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.

North Korea denounced my dog

Posted by: James Lileks under Outstate, Technology Updated: December 18, 2013 - 12:30 PM

At his age, he’s more of a hobbling-dog lackey:

PYONGYANG (KCNA) — In condemnation of a treacherous sycophant, the organizing committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly announced that Jasper the Dog will meet the serious punishment of history. Absolute is the trust of the army and people of the DPRK in its ability to vanquish Dog, the enemy of the party, revolution and people and heinous betrayer of the nation.

Generate your own thrice-cursed denunciations here at Boingboing.

MERRY MERRY Cartoon Brew has 23 Christmas cards by Ward Kimball, the marvelous Disney animator. such as this one from the hard early days of the war:

They get more and more abstract as the years pass. 

BOOKS Three more “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” books. Meh. Guardian:

Norstedts said on Tuesday that it had signed a contract with David Lagercrantz, ghost writer of I am Zlatan Ibrahimović, the autobiography of the Swedish footballer, for a new book about journalist Mikael Blomqvist and hacker Lisbeth Salander that is scheduled to be published in August 2015.

Count me out. I thought the first one was a good mystery, if predictable - an old rich family has secrets! The second started with a long sequence that had nothing to do with anything. and moved on to feature the dullest, most detailed IKEA shopping trip ever. Oh, and she can disable weightlifting Russian bodyguards with a single marial arts move, even though she supposedly has the physique of a hummingbird. Also, crazy hacking skills!

ART Lovely images of houses with Christmas lights, here. But make sure you note the DARK SIDE of this.

In these images everything is surprising. The shadows are full of menace. It is light outside, dark inside. What is threatening or scary about that? And who are we on this side of the image? That’s what decides their story: we tell the story inside our own minds. When the outer shell has been illuminated with bright colours, the interior looks even darker. Is it the grim reverse of the American dream that is lurking in the shadows and behind the curtains? The Christmas lights throw their shadows on the facades. The paint is flaking.

I think 80% of all reference to “The American Dream” in the last 30 years either posit that it doesn’t exist anymore, or must be understood primarily in the context of its Dark Side, as if the house with the white picket fence was sold by Sith Realty.

SIGNAGE Most roadside signs these days lack interest or character; the days bright neon and extraordinary typefaces blaring the name are long gone, and road trips are duller for it. But some things remain. Atlas Obscura Headline: “This abstract roadside poultry was saved from demolition by outraged drivers and pilots.” Here:

Constructed over Johnny Reb's Chick, Chuck, and Shake in 1963, the 56-foot chicken effigy was an attempt to capitalize on the newly built highway in the area. The chicken was made with moving eyes and beak which were so shoddily constructed that it would often break the restaurant's window when the mechanism was activated.

how, I’m not sure. But you have to appreciate the entrepreneurial zeal that went into this thing. People will want to sample my chicken if the sign has a movable beak. At least their kids will nag them to try it.


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Whether Johnny Reb’s Chick Chuck and Shake was connected to Johnny Reb’s Canteen I can’t say, but take a look at this gaudy facade. The ads for the restaurants said “Where you win the War Between the Steaks.” I had no idea hostilities had been formerly concluded, let alone begun.

Anyway, that’s not my point. Zoom in on this sign. which is up the road from the giant chicken:


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Probably wasn’t an insurance agency. But you should be able to guess what it was, and what the sign originally looked like.

SCIENCE! It’a come to this: a serious website dealing with particle physics has to put out headlines like this for traffic:

It has the basics - the number, which guarantees a format you can easily digest, the “You” which challenges the reader and makes an assumption the reader may want to disprove by reading the article. I don’t know. If they’d discovered dark matter and said “whoa, this explains a lot of things for which we had no answers,” it would be one thing. It’s another when they say “the most satisfying explanation for these mysteries is Substance X, for which we have no proof.” The article conflates the “discovery” of dark matter with the theory that posits its necessity. If the original discovery came from observation of a galaxy that should have flown apart because its mass was too small, why can’t the extra weight be ascribed to super-ultra-massive black holes?

The Verge says we're about to look closely at our own galaxy's super-huge black hole:

Astrophysicists think there's a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. It's supposed to be four million times more massive than our Sun, but despite its stupendous size, we've never been able to see it. That might soon change. The European Research Council has given 14 million euros ($19.3 million) to the creators of BlackHoleCam, a project that will use radio telescopes and supercomputers to try to prove the existence of what Luciano Rezzolla, a principal investigator for BlackHoleCam, calls "one of the most cherished astrophysical objects.”

They’re looking to capture the event horizon. They’ve “seen” the black hole by other means.

DCVotD The things truck drivers have to put up with. You're just doing your job, and then suddenly you feel like someone ran up to you and put a baby in your arms.

Finally, today’s Plastic Santa: Sly Old Guy archetype.

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