Archives: Society

The New Yorker has a really cool interactive visual showing movements of folks using Citibikes through the months of June/July. It is a really interesting view into how people are using these much talked about additions to the NYC landscape. From the New Yorker’s quick analysis of the data:

A commuting pattern first emerged in our data on Tuesday, June 11th, when bikers travelled to a central corridor, which begins in midtown Manhattan and moves south, through the Flatiron District and down to the Financial District…Temperatures and precipitation also influence bike use, so the map displays weather information alongside bike movement…On weekends, the commutes are replaced by patternless, recreational movement, in which bikers meander around the city.

via The New Yorker

Talk about an unceremonious way to be found.

The remains of England’s King Richard III were discovered under a parking lot in Leicester, England. The bones were actually discovered in September of last year, however the team from the University of Leicester had to do some DNA analysis including comparing the skeleton’s DNA with descendants from King Richard III himself.

Before the DNA findings came in, Mr. Taylor and other team members said, the university team had assembled a mounting catalog of evidence that pointed conclusively at the remains being those of the king. These included confirmation that the body was that of a man in his late 20s or early 30s, and that his high-protein diet had been rich in meat and fish, characteristic of a privileged life in the 15th century.

Still more indicative, they said radiocarbon dating of two rib bones had indicated that they were those of somebody who died between the years 1455 and 1540. Richard III died in the Battle of Bosworth Field, 20 miles from Leicester, in August 1485.

Equally conclusive was the evidence available at the time the bones were unearthed — that they were found exactly where a 16th-century Tudor historian, John Rouse, had identified as the burial place, in a corner of the chapel in the Greyfriars priory, and with a distinctive spinal curvature that pointed to the remains being that of a sufferer from scoliosis, a disease that causes the hunchback appearance that has come down through history as Richard III’s most pronounced physical feature.

Of course, Richard III was the subject of a Shakespeare play of the same name. While the play did not paint Richard III in anything close to a favorable light, it did grace us with the memorable line: “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.”

NYTimes

Here is a pretty fantastic article about the social centerpiece of growing up in the late 1970′s and 1980′s – the video game arcade. From the evolution of the arcade from pinball machines to Pac Man and Frogger, it has been a part of American youth for many many years, although it it could be argued that it did not hit it’s heyday until the 70′s and 80′s. Today, they are another casualty of the digital revolution with gaming consoles migrating to living rooms and basements around the world.

Whenever I visited an arcade, I usually found myself cursing at Galaxian, Galaga and every racing game within the joint. Today, I get my fix by heading out to the Pinball Wizards event, held every year at the Allentown Fair Grounds. And there is always the Silverball Museum in Asbury Park, NJ.

via The Verge

After what happened in Connecticut last week, I find it pretty interesting that many of the politicians who are gun advocates and pro-gun associations have been awfully quiet over the past few days:

The National Rifle Association has been largely silent since the shootings on Friday morning. On Monday, the home page of its Web site contained a blog post from Nov. 27, titled “More Guns, Less Crime in Virginia,” and the association’s Twitter account, which is normally active, has not sent a message since Friday.

More interesting to me though is what Jason Kottke posted on his site, referencing an article by John Lee Anderson, who asks “What is our national threshold for shame?”.

I’m thinking some crazy dude breaking his way into an Elementary school and gunning down 20 6 and 7 year olds, plus 7 adults, is pretty high on the shame threshold list.

Crowdsourced Map of Boston

Boston is well known for it’s distinctive neighborhood residents and the sheer insanity in which the streets in that city are laid out. And with this combination comes the question of what are the streets that define the “boundaries” each neighborhood?

Some cartographers over at Bostonography took to crowdsourcing the answer to that question by asking people/residents what their definition of specific neighborhoods were and then plotting the results based on the confidence that the people expressed of their point of view.

It is a wicked pissah analysis.

Via Bostonography

Folks who live along the border (I mean, literally ON the border) of North Carolina and South Carolina are running into some issues because the states are re-calibrating the exact location of their shared border. One morning, these folks are paying South Carolina taxes and the next, they are citizens of North Carolina. At first, this may seem trivial, however for one guy who owns a gas station on land that he thought was in South Carolina, this border war is a major issue:

For example, one man owns land where he built a gas station in what he thought was South Carolina, but is now revealed to be North Carolina. He says his station will be worthless due to higher gas taxes in North Carolina, and that the business-boosting sales of fireworks is now illegal.

The governments of each of the states are assuring all people impacted (roughly 90) by the shift of the border will “be taken care of”, whatever that means. At least those folks who are unexpectedly becoming citizens of North Carolina can now support a basketball program (UNC – Chapel Hill) that has had decidedly more success than the program at the University of South Carolina.

Via Consumerist

Just Missed It

J.P.Morgan around 1912

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (along with several other important 100th anniversaries including the opening of Fenway Park, the introduction of the Oreo Cookie, and the opening of L.L. Bean in Maine to name a few).

As the years pass, the story of the doomed ship continues to fascinate. Here is a list of famous people who just missed boarding the Titanic for its maiden and last voyage.

The list includes J.P Morgan (above), Milton Hershey, and Henry Clay Frick.

Target’s customer targeting is so spot on that it was able to determine that a girl in high school was pregnant before her dad did:

An angry man went into a Target outside of Minneapolis, demanding to talk to a manager: My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”

The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.

On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.

via Forbes

Tarnished (LOT) Rings

The process that the Nobel Prize committee goes through in evaluating candidates for their renowned awards has always been a bit of a black hole. A little window into that process was revealed recently when, per tradition, the documentation and notes from the comittee’s thinking is released to the public 50 years after the award is made.

Back in 1961, J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings epic were nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature but the Nobel committee felt his work was “second rate prose”. In addition to Tolkien, the Nobel committee dismissed the works of Robert Frost, EM Forster and other not to shabby writers.

The prose of Tolkien – who was nominated by his friend and fellow fantasy author CS Lewis – "has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality", wrote jury member Anders Österling. Frost, on the other hand, was dismissed because of his "advanced age" – he was 86 at the time – with the jury deciding the American poet’s years were "a fundamental obstacle, which the committee regretfully found it necessary to state". Forster was also ruled out for his age – a consideration that no longer bothers the jury, which awarded the prize to the 87-year-old Doris Lessing in 2007 – with Österling calling the author "a shadow of his former self, with long lost spiritual health".

Nobel committee, the Eye of Sauron is upon you.

Via The Guardian (UK).