Saturday, April 22, 2006

It's my turn

I would like to retract several years of complaints about Berkeley traffic. Here's a two minute clip of self-managed traffic through a very busy intersection in an unnamed city in India. No one dies — although you might gasp once or twice.

It's actually quite lovely to see the patterns work through the system, even maintaining high levels of throughput: traffic lights would definitely halt this ballet. One pattern appears to be "It's my turn." Another is "Look, I'm already in front of you, so you might as well cooperate." Probably the most common pattern is "Oh, I can probably make it."

Image courtesy of

Meeting of minds

Arnold: I can't believe I'm going to lose my election because of you, you idiot. I could crush your head just using my ass cheeks.
George: Damn, this dude looks familiar.

(Photo by Paul Sakuma -- Associated Press)

Bubblicious Bench

Is there a housing bubble? Well, this is a picture of a park bench across from a condominium with 220 units in Northern VA, effectively DC suburbs. There are 47 lock boxes on this bench.

The Washington Post blames this on real estate speculators, some of whom were buying and selling condos in a single day, with 200-500% returns. No doubt speculators are a large part of the bubble, but I have to blame first anyone who bought houses with an ARM or an IO at historically low interest rates, people who financed the purchase of a second home for vacation or investment purposes, and all the banks who permitted people to purchase homes beyond their means. Most speculators were simply turning the crank on the engine that these unrealistic hopes and desires built.

(Photo courtesy of Bubble Meter.)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Follow the bouncing balls

Recently Sony made a low-pressure ad that is quite soothing and beautiful (2.5 minutes, requires Quicktime). There's no CGI here: the balls, all 250,000 of them, are all real. So are the dog and the frog — watch closely.

The ad is actually for one of their televisions, but you would hardly know it. It's more like an ad for being young and innocent and hopeful and surrounded by beauty. Ad agencies do so much harm — normalizing hyper-consumption, making SUVs and cigarettes seem normal and healthy — that it must be a soul-cleansing exercise to create an ad like this. It is wonderful to watch. A London team from Fallon created the ad.

This page might be behind a subscription wall, but I believe anyone can watch these things if they get a one-day pass. I subscribe to Salon, so I dunno.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sumer Is Icumen In

They've finally made this movie; it's in post-production now. Trailer here, scheduled release in August.

Josh Friedman, the co-writer of War of the Worlds, has been awaiting this movie eagerly. In fact, he had this movie in mind when he was recently operated on for cancer.

Borg conversion incomplete

Very interesting Newshour roundup on Friday.

JIM LEHRER: So you think [Andrew Card] deserved to go over the side?

DAVID BROOKS: No, well, I think he was in the job an incredibly long time, I mean, almost a record. But he was very well-respected within the White House; it has to be said. People thought he was a straight-shooter, fair guy.

Just as for Josh Bolten, the one thing I'd say -- he was head of the budget, which means he knows the entire government very well. That's useful. And if you divide the Bush White House into the automatons on the one side and the people with whom it's possible to have normal conversation, Bolten can have a normal conversation. That's a good thing.

Not what you want your friends to be saying about your administration.

They were also exceptionally dismissive of Frist's chances in 2008, which is a nice confirmation to hear.

What would Jesus brew?

Here's a short, funny cartoon about combining good and bad influences.

It's Tex Avery meets Jack Chick, both staples of my youth.

I won't be posting regularly for a while, as I enjoy my two weeks off between jobs and I recover from the last, hellish week.

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