You can now stay over at the world’s last Blockbuster video store – Moss and Fog
This final store in Bend, Oregon has been operating for years, and has a pretty loyal following. The Coronavirus, however, has put a major dent in their business. Now they’ve opened up the store as a rentable Airbnb, outfitted with a little living room, and all the nostalgia you’d want out of a video store.
It’s a crazy world out there sometimes, for some of us.
Introverts are excluded unfairly in an extraverts’ world – Psyche Ideas
The main cultural problem is that introverts are widely seen as not adapted to the environment, instead of it being acknowledged that the environment is designed to profit extraverts. Society’s praise and acceptance of extraversion as the norm has led many introverts, along with many ambiverts, to suppress different aspects of their personality, or to see them as flaws. This state of affairs is bad not only for introverts, but for society as a whole.
By way of example:
The ritualised excess of life aboard a cruise ship is tragic and parodic by turns – Aeon Videos
The observational documentary All Inclusive drops viewers head-first into the strange rituals of tableside conga lines, captain meet-and-greets and pool cannonball contests that characterise the cruise experience. While the Swiss director Corina Schwingruber Ilić’s tongue-in-cheek tone permeates throughout, the film offers more than just an invitation to gawk, as ‘fun’ plays out in a series of over-the-top pastimes, hinting at the economic and social stratification between guests and workers.
I’d much rather watch this than be there. The film’s style reminds me of that short documentary about the drive-in church service, something else I’m happy I’ve seen—from a distance.
TheirTube – How do the recommended videos look on their Youtube home page?
This whole project started when I was in a heated discussion with a person who thought climate change was a hoax and 9/11 was a conspiracy. Through conversations with him, I was surprised to learn that he thought everyone’s YouTube feed had the same information as his own feed. When we showed each other our YouTube homepages, we were both shocked. They were radically different. And it got me thinking about the need for a tool to step outside of information bubbles.
Find yourself staring out of windows? Try some different ones.
WindowSwap lets you cycle through picturesque views from all over the world – The Verge
There’s something very positive about the experience. Strangers are taking their time to share their favorite watching spot to help those who might not have one (or are just tired of their own). It is a small gesture of kindness and reminder of the positive ways the internet can make the world feel smaller.
As I mentioned before, one of the benefits of working from home is I get to enjoy the view of our little bird feeder all day. I’ll be back in the office at some point, I’m sure, but I know which website to turn to when I get there.
Bird Library, where the need to feed meets the need to read
Welcome to the Bird Library, feeding the birdbrains of Virginia. Concerned about bird literacy? So are we. We believe in biodiversity and welcome birds of all colors, shapes, and species … even squirrels.
Its live video feed is the only way I’ll get to see cardinals, I think, and all the library’s other exotic (to us in the UK, at least) patrons.
But if you’re wanting to see some truly beautiful birds:
Fantastical images of birds from the 2020 Audubon Photography Award – Hyperallergic
The National Audubon Society annually rewards excellence in nature photography; the 2020 winners offer a stunning array of aviary photographs that continue to amaze with their vivid colors and curious behaviors.
This hypnotic artwork from Andy Thomas is my favourite, I think. I’ve seen visualisations of bird flight before, but not their song. These reinterpretations of bird song take very strange and dramatic forms reminiscent of flowers, insects and the birds themselves.
Digital sculptures visualize chirps of Amazonian birds in a responsive artwork by Andy Thomas – Colossal
Based on an audio recording from a 2016 trip to the Amazon, Australian artist Andy Thomas interprets birds’ trills, squawks, and coos through an animated series of digital sculptures. … With each chirp, the fleeting masses contort, grow, and disassemble into a new, vibrant form.
Instead of a window I could happily have this playing on a loop all day on a monitor on a wall or something. I wonder what the sparrows and goldfinches on my bird feeder would make of that.
Featured image Bibek Ghosh
A while ago I shared a post about brainy music. Here’s some mindful music of a different kind.
Can biofeedback help to unlock the mysteries of music’s therapeutic effects? – Aeon Videos
The US musician and research scientist Grace Leslie works at the frontiers of biotechnology and experimental music. From her Brain Music Lab at the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, Leslie and her students probe the physiological effects of sounds and rhythms, including how biofeedback could potentially be used to create new sonic therapies.
So can a mind sing? Filmmaker Vier Nev thinks so.
Staff Pick Award at Annecy 2020: “A Mind Sang” by Vier Nev – Vimeo Blog
Seeing a shape in the clouds, a face on Mars, or Jesus in your toast is called “pareidolia.” Our tendency to perceive objects, patterns, and meanings incorrectly is a psychological phenomenon filmmaker Vier Nev turned into hypnotizing art in his transfixing animated film, “A Mind Sang.” Leading the audience through themes of transformation, perspective, and rebirth, this work of art kept us visually engaged through each second of the film with stunning optical illusions and a haunting and rich musical score. (via Kottke)
That felt like an eye exam. Let’s have something more … relaxing?
Toccata – Optical Arts
The film is an exploration on the nature of time, the relentless violence of entropy and creative energy and its relationship to music itself. The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor has a cinematic history going back to the silent film era, when orchestras played music to films. The piece became often used in the horror genre and famously as the opening to the 1970’s film Rollerball. (via Laughing Squid)
I love this, the slo-mo timing is perfect. Here’s some more.
Orchestra instruments captured in super slow motion – Laughing Squid
A performer with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra demonstrated what the performance of a stand-up double bass looks like in super slow motion. The footage captures how the bow connects with and releases from the string in order to make beautiful music.
Careful with those bows.
Man in Japan arrested for attacking pedestrian with violin bow – Classic FM
The man, who was wielding a horsehair bow, was also reported to be holding a violin. He has no known address and is reported by police to have been intoxicated at the time of the incident.
Maybe he wasn’t a classical music fan. How about something light and carefree?
How the ‘Oh Yeah’ song in Ferris Bueller came to be – Great Big Story
“Oh Yeah.” You’ve heard this song—full of oh yeah, bow bow and ch-ch ch-ch ch-ka!—who knows how many times over the years. Recorded by the Swiss synth pop duo known as Yello, “Oh Yeah” became a pop culture phenomenon after being featured in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” In the 1986 movie, the percussive piece is the soundtrack to the scene where Cameron shows off his father’s prized Ferrari to his friend Bueller. And we all know what happened after that. (via Laughing Squid)
Or something just as poppy but perhaps less carefree?
A brilliant but appropriately anxiety-inducing animated video for the Sparks song ‘The Existential Threat’ – Laughing Squid
Cyriak Harris, the creative mind behind many wonderful surreral short films, created a brilliant but appropriately anxiety-inducing animated music video for the song “The Existential Threat” by the Los Angeles band Sparks, from their album “A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip”.
Or some vintage rock?
Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” gets a video after 43 years – Boing Boing
On Thursday, on his Instagram account, Iggy Pop announced that, after a 43 year wait, his classic track, “The Passenger,” has a video.
Let’s end how we began, with something mindful. Kind of.
Buddhist monk performs a badass cover of the Judas Priest song ‘Breaking the Law’ on classic instruments – Laughing Squid
Buddhist monk Kossan1108, who does amazing, minimalist covers of classic rock songs with traditional instruments, performed a pretty badass cover of the classic Judas Priest song “Breaking the Law”. He used the wooden fish to keep the beat, a standing bell to add color and his own voice to cover the lyrics.
Well, models of them, at least.
Papercraft Models – Rocky Bergen
Construct the computer from your childhood or build an entire computer museum at home with these paper models, free to download and share.
Yes, there’s the Apple Macintosh, the BBC microcomputer and some Nintendo and Sega systems, but my faves are definitely the Commodore 64, complete with printer and paper, and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum with a TV and cassette recorder from the 1982 Dixons catalogue, no less. (via Boing Boing)
It’s been more years than I care to remember, but I can still hear and feel those keyboards—the clack of the Commodore’s and the squidge of those silly little Spectrum keys.
And for more retro goodness, how about two minutes of beeps and chimes from other old machines.
Images Rocky Bergen
It’s time for another Bill McClintock mashup, I think.
An unexpectedly catchy mashup of ‘Shout’ by The Isley Brothers combined with ‘Ace of Spades’ by Motörhead – Laughing Squid
Video editor Bill McClintock has put together an unexpectedly catchy and entertaining mashup of the classic Isley Brothers song “Shout” with the legendary Motörhead song “Ace of Spades”.
As I’ve said earlier, I used to listen to a lot of metal, and have loved that track from the start. It’s great to see it again, still fresh.
More metal now, in the form of a pipeline, care of Armin Küpper and his saxophone.
Saxophonist cleverly plays into giant piece of pipeline to accompany himself with an echo in perfect pitch – Laughing Squid
(translated) This sound on the tube, in this loneliness always gives me the feeling: Hey, you’re not alone there! Sometimes I just can’t stop playing. The nice thing is, when it gets cool in the evening, I sit down in the tube heated up during the day and enjoy the sunset playing the saxophone.
Ages ago, I shared a post about that incredible movie, The Russian Ark. It was filmed entirely in the Winter Palace of the Russian State Hermitage Museum with 2,000 cast members, three orchestras and a single 96-minute steadicam shot.
Well, the folks at Apple have done something similiar, to show off their new mobile, but have considerably upped the runtime. No orchestras this time, though it’s just as mesmerising.
A one-take journey through Russia’s iconic Hermitage museum, shot on iPhone 11 Pro – Apple
Experience a 5 hr 19 min 28 sec cinematic journey through one of the world’s biggest museums in St. Petersburg, Russia. Take in 45 galleries, 588 masterpieces, and live performances, shot in 4K on iPhone 11 Pro in one continuous take.
Here’s the one and a half minute trailer, for those in a hurry.
What to do when you’ve got too much time on your hands? Play a video game? This one looks a little laggy.
Some people are just eating their way through this time of uncertainty.
Don’t overdo it, though, or you’ll be expanding your vocabulary as well as your waistline.
1. Coronavirus fat (noun)
German workers ordered to stay at home to help the government flatten one sort of curve have found themselves battling the emergence of another, just above the belt. Home workouts sound great, but the days are long and dull and your latest bout of Hamsterkäufe (panic-buying; lit. “hamster-purchase”) has left the fridge gloriously well-stocked. There’s always another variety of Ritter Sport to try, oder? Anyway, what’s a few kilos between socially distanced friends?
Coronaspeck is the helpful German word for the fat deposited by weeks of stay-at-home grazing. Shoppers in Germany may know Speck as a bacon-like foodstuff, perhaps found on a crisp Flammkuchen or inside hearty Swabian Maultaschen. But its broader meaning corresponds to something like the English “flab”.
Perhaps you need some exercise, but what if you can’t think of a routine or a soundtrack? No problem. This website will pair up a random move with a random piece of music.
I’ll pass on that, thanks. But speaking of music…
That sounds more like it.
WFH = working from home. An abbreviation I hadn’t heard of until recently. It seems we’re all at it. Well, not all of us.
The great Zoom divide: How working from home is a privilege – New Statesman
Supporting the WFH and self-isolating economy is an army of factory and warehouse workers who are now busier than ever. There is much awareness and respect, rightfully, for medical staff who are at the frontlines of fighting Covid-19 – but what about those on the industrial frontlines? Who is protecting them? How can we keep essential supplies and functions running without exposing these workers to health risks? Is that even possible?
Avoiding Coronavirus may be a luxury some workers can’t afford – New York Times
For many workers, being sick means choosing between staying home and getting paid. One-quarter of workers have no access to paid sick days, according to Labor Department data: two-thirds of the lowest earners but just 6 percent of the highest earners. Just a handful of states and local governments have passed sick leave laws. Only 60 percent of workers in service occupations can take paid time off when they are ill — and they are also more likely than white-collar workers to come in contact with other people’s bodies or food.
Stykka designs a temporary workstation so you’ll stay the f*** home – Design Milk
When Denmark ordered people to stay home, Stykka got creative knowing many people had to share workspaces at home with their families or had to use the dining table. They challenged themselves to use only cardboard, zip ties, and a laser cutter, and in less than 24 hours, they not only had a prototype but they were ready to ship the desks out. Once received, the desk takes less than 10 minutes to assemble.
Don’t mute, get a better headset – Matt Mullenweg
When you’re speaking to a muted room, it’s eerie and unnatural — you feel alone even if you can see other people’s faces. You lose all of those spontaneous reactions that keep a conversation flowing. If you ask someone a question, or they want to jump in, they have to wait to unmute. I also don’t love the “unmute to raise your hand” behavior, as it lends itself to meetings where people are just waiting their turn to speak instead of truly listening.
As population works from home, Walmart reports increased sales for tops but not pants – CBS News
Men’s fashion brand Suitsupply is getting in on both sides of the trend. The company recently posted a photo on Instagram of a model wearing a button-down, tie and blazer on top — and nothing but underwear on the bottom. “Working from home doesn’t mean compromising on style. Keep your look professional—from the waist up at least,” the brand wrote. Scrolling through the Instagram post leads to a picture that says, “Off-camera?” before featuring the same model, this time wearing a sweatshirt.
Zoom announces 90-day feature freeze to fix privacy and security issues – The Verge
Zoom has never shared user numbers before, but Yuan reveals that back in December the company had a maximum of 10 million daily users. “In March this year, we reached more than 200 million daily meeting participants, both free and paid,” says Yuan. That’s a huge increase that has seen people use Zoom for reasons nobody expected before the coronavirus pandemic.
Security and privacy implications of Zoom – Schneier on Security
In general, Zoom’s problems fall into three broad buckets: (1) bad privacy practices, (2) bad security practices, and (3) bad user configurations. […] Zoom is a security and privacy disaster, but until now had managed to avoid public accountability because it was relatively obscure. Now that it’s in the spotlight, it’s all coming out.
Automated tool can find 100 Zoom meeting IDs per hour – The Verge
In addition to being able to find around 100 meetings per hour, one instance of zWarDial can successfully determine a legitimate meeting ID 14 percent of the time, Lo told Krebs on Security. And as part of the nearly 2,400 upcoming or recurring Zoom meetings zWarDial found in a single day of scanning, the program extracted a meeting’s Zoom link, date and time, meeting organizer, and meeting topic, according to data Lo shared with Krebs on Security.
The Sinfonia of Leeds, the orchestra my wife ordinarily plays in, were supposed to be playing a concert this weekend. That didn’t happen, obviously, but they invited us to enjoy their programme anyway.
Their Facebook page directed us to live recordings of other orchestras performing the pieces they were going to play, and we watched along from the comfort of our sofa, starting at 7:30pm and with ice cream at the interval, as is only proper.
- Schubert: Symphony No 8 in B minor – Philippe Jordan, Wiener Symphoniker
- Berlioz: Les nuits d’été – Véronique Gens, Lionel Bringuier, Frankfurt Radio Symphony
- Sibelius: Symphony No 3 in C major – Jaime Martín, Frankfurt Radio Symphony
We had a wonderful evening (you can’t really go wrong with a Sibelius symphony), so much so that we’ve promised ourselves to create another YouTube concert evening next weekend. And it’s my turn to pick the programme.
It’s an iconic piece of classical music, and even if you’re not a fan of the genre you’ve probably come across it before now—Bach’s prelude from his Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major. It’s only a couple of minutes long, depending on who’s playing it (and on what instrument), but it’s perfectly constructed. To understand why, let’s take a closer look with Alisa Weilerstein. (via Kottke)
Bach’s G major prelude, deconstructed – Vox
If you hear the first few measures you’ll likely recognize it. A simple G major arpeggiated chord played expressively on the cello opens a short, but harmonically and melodically rich, 42 measures of music. Bach makes a single instrument sound like a full ensemble. How does he do it?
It’s simple, really (to some, perhaps!), just the tonic key G and the dominant key D playing off each other.
I could listen to this over and over. Wonderful music. I just need someone to go through the rest of it.
(I wish I had stuck with it now.)
I do miss the early web, sometimes. Amateurish, in a good way—spontaneous, care-free, lighthearted.
The early internet, explained by one weird Celine Dion fan site – The Atlantic
Celine Dreams was a bit of a sensation. Toroptsov never lacked for dream submissions, and at the turn of the century—before the internet was a corporatized monoculture repeated across only a handful of giant web properties—a scrappy, DIY fan site could easily build an audience by climbing up search rankings and encouraging active participation. For years, Celine Dreams appeared in the first page of Google and Yahoo search results for Celine Dion—a distinction now reserved for Celine Dion’s official website, Celine Dion’s Wikipedia page, Celine Dion’s Twitter page, Celine Dion on Spotify, and Celine Dion on YouTube.
And then it shut down, blinkering out at the same time as thousands of other fan sites. The whole ecosystem slid into the digital ocean slowly, but pretty much all at once, like a famous ship.
Nothing lasts forever. Especially nowadays.
More of these fan sites disappear all the time, and the Wayback Machine isn’t able to keep even a near-perfect record. Toroptsov’s project, and the work of his “competitors,” are vanishing in what information scientists have long been referring to as the “digital dark age.” “However widely the myth of the automatically archival Internet has spread over the past 70 years, the fact is that the system of networked computing utterly fails as a memory machine,” the UC Berkeley media researcher Abigail De Kosnik writes in her 2016 book, Rogue Archives. “The internet and computers do not constitute the greatest archive in human history, but rather the reverse.”
This applies to iconic software, too.
The last vestige of Internet Explorer dies today – Gizmodo
When Microsoft decided to use EdgeHTML, it made sense. Internet Explorer had once been the biggest web browser around and consequently, lots of web page designers focused their energies on making their sites work for IE. But Chrome had a foothold when Edge launched and Microsoft’s new browser just never gained the popularity it needed. Instead, more and more web page designers focused on making the best looking sites the could—for Chrome.
Chrome uses the Blink engine and the source code originates with the open-source Chromium project. The Edge that launches today will rely on Blink and Chromium too.
Some people are clinging on, though. I’ve been reading Joanne McNeils’s newsletter for a while, now, and her website is joyously web 1.0.
Hi, my name is Joanne McNeil and this is my Home Page on the World Wide Web. My book Lurking is out on February 25, 2020 with MCD.
And do you remember Noah Everyday from the 2000s? He’s back again, and doesn’t look a day older. Ok, that’s a lie. He looks older, we all do.
Man takes picture of himself every day for 20 years – FlowingData
In 2007, Noah Kalina posted a time-lapse video showing a picture of himself every day for six years. Pop culture swallowed it up. There was even a Simpsons parody with Homer. After another six years, it was a video for twelve years’ worth of photos. Kalina has kept his everyday project going, and the above is the new time-lapse for two decades.
800 LED drones create giant 3D airplanes in the sky – The Kid Should See This
The three-dimensional ‘sky sculptures’ created by these 800 LED-equipped drones are stunning. Airplanes, jets, helicopters, and words hovered as points of light over Nanchang, China for the 2019 Nanchang Flight Convention’s closing ceremonies.
A little more polished than TIME magazine’s efforts last year, I think, which were still pretty impressive.
This video struck a chord recently. It was shown to us as part of a Wellbeing Day at work a few weeks ago and—as well as being quite funny—I thought its practical, down-to-earth steps to a more positive mindset made a lot of sense.
The happy secret to better work | Shawn Achor – YouTube
We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk from TEDxBloomington, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity.
One of his slides summarises the ways you can train your brain to become more positive.
I’ve been following these steps for a few weeks now, and writing down three new things I’m grateful for and a positive experience I’ve had that day does help me focus on looking for the positives.
That video was published in 2012, but one that contained a very similar message coincidentally appeared just a few days ago, from Kurzgesagt.
An antidote to dissatisfaction – YouTube
Everybody is familiar with the feeling that things are not as they should be. That you are not successful enough, your relationships not satisfying enough. That you don’t have the things you crave. In this video we want to talk about one of the strongest predictors of how happy people are, how easily they make friends and how good they are at dealing with hardship. An antidote against dissatisfaction so to speak: Gratitude.
This video, too, discussed the benefits of a simple gratitude journal, “sitting down for a few minutes, one to three times a week, and writing down five to ten things you’re grateful for.”
In the end, how you experience life is a representation of what you believe about it. If you attack your core beliefs about your self and your life, you can change your thoughts and feelings, which automatically changes your behaviour. It’s pretty mind-blowing that something as simple as self-reflection can hack the pathways in our brain to fight dissatisfaction. And if this is no reason to be optimistic, what is?
I enjoyed this trip down memory lane, care of the BBC and Vic Reeves.
Kill Your TV: Jim Moir’s Weird World of Video Art – BBC iPlayer
With contributions from leading British artists such as Isaac Julien and Rachel Maclean, Jim shows how the arrival of the portable video camera in the 1960s allowed artists to create work that set out to take on the power of corporate media. New York-based artist Nam June Paik, credited as video art’s inventor, once declared, ‘television has been attacking us all our lives – now we can attack it back.’
It took me back to my student days, messing around with sound and video in an attempt to forge a new ‘interactive’ art. The work of Brian Eno featured quite heavily in those days (he was an ex-student of our Head of Programme, as our Head of Programme was always keen to point out), and I see he was in the news again the other day.
Brian Eno’s latest composition: A giant Christmas card with Julian Assange on it – The Register
Acclaimed lift music composer Brian Eno is orchestrating a mass mail-in to Brit home secretary Priti Patel so the great unwashed can tell her: “Don’t Extradite Assange.”
At 3pm on 3 December, the background muzak technician will pull the sheets off an oversized digital Christmas card (pictured) outside the Home Office’s Westminster premises, featuring a snap of white-haired WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and emblazoned with the cheery message: “This Christmas journalism is on trial.”
This July saw the 50th annivesary of the moon landing, and I shared a number of landing related links, including one about a speech for President Nixon in case the worst should happen, titled “In the Event of Moon Disaster.”
Well, it’s been given the deepfake treatment.
A deepfake Nixon delivers eulogy for the Apollo 11 astronauts – Kottke
Fifty years ago, not even Stanley Kubrick could have faked the Moon landing. But today, visual effects and techniques driven by machine learning are so good that it might be relatively simple, at least the television broadcast part of it. In a short demonstration of that technical supremacy, a group from MIT has created a deepfake version of Nixon delivering that disaster speech. …
The implications of being able to so convincingly fake the televised appearance of a former US President are left as an exercise to the reader.
Looking for something to watch when you’ve got too much time on your hands?
The top 10 best 10-hour long videos on YouTube – Lifewire
It’s pretty unlikely that most viewers actually sit there to watch one of these excruciatingly long videos in full, but that’s not really the point. The point is that a 10-hour version of a popular video or meme simply exists, and that’s what makes it at least ten times funnier than the original.
Here’s an interesting follow-on to yesterday’s post about Chernobyl. Rather than an accidental nuclear catastrophe, how would we react to a planned attack?
A secret UK committee drafts a message to be played in case of nuclear attack
In 1973, fearing a Soviet nuclear strike, a UK government committee was formed to write a message to be played from the British Broadcasting Corporation’s secret bunker in Scotland during a worst-case-scenario attack. Irreverently constructed using declassified documents and scenes from the BBC’s drama-documentary The War Game (1965), Final Draft: Scripting the Apocalypse is a darkly comic, Kubrickian examination of the deep weirdness of modern warfare.
Last week I mentioned that it was Optimistic October and Stoic Week 2019. Well, today is World Mental Health Day. Here, my favourite philosopher teams up with Jessica Kellgren-Fozard to explore what makes us happy.
YouTuber Jessica Kellgren-Fozard: ‘It’s OK not to be OK’
For some it meant money, for others it was dream holidays, and in one instance a Chanel handbag (other handbags are available). But in her seven secrets of happiness, the presenter went for more modest and noble targets – such as acceptance, appreciation and personal growth.
In the pursuit of this happiness, she thinks it’s time we cut ourselves, and each other, some slack.
They’re not the only ones attempting to answer this question for us, of course. Here’s another.