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).

Festivus

Only three days until Festivus! I hope you have all found your alumninum poles in the crawlspace under your house.

There has been a lot of turmoil this year around the country and the world. I am anticipating some serious ramifications from the Airing of Grievances.

Analysis of Lego Pricing Over The Years

Over at Geek Mom, an interesting analysis of the pricing of Lego sets over the past 40 years or so. Looking at the pricing on a “price per brick” point of view, the average cost has actually been trending down.

As it turns out, after going up in the 70′s and 80′s, the average price per brick has actually been trending down. I sampled the prices of sets through the years as listed on brickset.com from across themes and set sizes. To try to make it an apples-to-apples comparison, I excluded minifigs by themselves, accessories, promotional items, games, or anything that required batteries, as well as Mindstorms, Duplo, and non-brick items.

One theory noted in the article is that the Lego sets of today are far more complex and thus have far more pieces than those of the 1970’s and 1980’s, So looking at it on a “per brick” may be skewing the numbers lower.

At the end of the day though, I think what this is telling us is that we should go out and get that epic 3,000 piece, 8 lb, 50 inch long Star Wars “Super Star Destroyer” kit for $400.

Rare Mustang For Sale on eBay


A very rare 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 is up for sale on eBay for a cool minimum bid of $185,000. Under 1,000 of these model Mustangs were ever made back in 1969.

Atop the Mustang food chain that year was the legendary Boss 429, of which only 858 were built during the car’s two-year production run. Truth be told, these models weren’t even built by Ford, which already had a plate full of ongoing special projects. Instead, the build of the Boss 429 Mustang was farmed out to Kar Kraft.

Building the Boss 429 from a production Mustang was no minor task, since engine mounts, suspension mounts and even shock towers had to be moved to accommodate the 429 cubic-inch V-8. While rated at 375 horsepower for insurance purposes, it’s widely believed that the 429 cranked out closer to 500 horsepower in stock trim.

According to the article, the car is capable of breaking an 11.0 second quarter mile, which seems a little unrealistic to me when modern Corvettes can’t even break 12.0 seconds.

via Motorauthority

Vertical Forest

An interesting project is underway in Milan, Italy where architect Sefano Boeri designed a pair of highrises that incorporate trees on the exterior of every floor.

The concept of reforestation within the city context intends to minimize the expansion of established urban fabric for additional green spaces while still increasing biodiversity which has been lost during development. the implementation of this project serves as a model for contemporary european cities for linking a building with nature within city limits.

The design of the buildings incorporated how the plants and trees would produce CO2 for the building and the area around it. Practically speaking, I’m wondering who is going to trim those trees on the higher floors.

via Designboom

Twitter Impacts TV Ratings

From a presentation this week at the Social TV Summit (Yes, I too didn’t know this conference even existed):

The correlation with ratings [and Tweets] is much stronger. “When you look at the volume of same-day Tweets about a show, it’s a significant factor in explaining that show’s ratings.” “If Nielsen’s our blood pressure, I’d like you to think of Twitter as our heartbeat. It’s the EKG of attention around a show.”

This is just another example of why Steve Jobs and so many others have been obsessed with distrupting the TV industry. The Neilsen ratings model of TV measurement has always been fundamentally broken. Digital TV services (Apple TV, Boxee, Roku, etc.) and services like Twitter and IntoNow now give marketers, advertisers and media companies the opportunity to mash up data sources and extract a level of insight never before seen.

Twitter alone can deliver a depth of knowledge at the aggregate level is pretty staggering and this is just another example of that. Services like DataSift and Gnip enable you to tap into the Twitter firehose and dig into some pretty amazing insights that can help inform so many business decisions.

Tipping Point

Is it safe to say that the decline and fall of Malcolm Gladwell is well on its way, if not complete? It was announced today that Gladwell will be receiving paychecks from Bank of America to help them woo Small Business owners to use BofA for their banking needs. I never really saw or bought into all the hype around his books Tipping Point or Outliers. And is he really a big name in the Small Business community? It hasn’t been the best few years for Gladwell as his recent work has received few nice words:

Gladwell’s work has been widely criticized from the pages of New York Magazine (“The bigger criticism of Gladwell is not that he’s unoriginal but that he’s unserious”) to the New York Times (“Mr. Gladwell has conflated fraud with overvaluation.”) to the Columbia Journalism Review (“Of course Gladwell lacks rigor – he’s a feature writer, not a brain scientist.”) — which also notes that he is rather well-remunerated through corporate speaking fees — and beyond. Many of those criticisms note that his biggest works are more often than not distillations of other people’s research and ideas… and that they tend to almost exclusively support a consumerist, elitist philosophy.

And BofA has had its recent share of PR disasters as well with its TARP bailouts, mass layoffs and $5 bank fee fiasco. Seems to me BofA needs a hell of a lot more than Malcolm Gladwell to get its ship in order, while I will be interested to see how a BofA paycheck will influence Gladwell’s perspective on future books and stories.