December 31, 2008
Abandoned London is a Flickr set by photographer IanVisits of London on Christmas morning when the city is (almost) denuded of people. Very disorienting if you've been to London (or any major city, really). I got this via William Gibson's blog and I'll let him describe it in his inimitable way: "Christmas, particularly in the early morning, has always seemed so much more liminal to me than New Year's eve. Spectral, deeply in-between [...] something about the way in which traffic, pedestrian and vehicular, controls one's depth of field, fragmenting and animating the experience."
"Conquer English to Make China Stronger!" is the philosophy of Li Yang, founder of the Crazy English school (and style) of language, described by some as "English as a Shouted Language" for its main method of shouting English words in public to overcome shyness. Li Yang has achieved Elvis-like popularity in China, not just through his public lectures but also through the sales of books, media, teaching materials, and a memoir titled "I am Crazy, I Succeed". Li Yang's unorthodox methods - which include encouraging students to "lose face" and cope with embarrassment on the way to success - have earned him fame and fortune, including headlining the 5th Beijing Foreign Language Festival and being the main English teacher for China's Olympic volunteers. Li Yang's secret to success: "... to have them continuously paying—that’s the conclusion I’ve reached."
What gives Stradivarius violins their rich ethereal tones? Scientists clash in theories, attributing the sound quality to wood density, chemical treatments, the "Little Ice Age," even the sun. The mystery continues. Current Strad owners include Itzhak Perlman and Anne-Sophie Mutter. "[T]he great violins are, ounce for ounce, among the most valuable commodities in the world... Almost alone among investments, important violins have proved immune to economic downturns." Today, top Strads can fetch more than $6 million. But some wonder whether Antonio Stradivari's violins truly deserve their "best in class" reputation.
The Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage (pdf) is a great document covering some basic issues of self definition many take for granted, including the right to not be pressured to choose an identity for the comfort of others. Of course, it's not like this is new, though it seems little headway is being made despite growing numbers of multi-ethnic people in the media spotlight. (Previously)
In 1977, Nolan Bushnell allowed Gene Landrum to bring Chuck E. Cheese [yt] to life as a family-friendly access point to Atari games. This, perhaps, explains the pizza. [more inside]
Mushrooms Save the World (long form) -- Paul Stamets on mycelia. Previously: 1 2 3 [bonus: slime molds]
A bit late for some of us to make this nifty Tampon New Year’s Eve Ball, but these er lovely earrings can be worn year round. [Feminine Hygiene Product fun previously on metafilter]
You have probably heard of Roy Hobbs, the fictional baseball player in The Natural. The book and movie were loosely base on the life of Eddie Waitkus. Eddie was having a fine pro baseball career, when on the night of June 14, 1949 an obsessed girl, Ruth Ann Steinhagen, lured him into a hotel room and shot him.
Dylan Thomas, the wonderful Welsh poet, has been mentioned on the blue before. Now the BBC provide a Dylan Thomas Random Poem Generator. Bravo! [more inside]
31% of households get most or all of their calls on their cell phones. Unfortunately coverage remains problem, particularly indoors. Some rather interesting folk remedies have been suggested, but the preferred solution appears to be your own personal cellular antenna. Trials have been going on for a while now. And with a crystal clear 3G signal in your house, you may just want to skip setting up your own wireless network entirely.
Here's Razorhawk a superhero who also wrestles and makes suits for other superheroes. This is Master Legend who recently had an article published in Rolling Stone about him. Meet Superhero who patrols the streets of Clearwater, Florida in his custom Corvette. They call themselves real-life superheroes. A documentary film featuring them has the first 10 minutes free online at google video. [more inside]
The opportunity of having a whole glorious season of flowering daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths indoors during winter is a reality. A bright floral display and fragrant aroma is always welcome when snow is on the ground and bundling up to keep warm outside is a must. [more inside]
Need a little Tolstoy while you're waiting in line? How about some Mark Twain on the subway? Booksinmyphone puts - surprise! - books in your phone, for free.
Spelunky is a (Windows-only) game that blends roguelike elements with a platform game reminiscent of La Mulana or the original Spelunker. Add this to the pile of fantastic indie platformers, I guess. [via]
Pinetop Perkins survived being hit by a train. Bukka White was a professional boxer, a Negro League pitcher, and hobo. Sunnyland Slim was a hustler. Johnny Shines toured with Robert Johnson, and Honeyboy Edwards saw Johnson poison himself. Skip James was a laborer and bootlegger. Son House started out as a preacher but went to prison for killing a man. R.L. Burnside also killed someone, but said "I didn't mean to kill nobody, I just meant to shoot the sonofabitch in the head." Big Boy Crudup's songs were stolen by Elvis Presley. Mississippi Fred McDowell did not play no rock 'n roll. To get more recording contracts, John Lee Hooker also called himself John Lee Cooker, John Lee Booker, Texas Slim, Birmingham Sam & His Magic Guitar, Delta John and Sir John Lee Hooker. Big Joe Williams was King of the 9 String Guitar. Snooky Pryor began his musical career as an Army bugler. Mississippi John Hurt learned to play guitar in secret. Paul Pena wrote Jet Airliner, knew Tuvan, and could throat sing. After a severe case of polio, Cedell Davis learned to play guitar left-handed using a kitchen knife. Earl Hooker was so good he never had a day job. Hound Dog Taylor, who was born with six fingers on each hand but cut off one of the extras with a razor blade, said his epitath should be "He couldn't play shit, but he sure made it sound good!" [more inside]
Have you met the Yuki-onna? You might meet her in a snow storm, and recognize her by her pure white robe marked only with a splattering of blood and her lack of feet. She might kill you with icy breath, or lead you into the storm to die of exposure, or seduce you, only to steal your soul. She's the subject of one of Japan's better known ghost stories (the climax of which was depicted in Tanaka Tokuzo's 1968 film Kaidan Yuki Onna) and has also made an appearance in Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (2:50).
So you've decided that you're uneasy with Apple's virtual monopoly on digital music. So you picked Microsoft's Zune. Hell, maybe you even got a tattoo! You're bucking the trend, and you're satisfied with your purchase. It's not like Microsoft would make a faulty machine, would they? Well...Happy New Year!
Dr. Richard F. Daines, NY Dept. of Health Commissioner wants you to understand why a soda tax should be approved there. It's the new youtube video soda vs milk, and if you dream of seeing a guy standing in his kitchen sliding trays and cans across countertops like he just stepped out of 1978, you're in for a treat.
Bohemian owner of bookstore/vintage clothing shop, forced out of his store last year and facing eviction from his basement apartment, is profiled in the New York Times in August 2008. NYT photog notices his paintings, contributes some art supplies and introduces him to a gallery owner. Heartwarming consequences ensue. [more inside]
middlespot.com is a search interface for teachers, librarians, researchers and anyone who wants to interpret information faster from their search results, collect and annotate relevant results into groups, and share those collections with people relying on their expertise. [more inside]
Build your squid, name him, and let him play in the ocean. Come back later to see whet he's got up to. I named mine 'Albert'.
Terry Pratchett, a man renowned for his staggering sales figures from his renowned Discworld series has been knighted.
How am I gonna introduce my annual post about the annual LSSU Banished Words List when "It's that time of year again" has itself just been banished? Maybe with an assortment of links not-very-related to the words on This Year's List... [more inside]