Monthly Archives: September 2008

Burn After Reading

Saw the latest from Ethan and Joel Coen last night. While it’s not at the level of their best films (No Country for Old Men and The Big Lebowski, and reportedly Raising Arizona which I still haven’t seen), it’s still entertaining and I recommend it. In comic tone it’s similar to Intolerable Cruelty but funnier. It’s also much less linear: it’s one of those plots that starts out as several seemingly unconnected stories that all come together at the end. Usually it’s better when this happens in a neat and clever way, but part of the comedy here is that the whole chain of events is pretty ridiculous. (This is one thing it does share with The Big Lebowski.)
I plan to sign up for Netflix in the near future, and one of my first actions will be to add a large fraction of the works of the Coen brothers to my queue. (I’ve seen just under half of them.)

Still alive

Today at work we were discussing the self-styled “simplest weather report ever”, umbrellatoday.com. Also useful is the similarly-designed hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com (via a GChat status message). Personally, I keep meaning to quote Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Oz on the subject: “But we know the world didn’t end, ’cause… check it out.”
In my new career the big question to ask is not whether the world will end, but whether one can make money off people’s belief that it will. Intrade doesn’t seem to have a futures contract on whether the LHC will destroy the Earth, but you can buy or sell the discovery of the Higgs boson.
Of course, if you are trying to destroy the Earth, and you’ve lost confidence in the LHC, you might find your Plan B at this page.

Artificial “natural”

Lisa Katayama’s recent guest posts at Boing Boing have been great; they should kick out the Bigfoot guy and take her on as a permanent blogger in his place. Nevertheless, this is kind of abusing the word “natural”:

For his upcoming exhibit in Tokyo, designer Tokujin Yoshioka is making a natural crystal chair from scratch. He’ll do this by submerging a nucleation-inducing fiber structure in four giant tanks of water, and then letting visitors watch as crystals form and the chair grows into its natural shape. (This image shows the artist working on a prototype.) The exhibit kicks off on October 17, and features other cool artsy objects made entirely out of nature.

Now, I do think the chair in question is pretty cool. And you’ll see worse abuses of “natural” on the shelves at your local grocery store. But the formation of the chair requires the prior construction of a chair-shaped fiber structure. It might be a novel process of shaping the material, but it’s about as natural as casting something from a mold.