Monday, January 31, 2011

The Tyler Cowen

  1. Helio-centric versus Earth-centric solar systems. Via InfoAesthetics.
  2. Photoshop and other misleading values of roughly 1000 words
  3. More analysis of North Korea's ICBM capabilities. My previous questioning still stands though it should be taken with a philosophical grain of salt. 

Firefly: The Train Job Review

Good times, good times with this crew. Bar fights, train heists, and fake identities. It must be granted that, while not as effective at introducing us to Firefly's world as the intended pilot, The Train Job is not by any means a poor replacement. It's faster, snappier, and sleeker. And though it certainly leaves you more breathless (particularly if this is your first glimpse into the 'verse), it seems even less plausible that the failure of the series lies entirely with the Fox executives' reshuffling of episodes.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Tyler Cowen

Trying to juggle a thousand things at the moment. Firefly reviews, hierarchies of need, and all the rest should pour forth next week. Until then, read what's good for you. Or no dessert.

  1. Digging into North Korea's ICBM capabilities. Is it just me or does everyone just fall into line with the 'even so...they're pretty crappy' analysis? I'm no rocket scientist, but I'm no HTML programmer and I managed to make a high-class FBML page. Seems to me that a discovery, once having been discovered, should be relatively easy to replicate. This is, after all, the foundation on which human progress rests. 
  2. Two articles from NKEconomy Watch, both about (unsurprisingly) North Korea's economic situation. The first discussed the increased output of, and quality in, light goods. At least, as far as has been reported by the various North Korean media outlets. The second discusses the economic impact of the cold spell currently gripping the Korean peninsula.

    Re: the first article; how important is a demand-side analysis of the North Korean economic situation? Most of what I read is either about the production capabilities of North Korea or the poverty of its citizens. Should we simply take it at face value that demand is always outstripping supply? I'm sure, fifty years hence when the peninsula is in a better state of affairs, memoirs will come out highlighting the various ways in which supply inefficiencies gave them 100 useless vases while they starved for butter or something. But such an analysis needn't be done in hindsight need it?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Tyler Cowen

  1. The man himself on sovereignty. (And yes, read Imagined Communities.)
  2. The State of the Union infographic. It's a long one but mesmerizing. Also included, the State of the Union! Via Infoaesthetics.
  3. Happiness and socialism. Via The Browser. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dating Rules from Nerve

It doesn't get much better than this friends. Clear-eyed, honest, get-over-yourself advice on getting over yourself.

Now get over yourself. Seriously.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Well, we're all going to die. Apparently the super volcano beneath Yellowstone just blipped onto our collective radars again thanks to some geological shifting that moved ground as much as 10 inches in some places. Here at BofHam we first learned about this super volcano several years ago via the Discovery Channel on a lazy-turned-terrifying Sunday afternoon.

The Tyler Cowen

  1. Self-evidently, depressingly, hilarious. Via Marginal Revolution
  2. How a new generation of tennis strings is changing the way the game is played. Via The Browser. 
  3. Is the tone shifting in North Korea? 
  4. An EXTREMELY dorky (but nonetheless interesting) description of the passive tense in English. Via The Browser. 
  5. 360 degree interactive helicopter ride in Canada. Via The Awesomer

Firefly: The Real Pilot Review

Much has been written about, commented on, and lamented regarding Joss Whedon's short-lived science fiction romp, Firefly. While not finding the broad audience it was hoping for, the passion among the show's followers is legendary. The self-described 'Brown Coats' managed that rarest feat in entertainment: using devotion to overcome profit margins. The production of the Serenity movie owes its existence almost entirely to the efforts of the fans who picketed, propositioned, and petitioned it into being.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Tyler Cowen

  1. People freaking out.
  2. Great read about the laying of the first trans-Atlantic cable from Wired via The Browser. 
  3. Two Nords rocking their faces off to Smooth Criminal. Via The Awesomer.
  4. As though I wasn't already careening toward a metaphysical meltdown, here a terrifying summary of scientific discoveries vis a vis the brain and how malleable our reality is. Also via The Browser. 

Funny Angry Birds related media

Everyone loves Angry Birds. I do. You do. They do. don't!? Well then watch the hilarity below. Then kill yourself.


Ronald Dworkin (leave it alone...just leave that joke alone) writes an excellent essay on morality and ethics here. In it, he attempts to unpack what we mean by the 'good life' by understanding the concept through the twin but separate frames of morality and ethics and arrive at a concrete definition by merging the two. Being at a particularly shaky point in my life at the moment, lost amid the buffeting waves of second-guessing and what-ifs, Dworkin's essay hit the spot. Before attempting to codify my own topsy-turvy morals and ethics, I should understand the foundations of what I'm attempting to organize.

Friday, January 21, 2011

LBJ Orders Pants

That's a man's man right there. A man's man's man. Frank but polite. And not above a little bunghole talking. Via The Awesomer.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Tyler Cowen

  • Hilarious reading (and accompanying video) of a poorly written game review. Via The Awesomer

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Tyler Cowen

  1. History of Wikipedia. Via Infoaesthetics.
  2. Funny European stereotypes. No one knows how to stereotype quite like those Europeans.  Via The Browser
  3. A profile of the man liberals love to hate. Via The Browser. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Cold

It was -16 C here in Seoul last weekend. That is really effing cold. However, after seeing the video below (via Gawker), I guess I can't complain.

The Tyler Cowen

  1. Great graph illustrating sequelitis from Box Office Quant. Via Cool Infographics
  2. Interactive infographic listing the various carbon footprints of everything from bananas to soccer matches to trans-pacific flights. Via Information is Beautiful.
  3. Interesting article on the rise of China, understood as the rise not of an economic system or nation but of an ethnic group. I wonder what Benedict Anderson would say?
  4. Three interesting pieces on North Korea, all from NKEconomyWatch. The first is an in-depth analysis of North Korea's refugees. The second is potentially terrifying news (now redacted) about possible Chinese troops being stationed in North Korea (WWIII here we come). And the third is a collection of brutal anecdotes surrounding the consolidation of Kim Jong un's power. 
  5. Marginal Revolution's US fact of the day is depressing.
"American schools are more segregated by race and class today than they were on the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, 43 years ago. The average white child in America attends a school that is 77 percent white, and where just 32 percent of the student body lives in poverty. The average black child attends a school that is 59 percent poor but only 29 percent white. The typical Latino kid is similarly segregated; his school is 57 percent poor and 27 percent white.
Overall, a third of all black and Latino children sit every day in classrooms that are 90 to 100 percent black and Latino."

Mythbusting Zombies

Rooster Teeth on how easy surviving a zombie apocalypse would be with guns. I've always thought the classic, shambling zombies would be a cinch to survive. They shamble for chrissakes! I've had a herd of 5 year olds chasing me before but managed to escape unharmed. Zombies, if anything should be easier. (Granted, the zippy zombies from 28 Days and Weeks later scare the ever-living crap out of me.)

In any event, it appears that I'm not far wrong. Three non-military types (sorta) manage to fare quite well against the shambling hordes the myth-busting scenario comes up with. Even a young lass with zero experience using a shotgun can easily dispatch her aggressor in three shots...more than enough time to survive his advances. (Via Kotaku.)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Inglorious Basterds Review

What is your favorite Quentin Tarantino movie?

This could be a Rorchach test for a specific subset of our pop-culture population. His movies cover a wide swath of subjects and locations but are anchored by the twin weights of beautifully written dialogue and a fetish for violence. There is also, somewhere, vengeance simmering, perhaps to justify the blood and our revelry in it. And finally, across the board, a tint of camp through which Tarantino's passion shines and makes him a celebrity of a stripe not normally seen in directors.

So what is yours? Pulp Fiction with its loon-juicingly sexy dialogue? Reservoir Dogs with its most disagreeable violence? Is it the sleek Kill Bill which nails the naval-gazing of Samuri-Cowboy mutual respect better than any anime? Or perhaps the fractured camp of Death Proof which, in killing its original leading ladies, grainy film, and sex appeal halfway through, might be the clearest of Tarantino's indictments of modern film?

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Funny stuff.

Via Kotaku. Japan, sort your shit out indeed.

Bluetooth Assholes via The Awesomer:

Bulletstorm Parodying Halo:

aaaaaaand some slapstick to round it out:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Tyler Cowen

  1. National Geographic on what it will mean to have 7 billion people on Earth by the end of 2011. Via The Awesomer
  2. US diplomacy with Japan and thoughts about East Asia.
  3. Photos of North Brother Island's post-apocalyptic environs
  4. How Facebook likes work. Via The Browser. (Now like us.)
Heading out to the countryside for hiking and hedonism. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Tyler Cowen

  1. Great article on North Korea's misguided propaganda. 
  2. Found via the above, a video of said propaganda in all its hilarious humorlessness. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A simple definition of irony

"Irony, put simply, is a gap between words and their meaning, a space across which speaker and listener exchange a knowing wink."

That's from an article about the rebirth of irony in China. A good read which relates heavily to the humor situation in Korea, particularly among older Koreans. (Course, the vocabulary of the above is a little too complex for my students.)

Why is irony such a uniquely western phenomenon? Though younger Koreans can appreciate ironic jokes more readily than their parents (no doubt a product of increased access to westerners and a popular culture that borrows heavily from the west), the standard mediums for humor remain wit and slapstick.

Here's a total shot in the dark for an answer:
Western society (Europe, North America) is a diverse animal. Immigration and urbanization has thrown together people from across a broad spectrum of cultural histories. Irony grew out of a basic human desire to feel connected. Disparate people used irony to replace the bases of connection (culture, ethnicity, history) that traditionally serve to make people feel part of a community. The 'knowing wink' filled an important social hole left by immigration. Over the decades, irony became fundamentally tied to western culture.

This understanding helps explain why irony is less common in more homogeneous societies like China and Korea. The connectivity provided by the knowing wink is not as important for feeling connected to one's fellow man in these cultures since there are so many other grounds for connection. Though this will change with globalization's maturity, we are still at the inception of this culture clash. And irony, as anyone knows, takes practice.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Tyler Cowen

  1. Neat infographic about the best albums of 2010 via Information Aesthetics.
  2. Great article summing up relations on the Korean peninsula and looking forward to 2011. Not particularly chipper but well written and concise. Via North Korean Economy Watch.
  3. Beautiful street art outlining shadows. Via The Awesomer
  4. Inspiring recognition of our generation's limitations and the possibilities open to our decendents. Heady stuff but beautiful. Also via The Awesomer.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Walking in Circles

Brilliant video by NPR. Via The Awesomer

The Tyler Cowen

  1. The evolution of deleted Wikipedia articles
  2. Slow motion video of things bouncing. Something to do with physics and Newton. Via Information is Beautiful
  3. A Wire-esque understanding of the B.I.G. murder and subsequent trial from Rolling Stone. (Via the Browser.)
  4. Granted my computer is acting wonky, but I'm finding it hard to load this article about the decline and fall of the Google empire after finding it using Google Reader on a Chrome browser. Hey big brother?

Monday, January 10, 2011

3 Vital FBML Tutorials

Since we're in the middle of trying to do a bunch of fancy stuff for various Facebook pages, the research is fresh on our minds. As a result, we thought we'd help out anyone looking for their own tutorials on getting started on FBML.

  1. on a host of simple tricks to add much needed functionality to your Facebook page. Check out the Facebook page for active examples. 
  2. Web Design Tutorials with a great two-part tutorial on how to bring a FBML design from Photoshop into Facebook.
  3. Mashable's 8 Essential Apps for Facebook. 
Smashing Magazine has a comprehensive list of these and others as well as a gallery of best-of FBML pages for those looking for more detail. But these three were enough for us to do everything we wanted. 

The Tyler Cowen

  1. Science fiction ships to scale!
  2. Marginal Revolution asking whether we should subsidize time travel. The comments are great. (Although isn't the fact that no one has traveled back in time to us yet proof enough that we'll never invent time travel? Or is this generation of human evolution deemed unfit for the bounties of a Utopian future?)
  3. Tears are a turn-off for men. Presumably it goes both ways no?
  4. Vacuum cleaner ad. Via The Awesomer.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Tyler Cowen

  1. The Sports Guy on the Brady-Manning rivalry
  2. A look at the aftermath of the Canadian Junior Hockey championship and how Visentin is coping. 
  3. The last will and testament and status update
  4. Foreign Policy on military budget cuts. Similar to our own but better informed, better written, and with less interest on the Amazon. 
Happy Sunday. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Meta-news in the Echo Chamber

Animals are dying! Birds are falling from the sky! Fish are washing onto beaches by the millions! It's the end of the world!

Indicators of SOMETHING

What does a death rattle sound like? In an animal, much like a human, it sounds like a severe case of congestion. In politics, is sounds like magnanimity. In business, it sounds like double-speak.

Does this sound like the death rattle of a regime?
North Korea removed a clause that made it mandatory for the party to hold a general convention every five years, the source said. Instead, the party can now elect senior members and revise its regulations just by holding a top delegates' meeting.
Or what about this?
The revision signals that the commission may grow more powerful than the National Defense Commission, the highest seat of power headed by Kim Jong-il but not yet joined by Kim Jong-un, he said.
Both quotes are from an article by Yonhap on leadership changes in North Korea. (Via NK Economy Watch.)

This newfound ability for the young Kim to re-organize party leadership in an instant creates a significantly more volatile power structure. Granted, Kim senior was more than capable of reshuffling the elites should one displease him. But the institutionalizing of this reorganization mechanism (more accurately, de-institutionalizing) does not fill me with confidence. Internal power struggles have never been pleasant for the DPRK's neighbors and these reforms seem to be laying the groundwork for further upheaval.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A brief history of the world

Incredible infographic presentation made all the more endearing by the charmingly nerdy host.

It's interesting to see some countries fluctuate wildly up and down (life expectancy) without changing their income early on. And the representation of the flu epidemic is equally impressive. But I'd love to know who the poor country is whose life expectancy falls below 25 years in 1943. It drops like a stone! And what is happening with a few of those countries that jump way up the income scale in the '70s? Could those be OPEC countries? It's also interesting to see China's life expectancy grow substantially before its income starts to rise. Could this be a product of universal improvements in standard health-care worldwide?

Great video regardless.

The Tyler Cowen

  1. Good summary of the North Korean situation from a US-foreign policy perspective. It is far less organized, far less consistent, and far less informed than we would like to think. Provides an interesting comparison between China's obstinateness with regard to Pyongyang and the US's continued support of Israel. With so little known, our policies reflect far more about ourselves than about North Korea. (Via 38North.)
  2. Awesome video from Open Stats (via Information Aesthetics) on how San Francisco is using public police reports to map crime is fascinating. (And because it's never too late to bring up these incredible maps again...)

Making it rain

Sneaky Swiss!
A company out of Switzerland called Meteo Systems has claimed that it is responsible for 52 unexpected storms in the Middle East. I don't know if I recall my lazy Sundays with the Discovery Channel accurately, but isn't the Earth's weather system a finely balanced network? Butterfly effects abound and global warming in the Arctic can bring about frigid winters in New England? Of all the supposed hubris and folly of man's attempts to control nature, making it rain in the desert seems to me a pretty dangerous proposition.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Promoting ourselves

A mere taste of our marketing powers. Tremble before it and kill yourselves!

Juche and International Trade

The Juche Tower in the background, overlooking self-reliant North Koreans.
The North Korean doctrine of Juche is, at its simplest, a call for self-reliance. It is used interchangeably in the DPRK as a rallying cry for workers, a justification for military actions, and an explanation of economic policies. Regardless of how it is bandied about, Juche is, at its core, the foundation of North Korean isolation. It is also the cornerstone of North Korean problems.

Feeding the Rich

Kim Jong il's private train.
The Chosun Ilbo reports on the luxury homes for North Korea's elite. Kim Jong il alone has 33 villas in the mountains and alone the beaches, all with manicured lawns and the occasional man-made lake. In addition, the batty old man owns 6 exclusive trains with as many as 19 private train stations, often located within his own compounds. Other high-ranking party officials enjoy similar luxuries. $150m USD is being spent on various luxury homes for Kim Jong un alone, both in Pyongyang and outside the city near hot springs.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Tyler Cowen

  1. Another year-end review of movies by revenue. It's nice to be able to trace the longevity of a movie in addition to just focusing on its opening week. (Although this throws into sharp relief how vital the opening week is in relation to everything else.) Via Cool Infographics.
  2. We all are prey to the wild fluctuations in the speed of time, particularly as we get older. The New York Times has a nice article on it. "And emotional events — a breakup, a promotion, a transformative trip abroad — tend to be perceived as more recent than they actually are, by months or even years." Via The Browser. 
  3. A Zinn-esque reminder about the dormant class wars
  4. Homeland security is not making us safer. When does this cease to be a practical problem and become a metaphysical one? When do we throw up our hands, accept that life is full of risks, and relish in the moment? When do we start listening to Let's Go Crazy again?
  5. North Korean restaurants now being reported on in Fast Company
  6. Nice photos. Nice nice photos. 

Mario 64 Speed Run

An insane speed-run through Mario 64 on an emulator. I don't know what kind of crazy tricks these guys are pulling to make this happen but, for anyone who put in any substantial amount of time into Mario 64, this is nothing short of jaw-dropping...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Boxes: A Tale of Abstraction

After watching the beautiful first video from Information Is Beautiful (appropriately named, aren't they?), I can't help but throw another naive rallying cry out into the void for a shift along our production possibilities frontier from knives to butter. It all looks so simple! If that box is that big and this box is only this big, shouldn't we be able to move a little from that box to this box? Come on! They're just boxes!

The Tyler Cowen

  1. Another inspiring Horatio Alger everyman. This one created IMDb. 
  2. Beautiful photos of various monuments in various states of construction. The Rushmore picture is particularly unnerving as it feels like the faces are being excavated from the mountain rather than carved into it. Via Gizmodo.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Lift me up on arms of noise

Smile though your heart is aching. Or listen to rock and roll. When you need the redemptive power of music, I humbly submit the following for your consideration.

  1. The Aye-Ayes: The Arms of Noise
  2. Metric: Help I'm Alive
  3. The Police: Synchronicity II
  4. Sam Bisbee: Miracle Car
  5. The Aye-Ayes: Don't Want to be Young
  6. M83: Kim & Jessie
  7. Queensryche: Walk in the Shadows
  8. The Talking Heads: Naive Melody
Not, by any stretch of the imagination, a comprehensive list. Not even in any particular order.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Tyler Cowen

  1. Huh. Via Marginal Revolution.
  2. Alexander Ovechkin's drought. Via The Browser.
  3. Argentinian Dancing with the Stars is hilariously, shockingly, sexy. The sounds the announcer makes had me in stitches. (NOTE: This is not something you should watch in the office.)