Me talking about the Somebody app on BBCwww.bbc.com

I was interviewed by BBC correspondant Anna Bressanin for a show called Trending, talking ’bout Miranda July’s Somebody app. I’ve been using the service a bit, and it’s a lot of fun. The app is imperfect; the software is buggy, and I don’t like that it only works for iPhone, but the idea itself is interesting.

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Hess’ Triangle on Atlas Obscurawww.atlasobscura.com

More on the odd-shaped mosaic I photographed this morning:

Hess’ Triangle sits on the ground outside of a cigar shop on the corner of Christopher and 7th Avenue, just a bit larger than a generously-sized pizza slice. Village Cigars bought the triangle in 1938 for $1,000.

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Howard Zinn quotationstrikemag.bigcartel.com

I like this poster from Strike Magazine:

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“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” —Howard Zinn

Neil Freeman interviewed about his Electoral College Reform map

You may have seen Neil’s map before, where each of the US’s 50 states are redrawn to balance for population. It’s nice to see his project’s motivating ideas laid out like they are in this Paris Review interview:

I think that the biggest cultural change would be with the profusion of city-states. Many states overrepresent rural areas when it comes to divvying up funding for infrastructure projects and other spending. The alignment of metro areas and states would mean that decision-making power in land use and transportation would shift away from rural areas, which would probably mean less sprawl and more livable cities.

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See also: Neil’s 50 states and 50 metros

The fifty largest metro areas, disaggregated from their states. Each has been scaled and sorted according to population.

Doug Henwood vs. Adam Davidsonlbo-news.com

Last January Doug Henwood, one of my favorite lefty blogger-radio people, wrote a nasty response to Adam Davidson’s New York Times Magazine article on Wall Street:

For a while, I’ve been thinking about writing a piece on how NPR is more toxic than Fox News. Fox preaches to the choir. NPR, though, confuses and misinforms people who might otherwise know better. Its “liberal” reputation makes palatable a deeply orthodox message for a demographic that could be open to a more critical message.

The full critique will take some time. But a nice warm-up opportunity has just presented itself: a truly wretched piece of apologetic hackery by Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR’s Planet Money economics reporting team, that appears in today’s New York Times magazine.

So I was excited to see that Davidson recently appeared on Henwood’s radio show, Behind the News:

Adam Davidson, host of NPR’s Planet Money and columnist for the New York Times Magazine, on finance, innovation, bourgeois ideology, journalism, and being mean on the Internet.

The discussion starts out with a lot of Henwood talking uninterrupted, and coming off a bit defensive, but then they get into an interesting big picture discussion about the nature of ideology in popular media. The blog post Henwood mentions in the introduction on Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin (and its follow-up) is also worthwhile.

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Gizmodo will pay you for photos of Mark Zuckerberggizmodo.com

Mat Honan:

Two years ago, Mark Zuckerberg told startup publicist Mike Arrington that “people have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.”

Facebook has evolved over time too. No longer privately held, it is itself a public company, with a public CEO. We think it’s time he evolves along with his company. In short, it’s time for Mark to go public too.

Here’s the deal: We’re going to pay for photos and videos of Mark Zuckerberg taken between now and Labor Day. Snap a photo or shoot some video of Mark. At a bar, after a conference, on the street. Totally great. We want pictures of him that he isn’t expecting to have made. If we run it, we’ll send you a cool $20.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say $20 is low compared to standard paparazzi rates. This reminds me a little of Rob Cockerham’s paparazzi contest, which was great fun to participate in.

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Star Wars and Modernism introductionstarwarsmodern.blogspot.com

John Powers aka @starwarsmodern:

Earlier this week on twitter I ‘tweeted’ what might be thought of as an 8-bit art history lecture. By “8-Bit” I mean that, in the same way an 8-bit portrait is accurate, if radically simplified, this is a blocky generalized history. I was spurred to give this lecture after Todd Florio passed on the artist, Tom Sachs’ observation that “Darth Vader IS Hitler. Yoda IS Buddha.” Sachs owns Foamcore, police barricades, and can make an almost entirely air-tight claim on NASA, but Star Wars is mine. Sorry Tom.

I’m pretty sure this is what the internet was invented for.

Darth Vader is a Modernist

“Darth Vader was not a German Fascist, he was an American fascist (lowercase f)”

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Income inequality as seen from spacepersquaremile.com

From Tim De Chant’s Per Square Mile blog:

Last week, I wrote about how urban trees—or the lack thereof—can reveal income inequality. After writing that article, I was curious, could I actually see income inequality from space? It turned out to be easier than I expected.

He makes some interesting comparisons from satellite images of cities around the world. Here is where I live in Bushwick, Brooklyn compared with the place in New York State with the highest per-capita income, Hewlett Bay Park.

Bushwick, Brooklyn (per capita income is $11,871)

Hewlett Bay Park, Long Island (per capita income is $113,320)

Link via BoingBoing

The 20 All-Time Worst TED Talkswww.buzzfeed.com

I feel slightly bad linking to this since I know a couple of the speakers on the list. But I still chuckled a bit as I was reading it. Now I see some chatter about a TED parody event.

The paralyzed rat is not walkingwww.reuters.com

I’ve seen this video going around, advancing the idea that science has enabled a paralyzed rat to walk. This follows on some other impressive medical feats like the brain-controlled robotic arm.

The thing that struck me in the video, though, is that the rat is moving involuntarily. The rat’s body is walking, but it’s an advanced QWOP-style computer algorithm that’s in control. To me this research seems more similar to those creepy Boston Dynamics robots than other advances in rehabilitative medicine.

The rat, in this case, is just a meat-based robot. Now watch the video with that in mind, watch the spasms of the front legs, and the cooing encouragement from the lab tech. Creepy right?

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Twelve years of phiffer.orgphiffer.org

Twelve years ago, on May 26th, I registered the domain phiffer.org. It started out as a kind of online sketchbook. The first thing I posted here was an experiment in direct manipulation of the page. The point was to surprise visitors with an unexpected opportunity to create something. It’s a very crude drawing interface, and a bit pointless, but I’m amazed that it still works (for the most part). Go web standards!

The site has gone through many permutations since then, but it’s still primarily my online sketchbook. I’ve adopted a fairly conventional weblog format, but I’m still interested in exploring that element of surprise. I’d still like to try out some new things here. More to come!

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Update: James reminded me of this box grid interface in the comments.

New phiffer.org tags pagephiffer.org

I did a little tidying up around here, combining similar tags and tweaking the tags overview page. I decided to divide up the tags by whether they’re proper nouns or not. There are some edge cases like Global Warming (proper noun) and art (common noun), where I could see choosing either way.

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Leaving Facebookistanwww.newyorker.com

Steve Coll in The New Yorker’s Daily Comment:

Through its bedrock appeals to friendship, community, public identity, and activism—and its commercial exploitation of these values—Facebook is an unprecedented synthesis of corporate and public spaces. The corporation’s social contract with users is ambitious, yet neither its governance system nor its young ruler seem trustworthy.

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