Those Goldieblox toys? Maybe not so good:
... As a former marketer I admire how GoldieBlox has so successfully tapped into the desire for parents of girls (and, I think for grown women) to see toy manufacturers create products other than dolls or princess crap.
But before everyone runs away with efforts to get the Girls commercial aired during the Superbowl, I wonder how many people have actually tried the GoldieBlox products? Because it pains me to tell you that we have — and guys: neither my six-year-old nor I thought they were that great. It was cranks, spools, and some things that spin, all tied together with a somewhat confusing narrative that wasn’t terribly compelling. Nor was the building process that engaging. My daughter gave it a half hour a couple times, then she was done.
We should be careful (or at least aware) of when our frustrations and aspirations are being co-opted for the aim of selling a product. Not that I’m saying GoldieBlox has some evil agenda. But they are not in the business of creating girl-power content. They are in the business of selling toys. Girl-power content is just a means to that end.
From the photographer who actually took the photo:
From the podium, Obama had just qualified Mandela as a “giant of history who moved a nation towards justice." After his stirring eulogy, America’s first black president sat about 150 metres across from where I was set up. He was surrounded by other foreign dignitaries and I decided to follow his movements with the help of my 600 mm x 2 telephoto lens.
So Obama took his place amid these leaders who’d gathered from all corners of the globe. Among them was British Prime Minister David Cameron, as well as a woman who I wasn’t able to immediately identify. I later learned it was the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt. I’m a German-Colombian based in India, so I don’t feel too bad I didn’t recognize her! At the time, I thought it must have been one of Obama’s many staffers.
Anyway, suddenly this woman pulled out her mobile phone and took a photo of herself smiling with Cameron and the US president. I captured the scene reflexively. All around me in the stadium, South Africans were dancing, singing and laughing to honour their departed leader. It was more like a carnival atmosphere, not at all morbid. The ceremony had already gone on for two hours and would last another two. The atmosphere was totally relaxed – I didn’t see anything shocking in my viewfinder, president of the US or not. We are in Africa.
I took these photos totally spontaneously, without thinking about what impact they might have. At the time, I thought the world leaders were simply acting like human beings, like me and you. I doubt anyone could have remained totally stony faced for the duration of the ceremony, while tens of thousands of people were celebrating in the stadium. For me, the behaviour of these leaders in snapping a selfie seems perfectly natural. I see nothing to complain about, and probably would have done the same in their place. The AFP team worked hard to display the reaction that South African people had for the passing of someone they consider as a father. We moved about 500 pictures, trying to portray their true feelings, and this seemingly trivial image seems to have eclipsed much of this collective work.
Great NYT story on libertarian paternalism and the British "Nudge Unit." In part:
Despite such squabbles, the question in Britain no longer seems to be whether, but how, to nudge. In their book, Professor Thaler and Mr. Sunstein defined their approach as steering people toward decisions deemed superior by the government but leaving them free to choose. “Libertarian paternalism,” they called it, and while that term is not used much in Britain, there is broad agreement on the subject among the left and the right.
It's about 80%. Whoa, I had no idea. I mean, I would have guessed high, but that seems crazy.
I know it's in their interests to do so, but I still think it's kind of cool that Microsoft uses language this strong to describe NSA activity:
Indeed, government snooping potentially now constitutes an “advanced persistent threat,” alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks.
I. Love. Polygon. This piece takes you from the early history of video games through the economics and evolution of marketing to the present day, with stops along the way for Budweiser Tapper, the NES and SNES, and Sierra's Lori Cole. This is one of those great articles that pats you on the back for the things you already know and then connects the dots for some of the things you hadn't quite clicked together yet and then leaves you with a better understanding than you had before.
Fun story about an early Atari engineer, in part:
Carol Shaw was the first female developer Atari hired. She is best known for designing and programming River Raid for the Atari 2600 at Activision. She says never got the sense that the games she made were for one gender or another, and there was never a mandate from higher-ups to target a certain audience. When she interviewed for the job, she didn't believe she was at any disadvantage because she was a woman, nor did she feel that video games were the realm of men. She knew not many women held bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science and engineering, but she held both. She was qualified to do the job, and that was that. "We never really discussed who our target demographic was," she says. "We didn't discuss gender or age. We just did games we thought would be fun."
The only time Shaw remembers the subject of gendering games coming up was when, Ray Kassar, who would later become president and CEO of Atari, remarked, "Gee, now that Atari has a female game designer, she can do interior decorating and cosmetic color-matching games!" He laughed. Shaw rolled her eyes. When Kassar left the room, her fellow game developers turned to her: "Don't pay attention to him," they said. "Just do whatever you want."
So cool. Tom is a great guy, one of our old Amazon editors, and a Jeopardy! superhero. If you're looking for a bookie gift this holiday, you can't go wrong picking it up.
I voted for Seattle districts and I like the potentially democratizing effects (like the financial bar will be much lower for candidates)—but whoa, I have no idea why they drew the lines in my neighborhood the way they did!
Sure, somebody has to be on the edge, but why not put the border south of the stadiums? Or anywhere that's doesn't have so much residential. Right now, Zeitgeist is allied with Georgetown and Ranier Beach, while across Jackson, Caffe Umbria is pals with Magnolia and QA. Wha? That doesn't seem good for the neighborhood.
Next stop Skynet. And: how is it that this will roll out before the 99 tunnel is done?
A really informative write-up on fair use from the always great Waxy.
Every once in a long while, Buzzfeed proves it's still worth checking:
And it's the anchovies who lose. I suspect conspiracy.
Ms. Black said that for the first time this year — she has studied whales here since 1986, specializing in orcas — she has seen evidence that the humpbacks are feeding cooperatively with groups of thousands of sea lions. The sea lions dive simultaneously, surfacing a few minutes later. They herd the anchovies into tight balls, called bait balls, and the whales scoop them up, several hundred in a mouthful. Food is plentiful enough that the giant cetaceans — an adult male humpback measures 45 to 50 feet in length, Ms. Black said, and weighs a ton per foot — can afford to take breaks to play.
Thousands(!) of sea lions. Also, HA: "Foul-smelling whale breath occasionally permeated the air."
So helpful! Clearly there are some I should try here. My favorite, Evan Williams—recommended by an old Broadway liquor store sensei—is in the middle of the pack (and I likewise don't see *any* similarity to JD, which I have an aversion to):
5. Evan Williams. I couldn't figure out where to put this, so I just stuck it in the middle. On the one hand, EW is sometimes referred to as the poor man' s Jack Daniel's, which would make it the down-market version of something I detest. But although the packaging is similar and both are charcoal-filtered sour mashes, I don't taste a strong similarity. Jack, for better or worse, has a unique cinnamon and licorice profile, whereas Evan Williams tastes more mainstream, and many reputable sources cite it as their favorite cheap bourbon. Malt Advocate named it Best Buy Whiskey of the Year in 2003 and 2011, for chrissake.
Evan Williams has a good pedigree for the price, with five to seven years of barrel aging (the standard is three or four) and a respectable 86 proof. It's a straightforward bourbon that tastes like slightly medicinal cereal grains, which a lot of people either like or pretend to like because it makes them feel like a big strong man. Either way, Evan Williams is decent in my book and great in a lot of better books.
This is more fun than it should be—and it's what Silas will surely be doing after school.
This interview is kind of awful (man, never let visual artists do email interviews), but the pictures—of simulated environments where U.S. soldiers train to make hand-to-hand "personal kills"—are compelling. E.g.:
Don't get *too* excited (like, e.g., you can't zoom in and find the Longbottom Leaf grow fields), but this is a pretty cool Google map of Middle-earth. They call it an "experiment," but that doesn't seem like quite the right word for what's basically a Hobbit promotion. Now if only they would give people crowd-sourcing tools to nerd out and populate a real, full map—one that would let you zoom chronologically, too!
I think this is brilliant. I ordered one.
Or rather: BABY HEDGEHOGS! AND THEIR MOTHER! They look like unpainted minis.
Collected in a book, a few samples here. Oh, Golden Axe—and Tape World!
(found via the FB)
I.e., much more efficiently. See also, the right way to eat a banana. (Found via the FB.)
This so feels like a wondrous item in AD&D.