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 a phrase you usually hear. From Fearnet:
There are two to be exact: Discovery Island and River Country. The adjoining parks are the only two Disney parks to ever be closed permanently. Luckily for us, they were abandoned rather than demolished.
Pictures and descriptions here. It’s eerie; feels like a trip back to Jurassic Park after all the unpleasantness. Disney things aren't supposed to be abandoned. Makes you realize how much they own down there - and how they're probably planning a new park in secret. But what? It seems as if they have everythng covered. Nature: check. The Future: check. Europe: check. Hollywood: check. Old West: check. Wonder if there's anyone in charge of coming up with the next theme park idea, and every night he or she goes to bed drained from the effort. Another day. Nuthin'.
MONEY From the website Billfold, the social capital behind checks:
Accepting a check—whether for the eight-and-change I spent at the post office, mailing a few packages, at the bookstore, or for the $364 that rent and utilities cost me last month (suck on that, New York friends)—means demonstrating a level of trust in the person who’s paying you. They’re good for the money. They’re giving you a document stamped with their account and routing numbers, and expecting you to take no more than what you’ve agreed on.
You almost hate to go to the comments, because there will be someone who says “What’s a check?” (So far, no.) Never understood why professing ignorance of something that was big in the recent past is a sign of cleverness, especially when it invites a straight reply: well, it’s a piece of paper understood to symbolize a medium of exchange, much like money itself; it contains a series of numbers that tie it to a bank account, and a register in which people may enter their transactions so they have a running total of their financial resources. Does that help?”
But no one asked that so I’m punching a strawman, I suppose.
ABOUT THAT CITY IN CHINA This article on Motherboard speculates that tipping might be on the way out. Don’t see that happening, but it makes interesting points about wags, tip-pooling for the back kitchen staff, and so on. Apparently there’s no tipping in Australia, which led to this exchange in the comments:
I found the service at restaurants in AU lousy. However, when traveling to countries where they don't do tipping, when I go to a restaurant and they learn I am American they swarm me with incredible service because they know a tip is in the cards.
To which a sour person replies:
So you are spoiling their staff by doing something you are not supposed to do and encouraging them to ask more for something they are already paid for. That's sounds like americans..to me.
Hey, let’s go around the internet and look for people behaving like Americans, and put them in their place! Some people. Really.
RETREADS Anything left in this schtick? We’ll see:
Pop the champagne, it's cause for a celebration. While on the ITV talk show "The Jonathan Ross Show" this weekend, Jennifer Saunders confirmed that she is indeed going to write an "Absolutely Fabulous" movie.
If that doesn’t interest you, try this:
Reports that David Lynch will direct a new promo has fans theorizing — is it a promo, or a follow-up? “Twin Peaks” fans are all aflutter with the news that David Lynch is shooting some sort of new footage for the 1990s franchise.Tuesday. It started earlier this week when a casting call for a “Twin Peaks” promo was posted by Sande Alessi Casting for a “Twin Peaks” promo shooting Tuesday. It’s looking for a “hot” brunette or redhead between ages 18 to 27.
The reason fans are excited:
Apparently, Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) tells Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) on the finale that she will see him again in 25 years. Although the show aired in 1990, it actually shot in 1989. So, 25 years later would be 2014.
So we’d get an ending. Maybe we’d get an update on what Evil Coop was up to; one shudders to think.
VoTD Finally, a reminder: black ice is everywhere. Slow down. Or:
It begins on the bridge. Doesn't stop there, alas.
It’s possible we’re more tired of the constant coverage of the cold than the cold itself. At least the end’s in sight; at least the worst possible day of the year is behind us. Yes, yesterday was the most depressing day of the year, according to STUDIES. If there’s a STUDY, then the issue’s settled. What makes it so sad? Debt, divorce and rain. The methodology was rock-solid: a “drinks company” called “Upbeat” analyzed two million tweets. The comments at the Daily Mail piece are full of stern advice: STOP YOUR MOANING, YOU UNGRATFUL GROT BAGS is one bracing entry. Will do!
Could be worse; you could be here:
More than 500 passengers spent the night aboard three Amtrak trains stranded 80 miles west of Chicago by ice and snow that had drifted over the tracks, officials said.
The trains -- the Southwest Chief from Los Angeles, the Illinois Zephyr from Quincy and the California Zephyr from the San Francisco Bay area -- were halted around 5 p.m. Monday .
This sounds almost Dickensian:
One of the stranded passengers, Sarah Johnson, 19, said the crew told passengers they were going to try and free the train by moving back and forth – like a car stuck in snow – but that didn't work.
The train got stuck around 3:15 p.m. and everyone was fed a meal of beef stew and mashed potatoes with a dinner roll and coffee or water about 6:45 p.m., she said.
You expect to read "and everyone was sent to bed." I remember a train trip across the plains in the winter; cold compartments, frigid bathrooms overflowing with hideousness both general and specific. Never again. Here’s the fun part of the piece, though:
LATEST OUTRAGE Words to live by, and they’re in a footnote:
The controversy itself is an example of something interesting I'd been meaning to write about, incidentally. I was one of the first users of Reddit, and I couldn't believe the number of times I indignantly upvoted a story about some apparent misdeed or injustice, only to discover later it wasn't as it seemed. As one of the first to be exposed to this phenomenon, I was one of the first to develop an immunity to it. Now when I see something that seems too indignation-inducing to be true, my initial reaction is usually skepticism.
I came across the blog post thanks to a link in the comments on another site, here. That piece began like this:
Hi, Paul Graham. My name is Crystal and I’ve been hacking for the past 29 years. I don’t know how you intended your comments but oh lordy, the internet has had a fun time speculating. I’ll leave that commentary to others but I do want to say I’m happy you brought up this debate about gender disparity in tech, as it has sparked some excellent conversation about how we’re going to fix it. I believe we will fix it in part by having role models. In that spirit, I offer my own nerd story.
Which indeed she does. I found that piece linked at various tech sites that were angry at Paul Graham for saying something summed up in this Valleywag headline: ”Paul Graham Says Women 'Haven't Been Hacking For the Past 10 Years'"
Except he says he didn’t say it. Go here for his response. (The Valleywag piece also has some push-back on his remarks.)
”Now when I see something that seems too indignation-inducing to be true, my initial reaction is usually skepticism." Or, to recast the adage, Doubt, but Verify.
NIGHTMARE FUEL The Old Spice commercial is disturbing, yes:
If you’re revolted or annoyed, or cannot sleep because of Two-face Cafeteria Janitor Mom, then you’re not the target market. If you are an adult, the tagline “Smellcome to Manhood” is a first-wednesday-of-the-month-siren-test warning that this is for high school boys.
Or maybe you’re thinking it’s a hint of an upcoming Super Bowl commercial which will really move the merchandise, because everyone will be talking about it. Well: Ad Age says that 80% of the ads don’t boost sales. Let me put that another way: eight out of ten ads don’t work.
Why? The article quotes Jeri Smith, CEO of the company that did the study.
Tide's 2013 "Miracle Stain" ad, which was well liked and did well on branding, still didn't increase purchases or intent, according to Ms. Smith. "It didn't tell people anything they didn't already know," she said. "And unlike Budweiser, I don't buy Tide because of my personal connection.” Long-form commercials such as Tide's 60-second spot "run the risk of people being so caught up in the story that they forget about the brand," Ms. Smith said. And in "Miracle Stain," the brand appeared at the end as "kind of the anti-hero" by eliminating a stain that looked like former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Joe Montana.
Hair pulled out by the handfuls at the agency, I’m sure: what were we thinking? Not only was our story so compelling it overshadowed brand penetration, it left lingering impressions that equated miraculous apparitions with filth! But they’ll do it again this year, and we’ll all debate which commercials made an impression, because it’s January and there’s just bleep-all going on.
ARCHITORTURE One of the loveliest buildings in Times Square was the tiny little shoe store with the statues of famous actresses. Like this:
It seemed unlikely to survive Times Square’s expansion, but it’s been completely restored. The full story here at Scouting NY.
UPDATE Let’s check in on Mr. Trainwreck:
Actor Shia LaBeouf alienated the rest of the cast of the Brad Pitt tank movie Fury according to the Mail on Sunday. An item in the paper's showbiz diary suggests that LaBeouf pulled one of his own teeth out, and failed to wash himself during the entire shoot, the better to replicate conditions of life on the frontline in the second world war. According to the Mail on Sunday's "source", LaBeouf's behaviour proved so unpopular among cast members, which include Brad Pitt, Jason Isaacs and Logan Lerman, that he was installed in a bed and breakfast away from them.
Some say he’s acting peculiar because he’s addicted to “lean,” aka purple drank, sizzurp, and so on. Cough syrup and Mountain Dew, more or less. But that’s based on a tweet he . . . altogether now, PLAGIARIZED.
That’s it for today; I’d say “stay warm!” but that’s insulting and unnecessary. You know what to do, for heaven’s sake, and if you don’t, it’s unlikely you’ll take my advice. Bundle up! What am I, your mother?
The ZITE app scrapes the web and assembles stories automatically - like Flipbook, without the sense that the pages never end and you’ll never read it all. You can scan articles, decide you want to read them later, shoot them to a read-it-later service, then ignore them until you delete them later. Anyway, the Minneapolis subhead was full of stores about the West Bank fire; here are a few.
Downtown? I don’t consider the West Bank to be “downtown,” but maybe that’s just me. The highway is like a moat, or the Miss - it defines downtown, contains it. Decades ago when the streets behind Cedar Square West (oh, all right, Riverside Plaza) connected with downtown, it might be considered the outskirts, but now? Looks odd. But then there’s this:
A “Minnesota” building. Well, better than “North American,” I suppose. From the Daily Mail in Northernmost Europe:
Now it's a house. Finally, the Free Republic:
Hint, hint, I guess. And it's not a complex. It's an old apartment building. The Complex is the thing behind it.
UPDATE In case anyone’s wondering about the Shia LaBeouf plagiarism tale, there’s this:
(Photo from his twitter feed, here.)
He hired a skywriter to say he was sorry. Too bad the object of the apology lives in another town. It’s almost as if it was meant for the public at large.
Bleeding Cool says they interviewed him, and the conversation is a masterpiece of pretentious drivel.
Richard Johnston: Tweeting with the voice of others. Is this art?
Shia LaBeouf: What does an artist do – they just point and say look at this.
RJ: No, that’s what a critic does.
This may be my favorite part - the interviewer asks if people who create things - like, oh, an illustrated novel - should be paid for their labors. Says LaBeouf:
“Authorship is censorship Should God sue me if I paint a river? Should we give people the death sentence for parking violations-You’ll not only have less parking violations but less DRIVERS.”
The interviewer gently notes that “God’s rights to rivers have entered into public domain now,” and says that you should pay your driving fines and refrain from parking on other people’s lawns, or stealing other people’s cars. In other words, he’s maneuvering the subject towards the subject of appropriating Daniel Clowes’ work. Here’s LaBeouf’s bold statement:
The word law is against my principles. The problem begins with the legal fact that authorship is inextricably bound up in the idea of ownership and the idea of language as Intellectual property. Language and ideas flow freely between people Despite the law. It’s not plagiarism in the digital age – it’s repurposing. Copyright law has to give up on its obsession with "the copy"
The article’s update informs us that the last sentence is actually a quote from Lawrence Lessig. Follow it here, as people dig through the quotes to see if he said anything original.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE INTERNET The New York Times had a long piece about the eternal search for non-sugar sweeteners. The first comment is by someone who should well a bell in public so you can avoid her.
Hahaha - wow! What a long-winded (but interesting in scan-mode) article on the exhaustive efforts by the poor beleaguered beverage companies to come up with a people-approved sweetener for diet soda and other manufactured drinks. Whew - just imagine what would happen if they (and other frivolous product manufacturers) put their efforts toward World Peace.... or Renewable Energy... or such.
Somehow I doubt that strife on earth could be eliminated if we refocused our efforts to develop non-caloric food additives.
They have magical powers, but they can't get across a highway:
Elf advocates have joined forces with environmentalists to urge the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a highway project building a direct route from the Alftanes peninsula, where the president has a home, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer. They fear disturbing elf habitat and claim the area is particularly important because it contains an elf church. The project has been halted until the Supreme Court of Iceland rules on a case brought by a group known as Friends of Lava, who cite both the environmental and the cultural impact — including the impact on elves — of the road project. The group has regularly brought hundreds of people out to block the bulldozers.
Hundreds of people, relative to Iceland’s population, is no small number. The article quotes a human intermediary who communicates with the elves telepathically. The solution seems clear: Elf Crossings, and tunnels placed at regular intervals.
About that Elf Advocate: she’s named Ragnhildur Jonsdottir. Google that, and you get two people. One’s an actress.
She’s the blonde in this movie, “the top-grossing film in Iceland in 2007!” She will enter the world of role-playing nerds:
Or, this Ragnhildur Jonsdottir.
You could probably go to Iceland and run into either one. Why not try? It's only six hours away, and Iceland Air flies to the Twin Cities. Delicious pastries served before you land, and the all-Iceland music channel gets you in the mood.
You might not care much about fine dining or coffee. But you probably do value the skills of the artisan and might well believe that food is one of the ever-dwindling number of domains where individual human flair and creativity cannot be bettered by the mass-produced and mechanised. If so, you should care about the challenge to your assumptions that the rise of capsule coffee represents.
I don’t think anyone who doesn’t care about find dining or coffee is particularly concerned about the representation of the capsule’s assumptions, let alone its challenge. But it’s a good point: is there a difference between a Nespreso cup and something made by hand?If the cup was made a few years ago, and the human has a particular skill at tamping down the grounds and adding a picture of Doge in the foam, of course there’s a difference. So the author arranges a taste test, and the results . . . are here. Skip right to the comments, where people are slapping each other in the face with wet trout over the smallest of things.
VIDEO Who’s up for some high-quality electrical plant demolition? Here you go.
WORD SALAD Let’s check in at that nonsense blog that tosses all sorts of search terms in the blender for other robots to click on. It’s run by “Leonard.” This week he’s all het-up over - well, you’ll see. No link, because that would be rewarding him.
Overall, the hotwives in minnesota and low rate mortgages, then Minnesota may be impounded on the hotwives in minnesota by Minnesota Care, General Assistance Medical Care, and Medicaid managed care plans serving non-disabled populations, and discovered that an Officer seeking to test a driver's blood, urine or breath to see what magic the hotwives in minnesota at the hotwives in minnesota who dream instead of heading north to Minnesota can be classified as humid.
Wow! Tell me more!
Needless to say, Minnesota Twins first hit the hotwives in minnesota as the Vikings has been passed must be submitted electronically by the hotwives in minnesota, 30 hours are required to maintain your driving privileges after being arrested for a coffee date or dinner date.
Keep that in mind.
That's it for today; off to walk around in the ridiciulous cold, for some reason.
At his age, he’s more of a hobbling-dog lackey:
PYONGYANG (KCNA) — In condemnation of a treacherous sycophant, the organizing committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly announced that Jasper the Dog will meet the serious punishment of history. Absolute is the trust of the army and people of the DPRK in its ability to vanquish Dog, the enemy of the party, revolution and people and heinous betrayer of the nation.
Generate your own thrice-cursed denunciations here at Boingboing.
MERRY MERRY Cartoon Brew has 23 Christmas cards by Ward Kimball, the marvelous Disney animator. such as this one from the hard early days of the war:
They get more and more abstract as the years pass.
BOOKS Three more “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” books. Meh. Guardian:
Norstedts said on Tuesday that it had signed a contract with David Lagercrantz, ghost writer of I am Zlatan Ibrahimović, the autobiography of the Swedish footballer, for a new book about journalist Mikael Blomqvist and hacker Lisbeth Salander that is scheduled to be published in August 2015.
Count me out. I thought the first one was a good mystery, if predictable - an old rich family has secrets! The second started with a long sequence that had nothing to do with anything. and moved on to feature the dullest, most detailed IKEA shopping trip ever. Oh, and she can disable weightlifting Russian bodyguards with a single marial arts move, even though she supposedly has the physique of a hummingbird. Also, crazy hacking skills!
ART Lovely images of houses with Christmas lights, here. But make sure you note the DARK SIDE of this.
In these images everything is surprising. The shadows are full of menace. It is light outside, dark inside. What is threatening or scary about that? And who are we on this side of the image? That’s what decides their story: we tell the story inside our own minds. When the outer shell has been illuminated with bright colours, the interior looks even darker. Is it the grim reverse of the American dream that is lurking in the shadows and behind the curtains? The Christmas lights throw their shadows on the facades. The paint is flaking.
I think 80% of all reference to “The American Dream” in the last 30 years either posit that it doesn’t exist anymore, or must be understood primarily in the context of its Dark Side, as if the house with the white picket fence was sold by Sith Realty.
SIGNAGE Most roadside signs these days lack interest or character; the days bright neon and extraordinary typefaces blaring the name are long gone, and road trips are duller for it. But some things remain. Atlas Obscura Headline: “This abstract roadside poultry was saved from demolition by outraged drivers and pilots.” Here:
Constructed over Johnny Reb's Chick, Chuck, and Shake in 1963, the 56-foot chicken effigy was an attempt to capitalize on the newly built highway in the area. The chicken was made with moving eyes and beak which were so shoddily constructed that it would often break the restaurant's window when the mechanism was activated.
how, I’m not sure. But you have to appreciate the entrepreneurial zeal that went into this thing. People will want to sample my chicken if the sign has a movable beak. At least their kids will nag them to try it.
Whether Johnny Reb’s Chick Chuck and Shake was connected to Johnny Reb’s Canteen I can’t say, but take a look at this gaudy facade. The ads for the restaurants said “Where you win the War Between the Steaks.” I had no idea hostilities had been formerly concluded, let alone begun.
Anyway, that’s not my point. Zoom in on this sign. which is up the road from the giant chicken:
Probably wasn’t an insurance agency. But you should be able to guess what it was, and what the sign originally looked like.
SCIENCE! It’a come to this: a serious website dealing with particle physics has to put out headlines like this for traffic:
It has the basics - the number, which guarantees a format you can easily digest, the “You” which challenges the reader and makes an assumption the reader may want to disprove by reading the article. I don’t know. If they’d discovered dark matter and said “whoa, this explains a lot of things for which we had no answers,” it would be one thing. It’s another when they say “the most satisfying explanation for these mysteries is Substance X, for which we have no proof.” The article conflates the “discovery” of dark matter with the theory that posits its necessity. If the original discovery came from observation of a galaxy that should have flown apart because its mass was too small, why can’t the extra weight be ascribed to super-ultra-massive black holes?
The Verge says we're about to look closely at our own galaxy's super-huge black hole:
Astrophysicists think there's a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. It's supposed to be four million times more massive than our Sun, but despite its stupendous size, we've never been able to see it. That might soon change. The European Research Council has given 14 million euros ($19.3 million) to the creators of BlackHoleCam, a project that will use radio telescopes and supercomputers to try to prove the existence of what Luciano Rezzolla, a principal investigator for BlackHoleCam, calls "one of the most cherished astrophysical objects.”
They’re looking to capture the event horizon. They’ve “seen” the black hole by other means.
DCVotD The things truck drivers have to put up with. You're just doing your job, and then suddenly you feel like someone ran up to you and put a baby in your arms.
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