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.

Posts about Photos

Today in Internet Fake Nonsense

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: November 18, 2014 - 12:13 PM

There’s a story I think you all missed; came out at the start of the month. “Moon sized UFO may be evidence of Type II civilization.” I know, I know - I’m tired of moon-sized alien craft turning out to be from Type I civ. This might be important, though. When the UFO finally appears, it’s an 8-bit sort of image, so this could be Space Invaders. Literally.

To give you an idea of the level of technical expertise at work, a screen grab:

And this, which quite possibly sums up all UFO videos in its own eloquent way.

Don’t you see it?

Here's the video.

I love UFO footage, and there’s always the chance the next video might be the one that proves We Are Not Alone. And then it’s just more pictures of jumpy lights and recollections told by Ordinary People, set to worried, ominous music. Oh, by the way:

Type I civilization harnesses energy at planetary level, a Type II uses energy at a solar level, while Type III civilizations use galactic level energies. The November 2 video of the moon sized UFO near the sun may be evidence that our solar system is being visited by very advanced extraterrestrial civilizations that can harness the sun's plasma energy.

Mm-hmm. That’s why they’re here. They needed energy. The sun was like a Holiday station, and they looked at the gauge, saw they just had a little more than a quarter tank, and pulled over to top off the tank.

NONSENSE This article about 25 nightmarish airports would be notable if only for its Peculiar Style. I’m a fan of archaic capitalization affectations, but this one overdoes it a bit. This is compounded by the author’s style, which is almost incomprehensible.

Are you Afraid to Fly? Psychologists Believe FEAR of flying one of the Most Difficult Psychological Problems: some even Shudder at the Thought of how to Get on A plane and Get off the Ground. Sometimes, this FEAR Becomes for people serious Obstacle to ensuring That Move freely around the World and See many wonderful Distant Countries.

There’s a link to a site that also ran a list of nightmarish airports. It begins:

Fear of flying is considered by most psychologists one of the most complex psychological issues and because of the intense fear some people experience even at the thought of flying, they are condemned to never see many beautiful places even though they would love to. According to various studies, this fear becomes even worse when other security concerns are involved, and this list of 25 nightmarish airports perfectly justifies the fear of flying, which might not be as irrational as members of psychology circles suggest it is.

Why, it’s almost as if the first one is a paraphrase of something written by a native speaker. More:

In this issue, we’ll Tell you About the Most horrible 25 airports around the world where terror is born long before you sit on the plane.

Here's something that appears to be unlikely:

This May sound like an exaggeration, But it’s Probably one of the craziest airport in the World. Why? Yes Because right across the main Runway Railroad passes. Yes – A Real Railroad! Managers Should Coordinate takeoffs and landings with the arrival of the trains.

Yes, they should. One presumes that they do. Or would, if this wasn’t a Photoshop.

Look at the scale of the train vs. the plane. Who’s flying that thing? Andre the Giant? It’s the Gisborne Airport in New Zealand, which does have a railroad crossing the runway, but the photo can’t be real. This page says it is, but it was staged. You be the judge.

Technically, it's food

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: October 3, 2014 - 12:49 PM

When they say “Old Fashioned,” do they mean the cheese-like spackle that came out of aerosol cans, invented about 50 years ago? Seriously, there’s not a word on this label that makes sense, except perhaps for “Cheesy,” which suggests it has the properties of cheese but is not actually cheese itself.

Spred! Intentional misspelling is always your guarantee of fun and convenience.

AHOY Underplayed sentence of the day: "The HMS Terror has still not been discovered." The Terror! That's how you name warships. 

But they did find the Erebus. A long search for the lost exploratory vessel found the ship in well-preserved condition. Both ships vanished during the Franklin Expedition, an exercise in Arctic exploration that ended poorly for all involved by a variety of methods: “the entire crew perished from starvation, hypothermia, tuberculosis, lead poisoning and scurvy.” As if that wasn’t enough, there were allegations of cannibalism, which outraged the folks back home. The allegations, not the actual consumption of shipmates. Wikipedia on Capt. Franklin’s last voyage:

"In 1997, more than 140 years after Dr. Rae's report, his account was finally vindicated; blade-cut marks on the bones of some of the crew found on King William Island strongly suggested that conditions had become so dire that some crew members resorted cannibalism.” The same study also suggested that some crew members succumbed to botulism, in case there weren’t enough causes of the death to go around. More:

In October 2009, Robert Grenier (a Senior Marine Archaeologist at Parks Canada) outlined recent discoveries of sheet metal and copper which have been recovered from 19th-century Inuit hunting sites. Grenier firmly believes these pieces of metal once belonged to the Terror and formed the protective plating of the ship's hull.

I swear I've seen most of this story scattered around a dozen Star Trek episodes. Erebus, by the way, was a region of Hell in Greek mythology, an area through which the freshly dead go promptly once they arrive. After that I don’t know where they go, but they probably follow the signs that say BAGGAGE and GROUND TRANSPORTATION.

More on why Canada cares about this right now:

Canada has been attempting to assert sovereignty over the Northwest Passage in recent years, claiming the area as its own.

The US does not agree. Let us hope the diplomats are successful and can pull us back from the brink of war.

GAAAH The Roosevelts, a site whose connection to its namesake seems obscure, presents some “Terrifying Halloween Costumes Parents Made for their Children.” One of the less terrifying:

More here. Have fun, and sweet dreams.

Kodachrome Minnesota

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: August 11, 2014 - 12:30 PM

A box of old slides yields some Minnesota history over at Shorpy; it’s remarkable what details the old pictures had - and what people uncovered once they started sleuthing. This, for example:

That would be Jerry Adler, a virtuoso harmonica player whose work was heard by millions.

Adler focused on popular music as his career developed, and he soloed in numerous film soundtracks from the 1940s to the 1960s, including Shane, High Noon, Mary Poppins, and My Fair Lady. He also taught actors how to pretend to play the instrument convincingly where their on-screen performances required.

We are well past the days of popular harmonica players.

That’s the easiest detail to run down. The ashtray matchbooks were a bit trickier.

URBAN STUDIES A speculative property venture hasn’t succeeded yet, and may never be occupied. Let’s spin the wheel . . . ah, it handed on Ireland. Here’s some pictures of empty places, followed by the usual comments. One person sniffs at the sameness of the houses, and another notes that the row houses of the cities of the Scepter’d Isle aren’t exactly noted for their stylistic diversity. True. I remember taking the train from DC to New York, and seeing endless expanses of row houses, all exactly the same, distinguished by the occasional attempt to customize. But the suburbs are bland and interchangeable. Right.

MUSIC It’s Weird Al’s moment, Vulture notes, and good for him. Sign of the times: the guy who had the #1 record in America doesn’t have a record contract. In a few years the #1 book in the country will be written by someone who went around the publishing houses and did an ebook on his or her own. TV will be next.

TECH The Man who Liked Everything on Facebook: sounds like an Oliver Sachs essay.

I tried counting how much stuff I’d liked by looking in my activity log, but it was too overwhelming. I’d added more than a thousand things to my Likes page—most of which were loathsome or at best banal. By liking everything, I turned Facebook into a place where there was nothing I liked.

For some people, it’s that already, and you don’t have to click on a thing. Article is notable for some Andy Warhol BS in the opening; why his remarks are still regarded as oracular pronouncements is mystifying.

Also in tech: why are remotes so ridiculous? I have the same problem with my DVD remote, which is replete with buttons that do nothing, or do something I can’t undo. There’s a button that says PRE-CH, which might trigger the TV to enter a state before all the major TV channels were established, and I’d just see a picture of Felix the Cat.

The Moon, Reconsidered

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: August 1, 2014 - 12:20 PM

CNN calls this “The hackers who recovered NASA's lost lunar photos.” No hacking seems to have been involved, at least in the sense of breaking into computers. More like "guys who were good at image enhancement are fixing some old pictures." Like:

Says one of the geeks:

"We're reaching back to a capability that existed but couldn't be touched back when it was created," says Keith Cowing, co-lead and founding member at LOIRP. "It's like having a DVD in 1966, you can't play it. We had resolution of the Earth of about a kilometer [per pixel]. This is an image taken a quarter of a f***king million miles away in 1966. The Beatles were warming up to play Shea Stadium at the moment it was being taken."

It's the Effing that really drives it home, doesn't it?

HAH BuzzFeed, of all places, comes out against Twitter accounts that attempt to puncture clickbait headlines.

TV “The Killing” returns to TV tonight, but it’s Netflix, not AMC. The show was excoriated for its cliffhanger first season, and while they eventually wrapped things up, no one expected a third season. But they got another chance, and it was worth it: everything grating and tiresome about the first few seasons somehow jelled in the third into a solid show. Early reviews of the fourth season - which Netflix calls the show’s Finale - are good.

Also: Gravity Falls comes back, after what AV Club called a "first season that seemed to last decades." True. Seems like it's been gone forever. It's a smart, funny show if you're 14 or 54 - the sort of program where Dad has to hit Pause and google some pictures to explain to your daughter the fleeting reference to Twin Peaks. A labor of love with none of the crass, smirky, po-mo cartoons-about-cartoons stuff you get on Adult Swim from time to time. Now, bring back "Space Ghost" and all will be right with the world.

VotD Holy Jeezum Crow: the aftermath of a gas explosion in Taiwan.

Remarkable footage: motion-stabilized drone, right? It has to be. Not something you’ll see here until the FAA changes its mind.

CCTV view of the explosion:

How to lose 8000 photos

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: July 31, 2014 - 12:52 PM

The cloud is not your friend. Do not depend on the cloud. Once upon a time this would’ve sounded like something you would say to friend who has developed a delusional attachment with things in the sky, but now you know what it means. Here’s a piece about how “a bug in Dropbox” accidentally deleted 8000 photos. Well, that would be bad, but those were backed up, right? No? NO? The author wrote to Dropbox: “This is an absolute disaster, I don’t have any other backup of these files, Dropbox was supposed to be the backup.”

If it’s your only copy, it’s not a backup.

YOU THERE The modern style of headline writing isn’t intended to catch your eye but punch you in the nose, because you totally deserve it. The author is better than you because the author is writing for Gawker, and you’re just reading. Basic format: Bald assertion, and preemptive accusation to deflect your objection. Today’s example:

Idiocracy Is a Cruel Movie And You Should Be Ashamed For Liking It

No, and I’m not, and good luck in your future endeavors. As one comment says:

Anyway, the movie has almost nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with culture. It's not about being born with high or low intelligence as much as it is being born into a culture that does not prioritize academics and intellect. This is what Novak gets wrong - in his haste to drum up some social-justice outrage for clicks he totally missed the point of the movie - the point being that intellectual laziness and pandering to base desires and non-contributing hedonism is harmful to society. Maybe he missed the point because he's part of the problem, on that front.

On the last point, no. He’s one of the smarter writers on the site, and constantly produces intelligent, engaging work grounded in a comprehensive grasp of 20th century technological history. Which is why it was dismaying to see his work get Gawkerized thus.

Related, from the Daily Dot: “You're tricking yourself into believing your iPhone is slow.” Didn’t know that about yourself, did you?

SCIENCE !Things like this are always exciting. Then disappointing. NPR:

Astronomers have a mystery on their hands. Two large radio telescopes, on opposite sides of the planet, have detected very brief, very powerful bursts of radio waves.

Right now, astronomers have no idea what's causing these bursts or where they're coming from. And nothing has been ruled out at the moment — not even the kind of outrageous claims you'd expect to see in tabloid headlines.

That’s such an NPR way of putting it. Why not just say “ALIENS”? That’s what we’re all thinking.

BREAKING NEWS Reet-deet-deetle-deetle reet-deet deet-deet:

A clown suffered minor injuries Monday after her clown car crashed into a utility pole in Westwood, New Jersey.

What you want to read next is “the other 25 clowns were unharmed."

The victim, according to The Record, was a 68-year-old female clown whose name was not released. Another clown, who goes by the moniker ‘Poppi T Clown’ told the paper that the accident victim was reaching for her GPS unit when she ran off the road and into the pole. In other words, she may have been juggling one too many things.

The female clown was said to have been driving home from a show at an elementary school. Several of her fellow clowns (“about 10,” the Record said) arrived on the scene quickly to assist her.

Is there a word for a quantity of clowns? A Pennywhistle, perhaps?

Votd Finally, the great lost cartoon show of the 80s has been found and restored! MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES!

(Warning: Adult Swim.)

GRIEFERS This Kotaku piece concerns the amiable sociopathy of a gamer who lured many Blue Sentinels to their deaths, and made a video compilation set to Tiny Tim music. Yes, I know, again? Again. It had a link describing what Blue Sentinels are, and if I may excerpt:

Blue Sentinels is the only covenant that can use Cracked Blue Eye Orbs, which allow them to invade the worlds of sinners and wretches. They have to be human to be able to use these orbs. A player becomes a sinner if they have gained 10 points of sin by killing other players online with invasions or by killing NPCs. They become a wretch after gaining 100 points of sin. When a Blue phantom defeats a sinner or a wretch, they will lose 1 point of sin. When using the Cracked Blue Eye Orb, Blue phantoms are unable to use healing items such as the Estus Flask, but they can heal themselves with Spells.

There are many, many other such collections of words in the entry, including helpful warnings: “Even if you are a Blue Sentinel you still can be invaded by an Arbiter Spirit (Blue Phantom).”

Consider the time required to understand all these things.

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