April 2012 Archives

Yeoh GH's flickr stream

Cool photographs, all set against a white background with their respective color pallet below them. Nice idea and beautiful implementation. Check out the full set.

Some gems from President Obama

These are non-sarcastic gems — honestly outstanding quips. First, on Congress and interest rate hikes on student loans (emphasis added).

For the first eight years of our marriage, [Michelle and I] were paying more in student loans than what we were paying for our mortgage. So we know what this is about.

And we were lucky to land good jobs with a steady income. But we only finished paying off our student loans—check this out, all right, I’m the President of the United States—we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago.

Madness.

Second, on false and forced dichotomies:

There will always be people in this country who say we’ve got to choose between clean air and clean water and putting people back to work. That is a false choice. With smart, sustainable policies, we can grow our economy today and protect our environment for ourselves and our children.

I heard some interesting facts along these lines today from John Harte. No amount of praise I can heap on John is sufficient — he’s a brilliant scientist, an outstanding professor, and occupies a rare, trusted position in the realm of public intellectuals. John discussed a few examples of the environment vs. jobs myth, honing in primarily on old growth preservation in the Pacific Northwest. He noted that instead of jobs being lost by forest preservation, quite a few were created through the processing of “lesser” wood products that had a larger market. Profits increased, as well. He also pointed to rapid growth in the environmental sector in other countries who have a larger focus on renewables — China and Germany, predominantly.

Finally, back to Obama and the students, as he slow jams the news with Jimmy Fallon.

That mic drop was priceless.

The Abominable Charles Christopher

Karl Kerschl’s art in the Abominable Charles Christopher is absolutely gorgeous. He’s styled it as an old-fashioned comic strip which comes out once a week. The stories are funny, poignant, touching, hysterical, and often carry some pro-environment overtones. Highly recommend — for kids big and small.

Composit by Aanand Prasad

I wrote about Pep Ventosa's composite photographs a little while ago. Pretty amazing stuff. Aanand Prasad, a London based developer and designed, created a little tool to create something similar sourcing photos by keyword from Flickr. This is highly recommended -- really neat. The photos aren't as resolved as those created by Pep, but the effect is startling for some words. I tried a few different keywords, but really enjoyed how Dalai Lama (below) turned out. A few others that are pretty neat:

Steve Jobs | Moon | Rose (macro)

DalaiLama.jpg

We're Not Sleeping Here, There Are Dead Cows: Forest Service Considers Blasting Frozen Cows With Explosives

Officials near Conundrum Hot Springs have a literal conundrum on their hands -- what to do with several frozen cows stuck in a cabin?

"We decided we were going to snowshoe to Conundrum Hot Springs near Aspen," said cadet Marshall Kay, 21, a junior at the Air Force Academy.

"When I walked up to the doorway there was a head," said junior Air Force cadet Cameron Harris, 20. "It scared me. I thought it was a bear initially."

"Cameron got there first and he says, 'Ah, I think we're going to have to sleep on the snow tonight, man. The cabin's full of frozen cows,'" said Kay.

"There's no way we're staying here tonight. The floor is covered," said Harris to Kay during their hike. "And he's like, 'What are you talking about?' and I was like, 'Well, there's dead cows in here.'"

"I didn't know what the heck he was talking about," said Kay.

Perhaps the above dialogue wasn't as ridiculous as it sounds; the way its reported, however, is ridiculous. And, of course, the kicker:

"Finding cattle in a cabin, frozen, is quite unusual," said Steve Segin, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. Segin said the dead cows in the cabin now create a nuisance and a thorny issue concerning how to remove them.

"It's 8 miles in. It's within the wilderness, so we can't use any mechanical means. No aircraft, no helicopters, no chainsaws, no ATV's," said Segin. "They are prohibited."

So the forest service is considering blowing up the cabin, along with the cows inside.

Of course. There's a cabin in the frozen hinterlands full of dead cows. We have to blow it up.

Learned about via Daring Fireball

Update Follow the full store at the following links:
Discovery, March 31
The Challenge, April 16
The Quandary, April 18

"What would David Byrne do?"

Read more about DB + SV’s collaboration here.

A question I ask myself from time to time. Often. More importantly, an official confirmation from Annie Clark / St. Vincent about an upcoming collaboration with David Byrne.

St. Vincent + David Byrne From Pitchfork:

Annie Clark: “… It’s not what I would expect— in a good way— though you will recognize both of us in it. It’s an honest-to-god, straight-down-the-middle thing. He wrote music, I wrote music; he wrote words, I wrote words. He sings half the songs, I wrote half the songs. I’ve never been that closely entwined in the songwriting, arranging, singing, and lyric-writing process with anyone. On occasion, I found myself writing vocal melodies that were very much like, “What would David Byrne do?” It ends up that I’m singing some of that stuff, though.”

“David has this amazing ability to not be critical of anything. He’s so curious and eager that he just throws out every wild idea from A to Z and then there’s this other process where he refines it and picks the best part. It makes him fearless— that’s why he’s David Byrne.”

Can’t wait.

Bay Bridge Lightning Strike

Last Thursday, there was a crazy thunderstorm here unlike any I’ve encountered since we moved. It reminded me of storms back in Louisiana and Georgia — booming thunder, raucous rain, and a lot of lightning.

I went looking for photos from that night o’lightning, hoping enterprising individuals were out capturing it. I wasn’t disappointed - and the photo by Phil McGrew really sealed the deal. Pretty terrifying looking and crazy 20 second exposure. Check it out on Phil’s flickr stream or click here.

Iteration

This thing looks different, as the handful of regular readers will notice. Perhaps not dramatically so, but I wanted to focus on the writing and the imagery and strip away all the other cruft.

So, some changes. The overall scaffolding for the page has changed a little; the sidebar is a little smaller and the main column's a bit bigger. The font has changed to one available through Adobe TypeKit - Franklin Gothic URW. I'm happy with how it renders on a computer and absolutely thrilled with how it looks on retina-calibre devices. It has a number of weights, obviating the need for multiple fonts on the site. Until HF&J launches their web font offerings, I'll be sticking with this.

A lot of the cutesy stuff -- rotating photos, quips, the date, twitter feeds -- and some more pragmatic stuff -- google ads, etc -- have been removed to decrease page load times. While the ads were generating a little revenue, it wasn't enough on a monthly basis to justify their ugliness. The photos still rotate, just on a per visit / refresh basis.

The sidebar's been tidied up. I liked having links to things I read over there, but they didn't need to clutter the viewing experience for readers on every single page. So perhaps they'll return in the future in a subsection.

Finally, a work in progress: the site looks different on an iPhone or Android device than it does on a computer or iPad using some CSS rules. I'll be refining the mobile view for a bit longer. Again, the emphasis will be on the readability of the site. I envision the mobile version even further stripped down (no sidebar) to accommodate the small reading space.

Enjoy + feedback always welcome.

Burn: An Energy Journal

It is the fundamental issue of our time: Energy; where we get it; how we use it; what happens then. It powers our homes and our economy; it creates troubled alliances and disturbing divisions; it empowers and impoverishes; it enables almost all that we do and now threatens all that we have become.

The Peabody-award winning SoundVision Productions presents BURN: An Energy Journal, a broadcast and digital project hosted by one of public radio's most trusted journalists and master storytellers, Alex Chadwick. Alex will explore our energy future through the intimate stories of visionaries of research, maverick inventors, industry insiders and concerned citizens. These personal stories will help explain how and why we face an energy crisis, the dilemma of the continuing demand for energy, the realities and consequences of a mostly carbon-based industry and infrastructure, and some possible alternatives and personal/global solutions to an energy and climate future in the coming decades. BURN will follow the quest for Energy answers and the stirring public initiative required to transition to this new energy world.

I'm listening to the first episode now about the Fukushima Daiichi disaster and what it means for nuclear power in the future. Really well put together and reported. And timely. Highly recommended. Listen here.

Pep Ventoso Photographs

Really striking photographs. My favorite collection is "Trees, In the Round," though all of them are spectacular. Of that collection, Ventosa says

"Multiple shots of each tree were taken while walking in a circle around it, then blended together and reworked to discover what became of the orbit - the tree and its environment in the round."

via Kottke.org

Auspicious Arrival of Yung T'ao

Last night, while blindly hunting for old video footage from my time in Nepal, I stumbled upon a random screen capture of the below poem. I remember finding it with @tricyclesam and appreciating it.

The brevity of the poem strikingly underplays its precision and resonance. We may not know Sword Gate, the Lu River Wilds, or a frosted scene puckered by chrysanthemums - but the structure and diction evoke clear images, and more profoundly, clear feelings. Pretty neat and powerful stuff.

This morning
laughing together;
just a few such days
in a hundred.

After birds pass
over Sword Gate, it's calm;
invaders from the south
have withdrawn to the Lu River wilds.

We walk on frosted ground
praising chrysanthemums bordering fields
sit on the east edge of the woods,
waiting for the moon to rise.

Not having to be alone
is happiness;
we do not talk
of failure or success.

Chia Tao (779-843)
translated by Mike O'Connor
from The Clouds Should Know Me By Now: Buddhist Poet Monks of China

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