Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tonight's Tab Dump

How long has it been since I've done one of these?  Clutter needs to be sorted.

The correct number of babies who should be named Cheese is zero.

"Think computers made the world a better place?  Maybe you should listen to this slandered physicist."  Create your own with the Upworthy random headline generator.

Is no wonder they have ambition of tick on coma victim.

And, Captain Picard sings "Let it Snow":

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Milestone for Dark Side of the Moon

A mix of Pink Floyd, Aardman Animation, and Tom Stoppard is something I am powerless to miss.  The creation is a play written by Stoppard to go with Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, an album that spent over 800 weeks on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, and which 40th birthday is being celebrated this year.  It will be broadcast by the BBC on Monday.

To go with it, Aardman (the Wallace and Gromit guys) put together a mildly mind-blowing (more of a muffled, contained explosion?  Look, I want to be the one person who isn't wildly raising your expectations on a regular basis.) teaser video that is much in keeping with the surreal images that have represented the band over the years.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Browser Tab Roundup

Odds and ends I've that don't deserve posts of their own:

Behind-the-scenes photos (1,138 of 'em) from the original Star Wars films

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is back for season 2, including Letterman and Chris Rock.

More evidence that morality is inborn, and isn't limited to humans.  A monkey reacts to unfair treatment:

Zoos make Abstruse Goose sad.

One man's top 10 Magnetic Fields songs

America's 50 worst charities

Security questions run amok

Star Trek as the A Team:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Piazza, New York Catcher

My night with Belle and Sebastian, and Yo la Tengo, was lovely, and not just because DC was under the high 80s for the first time in a while.  Jessica and I saw them a couple years ago at D.A.R., and both shows were excellent.  My friend Brandon had been wanting to, and didn't go away disappointed.

I've never really listened to Tengo, but I'll be fixing that soon.  They were all over the map stylistically in their one-hour set, but everything worked for me.  I can see why people are into them.

Captured from my second-row, center sentry post:

Monday, June 10, 2013

My First Bit on International TV

This afternoon, I was on RT's Prime Interest to talk for a couple segments to talk about the paper I did with my colleagues at the BPC, and the cool Nominations Tracker that goes along with it.  The subject is admittedly dry, but if you're into this sort of thing, it's interesting in a geeky sorta' way.  So, first time on an international broadcast...

My bit starts at 6:50:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cookiewaits does it again (lyrics NSFW):

If you missed the first one, it's here.  I'm partial to the new one.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Never Gonna Smell Like Teen Spirit

This is fabulous.  Uploaded July of 2009?  Did it only achieve meme status now, or did I just miss it back then?

H/t to Jessica.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Best of the Week

Some good stuff I've read in the past week or so...

Letterman's retirement feels increasingly imminent; his contract is up in two years, he'll be 67, he likes to play at home with his son (one imagines Dave-as-Godfather-Marlon Brandon stuffing orange rinds into his gap-toothed mouth to amuse the lad in their backyard), and his decision will doubtless be a combo of personal choice and Les Moonves strong-arming.  When Letterman does retire, the entire history and mythology of the nighttime talk show will finally come to an end.  No one other than Dave does it with the same combination of intent to further precedent, awareness of lineage, and motivation to unite a mass audience that began with Steve Allen't Tonight.

Matt Yglesias makes the excellent point that promoting efficiency and innovation aren't the same thing:

A visit to San Francisco over the past few days really crystallized in my head the important distinction between increased efficiency in the allocation of resources and fundamental innovation...  San Francisco is a hotbed of inefficiency and what any economically literate person would recognize as bad public policy...  That said, while San Francisco is a hotbed of inefficiency it's also a hotbed of real innovation. The corridor that starts in San Francisco and runs down to San Jose is the premiere cluster of technological innovation in the world and has been for some time...  Human existence is complicated and it's no surprise that there's a lot we don't really understand about it.  But you frequently see an effort to simply subsume the question of innovation into the question of efficiency.  Like if you want a high-innovation economy you just need a lot of sound market-oriented efficiency-promoting public policies, such that true prosperity stems from Oklahoma and the Dakotas with their libertarian-approved policy frameworks.

And, a cool app that shows the entire scale of the universe.  Drag the bar to move from 10-35 m to 1026 m.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bargain Link Shopping, March 24, 2013

A few trinkets collected this past week:

D.C. Past has posted some seriously great photos of the capital dating back to the 1860s.  I mean, there's a shot of the crowd from Lincoln's second Inaugural!

This corgi dances for his food.

Ezra Klein and Chrystia Freeland try to unpack the psychology of why Wall Street hates Obama so much.

This video making it easier to understand income inequality in America has been making the rounds for a few weeks, but if you haven't watched it, take a look.

"What's Going On" screeched by Adam and the cast of He-Man:

h/t to Jessica on that one...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Mad Men Theory

A new preview of the upcoming sixth season of Mad Men is here.

So, my long-standing theory Mad Men is that the show's intro, with the guy falling down the side of a building, is one of the most blatant bits of foreshadowing in TV history.  The show's going to end with Don Draper committing suicide by jumping out of a building.  It's been right under our noses the whole time.

How sure am I?  Not at all, but it's one of those theories that kinda' feels like it might be right.  Guess we'll see in...what, at the end of season 7?  Have they announced that?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bargain Link Shopping 3/12/13

Today's best:

A Vanderbilt student asks Billy Joel during a Q&A if he can play "New York State of Mind" with him...and kills it.

Better evidence that Mars could have supported life.

Regrettable - "Bob Woodward has an unmatched skill for digging up information, but he doesn't know what to do with that information once he finds it."

Mila Kunis is cool.

Somehow the Timberwolves beat the best team in the NBA by 24, led by Ricky Rubio's first triple double since he's been with the team.  Dude is fun to watch.

And this cat should be a goalie (h/t to Ezra).

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bargain Link Shopping

Links for every occasion, budget, and cat impression!

Cow Crusher is a game that lets - no, demands that - you spray gore all over the machinery as you smash cows into burgers and steaks.  Lost points for smashing horses...

Need help deciding between Spotify and Pandora?  (Click graphic for large version...)

One of the worst graphs you'll ever see.

And, I'm liking the new (2012), synth-heavy Muse album.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Seinfeld Fix

First off, if you're a Seinfeld fan and haven't seen "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," you should.  Especially to hear Michael Richards reveal that he's an A-grade chess player and got destroyed in under two minutes by a homeless savant on an L.A. sidewalk.  I'm also happy to know what Joel Hodgson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is up to these days.

For something you probably haven't heard, here's Geoff Garlin with a great interview of Larry David for Geoff's podcast.  Larry reveals that his character in "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is "an idealized version" of himself.

More Torment!

I am starting to love Kickstarter.  A few months ago the makers of one of my favorite computer games from childhood, Wasteland, put up a campaign on Kickstarter to raise money for a sequel.  The results kinda' blew people away as the game raised almost $3 million.  I played the original from dawn to dusk on my Commodore 64 at the lake during the summer of 1988 and am looking forward to Wasteland 2.

The same people raised the bar earlier this week, starting another campaign to make a "spiritual successor" to one of my top 5 all-time favorites, Planescape: Torment.  The original had maybe the deepest story anyone has ever seen in a computer game, reportedly with more dialogue written into the game than the Bible has words.  They raised over $1.5 million in their first day.  I know some of you have fond memories of the original or would be interested in something like this, so here's the link to Torment: Tides of Numenera if you are, and the project's intro video:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Literally Painful

All right America, you forced my hand on this post.  I am an admitted stickler on proper grammar and word usage, but I try to keep it to myself most of the time.  There is no reason for my mostly irrational annoyance to be transferred onto other people, and it's not as though I don't make mistakes myself.

But, can we at least try? When I find out that "literally" has been effectively sanctioned by some dictionaries to be used simply for emphasis, it's a bridge too far.  If somebody says "me" instead of "I" or puts an apostrophe in the wrong place, I don't really care because I know what you mean.  But if you, like a former colleague of mine, say to a co-worker, "I literally have nothing to do!" you need to realize that it is literally impossible for the sentence you just uttered to be true.

"Literally" is not a flavoring word.  It means that what you're saying is exactly, word-for-word, what you mean, with nothing figurative about it.  (The Oatmeal explained it very well and in a much funnier way than I could.)  If you say, "you literally couldn't make this stuff up," you're making the word mean the opposite of what it actually means, and now all of a sudden we do have a communication problem.  Worse, there is no other word that precisely means the same thing, so once everybody thinks it just means "very" or "really" then how is anyone supposed to communicate the concept of "literal" and expect it to be understood?

Almost every superlative in English now means "very" or "good," actually.  We feel like we have to describe everything as "incredible," "unbelievable," "ridiculous," "fabulous..."  Why do you think we had to invent the word "ginormous?"  Because all the other words like "huge" and "enormous" that used to mean "ginormous" lost their meaning so we couldn't get the point across anymore!  "Absolutely" just means "yes" now.  I do it myself and make myself cringe as it comes out of my mouth.  It's the triumph of marketing-speak, I guess.

So please, just stop it.  I don't ask for much, but I gotta' draw the line somewhere. Can we save this one word?  Don't make me take Randall Munroe's advice:

I'm not ready yet.

Middle Earth is a Mad World

Smeagol does Gary Jules doing Tears for Fears.  H/t to Andrew.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dinner and a Movie, 2012 Wrap Edition!

Nathan and I got together and did a nice little half hour on our favorite - and least favorite - films of the year. Take a moment, won't you?

Listen to internet radio with jschardin on Blog Talk Radio
Intro music by:
All Day (Girl Talk) / CC BY-NC 3.0

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Favorite Songs of 2012

For those looking for a bit of new music, I will indulge the "end of the year list" of my favorite songs I found last year.  To be clear, these weren't necessarily released in 2012, although a few are.  They're songs I became familiar with in 2012.  It's all about me, baby.

#10: I'll Never Let Go - Snow Patrol (2012)

#9: All at Once - The Airborne Toxic Event (2011)

Most of their songs are good, and they get bonus points for covering a Magnetic Fields song (Book of Love).  Here's a nice acoustic version of this one.

#8: Be Calm - fun. (2010)

So I understand these guys have gotten pretty popular.  They must have, because I heard them on the music system while I got my last haircut.

#7: Job's Tears - The Incredible String Band (1968)

ISB is really not everyone's cup of tea, especially if you don't like off-key voices and late '60s folk rock.  But that particular era is my favorite, and these guys were an overlooked find for me.

#6: The Enemy Guns - Devotchka (2004)

Saw them open for The Magnetic Fields having never heard of them and they kinda' blew me away.

#5: Civilian - Wye Oak (2011)

I liked this song right away, but it took a while for me to love it.  Here's a version of the two Baltimore kids on a rooftop in Amsterdam, because why not?

#4: Had Me a Real Good Time - Faces (1971)

Back when Rod Stewart was doing really good songs, he and the boys belted out this one.

#3: The Luckiest - Ben Folds (2001)

About a year ago I bought myself an electronic piano.  I had several years of lessons as a kid but hadn't played much since high school, and had never played much contemporary stuff.  How fortuitous that I'd discover Ben's stuff about the same time.  This was a fun one to learn to play.

#2: Crush - Sleigh Bells (2012)

This duo had two of my favorite songs of 2010 (Tell 'Em and Crown on the Ground) and get my second spot this year too.  What a great concept, taking a guy who shreds fuzz guitars and pairing him up with a former girl band front person who sings like a cheerleader?

#1: Jump On Stage - Girl Talk (2010)

All Day is a full album designed to be listened to as such, so there aren't any songs per se.  The whole thing is the greatest thing I've heard in a couple years, a series of mashups of hip hop lyrics onto songs from the '60s through today.  "Bust a Move" over "Can't Get You Out of My Head?"  How about Wiz Khalifa on the Stones (the best one, I think) or Jay-Z set to Modern English?  There are several hundred samples on this fabulously produced album, and did I mention it's free?  Get it here.  In the meantime, "Jump On Stage" is as good as any other song on it (wait until you get to ODB singing over "Creep" and then a mix of Beastie Boys, Iggy Pop, and Lady Gaga at the end), so here you go: