” to its current role as intensifier. That is, the article is annoyed that people substitute literally for a word that has undergone almost exactly the same process, and which would have been decried by the language purists of the 15th century. But what, exactly, is this process?

Hyper-Realistic Paintings by Steve Mills by Christopher Jobson, Colossal:

Mills

Mills

Mills

Pilgrimage: Annie Leibovitz Catalogs Meta-Cultural Iconography by Maria Popova:

Pilgrimage is Leibovitz’s thoughtful meditation on how she can sustain her creativity in the face of adversity and make the most of her remaining time on Earth. The quest took her to such fascinating locales and pockets of cultural history as Charles Darwin’s cottage in the English countryside, Virginia Woolf’s writing table, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s home, Ansel Adams’s darkroom, Emily Dickinson’s only surviving dress, and Freud’s final couch.

How large is Skyrim’s overworld? on Quora:

To make an estimate, a scale needs to be established. There are no definitely known sizes for things in Skyrim, even the people, but we can make sensible estimates on some objects and work from there. I began with the doorway of the Bannered Mare, in Whiterun. This doorway looks to be somewhat taller than most, and the tallest standard door size is 8 feet. To do a sanity check, make sure that was reasonable, I took an estimate to see how tall that would make my character; by comparison, my character is revealed to be 6’5”; as my character is an Altmer, tallest of the races, that doesn’t seem too unreasonable.

Ten 100-year predictions that came true by Tom Geoghegan, BBC News:

In 1900, an American civil engineer called John Elfreth Watkins made a number of predictions about what the world would be like in 2000. How did he do?

10 Most Awe-Inspiring Projects of 2011 by Alice, My Modern Met.

Up! inspired floating house

How to make money doing what you love on the Internet by Courtney Boyd Myers, The Next Web:

While the global economy has slowed in recent years, taking its toll on the job market, entrepreneurs and creative types are finding a competitive advantage online. And I’m not talking about traveling to China and re-selling Nike sneakers on eBay. I’m referring to chefs hosting supper clubs, mom and pops selling baked goods, designers building online stores; professionals becoming educators; and people fulfilling their dreams while connecting to a larger audience than was ever before possible.

UX & Design

Persuasion Profiling: Attending to Individual Differences by Maurits Kaptein:

Researchers and practitioners in fields ranging from marketing, to psychology, to medicine have been interested in how people persuade or influence other people.

Where People Decide by Kip Voytek:

  • 90 percent of people rely on personal recommendations from friends
  • 84 percent of people are online doing research before making a purchase decision
  • 77 percent of all content around brands is being shared by the user, not the brand
  • 95 percent of posts to or about a brand go unanswered

Responsive design from another angle: Gizmodo goes widescreen by Joshua Benton, Nieman Journalism Lab:

Gizmodo, the popular gadget site and pageview king of Gawker Media, debuted a new look last night that they’re calling HD view, and it’s big. Not big in the grand scheme of things — big in the number of pixels it takes up. Whereas most websites top out at around 1000 pixels in width, Gizmodo HD stretches like Plastic Man, with photos and videos stretching wider and wider as the browser window does too.

Designer Founders Book Sneak Preview: Scott and Matias of Behance by Ben Blumenfeld, The Designer Fund:

Last week we interviewed Scott Belsky and Matias Corea, the founders of Behance and the 99% Conference, for the Designer Founders Book. Scott left his job at Goldman Sachs and Matias was freelancing as a print/identity designer when the two joined forces to create an online platform for creatives to showcase their work. With almost no funding they have built a profitable business with over a million users. Below are excerpts from their candid take on entrepreneurship, designer founders, and how to build a business that changes the world.

The Dead Kindle And What I Learned About Amazon Customer Service by Warren Ellis:

At this point, I did not have high hopes, and assumed I’d be buying a new Kindle Keyboard at full price. The device had been out of warranty for well over a year. I pressed the button, and gave them permission to call me to (eventually, hours or days after I’d pressed said happy button) discuss what I assumed would be another hundred-odd quid out of my pocket.

I was surprised at the instant callback.

Politics

Recalling Santorum’s Opposition, America’s First Gay Ambassador Speaks Out by Ari Melber, The Nation:

In a new interview with The Nation, Hormel emphasized that “no ambassador nomination takes place without approval of the other country”—a fact that is well known to members of Congress. Luxembourg had already approved the nomination, Hormel recalled, and that history “says something about the integrity of candidate Santorum—he claims to respect gay people, but I don’t find it credible.”

Foxconn Is Still a Hard Place to Work by Rebecca Greenfield, The Atlantic Wire:

As American consumers ogle over shiny new gadgets at this week’s Consumer Electronic’s Show, the workers that make those products are threatening mass suicide for the horrid working conditions at Foxconn. 300 employees who worked making the Xbox 360 stood at the edge of the factory building, about to jump, after their boss reneged on promised compensation, reports English news site Want China Times.

Colbert Sends Up Super-PAC Ads On ‘This Week’ by Eric Kleefeld, Talking Points Memo:

George Stephanopoulos played a new TV ad running in South Carolina, from Colbert’s super-PAC (control of which was officially transferred to Colbert’s close colleague, Daily Show host Jon Stewart). The ad features a voiceover narration from actor John Lithgow, who declares alongside audio of Romney: “If Mitt Romney really believes ‘Corporations are people, my friend,’ then Mitt Romney is a serial killer. He’s — Mitt the Ripper!”

Health and nature

India Reports Completely Drug-Resistant TB by Maryn McKenna, Wired:

Well, this is a bad way to start the year.

Over the past 48 hours, news has broken in India of the existence of at least 12 patients infected with tuberculosis that has become resistant to all the drugs used against the disease. Physicians in Mumbai are calling the strain TDR, for Totally Drug-Resistant. In other words, it is untreatable as far as they know.

Extinct Giant Tortoise May Still Be Alive in Galapagos by Brandon Keim, Wired:

Genetic traces of a supposedly extinct giant tortoise species have been found in living hybrids on the Galapagos island of Isabela.

A few pure Chelonoidis elephantopus almost certainly still exist, hidden in the island’s volcanic redoubts. The hybrids have so much C. elephantopus DNA that scientists say careful breeding could resurrect the tragically vanished behemoths.

Smoking is good for you by Ian Sample, The Guardian:

Every week we read that something we believe is bad for us actually has beneficial health effects. This week it’s coffee, before that it was pizza – and every other day it’s red wine. But can these stories really be true? That depends how you interpret the facts. To demonstrate, Ian Sample ‘scientifically proves’ the benefits of a few risky pastimes.

Technology

With Search+, Google Fires Another Shot at Facebook by Mike Isaac, Wired:

If last year’s launch of Google+ was the search giant’s first shot in the social wars, consider the new Search plus Your World product its Blitzkrieg.

Has Google Popped the Filter Bubble? by Stephen Levy, Wired:

Because some people may not want shared items from people on their social graph to intrude with their searches, Google offers a quick opt-out: a button that removes all social results from a search.

But it does more than that. Choosing that option blocks Google from using the history of your previous searches when it provides results.

Real-Life Examples Of How Search+ Pushes Google Over Relevancy by MG Siegler:

Google is using Google Search, a property with which they have a (natural) monopoly, to heavily juice Google+, a property which is late to the social game and has many prominent rivals, notably Facebook and Twitter.

Google Likely To Face FTC Complaint Over Search+ by MG Sigler:

It begins…

The Echo Nest partners with Twitter to allow artists’ tweets within apps by Olivia Solon, Wired:

The Echo Nest identified those artists with verified accounts on Twitter that were also part of The Echo Nest’s Rosetta Stone service. This is a system that helps music services “speak the same language” on a data level by translating unique identifiers for songs or bands across any platform or catalogue. This allows developers to apply The Echo Nest’s algorithms to songs across different platforms including Spotify or Musicbrainz.

What are some systems we live with today that were designed for a world of the past? on Quora:

“modern plumbing” is a severely flawed system, particularly toilets. Potable water is becoming an increasingly valuable resource, and yet we have plumbing that in order to handle a few ounces of waste requires polluting many gallons of water.

Google Body becomes Zygote Body; built on open source 3D viewer by Google:

Google Body was built by Google engineers in their “20% time” and was retired along with Google Labs last year. Today we’re pleased to announce that the software underlying Google Body is now open source.

Making Holes in Our Heart by Kevin Kelly:

If we are honest, we must admit that one aspect of the technium is to make holes in our heart. One day recently we decided that we cannot live another day unless we have a smart phone, when a dozen years earlier this need would have dumbfounded us. Now we get angry if the network is slow, but before, when we were innocent, we had no thoughts of the network at all. Now we crave the instant connection of friends, whereas before we were content with weekly, or daily, connections. But we keep inventing new things that make new desires, new longings, new wants, new holes that must be filled.

U.S. Carriers Don’t Want Stock Android Phones by John Gruber:

Negotiations with the carriers:

Android handset makers: Here are our phones. How would you like us to change them so that you will sell them?

Microsoft: Here’s $200 million. Please sell our phones.

Apple: Here is our new phone. It comes in black or white. We will let you sell it.

There Are No Good Guys On the Internet by Amit Runchal:

Twitter’s managed to come out of this Search, plus Your World shitstorm smelling (mostly) like roses, and it’s because they’ve been able to treat Google the same way everybody else seems to: like a sacrosanct public good. I don’t think that anyone’s arguing that Twitter results aren’t more relevant than Google+ results right now or even that they should be available. And I’m not arguing that Google’s behavior in this hasn’t been shady — after all, Eric Schmidt is involved. But it’s not like Twitter has been a good citizen of the internet either. Not even close.

Why Zynga Is Doomed by Dave Thier, Forbes:

It’s not because they’re notoriously unoriginal in their game design. And it’s not because they’re essentially vassals of Facebook, though that doesn’t help. Nor is it their oppressive corporate culture and over-reliance on a small portion of their consumers, though those things don’t help either. It’s because they got big under a set of conditions that will never exist again. It’s because every dollar that they make is going to cost them more than the one that came before it.

Danish posts

»Jeg har aldrig været så klar til at lave musik« af Thomas Søie Hansen, Berlingske:

Kidd-projektet opstod omkring 1. marts sidste år for bl.a. at konkurrere med en række andre unge, nye rappere, der havde musikalsk base på Nørrebro. Med det ekstra twist, at der skulle produceres hits, som potentielt kunne generere en reel indtægt. Og dermed skabe en levevej, der kunne matche det karriereønske, som Nicholas netop havde nedfældet på det lokale jobcenter foran en hovedrystende socialrådgiver: Popstjerne. Hitsangene skulle sikre en færgebillet til Jylland, for var det ikke i Jylland, at de store penge lå? De lå i hvert fald ikke på det lokale værtshus Saxons i København, hvor hyren var på fem ølbilletter og 200 kr. for en aften som DJ.

Guide Til Dit Live — Hvad Drenge Vil Ha’

Det her er stadigvæk vanvittigt:

Videos

Trailer for the LCD Soundsystem documentary, “Shut Up And Play The Hits”

Deftones — RX Queen (Live 21/08-09)

Brother Ali — Us

Ricky Gervais at Golden Globes 2010

Ricky Gervais at Golden Globes 2011

Ricky Gervais at Golden Globes 2012

Explore your world with Google Maps

Seduce & Destroy (Tom Cruise in “Magnolia”)

Luke — Happy Birthday

Cocteau Twins — Pandora

30 Japanese Giant Hornets kill 30,000 Honey Bees

Inglourious Basterds Kinetic Typography

His Name Is James Bond

Movies

The Departed

X marks the spot in The Departed by Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald:

The Departed was also my favorite movie of 2006, in part because Scorsese seemed to be having fun again. For example, as an homage to Howard Hawks’ classic 1932 Scarface, Scorsese scattered Xs throughout the movie (some more subtle than others), using them as a symbol of impending doom.

I recently went through the film again on DVD to see how many Xs I could find. To avoid even a hint of spoilers, I’ve arranged the frames out of chronological order. But if you’ve seen The Departed, you’ll get an extra kick out of these.

The prequel to that post is pretty cool too.


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