Jason's out this week, so we called in a worthy substitute to whip up this week's Friday Happy Hour. Below is a series of unrelated questions meant to spark conversation in the comments. Answer one, answer all, respond to someone else’s reply, whatever you want. Very casual. On to this week’s topics of discussion. Take it away, Brett!
1. My favorite scene from an episode of Parks and Recreation a few weeks back was when Ben started reading his Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic to April... READ ON
If you watched The Office (the original), you know how everything ties up at the conclusion of the "documentary." But how many details can you remember? What's David Brent up to these days? Did Tim return to University? Has Gareth gotten more or less creepy? Let us know what you know.
Take the Quiz: The Office Christmas... READ ON
Reading today about the Audi A2 concept car unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show provoked an invitingly distracting mid-day thought experiment about cars of the future. (At left, the Audio A2 Concept via Autoviva.com's Flickr)
The car comes equipped with a new feature called "Semi-Autonomous Drive," which assumes driving responsibilities when motorists find themselves caught in traffic. No doubt a practical solution designed to tackle an annoyingly commonplace problem—and, in places as calamitously... READ ON
A promising series of tests of a new antiviral drug has researchers so jazzed up about its potential success that they're throwing around wild mythology-inspired comparisons to herald its ingenious lethality. If the drug's daunting name—DRACO—isn't enough to unnerve pesky viruses, sending them scurrying to the darkest recesses of your outermost extremities in search of safe haven, then Bucknell University molecular virologist Marie Pizzorno's explanation of how it mimics the attributes of a centaur... READ ON
With incidents of severe water scarcity expected to rise substantially as the global population grows and fresh water supplies diminish, scientists are scrambling to come up with effective solutions to the pressing problem of increasingly limited fresh drinking water.
Over the past few decades, desalination has been all the rage. The most common method of desalination utilized today is reverse osmosis. Salt water is filtered through a semipermeable plastic membrane, which separates the ion particles... READ ON
We have a little saying around here—If the Hamburg Data Protection Authority doesn't like it, we don't like it either. What the HDPA doesn't like these days is the new facial recognition feature embedded in Facebook's new photo-tagging software, which is creepily known as "suggested automatic tagging." They claim it violates privacy laws because it's too invasive and collects data without proper authorization (i.e.—automatically). What they should be more concerned about, perhaps, is people posting... READ ON
Remember when Verizon's slogan demanded very directly that you "Join In"? It wasn't that long ago, before that annoying guy started asking everyone under the sun if they could hear him now. How 'bout when McDonald's proclaimed, "We Love to See You Smile"? That was before some disembodied voice admitted, "I'm Lovin' it." "It," we were left to assume, referred to every product McDonald's offers the consuming public. The trick to coming up with a good slogan is, well—it's still kind of a mystery.
An... READ ON
Back in the early 1970s, when Americans were just plain wild about the (seemingly) imminent reality of living in space, a NASA design study attempted to conceptualize just how such an idea could be brought to fruition. The illustrations created to describe how these colonies would look, and what living accoutrements they would contain, represent some pretty funky art from a pretty heady time. Remember, this was a time when it wasn't remotely bizarre that a political neophyte named Ronald Reagan proudly... READ ON
When I was very young, I overheard one of my dad's friends telling him about a swimmer he had witnessed get attacked by a Portuguese Man o' War. In my youthful naivete, I pictured a Portuguese man in a military uniform coming out of the water and randomly attacking someone at the beach. When I asked my dad why such a thing would happen on a random summer day in Duck, North Carolina, and not somewhere in Europe during wartime long ago, he cleared a few things up for me. Portuguese Man o' War was just the... READ ON
Here's a scenario for you: You're a megalomaniac world leader with an obsequious state-run media outlet at your disposal. You've upset your constituency in some capacity and need to regain their favor, real quick. Releasing an image in the newspaper of you doing something they would approve of would be perfect, but you've so seldom done things they approve of that you don't have a photo at the ready. What do you do?
The answer most of these world leaders arrive at is simple—just create a photo and... READ ON
I've got some bad news for you. All those A's and B's you received in college that made your parents so proud and boosted your self-esteem? Well—they were bogus (sort... READ ON
The New York Times Magazine posted an abstract illustration capturing stereotypes all over the world. Christoph Niemann's "The World Map of Useless Stereotypes" provides an interesting look at how different nations view each other, stereotypically—of course. It's got all the classics I'm sure you've heard a million times. Check it... READ ON
Everybody loves robots. They make funny noises, work really hard to perform simple tasks of questionable benefit, and are often charmingly skeletal-looking (well, to people who are charmed by skeletons, at... READ ON
The good people over at The Atlantic recently reviewed the American Customer Satisfaction Index and compiled a list of the 19 Most Hated Companies in America. The list includes all the usual suspects that you've probably had actual or virtual run-ins with, for all the reasons you would put them atop a list you might mentally make for the sake of personal edification.
Americans hate banks because of excessive and often hidden fees; they hate airlines for flight delays and insultingly rapacious baggage... READ ON
One hundred years ago, The International Time Recording Company, Computing Scale Company, and Tabulating Machine Company merged to become the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company. Apparently, people one hundred years ago loved naming companies with a confusing collection of impressive sounding, quasi-scientific words assembled in seemingly random order. And if those company names could include hyphens, well—the more the better.
Today, that company is better known as IBM (the company changed its name... READ ON
Get comfortable, pop a Teamocil, crank up your favorite Dr. FÃ¼nke's 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution album and show us how much you know about the series that was too well-written to enjoy the longevity it deserved on network television.
Take the Quiz: Arrested... READ ON
Now that LinkedIn has taken the plunge and gone public, the company is valued at approximately 45 times the amount of revenue it generates annually—meaning there is a bit of a disconnect between its estimated market cap and its actual profits. LinkedIn's massive windfall has "people who know things" speculating about an imminent wave of similar IPOs from social media companies that investors may be grossly overvaluing.
The Atlantic has an interesting charticle analysis showing the revenue-valuation... READ ON
Do the swoon-worthy gas rates companies are charging at the pump these days make you think, "Geez, if only it were 1918. Then, I'd only have to fork over a measly 25 cents per gallon to keep this sucker running"? While a quarter per gallon today would certainly be a sweet bargain, that wasn't the case then.
The good people over at the U.S. News and World Report have compiled data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American Petroleum Institute to find the ten most expensive years for gasoline... READ ON
In a classic episode of The Office, Jan tasks Pam with documenting in detail what, exactly, Michael does with his time at work. Pam begins compiling a time-use diary. Michael, oblivious to the assignment, casually resists Pam's subtle suggestions to perform his typical duties, and the time log ultimately includes such inane activities as Michael doing his Bill Cosby impression, and standing in line for a free pretzel in the lobby.
This intriguing subplot raises the question—"What do bosses do with... READ ON
The May issue of The Atlantic features a fascinating article on how creative minds begin to imagine works of art. The sample set of participating artists runs the gamut from music to architecture, auto design to fashion. They provide unique, highly personalized insight into how some of culture's most accomplished artists launch new projects.
Some interesting points:
• T.C. Boyle says that technological advancements (namely, computers) have allowed him to condense a month's worth of painstaking... READ ON
It is once again a boom time for the titans of American business, with corporations posting high profits on eye-popping earnings statements; yet unemployment remains stubbornly high (with few signs pointing to a rapid acceleration in hiring on the horizon).
New York Magazine has a theory that partially explains the disconnect—corporations now need far fewer employees to run the show. In a recent piece entitled "The Hiring Gap"—comparing the top ten most valuable companies in the nation in 1964 with... READ ON
Last week, the state-controlled Chinese Central Bank released figures indicating the country now holds over $3 trillion dollars in foreign-exchange reserves. The Economist has some interesting ideas on what the bank could buy if it were ever inclined to shop around for sexy investments, rather than squirrel money away on stodgy foreign currency.
The fictional-but-still-realistic shopping list includes:
• Almost all of this year's total projected oil output—estimated to be around $3.41 trillion... READ ON
In 1989, a couple of dudes spent six weeks driving across the country taking pictures of people in malls. The results were fantastic. Now Michael Galinsky is trying to turn his photos into a book.
(Via The Today... READ ON
Every Friday, we post a series of unrelated questions meant to spark conversation in the comments. Answer one, answer all, respond to someone else's reply, whatever you want. Jason English is really milking this whole paternity leave thing, so he's asked me to whip up this week's questions.
1. My sister has a peculiar habit of making up words. Sometimes it's blatantly obvious (like the use of "embiggen" on The Simpsons), other times it's a strange amalgamation of known words that sounds plausible when... READ ON
John Adams drank a tankard of hard cider each day and had the occasional beer for breakfast.