within the world

If you’re so funny then why are you on your own tonight?

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photos { Anthony Hernandez }

White Sun of the Desert

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…the immaculate ultrawhite behind the French doors of a new GE Café Series refrigerator […] the white hood of a 50th anniversary Ford Mustang GT […] the white used to brighten the pages of new Bibles, the hulls of super yachts, the snowy filling inside Oreo cookies […]

All this whiteness is the product of a compound known as titanium dioxide, or TiO2. A naturally occurring oxide, TiO2 is generally extracted from ilmenite ore and was first used as a pigment in the 19th century. In the 1940s chemists at DuPont refined the process until they hit on what’s widely considered a superior form of “titanium white,” which has been used in cosmetics and plastics and to whiten the chalked lines on tennis courts. DuPont has built its titanium dioxide into a $2.6 billion business, which it spun off as part of chemicals company Chemours, in Wilmington, Del., last fall.

A handful of other companies produce TiO2, including Kronos Worldwide in Dallas and Tronox of Stamford, Conn. Chemours and these others will churn out more than 5 million tons of TiO2 powder in 2016. China also produces large amounts of the pigment, and its industries consume about a quarter of the world’s supply. Most of China’s TiO2 plants, however, use a less efficient and more hazardous process than the one developed at DuPont. Starting in the 1990s, if not earlier, China’s government and Chinese state-run businesses began seeking ways to adopt DuPont’s methods. Only they didn’t approach the company to make a formal deal. According to U.S. law enforcement officials, they set out to rip off DuPont.

“At first, you’re like: Why are they stealing the color white?” says Dean Chappell, acting section chief of counterespionage for the FBI.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

oil on wood { Ellsworth Kelly, White Plaque: Bridge Arch and Reflection, 1951-55 }

Is technology killing conversation?

loser.com

[Thanks Tim]

We believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers

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{ The Difference Between Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, In Two Blizzard ‘Dibs’ Signs }

2 glocks that’s what’s up

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Crime statistics are notoriously opaque and faulty. Data are often manipulated for political reasons. Even the city points out the discrepancy can be explained by a change in how shootings are measured. The disconnect between shooting and murder may come down to measurement, or it could reveal something much worse: New Yorkers are getting better at murder.

According to Columbia economics professor Dan O’Flaherty, the odds of someone firing a gun and actually hitting another person is pretty low. And even if you do hit your target, there’s only a 25% chance she’ll die. Four things can increase the odds of shooting and killing someone:

1. Lots of training and practice to make you a better shot

2. Standing closer to the intended victim

3. Using a higher caliber weapon, which increases the likelihood of doing damage when you hit someone

4. Using a weapon that fires more bullets at once

A change in any of these factors could produce more gun-shot murders and fewer shots fired. It’s precisely what happened in Newark between 2000 and 2006 when gun shot murders were up (unlike the rest of the country) and shots fired went down. […] They looked at crime and autopsies and concluded that all four factors played a role. Gang members used higher caliber and more semi-automatic weapons, they were better shots, and killed more people at close range. They attribute these changes to lax law enforcement and prison reorganization, which led to more networking among gangs and escalated gang violence. […]

O’Flaherty says it’s too soon to tell if that’s what’s happening in New York right now. When the odds of killing anyone are so small to begin with, this past year could just be a statistical anomaly.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

photo { Richard Avedon, B. J. Van Fleet, nine year old, Ennis, Montana, July 2, 1982 }

A crack on the head is what you get for not asking, and a crack on the head is what you get for asking

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From Charlie Spies, D.C. based counsel to Right to Rise [independent super PAC supporting Jeb Bush’s campaign for President], to Donald Trump attorney Alan Garten

Dear Mr. Garten:

[…]

It is possible you are confusing Right to Rise [RTR] with any number of federal independent expenditure-only committees (i.e. “Super PACs”) that have exercised their First Amendment rights to educate the public about your client’s public statements and stances on important public policy issues. We suggest you consult the Federal Election Commission’s (”FEC”) website (www.fec.gov) to familiarize yourself about the differences between Leadership PACs and Super PACs, or perhaps skim through the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC or the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Speechnow.org v. FEC. They are both very helpful and might clear up some of your confusion.

In addition, although RTR has no plans to produce any advertisements against your client, we are intrigued (but not surprised) by your continued efforts to silence critics of your client’s campaign by employing litigious threats and bullying. Should your client actually be elected Commander-in-Chief, will you be the one writing the cease and desist letters to Vladimir Putin, or will that be handled by outside counsel? As a candidate for President, your client is a public figure and his campaign should, and will, be fact-checked. The ability to criticize a candidate’s record, policies and matters of public importance lies at the heart of the First Amendment, as courts have repeatedly recognized. If you have the time between bankruptcy filings and editing reality show contracts, we urge you to flip through the Supreme Court’s decision in New York Times v. Sullivan. If your client is so thin-skinned that he cannot handle his critics’ presentation of his own public statements, policies and record to the voting public, and if such communications hurts his feelings, he is welcome to purchase airtime to defend his record. After all, a wall can be built around many things, but not around the First Amendment.

Lastly, in light of your confusion over the difference between Leadership PACs and Super PACs, we have to assume you may also be unaware of the FEC’s prohibition on a federal candidate’s use of corporate resources for campaign purposes. Although your client may think he is above the law and be accustomed to using lawsuits to bail out his failed business deals, the Federal Election Campaign Act and the FEC’s Regulations nonetheless apply to him and his campaign. Perhaps the attached complaint, filed today, will serve as a reminder of your client’s legal obligations under federal election laws. Just as your client is attempting to quickly learn the basics of foreign policy, we wish you personally the best in your attempts to learn election law.

Cordially,
Charles Spies

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

For when Eric eats a banana an amazing transformation occurs. Eric is Bananaman.

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Chinese ice cream is different, and those differences reflect a different economic and technological context. American ice cream is mainly sold by grocery stores in large containers to be eaten at home. So the basic assumption is that people have freezers at home in which to store the ice cream. Even when ice cream is sold on-the-go, it is sold out as scoops out of those big containers. But historically in China most people did not have freezers at home, though many more of them do now. Ice cream in China is therefore usually sold by convenience stores or roadside stalls, in small packages to be eaten immediately. So rather than big vats of ice cream, it is mostly individual bars.

These constraints have pushed innovation in Chinese ice cream in different directions. You can get all kinds of amazing wacky ice cream flavors in the US, but they are all delivered in mostly the same form: a tub of ice cream eaten with a spoon. Chinese ice cream innovates on form and texture more than with ingredients, with many bars featuring not just crunchy outer layers of chocolate but interior elements made of various yummy substances.

The structural complexity of some ice-cream bars is so great that it’s common for the package to have a 3-D cutaway diagram to illustrate all the goodies on the inside.

{ Andrew Batson | Continue reading }

And you, who swell those seeds with kindly rain

{ Adam Purple, Legendary Guerrilla Gardener, Died Monday }

‘now available in black: rainbows!’ —‏@lady_products

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“Water fountains have been disappearing from public spaces throughout the country over the last few decades,” lamented Nancy Stoner, an administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency’s water office. […]

By 1930, Chapelle says, bottled water had become “low class,” used only in offices and factories that couldn’t afford plumbing.

Attitudes began to shift in the 1970s, when Europe’s Perrier set its sights on the American market. In 1977, the company spent $5 million on an advertising campaign in New York, selling itself as a chic, upscale product. Yuppies lapped it up. “It was a lifestyle-defining product,” Chapelle says. By 1982, U.S. bottled-water consumption had doubled to 3.4 gallons per person per year. […]

U.S. consumption of bottled water quadrupled between 1993 and 2012 (reaching 9.67 billion gallons annually). […]

Today, 77 percent of Americans are concerned about pollution in their drinking water, according to Gallup, even though tap water and bottled water are treated the same way, and studies show that tap is as safe as bottled.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

art { Roy Lichtenstein, Girl in Water, 1965 }

A jink a jink a jawbo

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After the near‐collapse of the world’s financial system has shown that we economists really do not know how the world works, I am much too embarrassed to teach economics anymore, which I have done for many years. I will teach Modern Korean Drama instead.

Although I have never been to Korea, I have watched Korean drama on a daily basis for over six years now. Therefore I can justly consider myself an expert in that subject.

{ Uwe E. Reinhardt, Princeton University | PDF | via Chris Blattman }

photo { Ji Yeo | plastic surgery in South Korea }

I never was in love, you know that you were never good enough

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On February 14th, Kakumei-teki himote doumei (革命的非モテ同盟) — literally, “Revolutionary Alliance of Men That Woman Are Not Attracted To”– will gather in Shibuya, an area of Tokyo popular with young couples, to protest Valentine’s Day and its roots in what they call “romantic capitalist oppression.”

The group, known as Kakuhidou for short, was started in 2006, when its founder, Katsuhiro Furusawa, returned home one day after being dumped by his girlfriend and began reading the Communist Manifesto. He quickly came to the realization that being unpopular with girls is a class issue.

{ Spoon & Tamago | Continue reading }

Women tend to prefer men who make them laugh and men tend to prefer women who laugh at their jokes. However, it is unclear how robust this pattern is. Here we report a replication of one of the first studies (Bressler, Martin, and Balshine, 2006) to examine the sex differences in preferences for humor receptivity versus humor production. […]

We found that men viewed humor receptivity as a necessity and humor production as a luxury when they were asked to create an ideal long-term partner. For women, it was just the opposite.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | PDF }

You can be a millionaire… and never pay taxes!

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The flat white coffee drink was $4. A suggested tip was $3.

The cashier at Café Grumpy, a New York City coffeehouse, swiped the credit card, then whirled the screen of her iPad sales device around to face the customer. “Add a tip,” the screen commanded, listing three options: $1, $2 or $3.

In other words: 25 percent, 50 percent or 75 percent of the bill.

There was a “no tip” and a “customize tip” button, too, but neither seemed particularly inviting as the cashier looked on. Under that pressure, the middle choice — $2 — seemed easiest.

American consumers are feeling a bit of tip creep.

Leaving 15 percent for full service (the former standard tip at a sit-down restaurant), and less for quick transactions, is considered chintzy by some people. “We recommend 20 percent absolutely,” said Peter Post, managing director of the Emily Post Institute, which offers guidelines in etiquette.

The very concept of tipping is expanding beyond the service industry, with new platforms that enable Internet content creators to receive Bitcoin tips that reward their creativity rather than a simple thumbs up (or “Like”).

And in many situations, merchants as varied as cab companies and beauty salons rely on the ubiquitous touch screen or mobile app to push higher and higher gratuities.

New York City taxi riders paying with plastic are confronted with buttons for 20 percent, 25 percent or 30 percent tips. Anything less has to be manually entered (and calculated by the passenger). […]

In December, an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles, Alimento, took a different approach. It added a second gratuity line to diners’ checks — “tip” (for the server) and “kitchen” (for the traditionally untipped workers in the back). […]

In March, a Silicon Valley company opened ChangeTip, a platform that allows people to send small Bitcoin payments through social media, email, Skype or text to show their appreciation for content creators (or anyone) on the Internet.

The service has been growing about 30 percent a month and now has about 60,000 users who have collectively tipped over $250,000, said Nick Sullivan, founder and chief executive. The average payment, he said, was a little over $1.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

photo { Nobuyoshi Araki, Untitled, 1994 }