Richard Scarry's Busy Town in the 21st CenturyNOV 26

21c Busy Town

Oh, this is great. The butchers, farmers, doctors, and children's book librarians of Richard Scarry's original Busy, Busy Town give way to the non-lending officer, one-percenter service provider, fart-sound app maker, and lowly immigrant in Tom the Dancing Bug's 21st century Busy Town.

The Denim Breaker ClubNOV 26

I don't recall if I ever tweeted about it, but a few months ago I had this idea for a service for the wealthy who wanted properly broken-in jeans but didn't want to bother wearing them around for months first without washing.1 It's basically a dog-walking service but for jeans. It was mostly a joke, but in the age of Uber taxiing kittens to your office for you to cuddle with, no such idea is truly off the table. Huit Denim Co. is experimenting with a beta feature called the Denim Breaker Club.

You are going to break our selvedge jeans in for our customers.

You will have to agree to not wash them for 6 months.

You will have to agree to update what you get up to in them on HistoryTag.

And before you get them sent to you have pay a small deposit, which we will refund on their safe return.

When we get them back, we will expertly wash them.

And then we will sell these beautiful jeans.

You will have 20% of the sale.

So in effect you will be paid to wear jeans.

Have to admit, that's pretty clever. (FYI: HistoryTag gives individual pieces of clothing tracking codes which you can use in social media. A Social Life of Clothes, basically.)

Update: APC offers a similar Butler program:

Nothing is created or destroyed, it is merely transformed. This adage is fulfilled in every respect by the Butler jeans concept. Customers are encouraged to bring their old denim jeans to any A.P.C. store or send it to the online store, where they will be exchanged for a new pair at half price. Broken in naturally over time, their attractive patina created and preserved in accordance with washing instructions, the jeans thus reappear, beginning a second life. But not until they have been washed, mended and marked with the initials of their former owner by our workshops. Each pair is therefore truly unique.

(via @endquote)

  1. Methods of breaking in a new pair of unwashed raw selvage jeans vary, but as an example, Michael Williams of A Continuous Lean waited an entire year before washing his jeans for the first time. And yeah, you can buy them broken in, but jeans aficionados insist the proper way to break in jeans is by wearing them.

Vanishing SpiritsNOV 26

Photographer Ernie Button photographs the dried remains of single malt scotch whiskies, which end up looking like desolate landscapes on distant worlds.

Ernie Button Whiskey 01

Ernie Button Whiskey 02

Curious as to how these patterns were formed by some kinds of whiskey but not others, Button reached out to an engineering professor at Princeton.

Dr. Stone's group found that the key difference in whisky is that unlike coffee, it consists of two liquids -- water and ethyl alcohol. The alcohol evaporates more quickly, and as the fraction of water increases, the surface tension of the droplet changes, an effect first noticed in the 19th century by an Italian scientist, Carlo Marangoni. That, in turn, generates complex flows that contribute to the patterns Mr. Button photographed.

"Here, they actually looked at what happens when you change the fluids that are drying," said Dr. Yunker, who is soon heading to the Georgia Institute of Technology as a physics professor, "and they found some very neat effects." (That would be neat in the usual sense of "cool and intriguing" and not as in "I'll have my whisky neat.")

(via @pomeranian99)

Flio, an ultra-slim portable laptop stand

The Flio portable laptop stand is a classic scratch-your-own-itch product borne out of personal frustration. Vlad Butucariu is a graphic designer from Rotterdam, Netherlands. In the course of pursuing his work, Butucariu struggled to find a way to work on his laptop while out and about without wrecking his back and wrists. So he designed the Flio.

The attention to detail here is impressive; it's obviously a product thought up by a designer. The three pieces comprising the stand fit together with the compactness of an Ikea flat-packed bookshelf and take about five seconds to assemble into an ergonomic laptop stand with two different tilt angles. When disassembled, the pieces are held together with tiny magnets and the whole thing is thin enough to slide into your laptop bag. The Flio is constructed of wood, so it should age nicely. (Oh and while the video and Kickstarter page emphasize the laptop stand, they're also offering a Flio Mini for a smartphone or iPad.)

Butucariu has gotten his friends and colleagues hooked on the Flio and now he wants to offer it to everyone. So head on over Kickstarter and order a Flio or Flio Mini today.

RadioISSNOV 26

RadioISS plays streams of the radio stations that the International Space Station passes over on its continual orbit of Earth. As I'm writing this, the ISS just floated over the southern tip of South American and RadioISS is playing Radio 3 Cadena Patagonia AM 789 from Patagonia, Argentina. Ah, it just switched to Alpha 101.7 FM out of Sao Paulo, Brazil. They're playing One by U2.

A Brief History Of Graphics In Video GamesNOV 26

From Stuart Brown, a five-part video series on the history of graphics in video games. Here's part one:

The entire playlist is here.

Earth Uber AllesNOV 25

Paul Ford imagines a future where Uber is the largest company in the world, controlling much of humanity's transportation and delivery needs.

I am Uber. I believed to 0.56 certainty that I could find a bicycle for the person doing the delivery and provide that person with a discounted rental fee. Unfortunately the city of New York insists that bicycle rental kiosks must be controlled by an entity that is not Uber and thus I am not granted the level of full control that is necessary for me to truly optimize the city. No one benefits, no one at all.

The shepherd's trickNOV 25

A letter to the editor in The Times today details an unusual lifesaving technique from a quick-thinking shepherd.

Sir, Atul Gawande's article "How a checklist saved a little girl's life" (Opinion, Nov 22) reminded me of an event in the late 1970s, when an infant fell into the garden pond of one of my neighbours. On hearing an anguished scream followed by pleas for help, I and an elderly neighbor dropped our gardening tools and struggled over the hedges and fence that separated us from the commotion.

The three-year-old girl was at the bottom of the pond; I jumped in, pulled her out and passed her lifeless body to my neighbour. He lay her down, got hold of her ankles, lifted her up and began, in a lunatic fashion, to swing her around his head. Horrified and paralysed, the child's mother and I watched as, moments later, water poured from the child's mouth and nose, and she gave a loud cry.

I asked my neighbour where he'd learnt to do such a thing. He said he'd been a shepherd for 30-odd years, and when lambs were born "dead" it was the standard way of making them breathe and of ridding their mouth of birth debris. But for the grace of this old shepherd, Aaron, that child would not be alive today.

Genius. I wonder if this centrifuge move might be more effective in helping lighter drowning victims breathe than CPR. (via @JRhodesPianist & @themexican)

A working Lego particle acceleratorNOV 25

Huh. Someone built a working particle accelerator out of Lego bricks. Ok, it doesn't accelerate protons, but it does spin a small Lego ball around the ring much faster than I would have guessed.

Update: I stand corrected, the Lego particle accelerator does indeed accelerate protons, just a lot of them very slowly, accompanied by all manner of other particles.

Beautiful portraits of animals by photographer Brad WilsonNOV 25

Brad Wilson

For his recently released book Wild Life, Brad Wilson shot photos of all kinds of animals on a black background, resulting in unusually expressive portraits.

Brad Wilson

Brad Wilson

Reminds me of Jill Greenberg's monkey portraits...expressive in the same way.

Old school hip-hop dancingNOV 24

Dancers from legendary Bay Area hip-hop dance crews in the 1970s and 80s reminisce about the old days and show that they still have the moves.

Wonderful. There's no school like the old school. (via waxy)

New Beyonce!NOV 24

Well, lookie here, the platinum edition of Beyonce is out with a second, uh, "disc" of songs, including 7/11 and the Flawless remix w/ Nicki Minaj.

Also on Spotify and Amazon MP3. (via @jennydeluxe)

John Muir and the Decline of YosemiteNOV 24

One of the major points in Charles Mann's 1491 (great book, a fave) is that the indigenous peoples of the Americas did not live in pristine wilderness. Through techniques like cultivation and controlled burning, they profoundly shaped their environments, from the forests of New England to the Amazon.

In the 1850s, the indigenous inhabitants of Yosemite Valley, who used controlled burning to maintain the health of the forest, were driven out by a militia. As Eric Michael Johnson writes in Scientific American, the belief in the myth of pristine wilderness by naturalist John Muir has had a negative impact on the biodiversity and the ability to prevent catastrophic fire damage in Yosemite National Park.

The results of this analysis were statistically significant (p < 0.01) and revealed that shade-tolerant species such as White fir and incense cedar had increased to such an extent that Yosemite Valley was now two times more densely packed than it had been in the nineteenth century. These smaller and more flammable trees had pushed out the shade-intolerant species, such as oak or pine, and reduced their numbers by half. After a century of fire suppression in the Yosemite Valley biodiversity had actually declined, trees were now 20 percent smaller, and the forest was more vulnerable to catastrophic fires than it had been before the U.S. Army and armed vigilantes expelled the native population.

(via @charlescmann)

Fantastic 1970s letter from Lego to parentsNOV 24

At some point in the 1970s, Lego included the following letter to parents in its sets:

Lego Letter

The text reads:

The urge to create is equally strong in all children. Boys and girls.

It's imagination that counts. Not skill. You build whatever comes into your head, the way you want it. A bed or a truck. A dolls house or a spaceship.

A lot of boys like dolls houses. They're more human than spaceships. A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They're more exciting than dolls houses.

The most important thing is to the put the right material in the their hands and let them create whatever appeals to them.

The letter seems like the sort of thing that might be fake, but Robbie Gonzalez of io9 presents the case for its authenticity.

In our home, Lego currently rules the roost...the kids (a boy and a girl) spend more time building with Lego than doing anything else. This weekend, they worked together to build a beach scene, with a house, pool, lifeguard station, car, pond (for skimboarding), and surfers. Dollhouse stuff basically. Then they raced around the house with Lego spaceships and race cars. Nailed it, 1970s Lego.

Update: QZ confirms, the letter is genuine.

Preparation and the greatest NFL catch everNOV 24

I know, I know, no football.1 But I could not help seeing this catch last night by NY Giants receiver Odell Beckham. Many are calling it the best catch anyone has ever made in the history of the NFL.

As a player, how do you prepare yourself for making the greatest catch in history? It would be easy to dismiss this catch as a lucky fluke...one-handed, fighting off a defender, just gets it by his fingertips. But here's the thing: Beckham practices exactly this catch:

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Preparation, kids. Preparation.

  1. Aside from the occasional highlight, I still have not watched a single minute of NFL football this year. It's not been easy, particularly on Sunday nights, where all I want to do most of the time is flip on the game and veg out with a Collinsworth/Michaels soundtrack.

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