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.
Can you identify this location?
I found it in a 1947 newspaper. I had no idea Dayton’s set up shop there. Answer at the bottom.
In related Strib news:
That’s from an ad the Star-Tribune’s “What Makes a Newspaper Great?” series, which ran nationally for four years. One of the things that made us Great was the Minnesota Poll, which found all sorts of interesting facts:
13% of Minnesotans weren't happy they were born? Wonder what it's like now. I'd bet you get 96% on that question answering "Glad." Why, otherwise the world would be deprived of wonderful Us.
I’m digitizing the whole series, so expect a few more from time to time. They ran in Time, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, and other national publications.
I’ve no idea why.
WHOA NPR posts this video of a light pole lancing a Chinese bus, and says “Don't click on the videos we're writing about here unless you're prepared to be scared.”
How do you prepare to be scared, exactly? Doesn’t the act of pre-fright prep diminish the amount of scaring you’ll receive? It’s as if NPR is making a legal disclaimer in case someone complains in the comments.
Of course, what idiot would complain in the comments about the secondary effects of a YouTube video? For example: this remarkable video has gotten 2 million hits, because people cannot believe there are people who have decided to wear Superman Emulation Machines and dive from the sky into skyscraper crevasses.
The comment section is a scrolling encomium to human ingenuity and bravery, as well as the marvels of the modern age that permit ordinary folk to have extraordinary moments - and share them with millions of people! Just kidding; the comments start out like this:
I flagged this video for promoting dangerous acts.. My 6 year old tried to jumped off the roof yesterday thinking he can do this ****.. You stupid ****ers want to do this great but don;t post it where kids can watch it
That’s right: it’s the fault of YouTube and the uploaders for this woman’s six-year-old jumping off the roof. Well, let’s take a look at the author's channel, where she posts Poser 8 recreations of the “Exorcist” movie. Just because. Why, look at what happens right here.
You didn’t know the Exorcist took place in a Manhattan skyscraper, did you?
Back to NPR. They ran another scary video about a piece of wood going through a car window. The preface:
Whether it actually is or isn't the "scariest car crash ever caught on video," as Jalopnik.com says, this is a truly frightening thing to watch — even if you know it's coming and that the driver wasn't hurt. So, be warned: This clip is only 40 seconds long and at the 32-second mark a board comes flying into the windshield. Please don't press play if you aren't sure you want to watch.
What sort of tender souls does NPR believe visits its pages?
It is another cool one in Central Florida, and as a result, Disney will not be opening Blizzard Beach today. Typhoon Lagoon will be open however. Temperatures today are forecast to be in the 60s, with lows in the 40s.
I sigh with fellow-feeling for anyone who's there and wants warmth. Also, the Magic Kingdom hit capacity around noon and started turning away people who just showed up without tickets. It’ll reopen later, as it did yesterday, but a reminder: PLAN AHEAD.
In a few years, there will be a new attraction - or rather an old one, redesigned. Disney Springs. It’s an overhaul of Downtown Disney, doubling the number of shops, restaurants, and other attractions. Looks great. You’d hope that the greater number of restaurants means they’ll increase capacity, but it’ll probably mean the usual Disney wait. Last time we were at Downtown Disney we ate at a fish-and-chips joint made to look like a real Irish place based on Real Irish Place. After I’d ordered I got a number on a stick. 97. I watched the kitchen to see what was coming out.
There were seventy-six orders in front of ours. And it was 8:00 PM. I think it was 8:30 before we got our cod-slabs. Which managed to be cold.
The drawings look like it’ll be more “retro” than the current version, which is starting to look like a 80s “power center” outdoor mall. Can’t wait, realy.
ARCHITECTURE The most brutal review of a building I’ve read in some time. Then again, the author appears to be in favor of buildings that “dramatically unsettle” the occupant, so perhaps he’s annoyed the museum spaces aren’t claustrophobic warrens with Caligari-style perspective.
It’s the Perot Museum of Science, by the way, and from this story it does seem to offer inadvertent finger removal. Which would be dramatically unsettling. WARNING! Story has picture of a hand without a finger. Brace yourself. Do not click. In fact turn off the computer and go walk into a closet and stay there until the crisis has passed and the internet is over.
Drawing on the power of parametric scripting, the design of the Phare Tower gathers disparate programmatic, physical, and infrastructural elements from the requirements of the building and its surrounding context, and synthesizes these into a form that seamlessly integrates the building into the idiosyncrasies of its site while expressing multiple flows of movement.
Uh huh. I’m sure it does. They’re also quite proud of this:
ANSWER: Of course, that's the space beneath the ramp that goes up to the Grandstand. It's unused now; the Pioneer Press had it for a few years, and I remember doing some booth work there. People came for the cool shade; people left because of the musty dankness. All that concrete holds the memories of decades of rain.
Only six months until the Fair!
We’ll get to that. Bear with me; the blog software is acting up, refusing to load images, kicking me to the login page, and generally making a mockery of the fact that I spent the morning writing with the thought - the mad, baseless thought - that it would end up on the web. Grrr.
First, conceptual art at its finest. In these photos, you’re supposed to infer the power of celebrity from its absence, or its implied presence, or something like that. Pictures of celebrities, hiding.
In essence, Buck plays a game of hide-and-seek with his famous subjects, inviting them to hide for 30 seconds while he takes the portrait. Buck shot about 75 percent of the images in Presence piggybacking on assignments and asking the celebrity if they would be interested in being part of the project.
Take a look at the pictures, and see if you can find the celebrity. You can’t. But they’re there. So he says. Of course, there’s always one way to find out.
The article's URL says the art "examines the way we look at celebrities' photos." If you say so.
Okay, hold on; I'm going to try to load the next entry.
Worked! Let's try another.
RIP Former Surgeon General C. Edward Koop has died, and for many of us, it was a question of remembering A) his service, B) his trademark beard, or C) this moment from “The Be Sharps.”
Answer for me was “C.”
Now let's try to load an image. That seems to be the problem today . . Nope. Well. We'll carry on without images, then.
ARCHITECTURE Houses built just to spite someone else. This is a different category from “houses someone didn’t want to see to a developer, requiring the entire building to be redesigned. Like this one. That’s the Gilsey Building down there in the bottom. Couldn’t come to terms with old man Gilsey, it seems.
THE WORLD The first Instagram from North Korea. Filters? That’s probably the real color. It reminded me that it had been some time since I visited the parallel world of the North Korean news agency. Let’s take a look at today’s top story, shall we?
The dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, issued an order to conduct an artillery firing drill in order to examine the capability of artillery units to fight an actual war and guided it on the spot.
He learned about the training program and the deployment of firepower units from the commander of the exercise before ordering its start.
At that moment, an endless barrage of shells were fired by artillery pieces on the "enemy's positions," their roar rocking heaven and earth, and all of them were enveloped in flames.
Feasting his eyes at the "enemy positions" in flames, he was satisfied with the shells accurately hitting the targets.
He noted that if the drill leads to an actual battle, the enemies will be hit so hard by the retaliatory strikes of the infuriated powerful revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu that they would not be able to raise their heads again.
I’ve been reading that site off and on since the late 90s, and the flavor of crazy never varies.
TECH I like this idea: for a five bucks a month, these guys will pick up you mail, scan it, and put it online so you need never go to the postal box again. If you want a particular piece, they’ll deliver it.
If you wonder what sort of person can’t be bothered with their own mail, the company provides a handy example. She’s quirky!
This would appeal to those who get their mail somewhere else than work or home, I guess. I cannot imagine paying someone to drive to my house, clean out the mailbox, scan it, and email me a link. It’s not like the mailbox is a mile away on the other side of a minefield.
MEDIA The International Herald Tribune will be renamed the International New York Times. To which people said, for the most part: okay. If you have any interest in newspaper culture, it’s sad - the old name was the last vestige of a long-lamented Gotham daily which died in the great strike of the 60s. It was founded in 1835 by a cross-eyed Scot named James Gordon Bennett; his son took it over in 1866, and carried on a spirited rivalry with Horace Greeley’s Tribune. The Herald bankrolled explorer Morton Stanley to go to Africa, where he supposedly said “Dr. Livingstone, I presume” - a famous quote no one parodies anymore. Bennett Jr. was quite the rake:
Bennett moved permanently to Paris in 1877 following a scandal in New York: the publisher, arriving drunk at a party in the mansion of his fiancee's parents, reportedly urinated in the fireplace or the piano (the exact location differed in witnesses' memories). The engagement was broken off, and Bennett remained a bachelor into his 70s.
Took him ten years, but eventually Bennett founded the international edition.
Greeley was a different sort. Famous for saying “Go West, Young Man.” (Sort of.) He ran for President, failed, and went mad. Richard Kluger’s “The Paper,” an account of the newspaper’s history from start to finish, is the best book ever written about a newspaper - out of print, alas. The only vestige of the old journal might be “New York” magazine - begun as a Sunday magazine, back when papers did such things.
That'll do for the day - I could tell you how a new theory says Dark Matter doesn't exist, but let's let our belief systems stay intact for at least another day. Now I'm going to go kick the server.
Watched “House of Cards.” One Ep. Didn’t gorge. I like to enjoy them at a leisurely pace - say, one expensive, lavishly produced episode per day, instead of hoovering up half one night and the rest the next. You feel both empty and bloated when it’s over. After one episode I knew I’d watch the whole thing, but the only reason was Kevin Spacey’s performance. I wonder if some people didn't watch because they couldn't find it - when I called up Netflix on the TV, I had to search for the show using the remote to click on letters, and even then it was the 3rd result after I'd finished HOUSE/
Yes, such problems. Anyway, here’s something that reminded you that you’re watching fiction, not a thinly-veiled docmentary. If you’re in the newspaper trade, you know when they get things wrong. (Of course, when you’re in any other trade, you know when newspapers get things wrong, but that’s another blog post.) This was amusing:
This is wrong. The headline would not look like that. The story wouldn’t be above the fold crowding out the inauguration photo; that’s something you run across all columns, and you certainly don’t cut it down to run a story about - are you ready for this earth-shattering scoop? - how the first draft of a bill on education reform was more liberal than the newly-elected President had portrayed himself to be. The first draft. Not the one presented to Congress; not the one that came out of reconciliation; the first draft. Which was done before inauguration, and before the new Congress was sworn in. Front page above the fold. Sure.
In the real world, the story about the President’s ringing calls for increased federal involvement in education would contain, in the 47th paragraph, a remark about the “point man” on the bill who was expected to lend “decades of experience” to crafting a bill that had a “vigorous” approach to Federal control over schools. The Washington Post simply wouldn’t do what the show depicted.
Oh, you say, it’s not the Washington Post, it’s the Washington Herald. Yes. “House of Cards” exists in a parallel universe where there is no Washington Post, which doesn’t exactly ground it in the here-and-now, but I had to smile at the way they revealed the name of the paper.
You didn’t see the Herald part, because it was obscured by . . . a POST.
The waif-with-a-burning-sense-of-ambition, by the way, is en route to a break room, where she will say she wants to blog more, and gets shut down by an older editor. There’s not a second of the scene that rings true. Internet? Blogging by underpaid reporters who want to provide online content? Oh get out of here with that.
As I said, I’ll keep watching for Spacey’s performance, but also to see what else they get wrong.
It’s based on a British show, which many say is superior. Makes you wonder if Netflix could do The Singing Detective” againwith songs from the 50s? I know, I know - there’s an American movie version with Robert Downey Jr, and you’d have to shoot off both my kneecaps before I agreed to watch it. Nothing against Downey, although if he does another fey quippy Tony Stark or Sherlock, I’m done with his version of the characters; it’s as if he’s invented an anti-gravitas machine. You cannot turn that story into a two hour movie, just as “Pennies From Heaven” was a spectacular misfire when they converted the long slog of Bob Hoskins’ itinerant song-peddlar into a sparkly, shiny, empty Steve Martin movie. I admire Martin for making the movie, but aside from Christopher Walken’s bartop tap-dance, no.
Feeling punky today - the usual post-Christmas let-down coupled with an adverse reaction to an excess of desserts plus a lack of sleep. Hope your day is much better. Not much on the web today - we’re getting to that point in the year where everyone’s busy writing Ten Best lists for the weekend. Anyway:
Goldman: Way, way back in the day, Newsweek commissioned the Maysles Brothers, who were famous documentary filmmakers, to do a promotional film for the magazine. They hung out with cameras around the offices, followed the whole editorial process. Toward the end of the film there was a scene of the Wallenda dinner, and the Wallies were just hammered. And they still used the film to promote the magazine. I was astonished.
Thomas: Eventually they moved the dinners indoors, up to Top of the Week [the Newsweek dining room], as a way of keeping everybody from getting drunk and disappearing into the night.
Hackett: It was also much cheaper.
Goldman: Russ Chapell was a Nation writer when I arrived in ‘62, not long pre-Graham. He was the best newsmagazine writer I think I’ve ever known. He told me something early in my career. “This is a great job,” he said. “You can do it drunk.” And a lot of Newsweek people did.
It’s a look at the lost culture of the “Mad Men” era, and your liver hurts just reading about it. Reminds me of my first few months working in DC, before Deborah Howell shook up the newsroom culture; some reporters would go to lunch, come back hammered, and type a few words before giving up for the rest of the day.
TECH Heaven forfend a moment goes uninterrupted by the sudden intrusion of a text: here’s a watch that relays your iPhone alerts.
After only a few days of use, it quickly became clear that a smart watch would change how we use our smartphones. Almost immediately, the annoying habit of needing to incessantly pull the phone out of your pocket faded away. Granted, that ritual found itself instead replaced by looking at the watch.
Granted. If it brings back watches, that’s not bad thing. Right now when I take out my phone to check the time, I feel like it’s the 19th century, and I’m pulling out a timepiece on gold chain.
The next step will be a smart earpiece that talks to your smart watch, which talks to your smart phone.
Then there’s this: you may have read the dire stories about Snapchat, which supposedly encourages sexting because its pictures self-destruct quickly. TechCrunch looked at the stories and the authors and the facts, and wrote:
There are two conclusions we can make. The first is that the same folks who serve you a round of tech news with your morning coffee and bagel are also in a Snapchat sexting ring. The second option is that the very same people who have repeatedly assumed that Snapchat is for sexting, and propagated that myth, don’t use Snapchat for sexting at all.
The idea that the self-destructing photo can’t be captured just means that some people will try very hard to work around it. This may bring back cameras, which have seen their popularity wither due to smart phones. In a year, then, the really hip people will have watches and cameras in addition to their smartphones. This will require fanny packs, but don’t worry: at first they will be used ironically in Brooklyn, and then Urban Outfitters will sell them as semi-ironic trend objects. Full-scale re-adaptation will continue nation-wide through 2015.
ART Some interesting “vintage” Radio Times seasonal covers. Another nice find from Brain Pickings, which has an unfortunate tendency to call everything “Stunning.” I mean, these are nice, but I'm not sitting here with my ears ringing, unable for form coherent thoughs.
TOASTY WARM From Smoko, purveyors of cute toast in many forms - really, they make USB sticks and pillows - comes heated typing gloves.
Put that down for next year’s gift list.
MOVIESThe list of rules for hacking movies. This is correct:
Hacking scenes will involve psychedelic user interfaces that look like something out of an early 1990s music video. Remember, hackers never use command lines. That is boring.
True. But the word “psychedelic” isn’t apt. Most movie that involve hacking usually feature some government GUI, which always has a shield and looks Official with lots of bevel-edge buttons. It’s never a standard prompt.
The list omits the cliche of every hacking movie: hacking is accomplished by typing very fast, and the success of the rapid typing is verified when the hacker says “we’re in.” Otherwise it is not a hacking movie.
Alright, I'm done. Time for another glug of Pepto-Bismol. Straight from the bottle.
Fifty-plus and rain. I’ll take it. The drizzle has bollixed up the 35W-94 exchange; on the way to the office traffic was backed up to the Iowa border, but that’s becoming the norm these days. I’m sure they’ll announce an overhaul sooner or later, and everyone will complain bitterly about the delays for three years, after which we’ll whiz through the area without delay, completely forgetting the previous aggravation and taking the clean broad road for granted. Anyway, it would be nice if the rain came in snow form some time this month. Hard to get into the holiday mood when it’s a damp early November day.
The app was initially hampered by technical problems . . .
Yes. It crashed. Open the app: loads, freezes, crashes. Repeat. It’s not as though the iPad was some device with so many wild variations developers couldn’t know what they might experience. If you release something for the iPad and it crashes on the iPad, you’re telling your audience “we’re just throwing this out there because we’re already late and its mostly stable and getting yelled at by the boss for the crashing is something we can put off until next week.”
. . . but the Daily’s key issue was a conceptual one. While the app boasted lots of digital bells and whistles, in the end it was very much a general interest newspaper that seemed to be geared toward people who didn’t really like newspapers. You can’t make that work no matter what kind of platform it uses.
Exactly. It felt like USA Today - something you find outside a hotel room or read at McDonald’s while you have breakfast because someone left it behind.
Meanwhile, in other tech news, Time says:
Redbox and Verizon’s streaming video service reportedly won’t have as many movies and shows as Netflix, but it may be $2 per month cheaper.
The so-called “Redbox Instant by Verizon” will cost $6 per month according to GigaOM’s Janko Roettgers, who discovered the details by looking through publicly available support documents. (The web pages in question now require a password to see.)
Like Netflix, the service will provide unlimited video streaming, but will also have some other optional perks. Subscribers can pay an extra $2 per month for four nights of DVD rentals through Redbox kiosks. (Rentals usually cost $1.20 per night.) The service will also offer on-demand rentals of newer movies, starting at $0.99, with offline access to those videos available on some devices.
Here’s the ad, the usual modern mish-mash aimed at people who actually use the term “bro” to refer to other men:
Who am I supposed to high five? Myself? A person sitting next to me? Verizon? Shouldn't I high-six someone, given the price?
UPDATE You may recall this:
Chinese guy refuses to let them demolish his house to build a road to the new business district. Well.
“Xiayangzhang village chief Chen Xuecai told The Associated Press the house was bulldozed on Saturday after its owners, duck farmer Luo Baogen and his wife, agreed to accept compensation of 260,000 yuan ($41,000).
Mr. Chen says Mr. Luo voluntarily consented to the deal.
Oh, I’m sure he did.
WOW Almost five hours of plane landings in San Diego, collected in one concentrated video.
That’s almost what it looked like at my house on 9/11, when they brought down all the commercial flights as quickly as possible.
TECH Good news! They’re deciding the future of the internet behind closed doors. That’ll go well for all of us. Wired says:
There’s a lot of sky-is-falling doomsday predictions about the World Conference on International Telecommunications, which opens Monday in Dubai with some 190-plus nations discussing the global internet’s future.
That’s because much of the accompanying proposals from the global community have been kept under lock and key, although some of the positions of nations have been leaked and published online.
I don’t know why anyone’s worried. This is the UN we’re talking about, right? Relax. If they don't have everyone's best interests at heart, I don't know who does.
Besides, here’s how attempts to regulate the internet generally end up:
GEEK Finally, a poster for an upcoming movie, with the name and tell-tale typeface removed. It should take you about 2 seconds to realize what it's for.