Randomness on a Wednesday in February

Sesquipedalianism: Yesterday’s word of the day was the delightfully scatalogical Japanese word, “Chuugi”, proof that given enough time and boredom I will always be drawn to the lowest of the low that the Internets has to offer.

Art Film:  I have “cut the cable” in my NYC apartment (there wasn’t one to begin with) and spend my evenings edifying myself either via Hulu’s excellent catalogue of the Criterion Collection or Mubi’s generous $6.99 monthly all-the-art-film-you-can-watch plan. Last night’s flick was Elim Klimov’s Come and See“, a 1985 Russian war film about the horrors of Byelorussia under the Nazi Einsatzgruppen pograms that is about as downright brutal and horrifying as anything I’ve watched, including Kon Ichikawa’s Fire on the Plains. I’m very fond of Soviet/Russo flicks, mainly the work of Tarkovsky, and Klimov pays homage to the master in nearly every frame. Not one for the kiddies.

Ebert's review

Second, I was reading Jesse Richard’s manifesto for the Remodernist Movement, which encompasses the work embodied by Tarkovsky, Bela Tarr, Ozu and other wonderfully moody auteurs who prize messiness, sentiment, melancholy over digital precision, snappy dialogue, and plot arcs. Interesting stuff I hope to dive deeper into now that I have a MoMA membership and the annual film pass (my NYC pad is directly behind the museum on W. 54th Street.

Product of the day:  Thanks to Timothy Ferris’ advice in the Four Hour Body (which I take with a grain of skepticism) I Amazoned a tiny little humidifier so I don’t suffer the usual winter desiccation.  The Air-O-Swiss is the size of six stacked smartphones and uses a half-liter water bottle as a reservoir. Under $50 and does the trick.

Know Your Polluters:

The EPA has an interesting Google Maps mashup that lets you checkout how much greenhouse gas is spewing out of the local power plant or landfill. Here’s a link to Massachusetts.

And finally ….


Newspapers flubbing the tablet opportunity

Editor & Publisher ®.

Alan Mutter, one of the smarter voices on the transformation of the newspaper industry, decries the lack of good newspaper apps on the iPad. I read the New York Times on mine religiously and love it. Hate The Daily. Wish the Cape Cod Times would get on the bandwagon, but evidently News Corp’s love of the new doesn’t extend to its podunk newspapers.

The issue would appear to be no in-house experience or expertise in building an app, the expense of third-party development, and indecision over waiting for HTML 5 to transform the reading experience and give the newpaper’s designers full control.

Publishers have to start doing better, because iPad owners, who represent the vast bulk of the tablet computing market, look an awful lot like newspaper readers. 

In a study released last year, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that 90 percent of tablet owners — who are concentrated among wealthy, highly educated adults between the ages of 30 and 49 — regularly use the gizmos to consume news. Significantly, 59 percent of respondents said the tablet has taken the place of “what they used to get” from a print newspaper. 

In other words, tablet users represent not just a potentially valuable audience for publishers, but also one they can’t afford to lose. “

The Global Jukebox

The New York Times reports on the impending launch of the Global Jukebox, a realization of the vision of Alan Lomax, the man who roamed the United States in the 50s and 60s recording the folk music that went on to influence the pop music revolution.

I was unaware that clips from those hundreds and hundreds of hours of recordings had been excerpted by, among others, Moby in his decade-old album, Play and in the soundtrack of the Coen Brothers film, O Brother Where Art Thou?

Lomax had a vision of creating an accessible digitized collection of the recordings, and up until his death in 2002, experimented with PCs and other digital music technologies to create a “global juke.” Later this month that vision will launch as the Global Jukebox.

Here’s a link to a compilation of some of the recordings Lomax made.

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