Monday, 5 Nov 2018

Game of Thrones Tapestry  

In a similar style to the Bayeux Tapestry a 66 metre long tapestry has been created depicting the entire Game of Thrones story. By the end of the final season it’ll be longer than the 70 metre long Bayeux Tapestry at 77 metres. The video below shows the entire length of the tapestry as it currently is, up until the end of season 7.

The video is almost 21 minutes long, which is still much shorter than the 67 hours it would take to watch all of seasons 1 to 7.

Friday, 17 Aug 2018

Aretha Franklin 1942 - 2018  

Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul, died yesterday at age 76. Quartz has a great tribute to Aretha with many quotes, videos and photos.

“The girl has taken that song from me. Ain’t no longer my song. From now on, it belongs to her.”

—Otis Redding, after hearing Aretha’s version of “Respect”

Two stories I loved reading about, one where she stood in for Pavarotti at the 1998 Grammys:

"SHE SAVED OUR ASS."

Of all the unpredictable moments that ended up defining the ‘98 Grammys, only one had a resolution that everyone could agree was a triumph. When Grammy Living Legend honoree Luciano Pavarotti informed the show producers that he was too ill to sing his “Nessun Dorma” aria as scheduled, they reached out to soul legend Aretha Franklin -- who had performed the song at a MusiCares dinner nights before in Pavarotti’s honor -- to step in for her friend at the last second. Franklin agreed, and the vocal powerhouse’s jaw-dropping understudy moment is still considered one of the greatest performances in award-show history.

Billboard

The other story was from a concert at San Francisco's Fillmore West where she brought Ray Charles up on stage to sing with her. SF Gate talks about the event.

On the third night of a three-night stint at San Francisco's Fillmore West in 1971, Aretha Franklin pulled an "impeccably dressed" man from the audience onto the stage.

He was dressed in "charcoal from head do toe" and his eyes were "obscured by wrap-around dark glasses," The Chronicle reported in a review of the show.

Within seconds the huge crowd recognized Ray Charles and he joined Franklin in the legendary 9-minute rendition of "Spirit in the Dark." (The two had allegedly met for the first time earlier that day.)

You can see the moment at around the 55 minute mark in the video below.

Respect.

Thursday, 16 Aug 2018

Could climate change affect the 2020 election?  

Thomas Friedman from the New York Times has an interesting opinion piece on the possibility if climate change having a significant impact on the 2020 election.

What if all the extreme weather this year — linked to climate change — gets even worse and more costly? What if the big 2020 issue is not left-right — but hot-cold or wet-dry? What if the big 2020 issue is not “Who lost Russia?” or “Who lost North Korea?” but “Who lost planet Earth?”

Friday, 10 Aug 2018

Is 'Better Call Saul' better than 'Breaking Bad'?  

Mathew Olson from Digg takes a look at the current state of Better Call Saul as the first episode of season 4 airs. Considering Better Call Saul is a prequel to Breaking Bad, its worth considering how the two shows compare, especially now that Better Call Saul is well into the story. Olson makes the point that Better Call Saul is slower paced and that's A Good Thing, It gives the characters more time to develop and more care is put into how the story develops.

By contrast, "Better Call Saul" has largely kept its life or death stakes at a background hum, instead landing its heaviest dramatic punches with each decision Jimmy makes in the slow-motion car wreck that is his life.

No episode better demonstrates "Saul's" perfectly-pitched storytelling than season 3's mid-season stand-out "Chicanery," which ends with Michael McKean's unforgettable performance as Chuck in full meltdown mode, obliterating his own credibility while savagely raking Jimmy over the coals to a stunned courtroom.

'Chicanery' is probably their standout episode in the first three seasons. Listening to the show's creators discussing the courtroom scene on the Insider Podcast (definitely worth listening to if you're a fan of the show) helps you appreciate the detail and careful planning that went into just that one scene.

I've really enjoyed the first three seasons and have been looking forward to season 4 for an eternity. The story definitely runs at a slower pace than Breaking Bad ever did and yet the episodes and character development is just as captivating.

Via digg

Wednesday, 1 Aug 2018

Fly like Iron Man (almost)  

Richard Browning of Gravity Industries, has developed a flying suit that allows the wearer to fly in a similar manner to Marvel's Iron Man. Its still very much in the development stage but is commercially available to those with enough money and lack of fear.

The video below goes through the design process that arrived at the current design - its a great example of iterative development using trial and error with quick iterations to arrive at a workable solution.

Richard Browning isn't the first person to fly like Iron Man - hydro board inventor Franky Zapata has created the FlyBoard Air, a jet powered hoverboard that looks like something straight out of science fiction.

Skiing down K2  

On 22 July Polish mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel became the first person to complete a successful ski descent of the worlds second highest mountain, K2.

While much less famous than Everest, K2 perhaps deserves more respect. Following this record-breaking season, still only an estimated 417 people have ever stood on the peak, and a full quarter of those who have gone after the summit have died in their attempt. It's considered by far most technical and deadliest peak in the world.
A handful of other accomplished mountaineers have tried to ski it before, including Italian Hans Kammerlander andAmerican Dave Watson, who skied down from approximately 400m below the summit. While both survived their attempts, two mountaineers – Italian Michele Fait in 2009 and Fredrik Ericsson in 2010– both fell to their deaths while attempting the ski descent. K2's most dangerous obstacle is said to be the 'Bottleneck' – a narrow, 50° couloir that has an extremely large serac hanging above it.

Bartiel's descent also benefitted another nearby climber. While filming drone footage, Bartiel's brother, Bartek, spotted and helped rescue Scottish climber Rick Allen who had been missing, presumed dead after becoming separated from his group.

Monday, 30 Jul 2018

Why Starbucks Australia is failing  

An interesting article in Gizmodo about the failure (so far) of Starbucks in Australia. It appears my fellow countrymen appreciate good coffee and won't pay more for the weak, sugary, milky stuff they sell in bucket sized cups at Starbucks.

So proud to call myself Australian after watching this - they nail it about the cafe culture, good coffee can be found easily in the large cities, and once you drink good coffee there's no going back.

Personally I like a double shot espresso, no milk, no sugar, with a nice rich crema.

Thursday, 26 Jul 2018

Facebook Shares Tumble  

…and a tiny violin played a sad little tune. The Wall Street Journal (paywall) suggests that Facebook has “felt the effects of a series of recent controversies” in its latest earning forecast.

Karma’s a bitch isn’t it?

Also: Check out this video that shows how much Facebook’s message has changed since 2005. To me Zuckerberg always comes across as someone desperately keen to prove Facebook was thanks to his genius and not just some, right place at the right time, freak corporate accident.

Sunday, 15 Jul 2018

Photorealist Fruit  

Dennis Wojtkiewicz paints large portraits of sliced fruit, at first glance they appear real but then you realise they’re just too perfect to be real.

Beautiful.

Via Colossal.

Wednesday, 11 Jul 2018

Thirty Years of Trump & Russia  

New York Magazine has published an extensive piece by Jonathan Chait looking at Donald Trump's thirty plus year relationship with Russia. If you have any interest in the ongoing Russia collusion investigation, this is worth reading.

Early in the article, Chait posits a sobering thought:

...suppose the dark crevices of the Russia scandal run not just a little deeper but a lot deeper. If that’s true, we are in the midst of a scandal unprecedented in American history, a subversion of the integrity of the presidency. It would mean the Cold War that Americans had long considered won has dissolved into the bizarre spectacle of Reagan’s party’s abetting the hijacking of American government by a former KGB agent. It would mean that when Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on the president and his inner circle, possibly beginning this summer, Trump may not merely rail on Twitter but provoke a constitutional crisis.

Also worth reading is the evaluation of Chait's article by Tom Nichols from Politico Magazine. In his words, "Thirty years of contacts with Russia are hard to dismiss as a series of disconnected events".

Friday, 6 Jul 2018

Memorising Piano Music  

Jocelyn Swigger gives a great TEDx talk on how she memorises complex piano pieces.

I've played piano for years but I've never taken the process of learning to this level of detailed analysis.