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.
Not always. This is where the Dinkytown hotel was supposed to go. This is the building that might be “historic.”
The City Council denied the permit to build the structure until a study figures out whether the entire business district is in need of preservation. Yes and no. It seems odd to declare everything historic, and by odd I mean “makes little sense, given the diversity of buildings in the area.” The McDonald/’s? No. The Varsity? Yes. The old Bridgeman’s, now a Potbelly? No. The Old College Inn? Yes. One-story commercial structures are part of a neighborhood’s history, and they’re bulwarks against projects that change the character or density of a neighborhood. That may be a reason to keep them, but it doesn’t make the structures historic.
Is there a point at which large projects would fundamentally transform Dinkytown into something it doesn’t want to be, he asked, setting up an answer that won’t placate anyone? Yes. Once the historic survey is done, there will be guidelines, and no one will try to knock down the old Grey’s Drug. But it shouldn’t take a year to walk the blocks and make the proper distinctions. A week, maybe. Two if you can’t find parking.
Here's the Google Street View. Turns out if I put the iframe tag in the first 200 characters of the blog, it has an aneurism.
GOING UP The history of the elevator and the history-making demonstration of Mr. Otis may have been a bit different from what you’ve been told. Before you go to the piece, a warning: it seems to have a slight case of florid academese.
The theatricality of the demonstration (however unimpressed contemporary witnesses may have been) places this contribution to the elevator’s development above the crowd of equally important but less dramatic turning points, such as the first installation of guide rails in a factory or the first construction of a completely enclosed cab. The concentrated format of a public demonstration satisfies the yearning for a clean, unambiguous beginning, a yearning endemic to the historiography of technology. The dramaturgy of the experiment in the Crystal Palace also contributes to this outcome.
You’ve been warned, in other words. It’s still worth a read, and applause for not titling it “Everything You Know About Otis’ Historical Elevator Demonstration is Wrong” or “Another Man Named Otis Invented the Screw Elevator, and You Won’t Believe What Happened Next.”
RETRO It really isn’t, but it is. A poster that helps you choose the right dinosaur for your house. (via DesignTaxi.)
It’s cute, but the style is interesting: very high 80s, if my recollection of the era is correct. More of his work is here, and it’s unlike the poster.
Speaking of things that actually are retro, Collectors Weekly has a gallery of 28 “Cringe-worthy Vintage Product Endorsements." As usual, the horror of the old ads is overstated. Actual cringes felt: perhaps two. Nothing that reaches this level:
(Author’s collection) There’s also an article about 40 Outrageous Vintage Ads Any Woman Would Find Offensive. Mostly BO stuff. One of the comments, eager to unfurl his bright banner of virtue, says: “Wow, it seems as if men in 1930s didn’t have any “B.O.” problem, they all must’ve smelled like fresh linen and daisies!”
Sigh. Yes. Of course.
EDUMACATION NYPost does a story on a school that lets failing students watch online videos instead of showing up for class. Students are offended by the suggestion that there not lerning and right letters to the paper. Result:
Red-faced administrators encouraged a student letter-writing campaign to attack The Post and defend its “blended learning” program. Eighteen kids e-mailed to argue that their alma mater got a bad rap. Almost every letter was filled with spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.One student said the online system beats the classroom because “you can digest in the information at your own paste.”
They sound a little old to be eating the stuff.
SPACE What’s wrong with this piece from NASA?
Anxiously awaited follow-up observations with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have confirmed the presence of two new moons around the distant planet Pluto. The moons were first discovered by Hubble in May 2005, but the science team probed even deeper into the Pluto system last week to look for additional satellites and to characterize the orbits of the moons.
STOP PLAYING WITH US, NASA. It is or it isn’t. Of course, this NASA page tries to have it both ways, and says it’s a “dwarf planet.” But let’s be consistent. Too many people see it called “planet” and get their hopes up, like little kids who want their parents to get back together.
VotD Location: Russia. A short film called “Comin’ Through.”
That’s just the warm-up. Now, the main feature. NOTE: SKIP to 1:50.
You may want to add this to the list of questions you haven’t posed today. From Topless Robot:
Remember back when people thought Vanilla Ice was the worst famous person who could possibly be associated with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
Nevertheless, here you are:
SPACE i09 notes something you may have missed, and which apparently missed us:
Last night, a giant asteroid was supposed to streak by the Earth, close enough for us to catch a glimpse as it zipped by. Except it never showed, and now astronomers say they have no idea just where the 900-foot asteroid has gone.
It got lost.
URBAN DESIGN The movement to tear down urban freeways has a new cause celebere: the viaduct that rips through Syracuse. Some people want it demolished. Some people who use it do not. Atlantic Cities:
The I-81 viaduct will reach the end of its functional life in 2017, and the New York State Department of Transportation has decided that it is not worth the cost of rehabilitation. One way or another, the viaduct is coming down. City leaders (snip) along with downtown developers and advocates for smart growth, would like to see I-81 rerouted around Syracuse and replaced with a landscaped boulevard. But suburban business-owners and many of the 45,000 drivers who use the highway to commute fear that any change could hurt the local economy. It's a debate that goes beyond the immediate question of how Syracuse workers will get to work — to what kind of city Syracuse will be in the 21st century.
If I had unlimited billions at my disposal I’d cover up the 35W trench and put in a long park with housing, repairing the gash that cleaved the neighborhoods. Just because the freeways made many things possible doesn’t mean it was an unalloyed good.
ARCHITORTURE Giz has a new list of beautiful buildings lost forever - and y “lost” I don’t mean “misplaced, but probably around here somewhere.” Lost as in deliberately demolished for reasons that seem appallingly short-sighted today. The Metropolitan, or the Guarantee Life, is on the list, as well as a municipal structure demolished for this:
This may be the perfect image of 60s & 70s municipal architecture: a pathetic little bench under a concrete shell.
LISTS City Pages has a list of 50 things to do in Minneapolis before you DIE. Such as:
27. Explain Scott Seekins to someone. The enigma that is Scott Seekins is such a fun thing to explain to out-of-towners, or any locals living under a rock. Who is Scott Seekins? Oh, just this man-about-town whose simple change from a black suit to a white suit marks the beginning of summer and brings joy to an entire city.
Funny - and true! - but I don’t think anyone on their deathbed will be scanning the list, hit #27, realize the ommision, and beg the nurse to lean close. “I need to tell you something. Listen closely.”
The Home and Patio show has a collection of JFK memorabilia. We shot a video, which should be up soon. I wish I’d been able to wear this special mask.
Wear this and-uh people will-uh run away with-uh vigah.
PROGRESS A reminder from the Atlantic of the fight against all-numeric phone numbers:
In San Francisco, a group sprang up to battle Bell and its numbering scheme. The Anti-Digit Dialing League—consisting of thousands of members at its height, including the semanticist S.I. Hayakawa—decried Bell's version of digital transition. The all-digit dialing system was evidence of "the cult of technology,” the League argued, not to mention that cult’s "creeping numeralism." To make its point, the group published its own pamphlet—one that was aptly, if vaguely, titled Phones Are for People. "So far," it noted, "17 million of the nation's 77-million phones have lost their letters in favor of numbers. The time to reverse the trend is NOW.”
Didn’t work, obviously. The article notes how people have long-standing attachment to their area codes - replacing the emotions people once had for exchange names. Will this ever change? I grew up a 701 kid, and would be happy to be known as such today.
TRANSIT From someone who rode the streetcars and remembers them well, a plea: don’t bring them back.
PSA Call 911 to report an injured cyclist, go to jail. A story of a spiraling nightmare.
ARCHITORTURE We have learned nothing. Nothing. Here’s an imagined view of the new Apple Campus, with housing for everyone who works there.
Corbu just sat up and banged his head on the coffin lid. Yes, tall housing blocks in empty green space, unaligned with the neighborhood grid: brilliant. Leaving aside the architectural homogeneity, can you imagine living in a housing complex of 14,000 people where everyone works at the same place?
VotD The very definition of “Phone Calls Building Maintenance Did Not Want to Get.”
This explains a lot. NASA’s Google + page had a video about the changing sun, and every keen to see astonishing sights human ingenuity has revealed, I clicked.
There’s your problem. Explains 2014 better than anything else. Elsewhere in space:
So long moon bunny, we hardly knew you. China's lunar rover, Yutu – or Jade Rabbit – was officially declared dead in a terse statement posted on a Chinese state news agency website.
The culprit? Dust. Specifically, abrasive dust that ruined the craft’s ability to protect itself at night. Space is tough.
MPLS For no good reason I give you a matchbook I bought on eBay the other day: a bygone cafe in the old Radisson.
And what were you supposed to do there?
GAMES Here: "Nested." Online and free. You’re tempted to go right into the black hole, but you might want to explore some habitable planets, if only to find yourself inside the thoughts of Albert Brooks at a Copper Radio Tower.
Note: there is no actual game play. It’s just high-concept gaming, which means it’s a commentary on games. It still tells a story, though - the biggest text-adventure ever, if you consider its galactic dimensions. It’s from the fellow who may have you clicking on cookies for no good reason. Daily Dot:
the premise behind Cookie Clicker is far more straightforward: See that picture of a cookie? Click on it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
There are other elements to the game too, namely an ability to use the cookies you’re created to purchase items like cookie-baking grandmas and cookie dough mines that automatically produce more cookies for you. But the core of the gameplay is the simple, mind-numbing act of clicking a single button ad nauseam.
Apparently YouTube abounds with speed-run videos where people show how they clicked on a billion cookies. If there’s anything less meaningful than clicking a button repeatedly to crumble pictures of cookies, it might be watching a video of someone else doing it.
VotD Wonderful little film of a day at Versailles, with chickens. Don’t watch this here; hit the little Vimeo button for the glorious large experience.
It can, and it does. What am I talking about? We'll get to that. First, some news in the paper today made me think of this:
I'd just scanned that for a site about downtown Minneapolis; Can you identify it? Good. Gold star. Now name this restaurant, shown elsewhere on the postcard:
Answers at the bottom.
NOT THE ONION You’d be forgiven for thinking it was.
Former McGruff the Crime Dog actor, John R. Morales, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison following his guilty plea three years after police seized 1,000 marijuana plants, 27 weapons – including a grenade launcher, and 9,000 rounds of ammunition from his home.
To be fair, I don’t think he was all the McGruffs, any more than all the Ronald McDonalds were Willard Scott.
TECH The tablet is dead! All you people using a tablet during the day, put it down and move along with your lives. Tablets are over.
The tablet couldn’t possibly shoulder all the expectations people had for it. Not a replacement for your laptop or phone — but kinda. Something you kick back with in the living room, fire up at work and also carry with you everywhere — sort of. Yes, tablets have sold in large numbers, but rather than being a constant companion, like we envisioned, most tablets today sit idle on coffee tables and nightstands. Simply put, our love for them is dying.
Translation: the author uses his tablet less than he used to, and from this extrapolates broad trends so undeniable he feels confident in using the first-person plural. To continue:
Cue the sad music for the tablet we all loved, and that many still do. Except now as I glance over at my original iPad, iPad mini, Kindle Fire and Motorola Xoom, acting like paperweights, I realize I don’t miss them — especially when I am curled up with my five-inch phone fitting comfortably in one hand. Love is harsh, the pace of technology innovation is harsher, but the future certainly does look phabulous.
Prose is hard, the skill of writing good prose is harder, but the future will never embrace the word “phabulous,” let along “phablet.” The very word looks obese. As for the dying part, I use my tablet more than ever. Reading magazines on smaller devices is impossible; watching movies on an iPad mini on the plane is much better than squinting at a big phone. But if you like larger phones, so be it; I don't know why these things bother people, or they feel compelled to brand their own preference proof you're doing it wrong. Or will be doing it less. Or something.
VotD he problem with labeling everything “iconic” is summed up perfectly in this 30-second spot: the Sistine Chapel and “Reservoir Dogs” are grouped together for the most simplistic reasons. On the other hand, it’s pretty cool. One continuous take.
ANSWERS The striped building, of course, was the Radisson, which A) suffered a regrettable modernization that gave it pinkish stripes, and B) was in the news today to announce that everything is going swimmingly with the chain. As for this:
It’s the logo for the old Brothers Deli chain. There’s still one downtown, and its website says: “Mike and Dora Burstein opened Mike's Cafe in 1935. In 1959, Mike's sons Leonard and Sam moved Mike's Cafe to 19 South 7th Street and renamed it the Brothers Deli. Leonard and Sam soon made the Brothers a successful chain, at one time including 16 restaurants around Minnesota and North Dakota.” That’s the 7th street restaurant above.
One last video, just for fun. People are gloating over this, because they find the runners irritating. Uproxx cites "hubris and condescending windbaggery."
So, here you go: today's Internet People Served Up for Pointing and Judging.
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