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.
And you'd trust them completely, right? Well, if you’re bothered by too many telemarketers, it’s your fault. Lifehacker has a piece by someone in the business:
I've worked for a telemarketing company for two years and made a lot of unwanted calls. I have to keep making them because most people don't know how to get rid of us
No, no, no, no: you choose to keep annoying people so you can make money. The responsibility is yours and your employers, not the person who lacks the ability to “get rid” of you.
- but the right approach can make all the difference. Here's how you can get rid of telemarketers like me and save us both a lot of time.
The piece has tips and hints like this:
Remember, the computer chose your lead, not the caller. If you scream at them because you've gotten called before, this will not make them sympathetic to your case. It's likely they'll just put you back into the lead pool to torture you.
This confirms what you may have suspected: being a telemarketer is a job that drains people of all human empathy. This is in a section called “How You’re Making it Worse,” as if the dillweeds didn’t start it in the first place.
If the telemarketer is being rude, you can ask to speak to a manager. Despite what they might say, every campaign and business has a supervisor in the call room.
Whose sympathies will of course be with you, the aggravated party.
HISTORY Atlas Obscura looks at the “Forgotten Ghost Stations Of Berlin” - reminders of its day as city divided between free and slave. This, however, needs clarification: "Having endured two World Wars, being divided by the Iron Curtain, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and rapid gentrification — all in the scope of a century — the German capital is drenched to the proverbial bone in history."
Which proverb would that be? Are there any proverbs about soaked bones? No. You can use “proverbial” when referring to something that was actually in a proverb, or maxim, or piece of folk wisdom. The proverbial stitch in time. The proverbial look before one’s leap. But “drenched to the bone” is just a description.
Small carp. It’s a great piece, and a reminder of what East Berliners endured.
HEY YOU Today’s stupid second-person headline comes from the ongoing aesthetic train wreck that is the HuffPo: YOUR TV SERIES FINALE SUCKS (Even Though It Probably Doesn’t) This may interest all the people who have TV series finales, but most of us don’t.
The page also has a “weird” ad, in this case a “weird food that kills blood pressure.” That would seem to be a bad thing. Hey, link to a 10 biggest product failures! Great, it’s a slideshow:
It scrolls out and has a cellphone ad and something else and covers up a Miley Cyrus SHOCKER - You Won’t Believe What Happened - and then offers a chance to vote on whether your city has the Best Food Truck. Because everyone has such broad experience with food trucks in other cities. It’s just a sinkhole.
And it’s not the only one. On my daily ramble over the web I come across more ad-stuffed upworthy-buzzy clutterfests than I ever thought existed, and they share one trait: utter irredeemable ugliness. Modern advertising is turning the web into a garish maelstrom of howling banality.
Or maybe I’m just in a glum mood. It’s not as if there was a golden era of web perfection, but i swear it’s worse now, and those “one weird trick” and “Is this new Fat-burning pill too effective?” boxes make me want to start a new internet somewhere.
VotD Two days, 1.5 million hits.
People have already turned this into a GIF, becuse 19 seconds is too long a wait to get to the good part.
As this story reports, they’re starting to take the medallions off the front of the Strib World HQ. One comment on the story asks:
”If they don't care enough to preserve the building, why bother with the medallions and lettering?
Because . . .
. . . they’re art, that’s why. More:
”All work to remove, save and reinstall on a new building seems pointless to 99% of the people using, visiting or looking at the new building.”
Yeah, who cares.
SUCKERS Bitcoin dealer invents a game: send me bitcoins, and I will give you more bit coins later, after other people give me bitcoins. Those people were promised more bitcoins in the future, after other people were brought into the game. Sound familiar? Now the users are claiming the originator of the game stole all their money.
Punchline: the name of the game was actually called PonziCoin.
ADVERTISING Most British advertising headline of 2014: “Mr Kipling gets ready to drop 'exceedingly good cakes' slogan.”
SIGNAGE A collection of 1960s signs in Washington DC, taken by employees of a sign company, collected on this Flickr page:
The death of the big metal-and-neon signs was one of the saddest plagues to hit cities in the end of the last century. (via Coudal.)
FRIEND WANTED Where could a poor Hydropath Phrenologist go to find companionship in the 19th century? Slate looks at “The Exquisite Wistfulness of 19th-Century Vegetarian Personal Ads.”
TECH Oh great: a new disc standard!
Sony and Panasonic have announced the new Archival Disc format that will store between 300GB and 1TB per disc. The companies are bigging up the non-HDD form factor for its hardiness to temperature and humidity.
They will hold the 3D holographic 8K version of “Star Wars,” which we will all dutifully buy once more.
HEY YOU To the list of irritating YOU headlines, add this: “What You Think You Know About the Web is Wrong.” I will read it just to spare you the effort, because either you thought “no way, pal, I’ll show you that what I know about the web is completely accurate,” or “gosh, what strange misconceptions have mislead me all these years?” and clicked.
A decentralized, sprawling global network of addresses that point to sites which, in the aggregate, reflect the entirety of human civilization? That’s what I think. It’s a road - not a superhighway, but a two-lane intersecting and branching off to other two-laners, with innumerable towns along every road, with libraries and shops and homes. You never get to the end and every left or right turn takes you someplace different.
It is not a real road, so you’re not troubled by people who stand on the shoulder with a sign that says EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT HITCH-HIKERS IS WRONG AND HERE’S WHY.Alright, here comes the wisdom.
If you’re an average reader, I’ve got your attention for 15 seconds, so here goes: We are getting a lot wrong about the web these days. We confuse what people have clicked on for what they’ve read. We mistake sharing for reading. We race towards new trends like native advertising without fixing what was wrong with the old ones and make the same mistakes all over again.
Well, none of that was what I thought about the Web. Let’s continue.
As the CEO of Chartbeat, my job is to work with the people who create content online (like Time.com) and provide them with real-time data to better understand their readers. I’ve come to think that many people have got how things work online quite mixed up.I’ll summarize: the click-based advertising model is flawed. Get this:
Myth 1: We read what we’ve clicked.
Off to watch them work on the medallions. Glad to know they're saving the letters, too - and really curious to know where they'll go. Maybe give them to the Historical Society? But call first. Don't want to back up the truck and say "we got a donation. Where do you want them?
There’s another deal in Ukraine; we’ll see how that goes. Reddit has a before-and-after picture of Kiev’s Independence Square. A detail:
The BBC has more before-and-after shots here.
WINTER On a lighter note, here’s a shot of my backyard yesterday morning, and today.
The chair is like the Sphinx, which was buried up to its head for hundreds of years.
TECH Only 12 iPod chargers left! After that you’ll have to look elsewhere for things that pop, sizzle, and burst into flames. A sample review:
This is a cheap imitation copy received just two days after the airing of a BBC documentary following trading standards where people's houses were nearly burned down by such items. This is not something that is a rip off and makes no effort to disguise the fact, this is a completely fake product with the exact same design and copied part numbers, CE logo etc from the genuine article.
More quotes: “Our youngest son plugged one in on the day they arrived. The plug exploded in the socket and blew all our electricity.” And: “Had the product for just over a year and it exploded, with black soot all round the socket.” And: “t is totally unsafe. It blew up in my face the first time I tried to use it.it threw the charging cable across the floor.” You can understand if the thing was made by CDCK, or Cheap Dangerous Chinese Knockoff Ltd., but the Amazon page says it’s from Apple. Which it isn’t.
There’s also the mater of melty power supplies, Daily Dot takes a look at the situation, and asks why Amazon allows these things to be sold. Caveat Emptor doesn’t seem to capture it.
ART You could call it the rise and fall of Dutch Industrial Safety Posters. Via Coudal, which titled their link “Don’t Spit on a Nun!”
This is one of the least horrifying ones.
Not to hoover up all their links, but here’s another: “The Museum of the City of New York and Queens Museum have embarked on an 18-month project to make their collections from the 1939/40 and 1964/65 New York World’s Fairs accessible.” Every other site about the World’s Fair might as well close their doors; this sounds like the motherlode collection.
Reminder: bookmark Coudal so you don’t need anyone else to remind you how much cool stuff they have.
There were a small group of people concerned that crashing Galileo into Jupiter, with its Plutonium thermal reactor, might cause a cascade reaction that would ignite Jupiter into a second star in the Solar System.
Yipes. Not a situation where you wanted to say “I told you so.”
Elsewhere in speculative news: Did an orbital probe relay a message from a civilization living on the sixth planet in a binary star system, and communicate important message to a man via a pink beam that came out of a woman’s necklace?
No. Then again, is it really that much of a stretch to say the probe may have influenced one of the greatest sci-fi writers of the 20th century?
Yes. But it’s a fun read. The Black Knight Bracewell Probe, the decoded message, and Philip K. Dick.
But a Vulcan visiting the Star Wars universe? That totally happened.
EULA There’s a new genre in online legalese: casual, friendly, and comprehensible. Imagine that. I got an email from Dropbox: “We’re adding an arbitration section to our updated Terms of Service. Arbitration is a quick and efficient way to resolve disputes, and it provides an alternative to things like state or federal courts where the process could take months or even years.” Interesting. It had a link to the new terms, and wondering if it was as breezy and helpful as Tumblr’s Terms & Conditions, I actually read it. You have to admit you don’t see things like this often:
Sharing Your Stuff
Our Services let you share Your Stuff with others, so please think carefully about what you share.
It’s the word “stuff” that stuck out. Apparently that passed muster with the lawyers. Lest your think that everything’s totally cool, there’s this:
No Refunds. You may cancel your Dropbox Paid Account at any time but you won't be issued a refund.
Good luck taking that one to arbitration.
Today's "Argyle Sweater" cartoon:
Michael Jackson and Elmer Fudd in 1980. I have no idea. (UPDATE: oh, man. There are TWO possible meanings.)
In related news, Sunday's example of the worst-drawn cartoon featured a woman whose use of a "Clapper" - you know, cutting edge modern tech - caused her husband's heart to stop:
Leaving aside the fact that "womp" is usually spelled with an H, the cartoon made me think of the previous week, which had the same incompetently rendered living room set:
I think he's had 30 years to get his style to this point.
NYC A collection of photos from NYC in the 70s and 80s, from -
Well, hold on a moment. First, an example.
Hey, they had Instagram filters back then? No. But it’s not hard to bring them back to life. Voila:
The photos are from this site, which I wouldn’t have stumbled across if it wasn’t for a blog post about the pictures. And by “blog post” I mean the blogger took fifty pictures and put them up without comment, hoping to snag traffic for his bloodsucking website, so no link for him.
Speaking of New York: the Post revisits the infamous case of Kitty Genovese. If you recall, the New York Times “ reported that 38 of her neighbors had seen the attack and watched it unfold without calling for help.” Word spread:
The Times piece was followed by a story in Life magazine, and the narrative spread throughout the world, running in newspapers from Russia and Japan to the Middle East. New York became internationally infamous as a city filled with thoughtless people who didn’t care about one another; where people could watch their neighbors get stabbed on the street without lifting a finger to help, leaving them to die instead in a pool of their own blood.
Too bad it wasn’t true, as the piece reminds us. But it confirmed what people wanted to believe about other people - or at least what some people at the NYT wanted to believe.
COULROPHOBIA The Daily News says the nation may have already passed Peak Clown:
Send in the clowns — please!
As the “Greatest Show on Earth” returns to Brooklyn Thursday, circus folk fear a national clown shortage is on the horizon.
Membership at the country’s largest trade organizations for the jokesters has plunged over the past decade as declining interest, old age and higher standards among employers align against Krusty, Bozo and their crimson-nosed colleagues.
Here’s the sort of thing future generations may never see.
Surely they will curse us for not curating this cultural archetype for subsequent generations.
ART 3D GIFs: the oldest art form of the web continues to evolve. How did they do that? Go here for details.
STYLE People who can’t wait for the next season of “Mad Men” might enjoy this perfectly restored mid-century modern rambler. They might also wish the show still took place in that era.
SCIENCE! Mystery of the rock that appeared on Mars next to Opportunity solved. No surprises, really.
ICYMI: Friday's video of the Home and Patio show, complete with bad JFK imitation. Enjoy the day, whichever President you choose to revere.
My weather app says it's 22, but it feels like Nine. Unless you're naked, in which case it's considerably colder. How do they calculate wind chill, anyway? Do they presume a certain amount of exposed skin - face, hands - and go from there? No one who's outside right now and starkers would think "oh, nine sounds about right." There's just three settings, really. Coat and no hat, coat hat gloves, and ABSOLUTE ZERO.
MYSTERIES "He was also instrumental in catching Captain Midnight and the Playboy TV hacker, experiences he remembers with equal doses of relish and disgust." This account of the history of TV intrusions brings back the tale of the Max Headroom Takeover, which remains unsolved. Never mind the the technical obstacles to hijacking a broadcast signal - it's the fact that the interlopers built a set, figured out how to hide their identity in a perfectly zetgeisty way, then didn't bother to come up with a script.
It's still creepy.
Max Headroom was a quintessential high-80s cultural product, a pre-internet look at the computerized dystopia towards which we might be heading. People thought at the time he was computer generated. No: lots of latex. He made an appearance in a music video called "Paranomia" by the Art of Noise, which was remarkable for using all the interesting developments in musical technology and video and coming up with something rather empty. (Godley and Creme's video for Herbie Hancock's "Rock It" was a similar experiment. You see something new being born, and it's just . . . not . . . right.)
MOVIES There's a Kojak sequel in the works. Who's up for the role? Well, Hollywood isn't exactly overabundantly endowed with bald tough-guys at the moment, so naturally it's this guy. Could be good; Ang Lee is set to direct, supposedly, so it could be a "reimagining" of the character that "reboots" the character into today's gritty New York, etc etc. Better to set it in the 70s, complete with bad cars and burned-out neighborhoods and sweaty desperate junkies. A reminder for those who think the 70s was happy shiny disco time where everyone had fun and wore bell-bottoms.
I met Telly Savalas once, in Los Angeles. Poolside at the Sheraton Universal, where he had a suite. (The hotel's bar was called "Telly's," and had a caricature of him over the door. Guests who dropped in for a beer were often surprised to find the Man Himself sitting around, relaxing.) I was working on a laptop, which was not a common sight in 1994. He waved me over and said he wanted to take a look at that thing. I ran him through the paces, showed him what it could do - not much, in retrospect, although it could "log on" to a BBS and "interface" with "modemers." Elementary programming in Hypercard. He seemed interested and thanked me and that was that. Nice guy. Gave off an air of substantial contentment, which is a good thing to have. More on his bar - which wasn't his at all, it seems - right here in this LAT piece.
ART If the word "Stunning" wasn't used on the internet to describe anything that's not "awesome," I'd say these are stunning, but that's not quite right. You will not lose your sense or spatial orientation as though you had been struck with a claw hammer. How's this: You may be impressed by these photos inspired by Hopper paintings.
I read somewhere - the standard phrase one uses to mean "won't Google, for fear I will be proven wrong, negating my entire position" - that the unsettling quality of a Hopper painting was due in part to perspective lines that never made sense. Of course it's the scenes themselves, silent moments of tenebrous unease and melancholy, but also the lines. Here's one of the Hopper-inspired photos:
For what it's worth. Anyway, it's a great series - one is NSFW, but it's art! so it might pass scrutiny. Not sure whether Hopper put giant cats in his work, though. If he did, it explains why he quit the city and just did seaside landscapes.
DCVotD Or, Video of the Day. If you have a big monitor, put this on full screen and get about 16 inches from the screen. Yikes.
There were two choices. He chose wisely.
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