Friday, October 31, 2008


Le Tire Bouchon

Montmartre. Paris

My Brightest Diamond

Song: Inside a Boy (Amazon mp3)
Artist: My Brighest Diamond
Disc: A Thousand Shark's Teeth
Year: 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Semantic Conundrum

During the McCarthy Era, when Americans were incredibly concerned with and fearful of Communism, the top marginal tax rates in the U.S. usually exceeded 90%. Currently, if Wikipedia is serving me right, the top marginal rate is 35% and much of the kerfuffle between our presidential candidates involves small percentage point changes. If increasing the top marginal rate to the upper thirties makes one a 'socialist', what words should we reserve for the mid-century ninety percenters who were ostensibly fighting Communism tooth and nail?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ghosts of Kaufman and Borge

Ghosts of Andy Kaufman and Victor Borge...

Igudesman & Joo

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

1 > 2

One is greater than two.
Two is greater than three.
Three is greater than four.

In the most literal sense 'no', but 'yes' if we're talking about the number of user interface screens required to get certain tasks done.

I'm geniunely appalled by how many screens I need to pass through to install a piece of software or make a simple online order or get some cash out of an ATM.

Maybe two, but four, five, six and beyond?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rachel Getting Married

Sometimes the Internet is good for simply letting you know you're not alone...
Googling "rachel getting married" "motion sickness" produces 294 hits.
Make that 295.
Lots of shaky cam.
Cloverfield motion sickness: 21,000 hits
Blair Witch motion sickness: 12,000 hits

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Birdhouse in Your Soul

Watching someone else's madcap creativity is one of the ways I stimulate my own imagination. The muse du jour: ABC's Pushing Daises, a television show that's difficult to describe. A few parts Amelie, a few parts Fractured Fairy Tales, a dash of Police Squad!, a pinch of Moulin Rouge and a teaspoon of Sleeping Beauty?

When Ned the Pie Man touches a dead thing, it comes back to life, but a second touch dooms it to eternal sleep. And, so, Ned revived his childhood sweetheart, and theirs is a love story of two fateful lovers who can never touch (when they're not solving murder mysteries) in an oversaturated technicolor world rife with alliteration.

It's whimsical and fun. The art direction is fantastic and sometimes the characters even chime into song, like they did with this They Might Be Giants ditty...

And a promo trailer

Peeling Scotch tape generates X-rays

Wild and weird. Peeling ordinary cellphane tape in a vacuum can generate enough triboluminescent X-rays to produce a film of a human finger:

"Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have shown that simply peeling ordinary sticky tape in a vacuum can generate enough X-rays to take an image — of one of the scientists' own fingers (see videos).

'At some point we were a little bit scared,' says Juan Escobar, a member of the research team. But he and his co-workers soon realized that the X-rays were only emitted when the kit was used in a vacuum. 'We don't want to scare people from using Scotch tape in everyday life,' Escobar adds.

This kind of energy release — known as triboluminescence and seen in the form of light — occurs whenever a solid (often a crystal) is crushed, rubbed or scratched. It is a long-known, if somewhat mysterious, phenomenon, seen by Francis Bacon in 1605. He noticed that scratching a lump of sugar caused it to give off light."


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Head Over Heels: Literal Version

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dawkins: Kicked the Habit

In the Guardian, Philip Oltermann confers with great minds about their guilty pleasures.

Dawkins: "Computer programming. I have now kicked the habit, but every so often the craving returns and I must thrust it down and away. But whence the guilt? Isn't programming useful? In the right hands, yes. But my projects (inventing a word processor, machine translation from one programming language to another, inventing a programming language of my own) could all be done better (and were) by professionals. It was a classic addiction: prolonged frustration, occasionally rewarded by a briefly glowing fix of achievement. It was that pernicious 'just one more push to see what's over the next mountain and then I'll call it a day' syndrome. It was a lonely vice, interfering with sleeping, eating, useful work and healthy human intercourse. I'm glad it's over and I won't start up again. Except ... perhaps one day, just a little ..."


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Carried to Dust

They're making trailiers for discs now? Not a bad idea. Calexico recently released a new disc.

Artist: Calexico
Disc: Carried to Dust
Year: 2008

New Romantic

Completely missed reporting the Mercuy Prize nominees. If your name is Cynicor, pat yourself on the back for British Sea Power.

Here's nominee Laura Marling.

Song: New Romantic
Artist: Laura Marling
Disc: My Manic and I
Year: 2008

Thank You For Switching

Christopher Buckley endorses Obama and winds up quitting National Review:

"Christopher Buckley knew he was venturing into treacherous territory when he endorsed Barack Obama: 'It's a good thing my dear old mum and pup are no longer alive. They'd cut off my allowance,' he wrote.

The penalty turned out to be more severe. William F. Buckley Jr.'s son said yesterday he had lost his back-page column in the conservative bible founded by his father, National Review.

Within hours, poor NR was being swamped with furious mail, 'Cancel my subscription, this is betrayal, Judas, Benedict Arnold,' " Buckley, 56, said in an interview. "I thought the decent thing to do would be to offer to resign the column. Well, they accepted it."

WaPo continued

Monday, October 13, 2008



Sunday, October 12, 2008


Milkweed II


Sarah Palin wasn't able to get former brother-in-law Mike Wooten (below right) fired from his state trooper position...

But she was able to get him banished to Africa for a spirit walk with a crazy shaman...

Hat tip: Mr. Morton

Thursday, October 09, 2008


More great vocals from Britta Persson...

Song: Cliffhanger
Artist: Britta Persson
Disc: Kill Hollywood Me
Year: 2008

Advanced bit manipulation-fu

Once upon a time, this was meant to be a computer graphics blog, but it wound up having a mind of its own. Anyhow, for those interested in bit twiddling and such, here's a link to a recent article on advanced bit manipulation by Christer Ericson, Director of Tools and Technology at Sony Santa Monica:

Advanced bit manipulation-fu

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


"Airy synths and breathy vocals render the songs too dreamy to dance to, and the funky basslines and mechanical beats render them too dancey to dream to. That's the sweet spot of F&M." - All Music Guide

Artist: Fujiya & Miyagi
Song: Knickerboker (Amazon mp3)
Disc: Lightbulbs
Year: 2008

Achin' To Be

Song: Achin' To Be
Artist: The Replacements
Disc: Don't Tell a Soul
Year: 1989

CCD Binning in the Eye

Neurodudes write:

"An amazing paper from Neuron demonstrating adaptive (circadian clock-governed) binning in the retina, based on dopamine modulation of gap junction (electrical) synapses between retinal photodetectors. During the day, abundant dopamine release weakens gap junctions coupling rods and cones together so that visual acuity is high. When light is scarce (at night), there is less dopamine and the electrical coupling between rods and cones is increased. This is analogous to on-chip binning in CCD (digital) cameras. Binning increases signal (in light-limited systems, eg. seeing at night) by increasing optical input area and by reducing single element noise (ie. noise at different photoreceptors should be independent) at the cost of resolution. So, the retina activates photoreceptor binning at night to boost low-light signals and deactivates it during the day to increase resolution."

The Circadian Clock in the Retina Controls Rod-Cone Coupling (Christophe Ribelayga, Yu Cao, and Stuart C. Mangel)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Keeping Things Small

From Martin Wisniowski's April 2008 Digital Tools interview, Justin Frankel on Winamp and the Reaper:

MW: "Also can you tell me something about beauty-of-code or light 'weightiness' of the technologies you developed? How important is it for you? Who is responsible? What is the design/aesthetics behind it?"

JF: "Well we try to keep things small, which has numerous benefits besides the obvious 'generally less bloat/ram use/disk thrashing':

Faster compile times, speeds up the development process
Easier to get updates posted
Easier for end-users to get updates

Obviously sometimes you have to do things to make things bigger, and that's OK, but to the extent that you can save size and/or complexity without really compromising functionality, why not?

Really it's just the attention to these details and the making compromises of with this in mind that gets you there. For example, we still use VC6 because the newer versions of MSVC can't dynamic link to the classic msvcrt.dll (which is on all systems Win95b+), so you either have to ship a big runtime or static link everything. This sounds hideously boring, but for an application like REAPER with many plug-ins included it's probably the difference between a 3MB installer and a 5MB installer."


Take On Me: The Literal Version

hat tip: Edward Champion

Saturday, October 04, 2008


"Artist Theo Jansen (site) demonstrates the amazingly lifelike kinetic sculptures he builds from plastic tubes and lemonade bottles. His creatures are designed to move - and even survive - on their own."

Beautiful, fascinating and brilliant!

via Weird News