Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Etruscan Head

From John Hawks's entertaining trip to Rome. Money quote, "I'm an anthropologist. It's not my first crypt." Also worth checking out: his post on the Vatican, if only for Artemis of the Ephesians and St. Christopher and the baby Dalai Lama painting.


Van Gogh's Ten



Epic Mugshot



Here's Randon Reed, arrested for shooting at an airplane while driving drunk. What says the jury, based on the mugshot only?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cui Bono?

I wonder if the Republicans who are pushing against raising the debt ceiling might have been talking to bond traders who are short Treasuries or long interest rates.

Several members of Congress have been told by unnamed "traders and economists" that default wouldn't be that bad a thing. These unnamed traders could, I suppose, be imbeciles. That's within the realm of the possible. The other, more creepy and more interesting alternative, is that they're not imbeciles, they're someone with a big position that will pay off if interest rates skyrocket. I can think of four or five ways off the top of my head that would give a handsome return to anyone betting against the house.

I have no evidence that this is the case, mind you, but if the Republicans don't back down on the debt ceiling (either on bad advice or any other reason), this country's in for a world of hurt. If Wall Street isn't telling them in no uncertain terms not to push this too far, we're really screwed.

Like a Pumpkin Vine Makes Pumpkins

I thought of this phrase in Italo Calvino's If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler. ‘She said that...she feels the need to see someone who makes books the way a pumpkin vine makes pumpkins --- that's how she put it...’ That's exactly the kind of writer I most enjoy being. Like Elmore Leonard or Phil Dick or even Updike, a book every year or two. Another pumpkin getting orange in the Fall sun. That's the ticket. Barry's that kind of painter, for that matter, growing them like a pumpkin vine grows pumpkins.”
I love, that, making books the way a pumpkin vine makes pumpkins. Another quote from If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler: “The novel I would most like to read at this moment...should have as its driving force only the desire to narrate, to pile stories upon stories, without trying to impose a philosophy of life on you, simply allowing you to observe its own growth, like a tree, an entangling, as of branches and leaves...” The desire to narrate, yes.


-Rudy Rucker

Friday, May 27, 2011

Good advice from Tyler Cowen

Bloomberg has a nice profile of economist Tyler Cowen up today. Among the excellent pieces of advice are:


  • Read early (start when you're three)

  • Read a lot

  • Visit the library and bookstores for serindipity

  • Be willing to quit boring books, films, etc, rather than waste time

  • Order the weirdest thing on the menu

  • Marry well

  • Be a little bit autistic

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Links for Later

1. story of a lost e e cummings poem
2. Garance Dore at the AmFar benefit
3. Halcyon comes up with Altly, an alternative to Facebook
4. Loft from Loftylovin
5. Bradley Cooper: "Since Limitless opened, my agent calls me every morning and asks, 'Do you feel any different?' And I'm like, 'Nope. Do you feel any different?'"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Links for Later

1. The Suda, an encyclopedia made a thousand years ago in Byzantium.
2. Over The Rhine neighborhood sees a rebirth
3. What a cover letter should look like
4. Dawdlr
5. The Israeli perspective that Obama doesn't understand

Quote of the Day

Irra­tional­ity lies not in fail­ing to con­form to some pre­con­ceived notion of how we should behave, but in per­sist­ing with a course of action that does not work. Some­times in mod­ern eco­nom­ics and polit­i­cal life, there is a big difference.


"A Bird in the Hand Can Make a Lot of Sense"
(via lonegunman)

The Sloth

Ad Series for Alfa Romeo.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Links for Later

1. Dave and Toph Eggers interviewed
2. Econonomic Hit Man confessions continue
3. What's driving the debt?
4. 3-d rendered fuselage desk
5. Why Stephen Colbert is really founding a Super PAC
6. The Purity Test
7. Republican governors Walker, Kasich, Scott plunging in polls
8. Repeal petition for Ohio's union busting bill at 95% after only 30 days
9. Superman goes to England

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested.


-Seneca the Younger

Joni Mitchell - Love Puts on a New Face

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Swaptions are Sexy

James Somers makes trading sound like the most compelling human activity ever invented. It is, if you've got the right personality for it. For the rest of us, sex and/or good conversation might take the prize.

This place, on the other hand, feels like something closer to an active battleship.

I'm starting to think it has something to do with the computers. From far away each station looks like one of those extravagantly immersive arcade games -- like something you get into rather than sit down at. That's probably why I keep calling them "stations."

My friend's has six distinct screens. They're arranged as a row of two above a row of four in a bowed-out fan pattern that looks basically like a robotic sail. I'm told that this array is driven by three machines, each with a preposterous eight CPU cores. Maybe he needs them -- at the moment he has forty-four windows open. These include a Bloomberg terminal with prices, news, charts, and analytics that all update or redraw themselves more than once per second; several small forms for buying and selling different kinds of securities; some PDFs ridden with legalese; e-mails with long, redundant subject lines and laconic bodies; a bare bones programming IDE; a dashboard that shows his "book," or set of open market positions, with stats regarding risk and the like; some very intimidating spreadsheets; chat rooms, IM conversations, and the occasional video conference; a custom program to query internal databases; and miscellaneous browser windows. It all runs snappily.

Beneath the screens he has something called a turret, which is like a regular human telephone except that it has sixty active lines and a button density close to what you see on studio sound boards. Among other things it includes the option to broadcast its user's voice over the room's loudspeaker; this feature has apparently been used of late (though not by my friend) to share Rebecca Black's "Friday" with the entire floor.

The all-in costs for a setup like this -- hardware, software, and data subscriptions -- come to about $200,000 per year.

Waking in the Blue

by Robert Lowell

The night attendant, a B.U. sophomore,
rouses from the mare's-nest of his drowsy head
propped on The Meaning of Meaning.
He catwalks down our corridor.
Azure day
makes my agonized blue window bleaker.
Crows maunder on the petrified fairway.
Absence! My hearts grows tense
as though a harpoon were sparring for the kill.
(This is the house for the "mentally ill.")

What use is my sense of humor?
I grin at Stanley, now sunk in his sixties,
once a Harvard all-American fullback,
(if such were possible!)
still hoarding the build of a boy in his twenties,
as he soaks, a ramrod
with a muscle of a seal
in his long tub,
vaguely urinous from the Victorian plumbing.
A kingly granite profile in a crimson gold-cap,
worn all day, all night,
he thinks only of his figure,
of slimming on sherbet and ginger ale--
more cut off from words than a seal.
This is the way day breaks in Bowditch Hall at McLean's;
the hooded night lights bring out "Bobbie,"
Porcellian '29,
a replica of Louis XVI
without the wig--
redolent and roly-poly as a sperm whale,
as he swashbuckles about in his birthday suit
and horses at chairs.

These victorious figures of bravado ossified young.

In between the limits of day,
hours and hours go by under the crew haircuts
and slightly too little nonsensical bachelor twinkle
of the Roman Catholic attendants.
(There are no Mayflower
screwballs in the Catholic Church.)

After a hearty New England breakfast,
I weigh two hundred pounds
this morning. Cock of the walk,
I strut in my turtle-necked French sailor's jersey
before the metal shaving mirrors,
and see the shaky future grow familiar
in the pinched, indigenous faces
of these thoroughbred mental cases,
twice my age and half my weight.
We are all old-timers,
each of us holds a locked razor.

Vegan Black Metal Chef Makes Pad Thai



Devilishly delicious.

(via Devour)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Death Cab for Cutie - You are a Tourist

The World Will End in 1.82625x(10^12) Days!

Stephen Hawking has foretold it!


Vegan Black Metal Chef Makes Pad Thai



Devilishly delicious.

(via Devour)

Links for Later


  1. Novak Djokovic goes on gluten free diet, wins a lot of tournaments

  2. Michelle Bachmann thinks the government can't (or shouldn't) regulate it's own expenditures

  3. Edward Tufte profile

Sometimes it Wiggles, Sometimes it Jumps

Tim Harford looks at how to fund scientific research that produces the most bang for the buck. The answer: follow Kauffman & Holland's advice of selecting for both incremental, continuous projects and really high-risk ones that give you a big leap.

The World Will End in 1.82625x(10^12) Days!

Stephen Hawking has foretold it!



Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nic Jones - The Humpbacked Whale

Links for Later


  1. Unmade movies: Jodorowsky's Dune

  2. What does hitting the debt ceiling mean?

  3. Flat pack shoe

  4. The annual Edge Question, 2011: "What Scientific Concept Would Improve Everybody's Cognitive Toolkit?"

  5. The LA School District uses its attorneys to interrogate librarians who would like to keep their jobs. Disgraceful.

  6. Ian McKellen hath a photostream

  7. Grapheme and the fabric of space-time

  8. Gaussian copula function tattoo

Friday, May 13, 2011

The past four days' worth of posts were eaten by Blogger and restored from backup, thus the new date/time stamps and [possibly] odd formatting.

The World Will End in 1.82625x(10^12) Days!



Stephen Hawking has foretold it!


Swaptions are Sexy

James Somers makes trading sound like the most compelling human activity ever invented. It is, if you've got the right personality for it. For the rest of us, sex and/or good conversation might take the prize


This place, on the other hand, feels like something closer to an active battleship.

I'm starting to think it has something to do with the computers. From far away each station looks like one of those extravagantly immersive arcade games -- like something you get into rather than sit down at. That's probably why I keep calling them "stations."

My friend's has six distinct screens. They're arranged as a row of two above a row of four in a bowed-out fan pattern that looks basically like a robotic sail. I'm told that this array is driven by three machines, each with a preposterous eight CPU cores. Maybe he needs them -- at the moment he has forty-four windows open. These include a Bloomberg terminal with prices, news, charts, and analytics that all update or redraw themselves more than once per second; several small forms for buying and selling different kinds of securities; some PDFs ridden with legalese; e-mails with long, redundant subject lines and laconic bodies; a bare bones programming IDE; a dashboard that shows his "book," or set of open market positions, with stats regarding risk and the like; some very intimidating spreadsheets; chat rooms, IM conversations, and the occasional video conference; a custom program to query internal databases; and miscellaneous browser windows. It all runs snappily.

Beneath the screens he has something called a turret, which is like a regular human telephone except that it has sixty active lines and a button density close to what you see on studio sound boards. Among other things it includes the option to broadcast its user's voice over the room's loudspeaker; this feature has apparently been used of late (though not by my friend) to share Rebecca Black's "Friday" with the entire floor.

The all-in costs for a setup like this -- hardware, software, and data subscriptions -- come to about $200,000 per year.

Links for Later

  1. Nassim Taleb's favorite books (or books worth rereading)
  2. Photos of Moscow, 1909
  3. Dr. Livingstone presumed a lot
  4. Don't dig a giant hole in the sand & jump in
  5. Phil Kirkland's surrealist illustrations from the 70's
  6. Wig out on the NYC subway

Waking in the Blue

by Robert Lowell

The night attendant, a B.U. sophomore,
rouses from the mare's-nest of his drowsy head
propped on The Meaning of Meaning.
He catwalks down our corridor.
Azure day
makes my agonized blue window bleaker.
Crows maunder on the petrified fairway.
Absence! My hearts grows tense
as though a harpoon were sparring for the kill.
(This is the house for the "mentally ill.")

What use is my sense of humor?
I grin at Stanley, now sunk in his sixties,
once a Harvard all-American fullback,
(if such were possible!)
still hoarding the build of a boy in his twenties,
as he soaks, a ramrod
with a muscle of a seal
in his long tub,
vaguely urinous from the Victorian plumbing.
A kingly granite profile in a crimson gold-cap,
worn all day, all night,
he thinks only of his figure,
of slimming on sherbet and ginger ale--
more cut off from words than a seal.
This is the way day breaks in Bowditch Hall at McLean's;
the hooded night lights bring out "Bobbie,"
Porcellian '29,
a replica of Louis XVI
without the wig--
redolent and roly-poly as a sperm whale,
as he swashbuckles about in his birthday suit
and horses at chairs.

These victorious figures of bravado ossified young.

In between the limits of day,
hours and hours go by under the crew haircuts
and slightly too little nonsensical bachelor twinkle
of the Roman Catholic attendants.
(There are no Mayflower
screwballs in the Catholic Church.)

After a hearty New England breakfast,
I weigh two hundred pounds
this morning. Cock of the walk,
I strut in my turtle-necked French sailor's jersey
before the metal shaving mirrors,
and see the shaky future grow familiar
in the pinched, indigenous faces
of these thoroughbred mental cases,
twice my age and half my weight.
We are all old-timers,
each of us holds a locked razor.

Vegan Black Metal Chef Makes Pad Thai

 


Devilishly delicious.

(via Devour)


Thursday, May 05, 2011

Russian Literary Awards

The Russian literary scene is a really funny place. Michael Idov, who won a GQ award for his novel Ground Up, writes:


There are two kinds of serious novel in Russia right now: “extreme” and phantasmagoric. The first kind deals with the most wretched dregs of the society, which by implication stand in for the society as a whole. The reader, trained by decades of Aesopian Soviet satire, knows that if the novel’s action takes place in a mental ward, that mental ward is Russia; if it’s a prison, the prison is Russia; if it’s a tiny Siberian village populated by, say, cannibals, the village is Russia and the cannibals are the government.

The second kind is a conspiracy fable, devoted to the thesis that the world is run by shadowy magic forces. Supernatural cabals figure in a staggering percentage of Russian highbrow prose—Pavel Krusanov’s Angel’s Bite, Vladimir Sorokin’s Ice, and just about everything by the bestselling Viktor Pelevin, whose 1999 satire Generation P (published in the U.S. as Homo Zapiens) explained that the world leaders are CGI cartoons. In Pelevin's three subsequent novels, the world government is revealed to be, respectively, a gay mafia, werewolves, and vampires. This mode of thinking has a rather touching teenage tinge. Earlier this week, when the culture portal OpenSpace.ru asked prominent Russian intellectuals to respond to bin Laden's death, half dutifully answered that bin Laden had never really existed, or was a projection of "naively dualist American consciousness."
You could literally write a novel about the novelists, filmmakers and media people who showed up for the awards cermony. One wrote an enormously popular novel in which the main character dies from eating someone else's fingernail. Another says that her thing is "black bogs of despair". One of the presenters kisses Idov, releasing a torrent of tabloid attention.

Go read it.

Michael Stipe

Five or six of the best years of my life were basically wallpapered in REM, so this interview with Michael Stipe in Interview is particularly satisfying. There's a whole dimension of Stipe's story that's dependent on the serendipity of hanging around; this is a contrast to the goal-directed behavior of today's media-managed stars.

Someone referred to Rene Ricard's "Radiant Child" essay yesterday, and it reminded me of that late 80's-early 90's vibe, where a lot more art was a lot more urgent in a way that made it also more extemporaneous. There's that same feel to early REM, and to Stipe's recounting of how he came to be involved in music--the sense of both immanent (and eminent) apocalypse, but also the feeling of a lazy summer day--that you'd better get your living in, because this might be your last perfect day.


*


Also, I should point out the great little anecdote about Michael Stipe's worst stage experience ever, located at the end of the interview.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Monday, May 02, 2011

Links for Later

1. Tim Heatherington and Chris Hondros memorial at the Photography Post
2. The scene in the situation room. Closeup of Obama's face.
3. The liberals' stealth budget looks better than anything else out there.
4. Silly Bin Laden & Obama photoshoppery.
5. 100 rules for being an entrepreneur
6. The press conference from last night
7. How to get a job in VC
8. Tech company infographic
9. Cool house
10. What's Obama thinking about the economic recovery?
11. Zombie Boy before the tattoos
12. NYT on the day's events
13. Another cool house

The Situation

Official White House Photo:

The scene in the White House situation room during the mission against Osama Bin Laden. Look at the faces close up.


11th Blogiversary

My goodness, I feel old. This blog started out over on Worldnet, eleven years ago. This year has been busier than ever, and I look forward to year twelve and beyond.

Sorry it's been a quiet day. I've been spending most of my online time over on Twitter, making and reading inappropriate Osama Bin Laden jokes.