Saturday, April 23, 2011

Men show their character in nothing more clearly than...

For my friend Chris who thinks I have an unnatural attraction to the music of Brian Eno, here's the track Glitch from his upcoming album Drums Between Bells.  Or if Chris fancies himself a DJ, he can spend time with DJ Player and make his own mixes and effects.

The Sheep Market is an online mosaic of 10,000 hand drawn sheep.

Git yer learnin' on.  Yale maintains an open online catalog of several introductory courses.  Be sure to check out Philosophy 176 - Death (aka reflections on mortality).  If Ivy League isn't your style, try some computer science classes at Google Code University like HTML, CSS, and Javascript from the Ground Up (never too late to learn it the right way).  Maybe you have only ten minutes - learn Python.

I have found my next throne.  Kholer's Numi would make Thomas Crapper proud. 

Back to school for me: 100 books every high school student should read and I've read (or watched the movie) of only 16 of them.

Helen Frankenthaler, Flood, 1967

The NY Times reviews Color As Field: American Painting 1950-1975 and it sounds like it's well worth the visit to the Smithsonian if you're in DC.

Fast Company reports on a survey indicating that the American public would switch to electric cars if gas hit $5 per gallon.  Certainly gas prices like that would be felt throughout the economy as all products and services that require transportation would inflate in price.  But I'm not certain that $5/gal is enough to get the populace to switch to electric cars.   We've often wondered about the gas price at which you'd change your driving habits - car pool, public transportation, drive less, even buy a car that gets better mileage.   I can't say $5 is my tipping point, but I just drive back and forth to work.  Also, electric cars are not the panacea they seem.  Other than the current lack of infrastructure, they're no better environmentally than an internal combustion engine.  All you've done is changed the storage mechanism for the energy from gas to a battery.  The juice for that battery doesn't come from bunny farts (as a friend says) but comes from a big coal burning power plant somewhere.

Sketch of Voronoi is a fun little bit of Flash where you can interact with Voronoi polygons.  (It's a meshing thing.)

Proof that genius is alive and well on teh interwebs: the prime number shitting bear.

Natural resources have been in the news a lot lately - running out of helium, lack of access to rare earth elements - so the folks at have given us this map of the world's resources.   It's no surprise that the U.S. leads with 42% of the corn production or that Saudi Arabia leads with 20% of the world's oil but the leader in cotton production did surprise me.

How many bricks does it take to build a 102 foot tall LEGO tower?  In my experience, LEGOs are usually found equally distributed across the floor in a pool exactly 1 brick high.

Stupid picture of the week #1.  But it still made me laugh.

Twitter is worth over one billion dollars, has over 200 million users, is about to buy TweetDeck for $50 million and yet no one seems to know what it is.  Who would've thought you could send an email without specifying the recipients?

Anyone remember the 1975 Clint Eastwood movie The Eiger Sanction?  Here's video of a dude who solo climbs the Eiger in less than 3 hours.  I get light-headed just watching this.

Randomly dialing any 1-800 number in the U.S. has a 25% probability of connecting you with phone sex. (There's a joke here somewhere but I'm having trouble finding it.)
  • Open CASCADE is experimenting with GPUs for visualization of CAD geometry.
  • Pinguy OS is a Linux-based operating system for everyone that provides a complete out-of-the-box experience for those who don't want to do all the fiddling required by other Linux distros. 
  • Glassworks' 3D interactive model of the human heart is pretty impressive.
When it comes to running your own business you need to give yourself permission to suck, to be bad at the things you don't know how to do.  However, I also believe in the adage "it's better to ask forgiveness than to seek permission" therefore I apologize for sucking.

Things you probably won't ever need to do #3: search the first 4 billion digits of π for any string.

 Write "Horse Bits" or anything else with llama font.

Have you ever been writing in Word and needed a checkmark or accented character or other special character but didn't want to dig through the font list or symbol list to find it?  Try  Just click the symbol you want and paste it into your document.

Flipping a coin is so old school.  Instead, use the Universal Decision Maker.

Things you probably won't ever need to do #2: personalized nasal surgery.

Two clocks for your time-keeping pleasure.  First, the minimalist HELVETICTOC.  Second, the Amazing World Clock (amazing is their superlative, not mine), still text-based but with a twist.

A software vendor has been sued for allegedly wrongly blackmailing a client for unlicensed use of their product.  We were approached at work by a company who could put one of those "phone home" things in our software so we could find out if/when/where someone was using our product without a license (i.e. a  cracked version).  We declined because we felt that that information by itself was of little use.  If only someone would create uncrackable license management.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is coming this August.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.

 Stupid Picture of the Week #2.  source

Play god with Gravity - create a universe of planets and let gravity do its thing.  (I had a homework problem similar to this in my discrete math class in grad school.)

A tip of the hat to another horse-named blog, Horsey Surprise.

How long can you stand the Nyan Cat?  (Not as long as I watched the bear.)

...what they think laughable.  ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Danielle Pfaff said...

Concerning the list of books every high school student should read: Who made this list? I ask because if I were to have picked up some of these books while I was a lazy high school kid, I don't think my college path would have led to English. I mean, I did read many of those while in high school, but some of those books are hard. I wouldn't have made it very far through 100 Years of Solitude or Midnights Children (although, that Rushdie would have had more of a chance than Satanic Versus. That I did attempt in High School and that I did put down!) It's true, many of those books are good starts to college and many of them very manageable. However, who would ever ask any High Schooler to attempt Proust? Seriously? That's a whole summer break in itself!

Point being, I wouldn't feel to bad about not having read many. Strongest Recommendation on the list: If on a Winter's Night A Traveler by Italio Calvino. It's brilliant.

Francis Shivone said...

I tend to agree with Danielle on the list of books. But -- to beat the same drum I always beat, modern education is about consumption not submission.

Find one really good book, read it a few times, then you might learn something.

I spent a good five minutes on the gravity site. Actually, it made planet movement more clear to me.

Until a few minutes ago I loved peanut butter.

LOVED the minimalist clock. Will steal and use.

Finally, I'm too old probably to start, but I have been trying to learn some HTML and CSS and have been confused as to where to start. And also, I like to start learning something new working from the most fundamental ideas towards the detail. Any suggestions?

John said...

Regarding the book list, I'll agree it has some pretty obscure stuff on it. I'm still reeling from reading my first Don DeLillo a couple months ago. I'm not sure how I would have felt about it at 17. Perspective has a lot to do with reading too. I read Koestler's Darkness at Noon in H.S. and again a couple years ago and it was like two totally different novels to me. I don't think the young me had the life experience to appreciate the book.

Calvino has been added to my wish list at Amazon.

Fran: Peanut butter? That's the one you comment on? Not the prime bear? Not Puttin' on the Ritz? Wow. I was stoked for the sophomoric humor this week.

As for learning HTML, etc. I'm self taught - copied other people's code, read stuff online as needed. So I'm afraid I can't point you to one specific resource. I suppose the link to Google might be as good a place to start as any. My suggestion would be to learn plain HTML first and then start with CSS. If you want to discuss this further, send me an email.

Jim said...

Prime number bear - best link I've clicked on all week. Thank you.

We were approached at work by a company who could put one of those "phone home" things in our software

[the abridged version of what I was going to write] I spent a lot of time looking into different angles of this and am convinced technology will not fix what seems to be a social problem.

There is something appealing with employing similar ideas.

John said...

Jim: Thank GOD someone commented on the prime bear. Although no one has yet stooped to my level regarding Putin.

I like the idea about foiling hackers by a reverse Easter egg.

david said...

Twitter... is just a ADHD list server on steroids.