Greg Hunter

Author Archive

The Color of the Season

In The Internet on December 11, 2009 at 6:49 AM

Pantone announced their color of 2010: 5-5519 Turquoise. Seeing it, I immediately grew nostalgic for a time in computing history when backgrounds were tiled and Netscape ruled the internet. But why was I feeling this wave of nostalgia?

“Turquoise Transports Us to an Exciting, Tropical Paradise While Offering a Sense of Protection and Healing in Stressful Times,” according to Pantone’s website. Well I guess if referencing old browsers and old operating systems is your version of a tropical paradise, then Pantone, job well done.

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Weekly Science Fair: Simulating Knitted Cloth at the Yarn Level

In Just Graduated on October 12, 2009 at 8:15 AM

From the Abstract: The properties of knits come from the nonlinear, three-dimensional kinematics of long, inter-looping yarns, and despite significant advances in cloth animation we still do not know how to simulate knitted fabric faithfully. Existing cloth simulators mainly adopt elastic-sheet mechanical models inspired by woven materials, focusing less on the model itself than on important simulation challenges such as efficiency, stability, and robustness. We define a new computational model for knits in terms of the motion of yarns, rather than the motion of a sheet. Movie Link.

Who: Jonathan Kaldor, Doug L. James, and Steve Marschner.

Real World Application: When Toy Story 8 comes around, following Woody and Buzz Lightyear as they go to the local Salvation Army resell it store, the second-hand sweaters and cardigans they’re thrown against will look so real you’ll think that you might have once owned the sweaters.

Political Storytime by James Hannaway

In Uncategorized on September 20, 2009 at 8:12 AM

People at my work talk a lot about “narrative.”

A campaign’s message must be narrative-driven. When an organizer sits down with a new volunteer, they tell their “story.”

This is a relatively new approach for campaigns, though community organizers and advocacy groups have framed their strategy in this way for years. Marshall Ganz is the prophet of the religion of narrative. A professor at Harvard, a veteran of United Farm Workers strikes, SNCC voter registration drives and other bright spots in progressive organizing history, he found acolytes in the Obama field organization. Some of his Harvard students and trainees went on to take substantial roles in the campaign.

Talking points are pooh-poohed. Yes, you can talk about health care. But the way you do it is very personal. You tell your story about health care. The choices you make in the story reveal your values. Your values ultimately determine where you stand.

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Asia Pacific Contemporary Art Fair

In Generic Culture on September 12, 2009 at 4:30 PM

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It seems every city these days has some biennial or annual art fair. Holding out the mirage of international exposure, jet setting benefactors, and celeb artists in its painted hand, the typical art fair’s actual art often gets lost in the excitement over the event. Cities have approached the biennial in different unique ways. When New Orleans held their first Biennial, besides acknowledging the shameless urban promotion of the event, the organizers anchored the event’s art in New Orleans devastated landscape—to see the art you had to explore New Orleans and seek out old buildings.  Other smaller cities, like St. Louis, have taken this local route and been successful. If you can’t beat the big boys, they seemed to argue, don’t even try to race with them.

THE Asia Pacific Contemporary Art Fair in Shanghai this past weekend took the opposite strategy. Instead of attempting to sum and express the idiosyncrasies of a particular city, ShContemporary celebrated the state of contemporary art for an entire hemisphere. I guess when you’re one of the largest cities on Earth, you get certain prerogatives smaller cities don’t get to take.

The state of Asian Contemporary Art can be summarized in one word: Play. I can’t think of one gallery that didn’t include at least one or two pieces that had playful colors, playful concepts, playful and obvious references to other works. Talking to one curator, she even honestly called her galleries offerings “ironic.” Not “’ironic,’” but just “ironic.” Instead of continuing to talk, I’ll just lead you through a tour of what I thought was the best of this playful fair.

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Introduction to the Legosphere

In Games on September 8, 2009 at 2:24 PM

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This was the headline photo a few days ago from the Times. I thought this is as good a time as any to give an introduction to the wide world Lego enthusiasts have built for themselves on the internet (Go here to read some reactions to the article. Favorite quote from the comments: “I was surprised that only 10% of sets go to adults. Bugged that lego calls us bizarre but, yeah I guess they’re right.”). Some of them take themselves too seriously, but most are a jovial lot of middle aged men (usually engineers and high school math teachers it seems) who just never got tired of building with legos. While half of the works I’ve seen fall into the corny and mediocre, the overall quality and artistry is surprisingly high. Below are a list of my favorite blogs:

The Brothers Brick: The Target of Lego blogs. They’ve got everything, and it’s all a little nicer than Wal-Mart. Most of the posts feature photos of user-submitted creations. They’re impressive, and the site has impressively organized them. Interested in Star Wars diorama? Perhaps abstract sculpture? It’s tagged there. In addition to user content, there are copious interviews with prolific and skilled modelers and occasionally some breaking Lego news…

LEGO Fun: Some Lego enthusiasts are particularly interested in the minifigs that Lego produces—you know the knobby headed, smiling, yellow Lego people. In addition to modifying Lego’s own creations, they make their own somehow. In addition they photograph them in different situations.

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Eating My Way Around The World: Red Wine In A Can AND Paul Krugman Is A Comic Book Connoisseur

In Comics, Eating My Way Around The World on September 5, 2009 at 9:34 AM

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Red Wine, it comes in a jug, in a box, in a bottle. There are screw tops, synthetic corks, and good old natural corks. But who knew that it could also come in a can with a pull tab no less? Well it can, and your intrepid reviewer has just finished an entire… can. With no appelation, nor date, I could only guess where and when the grapes came from that ended up in this can, but after my first can, I must wonder if any grapes made it at all into the can. It would be naive to ask of Vess grape soda, “Where did the grapes come from?” I think it’s similarly limiting to ask that of Red Wine in a Can.

More canny wine AND Paul Krugman, after the jump

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Sunday Comics Faceoff: Dilbert vs. Calvin and Hobbes

In Comics on August 30, 2009 at 2:11 PM

Picture 1Picture 2Ah, Sunday mornings. Nothing better than lounging in a white terry-cloth robe and drinking a cup of coffee while reading the comics. But what comics do you read! Time is limited and there are so many comic strips in the newspaper—at least two pages worth! So you have the above two comics, right now they’re too small to read the text, so based on all other things—layout, drawing, font—which do you choose?

Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard Arrives

In Personal Tech on August 28, 2009 at 5:24 AM

Can I just say how clever Apple was to abandon the numeric naming of its operating systems. Without having the reference of OS 9.5 or OS 7.0 to jog the memory of past, less impressive operating systems, each of Apples’ OS X iterations stands as a unique creation. The only thing connecting them (Panther, Tiger, Jaguar, Leopard, etc.) is images of strong, big cats connoting speed, power, and grace. What a wonderful marketing feat. Don Draper would be proud.

Snow Leopard has arrived (29 dollars, but if you bought your Apple computer after June 8, you’re probably qualified for the upgrade for nine dollars), and in Apple’s words, it’s an evolution, not a revolution. The user interface remains mostly unchanged, and there are no entirely new programs or additions.

Instead, the upgrade includes lots of tweaks to the user interface, and some hefty behind the scenes changes. All of the operating system’s programs will now take advantage of the Intel chip’s 64-bit processing power. In addition, the entire OS is considerably smaller, so more space for music and movies.

In the end, the upgrade will be well worth the 29 dollars. Change the GUI, and people will drop hundreds of dollars on the newer flashier OS, but since Apple make many visible changes, you get the benefit of having a cheaper yet still significant upgrade.

Update: New York Times just published a review: Apple’s Sleek Upgrade

Eating My Way Around The World: Spicy Duck Neck

In Food on August 26, 2009 at 2:29 PM

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There are so many varieties of food in the world that it can be exhausting to even think to try all of them. Though we might fail, we at the Gutter pledge that whatever is placed in front of us—where in the world we may find ourselves sitting down to eat—we’ll eat it, and if it’s interesting enough, tell you about it.

A few weeks ago, while sitting at a Hot Pot restaurant, I tried duck vocal chord for the first time, it was simultaneously chewy and crunchy, but it didn’t taste like much. It was like eating a potato chips distant half cousin. But a few days ago, when I was offered the full duck neck—and spicy neck no less—I knew I couldn’t turn it down.

Duck Neck is sold in Shanghai at meat vendors all around the city. You’d expect large cuts of meats to hang in the windows of most butchers, but these vendors have bins and bins of different lumps of meat. I didn’t ask what the other cuts of meat were, but had I asked, I know I wouldn’t have understood any of their names. In China, Duck Neck is a standard finger food for eating with beer, a kind of Chinese chicken wings that would be sold at Chinese bars if they existed.

Read on for more pictures and video of me eating the Essence of Duck Neck

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Preview: The Beatles: Rock Band

In Games on August 19, 2009 at 9:08 AM

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There’s an undeniable magic to the Rock Band and Guitar Hero series, a magic that has propelled the two franchises to collectively gross over three billion dollars in sales. But that magic is a fleeting type, mostly vicarious thrill and excitement. The big question for The Beatles: Rock Band is whether that thrill and excitement can lead to something deeper and more profound than the rush you get  after completing Cheap Trick’s “Surrender,” on expert difficulty.* Does it fall short? Or soar like most of The Beatles’ songs so easily did?

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While the mechanics of the game remain the same as its predecessors, large sections of the game have been stripped away in order to increase focus on The Beatles’ songs. Most importantly, the experience of being booed off the stage has disappeared. I’m particularly disappointed by this change; the booing and the failure were one of the chief reasons why being successful in the game was so much fun. Read the rest of this entry »