Shared posts

30 May 17:45

Faking cultural literacy

by Jason Kottke

I didn't really read this whole thing, but the gist of it is that increasingly people have no problem discussing the cultural events of our day without actually knowing anything about them.

What we all feel now is the constant pressure to know enough, at all times, lest we be revealed as culturally illiterate. So that we can survive an elevator pitch, a business meeting, a visit to the office kitchenette, a cocktail party, so that we can post, tweet, chat, comment, text as if we have seen, read, watched, listened. What matters to us, awash in petabytes of data, is not necessarily having actually consumed this content firsthand but simply knowing that it exists - and having a position on it, being able to engage in the chatter about it. We come perilously close to performing a pastiche of knowledgeability that is really a new model of know-nothingness.

30 May 17:44

The scars of war

by Jason Kottke

Speaking of WWI, the landscape of the Western Front in Europe still shows the scars from the war 100 years on.

WWI trenches today

Tags: photography   war   WWI
30 May 17:44

50 Cent, life coach

by Jason Kottke

Let's talk cultural mesofacts. You likely recall 50 Cent as a rapper In Da Club but much has happened since then. 50 diversified like crazy: started a record label, parlayed a possible Vitaminwater endorsement into an investment worth $100 million, and, relevant to the matter at hand, wrote several books, including a pair of self-improvement books: Formula 50: A 6-Week Workout and Nutrition Plan That Will Transform Your Life and The 50th Law. Zach Baron recently recruited 50 Cent to be his life coach for a GQ piece and it ends up going way better than he expected.

50 Cent thinks for a minute. Actually, he says, my girlfriend -- the one I just mentioned, the one I'd just moved in with? 50 Cent would like her to make a vision board, too. Then we're going to compare. "Take things out of your folder and things out of her folder to create a folder that has everything," he says. "Now the vision board is no longer your personal vision board for yourself: It's a joint board." That joint board will represent what we have in common. It will be a monument to our love.

But there will be some leftover unmatched photos, too, in each of our folders. And that's what the joint board is really for -- what it's designed to reveal. "The things that end up on your vision board that aren't in hers are the things that she has to accept," 50 Cent says. "And the things that she has that you don't are the things that you have to make a compromise with." In a healthy relationship, he explains, your differences are really what need talking about. This is how you go about making that conversation happen.

This article just keeps getting better the more you read it. (via @ystrickler)

Tags: 50 Cent   books   business   music   Zach Baron
30 May 17:43

How to do visual comedy

by Jason Kottke

Using Edgar Wright as a positive example, Tony Zhou laments the lack of good visual comedy in American comedies and provides examples from Wright's films (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, etc.) to show how it's done properly.

Hot Fuzz is one of my favorite comedies...the scene Zhou shows of the Andys sliding off screen and then quickly back in consistently leaves me in stitches. (via digg)

Tags: Edgar Wright   Hot Fuzz   movies   Tony Zhou   video
30 May 17:43

Landing her first 540

by Jason Kottke

Nine-year old Sabre Norris started skating three years ago because she couldn't have a bike. Here she lands her first 540 after 74 straight failed attempts.

My favorite trick is a 540. I watched Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins do it on the internet, and I just had to do it. That was my 75th attempt of the day. Every time I tried one and didn't land it I put a rock on the table. It ended up being my 75th rock. I was frothing. I did some 720s too. Not proper. I called it 540 to revert to splat. I didn't cry though. My goal is to do 100 of them before this Saturday. I'm up to 75. I still can't ride a bike, but I can do a 540.

See also a nine-year-old's first big ski jump. (via @torrez)

Tags: Sabre Norris   skateboarding   sports   video
30 May 17:41

Where did Star Wars come from?

by Jason Kottke

Yesterday I posted a video looking at the influence of Akira Kurosawa on Star Wars. Well, Michael Heilemann has posted an amazing feature-length exploration of Star Wars and the films that influenced it.

It's not Heilemann talking about's a sort of meta-Star Wars comprised of dozens of elements from other films that influenced Lucas in making it. For instance, here's the opening crawl from Forbidden Planet (1956):

Forbidden Planet

Heilemann also includes a crawl from a 1936 Flash Gordan serial. For more, check out Kitbashed, particularly the extensive ebook on Star Wars sources.

Tags: George Lucas   Michael Heilemann   movies   Star Wars   video
30 May 17:39


by Jason Kottke

From 2009, the Royal Shakespeare Company's modern-dress production of Hamlet, featuring David Tennant as Hamlet and Patrick Stewart as Claudius.

The site the BBC produced for the show contains more information on the production. (via @mulegirl)

Tags: David Tennant   Hamlet   Patrick Stewart   TV   video   William Shakespeare
30 May 17:35

London growing

by Jason Kottke

Video of the growth of London from Roman times to the present, with a focus on the structures that have been protected from each era.

London was the most populous city in the world from the 1830s, a title it took from Beijing, until the 1920s, when New York City took the crown.

Tags: London   maps   video
30 May 17:34

Harry Potter by Ayn Rand

by Jason Kottke

What if Ayn Rand had written Harry Potter? It might go a little something like this.

Professor Snape stood at the front of the room, sort of Jewishly. "There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class. As such, I don't expect many of you to appreciate the subtle science and exact art that is potion-making. However, for those select few who possess, the predisposition...I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death."

Harry's hand shot up.

"What is it, Potter?" Snape asked, irritated.

"What's the value of these potions on the open market?"


"Why are you teaching children how to make these valuable products for ourselves at a schoolteacher's salary instead of creating products to meet modern demand?"

"You impertinent boy-"

"Conversely, what's to stop me from selling these potions myself after you teach us how to master them?"


"This is really more of a question for the Economics of Potion-Making, I guess. What time are econ lessons here?"

"We have no economics lessons in this school, you ridiculous boy."

Harry Potter stood up bravely. "We do now. Come with me if you want to learn about market forces!"

The students poured into the hallway after him. They had a leader at last.

Tags: Ayn Rand   books   Harry Potter   remix
29 May 17:08

40 sewing techniques class and Craftsy giveaway!

by Tasha

For my latest collaboration post with Craftsy, I took the class 40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know with Gail Yellen. This is really an in-depth class, chock full of little details! Both from the main topics she covers, and as she chats while going through the class. Which is something I secretly (okay, not so secretly) like–gleaning extra little tips in the in-between moments.

40 Techniques every sewer should know

The class covers pressing, stitching, curves and corners, interfacing, bindings, sleeves, and closures. And it’s meaty. Really meaty. The shortest section is almost 20 minutes and the longest is an hour. This is definitely a class to take a chunk at a time, but it’s worth it! Seriously, this class covers so much. I could pretty much say, “Open a sewing book, and if there’s a topic listed, Gail probably covers some part of it.”

Lots of good basic tips like pressing seams with a seam roll, grading seam allowances, stay stitching, and marking fabric for adding closures. She also covers a ton of more intermediate/advanced topics, like inside and outside corners with bias binding, princess seams, flat constructed jacket sleeves, and block fusing. And there’s even tips that can apply to other areas of sewing, too. For instance, she discusses Ease Plus, one particular method of easing in a sleeve (one of several she covers), but it’s also a great method for easing a hem, and is a technique I know about from a couple of my vintage sewing books.

One of the tips I’m glad Gail covers is something I recently discovered on my own, but wish I’d realized it sooner. Much, much sooner. I’ve always kind of groaned about topstitching or edgestitching as I cringed at the thought of trying to keep my line straight. Because I wasn’t using a foot with a guide. Hello, lightbulb moment! Gail shrewdly points out that it doesn’t really matter what the original purpose of the foot is… blind hem, topstitching, whatever. If it has a guide, you can use it.

edgestitch foot

And use it, I do. All the time. Every time I sit down to use it, I actually kind of laugh at myself a little bit. Because look how nice that stitching is now. Okay, still not always perfect, but 500% better, I can assure you.


I appreciate that the class covers tips all over the sewing map. And even when it’s an area with which you’re familiar, it doesn’t mean there’s not something new to learn or contemplate. Here’s two great examples:

First, before I watched the class, I had just finished up a project with a bias binding applied to the neckline instead of a facing. During the class I managed to pick up a couple of ideas to make it even easier on myself, which I applied to my next project on the binding at the top of the patch pockets. (You’ll see this dress soon!)


Second, on curved seams with facings, Gail grades the seams with pinking shears. And I’ve never thought to try that! I started being more of a close cutter, then changed my ways to clipping more and grading a bit less after reading a post of Marie‘s where her close trimming led to a hole (sorry, can’t seem to find her exact post!). And now I’d like to try out Gail’s method of pinking and grading.

40 Techniques class - grading curvesSource: 40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know, copyright © Craftsy

I really like that with so many tips and suggestions, you can start to see how things can apply to other areas of your sewing, too! And I enjoyed watching Gail sew. It’s a long class as I mentioned, so there’s lots of opportunity to just watch a pro in action. I find that can be a good way to pick up unspoken tips, too. Several times I watched her clip a curve or edge that was already serged. In my own head, I’d worked that out to be a no-no, so I appreciated seeing Gail do it!

If you’re looking for a class that provides a nice set of tips over so many areas of sewing, I’d recommend 40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know. No one specific topic is more than a few minutes, so it’s great to either watch in sequence or to cherry pick what you’d like to learn about.  Of course not every tip can apply to every project, but I love to have more options in my arsenal.

After all, you can never learn enough about a topic you love, right??

Enter the giveaway!

Hey, now one lucky winner will get a FREE copy of 40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know, thanks to Craftsy!

Here’s how to enter. It’s easy:

There’s one entry per person. The giveaway will close on Wednesday, June 4th at 1pm Central Time. Craftsy will randomly draw a winning entry and contact the winner. So get your entry in. Good luck!

(This is a sponsored post with Craftsy, however all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.)

28 May 16:42

Parents Let Kids Free-Range at Campgrounds. What Can That Teach Us?

by lskenazy

Hi Folks — The other day I was visiting friends in Rye, NY, where darned if kids weren’t playing outside,unsupervised, even making up their own games. Our host challenged me to find out: Why? Why are some neighborhoods still Free-Range,  while others aren’t? I decided to ask that question of the folks in the RV’ing world, a Free-Range culture if ever there was one, and here’s part of my the piece I wrote up for the Huffington Post:

Why Do Helicopter Parents Loosen Up at Campgrounds?

Most of us remember playing outside till the streetlights came on, but our kids can’t because of any of the following fears: crime, creeps, traffic, tennis lessons, homework… or all of the above.

Except at RV campgrounds. (And probably regular campgrounds, too. But I haven’t been to those.) At RV parks, kids run around like it’s still the Sputnik era — all ages, unsupervised. But if they were back home, even in safe suburban neighborhoods, chances are they’d be inside, or at least at soccer.

So, what happened to the helicoptering? As a gal who spends most of her time trying to convince parents to loosen their terrified grip, I’ve been asking around, and I think it boils down to:

1. Cramped Quarters
“A family of four in 429 square feet is different than a family in 2000 square feet,” says Eric Gaden. He’s a traveling nurse — yes, a nurse who travels to temporary gigs in his RV, with his wife and sons 5 and 8. They’ve been on the road for four years now, and whenever they land at a new campground, he says, his kids discover “the hiding places and secret places the adults will never see.”

That’s in part because the adults are busy kicking the kids outside. “When we lived in a house I could say, ‘Go to your room!’ But here they’re just six feet further away,” says Gaden. So out they go. And a child in nature tends to remain in nature.

2. Other Kids Very Close By
“The other day I was going around the campground and there were five little kids, probably 6 years old — three boys and two girls — on the dock, fishing, and there were no parents anywhere,” says Dave Schneider, owner of the Indian Trails Campgroundin Pardeeville, WI. Once there are a few kids outside, others join them. But in the ‘burbs, often the only kids in the park are part of a program, like Little League. Here, everyone’s footloose, so kids can swarm. And fish.

For reasons 3-6, click here!

Oh -- and don't forget another reason: Being closer to nature seems to make people open up.

Oh — and don’t forget another reason: Being closer to nature seems to make people open up.

28 May 16:39

Don’t let anybody raise you. You’ve been raised.

by Shaun Usher

In 1945, weeks after graduating from high school and with no support from the child's father, 17-year-old Maya Angelou gave birth to her only son. Two months later, desperate for independence, she moved out of her mother's home, found accommodation of her own, and began to raise her son. Over the next 70 years, Maya Angelou achieved more than most as a celebrated and award-winning author, poet, educator, dramatist, actress, filmmaker, and activist. The first of her seven autobiographies, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, is considered a classic.

Eight years ago, she wrote a letter of advice to her younger self. It was reprinted in the book, What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self.

(Source: What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self; Image: Maya Angelou in 1993, via Wikipedia.)

Dear Marguerite,

You’re itching to be on your own. You don’t want anybody telling you what time you have to be in at night or how to raise your baby. You’re going to leave your mother’s big comfortable house and she won’t stop you, because she knows you too well.

But listen to what she says:

When you walk out of my door, don’t let anybody raise you—you’ve been raised.

You know right from wrong.

In every relationship you make, you’ll have to show readiness to adjust and make adaptations.

Remember, you can always come home.

You will go home again when the world knocks you down—or when you fall down in full view of the world. But only for two or three weeks at a time. Your mother will pamper you and feed you your favorite meal of red beans and rice. You’ll make a practice of going home so she can liberate you again—one of the greatest gifts along with nurturing your courage, that she will give you.

Be courageous, but not foolhardy.

Walk proud as you are,

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22 May 22:26

birthday cake | recipe

by Amy
yellow butter cake, lemon curd and raspberry coulis, swiss meringue buttercream
I am obsessed with finding the perfect yellow butter cake recipe using all purpose flour. I don't have anything against cake flour, in fact it's almost guaranteed to produce a light and fluffy cake. I don't always have cake flour but I always have all-purpose flour. Unfortunately, many of my all-purpose flour cakes turn out dense and gummy.

The recipe I am currently working with is a hybrid of many recipes out there. The key step is adding the butter to the flour which waterproofs the flour from the liquid ingredients and prevents gluten formation.

Basic Yellow Butter Cake
2 cups or 10 ounces all purpose flour
1 1/3 or 10 ounces granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup or 1 stick or 4 ounces room temperature butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray with nonstick spray two 9 inch cake pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix with the paddle attachment for 5 seconds to combine the ingredients.

Add the soft pieces of butter and mix on low speed until the flour is pale yellow and looks like cornmeal.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat three eggs then add the milk and vanilla extract then mix until combined.

Add all but half a cup of the milk and egg mixture to the flour and butter mix and start the mixer on low for 10 seconds then increase the speed on medium for 30 seconds, then 1 minute on medium high. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on medium high for another 45 seconds.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or the top springs back slightly when pressed.

Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes then gently flip the cake out of the pan. Let it cool completely before frosting.

Basic Swiss Meringue Buttercream
3 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup or 3 sticks room temperature unsalted butter

Add the egg whites and granulated sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer.

Set it over a saucepan of barely simmering water.

Whisk continuously until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture reaches 160 degrees F.

With the whisk attachment, whip the egg white mixture on medium heat until it is thick and glossy and looks like marshmallow creme. Keep whipping until the outside of the stand mixer bowl no longer feels warm to the touch. I whip for an additional minute past this point just to be sure the meringue has cooled enough.

Switch to the paddle attachment.

Many recipes recommend adding butter in pieces, about 1 tablespoon at a time roughly every 2 seconds. Once all of the butter is added, the frosting will break and look curdled, but then with persistent beating, it comes back together again.

However, I find that if I catch the frosting in the first stage when the butter is just mixed with the meringue before breaking, the frosting is fluffier in this stage. Lately, I've been adding all of the softened butter at once and mix gently only until the butter is evenly mixed. 
22 May 22:26

Life Itself

by Jason Kottke

The trailer for the documentary about Roger Ebert is out:

Two thumbs up, way up. (thx, david)

Tags: Life Itself   movies   Roger Ebert   trailers   video
22 May 22:26

The Lego Movie

by Jason Kottke

Lego Movie

If you missed it in the theater (like us), The Lego Movie is available to buy on Amazon right now. I mean, you could wait until mid-June for the DVD/Blu-ray, but one of your kids' friends is going to see it this way and come to school and lord it over your kid that he saw THE LEGO MOVIE AT HOME and then your kid is going to feel bad and why would you want that so you should just buck up and watch it already so your kid can have the cool cred at school for once and parlay that into greater social & academic success and then she'll get into Harvard and have a fantastic life. What I'm saying is, watch The Lego Movie now and your child will become President basically. Why wouldn't you want that? Are you history's greatest monster? Ok, I'm calling child services...

Tags: Legos   movies   The Lego Movie
22 May 22:25

Plants app by Tinybop

by Jason Kottke

My friends at Tinybop have unleased their second app for kids: Plants.

Unearth the secrets of the green kingdom! Explore the world's biomes in this interactive diorama: conduct the seasons, rule the weather, ignite a wildfire, and burrow down with critters and roots. Temperate forest and desert biomes are featured in the first release of Plants. Buy now and get the next two biomes-tundra and temperate grasslands -- for free when they're released.

Can't wait to explore this with the kids...Tinybop's Human Body was a hit in our household. Oh, and don't miss the making of video for the trailer above...Kelli Anderson knocks it out of the park again.

Tags: iPad apps   Kelli Anderson   Tinybop   video
22 May 22:23

North Korea is really dark

by Jason Kottke

Back in January, an astronaut on the International Space Station took this photograph of the Korean Peninsula, which shows the stark difference in nighttime light levels in North Korea compared to the neighboring countries of South Korea and China.

Dark North Korea

I remember seeing a satellite photo several years ago, thought it was fake, then heard it had been photoshopped to accentuate the darkness, and dismissed the whole thing as a hoax. I can't believe the whole country is that dark. (via in focus)

Tags: North Korea   photography
21 May 22:24

HBO shows on Amazon Prime today

by Jason Kottke

Today's the day the Amazon/HBO deal kicks in, whereby Prime subscribers can stream huge swaths of HBO's back catalog of shows for free. Currently available shows include Deadwood, The Wire, The Sopranos, and Boardwalk Empire.

Tags: Amazon   HBO
20 May 23:20

My daddy was the Zodiac Killer

by Jason Kottke

This is odd: Gary Stewart has written a book about the search for his biological father and through the process discovered his father is the still-uncaught Zodiac Killer. The book's description promises new "forensic evidence".

An explosive and historic book of true crime and an emotionally powerful and revelatory memoir of a man whose ten-year search for his biological father leads to a chilling discovery: His father is one of the most notorious-and still at large-serial killers in America.

Soon after his birth mother contacted him for the first time at the age of thirty-nine, adoptee Gary L. Stewart decided to search for his biological father. It was a quest that would lead him to a horrifying truth and force him to reconsider everything he thought he knew about himself and his world.

The book is out today and was kept secret until yesterday. This sounds about as plausible as Jesus's wife, but who knows?

Tags: books   Gary Stewart
20 May 23:18

Jupiter's Great Red Spot is shrinking

by Jason Kottke

Jupiter Spot Shrinking

Jupiter's Great Red Spot is becoming more of a Medium Red Spot. The gas giant's signature beauty mark was recently measured by the Hubble as spanning 10,250 miles across its widest point, down from a high of 25,500 miles across.

Historic observations as far back as the late 1800s [2] gauged this turbulent spot to span about 41 000 kilometres at its widest point -- wide enough to fit three Earths comfortably side by side. In 1979 and 1980 the NASA Voyager fly-bys measured the spot at a shrunken 23 335 kilometres across. Now, Hubble has spied this feature to be smaller than ever before.

"Recent Hubble Space Telescope observations confirm that the spot is now just under 16 500 kilometres across, the smallest diameter we've ever measured," said Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA.

Amateur observations starting in 2012 revealed a noticeable increase in the spot's shrinkage rate. The spot's "waistline" is getting smaller by just under 1000 kilometres per year. The cause of this shrinkage is not yet known.

Tags: astronomy   Jupiter   physics   science   space
20 May 23:13

Maker Dad

by Jason Kottke

Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing and Make Magazine recently published Maker Dad, a book full of father-daughter DIY projects. I haven't dug too far into my copy yet, but the projects seem appropriate for kids and parents of all genders.

As the editor in chief of MAKE magazine, Mark Frauenfelder has spent years combing through DIY books, but he's never been able to find one with geeky projects he can share with his two daughters. Maker Dad is the first DIY book to use cutting-edge (and affordable) technology in appealing projects for fathers and daughters to do together. These crafts and gadgets are both rewarding to make and delightful to play with. What's more, Maker Dad teaches girls lifelong skills-like computer programming, musicality, and how to use basic hand tools-as well as how to be creative problem solvers.

Projects run the gamut from "Easy and Quick" to "Challenging" and include silkscreening tshirts, a lunch box guitar, custom rubber stamps, and programming in Scratch.

Tags: books   Maker Dad   Mark Frauenfelder
08 May 16:12

On having a little more insight into John Travolta

by dooce
The acceptance speech I would have given, although the orchestra would have probably cut me off and flipped me the bird.
07 May 22:10

Octopus opens jar from the inside

by Jason Kottke

Watch this octopus open a jar from the inside:

Octopuses are wicked smart. I like how, after he gets the lid off, he's content to just hang out in there. (via @tylercowen)

Tags: video
07 May 16:13

15 Ways You Know the Library is Still Here at the End of the Year

by Naomi Bates
I was collaborating with a fellow librarian to come up with something with some humor in it to remind teachers about some of the things that are still going on with the library.  It prompted me to write this countdown:

15 Ways You Know The  Library is Still Here at the End of the Year:

1.       Students are coming back to class with checked out books

2.       Teachers haven’t received an email wanting a detailed list of everything they have checked out for the past 20 years

3.       When you see the library lights on, the door is actually unlocked

4.       Teachers are getting more requests to collaborate with them on technology than the previous six weeks

5.       You hear a mysterious beeping noise coming from the library (it’s inventory time!)

6.       When you send 15 kids to the library, 12 come back because of the rule of 3

7.       The panic in seniors begins to rise when they find out they owe a fine from their freshmen year

8.       There are updates on the library Twitter,  Instagram, and blog accounts

9.       The AP research students aren’t roaming the halls during their study periods

10.   Technology continues to receive requests for help or to open up a website

11.   When teachers email the library, they get a quick response along with #4 (see above)

12.   A teacher comes back bragging about the fact that they successfully booked the library for classes during testing season

13.   The principal asks if the librarian can do summer professional development, and the librarian comes by to say, “heck yes!” instead of an email

14.   The library box in the work room is still empty

15.   The laminator is hot when you come into work in the morning.

07 May 16:08

Cutaway illustrations of nuclear reactors

by Jason Kottke

Rex, this is for you.

Worlds Reactors 02

Worlds Reactors 01

Worlds Reactors 03

From the collection of The University of New Mexico, a big collection of cutaway diagrams of nuclear reactors.

Tags: energy   illustration
07 May 16:07

A splash of seawater

by Jason Kottke

Photographer David Liittschwager captured the little ecosystem of life contained in a splash of seawater magnified 25 times:

Splash Of Seawater

It's the microscopic equivalent of the Hubble Deep Field image and worth seeing larger. Here's part of the larger image:

Splash Of Seawater Closer

Liittschwager took the photo for National Geographic, but it also might be contained in his book, A World in One Cubic Foot, in which he took photos in locations all over the world of the life that passed through 1 cubic foot of space in 24 hours.

For A World in One Cubic Foot, esteemed nature photographer David Liittschwager took a bright green metal cube-measuring precisely one cubic foot-and set it in various ecosystems around the world, from Costa Rica to Central Park. Working with local scientists, he measured what moved through that small space in a period of twenty-four hours. He then photographed the cube's setting and the plant, animal, and insect life inside it -- anything visible to the naked eye. The result is a stunning portrait of the amazing diversity that can be found in ecosystems around the globe.

Prints of this image are available at in sizes up to 64"x48". (via colossal)

Tags: A World in One Cubic Foot   books   David Liittschwager   photography
07 May 16:05

40 maps that explain the Middle East

by Jason Kottke

this is great.

Middle East Maps

From Max Fisher at Vox, 40 maps that explain the Middle East.

Maps can be a powerful tool for understanding the world, particularly the Middle East, a place in many ways shaped by changing political borders and demographics. Here are 40 maps crucial for understanding the Middle East -- its history, its present, and some of the most important stories in the region today.

(via @jbenton)

Tags: lists   maps   Max Fisher
07 May 16:04

Sham Paris

by Jason Kottke

Sham Paris

A fake Paris was partially constructed near the real Paris at the end of World War I in the hopes of confusing German planes who were looking to bomb the City of Lights.

The story of Sham Paris may have been "broken" in The Illustrated London News of 6 November 1920 in a remarkably titled photo essay, "A False Paris Outside Paris -- a 'City' Created to be Bombed". There were to be sham streets lined with electric lights, sham rail stations, sham industry, open to a sham population waiting to be bombed by real Germans. It is a perverse city, filled with the waiting-to-be-murdered in a civilian target.

Tags: architecture   Paris   war   World War I
06 May 22:49

Your own personal librarian

by Bibliofuture

The Multnomah County Library has taken a step further into the digital era, offering patrons a more personal online experience than ever before.

Several weeks ago, the library quietly launched My Librarian, an online tool that lets readers connect with a real-life librarian, without actually visiting a library branch. Instead, readers can build a relationship with one of 13 librarians through video chats, blogs and phone calls to discuss their favorite books.

Full story

06 May 22:42

Secret Libraries of New York City

by Blake
As the debate continues over the renovation of the main branch of the New York Public Library — a design by Norman Foster that would radically overhaul the stacks and other features of the historic Beaux-Arts building — we are looking at some of the city's less visible libraries. The NYPL has an incredible branch system around the boroughs, but it's only a part of New York City's literary resources. From private clubs, to nonprofit societies, to pop up places right out in the streets, here are some of our favorite secret libraries of the city.