Some things simply must be blogged

Some days the universe gives generously. After an extended period of non-blogging, today I have been hit by a torrent of things that simply must be blogged.

First up we have an unfortunate piece of art direction. Or a brilliantly subversive piece of advertising sabotage by an ideologically-opposed designer. (via Copyranter)

Then we have Hipster Hitler. I hate the phrase ‘wrong on so many levels’. I hate it almost as much as I hate the word ‘special‘. But it does seem apt when describing a comic strip that re-imagines Hitler as a slightly wet Hipster. (via StopPress)

Lastly, we have what I believe I may state without fear of contradiction is the greatest achievement in the history of the internet. I give you, Otters who look like Benedict Cumberbatch. (via Sell, Sell, Sell)

Gelatin Bouncing. A great video. And, coincidentally, my new nom de plume.

So it’s been quite a while since I posted anything.  I’ve been ducking and diving, bobbing and weaving, rolling with the punches and generally bending in the breeze.

Anyway, here’s a video of what bouncing gelatin looks like in really slow motion. Really slow, like a winter’s day in Oamaru slow. Really slow, like me returning your call slow. Really slow, like 6200 fps slow.

It’s amazing. (Courtesy of Modernist Cuisine and NotCot)

Where the Foursquare users at?

I really want to like Foursquare.  But if I’m honest I don’t.  It’s not really a problem with Foursquare.  It’s a problem with Foursquare enthusiasts.

I tried Foursquare for a couple of months, used it to find a place to have lunch, became the Mayor of somewhere inconsequential, and then just kind of lost interest.  I’m sure it’s a great idea, it just it didn’t deliver much to me at the time.

And then Foursquare enthusiasts started to get a little bit annoying.  At a distance they’re cluttering up my timeline with irrelevant check-ins. In person they’re telling me how they can’t believe that they’ve checked into Melba 43 times in the last three days and they’re still not the mayor, or that “the most amazing thing happened the other day and, like, I was in O’Connell St, and a friend checked-in, and she was, like, in High St, and we were, like, maybe fifty feet away from each other and if it weren’t for Foursquare…… we’d never have known”. I’m sure they’re nice folk, those Foursquare users, just a bit zealoty.

Which is why I got quite excited about this –  It’s an app that let’s you find out where ‘the ladies’ are at, based on Foursquare check-ins at venues close to you (the App uses a complex, lady-gauging algorithm, that can determine the number of those check-ins that belong to ladies).  This is great, not because I’m interested in an app that lets me find places where I know lots of ladies will be, but because surely there’s an opportunity for variation on the app that allows me to avoid places where lots of people who really like Foursquare are.

Because that’s a use for Foursquare I could get enthusiastic about.

The ‘confident walker’ and the ‘preemptive solver’

I often traverse Queen St (which, for the benefit of my vast international audience, is the main street of Auckland’s CBD). This traversal is made easier, and surprisingly more entertaining, by the fact that as a very busy street, traffic in all directions at major intersections is stopped roughly every 90 seconds to let pedestrians cross.

There are two things I find entertaining in this.

The first is that it gives me the opportunity to mention that this kind of crossing is known as a ‘pedestrian scramble’ or, more lyrically, as a ‘Barnes Dance’.  When history judges this blog, never let it be said that it did not expand minds.

The second is that these intersections are where you find the ‘confident walker’.  This is the person who strides out boldly before the ‘walk now’ signal goes green.  This individual is keen for all to understand that he (and he is always a he) is an unnaturally capable pedestrian. He has memorised the phasing of the lights, so committed is he to his pedestrian craft. Or, as I prefer to imagine it, rather than memorising the phasing he simply possesses some preternatural affinity for traffic lights, an affinity so advanced and inexplicable that in certain town planning circles he’s referred to, in appropriately reverential tones, as ‘the crossing whisperer’.

This ‘confident walker’ believes he is sending a message that says ‘I am a very busy person with places I need to be.  In the course of being busy I cross roads regularly, this road in particular.  So much so that this road is my domain, and as you can see, I am its master.  I am a leader and I wait for no (green) man. You may follow me with confidence for I am the Lord of the Barnes Dance’.

The message he’s actually sending is that ‘I am a loser of quite desperate sadness. My life is so bereft of genuine meaning that I derive my greatest sense of personal accomplishment from believing I am a member of an elite class of pedestrian’.

I’m genuinely amazed I’ve never seen a ‘confident walker’ get hit by a car.

It also occurs to me that there is an obvious advertising agency equivalent – the ‘preemptive solver’.

They’re the people who insist on answering every question before it’s been asked.  Before a need’s been identified, they’re in opportunity mode.  Before a problem’s been defined, they have a solution proposed.  They’re never happier than when finishing a sentence on your behalf.

They are keen for everyone in the room to appreciate that they possess both uncommon sagacity and extensive experience. They wish the meeting to understand that no one is closer to the client’s business than they are. They would also like the meeting to know that it can relax, secure in the knowledge that they have clearly spent a great deal of time in the agency environment, and no matter the eventuality, they have it seen it, done it, and contact reported it.

They believe they’re sending a message that says ‘I think of nothing other than your business.  As will be obvious from the promptness of my answer I am a step ahead of you. This is because your needs occupy my every thought. Your wish, before you’ve even wished it, is my command.  It should therefore be clear to everyone in this meeting that I am indispensable.’

The message they’re actually sending is ‘I’m not actually listening to what you’re saying. It’s therefore very likely that what I deliver you will be wrong. This is because I am significantly more interested in demonstrating what I know than I am in understanding what you need.’.

I’m genuinely amazed I’ve never seen a ‘preemptive solver’ get hit by a client.


Two turntables and some china…bone

Love this. From Swiss artist, Fabien Clerc. (via NotCot)

If you love merchandising and you love sarcasm…

Absolutely my favourite site of the moment – Catalog Living – captions the most spectacularly over-art-directed decor shots you’ve ever seen. (The site is the fine work of Molly Erdman.)

Hi Nancy, it’s Elaine. I’m going to be a little late for lunch. I can’t find my hat or my back-up hat.

Elaine was not amused by Gary’s passive-aggressive response to her request to “garnish the cocktails.”

While Gary and Elaine were in the kitchen getting popcorn, the brave yellow sweater attempted its escape.

The Gif that keeps on Giffing

Easily the most entertaining in the long line of Rickrolling efforts.  Scroll and marvel.  (From Top Cultured, via What Consumes Me)

Several ways in which my fancy has been tickled

Here are a few things I’ve been meaning to share over the last couple of weeks.

Hip-Hop and Golf

It surprises many people to learn that two of my great enthusiasms are golf and hip-hop. This visual (created by Mike Arauz and posted to BuzzFeed ) rather brilliantly ties the two together.

Romantic Comedies

It surprises no one to learn that I have a soft spot for Rom Coms. So it follows that I would have enjoyed 500 Days of Summer (in spite of the absolutely appalling last line of dialogue). And I did, in all its fluffy, Zooey, subverted love story goodness.

For no reason I can think of, here’s the trailer with the film reimagined as a thriller.  (Via Pirate Pickings)

Fate and Destiny

Which segues rather nicely into this story of a couple who, while planning their wedding, discovered that they’d crossed paths around 30 years earlier. Somehow it seemed inevitable that Disney would be involved. (Via someone on Twitter)

Soccer and Fashion

Soccer and Fashion have long been associated, but Sepp Magazine is the first I’ve seen focussed entirely on the fashion of soccer.  It wins points for a surprising  cover shot (below), player sketches by Karl Lagerfeld, and a series of uniforms imagined by the likes of Paul Smith and Giorgio Armani. (Via GQ)

Cool People and Slashing

This is so wonderfully pointless.  The clue’s in the name – hipsters have to pee. (via Get Kempt.)

Cloud Computing? I think it’s more of a fog.

I’ve been a bit light on the long-form blogging recently.  This has happened a couple of times since I started this blog.

Most directly it’s the result of a particularly busy work period. We’re recruiting for a few people and I’d forgotten how time-consuming that process can be.

But more than that it’s caused by an imbalance, a choice of what to do with my time.  I’m writing this at 9.00pm. I have a spare hour.  I want to write something but I’m being stalked by the 30-odd articles I’ve instapapered in the last week and the half dozen videos I’ve been meaning to watch.

I’m a complete cliché in my embrace of both technology and the web.  I’m writing this at my dining table and I have three computers within a ten-foot radius.  My iPhone never leaves me and language lacks sufficient depth to describe my love for it. I could only be more excited at the prospect of the iPad’s arrival if I were told that Anne Hathaway would be delivering mine personally.

The thing I struggle with is the sheer weight of opportunity to be interested. Twitteriffic and WordPress are constant companions. I have an XXL RSS stream. I currently have seventeen Firefox tabs open.  I worry about missing out on something I should know.  I’m awash in things that are potentially interesting and blessed with too much technology providing me access.  It’s a fog of interestingness.

And while it’s obviously not the fault of the technology, the devices that I should be using as a means of navigating the fog are actually contributing to it.  They’re just too damn convenient and too damn delightful to use.   (I was talking to @ianhowarth about this and he made the rather lovely observation that while Cloud Computing was supposed to be the future, all we’ve been delivered thus far is a fog.)

On this subject, I heard an interesting interview with a guy called William Powers last week (on the Monocle Weekly podcast). He’s written a book called Hamlet’s Blackberry. It’s not released until the end of June, but he’s attempted to draw lessons from how previous generations have coped with significant technological leaps that have impacted our quality, or style, of life (the written word, printing, television etc).  He talks about the ‘conundrum of connectedness’, about how computers and mobile devices are fantastically fun and exciting, and in many ways tremendous assets, but at the same time increasingly a burden to us, often ‘impoverishing our lives rather than enriching them’.

Which sounds like a great idea for a book, the obvious problem being that I’m entirely unsure when I’ll find the time to read it.

Twitter Parade

This is almost utterly pointless, but great fun.  It gives you the entirely illusory sense of being the leader of your own battalion, legion or, as I prefer to imagine it, posse.

From what I can work out it’s from KDDI, a Japanese telco, who put it together to promote smartphone usage. If you’re a Twitter enthusiast, do it.


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