Friday, March 27, 2009

culture barometer

Search for something, anything. See where and when people are conducting that same search.

Pennsylvania is the state that most often searches for "cheesesteak."

There's a spike in LOST searches right around the premiere and the finale every year.

Infinite possibility!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

more daft punk

Idaft: a straightforward website toy for daft punk fans

widened colum

Thanks to John Deere Mom, my main column is 240 pixels wider.

VCR hackery

Adam loves this video.


dusty foot philosopher

I heard piece on the radio about a Somali-Canadian rapper named K'naan.
I like his style. The content could use some development (90% of it seems to recurrently lament Somalian street life) - but his delivery and his voice are what hook me. He's got a pretty interesting story, too - he taught himself how to rap, imitating American artists he admired, before he learned English. I like the song "Dreamer" from his new album, Troubadour, the fourth one down at his website. You can download the song "Somalia" for free at his myspace page.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

dwarfed punk

Nicely done.

sturgeon faces

Bad comparison... good website. Check it out before it finishes making the rounds and flitters into obsolescence.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009


I went on a wikipedia rampage the other night that led me somewhere worth mentioning. I didn't save any of it, so I'll have to do it from memory.

It all started when I was playing Guitar Hero. I finally beat "Hot for Teacher" on expert in World Tour.
I was so happy I decided to go online.

I looked up "Hot for Teacher" in Google and found its Wikipedia page.
That led me to the article about the album that the song is from,
where I learned that
1984 peaked at #2 on the Billboard Magazine album charts (#1 at the time was Thriller, which featured an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo on "Beat It," which Roth had criticized[1]) and contained future hits "Jump", "Panama", "I'll Wait", and "Hot for Teacher".So I clicked on the link for Thriller
and went right to the page for Michael Jackson. Look, there he is!
Incidentally, this picture was taken in 1984. Anyway, I promise this is going somewhere. From the lede of the MJ article:
In the early 1980s, he became a dominant figure in popular music and the first African-American entertainer to amass a strong crossover following on MTV."Crossover" was linked. So I clicked on it. Interesting article, though it could use some work. Third graf:In practice crossover frequently results from the appearance of the music in question in a film soundtrack. For instance, Sacred Harp music experienced a spurt of crossover popularity as a result of its appearance in the 2003 film Cold Mountain, and bluegrass music experienced a revival due to the reception of 2000's O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Even atonal music, which tends to be less popular among classical enthusiasts, has a kind of crossover niche, since it is widely used in film and television scores "to depict an approaching menace," as noted by Charles Rosen[citation needed]Okay, here we go. That Sacred Harp thing they mention does not mean harp music that is religiously pointed; it's actually... wait, what the hell is it?
Well, it's a type of choral Shape Note music, something to do with solf├Ęge, but I know when Wikipedia offers me more to bite off than I can chew. The good stuff is in the Sacred Harp article. I can't quote the entire thing, but for example:
Sacred Harp singers view their tradition as a participatory one, not a passive one. Those who gather for a singing sing for themselves and for each other, and not for an audience...

...The leader, being equidistant from all sections, in principle hears the best sound. The often intense sonic experience of standing in the center of the square is considered one of the perquisites of leading, and sometimes a guest will be invited as a courtesy to stand next to the leader during a song.

The music itself is also meant to be participatory. Most forms of choral composition place the melody on the top (treble) line, where it can be best heard by an audience, with the other parts written so as not to obscure the melody. In contrast, Sacred Harp composers have aimed to make each musical part singable and interesting in its own right, thus giving every singer in the group an absorbing task.
That's all. Kind of makes me want to rent Cold Mountain, but why bother when everything I want is...yes, I know you're thinking the same thing.



Someone is a genius. At, you can buy rolls of stickers that say "FAIL" just like on photos on the internet. Here's an example from their "user-submitted photos":
Hilarious. It says FAIL on the toilet. The site is fairly young, so I imagine someone just went around their house and stuck a sticker somewhere in each room, but I really hope this goes nowhere. I'm all for internet jokes--but they should stay where they came from. I accept that in the future, every time someone drops a plate of food at a restaurant there will be someone (probably someone young and hip) pridefully smirking for their being the first to offer a spoken "FAIL" ... but I don't have to like it.

swimsuits part 2

Here's what they said at the FINA meeting:
Based on FINA's proposals and contributions discussed at the meeting, the FINA Bureau at its meeting on March 12-14, 2009 in Dubai (UAE) will consider amendments which include:
• DESIGN: The swimsuit shall not cover the neck and shall not extend past the shoulders nor past the ankles;
o The material used shall have a maximum thickness of 1mm;
o When used, the material shall follow the body shape;
o The application of different materials shall not create air trapping effects;
• BUOYANCY: The swimsuit shall not have a buoyancy effect of more than 1 Newton (100gr);
• CONSTRUCTION: Any system providing external stimulation or influence of any form (e.g. pain reduction, chemical/medical substance release, electro-stimulation) is prohibited;
• CUSTOMISATION: All swimsuits of an approved model must be constructed in an identical fashion with no variation/modification for individual swimmers from the samples submitted for approval;
• USE: The swimmer can only wear one swimsuit at a time;
• CONTROL: FINA will establish its own independent control/testing programme. Scientific testing will be conducted by a team led by Prof. Jan-Anders Manson, from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) and Laboratory of Polymer and Composite Technology;
• APPROVAL: Swimwear manufacturers will be able to make submissions for approval of swimsuits until March 31, 2009.
I like that they bring up customization - I think that's directly where things were headed next. And no "air trapping effects" probably means no more Blue Seventy. One other thing, though: There's no mention of availability, which they said would be a topic they'd cover at the meeting last month. Lack of availability from distributors and even manufacturers, let alone the astronomical cost, was probably the main cause for concern this year.

Monday, March 02, 2009

so-called technical swimsuits

Well, now that most conferences' championship meets are over, the NCAA has released a memorandum categorically explicating their position on so-called so-called technical swimsuits.
A snip:
Since the NCAA does not currently have the capability to test swimsuits, and since there seemingly is no discernible justification for treating any one technical suit differently from any other for purposes of use at intercollegiate competition, the committees have decided to permit all technical swimsuits for all 2009 NCAA swimming and diving championships.Okay. That is a steaming pile of nothing. Their logic says that since they can't test the suits, there is no reason to even consider disallowing any of them. They actually held a committee/staff teleconference to make this hollow, unspecific, see-no-evil "decision."
You could argue that it's FINA's fault for largely ignoring the enormous proliferation of sport-changing competition wear, but the NCAA can't just claim helplessness and pin responsibility on the higher-ups. If FINA isn't doing anything, the NCAA should take some initiative. It's fine that the suits are allowed at nationals this year - no reason to change mid-season. And I don't think the suits should be banned, necessarily - not my decision to make. But between now and next winter, I think it's reasonable to expect both FINA and the NCAA to explain a little further about what exactly is allowed and what isn't. As precisely as they explain the rules about, oh, I don't know, maybe something trivial, like the manufacturer's logo on those suits?
We also would like to take this opportunity to remind the membership that, per NCAA Bylaw 12.5.4, “a student-athlete’s institution’s official uniform (including numbered racing bibs and warm-ups) and all other items of apparel (e.g., socks, head bands, T-shirts, wrist bands, visors or hats, swim caps and towels) shall bear only a single manufacturer’s or distributor’s normal label or trademark (regardless of the visibility of the label or trademark), not to exceed 2¼ square inches in area (rectangle, square, parallelogram) including any additional material (e.g., patch) surrounding the normal trademark or logo.” As we prepare for the championships, it is important that everyone is in compliance with this bylaw and it is the individual participants’ and institutions’ ultimate responsibility to adhere to the bylaw. Division I institutions are reminded also to review NCAA Bylaw 31.1.7 pertaining to bench personnel. A violation of these bylaws will result in a report being sent to NCAA Enforcement.
Yes! Just like that! A detailed and no-nonsense description of the rules, and it's for something that nobody actually cares about! Hold as many teleconferences as it takes, NCAA - if it means an actual decision, we can wait.

UPDATE: I poked around FINA's site and found this. It's not bad. I'll be watching for what happens at the Bureau meeting in Dubai this month.