homeaboutarchives + tagsshopmembership!
aboutarchivesshopmembership!
aboutarchivesmembers!

A Visit to the Most Solitary Place on Earth, the Deep Sea

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 17, 2019

For their latest video, Kurzgesagt takes a typically informative journey from the surface of the ocean all the way down to the deepest spot on Earth, Challenger Deep.

In the segment about marine snow — decaying matter and feces that falls from the resource-rich sliver of ocean near the surface to provide the thin sustenance for the entire rest of the ocean — I couldn’t help but think about trickle-down economics.

Milton’s Annotated Copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio Discovered

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 16, 2019

Milton Shakespeare

Based on handwriting analysis, Jason Scott-Warren, the Director of the Cambridge Centre for Material Texts, has discovered that a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio from 1623 was owned by John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, who annotated it with copious notes.

It’s always annoying when someone tries to claim that they’ve discovered a lost literary artefact. I was myself a little bit brutal when, five years ago, we were treated to the supposed rediscovery of Shakespeare’s dictionary. In this as in other cases, there’s usually a lot of wishful thinking, plus copious spinning of the evidence to make it seem plausible, and elision of anything that doesn’t seem to fit. However, I’m going to make my own unwise pronouncement on the basis of just a few hours of research. I’m going to claim to have identified John Milton’s copy of the Shakespeare First Folio of 1623.

There already seems to be a consensus developing that Scott-Warren’s analysis rings true.

But he soon found that other scholars were agreeing with him. “Not only does this hand look like Milton’s, but it behaves like Milton’s writing elsewhere does, doing exactly the things Milton does when he annotates books, and using exactly the same marks,” said Dr Will Poole at New College Oxford. “Shakespeare is our most famous writer, and the poet John Milton was his most famous younger contemporary. It was, until a few days ago, simply too much to hope that Milton’s own copy of Shakespeare might have survived — and yet the evidence here so far is persuasive. This may be one of the most important literary discoveries of modern times.”

(via open culture)

Euphemisms for Death Collected from Obituaries

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 16, 2019

Writer Rachel Monroe recently shared a bunch of “odd synonyms for ‘died’” that her mother collects from obituaries. Here’s an excerpt from her charmingly handwritten notes:

Died Synonyms

Among the highlights:

(via @tedgioia)

Capital and Ideology

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 16, 2019

French economist Thomas Piketty has come out with a new book. The 1200-page Capital and Ideology is a followup to Capital in the 21st Century, a surprise bestseller when it was released a few years ago. The book just came out in French (English readers will need to wait until March) so details are still sparse, but The Guardian has a short preview.

Among the proposals in the book are that employees should have 50% of the seats on company boards; that the voting power of even the largest shareholders should be capped at 10%; much higher taxes on property, rising to 90% for the largest estates; a lump sum capital allocation of €120,000 (just over £107,000) to everyone when they reach 25; and an individualised carbon tax calculated by a personalised card that would track each person’s contribution to global heating.

In an interview with the French weekly news magazine L’Obs, Piketty made no apologies for the impact his ideas would have on the stock market. He said: “[Yes], it will also affect the price of real estate that is crazy in Paris, and it will allow new social groups to become owners and shareholders.”

Branko Milanovic, an expert on global inequality, has written an early review.

This part of the book looks empirically at the reasons that left-wing, or social democratic parties have gradually transformed themselves from being the parties of the less-educated and poorer classes to become the parties of the educated and affluent middle and upper-middle classes. To a large extent, traditionally left parties have changed because their original social-democratic agenda was so successful in opening up education and high-income possibilities to the people who in the 1950s and 1960s came from modest backgrounds. These people, the “winners” of social democracy, continued voting for left-wing parties but their interests and worldview were no longer the same as that of their (less-educated) parents. The parties’ internal social structure thus changed — the product of their own political and social success. In Piketty’s terms, they became the parties of the “Brahmin left” (La gauche Brahmane), as opposed to the conservative right-wing parties, which remained the parties of the “merchant right” (La droite marchande).

To simplify, the elite became divided between the educated “Brahmins” and the more commercially-minded “investors,” or capitalists. This development, however, left the people who failed to experience upward educational and income mobility unrepresented, and those people are the ones that feed the current “populist” wave. Quite extraordinarily, Piketty shows the education and income shifts of left-wing parties’ voters using very similar long-term data from all major developed democracies (and India). The fact that the story is so consistent across countries lends an almost uncanny plausibility to his hypothesis.

Nirvana’s Underwater Baby

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 16, 2019

Kirk Weddle took the iconic photograph of the underwater baby for the cover of Nirvana’s breakthrough album Nevermind. On his website, he describes the shoot and the process that resulted in the final photo. Before the baby went into the water, Weddle used a doll to get the lighting and focus right.

Nevermind Doll

Once I felt I had the framing, light, and exposure dialed in; the parents slipped the child into the water. I took seven frames on the first pass and four frames on the second. As expected, the baby started to cry, this had been the babies first time underwater, and we wrapped the shoot. The dollar bill and the fishhook were stripped in in post.

The baby’s name was Spencer Elden, who has recreated the underwater scene more than once as an adult. He’s even got a tattoo that says “Nevermind” on his chest.

Nevermind Adult

(via life is so beautiful)

The 2019 Fall Foliage Prediction Map

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 16, 2019

Fall Foliage 2019

SmokyMountains.com is back this year with their best-of-web foliage prediction map. Here in Vermont, things are starting to look a little rusty out there, but it appears I have at least a few more days to pretend that it’s still summer. Right? RIGHT?!

Graffiti That Helps You See Through Walls

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 16, 2019

For some of his latest street art, Portuguese graffiti artist Vile has been creating optical illusions of his name “cut” into the walls of buildings.

Vile graffiti

That’s just spray paint he’s using…that effect is quite good, no? Here’s another one:

Vile graffiti

And here’s how that wall looked before:

Vile graffiti

You can see Vile’s most recent work on Instagram.

The Server Bone Is Connected to the DNS Bone…

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 15, 2019

Zero Days

Some of you may have noticed that kottke.org was unavailable for more than 36 hours on Thursday and Friday last week. That’s the longest stretch of downtime for the site since… well, probably ever. That sucks and I’m sorry. Here’s (briefly) what happened:

On Thursday morning, my domain registrar (Dotster) locked access to the kottke.org domain after they couldn’t reach me at the email address listed, which was an address from when I registered the domain 20+ years ago that I haven’t used since before Obama was President. Seeing as the business address listed on the account was also 20 years old, verification via documents was not going to work either (and that process was going to take days to unfold). Their first-line support people were confused about how to even proceed — “this is a very unusual situation…” It was at this point where I started wondering (ok, freaking out) if I was ever going to get my domain name back. How do I prove that I am who I was 20 years ago?1

Eventually — and I say “eventually” because I missed a voicemail that I thought was one of 3-5 spam voicemails I get every weekday — I was connected (via Twitter) to Winston Wolf’s team at Dotster, the folks who could actually do something for me. After some back and forth and several verifications, they unlocked the domain and the site came back up on Friday afternoon. And then I collapsed into a puddle of whatever chemicals are released from your body after a massively stressful event.

To be clear, not keeping the information on my domain up-to-date was my fault. (The info on my Dotster account was current though, but not the same thing apparently.) And I appreciate Dotster’s efforts in helping me regain access to my domain and ensuring that no one was trying to social engineer it away from me. But locking access like that to a domain name that’s had a single owner since its initial registration and has been paid for by the same credit card for more than 10 years (and was prepaid until 2022) seems overzealous. The sudden need for domain verification was not triggered by some fishy activity on my account but by an internal Dotster process and keeping the site offline until it was resolved was excessive and I’m still not happy about it. Sure, don’t allow changes or transfers until it’s verified, but turning off a domain that’s paid for and been happily humming along without changes for literal decades is just not right.

Ok. Anyway, that’s what happened. All my information is now updated so it shouldn’t happen again. *fingers crossed* I’d like to thank Mike at Dotster, Greg Knauss (kottke.org’s tech godfather), and the fantastically speedy support folks at Arcustech for their help in diagnosing and fixing the problem. I also want to apologize to everyone who financially supports the site through a membership. Guaranteed uptime for the site was not explicitly part of the arrangement, but I still take any outages seriously. Part of what I imagine the appeal of the site to be is that it’s always here, with URLs that don’t change and a regular publishing schedule, year after year. As of Friday afternoon, we’re on a new uptime streak that will hopefully last a long while.

-jason

  1. A reader called this “the ‘never step in the same river twice’ security conundrum”. Love a Heraclitus reference.

Yosemite’s Rainbow Waterfall

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 11, 2019

The light and the wind happened to be just right for Greg Harlow to catch this rainbow emanating from upper portion of Yosemite Falls. Beautiful. The 21-second time lapse version of the video makes the falls look like a rainbow flame:

It’s astounding enough that perfect curves of color appear in the sky after rainstorms, but could you imagine seeing a waterfall rainbow like this happen in real life? My head would have exploded. (via the kid should see this)

First Look: 2019 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 11, 2019

Wildlife Photo 2019

Wildlife Photo 2019

The Natural History Museum has released a sneak preview of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition for 2019, sharing several “Highly Commended” photos from the exhibition.

Photo credits: Peter Haygarth (top) and Thomas P Peschak (bottom).

Motivated Reasoning and Tribal Loyalty in Politics

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 11, 2019

For years, researchers have identified a link between a person’s “moral foundations” and their political views. In a piece for The Atlantic, Olga Khazan summarized it like so:

According to the researchers who invented the quiz, the issues that most concern political liberals tend to fall under the category of “individualizing” moral foundations, which have more to do with personal standards: care versus harm and fairness versus cheating. Political conservatives, meanwhile, tend to be more concerned about group-focused “binding” foundations: loyalty versus betrayal, authority versus subversion, and disgust versus purity. If loyalty is extremely important to you, the research suggests, you might care deeply about supporting the troops, and therefore you might be more likely to be politically conservative.

She then goes on to describe the results of a new study that suggest that maybe our morals are determined by our political affiliation and not the other way around.

In a series of analyses published recently in the American Journal of Political Science, the three researchers found that people’s moral codes don’t cause or predict their political ideology; instead, people’s ideology appears to predict their answers on the moral-foundations questionnaire. As Peter Hatemi, one of the study’s authors and a political-science professor at Pennsylvania State University, puts it: “We will switch our moral compass depending on how it fits with what we believe politically.”

This could explain how the Republicans’ opinion of Russia changed so quickly in the wake of allegations that Donald Trump colluded in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, the Republican flip-flop on climate change, the evangelical Christian embrace of the most immoral President in recent history, and the leftward swing of many Democratic Party members, following their most visible politicians (Bernie, Warren, AOC) & most vocal supporters away from Obama’s centrism.

An Octopus that “Billows Like a Circus Tent”

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 11, 2019

A team of researchers exploring about a mile beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean ran across this graceful octopus that put on a show for them.

Dancing at a depth of around 1,600 meters (5,250 feet), this elegant octopus measures an estimated 20 centimeters (8 inches) across and entertained our watch team for more than five minutes.

“It’s really putting on a show for us,” said a researcher as the cephalopod made its way toward Hercules’ camera, expanding its billowing arms like a circus tent blowing in the wind. Experts believe the octopus belongs to Cirroteuthidae, a family of cirrate octopuses, but the exact species is unknown.

A Forest Grows on an Austrian Soccer Pitch

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 10, 2019

For Forest 01

For Forest — The Unending Attraction of Nature is an art installation from Klaus Littmann that features a forest made up of 300 trees in the middle of a soccer stadium in Klagenfurt, Austria.

Using 300 trees, some of which weigh up to six tonnes, landscape architect Enzo Enea will cover the entire playing field with a mixed forest characteristic of Central Europe.

From the grandstands, visitors can admire the spectacle of the trees day and night (from 10am until 10pm). Admission is free. A sight that is as unfamiliar as it is fascinating and bound to stir up a range of emotions and reactions! Depending on the time of day (or night), the trees will constitute a constantly changing landscape that is shaped by the weather as well as the autumnal turning of the leaves. The installation is a clever play on our emotions when faced with what should be a familiar sight, placed in an entirely different context. With this monumental work of art, Littmann challenges our perception of nature and sharpens our awareness of the future relation between nature and humankind.

The project also sees itself as a warning: One day, we might have to admire the remnants of nature in specially assigned spaces, as is already the case with zoo animals.

Littmann modeled the project on a 1970 drawing by Max Peintner.

For Forest 02

I didn’t think much of this project from just the photos, but this short video really highlights the darkly comedic experience of having to go to a soccer stadium to look at nature — not to experience nature, but to sit in a moulded plastic seat a few hundred feet away from nature to look and cheer but not to touch or walk around in.

I would love to see this in person. For Forest is on view until late October.

Treasures in the Trash

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 10, 2019

Treasures in the Trash is a short film by Nicolas Heller about former NYC sanitation worker Nelson Molina, who started (and still maintains) an unofficial museum of more than 45,000 objects that people have thrown out over the last few decades.

The History of Europe, Every Year from 400 BCE to the Present

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 10, 2019

This video is an animated history of the shifting borders of Europe from 400 BCE to the present. This is a very nation-centric view of European history (and I would mute the music and use your own soundtrack), but it’s still worth a look.