Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.


News Apps

A bit of work news: NPR is spinning up a News Apps team. This will be an interdisciplinary group of data journalists, designers and developers which will work on projects across NPR.org, NPR Music, Planet Money, StateImpact, stations, etc.

Management just announced the hire of the Chicago Tribune’s Brian Boyer as team lead. NPR.org editorial designers Nelson Hsu, Stephanie d’Otreppe and I will join this new team, as will StateImpact data journalist Matt Stiles. And we’re looking to hire two developers to fill out the team.

This should be fun.

Make Good Art

Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech about making a career in the arts is lovely and inspiring — well worth watching / listening. (Transcript.)

(If you can’t see the video above, it’s available on Vimeo.)


The Glacial Lagoon


One of the big highlights of our Iceland trip was Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon in southeastern Iceland near Höfn. Icebergs calve off the nearby glacier into this lake, and then drift out to sea. It’s an amazing sight.

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Glaciers Ahoy

This morning I went through a few more photos from the Iceland trip to post on Flickr. To help me plot them geographically, I pulled up Google Maps. It came up in satellite view by default and, just … wow. …

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2 Fresh, 2 Furious

Last night I went to This American Life‘s live movie theatre show. As one would expect, there was some great storytelling (and even stand-up comedy), and OK Go put on an interactive song performance involving handbells, smartphone apps and Guitar Hero.

If you’re any kind of public radio nerd (or even if you’re not), check out Mike Birbiglia’s awesome short film with Terry Gross (of Fresh Air):

There’s a round of “encore” screenings on Tuesday.


Not Just a Jump, but Levitation | Lens | NYTimes.com

Kerri MacDonald writes, “Natsumi Hayashi does not call the photos she posts on Yowayowa Camera Woman Diary “jump shots.” A jump, she says, is composed of many movements. And those who go up must come down. No, Yowayowa Camera Woman is not jumping. She’s levitating.”

The frequent fliers who flew too much | Los Angeles Times

Ken Bensinger writes, “Many years after selling lifetime passes for unlimited first-class travel, American Airlines began scrutinizing the costs — and the customers.”

Waves of Grain | Slate

Nadia Arumugam writes, “How did Japan come to be a wheat-obsessed nation that needs gimmicks like the Gopan to eat rice disguised as wheat flour? The story of Japan’s conversion from rice to wheat involves a long, relentless campaign by the best propagandists in the business—the U.S. government, of course.”

The California Taco Trail: 'How Mexican Food Conquered America' | The Salt | NPR

Once upon a time, tacos were a Mexican snack. Now they’re an all-American institution. Gustavo Arellano leads us across Southern California in search of the roots of the American taco.”



Glacier ahead. #iceland #latergram

Rob and I spent a week in Iceland at the end of April, in part to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. I’m still sorting through photos, but for now, I’ll just say WOW. What an amazing place.


The Graduate

Graduation Day

I flew out to Phoenix on Tuesday to celebrate my brother Ross’s graduation from ASU with a degree in film. Congratulations, Ross!

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Who Made That Pie Chart? | NYTimes.com

Hilary Greenbaum and Dana Rubinstein write, “William Playfair — a businessman, engineer and economics writer from Scotland — created the first known pie chart in 1801.”


Penguins Rocket Away from Danger Aboard Supercavitating Bubble Jets | Gizmodo

Andrew Tarantola writes, “Turns out, not being eaten by a leopard seal is excellent motivation. It’s what spurred penguins to develop an ingenious method of cutting down their drag—by wrapping themselves in a shawl of bubbles.”


Dinner Improvisation

Dinner improvisation: Soba noodles cooked in chicken broth with kale, red bell pepper, mushrooms and green onions.

For dinner last night, Rob and I challenged ourselves to use up (most of) the leftover veggies in the fridge. The result: buckwheat soba noodles cooked in chicken broth with kale, red bell pepper, mushrooms and green onions. I didn’t cook the kale long enough (it was still a little tough), but otherwise, the experiment worked out pretty well!


Why Are Chocolate Easter Bunnies Hollow? | Food & Think | Smithsonian

Amanda Bensen tracks down the history of the hollow chocolate Easter bunny, while musing, “Isn’t it cruel to disappoint kids, who bite into what looks like solid chocolate and are confronted with emptiness?”

Photo of the Day: Pie

23-mile bike ride on the Western Maryland Rail Trail. Pie: earned.

Rob and I did a 23-mile bike ride yesterday on the Western Maryland Rail Trail. We earned our post-ride slices of pie. (Him: blueberry. Me: coconut cream.)