Archive for June, 2008

Mon 9 Jun 2008 9:28 am   //   Posted in: Food & drink, It's a trap!

Pay the same and get less

Here’s a link to the Wall Street Journal story about how bars and restaurants are ripping off beer drinkers: A Pint-Size Problem. As Nancy Keates reports:

“Beer prices at bars and restaurants have risen over the past few months, as prices of hops and barley have skyrocketed and retail business has slowed alongside the economy.

“Some restaurants have replaced 16-ounce pint glasses with 14 ouncers — a type of glassware one bartender called a ‘falsie.’

“And customers are complaining that bartenders are increasingly putting less than 16 ounces of beer in a pint glass, filling up the extra space with foam.”

To me, the most surprising part of this story is the outrage from beer fans the reporter quoted. Some people will actually send back a beer if they don’t think they got enough in the glass. I find the idea of getting ripped off to be, well, part of what a bar is all about. Why do we pack into some crowded dive to pay $5 for a bottle of Amstel Light, then tip even the most inattentive bartender 20 percent for uncapping it? I dunno. Because that’s the social order of things?

Sun 8 Jun 2008 9:29 am   //   Posted in: Technology

Why nobody should ever change anything

“Bring back the old Google favicon.”

Sat 7 Jun 2008 12:00 pm   //   Posted in: New York is different


If I had a car, it probably wouldn’t be half as cool as this one:

Scarface BMW Beemer Robert De Niro

Fri 6 Jun 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Labeling, Transit, Travel

Say it: RFK Bridge

I hope the name “RFK Bridge” catches on as a the new name for the Triborough Bridge. The name change is becoming official this week, the 40th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination.

RFK Bridge, Triborough bridge, Triboro

The Triboro is New York City’s most complicated bridge. It’s actually three bridges that interlock in a fascinating interchange with two toll plazas. Here’s what it looks like on Google Maps…

View Larger Map

Thu 5 Jun 2008 1:00 pm   //   Posted in: Failure, Movies

How to fix the Indiana Jones movie

My brother Gerritt helped me realize what made Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull so bad. The culprit? Indiana Jones.

Imagine if Lucas and Spielberg dropped a summer movie on us out of nowhere called The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Instead of Dr. Jones, our hero is a new character. Some kind of nerdy tough-guy professor, played by Will Smith or The Rock or Nick Cage. Imagine…

Roll film. It’s the cold war, 1957. Our hero is fighting the Soviets for possession of a mysterious alien skeleton. There’s action. Comedy. Camp. Flying saucers and killer ants. There’s a flume ride down a treacherous waterfall. There are cute gophers and hilarious monkeys. Sure it’s ridiculous, but that’s what we expect — a mindless escape movie. Everybody loves it.

But back to what happened. We were expecting an Indiana Jones movie, and so was Harrison Ford. He did his best to make it one. But the script was all wrong. That left us with something tantalizingly close to an Indiana Jones movie, but a little off. It’s that slight difference that was so upsetting. The movie had an uncanny valley problem. It made fans like me feel queasy to watch it.

There’s still time for Lucas and Spielberg to scuttle Indiana Jones 5 and get to work on some other movie that would almost certainly be better. We can hope.

Elsewhere: Five Questions Not Answered In ‘Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull’

Thu 5 Jun 2008 7:02 am   //   Posted in: In the news

It’s not just because he’s black

This campaign is about to get very exciting. And here’s the thing with Barack Obama. For the first time I can remember, somebody is running for president who doesn’t seem like he’s been anointed president in advance. That’s how we’re supposed to do things in America – it’s why we had that revolution. Barack is also the opposite of the president we have now, an idea that obviously appeals to Democrats. So we can thank President Bush for making this possible.

I can’t wait to see how this plays in the general election. We’ll see if Barack can manage not to disappoint us, as politicians are known to do. Given our country’s history, I’d be crazy to be optimistic. But somehow, there’s a sense that the rules are about to be rewritten. This feels like new history.

Wed 4 Jun 2008 11:05 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Technology

The mean streets of Brooklyn

Joel Johnson of Boing Boing Gadgets walked around my neighborhood to test a military-spec computerized language translator. The resulting video is pretty amusing. Check it out here.

Wed 4 Jun 2008 7:36 am   //   Posted in: Art, Brooklyn, Technology

Hello London, Brooklyn calling

One way to judge a piece of art is to consider how it makes you feel. Let’s check out the Telectroscope. This public art installation/gee-whiz gadget is on display in two cities, Brooklyn and London, through June 15.

The lens of each Telectroscope displays a live video picture of the people gazing into the other one. One is aimed at the Tower Bridge (from the south side of the Thames), one at the Brooklyn Bridge (from the Fulton Ferry Landing). Artist Paul St George has developed a whole story, a fake history, explaining his creation.


Tue 3 Jun 2008 9:00 am   //   Posted in: Art

Best and worst sports logos

Recently I was talking with my coworkers about the best and worst sports logos. (The web site is a great resource for this conversation.)

I have long thought the best logo in sports belongs to the Pittsburgh Steelers:

According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, the logo represents “the three materials used to produce steel: yellow for coal; orange for iron ore; and blue for steel scrap.”

Meanwhile, the worst professional sports logo is the Cleveland Indians logo:

Can you imagine a design lampooning any other ethnic group and still being commercially viable in 2008? No excuse for this. (And yeah, the Fighting Irish is also bad.)

On the subject of bad logos, my coworker Darren mentioned the Columbus Crew soccer team:

If there’s a worse logo than this one, I don’t want to see it.

Mon 2 Jun 2008 8:09 am   //   Posted in: Stray data, Transit

Fun facts about the Staten Island Ferry!

Staten Island Ferry sign

  • June 14th, 1901 the ferryboat Northfield was leaving Whitehall when it was struck by a Jersey Central Ferry and sank immediately.
  • In 1960, a bomb was set off on the Knickerbocker. There were no injuries.
  • On May 16, 1981, the American Legion was rammed in the fog by a Norwegian freighter.
  • July 7th, 1986 a mentally disturbed person with a machete attacked passengers on a ferry. Two people were killed and nine others were wounded
  • On April 12th, 1995 the ferry boat Barberi plowed into a slip in St. George, injuring a handful of passengers.
  • October 15, 2003 the ferry boat Andrew J. Barberi slammed into a maintenance pier at the Staten Island Maintenance Facility on Staten Island. Ten people died and an 11th person died two months later from injuries from the accident.

All of these fun facts are courtesy of the official Staten Island Ferry web site!