AOL Leak Results In “I Love Alaska”

Who is user # 711391?

A few years back AOL published the “anonymized” search history of hundreds of thousands of its subscribers.  At the time I wrote that it was rich with potential for interesting stories – and it appears I was not the only one to believe so.

Here is a series of mini movies called “I Love Alaska.”  It tells an interesting tale using solely the search criteria of one user from the AOL data dump.

Isn’t the digital age fun?!

I Love Alaska – Episode 1/13 from SubmarineChannel on Vimeo.

A high definition version is available here.

At first this seems mildly interesting, until you realize that this was a person’s real life at the time.  Voyeristic?  Yes.  Interesting? Definitely.  Proof that anonymity doesn’t really exist on the Internet for most of us?  You bet.

Tom Waits Press Conference

Do you know Tom Waits? Great musician – a real artist – or is that artiste? What you might call an eclectic fellow, which some consider to be part of his genius.

Well, he’s starting a new tour and held an interesting press conference to make the announcement.

If you really feel like digging into his craft, NPR has a free streamed recording of a recent concert.  Well worth the 2.5 hours – seriously.  This one’s for you Kurt.

Spreadsheets Make Me Uneasy

Here’s some random insight into the person that is Kirk – working with spreadsheets, heck even thinking about them, makes me feel …. uneasy ….. unsettled ….. anxious.

When you open a new spreadsheet, you’re shown the first 10 columns or so and the first 40 rows – or whatever your monitor can show.  But start to work within it and you’ll notice something: you can’t run out of rows or columns.  There’s always another row you can add or see.  So how many rows are there, exactly?  Well, there’s the part that makes me anxious – it’s an infinitely large document, in two dimensions.  Go ahead, open one up and scroll to the bottom right corner of the document … YOU CAN’T!

Think about it (or put yourself in my neurotic shoes) – when you work with a spreadsheet you’re manipulating something that is infinitely large in both the x and y-axis.  When you open a spreadsheet, add a single cell of info, and save that file, you’re wrapping up infinity in that file – twice.

This just unnerves me.  It makes spreadsheets feel unnautral, unwieldy, inefficient, and dangerously brazen in their assumption that they can so easily capture infinity, twice, inside.  How dare they be so audacious, and how dare the world use them so flippantly!

P.S. I know a word processing document can have unlimited pages, but that’s only infinity in one dimension so my brain doesn’t seem too perturbed by them.  In fact it seems to relish that unlimited potential and enjoys working with it.  It’s the fact that spreadsheets do this in two dimensions that seems to be the keystone of my neurosis.

Film Editing Does Make a Difference

Have you stopped and noticed the art of film editing recently?  You know, the act of putting all those snippets of clips together into a cohesive film?  Have you ever wondered just how much of an impact editing can have on a film?  Sure there’s academy awards for it, but really – does that mean anything?

I’ve stumbled across a few enterprising videos that take films and create new trailers for them, casting them as very different films.  The quality varies, but some of them are quite good.  Here are a few I think are particularly effective:

Don’t make Jack a dull boy …

This one was scary before, but now …


Disturbing on so many levels:

Song Chart Memes – Great Pop Culture Puzzles

I’ve just been introduced to an on-going meme on Flickr where people are creating graphical representations of song lyrics.  It sounds simple, but there seems to be a real art to getting it done correctly.  Here’s a link to the entire Flickr photostream if you’re bored.  Here are two favorites – can you guess the song names?

One Mind, One Body?

Try this, see how in sync your mind and body are.

  1. Sit on a chair and lift your right foot off the ground.  Start rotating it in clockwise circles
  2. While doing this, draw the number ‘6’ in the air with your right hand.

How’s the foot rotation doing – any turbulence?

A little research of the web tells me this isn’t a new trick – but it is new to me.  With a little concentration I seem to get better at it.  Maybe when I’m in a more relaxed state of mind I’ll have more success.

Viral Marketing … For A Charitable Donation?

BC Hydro has taken a strange approach to its holiday charitable donation this year.  There’s a neat little animated Flash “game” you can play on their site (at least I think it is their site) and each time it is played, they’ll donate 25 cents to the BC Children’s Hospital.

It all sounds great, but I can’t seem to find any note about this on their main page.  They seem to be relying on viral marketing techniques to get the word out (to which I am now officially contributing).  Strange if their intention is to maximize their charitable donation this year … you’d think they would blast this on their main page.  Oh wait, the small print says a maximum of$5,000.00 will be donated.  Someone must have a reason for this …

Anyhow, over 575,000 coins have dropped so far so I guess things seem to be working.  I honestly thought it was some kind of scam at first … it all just strikes me as odd.

It All Makes Sense Now: Marley Proves That We’re Beautiful People!

This article looked interesting – addressing “Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature“. As soon as I saw that beautiful people tend to have more daughters I knew they were on to something.

Physical attractiveness, while a universally positive quality, contributes even more to women’s reproductive success than to men’s. The generalized hypothesis would therefore predict that physically attractive parents should have more daughters than sons. Once again, this is the case. Americans who are rated “very attractive” have a 56 percent chance of having a daughter for their first child, compared with 48 percent for everyone else.

This is some wild and crazy stuff! They address/prove other issues like suicide bombers being predominantly Muslim, men preferring blondes, polygamy vs. mongamy, etc. Tucking it away for a future read when I have a few spare moments. I’m not saying it is all true, but if it is then I think Alisa and I need to have a son next to avoid our apparently statistically elevated chance of seeing a divorce in our future. Sounds like sound science to me!