This commercial from Ikea Singapore might just be the best commercial ever made, or at least the best commercial to pay homage to Kubrick.

The “REDRUG” is an especially nice touch.

October 25, 2014

Brian Schmidt, who won the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics, talks about what it’s like to travel with it:

You would think that carrying around a Nobel Prize would be uneventful, and it was uneventful, until I tried to leave Fargo with it, and went through the X-ray machine. I could see they were puzzled. It was in my laptop bag. It’s made of gold, so it absorbs all the X-rays—it’s completely black. And they had never seen anything completely black.

You know, you’d think that the winner of a Nobel Prize in physics would know what would happen when trying to get through airport security with one.

October 11, 2014

A customer ordered walnut bread from an online grocer, the grocer was out of walnut bread so they substituted an octopus instead.

Acknowledging their mistake, the team at Tesco cheerfully engaged in some banter about the slimy substitute item and offered Mr Goodger a refund – of ‘a couple of squid’.

‘This has ten-tickled us so much! Maybe the personal shopper was trying to be Billy the Squid?’ the supermarket tweeted.

Not sure if this is a fair substitute. I’ve never had octopus, as far as I know, but I’m not a fan of walnut bread.

September 29, 2014

A news anchor in India has been suspended for pronouncing the President of China’s name, Xi Jinping, as “Eleven Jinping”.

“It is an unpardonable mistake,” a senior official said on the condition of anonymity, saying the anchor was employed on a casual basis.

“We have debarred her from news reading for a few months.”

The official said a shortage of news readers had forced the channel to run some news bulletins with less experienced staff.

First of all, the producer of the newscast is at fault. It’s his/her job to make sure that everyone knows how to pronounce names/places/things properly, and to spell them phonetically on the teleprompter if necessary. This is especially true when it comes to foreign nouns.

Second, this is the funniest thing I’ve heard all week, and at first glance I would call him Eleven myself. It always confuses me when words or abbreviations are used that could be roman numerals. Is “Mac OS X” pronounced “Mac O Ess Ten” or “Mac O Ess Ex”? Whenever I read that someone was given a saline solution (or anything) intravenously, abbreviated IV, I always wonder why they were given a saline solution via four. Is the Oliva V cigar an “Oliva Vee” or an “Oliva Five”? Come to think of it, this will never not confuse me.

September 19, 2014

The Times attempts to calculate the total number of swings that Derek Jeter has taken in his entire baseball career.

Need a rest from all these swings? So did Jeter. He took Novembers and Decembers off, and he never practiced at home. “You would have a hard time finding a baseball at my house besides one that’s got writing on it,” he said.

I absolutely love the way the Times presented this.

September 15, 2014

Roger Angell’s essay on Derek Jeter’s impending retirement:

All right, I’ll settle for one more inside-out line-drive double to deep right —the Jeter Blue Plate that’s been missing of late. It still astounds me—Derek’s brilliance as a hitter has always felt fresh and surprising, for some reason—and here it comes one more time. The pitch is low and inside, and Derek, pulling back his upper body and tucking in his chin as if avoiding an arriving No. 4 train, now jerks his left elbow and shoulder sharply upward while slashing powerfully down at and through the ball, with his hands almost grazing his belt. His right knee drops and twists, and the swing, opening now, carries his body into a golf-like lift and turn that sweetly frees him while he watches the diminishing dot of the ball headed toward the right corner. What! You can’t hit like that—nobody can! Do it again, Derek.

I could read Angell all day long and never be bored.

September 2, 2014

Netflix’s Annoying Opening Credits

August 27, 2014 at 10:00am • One comment

I recently binge-watched the second seasons of both “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix. While doing so, something started to bother me: the opening credits are annoying long.

“House of Cards” opening credits is 1 minute, 32 seconds long, and there are 13 episodes per season. By the time you finish the season, you’ve suffered through watched just shy of 20 minutes of opening credits, which is about ⅓ of an episode. “Orange is the New Black” clocks in at 1 minute, 12 seconds long, which totals 15 minutes, 36 seconds per season, or about ¼ of an episode. Both shows opening credits are exactly the same from episode-to-episode, and they both place episode specific guest credits in the corner while the scene after the opening credits is shown.

When you consider that Netflix’s ability to skip content is a little flawed (due to the inherent limitations of streaming), it’s easier to just sit through the opening credits and stew rather than to try and skip them and waste even more time.

While both shows’ opening credits are well done and appropriate for each show, they should be drastically cut for the second episode — and any additional — when you binge-watch them. I think a five second title card would be appropriate, a la “Breaking Bad”, “Falling Skies”, and some episodes from season two of “Elementary”.

To be fair, there would have to be an amount of time that they would reset the opening credit skip window if you’re not watching back-to-back. I’m going to propose a 3 hour window — if you watch an episode within 3 hours after the watching an episode and seeing the full credits, the opening credits of the subsequent episode would be skipped.

It should be very easy to implement this on Netflix produced shows since they have a certain amount of control over them. In the order for the shows, Netflix could specify that two different versions of each episode be created, one with the full opening credits and one with the abbreviated credits, and they can then stream the appropriate episode to the user.

However, what about the shows that Netflix did not produce? To skip the opening credits, Netflix would need to know the exact time the opening credits start and end. While this information might be available with recently produced shows, I’d be shocked if it was available on shows that were produced more than ten years ago.

Even if Netflix were to have that information, I’m guessing that their license agreements to stream the shows only allow them to stream an unaltered version of the show, making my brilliant idea moot.

What about the End Credits? I’m not entirely sure why, but the end credits don’t bother me as much as the opening credits. Perhaps it’s because the end credits can be used for bathroom breaks, food/drink refills, or to briefly discuss the episode that was just watched. More than likely it’s because they are easily avoided on Netflix. As soon as the end credits start, you can press the stop button on the remote and then start playing the next episode.

I hope Netflix implements my idea soon, because if I sit through the opening credits of “House of Cards” for the third season, I will have watched one hour of opening credits, which is equivalent to an entire episode.

Jawbone looked at the data from Up devices from June 1, 2013 through June 1, 2014, organized by city.

The movement and sleep patterns of a city tell an amazing story about its culture and people. How active is a city? When do they go to bed on average, and how much do they sleep? How stark are the differences between weekends and weekdays? What events brought people together and significantly impacted the health of a city? Each pattern forms a distinct “thumbprint” for the city, the unique way its citizens live their lives. To an untrained eye, these images may just look like the abstract brush strokes of a Rothko painting. To a data scientist, however, these graphics richly detail the routines — and occasional abnormalities — of city denizens.

The main problem with data like this is that it represents a subset of a subset of people in the city: people who wear fitness trackers, and of those, people who wear a Jawbone Up. This is not a very representative sampling of people. By definition, people who wear fitness trackers are probably more concerned with their health and as such would, on average, go to bed earlier, get up earlier, and be more active than non-fitness tracker wearing people. The only data this really shows us is how Jawbone Up users in one city compare to Jawbone Up users in another city.

August 23, 2014

The Washington Post takes a look at the quality of beers in each of America’s ballparks.

Counting single-day offerings, the Cincinnati Reds’ selection of distinct beers went from 42 to more than 130 – the most in Major League Baseball, according to a Washington Post analysis. Craft sales increased even more dramatically, by 363 percent. The biggest-selling beer at the Brewery District is still Bud Light – not exactly a craft product – but stadium officials found that rather than taking away from existing beer sales, craft consumers were actually creating a new category.

The Mariners are number one, while my Yankees are dead last.

August 20, 2014

Eater brings us a look at the NYC hot dog, both a history and a look at the unique varieties in NYC.

Sausages and bread are among the oldest forms of processed food. German immigrants to New York City served frankfurters and wieners with milk rolls and sauerkraut from pushcarts on the Bowery from at least the 1860s onwards. The recipes for these sausages dated back hundreds of years, with Frankfurt, Germany and Vienna, Austria vying for ownership of the “original” hot dog. But, just as with pizza, an old world food form was transformed and given greater significance in America. In 1871, German butcher Charles Feltman opened a hot dog stand in Coney Island, then an up-market destination for the affluent. It established Coney Island as ground zero for the hot dog.

Don’t read this until after you’ve eaten. Trust me.

August 19, 2014