Rants & Ramblings

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

nov
21
2011

The End of Borders and the Future of Books | Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Ben Austen offers “an inside look at the real reasons for the once-beloved chain’s demise.” Poor choices, poor timing. (Via Patrick Cooper)

nov
18
2011

A Conspiracy of Hogs: The McRib as Arbitrage | The Awl

Willy Staley posits that McDonalds reintroduces the McRib sandwich when pork prices fall below a certain threshold. (Via Felix Salmon)

nov
17
2011

Who Left A Tree, Then A Coffin In The Library? | Krulwich Wonders | NPR

Gorgeous book sculptures left in Edinburgh libraries, and the question of whether to unmask their source.

Supercommittee Scenarios: How The Debt End Game May Play Out | NPR

The congressional supercommittee — charged with developing a plan for cutting the nation’s deficits by $1.2 trillion over 10 years — is days away from its Thanksgiving deadline. While no one can predict exactly what will happen between now and the committee’s deadline, here are some possible outcomes.” I worked on this interactive flowchart with Marilyn Geewax, Avie Schneider and Debra Rosenberg. The graphic is completely code-based, with each element styled / placed via CSS and longer descriptions appearing onmouseover via jQuery.

nov
11
2011

2012 Letterpress Calendar | Pyramid Atlantic Letterpress

Self-promoting PSA: The 2012 letterpress calendar project I worked on is now available for purchase. (I designed/printed the January page.) $30 if you pick it up in person; $35 if you want it shipped to you.

nov
10
2011

26.2 Miles, 46 Sketches | Abstract Sunday | NYTimes.com

NYT’s Christoph Niemann ran the New York Marathon this past weekend — and brought his sketchbook along.

nov
04
2011

32 Ways Of Looking At Unemployment, In One Chart | Planet Money | NPR

The chart below allows you to explore these differences in detail. You can see how the unemployment rate has changed over time for people of all ages and all levels of educational attainment.” Produced using Flot, a jQuery charting library. Reusing something I set up for previous projects.

nov
03
2011

Generation Gap: How Age Shapes Political Outlook | NPR

Findings from a new Pew Research Center report. “A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds wide gaps in how different generations view politics. Older voters are more conservative, more angry at the government and less hopeful about the future of the country. Younger voters lean left, wish the government played a greater role in their lives and believe the nation’s best days are yet to come.”

nov
02
2011

Map: Population Density, Global Fertility, And GDPNPR

To sustain themselves, many nations adopt policies to raise, lower, or maintain their population levels. And while a country’s gross domestic product may often predict its stance, that’s not always the case.” This Flash-based interactive map was produced for our series this week “7 Billion And Counting.”

oct
21
2011

Notes from a Dragon Mom | NYTimes.com

Emily Rapp writes about parenting a child who likely will not survive past toddlerhood. “How do you parent without a future, knowing that you will lose your child, bit by bit?” So utterly sad. (Via Morgan)

oct
18
2011

Brits And Americans Don't Speak The Same Language In The Kitchen | The Salt | NPR

NPR’s Alison Richards on translating British recipes for American audiences.

oct
17
2011

Interactive: 2012 Campaign Cash, Week By Week | NPR

The latest batch of campaign finance reports adds a little clarity to the presidential race. For starters, President Obama’s campaign reported a hefty $61 million on hand as of Sept. 30. But in the Republican primary race, things are in flux.” Interactive graph of third quarter fundraising numbers, produced using the Flot graphing library for jQuery.

The Psychologist’s View of UX Design | UX Magazine

A useful list of factors to consider from Susan Weinschenk.

oct
16
2011

Are Smartphones Becoming Smart Alecks? | WSJ.com

Geoffrey A. Fowler writes, “When Apple began integrating Siri into the iPhone, the team focused on keeping its personality friendly and humble — but also with an edge, according to a person who worked at Apple on the project. As Apple’s engineers worked on the software, they were often thinking, ‘How would we want a person to respond?’ this person said.”

oct
14
2011

When Maps Shouldn’t Be Maps | Matthew Ericson

The NYT graphics director writes, “But sometimes the reflexive impulse to map the data can make you forget that showing the data in another form might answer other — and sometimes more important — questions.”

oct
06
2011

Laura Marling, Live In Concert | NPR Music

Hear the British folk-rock musician perform a set full of rage, laughter and gorgeous, tear-jerking music, recorded live from Washington, D.C.’s Sixth and I Historic Synagogue.” I saw this concert in person last week; delighted to see that NPR Music recorded / archived it.

oct
05
2011

Principals propose doing away with valedictorian, salutatorian program | The Washington Post

At the board meeting, [Huntingtown High School Principal Rick Weber] said that he and his colleagues think that having the valedictorian and salutatorian speak at graduation does not always represent the broad range of student achievement at a high school and can lead to high-achieving students ruining their senior years by competing to earn the top two spots, Weber said.”

I can sort of understand the “broad range of student achievement” question, but as a former valedictorian, I think “ruining their senior years” is a bit of an overstatement. (Granted, I graduated — eep! — 14 years ago, so maybe things have changed.) Yeah, it’s competitive, but if you’re in that advanced academic track already, it’s more a notch in your belt. By the time class ranks are locked down, the college / scholarship application process is already well underway.

sep
29
2011

The Origin of Blue Jeans | Around the Mall | Smithsonian Magazine

On the 109th anniversary of Levi Strauss’ death, his chief product — blue jeans — have become a $91 billion per year industry, an icon of American culture, and quite possibly the world’s most popular article of clothing. His name, more than any other, evokes the tough denim fabric and heavy stitching of America’s favorite pair of pants. But the birth of blue jeans came under surprising circumstances—and the ancestral trousers barely resemble the blue jeans of today.”

sep
21
2011

Xcel, Yasmin, Zasu: Every Atlantic Storm Name Since 1950 | WSJ.com

Today, a committee of the World Meteorological Organization manages the list of names for Atlantic tropical cyclones. Women’s and men’s names alternate from storm to storm and, unless they are retired after a devastating hurricane, repeat every six years. If the list of names for a season is exhausted, as happened for the first time in 2005, the rest of that year’s storms take names from the Greek alphabet.” Fun interactive about historic hurricane names.

sep
17
2011

How times have changed in New York City! Extraordinary colour photographs reveal 1940s life in the Big Apple in all its glory | Mail Online

It’s been 70 years since an Indiana photographer visited New York City and returned home with an amazing collection of holiday snaps. But Charles Weever Cushman’s pictures are even more impressive today, as they were taken on pricey colour Kodachrome and look far more recent than they actually are.”

sep
09
2011

The Dark Art of Pricing | Jessica Hische

Really useful post about things to consider when pricing illustration / lettering freelance work.

F-16 pilot was ready to give her life on Sept. 11 | The Washington Post

Steve Hendrix reports, “Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather ‘Lucky’ Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it. The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft. Except her own plane. So that was the plan.” Helluva story. I do wish the reporter had written a little more about the other pilot, too.

First Love | The Washington Post

Ellen McCarthy writes, “High school sweethearts and the daughter they gave up decades ago find their lives intertwined once more.” I admit, this one made me tear up a little bit.

sep
07
2011

U-Haul SuperGraphics

A collection of vintage and modern illustrations printed on the sides of U-Haul trucks and trailers.