October 3, 2011

Oregon Conclusion

Portland-WelcomePortland-ADX1Portland-ADX2Portland-traxPortland-WallPortland-thehillPortland-moretrax Read the rest of this entry »

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July 31, 2010



  • Nice interview with Raf Simons (WWD via HB)
  • Lengthy inverview with David Andrew Sitek (BV)
  • Awesome interview with Bill Murray (GQ)
  • Telling interview with Penn & Teller (Telegraph)
  • Decent interview with Ari Marcopoulos (Dossier)
  • Hip interview with Pedro Winter (Busy P of Ed Banger) (OC)
  • Strange interview with Spike Lee (Gothamist)
  • Passable interview with Rafael de Cardenas (S×H)
  • Brief interview with Tara McPherson (PSFK)



  • Urban China, ever the work in progress (NYT)
  • China’s Banks: Great Wall Street (The Economist)
  • Bad PR for the nouveau riche in the PRC (WSJ via Gawker)
  • The other oil spill (NYT / Salon)
  • A green movement grows in China (The Economist)
  • The Economist also draws an ophidian metaphor for China’s growth / lack thereof.


Media & Technology:








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April 19, 2010

Infographic Overload

This ironic meta/PoMo infographic has been making rounds in the memesphere lately:


It’s true for the most part, though the 3,274 seems a bit over the top.

In any case, here are a few of the better infographics I’ve seen lately:


Julian Hansen has created an extremely thorough visualization of typography for dummies.

Click the image for the full, unadulterated 1983×1402 version.

Inspiration Lab

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Yesterday, before I discovered the video above, I came across a dollar bill with a red “Where’s George” stamp on it and I decided to enter it into the database (I’ve logged a couple in the past). It seems that I’ve since spent said dollar, as it is no longer in my wallet, but I managed to find it in my Firefox history. Apparently, it was in Greenpoint almost exactly a year ago; who knows what sort of wonderful adventures George #B2078 7046J has had in the mean time…

Follow the Money via Visual Complexity via PSFK

Almost (but-not-really-at-all) related: Redesigning the Dollar Bill; UPDATE: The new $100 bill.

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Gizmodo’s guide to the current fronts where the Big Three are vying for tech/information world domination.
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April 18, 2010

Yr City's a Sucker


Last week, the NYC media was abuzz about New York Magazine‘s recent report on our great city’s most livable neighborhoods, a “quantitative index of the 50 most satisfying places to live,” complete with an interactive neighborhood ranking feature. Statistician Nate Silver of Fivethirtyeight.com  weighted and rated each neighborhood against a dozen criteria, from practical concerns like affordability, transit and schools to a full range of cultural factors (Silver explains in more detail on his own blog).

via Very Small Array

Semi-relevant humorous graphic via Very Small Array

Park Slope takes first, followed by the Lower East Side and (surprise?) Sunnyside, Queens. My own ‘hood, Fort Greene, is 18th, representing a purportedly objective improvement over my previous home in Williamsburg (20th), though adjacent neighborhoods such as Prospect Heights and Greenpoint (which apparently did not lose points for prevalent vinyl siding) place ninth and fifth, respectively. The fact that half of the top ten is within the two miles east of my current home is an obvious testament to the city’s density—a 30-minute walk (or 5-minute bike ride) in any direction takes me across up to five distinct neighborhoods—while the disparity in ranking suggests that even adjacent blocks may be worlds apart.


Conversely, I find that ethnographic data is perhaps more telling than the pseudo-scientific approach. While it’s hard to draw grand conclusions from a 5,000-person poll (conducted in conjunction with Silver’s number-crunching), I tend to think that these pithy gems constitute a more accurate snapshot of present-day New York than the algorithmic approach. (There are too many fun facts to list here; I recommend viewing it for yourself.)

In any case, the content and information design is well-executed, though I wish NYMag.com gave the option to view full articles as a single page (and, similarly, view all of the comments at once as well). Technical issues aside, I’m impressed with the depth and breadth of the content: as a conscientious urbanite, I am fascinated by both the social and cultural dynamics of city life and the concept of conurbation.

Lots of words with no images: Read the rest of this entry »

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April 5, 2010

Cartographic Design


Matthew Picton‘s sculptures are right up my alley: he makes roadmaps into art.

DB; more at Toomey-Tourell.


Claire Burbridge & Matthew Picton
Absence and Presence
Toomey-Tourell Fine Art
49 Geary Street [map]
San Francisco, CA 94108
415 / 989-6444
Through May 1, 2010
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Connie Brown NYC map

Connie Brown makes detailed, vintage-y (not to mention pricey) custom maps. She’s giving at talk at NYPL on April 10th. Much more info (and images) at NGS, linked below.

National Geographic Society via Boingboing.

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The Times has an interactive feature on taxi pick-ups (in Manhattan), a nice to their piece on taxi traffic and, by extension, Jonah Lehrer’s musings on commuting. Now if only there was some way to track the Cash Cab…

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April 2, 2010


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.)


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.


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 29, 2010

Tunnel Vision

The Second Avenue Subway (SAS) is a rapid transit subway line, part of the New York City Subway system, currently under construction underneath Second Avenue in the borough of Manhattan.

As a consequence of the many “false starts”, the SAS is often cited as an example of bureaucratic red tape and government incompetence. However, the reasons for its delay are numerous and complex. The line is sometimes referred to as “The Line That Time Forgot”.

–Wikipedia, Second Avenue Subway


Over the weekend, he MTA posted photos of excavation for the Second Avenue Subway between 91st and 96th on Facebook. I can only assume that the MTA’s PR department has a dedicated 20-something Social Media Coordinator who decided to try his or her hand at creating the next viral hit.

Here’s a selection of my favorites, tastefully re-touched for dramatic effect—where’s Ryan McGinley when you need him?

Second Avenue Sagas via Curbed. Also on Gothamist.


NYMag featured the “Line That Time Forgot” in a 2004 article; read more about recent SAS-related developments here. The G, on the other hand, is the Line That I Wish I Could Forget.

Try as I might to resist an obvious pun, I can’t help myself: the MTA is boring tunnels.


A couple more pics—plus an indie rock classic, a house and an infant—after the jump.

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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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March 15, 2010

No Room Like Showroom


Ikea France has launched a new marketing campaign: furnishing Metro stations.


Perhaps Parisians regard the Swedish furniture juggernaut differently than Hamburgers & Beijingers.


More pictures at Freshome, via Gothamist.

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February 3, 2010

Fuck the G Train

MTA Service Changes Poster - Fuck the G Train

Ok so that's laying it on a little thick, but I was pretty pissed.

Before we start, I should mention that I love New York for its extensive, 24-hour subway system (among other reasons). It certainly has its ups and downs, but the fact that you can go just about anywhere in four out of five boroughs (let’s face it, Staten Island shouldn’t count anyway) is really quite amazing.

cue extemporaneous rant

That said, Fuck the G Train.

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