Sunday, February 25, 2007

Slavery Ties Sharpton to Thurmond - New York Times

Ok, so Thurmond's ancestor once owned Sharpton's ancestor (although, I take a lot of that genealogy stuff with a grain of salt), and we all know how Thurmond believed in segragation (except for when it came to his parent's housekeeper)*, but:

Slavery Ties Sharpton to Thurmond - New York Times ** : "Sharpton, who ran for president in 2004 on a ticket of racial justice, said he met Thurmond only once in 1991 when he visited Washington, D.C., with the late soul singer James Brown, who knew Thurmond. Sharpton said the meeting was ''awkward.''"

wtf were James Brown, Al Sharpton, and Strom Thurmond meeting about? Blows my mind.

Do you think it was maybe this James Brown? ----->

* Thurmond's children have acknowledged that Thurmond fathered a biracial daughter. Essie Mae Washington-Williams' mother was a housekeeper in the home of Thurmond's parents.

** And if you need a login combo, remember: cypherphunk/cypherphunk (there's always bugmenot too)

Jesus: Tales from the Crypt - The Middle East Blog - TIME

Ok, so this will probably be big news on Monday: Jesus: Tales from the Crypt - The Middle East Blog - TIME.
What I love about these type of speculations is that a 423 word article can lead to a comment section which has over 250,000 words. Say what you will about Jesus, but I know one thing: People love to discuss H/him.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Our long Universal Thermodynamic nightmare is over

This may be the nicest news I've heard yet today:

news @ - Universe bounces back from the brink - Cycling cosmos obeys thermodynamics without ripping itself apart.

It has to be the closest ever shave. Two physicists have proposed that, a fraction of a second before a cataclysm that would destroy space-time itself, the Universe may escape by abruptly collapsing to a virtually empty state that 'resets' it for a fresh cycle of cosmic expansion.

The theory claims to reconcile the notion of a cyclic universe, which expands and contracts for eternity, with the second law of thermodynamics, which seems to imply that the current expansion cannot reverse.

As escape clauses go, this one is jaw-droppingly extravagant. Not only does the turnaround happen less than a thousand-trillion-trillionth (10-27) of a second before a 'Big Rip' in which everything falls apart, but it splits our Universe into countless new and independent ones.

So, now we know that a young Alvy Singer was fretting over nothing.

Mother(to doctor): He's been depressed. All of a sudden, he can't do anything.
Doc: Why are you depressed, Alvy?
Mother: Tell doctor Flicker. It's something he read.
Doc: Something you read, heah?
Alvy: The universe is expanding.
Doc: The universe is expanding?
Alvy: Well, the universe is everything, and if it's expanding, someday it will break apart and that would be the end of everything!
Mother(shouting): What is that your business? (to doctor) He stopped doing his homework.
Alvy: What's the point?
Mother: What has the universe got to do with it? You're here in Brooklyn! Brooklyn is not expanding!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Random Street Installations, i.e. public space and the people that liven it up

And they're not marketing anything. Go figure.

Click here for more Trip On A Link :: Headless Dude hijinks.

Moreover, the tape lollipop dude is well known in dc circles.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Norv Turner is overrated

If the Chargers win the Superbowl in 2008 (and he is the head coach on the sidelines), I will shave my head just like Britney. I promise.

Now, how many of my loyal readers will pay to see that?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Terminal Velocity, X&Y, and Solar Eclipses

Three random things that I came across in Wikipedia recently that probably only interest me:

X&Y - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "The album's cryptic cover art was designed by Tappin Gofton (aka Mark Tappin and Simon Gofton), who created the cover for The Chemical Brothers' latest release, Push the Button. The blocks are the Baudot code-encoding (ITA2, a 5-bit alphanumeric encoding used by telegraphs) of the title of the album, X&Y (although due to an error in the coding process, the cover code actually translates as 'X96');"

Terminal velocity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "On August 16th, 1960 U.S. Air Force Captain Joe Kittinger came close to breaking the sound barrier during a free-fall from the high altitude balloon Excelsior III, at an altitude of 102,800 feet (approximately 20 miles), hitting a speed of 614 mph (274 m/s) as reported by National Geographic. This made Captain Kittinger the fastest human on the planet."

Solar eclipse - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Final totality: Due to tidal acceleration, the orbit of the Moon around the Earth becomes approximately 3.8 cm more distant each year. It is estimated that in 600 million years, the distance from the Earth to the Moon will have increased by 23,500 km, meaning that it will no longer be able to completely cover the Sun's disk. This will be true even when the Moon is at perigee, and the Earth at aphelion.

A complicating factor is that the Sun will increase in size over this timescale. This makes it even more unlikely that the Moon will be able to cause a total eclipse. We can therefore say that the last total solar eclipse on Earth will occur in slightly less than 600 million years.[13]"

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Science vs. Religion flowchart

Wellington Grey made this funny little flowchart:

I know what you're thinking "but what if you don't have faith in flowcharts?"

Oh, and here's another one of his creations, What Would Richard Feynman Do?

Boing Boing
Plastic Bag

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Power (and Peril) of Praising Your Kids -- New York Magazine

Here's a nice article, The Power (and Peril) of Praising Your Kids -- New York Magazine, relating some psychological work which I've always tried to explain to my relatives and friends that were parents. i.e. I'd rather be hardworking than lucky and I'd rather be lucky than smart. Drive, perseverance, resiliency are so much more important than any innate abilities or aptitudes one starts out with.

Bottom line: Praise effort, not intellect. And emphasize the motivatee's process, not the motivatee's abilities.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

New color design

I changed the color scheme a bit and added a new banner at the top.

Let me know what you think.

SeeqPod Music and Democracy Player for all your media needs

Nice dynamic webpage which scours the 'net for all those mp3s laying around:SeeqPod Music (beta). You can leisurely listen and compose fair use reviews of all that intellectual property.

Then, when you want to download the NBC Nightly News (not sure why you would do that), search Youtube easily and save the vids locally, or play any video file on your computer, you can use the version 0.9 Democrazy Player.

Just imagine if there was a site where you could search for books and any text document...

May you live in interesting times.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Now here's another flashback.

Florian Schneider from Kraftwerk on the bass. Klaus Schulze from Tangerine Dream at the keyboards. And, to top it off, Marian Gold from Alphaville on lead vocals. Does it get any cheesier than this? Nothing like watching synthpop gods from one's youth in their middle age.

Now all we need is a mashup of Kraftwerk's "Computer World" album with Alphaville's "Forever Young" album.

Top 12 Songs of the past while

"Phantom Limb" - The Shins
Actually, the whole new album is great.

"Intervention" - Arcade Fire
Can't wait til this is officially released. Here's a youtube clip with the audio.

"Dashboard" - Modest Mouse
I'm so out of the loop as I just found the other day that Johnny Marr joined them. Not often that 43 year old alternative gods join en fuego indie bands.

"Sleepwalk" - Santo & Johnny
Top 10 Instrumental.

"One of These Mornings"
- Moby
The version off the Miami Vice Soundtrack, not the one off Moby's album 18. 46 seconds longer and a better arrangement. The vocals are just as repetitive, but the tempo and key are way better in the Miami Vice version.

"Silent Places" - Baby Dayliner
I really wasn't sure what to think about this dude for the longest time, but now I know that this song is actually pretty kick ass. I can't find the lyrics on the 'net, I'll have to fix that. (Adrian Grenier "Vincent Chase" of Entourage is in that video, fyi.)

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" - Gil Scott-Heron (youtube link)
"There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers on the instant replay."

"You Get What You Give" - New Radicals (youtube video)
" Fake computer crashes dining
Cloning while they're multiplying"

"Feeling Good"
- Nina Simone
I love the horns and strings in this song. The only thing that's better is Nina's voice. That last fadeout Feelin Gooooooooooooooooooood... So awesome...
(no clue what this video is about, but here it is.)

"Somewhere Across Forever" - stellastarr
"Blue eyes, blue hair, not going to leave here without you
Blew my chances, chances, chances..."

"Goodbye Horses" - Q Lazzarus
Such an awesome song. Too bad it's sorta ruined by the Buffalo Bill treatment.

"Just Like Heaven" (acoustic) - The Cure
A great song, totally stripped down. Anybody know when it was recorded? Sounds like it was the same sessions as the original, but I"m not sure.

Extra bonus song for Valentine's Day: Not the best quality, but a great song nonetheless, Valentine by The Replacements sung by Paul Westerberg.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

World exclusive skydiver video... watch the incredible footage here! | the Daily Mail

This guy is sooooo lucky.

World exclusive skydiver video... watch the incredible footage here! | the Daily Mail

I love it when his friend asks "Are you ok?" and he replies "No."

"What happened?"

"Lots happened, you landed in a good place!"


"Oh shit, I'm gonna die. Bye!"


Monday, February 12, 2007

Acclaimed Music dot net

Some thoughts on Acclaimed Music:

Roxy Music at 41th overall for artists really surprised me as I only really knew them from Love is the Drug and More than This. I guess they more critical acclaim than I had realized. Kraftwerk, who I love, at 59th surprises me as well.

Highest ranked Album, Song and Artist I've never consciously experienced:

Can't say I've really listened to: Album #32 . Massive Attack's Blue Lines

Song, I hate to say it, but it would probably be:
#67 Elvis Presley "That's All Right (Mama)." (I see now it was the first single he ever released, which is probably a big reason it's on there.)

For artists, it would have to be: #85 Primal Scream
Can't say I've ever heard a tune by them.

And maybe you're wondering how the lists have been compiles?

This is really not simple to explain. Please do not despair if you do not fully understand...

I have written a program which computes the lists. The basic idea is that I match all records against each other in pairs. In a match, each critics list is weighted depending on
* the number of lists I have from different parts of world (USA, UK or the rest of the world)
** when the list was presented (newer lists are weighted more heavily)
*** how many matches the list is a part of (a list which only embraces a few years is not part of many matches and is therefore weighted heavily in the matches where it is included).

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Criterion Contraption

Over on one of my favorite film blogs, Matthew is watching every film in the Criterion Collection. Every film. In numerical spine order. And his reviews aren't pithy. Or dull. He's up to number 65 so far and only has 318 to go (I think.) Check it out.

Just for the record, here are the ones in that group of 65 that I've seen. (in unidimensional order of awesomeness* from most to least.)

65. Rushmore

bill murray in rushmore
64. The Third Man

13. The Silence of the Lambs

52. Yojimbo

Toshiro Mifune as Yojimbo

7. A Night To Remember

12. This is Spinal Tap

40. Armageddon

44. The Red Shoes, My 30 word review is here.

Moira Shearer as Victoria Page in the Red Shoes

21. Dead Ringers

61. Monty Python's The Life of Brian

51. Brazil

Terry Gilliam's Brazil

23. Robocop

11. Seventh seal

5. The 400 Blows

*what is "awesomeness"? Well, it's hard to say, it's a multifactorial trait that combines how much I liked it (i.e. would I watch it again if I had to), how much I appreciated it (i.e. good production/filmmaking/screenwriting etc.) and that je ne sais quoi (that lets me cop out if anybody complains about my rankings.)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Awesome Comet McNaught photo

Comet Between Fireworks and Lightning

Sometimes the sky itself is the best show in town. On January 26, people from Perth, Australia gathered on a local beach to watch a sky light up with delights near and far. Nearby, fireworks exploded as part of Australia Day celebrations. On the far right, lightning from a thunderstorm flashed in the distance. Near the image center, though, seen through clouds, was the most unusual sight of all: Comet McNaught. The photogenic comet was so bright that it even remained visible though the din of Earthly flashes. Comet McNaught continues to move out from the Sun and dim, but should remain visible in southern skies with binoculars through the end of this month. The above image is actually a three photograph panorama digitally processed to reduce red reflections from the exploding firework.

Pic by Antti Kemppainen

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Martin Frey's Just in Time Watch elements that pesky "mental dialogue"

So, over at Engadget, they blogged about Martin Frey's Just in Time watch

"Looking at a conventional watch very often a "mental dialogue" happens:

* What time is it right now?
* When is my next appointment?
* Where does the appointment take place and how long does it take to get there from here?
* Thus, when should I leave?
* How much time is left till then? Should I leave now? Am I already too late?

These "on-the-fly" considerations and calculations are not only cumbersome but often very unprecise as well:

E.g. the necessary amount of time to cover the distance is estimated too optimistically or depends on irregular, external factors like timetable or traffic situation."

I wanna tell you something, ('bout Texas Radio and the Big Beat? nah, that's for later*) this "mental dialogue" that Martin refers to, well, it's called thinking. It's fun and I really enjoy it. Does that make me crazy?

* It comes out of the Virginia swamps, cool and slow with plenty of precision, with a back beat narrow and hard to master.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

HT06 paper, tags, pun, flickr, academic article, to blog

I was perusing a list of some recent articles and when I first saw the title of this one I thought it was mistake. But no, the authors are cleverer than that.

HT06, tagging paper, taxonomy, Flickr, academic article, to read

In recent years, tagging systems have become increasingly popular. These systems enable users to add keywords (i.e., "tags") to Internet resources (e.g., web pages, images, videos) without relying on a controlled vocabulary. Tagging systems have the potential to improve search, spam detection, reputation systems, and personal organization while introducing new modalities of social communication and opportunities for data mining. This potential is largely due to the social structure that underlies many of the current systems.Despite the rapid expansion of applications that support tagging of resources, tagging systems are still not well studied or understood. In this paper, we provide a short description of the academic related work to date. We offer a model of tagging systems, specifically in the context of web-based systems, to help us illustrate the possible benefits of these tools. Since many such systems already exist, we provide a taxonomy of tagging systems to help inform their analysis and design, and thus enable researchers to frame and compare evidence for the sustainability of such systems. We also provide a simple taxonomy of incentives and contribution models to inform potential evaluative frameworks. While this work does not present comprehensive empirical results, we present a preliminary study of the photo-sharing and tagging system Flickr to demonstrate our model and explore some of the issues in one sample system. This analysis helps us outline and motivate possible future directions of research in tagging systems.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Google Gapminder, Awesome Data visualization tool

You just have to try this out for yourself to see how amazing it is:Plot various demographic data of countries.

Mind the gap.

Web 2.0 screencast movie

Very sweet screencast of web 2.0 schtuff. A work in progress in/deed.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Who I'm rooting for today in the Superbowl (and I don't mean Prince)

Today is the oblong ball made of pigskin scrum between
Ursus arctos chicagus vs. Equus caballus indianapolus

I'm actually indifferent to who wins this one. The magic 8 ball says that "All signs points to yes" for a colts victory, but we'll see how it turns out. The thing I'm most excited about is going to be the performance by his purple majesty.

Vinatieri is the first to score.
Prince will play a medley which includes "Let's Go Crazy", "7", and "Raspberry Beret."
Bears surprise the Colts 24-23. (either way, the Bears should cover a 7 point spread)
Devin Hester is MVP.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Redbones, Viacom, huh?

Regarding this story:
OPML, The Harvard Book of

What trademark/copyright does Viacom own that relates to Redbones or Redbone? Please leave a comment if you know, thanks. I'm out of touch with a lot of television etc.

via Boing Boing

Friday, February 02, 2007

Ze Frank on the wii

This ze frank guy is pretty funny. Check out his clip on the wii.

Also, I'll be following up on the horizontal gene transfer controversy as soon as possible. Suffice to say that not everybody is operating on the same definitions of HGT and species.