“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Here’s a startling side-by-side comparison of news photos that has begun floating around on the social web. Both photographs show a large crowd gathered to witness the unveiling of a new pope. The top one was what AP photographer Luca Bruno saw in 2005 when Pope Benedict XVI was introduced, while the bottom one is what AP photographer Michael Sohn witnessed yesterday at the election of Pope Francis.
Like Fresh & Easy’s 200 US stores, Trader Joe’s strives to sell wholesome food at a low cost. The key difference between the two lies in Trader Joe’s focus on customer experience – the cheery staff wear Hawaiian shirts, morning shoppers get free coffee and kids get rolls of stickers. Over at Fresh & Easy, customers fend for themselves at self-service checkouts.
I don’t know if this is the real reason why Trader Joe’s is beating Fresh & Easy in the battle of European owned stores in the US, but I hope it is. I’m no Luddite, but I freaking hate self-service checkouts. Give me Hawaiian shirts, morning coffee and rolls of stickers any day.
I love stuff like this:
There may be no single invention that shaped the modern city as much as the elevator. But the elevator, of course, is not a single invention. It’s a series of innovations going back hundreds of years and continuing now and into the future. Otis Elevator Company, founded 160 years ago today, quickly became, and remains, one of the largest elevator companies in the world thanks largely to Elisha Otis, who invented the elevator safety brake in the 1850s.
I’ve used Google Reader several times a day for years, so it was a real shame to learn they are closing the service in July.
In reality I’ve not actually visited the Google Reader website much at all – it’s just the invisible but always reliable backend for the iPhone apps Reeder and more recently Newsify (as I’ve encountered issues sharing articles through Reeder recently).
It seems that the likely outcome is that Reeder and Newsify will just use a different feed aggregator as their backend, so things will probably (hopefully) carry on as they did before.
Still, it seemed like a good time to take a look around at what’s happening as a result of Reader being shuttered.
One of the more interesting developments is over at Digg, where the brand is attempting a comeback after a disastrous few years. They are, they say, building a Reader specifically for all the people displaced by Google.
For me the most interesting part of Digg’s announcement is the request for feedback…
In order to pull this off in such a small window, we’re going to need your help. We need your input on what you want to see in a reader. What problems should it solve for you? What’s useful? What isn’t? What do you wish it could do that it can’t today?
…and the responses in the comments below, the most popular of which, with 719 votes and counting, says simply:
Keep it simple. I couldn’t agree more.
While I appreciate what Flipboard does on a technical and aesthetic level, it just doesn’t work for me as a way to quickly absorb lots and lots of info, so I can jump into the stuff I want to see in full, and therefore spend more time actually reading.
Even Feedly is frustrating, because although it’s very well put together, and does most things right, the transitions are just too distracting. I don’t care about transitions, I can about the content, and how easily I can access it, save it, and share it. And if nothing else, the howls of anguish that followed Google’s announcement that Google Reader would be closed has shown I’m not alone.
There’s a huge opportunity for someone here. It will be interesting to see who gets it right.
Here’s some advice sent in a letter to Jackson Pollock, in 1928, from his father LeRoy. It fits in nicely with the sentiment from Ian Brown posted yesterday:
Well Jack I was glad to learn how you felt about your summer’s work & your coming school year. The secret of success is concentrating interest in life, interest in sports and good times, interest in your studies, interest in your fellow students, interest in the small things of nature, insects, birds, flowers, leaves, etc. In other words to be fully awake to everything about you & the more you learn the more you can appreciate & get a full measure of joy & happiness out of life.
As I’ve said before, I love 99% Invisible.
I’ve been listening to the episodes in reverse order on the cross-trainer when I’m not brushing up on Spanish.
Is there anything more terrifying than abandoned amusement parks?
Many such deteriorating parks are hidden behind security barriers, or camouflaged with faux facades in an effort to pretend that they do not exist. But this particularly fantastic place, Spreepark PlanterWald, is “hidden in plain view”. It is located smack in the middle of a major European city – Berlin – close to the much-visited Treptower Park.
The point wasn’t the plot but to prove that the brain could be tricked into seeing images in three dimensions. The red-and-cyan 3-D system that grew out of their experiment enjoyed a brief vogue in the 1920s. But the technology worked only with a limited palette. Edwin Land would solve that problem by inventing polarized lenses in 1936, which worked in full color. These ushered in a new wave of 3-D mania when the technology made its way to Hollywood in the 1950s. At the same time, cheap red-and-cyan glasses based on the earlier system became popular in the world of comic books and B-movies.
“Every 20 to 30 years, you get this craze for 3-D movies,” says Jack Theakston, a historian with the 3-D Film Archive, which then burns out. Today’s “Avatar”-inspired boom is very likely no exception, Theakston says. Inventors, meanwhile, continue to work on the holy grail: 3-D effects with no glasses.
“No other mammal moves around like we do,” says Svante Pääbo, a director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, where he uses genetics to study human origins. “We jump borders. We push into new territory even when we have resources where we are. Other animals don’t do this. Other humans either. Neanderthals were around hundreds of thousands of years, but they never spread around the world. In just 50,000 years we covered everything. There’s a kind of madness to it. Sailing out into the ocean, you have no idea what’s on the other side. And now we go to Mars. We never stop. Why?”
Why indeed? Pääbo and other scientists pondering this question are themselves explorers, walking new ground. They know that they might have to backtrack and regroup at any time. They know that any notion about why we explore might soon face revision as their young disciplines—anthropology, genetics, developmental neuropsychology—turn up new fundamentals. Yet for those trying to figure out what makes humans tick, our urge to explore is irresistible terrain. What gives rise to this “madness” to explore? What drove us out from Africa and on to the moon and beyond?
Why indeed. Read the rest here
I really enjoyed this article about eyes and whales and consciousness and…. well, who can resist stuff like this:
I asked Peichl and Johnsen to speculate on what it might be like to have an eye on either side of your head, dual monocular vision.
“Perhaps the two eyes get very different parts of the visual field and environment. I don’t know how they integrate that,” Peichl said. “Usually in the brain… there is a high connectivity that connects the two hemispheres and makes that into a perceptual unity of just one continuous visual field. Something like that probably also exists in whales because they have to have some kind of perceptive unit of their environment, a unitary percept of their environment.”
And Johnsen: “They have two completely independent fields of view. God knows what they do with that. The internal perception, how do they represent that? Is it like two screens in their head? Do they stick it together? We don’t deal with that because we don’t have a region of our field of view that’s like that,” he said. “For all we know, they represent sonar information as vision. We think they hear a bunch of clicks, but for all we know, it is represented in a visual spatial form in their heads.”
Read it here, and marvel.
I loved this article from The Awl on some of the more outlandish examples of Soviet era architecture:
The 1975 Soviet film The Irony of Fate, a Russian favorite for Christmas season viewing to this day, boasts a Twelfth Night-like plot that turns on the anodyne similarity of Soviet housing. The narrator opens, mordantly, “In the past when people found themselves in a strange city they felt lost and lonely. Everything around was different: streets and buildings, even life. But now it has changed. A person comes to another city and feels at home there.” In a landscape of bland uniformity, “can you name a city that hasn’t got First Garden Street, Second Suburban Street, Third Factory Street, First Park Street? Second Industrial Street, Third Builders Street?” This similarity in design, not to mention the standardization of furniture and locks, results in our drunken protagonist deposited in the right apartment on “Third Builders Street”, but in the wrong city, and romantic comedy misadventures follow. (In fairness, It’s a Wonderful Life must look like a pretty odd holiday ritual to the average resident of Novosibirsk as well.) In any case, there’s no denying that most Soviet construction was oppressively dull and derivative; in this case, Soviet censors didn’t even seem to bother to try.
The truth is that electric cars don’t really need grilles. There’s no radiator, and while electric motors and other components do require cooling, they’re often placed in areas nowhere near the traditional grille location. There are still parts of a car that will need airflow— air conditioning condensers, possibly oil coolers for certain kinds of motors, but nothing that really demands the type and size of grille that internal combustion cars require.
I love this video.
What brought down Pinochet? Not hate, but the prospect of joy, according to the ad men that orchestrated the campaign that destroyed him:
“By its very nature, ‘no’ was a negative concept; it was very difficult to sell,” says García, now 60 and still living and working in Santiago. “‘No’ was not a person, not a candidate. It had no personality, no ethics, no aesthetics.” So García’s first job was to create a “product” which would have mass-market appeal. What message, his team asked themselves, would unite Chileans, both young and old? Something that would both reassure and fire up the voters? They tossed ideas around. There was a temptation, of course, to go with a hard-hitting campaign – featuring footage of executions, political arrests and police violence – to remind voters of Pinochet’s many crimes.
But the ad men knew that wouldn’t “sell”. However deep the hatred, you didn’t fight negativity with negativity. Instead they needed something upbeat and optimistic that would galvanise the nation; something hopeful to contrast with the fear and oppression of the ruling junta.
What we need to convey, García said, looking up at a deep blue sky, is the feeling you have when black clouds part and the sun finally breaks through. What is that word? And then he answered his own question: “La alegría!” Joy! That was the slogan: “Chile, la alegría ya viene” Chile, joy is coming.
Today we largely undergo variations on a theme — faster, easier, cheaper. Those in the Gilded Age, however, witnessed mind-bending changes in communication, infrastructure, transportation and entertainment hardly imagined beforehand. Buildings soared into the sky, people talked over wires, and steam-engine trains linked a nation. “Men and women of the nineteenth century were the first to live in a world shaped by perpetual invention,” writes Ernest Freeberg, a professor of humanities at the University of Tennessee, in “The Age of Edison.” And if there is one person who stands out as a chief architect in that transformative era, it is Thomas Edison.
I love articles like this one, they remind of bands that I briefly became aware of, like when they get featured on the Goodfellas soundtrack, and then forget all about again until I’m reminded of how great they are:
In the not so distant past, while sitting in the chair of the person who cuts my hair, the Shangri-Las’ “Out In The Streets” came blaring over the speakers, prompting me to purchase the song immediately so I could listen to it on my way home, over and over again. The song was released in 1964, and in the 1970s was covered by both the New York Dolls and Blondie… but the original is still the way to go.