Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides and writes for This American Life, The Atlantic, Breakfast on Mars, and The Magazine. You can follow him at chrishiggins.com.
Today, another awesome Letter of Note, this time from comic artist John Kricfalusi, best known for his work on Ren & Stimpy. Letters of Note writes:In 1998, aged just 14, aspiring young cartoonist Amir Avni decided to get in touch with the creator of Ren & Stimpy, John Kricfalusi. Being a hardcore fan of Kricfalusi's work, Amir sent him an introductory letter along with a few cartoons he'd drawn, some of which contained relatively unknown characters of John's. To call Kricfalusi's response... READ ON
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s most famous novel is Slaughterhouse-Five. You may have read it -- it's taught in many high school English classes in the U.S., though in others it has been banned. So it goes. Anyway, Slaughterhouse-Five is partially autobiographical; it's based partly on Vonnegut's experiences as a Prisoner of War in World War II, when he and other POWs were imprisoned in an underground slaughterhouse meat locker in Dresden in 1944, Germany. By day, they worked in labor camps; at night they slept... READ ON
A bit of nerdy interactive fun for you today: the New York Times has an Interactive Map of Netflix Queues covering 100 "frequently rented" titles from 2009, including very heavily-rented titles like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and less-rented titles like Happy-Go-Lucky and Adventureland.
The map is interactive, allowing you to slide or step through various movie titles and see how popular each title is in twelve metro areas in the US: New York City, Boston, Chicago, Washington, the Bay Area... READ ON
In December, I came across The Last Living American Veteran of WWI, an interview with Frank Buckles, the eponymous veteran. The same filmmaker (Sean Dunne) also profiled Paul Mawhinney, who owns the world's largest record collection. And the collection is for sale. No one's buying.
In Dunne's film The Archive, we meet Mawhinney and get an inside look at his collection. For years, Mawhinney ran the awesome record shop Record-Rama in Pittsburgh. I visited Record-Rama in the 90's, and bought an Uncle... READ ON
Get ready for another awesome Symphony of Science video! Yes, that's right, more auto-tuned scientists with cool music and video. (See previous videos: A Glorious Dawn, Our Place in the Cosmos, and We Are All Connected.)
In this installment, it's primarily David Attenborough and Carl Sagan, though about two-thirds of the way in, Jane Goodall makes a splendid appearance. Goodall is an awesome speaker -- if you ever have a chance to see her in person, please do so. I saw her at the United Nations in... READ ON
The antiques world was rocked (okay, more like gently bumped) when a recent episode of Antiques Roadshow estimated a woman's collection of carved Chinese jade objects at $710,000 to $1.07 million. Either figure would make it the highest-appraised item in Antiques Roadshow history. Unfortunately, when the woman actually sold the items at auction, she only got $494,615. Why the discrepancy? It's complicated -- read about it here if you want the blow-by-blow from real antiques experts. Meanwhile, below I... READ ON
When I think of the last decade (starting in 2000), I think of it in comparison to previous decades. Being more or less a grownup, I can remember decades like the 80's and 90's quite well, and I've got some 70's in there too. But what about kids who were born at the beginning of this decade? What's their worldview like? Remember, these are kids who have been alive during a time when iPods, cell phones, and the internet were actually mature technologies. For me, all of those things are fairly recent... READ ON
An article in the December 2009 issue of The Atlantic poses a fascinating scientific question: do some children's genes give them a greater risk of failure, but also a greater chance for success, if they're raised under the right circumstances? Such children are dubbed "orchid children" David Dobbs's piece The Science of Success. The comparison is to a Swedish folk saying about "dandelion children" who will thrive anywhere (although, yes, good parenting helps them too -- just not as much). Dobbs... READ ON
In the late 1980's, Dan Pink made a terrible mistake: he went to law school. He didn't fare well, graduating in the bottom 10% of his class. Later he overcame his failure at law and became chief speechwriter for Al Gore, then wrote three books about the workplace (including one best-seller). His fourth book is Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Back in July 2009, Pink gave a TED Talk covering much of the ground that would later become Drive. It's an interesting talk because it... READ ON
This year I posted a bunch of Sesame Street videos. YouTube is a wonderful thing, and what's better is that the folks at Sesame Street post tons of clips online, and don't seem to file many rights complaints against others who post clips. For your convenience, I've collected the best of this year's Sesame Street discoveries into one post. Click away, and be transported into the slightly orange-tinged 70's and yellowish 80's!
How Crayons Are Made
From Retro Video: How Crayons Are Made.... READ ON
111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321