♻ Whoop Whoop

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Finally picked up my first issue of n+1. So far, I’ve only read the article that prompted me to buy the dead tree in the first place: American Juggalo.

For the uninitiated, the popular definition of a Juggalo is a fan of the rap group Insane Clown Posse. The name “Insane Clown Posse” is pretty self-explanatory. They made some news about a year ago for the mysticism anthem “Miracles”:

Juggalos are clowned on (p.i.) by most everybody, so seeing the name on a literary magazine caught my eye. The author travels to the annual Gathering of the Juggalos to answer the question everyone has upon learning about this subculture: what is this I don’t even.

The article is only available in print, but I can show a short doc (with the same title) shot at the same Gathering by the very talented Sean Dunne. “American Juggalo” really is worth reading—the missing narration for the movie.

And that is why I was a Juggalo this Halloween.

I cannot believe the the man who voiced Kahn is the same man who played The Wiz: Toby Huss.

♻ His Neutralness

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Besides being an awesome Futurama clip, this video has something else going for it: the likes and dislikes are perfectly balanced.

Sometimes, YouTube community, you surprise me with your awesomeness.

P.S.: Not just that one.

♻ Liszt Fever

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Damn, I didn’t realize Franz Liszt was the original Bieber: Lisztomania

♻ FX Messerschmidt

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After reading another amazing Futility Closet post, I stumbled upon this short movie describing Franz Xaver Messerschmidt’s fascinating work:

The maker of the documentary also has a not-so-shabby blog themselves.

Incorporated Places

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America is incredibly diverse. When I was young (but not that long ago), I always thought it would be fascinating to take a deep look at four or five randomly-chosen Americans to contrast their lives. Recently, this thought resurfaced, and I wondered, “What if I chose a random American and visited their town?” “What if I made this a Google Maps screensaver?” was obviously the next question I had.

I didn’t know what the end result would look like, but after some tweaking, I present Incorporated Places. Check it out, full screen your browser, and get lost in America. From the README:

Incorporated Places randomly chooses an incorporated place weighted by its population, zooms in to it, and pans around the area. Approximately every 90 seconds, it chooses a new place and zooms to it and beings again. You can click to cycle through road, satellite, and hybrid map modes. Other than map mode, the viewer has no control over the experience.

It is intended to make the viewer appreciate the country’s geography, think about the people living in each place, and, most importantly, please viewers aesthetically.

The source and implementation details are available on Github. Hit ⌘⇧3 if you see anything interesting!

P.S.: Looks great if you set it up as a screensaver. Websaver seemed to be the easiest way to do this.

Remember Winamp’s (winamp’s…) DEMO.MP3? Well, if you’re do, and you want to replicate the awesomeness for your own commercial, you’re in luck, because JJ McKay is for hire (and all the way in Nowhere, AK, no less!).

Also, he has a Twitter account where he tweets pornstars.

♻ Sixth of July

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Reading about the history of the Japanese flag, I stumbled upon the flags of the Japanese prefectures. Damn, was our American design humbled. We forget flags are for identification and recognition:






Bonus: Some choice US state flags. How many can you recognize at a distance? More importantly: how many do you like?





South Dakota

It’s a few months old, but a friend’s questions about sales tax prompted me to reread this article blasting Amazon’s stance on sales tax collection.

From the tone of it, you’d think Amazon were run by thieving fat cats, but really, Jeff Bezos was exploiting a 1992 SCOTUS decision declaring that out-of-state merchants must collect sales tax only if they have a physical presence in the state levying the tax. (Use of public services to deliver their product did not mandate collection.) Of course, the purchaser is still obligated to report the sales tax, but enforcement is difficult and compliance is low.

Amazon also breaks up its subsidiaries into smaller non-Washington based companies that then deal with Amazon (national) in order to avoid having a “physical presence” in many states, which would require collecting more sales tax. Ever wonder why the company that sell the Amazon gift cards has a sightly different legal name than the one that sends you the packages? Now you know.

Exploitative of the law? Yes. Criminal? No.

The points the article makes are convincing and numerous, but the most interesting nugget is how serious Bezos was about this advantage from the get-go. From a 1996 FastCompany article, on wanting to be near the Bay Area for talent:

I even investigated whether we could set up Amazon.com on an Indian reservation near San Francisco. This way we could have access to talent without all the tax consequences. Unfortunately, the government thought of that first.

Maybe Amazon could have been founded in Contra Costa county!

Reading an old interview with Bill Joy, creator of vi (along with Charles Haley) and Java, I was struck by how much an OG nerd like him has seen, and how prescient he was:

The trouble is that UNIX is not accessible, not transparent in the way that Interleaf is, where you sit down and start poking around in the menu and explore the whole system. Someone I know sat down with a Macintosh and a Lisa and was disappointed because, in a half hour, he explored the whole system and there wasn’t as much as he thought. That’s true, but the point is in half an hour, almost without a manual you can know which button to push and you can find nearly everything. Things don’t get lost. I think that’s the key.

Systems are going to get a lot more sophisticated. Things will tend to get lost unless the interfaces are done in the Macintosh style. People who use these machines may run applications but won’t necessarily be skilled at putting applications together. A lot of these people won’t even have access to the underlying UNIX system.

You might want to page over satellite telephone… Page fault, and the computer makes a phone call. Direct broadcast or audio disk - that’s the technology to do that. It’s half a gigabyte - and you get 100 kilobyte data rate or a megabyte or something. I don’t remember. You can then carry around with you all the software you need. You can get random data through some communications link. It is very like Dick Tracy. Have you seen these digital pagers? You can really communicate digital information on a portable.

This interview was from 1984.