Thursday various

Tuesday various

  • Will singing “My Way” in the Philippines get you killed?

    Still, the odds of getting killed during karaoke may be higher in the Philippines, if only because of the ubiquity of the pastime. Social get-togethers invariably involve karaoke. Stand-alone karaoke machines can be found in the unlikeliest settings, including outdoors in rural areas where men can sometimes be seen singing early in the morning. And Filipinos, who pride themselves on their singing, may have a lower tolerance for bad singers. [via]

  • on Kevin Smith: The face of flying while fat:

    And then I read Southwest’s apology to Smith, which includes such gems as “If a Customer cannot comfortably lower the armrest and infringes on a portion of another seat, a Customer seated adjacent would be very uncomfortable and a timely exit from the aircraft in the event of an emergency might be compromised if we allow a cramped, restricted seating arrangement.” And I think, first, “If we allowed a cramped, restricted seating arrangement? Because ‘The Greyhound of the Skies’ is positively roomy when there are no fat people on board?” And second, I think, “Translation: Fat paying customers’ fully expected discomfort only becomes a problem for us if it also makes the paying customers we care about uncomfortable.” [via]

  • Speaking of apologies, does Tiger Woods owe you one? Probably not. [via]
  • A neat, albeit a little disturbing, H.R. Giger cake [via]
  • And finally, the truth behind elephant brain power:

    “We are a bit limited by how little we know about elephants, but the odd glimmers we get seem to be rather remarkable.”

    Incidentally, today is your last day to listen to Inside the Elephant Mind on the BBC player. [via]

Monday various

  • Sad to learn that author Kage Baker passed away from cancer over the weekend.
  • Not terribly surprised to learn that Sarah Palin’s political action committee spent more money buying her book than on, well, political action.
  • Very surprised to learn that packs of wild beagles are terrorizing the east end of Long Island.
  • Impressed by James Cameron’s letter to H.R. Giger’s agent about why Cameron didn’t involve Giger in the design and filming of Aliens. Where’s this kind of honest humility gone in the James Cameron of today?
  • And finally, very impressed by Chameleon Circuit, who put out some of the best Doctor Who-themed music I’ve ever heard. That might sound like I’m damning them with faint praise, to some of you, but I think these are really neat songs. One of them easily wound up on my January music mix. [via]

Wednesday various

  • A whole lot of talk today has been about Apple’s new iPad. (You shouldn’t have any trouble finding plenty of links on your own.) Almost despite myself, I’m guardedly optimistic about its future and genuinely interested in its application — in a way, I should add, that I generally wasn’t interested in the iPhone. I think I’m going to wait a little before I try to justify buying one for myself, at least until a few more in-depth reviews are in. As Brad Stone notes in the New York Times, “Nothing ages faster than the future when you get it in your hands.”
  • Rachel Swirsky: “Genre is a tool. It’s not a prophecy.
  • Here’s a fascinating article on confessions of a book pirate:

    TM: Do you have a sense of where these books are coming from and who is putting them online?

    [TRC:] I assume they are primarily produced by individuals like me – bibliophiles who want to share their favorite books with others. They likely own hundreds of books, and when asked what their favorite book is look at you like you are crazy before rattling of 10-15 authors, and then emailing you later with several more. The next time you see them, they have a bag of 5-10 books for you to borrow.

    I’m sure that there are others – the compulsive collectors who download and re-share without ever reading one, the habitual pirates who want to be the first to upload a new release, and people with some other weird agenda that only they understand. [via]

  • Meanwhile, the world’s largest book — it’s five feet tall by six feet wide, and it takes six people to lift it — will be displayed with its pages open for the first time. I like how the Guardian calls it “almost absurdly huge.” How big does a book have to be before they’d drop that “almost”? [via]
  • And finally, a movie made by chimpanzees. All the obvious jokes aside, I wonder if this is really as impressive as it may at first sound — since, as the BBC notes:

    The apes are unlikely to have actively tried to film any particular subject, or understand that by carrying Chimpcam around, they were making a film.

    This seems less like a film from the chimps’ perspective than footage they accidentally shot. Still, the study as a whole does sound intriguing. [via]