January 31, 2011
2 0 1 0 a year in reviews - This visualization renders a browsable, searchable distribution of all 2010 Pitchfork music reviews
You may not be familiar with the name Mel Birnkrant, but if you've played with toys in the last 45 years, you're probably familiar with his work. [more inside]
Short Film: Facts About Projection [SLYT]
Stronger people are harder to kill. A 20-year study involving nearly 9000 men aged 20-80 found "Muscular strength is inversely and independently associated with death from all causes and cancer, even after adjusting for cardiorespiratory fitness and other potential confounders." Food for thought when designing your next fitness program?
The Sopranos: Definitive Explanation of "The END." (via) [SPOILERS, obviously] [more inside]
Contrary to a lot of idle criticism, Bungie's Halo series of video games has a surprisingly rich backstory -- a universe complex enough to support seven bestselling novels, a wiki with over 7,000 articles, and one of the most successful ARGs in history (including a full-fledged radio drama). The series has also turned out sweeping audiovisual work, from the games' cinematic cutscenes and epic music (lots of free previews) to top-shelf anime and the Hollywood-quality short films -- ODST, Believe, Deliver Hope, Landfall -- that were made to promote the games (the latter of which, produced by Neil Blomkamp, inspired District 9). And that's apart from all the material produced by Bungie's dedicated fan base: genuinely hilarious machinima from Red vs. Blue, professional-level graphic novels (table of contents at the top), gorgeous artwork, hours of recorded dialogue, complete transcripts of hidden apocrypha, and more factual analysis, story speculation, and casual discussion than you can shake an energy sword at. But most of these pale in comparison to the latest and greatest exercise in Halo beanplating: the Svmma Canonica, a 40-page, 17,000-word formal treatise on the nature of canon in the world that Bungie built, and how it will fare once Bungie moves on and the franchise is managed by 343 Industries. Discussion over at Bungie's official site, or at decade-old fan forum Halo.Bungie.Org.
Milton Babbitt, the quintessential american academic composer, died Saturday. Whatever you think of his music, he was one of the most significant composers of new music in the second half of the twentieth century. [more inside]
You can't judge a book by its cover. But people do. if the 41st version of the cover of The Madonnas of Echo Park is this awful...how bad were the first 40?
"Conductor turns the New York subway system into an interactive string instrument. Using the MTA’s actual subway schedule, the piece begins in realtime by spawning trains which departed in the last minute, then continues accelerating through a 24 hour loop. The visuals are based on Massimo Vignelli’s 1972 diagram." [more inside]
As part of ongoing quality assurance, Intel Corporation has discovered a design issue in a recently released support chip, the Intel® 6 Series, code-named Cougar Point, and has implemented a silicon fix. Intel has identified the Northbridge chipset to the new Sandy Bridge processors to have an issue that will likely require the recall of all existing motherboards. Price tag for the recall is currently estimated to be $700 million. [more inside]
[SLYT] A brief video explaining the parts of the UK. This video explains the difference between Great Britain and The United Kingdom, and its various territories, and which countries form which political and/or geographical groups.
"Until about 1964 most comic books in the Middle East were in either English or French.... Then a forward-looking editor began to wonder why comic books could not be translated into Arabic." Illustrated Publications, a Beirut-based company, did just that, starting with Superman. As a reporter for "Al-Kawkab Al Yawmi" he swooped into the Middle east from distant Krypton on February 4, 1964. The mild-mannered report, Clark Kent, became Nabil Fawzi, whose name roughly translated to "Noble Victory". The text of the comics was translated, but the rest of the comic looked an awful lot like the Superman of the United States, except the covers lacked context, Superman's S logo was reversed, and some of the colors were skewed in odd ways. [more inside]
Gun show undercover - how dangerous people get guns.
Team Gorilla is "a celebration of the functional athletic physique, and the effort needed to attain it." Because strong is the new skinny.
Are you gay enough for asylum? “Judges and immigration officials are adding a new hurdle in gay asylum cases that an applicant’s homosexuality must be socially visible,” said Lori Adams, a lawyer at Human Rights First, a nonprofit group, who advises people seeking asylum based on sexuality. “The rationale is that if you don’t look obviously gay, you can go home and hide your sexuality and don’t need to be worried about being persecuted.” [more inside]
Earlier today, Graeme Obree revealed that he is gay, attributing his struggles with mental health in the 1990s to this. "I was brought up thinking you'd be better dead than gay." [more inside]
Filibustery, making the filibuster — and the proposals in the U.S. Senate to reform it — more understandable. [more inside]
Want to be a coder? Productivity-porn site Lifehacker has posted its 4.5-part "Learn to Code Nightschool Course." [more inside]
Residents of the unique town of Crestone, CO (and surrounding areas) are among the only people in the USA to have the option of a funeral pyre.
Cue up a kaleidoscope of House Industries techniques, substrates, disciplines and muscle memory compressed into high-definition pixels and actively matrixed through modulated electroluminescence with an audio lesson from The Bird and The Bee.
British couple discover Medieval mural of King Henry VIII on their living room wall. (Includes video of the find.)
The library system in Polk County, Florida has installed vending machines so that patrons who aren't close to a library can still check books out.
Show The Monster : "Guillermo del Toro’s quest to get amazing creatures onscreen." Video: Monsters in the Making. (Via)
Wikipedia Struggles to Reduce Gender Disparities in Online Contributions Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation, has set a goal to raise the share of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015, but she is running up against the traditions of the computer world and an obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men and, some say, uncomfortable for women. Her effort is not diversity for diversity’s sake, she says. “This is about wanting to ensure that the encyclopedia is as good as it could be."
RIP John Barry, composer of the soundtracks of 11 James Bond films and many others including Midnight Cowboy. He won Oscars for Born Free (for best song and best score), The Lion in Winter, Out of Africa and Dances With Wolves. [more inside]
NYT article discussing a hypothetical proposal for a temperature based tax on carbon by Canadian economist Ross McKitrick.
Related to the previous post, but hopefully sufficiently different: referees' quotes on manuscripts submitted to Environmental Microbiology: the Best of 2010. [more inside]