NPF: TIME FOR SLEEP

Posted in No Politics Friday on March 6th, 2014 by Ed

On Wednesday evening I had about 90 minutes of sleep. This is rare for me; while I was a terrible insomniac as a kid and teenager, in recent years I've slept like a normal person. One bad night never killed anyone, but suffice it to say that after three consecutive 75 minute lecture classes on Thursday I was…done. This is relevant as a preemptive apology for giving you the quarterly Link Salad post for NPF. Despite having collected a lot of neat things lately I lack the energy to write about any one of them in great detail. So please enjoy, and by all means don't spend Friday working.

1. It was only a matter of time until one of BuzzFeed's billions of pieces of link bait turned out to be interesting. And this little write up on "American Parties" in foreign countries did it for me. I find this concept fabulous; apparently the two mandatory features at an American Party are red plastic Solo Cups and…popcorn? Presumably, shitty American music is involved as well. We are rightfully wary of internet journalism about "trends" – what the average NPR correspondent calls a fad sweeping the nation is actually anecdotal evidence from one of their friends – so I'm curious whether this is really a thing, I want to believe it is. And of all the things I'd imagine people around the world would see as symbolic of Americans, red plastic Solo Cups ranked low on the list.

2. An interesting read (from the ancient past: 1994) about an eccentric rich guy who concocted a plan many years ago to replace taxes with thousand-year trusts. And the story ends with the Unitarian Universalists going to court to try to steal his fortune after he died. Typical.

3. Apparently the heir to the throne of the Ottoman Empire lives in New York and is essentially a regular guy. That's an unbeatable cocktail party story, though.

4. Boeing developed an Android phone for intelligence agencies that self-destructs (more accurately, it erases all of its own data) if the phone case is opened. That technology has obvious utility in the world of security clearances and Top Secret information – and I'm guessing it won't be five years before they're including this on every phone so service providers can hold your data hostage.

5. Here's a terrific collection of images of placeholder text that someone forgot to replace in either signage or newspapers / magazines / advertisements / etc. The headline "3 DECK HEADLINE PLEASE" is a little on the nose even for a British newspaper. This reminds me of those old galleries of BSoD (Blue Screen of Death) in public places. Those are a helpful reminder that as long as we build SkyNet with Windows XP humanity is guaranteed to survive.

And now…

slumberland

DERELICT

Posted in Quick Hits on March 6th, 2014 by Ed

Sorry for punting tonight, but many moons ago I started to write up a piece about the Olympics as the ultimate modern White Elephant. You know, cities and countries fight tooth and nail to win the right to host these events and it almost inevitably leaves them deep in red ink. I find it very hard to believe, for example, that Russia turned a profit on the reported $51 billion they spent on Sochi.

Wherever the Olympics go, they leave behind massive debt and modern ruins. The elaborate "Bird's Nest" stadium from Beijing 2008 is now without a tenant; a handful of tourists per day pay a pittance to ride a Segway around inside it. The folks over at Sociological Images (which you should read regularly, by the way) have a good write up with links and photo galleries of what becomes of the often elaborate facilities cities build at great expense for the Olympics after the games end.

Not surprisingly, it usually involves crumbling concrete and graffiti. Remember when Fox News tried to make it sound like the U.S. was going to collapse because Obama didn't convince the IOC to host the 2016 Summer Games in Chicago? Sounds like the city dodged a bullet.