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.

Spacecraft awakens, tweets hello

Posted by: James Lileks under Praise, Technology Updated: January 21, 2014 - 1:36 PM

Re: yesterday’s story about waking up the Rosette comet probe: it worked. Here’s how.

”Star Trackers determine spacecraft attitude.Humans are amazing.

MOVIES Comic Book Resource asks “What should Disney do with ‘Indiana Jones?’” Leave it be is not one of the options. There’s the “keep on going” option:

Just go The Expendables route and add some young action stars to the aging lead. Notice how the most intense action sequences were handled by Jason Statham and Jet Li in the first Expendables? Wait a minute, Jet Li! Indiana Jones! Jet Ii as an adult Short Round! There you go. Film it, Disney!

While we’re at it, cast a tornado siren as a late-middle-aged Kate Capshaw and have it whine INNNNDEEEEE every seven minutes.

If they wanted to reboot with another actor, fine - but give it the look of the first one. No huge CGI set-pieces. No Michael-Bay pacing with a three-second limit on every shot. The first one seems almost leisurely by modern standards, and it works better than anything that came after because it felt real, as if what we were seeing on the screen actually happened.

Seems like a lot to ask these days.

By the way, here's one of "the most limited Indiana Jones items ever!"

Only $54.99.

CORRECTION Not anything said here, but elsewhere. Did you see the story about the Jumbotron sunsets played in Peking to compensate for the shroud of pollution? Quartz says nope.

So, that never happened. As Tech in Asia flags, the sunrise is a clip from a tourism ad for Shandong province, in China’s northeast; it’s on screen for maybe 10 seconds or so per loop. But that didn’t prevent a slew of prominent media outlets—including Time, CBS News and the Huffington Post—from running the story, which originated in the UK-based Daily Mail, each taking their own liberties with the truth. The “glorious sunrise was broadcast as part of a patriotic video loop,” explained Time.

The article blames shoddy reporting, and notes: “Western readers eat this stuff up. Based on Quartz’s experiences, Western audiences generally love Chinese ‘airpocalypse’ stories.”

Perhaps; personally, I enjoy doomed real-estate development stories, because acres of empty houses and blocks of unoccupied skyscrapers that march into the distance are not only fascinating and unnerving, but an interesting metric of the Chinese economy. How many times can they do this?  

SOME WORK, SOME PLAY There’s a piece in the Strib today about moving towards a 30 hour work week. The “work less” movement pops up from time to time in different ways; this New Yorker piece discusses how Wall Street is moving away from the 9,000 hour work week.

In a culture that venerates overwork, people internalize crazy hours as the norm. As the anthropologist Karen Ho writes in her book “Liquidated,” “On Wall Street, hard work is always overwork.” Grinding out hundred-hour weeks for years helps bankers think of themselves as tougher and more dedicated than everyone else. And working fifteen hours a day doesn’t just demonstrate your commitment to a company; it also reinforces that commitment. Over time, the simple fact that you work so much becomes proof that the job is worthwhile, and being in the office day and night becomes a kind of permanent initiation ritual.

Ah, but this will soon change, as the culture of Wall Street shifts, and leisure becomes as important as money. Right? Mmmm-hmm. Any day now.

Or, the companies are insulating themselves from criticism should another employee expire after working too many hours without sleep. If you’re in a cutthroat culture and the new ethos is “slow down a bit,” you might well figure that this just gives an advantage to those who accelerate now and slow down a bit later, when the boss is looking.

That’s what will be different. People will pretend to work less when the boss is looking, instead of pretending to be busy.

MISERABLE, THANKS FOR ASKING NYT: Why the Russians hate to say “Fine” when you ask “How are you?”

By way of explanation, a quote from Dostoyevsky arrived in my inbox: “The most basic, most rudimentary spiritual need of the Russian people is the need for suffering, ever-present and unquenchable, everywhere and in everything.” Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Psychologists at the University of Michigan have shown that, while Russians are, indeed, more prone to brooding than Americans, their open embrace of negative experiences might ultimately be healthier, resulting in fewer symptoms of depression.

Well, if psychologists at the U of Mich have shown it,who am I to dispute it. But if constant negativity leads to fewer symptomsof depression, it might lead to more drinking. I know it sounds insane and anti-science, but it could be true.

The Washington Post is on the subject today, as it happens: “Negative emotions have been shown to have a detrimental effect on the body. Might positive emotions — feeling happy, satisfied, energized about life — have a good effect?”

It’s telling that they have to ask the question. The study says the effect is better on older people; younger people, well, who knows. For many, much of their self-identity is bound up in self-drama and auto-pity, and people who are cheerful are just shallow idiots who don’t realize the true darkness of existence. They may be enjoying life, but it’s the shallow kind of enjoyment you get when you’re not thinking about the abyss that yawns behind everything.

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