In Irkutsk, a percussion group plays music with frozen water from Lake Baikal. [Video Link via Mefi]
Smoke, vomit, boredom, segregation and death: and you paid about five times as much for the privilege
. [Fast Company] — Rob
Tom Scocca writes that ostentatious positivity, pitched as a noble response to the web's omnipresent snark, typically amounts only to the worse thing that snark itself cures: smarm.
What is smarm, exactly? Smarm is a kind of performance—an assumption of the forms of seriousness, of virtue, of constructiveness, without the substance. Smarm is concerned with appropriateness and with tone. Smarm disapproves. Smarm would rather talk about anything other than smarm. Why, smarm asks, can't everyone just be nicer?
The most significant explicator of the niceness rule—the loudest Thumper of all, the true prophetic voice of anti-negativity—is neither the cartoon rabbit nor the publicists' group nor Julavits, nor even David Denby. It is The Believer's founder and impresario, Dave Eggers.
Smarm is another word for Serious Culture—"In smarm is power"—and you know what to do with that.
"After making an on-air apology, I asked for permission to take some additional time out around the Thanksgiving holiday. Upon further reflection, and after meeting with the President of msnbc, I have tendered my resignation
. It is my sincere hope that all of my colleagues, at this special network, will be allowed to focus on the issues that matter without the distraction of myself or my ill-judged comments." — Martin Bashir, Coprophagio-Hortator Emeritus.
The likely answer is "nothing much", I'd hazard, because it's just too cool to die. The British flag remains integrated with those of several other independent countries, and even one U.S. State, because it's just so goddamn sexy. But hey, the status quo is no fun!
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We present to His Excellency the President of the Presidium of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China an enormous tank of pig semen!
Under the deal with China, the "porcine semen" can be flown to the country in frozen and fresh form. Pigs will not be flying but their seed will take to the air. A No 10 spokesperson said: "We're doing all we can to ensure that businesses up and down the country reap the rewards from our relationship with China. And that includes our pig farmers. This new deal to export pig semen will be worth £45m to UK firms and means Britain's best pigs will help sustain the largest pig population in the world.
It's neat to get a look inside a rare beast--the small cellphone manufacturer!--but I can't help but giggle when merciful coverage of blingphone specialist Vertu turns up. The value is entirely about about materials: the handsets themselves are absolute junk. But The Verge got an office tour, so it is polite.
Check out this paragraph from Vlad Savov's fascinating and well-written look at Nokia's recently-trimmed fat.
It's an unapologetic luxury item, one which turns its Nokia Series 40 software and anachronistic number pad into an asset, demonstrating through them that the owner of the phone doesn't need modern technology, he most likely has people doing those jobs for him. And yet, Vertu is also looking to the future with the introduction of two Android phones this year that usher in touchscreens, the Google Play Store, and many other modern smartphone amenities.
It should suffice to say that if it were true that technology was irrelevant to the luxury phone market, they wouldn't be trying to make Android smartphones. Bottom line: it doesn't matter what value Vertu tries to embody, because it can be surpassed simply by putting an iPhone--or a Lumia--inside a fancy case that embodies that value better.
What is it, an inch thick? Come on.
Previously: Behold! Vertu's $200 USB cable
The 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index charts the role that secrecy, abuse and hard cash plays in government worldwide. There are few surprises, as usual: small, efficient European countries are clean as a whistle; big western powers like the U.S, Britain, Germany and Japan get solid grades; Russia and China remain disappointing, but not so much so as Somalia, the Seattle Mariners of international government.
Now, not to downplay the need to combat pervasive government corruption, but it's interesting how the color scale they use suggests a standard "red-yellow-green" scale of safety and danger, but even "very clean" only warrants yellow.
Consider a simple change of the gradient:
Seems a different world, doesn't it? Ah, the magic of charts.
Pittsburgh artist Daniel McCloskey is crowdfunding Top of the Line, a graphic novel about monster fighting. A teaser's up at his homepage.
"Top of the Line is the story of a kid growing into a hero and, in the process, a terrible bigoted man. More than human but less than a god, he fills the same space as the beasts he hunts, and in a monster-fighting saga, a monster is a dangerous thing to be."
You may remember Daniel as the founder of The Cyberpunk Apocalypse, a project aimed at aiding local artists and writers, which was raided for no given reason when Pittsburgh hosted the G20 summit. He's offering an unusual degree of transparency on his latest project, detailing where every penny will go, right down to his daily living expenses (including the acquisition of new teeth, recently lost in a bicycle accident.)
Wigle Whiskey, a new distillery a short walk from home here in Pittsburgh, is a symbol of the city's comeback. But it's not just hip, even if, with its contemporary sans-serif branding, it is certainly that. It makes great liquor, too, and is now producing a range of tasty year-old whiskies, an unusual gin, honey rum and bitters. I took a tour of the city's first legal still in decades--and bought a few bottles to take home.
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Alexis Madrigal, confused by an oddly expensive "Black Friday Special", found a clause in Macy's pricing policy stating that the discount may have been in effect for months
. — Rob
"Go back. Go waaaaay back," writes John Walker. "What’s the very first thing you remember about gaming?
My father and I on a walk along the beachside promenade in Worthing, England, on a sunny day. They were refurbishing the town's pier, a huge but decrepit pile of firewood that by the 1980s housed little more than an arcade. Instead of putting the cabinets in storage, they had them out on the asphalt under awnings and parasols, a startling and strangely British scene. I played Sega's Turbo. And that was that.
A retired British sportsman recently used the term "rotter
" to describe a thief, the word carrying a certain delicious combination of archaism, unusualness and irony
. — Rob