This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.
It’s not about the nail. Will you stop saying that the problem is the nail?
YOU THERE Today’s examples of the irritating internet habit for pointing its finger and making irritating, arrogant assumptions:
Really? My favorite movies? You know that, for sure? Here's an example:
Not only dd I not know what it was, making it a rather ineffective movie poster, it's not one my favorite movies. The rest are all here. See if you can guess what they are before you look at the name.
Speaking of movies, a brief detour before we return to the YOU headlines of the day: posters for the worst movies shown at Cannes this year. You have to admit this one looks intriguing:
That's a real movie. It is about exactly what you think it is about. A tornado that has sharks in it. Stars John Heard, for whom I feel so very, very bad.
Anyway, back to the headlines that use YOU to make you click, even though they contain ridiculous postulates. From Atlantic Cities:
What’s wrong with this? Simple: I’m not blase. But if I wanted to be blase, I would. Don’t tell me I can’t be blase. Here’s the story:
Architects and record-keepers had been waiting for months to learn the status of Broad Group's "Sky City," a 220-story skyscraper that was supposed to be built in just 90 days this winter in the Chinese city of Changsha. Thirty feet higher than the Burj Khalifa and constructed of pre-fab modules, the prospective tower languished in government-approval limbo.
The wait is over: the title of world's tallest building really will be transferred from oil-rich Dubai to this mid-sized provincial Chinese city. Last week, Broad Group announced it has received approval from the Chinese government and will break ground on the project in August, though according to Quartz's Lily Kuo, Broad Sustainable Building has pushed the building's schedule to a more modest seven months.
As it happens, I’m not blase. I’m curious about several things.
* Whether it will be completed at all
* Whether it will fall down sooner, rather than later
* Whether it will have any archtectural merit whatsoever (suspicion: no)
* Whether the inhabitants will eventually form a hive mind with all bodily cycles synced, and telepathic communication enabled
The concepts are straight out of old scifi mags and wild-eyed futurists. There will be parks - in the sky! People will live work and play in the same shiny tower, with pristine countryside stretching out for miles beyond! Here's the lifeless prison summed up in the promotional video:
In case you don’t want to watch the inspirational video, some screenshots:
That's a rather parsimonious amoung of green space for 220 stories' worth of sun-starved occupants, who will possibly turn into soft hairless weevils after a few generations. Architecturally, it's dull - but what’s the point of ornamentation after 100 floors, eh? Tthe visionary CEO behind the company - which is branching into construction after a successful run as an air-conditioner manufacturing company - has grander plans.
Last year, speaking with Reuters, Zhang cited the Sky City plan as an environmental panacea, whose modular construction is merely a means to facilitate the inevitable densification of city life. The future of human existence, he seems convinced, lies in higher density. Sky City could reduce the transportation needs of 30,000 people to a hundred elevators. And what if it were not alone in a field, but surrounded by other arcologies, housing friends, neighbors, other businesses?
What if? You’d never go see them, that’s what if. And can you imagine living on the 180th floor and having a dog who needs to go out? Again? You were just out.
But the creators of this Human Storage System plan to go over 600 stories. Is he serious? From Quartz:
"One hundred percent! Some say that it’s sensationalism to construct such a tall building. That’s not so. Land shortages are already a grave problem. There’s also the very serious transportation issue. We must bring cities together and stretch for the sky in order to save cities and save the Earth. We must eliminate most traffic, traffic that has no value! And we must reduce our dependency on roads and transportation."
The article’s author notes:
So, is Zhang about to be the 21st-century reincarnation of Le Corbusier, advocating revolutionary densities and self-contained super-blocks but with a transit-oriented perspective colored by climate change?
Perhaps. But it’s worth noting that Corbusier’s concepts are sterile and inhuman, disconnected from the vibrance and messy dynamism of actual cities. We tried these. They failed.
But that’s just racism talking, of course. From the Atlantic Cities comments:
LoL, u white monkeys are just a bunch of sore losers eating sour grapes. When the Americans went to the moon, you expect everyone to say cheers to the greatness of the white men's egos and their so-called civilization and her achievements but when you're clearly losing the race to the Chinese, you disrespect other peoples & cultures and their achievements. If it had been the Americans doing the exact same thing, I'm sure the comments here by the biased & prejudiced bunch of comments here would have been entirely different.
While we are certainly obliged to be schooled on racism by people who use the term “white monkeys,” the skepticism on this matter has more to do with the wisdom of compacting so many people into a prefab box utterly disconnected from the physical world and a preexisting urban environment. It's a technological achievement, yes - the modular technique is ingenious, and applause for the bright lads who figured out how to stack hive-homes that high. That will make housing in cities more affordable. Eventually they might even figure out a way to make them beautiful.
PRODUCTS A nifty collection of old packages, including the bygone brilliant idea, canned cigars.Don’t miss the link to the word of Paul Rand, a marvelous designer who engrained a preference for simple modernism among boomer children with his Colorforms packaging.
CONTROVERSY NO. IT’S NOT. I don’t care what anyone says. I don’t care that the inventor of the things says I’m wrong. It's a hard G because "graphical" has a hard G and the G in GIF stands for Graphical and I don't care what anyone says.
Have a grand three-day weekend - see you back here Monday with Memorial Day material. Including "8 Things YOU don't know about Memorial Day." Really.
This has a payoff that’s all better for the element of surprise and the quantity of incompetence that preceded it. Look in the upper-middle area to find the scooter-driver who collided with a car, then follow the worst minute of his life.
It is critical that you watch to the very end.
YOU THERE I hate to keep banging this gong - well, not really; I rather enjoy it - but this grates on me almost as much as LOL, Today’s utterly irritating second-person headline is from the Daily Dot: 9 Foods you’re totally eating wrong. As if they know. “Nine Clever Ways to Eat Food” would suffice, no? When did the internet become such a bossy clod?
Ever since the rise of the phrase “You’re doing it wrong,” that’s when. That was nine years ago, according to knowyourmeme.com:
The earliest known reference of “You’re Doing It Wrong” can be found in the domain name YoureDoingItWrong.com registered on January 21st, 2004; however, there are no archives or records regarding the content of the site.
The first known instance of the “You’re Doing it Wrong” image macro series was created by Sabastien Grillmaier, who uploaded the image onto the Something Awful forum in August 2004.
Google Trends notes that the phrase started to take off in 2007.
So now YOU know.
SO YOU'RE READING A BLOG POST Recall those Simpsons episodes in which someone reads a pamphlet, and it's titled "So You're Going to Become Morbidly Obese," or something like that. I think there was one in the waiting room in "Beetlejuice" - "So You're Dead," perhaps. There's a reason for the cliche: that's how pamphlets were titled.
It's an employee hand book from 1949. Or "employe," to use the curious spelling of the day. A sample from the section explaining how things work:
Bender's great-great-great (X100) grandtather, perhaps. Here's what really stuck out. Medical benefits were a bit simpler then.
A hundred bucks for a baby: that about covered it. There are various ways of calculating what $100 would be today, but this site suggests it's about $963. Which, today, would cover the cost of the paperwork for admission.
Travel decals: another lost art form. From Atlantic Cities:
Our travel is more transient these days, at least physically speaking; the documentation of our journeys less tangible, more digital. When we dig out our luggage for a trip, we think of TSA regulations and packing light; we don’t allow much time for falling down the rabbit-hole of memories that a chance glimpse of an old, well-traveled suitcase can ideally inspire.
True. The piece interviews Francisca Mattéoli, who's written a book about the art of the travel label. She makes a wise point:
Nowadays things are not made to last. We don’t know if all the new technology is going to exist 10 years from now, but I still have my parents’ travel albums and the labels they used to attach to their suitcases. It is the duration that also makes these luggage labels so fascinating. They still exist centuries later. They made it across time, keeping their elegance and dream. I am not sure that Instagram is going to pass the centuries.
Oh, I can answer that one. We all can.
I used to have a cheap suitcase that smelled of old soap; whenever I could pick up a decal and slap it on, I could. Unfortunately I didn’t travel much, so there was just a few decals from the usual childhood destinations - Rushmore, Reptile Gardens. Since then I’ve collected a few. None of which I can find right now. So here are some examples from the Dover Royalty-free Suitcase Labels CD:
If you're boarding the S.S. Lurline, you might get one of these:
Here are two example I photographed; any idea where I took these shots?
Why, yes, I did find those on a suitcase in the Ice Capades train car at Heritage Square at the State Fair. They'll be there this year. Nothing ever changes in that train.
AHHHHHHH Another video of the tornado. The fellow was in a shelter, saw a crack in the wall, and held up his phone. Watch for the flying tire at :37.
Via Petapixel, which notes "Gafford says the video is vertical due to the simple fact that the tiny hole in his storm shelter was just large enough to stick his phone through vertically. It was just pure chance that the gap offered a perfect view of the funnel as it passed through the area." So don't berate him for vertical video. That is the only situation in which vertical video is permitted.
NERD They were going to make “Jurassic Park 4” and then they weren’t and then it was on again but now . . . . limbo. Why? Because they can’t get Bill Murray to commit to playing his beloved Ghostbuster character. No, that’s not it. Because . . . I don’t know. No one can figure out how to shake the money tree so everyone standing around with a bucket is happy for a while, I guess. But here’s the good news: it’ll be a reboot! Because that’s what everyone wants. A new version of the original classic by a lesser director, with updated CGI that gives everything that plastic sheen of unreality that keeps your brain from saying “this is real.” Besides, the original has Samuel L. Jackson smoking cigarettes, which is a bad influence, as well as a peculiar computer interface that kids today cannot relate to whatsoever. So it must be remade.
Everything must be remade! I pity the kid who’s playing Peter Parker now, because he’s going to be sent to Carousel in a few years when it’s time to reboot Spiderman for the next generation.
On the other hand, there’s good news, also from Slashfilm:
Microsoft is announcing the new Xbox, called Xbox One, right now, and is promoting the box as an all-in-one home entertainment solution. As part of the hardware announcement, the company has been touting new ways to interact with television, gaming, and other content. We’ve known that Xbox Live has been planning to move into some of the original TV space that Netflix has been doing, and now we know what the vehicle will be: a live-action Halo TV series, with involvement from Steven Spielberg.
The bad news is that you’ll only be able to see it on Xbox Live. Man, this “a la carte” model stinks. Aren’t you nostalgic for the days when we just had four stations, and you didn’t have to pay extra to get the good stuff?
No, didn’t think so.
In related geekery, today’s irritating YOU headline comes from Moviefone:
'Return of the Jedi': 25 Things You Didn't Know About the Original 'Star Wars' Trilogy Finale
What if I know some of them? Can I ask them to change the title? Oh, no one believes anything Moviefone writes; they said they had 25 things I didn’t know about the Star Wars trilogy, but it was actually something like 19. They’re sloppy like that all the time.
Here’s one of those Things You Didn’t Know:
The Ewoks also got their own animated TV series, "Star Wars: Ewoks," which aired 35 episodes from 1985 to '86. It also took place during the interval between "Empire" and "Jedi."
You don’t say. Perhaps the author assumes everyone just blocked that part out of their mind. Ah well. The next three movies will be good, and make up for the other Star Wars movies that suffer from the leaden-handed artistic halitosis of George Lucas.
In other related news - inasmuch as these things are dorky, all of ‘em - Microsoft’s Xbox One launch wasn’t all hugs & bunnies, Engadget says:
Surely they must have known these were the issues people - real people, spending their hard-earned money - would be most interested to hear about? Yet when the questions started coming in about used games, about forced connectivity, about word that you can't even lend games to a friend, Microsoft reps went to pieces. Twitter accounts contradicted executive statements. Answers that should have been given in full were only given in half. And when clear responses were given, well, the news still sucked.
People are unhappy and they are unhappy on the internet, which just makes it worse. Example from an engadget comments thread:
The new xbox one is a big flop .Why dont they just update the servers for xbox live.Know one wont to watch usa soccer .If you in the u.k.The U.K wont free football tennis cricket channel.Not a crap usa soccer one .grrrrr
You can just imagine the executive reading that, fingers steepled, thinking “this is just the sort of voice we need to heed.” But some complaints seem spot-on: no used games, no backward compatibility, and the always-on feature so it wakes up when you speak to it.
All of which will be standard across all consoles in five years. It's what they want to do; it's what you'll end up buying.
This is not something you want to see close-up. But there it is. You have a tiny movie camera. What do you do?
Go watch it on YouTube, full screen, sound up. Ask yourself what you’d do: keep filming, or run? In the case of Mr. Cook, who shot the monster with his cellphone, he does what many people would do when confronted with something so enormous, so hypnotizing, so deadly: he stops every minute or so to drive about forty feet away, then starts filming again.
Via Reddit, where the poster notes: “You have to figure out which way it's moving by using landmarks, then assume it can go anywhere 160 degrees in front of it. Don't be there.” Yes. That Arby sign snaps, RUN.
Comments are disabled for the video, which makes you sad: have we got to the point where people cannot be trusted to be decent about these things?
In related news: One might believe that there’s a rich untapped vein of political humor in natural disasters, but best to check the death tolls before you tweet.
"Daily Show" co-creator Lizz Winstead took to Twitter Monday night to say that the deadly tornado earlier that day was actually meant to “target conservatives.”
“This tornado is in Oklahoma so clearly it has been ordered to only target conservatives,” Winstead tweeted in a failed attempt at humor that triggered an intense wave of condemnation.
At first, Winstead doubled down on her bad joke, as she tried to explain that she was using the storm to refer to recent news that the IRS targeted conservative groups, later tweeting, “If Its not OK to YOU for me to combine news stories to point out hypocrisy AND Im not making fun of victims u shld Unfollow.”
Noted. Also noted is the tone of the news story itself. “Failed” and “bad” are subjective terms - true, in this case, but still subjective - but at least they let you know where the newspaper’s coming from.
ZOMBIE NAZIS Zombie Nazis? Please let this be about Zombie Nazis: HOW HITLER’S U-BOATS ARE STILL ATTACKING US. But no. It’s about 13 sunken Merchant Marine ships that might release oil into the ocean. One of the comments says:
Hmmm, the text says that out of 573 ships that are considered "a substantial pollution risk", 13 were sunk by the German navy in WW2. That is less than 3%. Hence, 97% percent of the health hazards coming from sunken ships have nothing to do with the German navy in WW2.
Why the headline then?
Because Nazis bring in the eyeballs, that’s why.
TECH Matt Novak’s Paleofuture blog - not his own, or the Smithsonian one, but the Gawker one; the man gets around - has a piece on something I’ve managed to avoid reading about.
The "Internet of Things" is shaping up to be the buzzphrase of the year as more and more of our machines take off their dunce caps. But as history has shown us, a smarter gadget doesn't necessarily mean an easier life.
If our modern soothsayers can be believed, soon your refrigerator will be snapchatting your garbage disposal raunchy pics of your microwave, while your thermostat consults your lawnmower for stock picks. Or something like that.
But when all our devices are communicating and making plans behind our back to pre-order laundry detergent because the hamper says it’s full and the washer says it’s low on Tide, will this mean live is easier? Matt cites domestic sociologists who said that the standards of “clean” changed along with the machinery - if you can get something cleaner, faster, more often, then you should. Instead of doing the floors once a week, you were expected to do them every other day.
Interesting idea. I don’t completely buy it. The idea that the ease of doing laundry with automatic machines meant you were obligated to do them more often forgets the fact that “doing laundry” now consists of putting them in and taking them out, as opposed to standing over a scrub board for six hours. There’s no way dishwashers have increased household chore-time.
But will any of this make us happier? Not in the sense promised by the advertising, but that’s never realistic. For example: This is a woman dreaming of an electric coil heating element that can be replaced, and gives constant heat at the touch of a button.
Also a deep-fry component built into the oven itself:
These things float in front of her, tantalizing, out of reach. She has come to believe that things will ever be out of reach, and her disappointment is profound.
Until she realizes that the new Imperial line from Frigidaire - sold, I might add, by Frigidarians - has all this, and more. These pictures are from a 1956 Frigidaire film shown to retailers, telling them how the new line changes everything. It has Freedom Giving Features like the Brain Center:
Once she realizes what marvels await, she walks over to the fridge and gives it a loving nuzzle:
Everything has a scientific. Everything is new. Everything is a miracle of modern technology. Everything that came before was suddenly obsolete. Did it make anyone happier? That really wasn’t the point. The point was to sell appliances, adn if you were happier in the bargain, great! You probably would be happier, too, in a sense - the old oven had a busted door, the clock didn't work, the burners were undependable. The new one has even heat, self-cleans, and the door opens without a hideous squeak. It's not that your life will now go happily-ever-after, but those annoyances are now in the past. There's a new sense of what's ordinary and normal, and it's better. So time to find something else in your life to upgrade and improve. It never ends.
Here you go: from the golden era of corporate propaganda.
One day you will call up a page on the Internet and read that Braxi bought MogaZik, and think: man, someone got rich. Wonder how that will work. Right now the sentence makes no sense, just as “Yahoo buys Tumblr” would have meant nothing in 1993. So WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
1. Nothing, if Yahoo is smart. At least nothing the users will note. They’ll be on the lookout for signs that everything has been spoiled with clueless “corporate” meddling - when Tumblr itself added a small drop-down box that encouraged people to sign up, some users were ANGRY that the aesthetic was being altered on a free site that hosted anything they put up and didn’t have ads.
But Yahoo will probably introduce tiny ads - you pay a billion for something, eventually you get around to wondering if it might make you some money. Perhaps they will share the revenue, like Google. Of course, commerce would spoil the purity of Tumblr. Which brings us to . . .
2. PR0N and lots of it. Either they’ll let it be or roll out a slow winnow. Which will drive some people to another platform. Like MySpace! Just kidding. No one will ever go back there. It's GeoCities by now.
So far, no changes: Yahoo’s CEO said the X-rated stuff can stay.
3. BuzzFeed says “The real Reason Yahoo is Buying Tumblr” is because the young demo doesn’t know what it is.
When Yahoo was founded, Tumblr’s most important demographic wasn’t even born. This — not profit or monthly active user numbers or corporate image-making — is what explains why Yahoo wants Tumblr.
Yahoo is not the kind of site people have a strong affinity for. As a search engine, or a portal, it’s the type of site you choose out of familiarity, or by default. It’s the largest homepage of the post-homepage era. As a result, it doesn’t seriously overindex in any demographic. Perhaps its most enthusiastic users are old, but they’re few, too. The majority of its users are, if anything, apathetic. They’re just there.
Almost right. Yahoo has been making some interesting moves lately, and if wasn’t for the fact that it’s a legacy brand with a stupid name it might have more respect. But they have a history of buying popular sites and letting them expire from neglect, and the younger demo has seen them screw up some popular things. They’re aware of Yahoo, but not in a good way.
To Tumblr’s users, Yahoo doesn’t just represent an outside force or a threat of advertising. It represents adults, and everything that word connotes: order, boredom, not “getting it.”
Whereas Google connotes, well, some sort of benevolent omnipotent brain in the sky which is also devoted to “getting it,” “it” being every scrap of information about you it can hoover up, but that’s okay because they give you stuff and besides, it’s like, Google.
People wailed when Instagram was purchased, and vowed to stomp off somewhere else. Few did. Wordpress says70,000 posts were ported to WP since the announcement, but that’s really not too much. You leave Tumblr, you have to start all over again - I left Tumblr a few years ago for Posterous, which had some nifty features and boasted better stability at the time, but it was like moving your kiosk from the Mall of America to a stripmall.
To bring all those tumblr users into the Yahoo realm, I suppose - give them all accounts, let them tie their Tumblrs to Flickr for some reason, pipe Yahoo news feeds to their pages, peel them off from Google. Most of all to show the investors that they’re cool. How could they not be? They have Tumblr.
Well, good luck, and don’t screw it up.
Hint: a little Yahoo toolbar at the top of the page is “screwing it up.” Don’t. Or we're all off to MogaZik.
MISC A Briton goes to the United States and tells what he likes and doesn’t like. Do you care? I do. It’s a big country and you have to see a big newspaper reinforce the idea that we’re nothing buy fat people who can’t make tea. Some of the complaints are silly - the coins? Really, the coins. But:
America is far better than I ever expected, but at the same time I must return to the UK to continue my studies. As much as this country has been great to me, and it really has, the people are just fantastic, I must return to the UK, where no one talks on public transport and where we'll complain when it's too hot and moan when it's too cold, despite packing inappropriate clothing for both occasions. I can't wait, but at the same time I'm leaving a fan of our former colony.
Come back, lad; you’ll only find more to love. One of the comments makes a good point, but fails to stick the landing:
That said, the problem with the US is that is has everything that any tourist could possibly want, from landscape and coast to temperatures. From deserts to tundra, from mountains to flatlands - its all there. And the people? The average american is as nice as you can find anywhere. So why go anywhere else?
And that IS the problem - only a third of Americans even have a passport (and less than 15% have left the continent) because there is everything to be found there: except the mix of opinions and ideas that come from meeting other cultures.
As opposed to millions of Britons who make a point of going to Senegal or Thailand every year, and going in-country to find a village where his own cultural preconceptions can be upended? Europe has different cultures, but aside from petty little details like “language” and “food” the countries are liberal democracies with shared Western traditions. Someone from Monaco won’t stand on a street corner in Finland shaking with disorientation because everything’s so different.
I don’t say this to diminish the lessons of travel, but to underscore the first point: you can get a great deal of cultural diversity in this country. Also, this: tell a Parisian he should get out of town more so he could be exposed to more opinions and ideas, and you’ll probably be informed that if the opinions and ideas were worth anything, he would have heard them in Paris.
VIDEO The original version of this song is a mocking up-yours to every pretentious musician who ever gave an self-serving interview to a sycophantic reporter; it’s delivered with a self-important deadpan monotone over a rather ordinary track. A minor work. I looked on YouTube to see if there was an official video.