Saturday, November 17, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
BLDGBLOG gets a lot of respect around the net these days because, well, they're awesome. And they're obsessives and experts in a very specific sense.
Consider, for example, this neat little article on Sean O'Boyle's photographic study of Bannerman's Isle:
The castle was Bannerman’s vision and his execution. It was creviced and encrusted with battlements, towers, turrets, crenellations, parapets, embrasures, casements, and corbelling. Huge iron baskets suspended from the castle corners held gas-fed lamps that burned in the night like ancient torches. By day Bannerman’s castle gave the river a fairyland aspect. By night it threw a brooding silhouette against the Hudson skyline.
It's doubly cool because the castle (renamed "Butterman's") was used as a setting in John Crowley's AEgypt books.
The fish, whose scientific name is Rivulus marmoratus, can grow as large as three inches. They group together in logs hollowed out by insects and breathe air through their skin instead of their gills until they can find water again. ...
Surviving on land is not the only unusual behavior exhibited by the fish. They have both testes and ovaries and essentially clone themselves by laying their own, already fertilized eggs.
"This is probably the coolest fish around, not only do they have a very bizarre sex life, but they really don't meet standard behavioral criteria for fishes," said Taylor in a summary of his paper.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Great little interview (from the BBC?):
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
And by wrong I mean "out of line with the way human beings actually operate", which means in turn that they're going to give you incorrect predictions in a lot of cases. We knew this when we learned the models, but everyone "forgets" this fact in the effort to pass the classes. Since economic models correctly lead one to some fairly counterintuitive results, it's easy to think that all counterintuitive results are therefore correct, instead of thinking about the motivations underlying the decision.
Friday, September 21, 2007
The "New Chronology" is radically shorter than the conventional chronology, because all of ancient Greek/Roman/Egyptian history is "folded" onto the Middle Ages and Antiquity, and the Early Middle Ages are eliminated. According to Fomenko, the history of humankind goes only as far back as AD 800, we have almost no information about events between AD 800-1000, and most historical events we know took place in AD 1000-1500.
These views are entirely rejected by mainstream scholarship.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Manhole at Hill & Wells just north of Walter Payton College Prep. I walk over this on my way to work but never noticed it before. The image is only really visible if you look at it directly--it shows up better in photos than to the naked eye.
Around midday Saturday, villagers were startled by an explosion and a
fireball that many were convinced was an airplane crashing near their remote
village, located in the high Andes department of Puno in the Desaguadero region,
near the border with Bolivia.
Residents complained of headaches and
vomiting brought on by a "strange odor," local health department official Jorge
Lopez told Peruvian radio RPP...
"Boiling water started coming out of the crater and particles of rock and
cinders were found nearby. Residents are very concerned," he said.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Why Texas? Why not?
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
it’s easier to spot political motives a generation or two after the
Another thing: one of the most famous excavations in Pompeii was the
excavation of the Villa of the Mysteries and its frieze, first published in the
1930s. These were fantastically lavish volumes – you know, more expensive that
you would ever imagine, in a fantastic vellum binding – which my library in
Cambridge managed to get a copy of. The book's got Mussolini's fasces on the
back cover, in gold emboss, and, instead of being dated 1938, it's dated Era
Fascista VII or something.
So we got a group of students together and we passed the book round, and we
said, "Do you notice anything about this book? Now, don’t think of the pictures
– look at it as a book. Do you notice anything about it?" And most of the
students said, "Well it’s lovely. It's really expensive, isn't it?" It took them
about a quarter of an hour before a single one of them said, "Oh, what’s this
here?" pointing to the fasces and the dating by Era Fascista.
And, had all gone according to plan, the world would have ended up in Era Fastista M, sometime around 2931 AD, and we would now be in EF LXXVIII. Happily, we never got much past EF XI, but I hear the book is very well produced.
oIn Ethiopia, they've just passed the year 2000 since they live according to the Julian calendar, as well as the Gregorian, in part depending on what language you're speaking. Addtionally, as one man in this story from NPR puts it, we have just finished the second day since the birth of Christ, since every day is a thousand years to God. 6AM is midnight, the start of the twelve daylight hours, and midnight is 6PM, halfway through the nighttime hours.
The story also features Muligieta, the most beautiful girl in Ethiopia and the Black Eyed Peas.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Colonel Blashford-Snell first encountered a Double-Nosed Andean tiger hound called Bella in 2005 when he was carrying out reconnaissance for this year's expedition in the area near Ojaki.
He told Radio 4's Today programme: "While we were there, sitting by the fire one night, I saw an extraordinary-looking dog that appeared to have two noses.
"I was sober at the time, and then I remembered the story that the legendary explorer Colonel Percy Fawcett came back with in 1913 of seeing such strange dogs in the Amazon jungle.
"Nobody believed him, they laughed him out of court."
On Monday, I went to his reading of Spook Country, held in the much less Gibsonian Borders on Michigan Avenue. Attended by a large contingent of hackers and ninjas of a wide variety of age groups, the biggest surprise was the predominance of oddly named people (Cinchel, Aramigosta, 9Jane) and people from unusual countries (Latvia, Belarus) getting their books signed, often with really long notes appended, until his hand gave out.
It is seemingly hard to ask concrete questions of the man. I for one drew a complete blank. He had some useful advice for writers, though, beginning with Damon Knight's dictum on writing: "Alice in Wonderland good, Alice in weird Wonderland good, weird Alice in weird Wonderland bad". He also had a great story about his first writing teacher who had spent several years writing specifications for the military and whose idea of a good writing assignment was, "give me 500 words describing this pencil in great detail...wait, since you're a beginner, just do the eraser, or maybe that metal bit that goes around the eraser here at the end." This resulted in him being able to do great descriptions of little machines "like a particular kind of switchblade" but left gaps in the early novels that he can detect now.
Friday, July 27, 2007
"This party is like...H'orgy, like horgy." -Terence Stamp on Fellini
I would quite willingly listen to Terence Stamp recite grocery lists and the ingredients insert of cereal boxes.
"I love you, David"-Love and Human Remains (in ten parts)
This movie had a big impact on me. I wish they would put it out on DVD.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
- Harry lives happily ever after. He goes on to become Hogwart's Headmaster, Minister of Magic or Quidditch world champion. Most likely, he marries Ginny Weasley, they have children who go off to Hogwarts and the cycle starts again.
- Harry dies in the process of killing Voldemort or at the hands of someone else. I think this is unlikely to happen, especially due to JKR's large number of hints that this might happen; if she really wants closure, the worst way to go about it in this postmodern age is to kill the character off. (see also: Superman, Buffy Summers, Sherlock Holmes)
- Harry lives, but somehow loses all of his powers, either because they're linked to Voldemort's, because he somehow "burns them out" or because he gets put into a situation where exposure to magic is deadly to him in the future. This is a fine classical ending, parallel to Prospero breaking his staff at the end of the Tempest.
- Snape turns out to be good after all (come on, you have to have seen this one coming)
- Draco does something to redeem himself and/or gets saved by Harry
- It turns out that Dumbledore had been using Nicholas Flamel's Sorcerer's Stone to extend his own life until the end of Book 1, when his supply started to run short and he had just enough to "put his affairs in order"
- Who lives? The main three characters, McGonagle, the Weasleys, Luna, Neville.
- Who dies? Voldemort, one more baddie (Peter Pettigrew, maybe?), plus one of the remaining good guys (could be Harry, probably one of the Phoenix people, maybe Snape)
Thursday, June 21, 2007
If they ever make a movie of the life of Laura Albert -- and for reasons
we'll get to, that now seems unlikely -- the scene Wednesday in a Manhattan
courtroom would make a killer denouement...
For fans and onlookers, the unmasking of Albert, which happened in 2005,
was like finding out that John Updike is a robot. But it was a more serious
matter for the owner of Antidote Films, an indie-movie company in Manhattan,
which had acquired the film rights to "Sarah" back when everyone assumed that
LeRoy was flesh and blood.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
In a chewy interview in the show’s catalogue with MOMA’s Kynaston McShine(who co-curated the show with Lynne Cooke, of the Dia Art Foundation), Serra tells of his mother’s first visit, in the sixties, to his loft on Greenwich Street. “It was barren, there was nothing in it but a mattress on the floor, I was living on maybe $75 a month. . . . She looked out the window at the Hudson River and said, Richard, this is marvelous.”
Update: More Serra
Update: Even more Serra
Update: Still more Serra
It shows further anecdotal support for the rule of thumb that an average, well run business is one that generates about 10% profit. High profit businesses are of two types: a) high risk, "winner take most" businesses where superstars rule (e.g., Goldman Sachs trading business, Nobu), or b) ones in early stage markets where risk and return are not yet well priced.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
At first blush, the article reads like an exquisite corpse.
"People come and go in the homes of the painter Hunt Slonem, both the quick and the dead... Lunch is Louisiana takeout: boudin sausage, pecan pie, a local desert called ooey gooey. The talk is of a portrait, just hung, of Catherine of Aragon... Then
Mr. Slonem's caretaker calls with word of an interloper: a voodoo head, or
something that looks like one, has been found in the third-floor ceiling earlier
in the week and tucked away in a kitchen cabinet. Mr. Slonem goes at once to
retrieve the head, a mud-colored walnut-size carving of a skull, with a tiny
straw hat and pointy appendages. Then he retreats to make a call."
As the intrepid reader continues, he realizes Slonem is completely insane—equal parts James Merrill, Liberace, Valentino, Lou Reed, Bert Sugar, Keith Haring, and Scarlett O'Hara. Also he owns five houses. Not only the Louisiana plantation that is the focus of the article but another one a hundred miles away. He also owns an 89-room New York studio, and it really is awesome.
Love the parrot.
My friend Lance is always telling me that if he decides to stay in Toledo, rather than running off to Dubai, he's going to become both a)filthy rich and b)completely bizzare. He's got some work cut out for him if he's going to move from the gifted amateur eccentric category into the professional leagues.
It consisted largely, I found, of the most amiable sort of repurposed
semi-ruins. A vast Victorian colonial seashell of blackened brick, shot through
with big, grim grey bones of earnest civic Modernism. I marvelled that such an
odd place could have existed without my having heard of it. North of New
England, all this baroque, mad brick; sandstone gargoyles, red trams, the
Queen's portrait everywhere.
New-found friends, often as not, rented high-ceilinged rooms in crumbling townhouses, their slate rooflines fenced with rusting traceries of cast-iron, curlicues I'd only seen in Charles Addams cartoons. Everything painted a uniform dead green, like the face of a corpse in those same Addams cartoons. If you took a penknife and scraped a little of the green away, you discovered marvels: brown marble shot with paler veins, ornate bronze fixtures, carved oak. In the more stygian reaches of cellar, in such places, there were still to be found fully connected gaslight fixtures, forgotten, protruding from dank plaster like fairy pipes, each with a little flowered twist-key to stop the gas.
This was mid-town, walking distance in various directions from Yonge and Bloor.
In my twenties, it always seemed that my friends lived in exactly these sorts of townhouses around Columbus (German Village, Victorian Village, Grandview). Grand, decaying, repurposed, sublet. Ornamental stairways made for midnight conversations, grubby marble bathrooms with eccentric plumbing. They're the Great Lakes version of loft apartments.
I seem to remember going to a lot of parties at these houses, talking to strangers (friends of friends of friends). Girls in black kilts & cat eye glasses and dudes in rock band t-shirts & week-old shaves. Home-dyed hair and beastie boots. The smell of old vinyl and cardboard from childhood record collections. Cigarettes and multicolored candles in big ceramic ashtrays.
How many of those parties did I actually go to? How many more do I just remember because someone told me about them? That was my Bohemia.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Monday, April 02, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Walking to the bus stop is like entering a Jack London story. I hope the tinder works, or I'll have to gut a dog to warm my hands inside.
Also, my sewage line froze due to global climate change, so I am taking showers in an apartment down the hall. The water lines for the hot tub situated over my apartment froze as well, so I have a plastic tent suspended from my ceiling. It's all very chic in a postapocalyptic sort of way.