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.
For no particular reason other than I don't want to start the post with asking what Macklemore may have possibly done, here's a picture of Nicollet Avenue in 1960.
Imagine an entire downtown like that. Not as a grand as a place of tall glass, but much nicer on the street level. It's from the 1960 Survey, a photographic record the Strib took of every block downtown. One of these days it'll be assembled on line, and you'll be astonished at the changes. It's almost as if we swapped one city for another.
NO Here’s a Daily Dot story on which I did not click. Can’t imagine who did.
And here’s a story that sums up how some writers who spend too much time marinating in web culture get disconnected from that reality:
Yes, the foundational expectations and assumptions of American manhood are being revised by My Little Pony fans.
ARCHITORTURE Why do we like ruins? The Tate has an exhibition on the subject of the romance of rubble. In America we tend to clean up our ruins and make them attractions, as with the remnants of the old Mill on the Mississippi. Previous generations would have wondered what was wrong with us. It’s just some old walls; what’s the appeal? But in Europe they would have been venerated by artists as a reminder of the transience of things and the tragic march of time. (“March of time” is a cliche, and not always accurate, but “the tragic amble of time” doesn’t have the same ring.”
Then there’s this: a long and detailed look at China’s biggest Ghost City. Built for millions. Population: Wadena.
RIP In a world where most movie trailers had a voice over, one man stood out.
Hal Douglas has died. Reminds you that fewer movies have voiceovers these days.
Related: Meet the movie goer who refuses to watch movies without reading spoilers first. This I do not understand. When I first saw “Citizen Kane” and we heard the word “Rosebud” pass from Kane’s lips, the fellow in the row behind me said to his partner “that’s his sled.” I wanted to turn around and throw a Coke in his face. I was present during the first showing of “Empire Strikes Back” at the Southtown; no one who walked out gave away the big twist to the people standing in line. It just wasn’t done. Now some people apparently crave to know the twists before they see the movie, so they can study the film as it unrolls, looking for hints and clues. Why not just watch it twice, for heaven's sake?
Votd Australian Dominos Pizza Complaints:
FACISM. That guy just nailed it.
By the way, the story about the
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?
As far as I know this is the only video of the destruction of the Merchants building. Even worse: it’s not a video but a GIF. On the other hand, they’re very compact. As videos, they weighed in at half an MB, tops; as a GIF with no compression they waddled in at 13 MB. Thanks to Gfycat, they’re down to half an MB again.
If you can see it, then it works. The Merchant building was next to the Rand Tower; there’s a parking ramp on the space today. The site also included the Thorpe Building:
Both buildings are long forgotten. If you're curious what the block looked like:
The little bank in the middle survives as a facade on the ramp; it was the Marquette Bank, which chose an Egyptian style because people were just nuts about all things Tut at the time it was built in the 20s. Odd choice, but a nice addition to downtown.
Anyway, GFYcat drastically compresses GIFs and saves the world untold gigs of bandwidth. It’s free and you don’t have to sign up. They not only compress your GIFs into versions that can be slowed down or paused or reversed, they host them.
What nice folks!
What's in it for them, you wonder?
GAMING This game review makes it sound like a bowl of spinach, no? “ENCOURAGES PLAYERS TO LEARN ABOUT TYPE BY EXPLORING A WORLD OF FONTS, MARIO-STYLE.” Another review has a warning: “The game freezes if you try to read a recently captured asterisk entry while in the process of dying.” So it’s ultra-realistic! Hard to describe, really - you’re pushing two dots along a landscape made up of letters while atmospheric music lends an otherworldly air. I’ve never liked side-scrolling games that make you jump. I love this thing. You can get it here. I got it free from a Starbucks promotion; you'll have to pay $3 or see if Starbucks still has cards left with a free code.
In related news - art and architecture, that is - here are some buildings made to look like the work of famous artists. For some reason. This one's easy:
This one's a bit more challenging.
Many many more, here.
FOLLOW-UP Wednesday I put up that Schlitz ad to show the difference between the real thing and the one going around the Internet. I was paging through an old Life from the same era, and found another from the series that shows a guy screwing up as well. In fact, "beer as compensation for screwing up" was the point of the entire campaign. So:
See? Guys in beer ads were stupid too.
Sixteen below when I sent Daughter off to the bus stop. That was sufficient cause to suspend school a while ago. Today: eh. Perhaps they assume kids have been sufficiently toughened and winnowed.
While I am far from a Luddite who fetishizes a life without tech, we need to consider the consequences of this latest batch of apps and tools that remind us to contact significant others, boost our willpower, provide us with moral guidance, and encourage us to be civil. Taken together, we’re observing the emergence of tech that doesn’t just augment our intellect and lives — but is now beginning to automate and outsource our humanity.
He goes on to describe something called BroApp, which he admits may be a parody. It sends “automated daily text messages” to your girlfriend. This does not turn you into a sociopath; if you believed that automated canned sentiment will do the trick and save you some time, you may be one already. Or more likely just selfish and manipulativeg. Really, if you're buying something called BroApp you’re already a Bro, and the app isn’t going to infuse you with additional Bronosity. BroApp even sounds like a long ripe beer belch.
Related, maybe: Here’s something I didn’t know. The name of the Bitcoin exchange that was hacked and shuttered was Mt. Gox. right? Daily Dot:
The joke here is that the name MtGox doesn’t actually refer to a mountain. It’s an acronym for Magic: The Gathering Online Exchange; the site originally started as a place for fans of of the tabletop fantasy card game to buy and sell their cards.
Somehow that fits.
THE FUTURE The tumblr about “Beer Labels in Motion” is exactly what you think: animated beer labels. Some day they’ll actually look like this.
Related, maybe: the Morton Salt girl is updated for its 100th birthday; here’s a look at the logo’s evolution. Interesting how she looked at the customer with a cheerful expression in 1956, then looked away in 1968, as if contemplating something private. She’s never looked at us since.
DESSERT Ben & Jerry’s has some new flavors. Here’s how the site “Hello Giggle” describes the company:
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are kind of living out a childhood best friend dream come true, aren’t they? Making ice cream as a job, coming up with witty pop culture flavors when they feel like it, working together every day, and eternal fame in New England? What more could anyone want?
In April 2000, Ben & Jerry's sold the company to Anglo-Dutch multinational food giant Unilever. Unilever said it hopes to carry on the tradition of engaging "in these critical, global economic and social missions". Although the founders' names are still attached to the product, they do not hold any board or management position and are not involved in day-to-day management of the company.
But other than that, yes, totally awesome in the dream-coming-true department. The new ice cream flavors sound delicious indeed, but I can’t figure out why no one ever attacks Big Ice Cream when it comes to attacking obesity and marketing. Soda, sugar, fast-food - but never ice cream. It’s almost as if it gets a pass because it’s the one thing the critics couldn’t imagine giving up.
URBAN DESIGN The Pentagon Park plan is on again. They want to tear down the ultra-50s office complex and build a half-billion dollar project. The Pentagon tower is an odd and distinctive structure, but there’s no saving it; no one will say it’s historic. Things come and go. Such as: The Richmond and Landour Hotels.
I ran across this while digitizing some old postcards, and finally found out where it was. Here:
Fair trade. Some details of the site:
Cedar Lake Ice Co. was at Hidden Beach. Wikipedia:
Before 1860, Cedar Lake had a much different shape, and most of the woods surrounding Hidden Beach, particularly to the south east, were areas of water and wetland instead. In 1867 the southeast bay of Cedar Lake was filled in to create a major train yard and in 1878 a large scale ice cutting operation known as Cedar Lake Ice Company was founded on the lake’s north eastern shore, which shipped ice to places as far away as St. Louis. By 1900 Dingley’s boat house occupied the end of a thin peninsula on the eastern side of the lake, which eventually widened and became the site of today’s Hidden Beach. Despite the large railway operations going on nearby, the land surrounding Cedar Lake’s eastern shore was sold to build houses, hotels, and other such structures between 1908 and 1975.
Elsewhere around town in teh 1940s:
Minneapolitans who know what the city used to look like can probably guess: the big rusting falling-down skid-row of Washington Avenue. It’s here:
Not so good a trade.
VotD Stick ‘em up! C’mon, man, stick ‘em up! Please? Hey - hey, let go!
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