November 15th, 2014
A short film about a little girl's hand in Earth's creation.
A short film about a little girl's hand in Earth's creation.
I defy you to read Twinsters without getting at least slightly misty-eyed.
Pretty much the definition of a feel-good story -just as long as it doesn't take an Orphan Black twist somewhere down the line.
(Also, that's a very neat interface they've got there for highlighting which person is 'talking' as you scroll down through the story.)
Sequel is a rather nice collection of posters for imaginary film sequels. My favourite – both the film I'd want to watch most1 and the sequel with the nicest poster – is absolutely, positively My Neighbor Totoro 2:
A bridge builder was completing his inspection of Zjing's Bridge when he spied master Kaimu standing nearby.
The builder said to Kaimu: "I have heard your monks speak of themselves as 'software engineers.' As a true engineer I find such talk absurd…"
"In my profession we analyze all aspects of our task before the first plank is cut. When our blueprints are done I can tell you exactly how much lumber we will need, how many nails and how much rope, how much weight the bridge will bear, and the very day it will be completed…"
"Your monks do no such things. They churn out code before your customer has finished describing what is desired. They improvise, reconsider, redesign, and rewrite a half-dozen times before delivery, and what they produce invariably crashes or proves vulnerable to attack. If I were to work in such a fashion, no one would dare set foot upon this bridge!"
[Via The Tao of Mac / links]
The truncated pony is weird and all, but my favourite is the man I call the Human Silverback
The English and the Scottish had a long-running rivalry throughout history, which partially explains the current animosity. The two nations often went to war against each other, but the rivalry came to an end with the Acts of Union 1707. (So called because it was signed at seven minutes past five in the afternoon.) Despite being part of the United Kingdom for hundreds of years, many Scots never felt comfortable and always wanted to seek independence so that they can enjoy their simple way of life in the mountains, drinking whisky and eating the local delicacy known as ‘fried Mars bars’.
The English however are intent on depriving the Scots from achieving this goal, not least because it would mean re-designing the flag and changing all the letterheads. (The English are pragmatic down-to-earth people, but they are notorious for their aversion to change, particularly when stationery is involved.) The English would also like to keep their hands on Scottish oil and gas reserves, because clearly as Middle East experts we feel obliged to stress the importance of oil regardless of context.
[Via More Words, Deeper Hole]
The situation could technically be labeled a Mercurian annular eclipse with an extraordinarily large ring of fire.
Good advice to listeners on how to get the most from their radio, from 1940's BBC Year Book:
Listen as carefully at home as you do in a theatre or concert hall. You can’t get the best out of a programme if your mind is wandering, or if you playing bridge or reading. Give it your full attention.
[Via Pocket Lint]
I had no idea there was such a thing as a Huggable Urn Keepsake:
We offer an assortment of soft, huggable urn keepsakes. Each animal features a discreet compartment to hold a small amount of ashes and comes with a velvet pouch.
[Indirectly via this MetaFilter comment]
Anyone for a noPhone?
A technology-free alternative to constant hand-to-phone contact.
With a thin, light and completely wireless design, the noPhone acts as a surrogate to any smart mobile device, enabling you to always have a rectangle of smooth, cold plastic to clutch without forgoing any potential engagement with your direct environment. Never again experience the unsettling feeling of flesh on flesh when closing your hand.
The noPhone simulates the exact weight and dimensions of your most beloved gadget in order to alleviate any feelings of inadequacy generated by the absence of a real smartphone.
No doubt about it, the Curiosity Rover has totally lost that showroom shine.
Katie Baker unveils1 a tale of an Oregon ghost town and the army of brides that keeps it alive:
Six days a week, Geri Canzler packs her lunch and commutes on winding roads through thick Oregon forest. When it's nice out, she can walk the route, but on this late March day Canzler is tired and the rain hasn't stopped. So she drives her white SUV to her workplace, the second-smallest free-standing post office in the United States. She estimates the wooden shack to be no bigger than 10 feet by 10 feet, though there is also that 3-by-4 storage shed off the back if you're going to get technical about it.
Canzler is the postmaster of a once-thriving lumber town that has been shaved down to just a few splinters. […]
[The little post office…] has been kept barely alive – in an era of Postal Service downsizing – thanks almost entirely to an annual army of finicky brides who covet its picture-perfect postmark for their wedding invitations. Bridal Veil, Oregon, 97010 is the name of the town, and Canzler is one of its only employees. She may well wind up being its last. […]
On Southern California Public Radio, Fernando Guerra, a researcher at the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, suggested a radical solution to increasing voter turnout: Enter all voters automatically into a $1 million lottery.
"Wouldn't we get a lot of people who know nothing about politics or the candidates jumping in and voting and just checking the box so they could get a million bucks?" the radio host asked Guerra.
"Absolutely," Guerra responded. But, he added, that might not be a bad thing. "That might produce better results. There is no data to show that uninformed voters make worse decisions than informed voters."
Let's just hear that last line again…
There is no data to show that uninformed voters make worse decisions than informed voters.
Good to know…
Danny Crichton's argument that Algorithms Are Replacing Unions As The Champions of Workers is a doozy:
At the heart of this movement is the right of workers to choose how and when they work. Uber, for instance, doesn't require strict hours for drivers, instead letting them choose schedules that match their needs. If a driver wants to take a two-hour lunch break or pick up their kids after school and only work late mornings and evenings, the system provides them the flexibility to do that. Carefully-tuned algorithms provide incentives through prices to ensure that the market is meeting the demand of customers and workers. The same flexibility holds true for most on-demand startups including TaskRabbit, Postmates, oDesk, Crew, and Guru.
Such convenience used to be the exclusive preserve of elite talent. Professionals like lawyers, doctors, engineers and consultants have had the flexibility in their work to take vacations and use "flex time" policies for many years now. Such policies make it easier to do everything from building a family to improving one's skills through education.
It also helps that all those professional types were earning hourly rates that allowed them to forego a week's work without substantially affecting their ability to make that month's mortgage payment.1 As if that weren't enough, Crichton also has some strange ideas about how a startup-driven labour market might work:
There is a long-tail to labor markets that startups are finally exploiting. Maybe I want to do a mix of cooking, Egyptian hieroglyphic travel blogging, and some regression analysis of health data. In the past, that would mean getting a job in marketing and living a corporate life until such time that one could quit and pursue their interests. Today, it is entirely possible to stitch together a set of opportunities to bring all of those passions together.
Let's just hope that the guy who is paying for the health data analysis doesn't want his report finalised the very same week in which you'd promised to supply one of your patrons with pre-publishing access to a meaty piece you're just getting to grips with about the hieroglyphs at Amenemhet I's pyramid at Lisht.
We can but hope that our multi-talented individual doesn't have a passion for, say, eating regularly, or being able to plan more than a few weeks ahead. Startups and those who make money from the sharing economy ideally want people with no family complications to mess up their schedules, and who will be at the beck and call of the business on what amounts to a zero-hour contract. Also, it'd be nice if as many regulations as possible governing established industries could be swept away/regarded as not applying to those doing exactly the same type of work but as part of the sharing economy. And this is an environment in which trades unions are obsolete?
Shoulda been published in The Onion.
A short film set in Barcelona about a woman who is unable to listen to herself.
Paul Ford has thought a lot about How to Be Polite:
Here's a polite person's trick, one that has never failed me. I will share it with you because I like and respect you, and it is clear to me that you'll know how to apply it wisely: When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: "Wow. That sounds hard."
Because nearly everyone in the world believes their job to be difficult. I once went to a party and met a very beautiful woman whose job was to help celebrities wear Harry Winston jewelry. I could tell that she was disappointed to be introduced to this rumpled giant in an off-brand shirt, but when I told her that her job sounded difficult to me she brightened and spoke for 30 straight minutes about sapphires and Jessica Simpson. She kept touching me as she talked. I forgave her for that. I didn't reveal a single detail about myself, including my name. Eventually someone pulled me back into the party. The celebrity jewelry coordinator smiled and grabbed my hand and said, "I like you!" She seemed so relieved to have unburdened herself. I counted it as a great accomplishment. Maybe a hundred times since I've said, "wow, that sounds hard" to a stranger, always to great effect. I stay home with my kids and have no life left to me, so take this party trick, my gift to you.
Anil Dash digs deep into the evolution of Purple Rain and It Is Glorious:
While Prince and the Revolution had been carefully rehearsing Purple Rain all summer, adjusting each detail of how the song was structured and played, Prince's nearly-unequalled ability to spontaneously take a live performance to the next level was certainly on display that August night.
Exemplifying this ability is the repeated lilting motif that Prince begins playing on his guitar at 4:40 in the song. For all the countless times they'd practiced the song, even earlier on the same day as the First Avenue performance, Prince had never played this riff during Purple Rain before. In the original live show, it's clear that Prince realizes he's found something magical, returning again and again to this brief riff, not just on guitar but even singing it himself during the final fade of the song.
Just as striking is how this little riff shows the care and self-criticism that went into making the song Purple Rain. Like any brilliant 25-year-old guy who's thought of something clever, Prince's tendency when he thought of this little gem was to overdo it. In the unedited version of the song, Prince keeps playing the riff for almost another minute, pacing around the stage trying to will the audience into responding to it.
But during those same sessions where the strings were added to the song, Prince ruthlessly chopped down a riff he clearly loves, keeping just enough to serve as a stirring melodic hook for his guitar solo, and leading the song to its soaring vocal climax.
To this day I still think that When Doves Cry is the best track from Purple Rain, but I've got to bow to the majority view on this one: come the sad day when Prince Rogers Nelson passes on it's the title track that's going to be played to remind us of the talent we'll have lost.
It's both amazing and mildly depressing to think of how many of the interfaces catered for by xkcd's Universal Converter Box I have within an arm's length of where I'm sitting as I type this.
Most of them still passing bits or electrons back and forth just like they were built to. I'm pretty sure my F Connector1 would be a wee bit confused to find itself plugged into an adapter that sends the PAL signal my aerial provides on to a USB2 port.2
Did you ever wish you could just transform any text anywhere on the Internet with "I am Groot"?
Of course you did. Or should.
For what it's worth, I keep seeing people say that Guardians of the Galaxy came out a bit like a Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Firefly/Serenity. Seems to me that it's a much closer match for Farscape:
I'll freely acknowledge that four seasons of TV gave Rockne S O'Bannon and friends way more scope to develop their characters than James Gunn and co. had, but even so I've got to say that Scorpius (and Harvey) was a much more fun villain than Ronan The Accuser or Thanos.1
[Via The Dissolve]
Chris Brooke has been reading The Sleepwalkers, Christopher Clark's book on the outbreak of the First World War.
[What…] I was repeatedly struck by were the sheer number of quite extraordinarily belligerent actors that I encountered along the way, and I ended up a bit surprised that continental war didn't break out much earlier than 1914. […]
[French diplomat…] Paul Cambon takes the prize:
Underpinning Cambon's exalted sense of self was the belief – shared by many of the senior ambassadors – that one did not merely represent France, one personified it. Though he was ambassador in London from 1898 until 1920, Cambon spoke not a word of English. During his meetings with [Foreign Secretary] Edward Grey (who spoke no French), he insisted every utterance be translated into French, including easily recognized words such as 'yes'. He firmly believed – like many members of the French elite – that French was the only language capable of articulating rational thought and he objected to the foundation of French schools in Britain on the eccentric grounds that French people raised in Britain tended to end up mentally retarded.