I could now ignore the Patriots failure to deal with a ferocious and brilliantly designed Giants attack. I could look past all the human flaws that color even the most splendidly played game. I could see for the first time that games aren't exhibitions of skill and determination, but like ensemble experiments in quantum mechanics. We may not be able to predict the outcome of a single game just as we cannot predict the result of a certain measurement. But over time, over thousands of trials, the results would converge on a certain mean value. This epiphany hit me like a bolt of lightning. Everything I had thought was great in sports — Willie Mays' over the shoulder catch, Laettner's turn around jump shot, Joe Montana's pass to Dwight Clark — was not really great, but a mere blip — random noise in the wavefunction of the Universe.
For the first time in my life I know what it's like to be free.
Friday, July 31 gave rise to...
Thursday, July 30 gave rise to...
"Are they going to have Wi-Fi in the delivery room? Because I’d like to be able to update my Facebook page while I’m in labor."
Tuesday, July 28 gave rise to...
"Hacked travel-size (hardware) mouse + taxidermied (wetware) mouse = Mouse Mouse! Fully functional, and furry!"
[instructables: mouse mouse!]
IN 1995, PBS ran a lavish ten-part documentary called American Cinema whose final episode was devoted to "The Edge of Hollywood" and the increasing influence of young independent filmmakers – the Coens, Carl Franklin, Q. Tarantino, et al. It was not just unfair, but bizarre, that David Lynch's name was never once mentioned in the episode, because his influence is all over these directors like white on rice.
The Band-Aid on the neck of Pulp Fiction's Marcellus Wallace – unexplained, visually incongruous, and featured prominently in three separate setups – is textbook Lynch. As are the long, self-consciously mundane dialogues on foot massages, pork bellies, TV pilots, etc. that punctuate Pulp Fiction's violence, a violence whose creepy-comic stylization is also Lynchian. The peculiar narrative tone of Tarantino's films – the thing that makes them seem at once strident and obscure, not-quite-clear in a haunting way – is Lynch's; Lynch invented this tone. It seems to me fair to say that the commercial Hollywood phenomenon that is Mr. Quentin Tarantino would not exist without David Lynch as a touchstone, a set of allusive codes and contexts in the viewers midbrain.
In a way, what Tarantino has done with the French New Wave and with Lynch is what Pat Boone did with rhythm and blues: He's found (ingeniously) a way to take what is ragged and distinctive and menacing about their work and homogenize it, churn it until it's smooth and cool and hygienic enough for mass consumption. Reservoir Dogs, for example, with its comically banal lunch chatter, creepily otiose code names, and intrusive soundtrack of campy pop from decades past, is a Lynch movie made commercial, i.e., fast, linear, and with what was idiosyncratically surreal now made fashionably (i.e., "hiply") surreal.
[linebreaks added. from david lynch keeps his head, by the late david foster wallace. expanded essay available in a paperback compilation]
Monday, July 27 gave rise to...
Three years ago, Ian Svenonius published The Psychic Soviet, a set of some of the most intriguing critical essays of Rock and Roll -- or Western Popular Music Culture, ever produced. Later that year, Svenonius (who has previously been documented on this website) did a guest DJ set/interview with Dissonance, a Washington DC-based community radio show. A link to that complete show, with all of the great music intact, is at the Dissonance website (→).
What I share here from my server today is a truncated version of that transmission, pared down to the interview and discussion portions, and a few of his bands's songs. I did this for myself (with ffmpeg as usual), but I've shared it in case anyone else wants it without having to put in the work. It's a fine thing to have in its original form, but if you're interested in the discussion, it might be nice to have it without so many interruptions.
Cheers to Ian Svenonius, Sassy Magazine's 1990 Sassiest Boy in America (→).
Download the truncated interview (.mp3 format. right click, save as)
Sunday, July 26 gave rise to...
Stephen J. Shanabrook is an artist originally from Ohio who was traipsing around the globe for years before he decided to set up shop in New York. He makes chocolates using molds he's made from the corpses of human bodies he somehow got his hands on in a Russian morgue, and we were so excited/grossed out about it that we called him up for a chat.
[vice: montreal - ear nibbling. great pics]
Saturday, July 25 gave rise to...
Friday, July 24 gave rise to...
The fifth edition of the association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is expected in 2012. The APA isn't just deciding the fate of shopaholics; it's also debating whether overuse of the Internet, "excessive" sexual activity, apathy, and even prolonged bitterness should be viewed, quite seriously, as brain "disorders." If you spend hours online, have sex more frequently than aging psychiatrists, and moan incessantly that the federal government can't account for all its TARP funds, take heed: You may soon be classed among the 48 million Americans the APA already considers mentally ill.
Quite how the association will decide when normal kvetching becomes a sickness—or reasonable amounts of sex become excessive—is still anyone's guess. Behind the APA's doors in Arlington, Va., the fine points of the debate are creating quite a few headaches. And they're also causing a rather public dust-up.
To linger anxiously, even bitterly, over job loss is all too human. To sigh with despair over precipitous declines in one's retirement account is also perfectly understandable. But if the APA includes post-traumatic embitterment disorder in the next edition of its diagnostic bible, it will be because a small group of mental-health professionals believes the public shouldn't dwell on such matters for too long.
That's a sobering thought—enough, perhaps, to make you doubt the wisdom of those updating the new manual. The association has no clear definition of the cutoff between normal and pathological responses to life's letdowns. To those of us following the debates as closely as the association will allow, it's apparent that the DSM revisions have become a train wreck. The problem is, everyone involved has signed a contract promising not to share publicly what's going on.
(from slate: the diagnostic madness of dsm-v)
Thursday, July 23 gave rise to...
Wednesday, July 22 gave rise to...
Burger King is sponsoring Spanish soccer team Getafe for the upcoming season, so they've slapped their logo on the front of the kit. That's fine, although it makes them look like fry cooks. But as per usual, BK just had to go that extra step to make sure we're all sufficiently traumatized.
Tuesday, July 21 gave rise to...
"all you have to do to smell like chocolate is rub parts of your body against the inside of chocolate bar wrappers, it's really as simple as that."
Monday, July 20 gave rise to...
Wednesday, July 15 gave rise to...
Sunday, July 12 gave rise to...
(image credit: boomerang)
The author of a recent Slate article had a lot of discouraging things to say about Google's new OS and the Linux kernel underneath it, and that's putting it mildly. (The article is titled "The Google OS Is Doomed.") It seems to me that many of the criticisms look to the past rather than the future in attempting to answer the important questions about an OS that has yet to be introduced to the public. The questions being asked are related to important topics, but perhaps they are being asked a bit early. It seems to me that adoption of a "classic" software industry perspective on the issue is inadequate to made any prediction about this unreleased and unseen software, let alone a prediction about its impending doom.
My first issue with the article is pretty much the entirety of the author's first point, Linux is hard to love. The process he describes for getting an iPod Touch to work is totally correct, but it is a poor reflection of the typical high level of support that most hardware currently has in Linux. You don't need to be a "server ninja" to get a Linux desktop up and running...really. Linux will run on almost anything. Really -- ask people who spent time with it. Today, my computer-retarded uncle has used Linux for close to a year without problems. He has kids who were only Fluent in Windows, but quickly learned to navigate the Gnome Desktop Environment. Because of this, I'm confident that almost anyone can successfully use Linux today. Further, in a year's time, Linux Desktops may be even more simple -- more user-friendly. The "dearth of hardware and software" he mentions is not really true, but he's still basing his point around a bad experience with the newest incarnation of a for-profit company's latest [proprietary and very much closed] operating system. What do you expect? He could have talked about any of the many things that Linux does quite well with respect to hardware and software support, but didn't. He chose a very specific, though admittedly important, case.
Later, he mentions the incredible amount of money Google makes from advertising, and how this frees them to invest in other projects that may or may not be profitable (like YouTube, which, from a business perspective, is a nightmare). Due to the importance of this project, Google isn't likely to be taking a half-assed approach to the project, like they did with, say, Lively. The resources and engineering talent that Google can direct toward the Chrome operating system could quickly solve the interoperability problems that Farhad brings up. Consider the significant contributions that Google made to Wine in the interest of getting some of their software (e.g. Picasa) to work on Linux. Wine recently hit 1.0. I'm really not trying to overstate the contributions Google has made to open source software projects -- just asking that we consider that they may be willing to devote unprecedented resources to their Linux-based operating system to solve many of their own problems, which, due to the GPL, would necessarily benefit the community. I'd be surprised if the operational scope of the operating system was so narrow as to not allow us to use our new iPods on it.
The author mentions that Linux's tiny market share is a reflection of its inability to catch on. He should consider, first, the fact that with few exceptions, Linux distributions are created and maintained by enthusiasts, and in a few rare cases, fairly successful companies such as Red Hat and Novell. But Christ, the open source desktop universe has never had the support of a company like Google before.
He's absolutely right that we aren't ready to run everything on the web. But so what if we're not? This operating system is targeted toward netbook users, and a lot of the things we do on Netbooks can be done in Linux anyway. Seriously. Just ask people in the netbook community. Also: who said this was all about running everything on the web? We still haven't seen the Chrome OS.
Lastly, we should consider that Google may not be out to profit directly from this "business venture," if you want to call it that. The launch of this new operating system will undoubtedly have a transformative quality on the industry. To think that Microsoft isn't going to respond to this announcement in a way that somehow changes their output, is naive. If the response is a better operating system from Microsoft, Google has not failed. If the response is somehow more radical (e.g., microsoft open sourcing some of its software or giving it away for free, while simultaneously improving products to compete with offerings from apple and google), then everyone may benefit from the change. You could say I totally agree with Farhad when he says the only point of Chrome is to screw with Microsoft, but I see more of a point to it all. Also, I don't see Bing as an attempt by Microsoft to screw with Google. I think Microsoft is scrambling to hold on to anything new it can do well -- and Bing appears to be doing pretty well, as it is, by some accounts, the 2nd most popular search engine in the world -- as the software world changes, because they clearly won't be able to dominate it for too much longer. Who is it that's really "doomed" here?
PS - If Chrome is fast, I'm pretty sure all of these arguments will become irrelevant and a surprising number of netbook users will switch.
Sunday, July 5 gave rise to...
In 1895 Lyman T. Davis of Corsicana developed the original recipe for the best chili in the universe, Wolf Brand Chili, which he sold for five cents a bowl from the back of a wagon parked on the streets in downtown Corsicana. He later opened a meat market in Corsicana where he sold his chili in brick form, using the brand name of Lyman's Famous Home Made Chili. In 1921, using the simplest machinery, he began canning his chili and marketing it in the immediate area. It was about that time that he adopted the brand name "Wolf Brand," in honor of his pet wolf, Kaiser Bill.
By 1923, with improved equipment, Davis had increased production to 2,000 cans of chili per day. Because of the discovery of oil on his farm, he had neither the time nor the interest to devote to his chili business, and in 1924 he sold his operations to J. C. West and Fred Slauson, two Corsicana businessmen. The new owners modernized production and introduced new marketing techniques. Among the most successful innovations introduced by West and Slauson were Model T Ford trucks with cabs shaped like cans and painted to resemble the Wolf Brand label. A live wolf was caged in the back of each truck. The vehicles not only provided practical transportation for company salesmen but also were effective traveling advertisements for their products.
In 1954 the company expanded into interstate markets, having previously distributed its products only in Texas. The new markets included New Mexico, Louisiana, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. In 1957 Quaker Oats of Chicago purchased Wolf Brand from Doyle and James West, sons of J. C. West. Quaker Oats continued to operate the Corsicana plant as a separate division of the company, leaving Davis's original recipe unchanged. In 1977 Wolf Brand, along with other chili manufacturers, successfully lobbied the Texas legislature to have chili proclaimed the official "state food" of Texas. In an effort to consolidate its operations, Quaker Oats closed the Corsicana plant in 1985 and merged its operations with another subsidiary, Stokley-Van Camp, in Dallas.