April 27, 2009
GM is struggling to survive, announcing today tens of thousands of layoffs and plant closings by next year, and eliminating the Pontiac Brand. Meanwhile just a few weeks ago, the president announced a high speed rail plan [pdf] between many major cities. An interesting turn of events since the documentary Taken For a Ride uses interviews and public records to argue that GM deliberately killed off transportation via rail.
OMG, Multi-Threading is Easier Than Networking [pdf, white paper about the multi-core future from Intel(R)]
Touch screen. Awesome graphics. Online community. No, I'm not talking about the latest handheld device to hit the market, I'm talking about Control Data's PLATO system. [more inside]
Get your swine flu shot! (Circa 1976)
A Presidential Boeing 747 along with two fighter planes continuously circled jarringly close to the tops of buildings in Lower Manhattan and Jersey City this morning. From the ground it looked as though a plane had been hijacked again, and the Air Force was attempting to force it down. Panic ensued. Another terrorist attack? No, just a top secret photo op. [more inside]
Nine days ago, an Air France flight en route from Paris to Mexico City, and not due to stop in the US, was refused entry into American air space, and had to be temporarily re-routed to Martinique. The reason? A Colombian journalist (exiled in Paris) named Hernando Calvo Ospina was on board. His crime? As a left-wing book author and contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique, Ospina has written critically of US policies, and of the CIA's covert role in Latin America.
David Kessler Knew That Some Foods Are Hard to Resist; Now He Knows Why. Former FDA commissioner David Kessler goes dumpster-diving to investigate the neurological impact of eating junk food. [Via]
Fans of video game music and/or piano aficionados, I present three pieces from the Super Mario Bros series: Super Mario World's Air Platform rag, SMB2 overworld theme, and SMB1 overworld theme, expertly played "blind" by ragtime pianist Tom Brier. [more inside]
Been overjoyed with hulu and other online internet television sources? You need to know about Miro, the video podcast tracker and media display program for everyone. [more inside]
Photos from the Neverland Ranch auction A while ago, Michael Jackson was short of cash, and decided to auction off the contents of Neverland Ranch, his combined palace/fun park, down to the last vanity painting and statue. A guy named Paul Scheer went along with a camera, took photos of some of the more peculiar items and put them online. It's certainly a unique collection.
How to brew beer in a coffee maker, using only materials commonly found on a modestly sized oceanographic research vessel. [Via.]
By the time he was twenty years old, artist, writer, and adventurer Everett Ruess was paling around with Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams and had spent several years trekking around the southwest United States. In November 1934, Ruess left Escalante, Utah and disappeared - never to be seen again. Seventy-five years later, Ruess has been found. (previously on MeFi)
Some have questioned Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's neutrality in dealing with the elite of the financial community. Here's his calendar [150MB pdf] for the last two years. You decide.
IBM Research is planning on working on taking artificial intelligence beyond master-level Chess (previously), and on to question answering with a computing system that has been in development for the past two years. Named "Watson," after the I.B.M. founder, Thomas J. Watson Sr., the system will challenge human contestants at Jeopardy (previously). Watson's success depends as much on its ability to understand and respond to the subtleties of human language as it does on the extent of its knowledge database. Don't worry, Alex Trebek knows what's in store. (via)
Unemployment: good for the heart and the soul. "In studies over the past 10 years, Ruhm has consistently found death rates decline during recessions and rise when the economy expands. If unemployment rises 1 percent, he estimates the death rate will fall by about half a percent."
I left this here for you to read: You can't buy this magazine in bookstores, and you can't subscribe to it. If you do find an issue, it's purely by chance: each month, 50 issues are printed and left in public places across the US and Canada. Each free, collaboratively produced, handmade issue contains short articles, small greyscale images, and sometimes tiny flat objects attached to the pages. [more inside]
You wake up. Yawn. Wipe the sleep and other detritus that may have accumulated from your eyes. God, last night sure rocked. But... what did you do? It's all kind of hazy. Something about a bottle of rum, a statue, and some clown portraits by Red Skelton. Or at least you hope they were portraits. You remember sending out some text messages... but you'll be damned if you remember what they were. That's where Texts From Last Night comes in. Now your very possibly true, but most likely fake, nocturnal e-missives live on in the imaginations of the rest of the world forever. Much like your shame.
During the last lap of the NASCAR race at Talladega Super Speedway the car in the lead got tapped by the second place car and went airborne and smashed into the catch fence. The frightening wreck resulted in injuries to seven fans. NASCAR has been using the dreaded restrictor plate (a plate that fits over the carburetor and restricts the flow of gasoline and slows the cars down) since 1987 after Bobby Allison had a similar wreck at the same track. NASCAR officials still give lip service to their commitment to safety but it's well known that NASCAR doesn't really do anything until someone dies in a wreck. David Poole, who writes for the Charlotte Observer is one of the few members of the media calling NASCAR out on this.
Five US representatives arrested in act of civil disobedience in front of the Sudanese embassy, part of the Save Darfur Coalition's campaign to bring attention to genocide there. One of them, Rep. John Lewis, has seen jail before.
“Do not do what I do; rather, take whatever I have to offer and do with it what I could never imagine doing and then come back and tell me about it.”
Mark C. Taylor, the chairman of the religion department at Columbia, offers a radical proposal in The New York Times for the restructuring of the American university system. Two key components of the proposal entail ending tenure and shuttering academic departments—replacing disciplines with problems, and then tackling them with a cooperative and multidisciplinary approach, e.g. The Department of the Future of Water made up of geologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and ethicists. Should we End the University as We Know It?
Self Portrait of the painter Tamara de Lempicka; Born Maria Gorska 1898 in Poland. Lempicka lived a Life of Deco and Decadence. Her portraits are known for mixing “lighting by Caravaggio, tubism by Fernand Léger and lipstick by Chanel”. Her Complete works are viewable as a slideshow. Criticised as portraying the dubious glamour and discipline of fascism; she became the most talked about Art Deco painter of her time; her erotic portraits are testaments of the glittering 1920's. Here is a reassessment (pdf). She died in 1980 and her ashes were scattered over the volcano Popocatepetl . (wiki) (some links nsfw)
Design You Trust is a design blog and community that allows public posting like MetaFilter. Recent posts that I found interesting include Diz Decor Vinyl Stickers and Tetris Furniture and A Man Among Bears. This is an active community with several daily posts to choose from. [some posts nsfw]
Public Collectors is an eclectic archive of off-line and on-line collections to which anyone can contribute. It is "founded upon the concern that there are many types of cultural artifacts that public libraries, museums and other institutions and archives either do not collect or do not make freely accessible." [more inside]
From the Dungeon to the Dictionary. A brief discussion of the origins of that least popular form of government, the magocracy, the author analyzes the dweomer of the word itself, consulting many a hefty libram in the process.
Windosill New mac/pc downloadable flash thingy from Vectorpark. Free first half, $3 for the rest. [more inside]