Forecast 2010

James Howard Kunstler on his excellently titled blog Clusterfuck Nation:

One wild card is how angry the American people might get. Unlike the 1930s, we are no longer a nation who call each other “Mister” and “Ma’am,” where even the down-and-out wear neckties and speak a discernible variant of regular English, where hoboes say “thank you,” and where, in short, there is something like a common culture of shared values. We’re a nation of thugs and louts with flames tattooed on our necks, who call each other “motherfucker” and are skilled only in playing video games based on mass murder. The masses of Roosevelt’s time were coming off decades of programmed, regimented work, where people showed up in well-run factories and schools and pretty much behaved themselves. In my view, that’s one of the reasons that the US didn’t explode in political violence during the Great Depression of the 1930s – the discipline and fortitude of the citizenry. The sheer weight of demoralization now is so titanic that it is very hard to imagine the people of the USA pulling together for anything beyond the most superficial ceremonies – placing teddy bears on a crash site. And forget about discipline and fortitude in a nation of ADD victims and self-esteem seekers.

Note, I broke my pub system, so you must click this to read through, will fix my shit sometime after new years and get posting again.

20,000 Nations Above the Sea

Friedman wondered: What if you could just move—not just you, but everything you own, including your home, and, if your neighbors agreed with you, your whole community? What if you could move all of it where no government would bother you at all, and you could make a new, better society?

Vague Scientist

Via Beyond The Beyond.

Secrets of the Phallus: Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?

In SciAm:

If you’ve ever had a good, long look at the human phallus, whether yours or someone else’s, you’ve probably scratched your head over such a peculiarly shaped device. Let’s face it—it’s not the most intuitively shaped appendage in all of evolution. But according to evolutionary psychologist Gordon Gallup of the State University of New York at Albany, the human penis is actually an impressive “tool” in the truest sense of the word, one manufactured by nature over hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution. You may be surprised to discover just how highly specialized a tool it is. Furthermore, you’d be amazed at what its appearance can tell us about the nature of our sexuality.

Via William Gibson.

The Flash preloader museum

Pretty Loaded is an online museum of Flash preloaders.

Via kottke.org.

The house that used to be there

From Marcus Buck, imprints of demolished houses left on other houses.

Ghost House

Via kottke.org.

Rare mp3s of Weegee and Henri Cartier-Bresson talking about photography

Below you can hear Weegee talk about picture-making. It’s interesting to hear his voice, which is one of those accents you don’t hear so much in New York anymore: part Austro-Hungarian immigrant by way of the Lower East Side and part Elmer Fudd. Peter Sellers based his accent in Dr. Strangelove on Weegee’s voice after Weegee visited Kubrick’s set one day.

Via kottke.org.

Weapons of Mass Destruction


“Little Boy” (Hiroshima Atomic Bomb) 1945

Nice set of black and white (and infrared?) photos of cold war era Weapons of Mass Destruction.

See also: “Atomic John” in The New Yorker

The single, blinding release of pure energy over Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, marked a startling and permanent break with our prior understandings of the visible world. Yet for more than sixty years the technology behind the explosion has remained a state secret.

The most accurate account of the bomb’s inner workings—an unnervingly detailed reconstruction, based on old photographs and documents—has been written by a sixty-one-year-old truck driver from Waukesha, Wisconsin, named John Coster-Mullen, who was once a commercial photographer, and has never received a college degree.

Point and Shoot: 1925


Washington, D.C., circa 1925. “Girls’ rifle team of Drexel Institute.” National Photo Company Collection glass negative.

Click through for original size un-cropped.

Via Daring Fireball.

Flat-pack accounting

The overall set-up of IKEA minimises tax and disclosure, handsomely rewards the founding Kamprad family and makes IKEA immune to a takeover. And if that seems too good to be true, it is: these arrangements are extremely hard to undo. The benefits from all this ingenuity come at the price of a huge constraint on the successors to Ingvar Kamprad, the store’s founder, to do with IKEA as they see fit.

The parent for all IKEA companies—the operator of 207 of the 235 worldwide IKEA stores—is Ingka Holding, a private Dutch-registered company. Ingka Holding, in turn, belongs entirely to Stichting Ingka Foundation. This is a Dutch-registered, tax-exempt, non-profit-making legal entity, which was given the shares of Mr Kamprad in 1982. Stichtingen, or foundations, are the most common form of not-for-profit organisation in the Netherlands; tens of thousands of them are registered.

Most Dutch stichtingen are tiny, but if Stichting Ingka Foundation were listed it would be one of the Netherlands’ ten largest companies by market value.

Posted at The Economist.