July 27, 2010

Backlog

…a.k.a. link dump / linkage /clickage from the past month; more to come…
inplanesight-bushwick-via-gothamist

  • Very Bushwick and very fabulous (NYT)
  • You know how we do in Brooklyn (Inc.)
  • Pitchfork is Times-worthy.
  • I managed to avoid reading any commentary on Inception until I actually saw it for myself yetserday, though at this point, I cannot possibly hope to catch up with all of the bandwidth that has been spilled (not to mention plot spoiled)—in theory and in practice, for example—over Nolan’s polarizing masterpiece. Also: A.O. Scott on film criticism in the digital age in theory and in practice; Dileep Rao (who plays Yusef) gives us the straight dope; Jonah Lehrer speculates on the neuroscience behind the film. Plus, Jonah Lehrer on LSD (in a manner of speaking)
  • Am I guilty of “a breezy writing style”? (The Economist; related: China’s microblog macro-crackdown)
  • Amid all the talk of his new book Imperial Bedrooms, Bret Easton Ellis also finds time to reflect on American Psycho (The Guardian)
  • Sasha Frere-Jones endorses music in cloud form (The New Yorker)
  • Tom Vanderbilt included a link to Dave Horton’s unabashedly self-righteous five-part essay on the fear of cycling in his own musings on bicycle highways for Slate. Definitely required reading for anyone who chooses to bike for transportation (as opposed to simply for leisure), with the caveat that it feels a bit too much like justification for my sense of entitlement that I feel when I tell pedestrians to get out of the bike lane. Still, the car culture of the US is easily worse than that of the UK (where Horton’s expertise lies; at least London has congestion pricing) and the essay actually affirmed my fear that cycling still has a long way to go.

04deitch4-popup

pulpo_paul-via-salon

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June 24, 2010

Assorted Videos

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June 7, 2010

Unsorted Links

UPDATE: Rearranged with respect to the next post; trust me, it’s better for everyone this way.

http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2010/06/perceptions.html

Richard Barnes - Murmur 8, December 14 2005

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May 31, 2010

Bespoke vs. Velo

Bike porn from the book Velo: Bicycle Culture and Design and Bespoke: The Handbuilt Bicycle.

Bespoke: The Handbuilt Bicycle
Museum of Arts & Design
2 Columbus Circle (SSE Corner)
New York NY 10019 [map]
212 / 299-7777
May 13, 2010 – August 15, 2010

Bespoke-at-MAD-10-via-PSFK

Via Designboom, Coolhunting, PSFK, DB again & Gestalten; click image for original source.

velo-0-via-gestalten

bespoke003-via-designboom

velo01-via-designboom

Bespoke-Bicycle-MAD_NYC_18-via-PSFK

velo-1-via-gestalten

bespoke6-via-coolhunting

velo06-via-designboom

Bespoke-at-MAD-01-via-PSFK

velo-2-via-gestalten

Much more after the jump: Read the rest of this entry »

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May 19, 2010

The Fabled Chinese Hipster – Part 1

Tyler Bowa

Lunzi Lun by Tyler Bowa of People's Bike

I meant to comment on J. David Goodman’s (of the TimesSpokes blog) Are There Really No Hipsters in China? when it was first posted on Slate three weeks ago, but (what I intended to be) a brief note has somehow mutated into yet another discursive piece on the ever-vilified subculture that I seem to have buried myself in.

Hence, a three-part discussion on a point I mentioned in passing in my previous open [read: incomplete] comment on hipsterdom: are Chinese hipsters more or less authentic than their Western counterparts? Well, it depends on your definition of hipster—which I glossed over in the aforementioned essay—and whether hip(ster)ness and authenticity are mutually exclusive.

Photos via Ines Brunn

Ines Brunn

The Chinese certainly have history on their side when it comes to bikes; whether or not this is counts as authenticity is less clear. Conversely, there is certainly some degree to which hipsters abuse irony to validate a contemporary subculture that is parasitic on, well, history.

Though there are examples of ironic style on display in China—Mao’s face, red stars, military regalia are today worn with something less than earnestness—there is also more at stake in young people’s fashion choices, making them “less likely to ‘play’ with their dress in a cynical or ironic manner,” Wu explained.

–J. David Goodman, Are There Really No Hipsters in China?, Slate, April 21 2010

In some sense, the overarching pragmatism that permeates Chinese culture seems to preclude irony on principle. Irony, as a fashion statement, falls on deaf ears: it is, in a manner of speaking, like learning another language. Whereas the Western world is one where we (hipsters or otherwise) can afford to be impractical, I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that 99% of the Chinese population would find it inconceivable to spend upwards of two months’ pay on an ostensibly outdated machine for transportation… especially when they are saving up for a car or, at very least, an electric bike (related video).

STC_Spring_Bicycle_Ride_26-via-Ines-Brunn

Ines Brunn

In other words, biking, in and of itself, simply is not subject to irony: it is a way of life, a symbol of tradition—or rather, the past.

A 20-year-old New York hipster can smoke a pipe or drink a really naff drink because it’s funny, but for someone in China, many of their equivalent peers don’t have the history and past knowledge of trends to understand what has been cool in the past.

–Nicole Fall, co-founder of Asian trend consultancy Five by Fifty
(in Are There Really No Hipsters in China?)

To Fall’s point, I would assert that the very concept of the hipster is founded on a highly ‘evolved’ (for lack fo better term) pop/consumer culture, where irony qua hipness is at least one generation removed from brand saturation. (I also have issues with her implication that [New York] hipsters can do things “because it’s funny”; more on this later.) As far as I can tell, Chinese mass culture has just crossed the threshold of postmodernity, at least to the extent that an emerging middle class has recently discovered the joy of brand fetishism.
Read the rest of this entry »

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May 15, 2010

Items

“A low moan of agreement escaped Ellis’s mouth.” –Bret Easton Ellis

Once again, it’s too nice out to sit in front of a computer screen, so we’re going with assorted links today… A few interesting stories, including an article on the future of digital journalism. *UPDATED on 5/16 with even more recommended reading.

uniqlo-uniqlones-tadashi-yanai-via-nymag

bolano-haring

  • I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read any Roberto Bolaño, but I’d never seen a picture of him before—is it just me, or does he look a lot like Keith Haring? (GQ)
  • Alastair Harper on “George Orwell, Patron Saint of Hacks” (Prospect)
  • Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s “Theory, Literature, Hoax” after Borges. (NYT)
  • Claudia Roth Pierpont on Duke Ellington (New Yorker)
  • Nick Carr on the new New York license plate (below) (Huffpo)

new-nyc-license-plate-via-huffpo
Also worth reading, if you’re so inclined:

  • The current state of NBA point guards (GQ)
  • Kareem sounds off (ESPN)
  • The China Model (Economist)
  • How the Web Is Changing the Way We Eat (Salon)

rick-owens-via-slamxhype

  • Interview with Rick Owens (above) (Artinfo via Slam×Hype; images here)
  • Interview with Damien Hirst & Michael Joo (WWD via Slam×Hype; images here—the log piece reminds me of Ai Weiwei…)
  • Interview with Bret Easton Ellis (Vice)
  • Interview with Gorillaz (Wired)
  • Gus Van Sant catches up with Madonna (Interview)
  • Adam Kimmel raps with David Blaine (Interview)

how-our-brains-make-memories-Memory-microscopic-nerve-cells-smithsonian

  • Greg Miller on Karim’s Nader’s theory of mutable memory (Smithsonian)
  • Ryan Bradley on “Sex, Lies and Nature Documentaries” (GOOD)
  • Malcolm Gladwell on WWII espionage (New Yorker)
  • Gary Wolf on the Data-Driven Life (NYT)
  • Richard Lewontin on Jerry Fodor & Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini’s What Darwin Got Wrong. (The New York Review of Books)—I’d heard a lot of the arguments before until I came to this bit:

Individual organisms are surrounded by a moving layer of warm moist air. Even trees are surrounded by such a layer. It is produced by the metabolism of the individual tree, creating heat and water, and this production is a feature of all living creatures. In humans the layer is constantly moving upward over the body and off the top of the head. Thus, organisms do not live directly in the general atmosphere but in a shell produced by their own life activity. It is, for example, the explanation of wind-chill factor. The wind is not colder than the still air, but it blows away the metabolically produced layer around our bodies, exposing us to the real world out there.

Plus, a short, sweet video for good measure:

Stick Monster Lab for Nike Sportswear (High Snobiety via Notcot)

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April 7, 2010

New Bike Tech

Hypebeast.tv has a new interview with the guys behind Outlier, who craft cyclable basics.

---- --- -- - -- --- ----

grafbike

Benedict Radcliffe Graffiti Bike = The Art of Going Brakeless / Instant Morris Louis

instantmorrislouis

Viktor Vautier via Juxtapoz.

---- --- -- - -- --- ----

I’m not surprised to hear that electric bikes are all the rage in China: I remember seeing countless two-wheeled contraptions that had some kind of ad hoc outboard motor strapped to them. In fact, I passed an old Chinese dude riding an electric bike across the Manhattan Bridge just the other day…

ElectricBikes

Of course, besides legal issues, GOOD points out that electric bikes represents a stepping stone between traditional transportation (bicycles) and an emerging middle class aspiring to Western ideals of status (electrics automobiles)—an intermediate space in a rapidly developing economy that is nonexistent in our car-dominated nation.

The Economist via GOOD. Also on NYT.

Read the rest of this entry »

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April 2, 2010

Bicycology

This video from about a month ago, but it’s relevant (or at least as relevant as anything I post):

On his blog the Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer recently explored the ‘Commuters Paradox‘:

When people are choosing where to live, they consistently underestimate the pain of a long commute. [People] mistakenly believe that the big house in the exurbs will make them happier, even though it might force them to drive an additional hour to work

Of course, as Brooks notes, that time in traffic is torture, and the big house isn’t worth it. According to the calculations of Frey and Stutzer, a person with a one-hour commute has to earn 40 percent more money to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office.

I’ve found that this is true of public transportation as well: since I moved to Fort Greene from Williamsburg, the lack of public transportation has been an immeasurable source of psychic distress. However, I must say that the big apartment is definitely worth it.

In fact, like several of the commenters, I’ve found that commuting on bike circumvents the arbitrariness of automobile traffic, following a different set of rules: travel time has a regular rate based on distance, terrain and, sometimes, fatigue.

In other words, I am in complete control of my journey when I am on my bike, performing a split-second cost-benefit analysis of running a red light or deciding to take a shortcut that goes against traffic for a block. The only variables that are completely beyond my control are poor road and weather conditions, both of which are fairly low on the list of drivers’ discontents. Meanwhile, the subway is subject to all manner of hindrance and impediment, and I doubt that any New Yorker has gone for more than a dozen trips without the inconvenience of some kind of delay.

Furthermore, I echo one reader’s cyclists’ envy: on occasions when I opt to take the subway or walk, I can’t help but envy bikers as they speed by, liberated from the oppressive gravity of concrete jungle.

(Streetsblog also took David Brooks’ lead and covered the topic of commuting, with more good comments, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

bkgreenway

In other bike news, the Brooklyn Greenway, a 14-mile bike and pedestrian path spanning the East River waterfront from Greenpoint to Bay Ridge, is underway. I’m all for it.

bkgreenwaygmap

Last but not least, Revisiting the Idea of a Bicycle Tax and revisiting the idea of congestion pricing. I’ve never been a hardcore cycling proselyte (=procyclyte?), but I’m far more amenable to the latter idea.

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March 25, 2010

Massan

I always wondered how fixed-gear riders stop when they take their feet out of the clips.

via DQM

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March 16, 2010

Daylight Saving Time & Other Items

» Aesop Rock – Daylight (4:25) – 4.1MB m4a @ 128kbps

The Persistence of Trite Imagery

The Persistence of Trite Imagery

Since this Sunday marked Daylight Saving Time, I decided to put my philosophy degree to good use by pondering the psychology and metaphysics of this semi-annual ritual.

First of all, there is technically only one daylight to be saved: contrary to folk wisdom that might suggest otherwise, daylight is an indivisible entity. In a sense, daylight is like money—which is also grammatically singular but conceptually plural (insofar as one would hope to have more than one money)—such that daylight is quantifiable, at least in terms of daylight hours. In other words, official terminology denotes that summer is ‘Time to Save Daylight’—i.e., Time for Daylight-Saving—while the colloquial (if not altogether prevalent) shorthand “Daylight Savings” is a gerund, as per the nominal usage of “Savings” for that type of  bank account. (Even the Wikipedia URL for the Daylight Saving Time entry is Daylight_savings.)

The monetary metaphor is useful in illustrating how DST’s pithy essence “spring forward, fall back” belies the curious phenomenon that either occasion—the turning of the clocks in spring or in fall—can be described as gaining or losing an hour. Common parlance suggests that we have indeed acquired a full 60 minutes, yet this increment simultaneously seems to have slipped through a mysterious temporal rift in the wee hours of Sunday morning. It appears that we have both gained and lost an hour on Sunday, a discrepancy that reveals two divergent systems of belief concerning time and how it is measured: absolute vs. relative. The two views correspond to a scientific picture of an independent physical world and a pragmatic ‘lived’ experience of time, respectively.

The former system holds that time marches forward of its own accord and that to push a clock forward—from 2AM to 3AM, say—disturbs the clockwork of the universe to the effect that humans have erased an hour from their day. Here the bank analogy must be modified: on Sunday, we withdrew an hour on credit, which we will pay back in October; for the next six months, we owe one hour to the universe, or nature, or whatever. We have lost it in the interest of practicality—we need to borrow the hour for the better half of the year—though we plan on restoring balance in six months or so. For the absolutist, the hour is deferred.

Those who abide by the second perspective, on the other hand, see time as more malleable, where chronology is purely pragmatic: we gained an hour on Sunday because we now have an extra hour of sunlight—and, ostensibly, productivity—to the effect that the days themselves grow longer. By springing forward, we stake a claim to the greater daylight afforded by the rotation of the Earth, silently folding one hour into the shroud of slumber in order to extend each and every day in those six months. For the relativist, it’s possible to save daylight like money albeit not in the interest of yielding a long-term dividend: everyone cashes out the same predetermined amount at the end of each day.

Of course, both schools of thought understand that the actual demarcation of time to be incidental (i.e. pragmatic in a broad sense)—otherwise we wouldn’t have license to give and take (or take and give) hours as we please. Nevertheless, I wonder if there is any correlation between the saving(s) locution and the gain/loss dichotomy: are relativists more predisposed to regarding DST as a savings account, as opposed to absolutists who treat the extra time as a line of credit?

Does that even make sense? Rather, does it even matter?

Now for the real news:

  • Advertising 2.0: This Time, It’s Personal. FaceBook is now crowdsourcing targeted advertising like social AdSense (=AdBook?). (NYT, Future Perfect) Also, Product Placement: Geolocation is so hot right now (NYT)
  • Mattel Mentality x Mad Men = Barbie. WTF. (NYT)
  • Google Maps now has (spotty) bike directions: Gothamist blurbs, Streetsblog mentions, Wired crowdsources; Bike Snob NYC is more thorough, with an incisive riposte to the Post
  • Big ups to the Alma Mater in the Times. But seriously, the prospect of digitally tracking writers’ inspiration and composition process is quite fascinating.
  • Stanley Fish on Pragmatism’s Gift.
  • I’ve always been a stickler for free throws (i.e. I don’t understand why every player isn’t shooting 90+% from the line), so I was pleased to see that Wired has posted a guide on How to Nail a Free Throw.
  • Old news, but here’s a couple of interesting articles on sports video games and their source material; specifically, how video games are have become increasingly true to life for athletes: League of Gamers (ESPN); Gamechangers: How Videogames Trained a Generation of Athletes (Wired)
  • Speaking of video games, Virtusphere. Just watch the damn video.
  • G4 (correctly, I think) identifies Chatroulette’s ‘Merton.’ NYMag’s Vulture (correctly, I think) identifies Ben Folds as a “Fin de siècle singer-songwriter.” Just watch the damn video.
  • (Over)analysis of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” music video. (Vigilant Citizen)

Music news:

  • What Would They Know: Matthew Perpetua interviews Liars for Pitchfork.
  • Time to Get Away: LCD Soundsystem finishing up their last record. (Daily Swarm)
  • Wanna Be Startin’ Something: MJ posthumously lands a massive record deal. (WSJ, NYT)

Art news:

Bonus Trailer:

Ride, Rise, Roar trailer via Wired.

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