Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig book review

​B​o​r​n​ ​M​o​d​e​r​n​​ D​e​s​i​g​n​e​r​s​ ​R​e​v​i​e​w​ ​o​f​ ​B​o​o​k​s

“Written by Steven Heller and Elaine Lustig Cohen, the book details the many aspects of the life of Alvin Lustig including his work in both graphic and interior design, how he evolved as a designer, his interest in education and his passion for changing the world through his creations. The breadth of his understanding of design covered many mediums and from the very beginning of the book you begin to understand that every aspect of his career was intertwined.”

The Designer’s Review of Books gives a nice review to a fun book. If you’re a fan of Lustig and his decades of work, you’ll like this book.

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Cooking Issues podcast recommended

I wrote about Cooking Issues earlier this month in the Ham Belt post and mentioned the podcast. From their site:

“Every Tuesday at noon, Dave Arnold, author of Cooking, the French Culinary Institute’s Tech n’Stuff blog, will discuss the new and innovative techniques, equipment, and ingredients. Call in with your own questions to see if Dave and the crew can solve your cooking issues. Got a question on ike-jime, the Japanese fish killing technique? We got you covered. Hydrocolloids, sous-vide, liquid nitrogen? No problem. Have a question about pimping your oven to make great pizza? We love that kind of question too. We take all cooking issues seriously.”

I’ve been devouring all their podcasts since and am dreading the moment I run out. It’s good! Dave, the host, is part chemist, part chef, part mad scientist and is a very compelling character. Check it out on iTunes if you prefer.

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AI is awesome all over again

The painfully short description for this video is: “teams of quadrotors autonomously build tower-like cubic structures from modular parts.” Autonomous, in this case, could maybe possibly (anyway to make this even more passive and wishy-washy?) be considered AI for today’s revised definition. The video and the following Wired article are unrelated but I think there’s some interesting connections.

“By using probability-based algorithms to derive meaning from huge amounts of data, researchers discovered that they didn’t need to teach a computer how to accomplish a task; they could just show it what people did and let the machine figure out how to emulate that behavior under similar circumstances.” Read the whole article, The AI Revolution Is On, to see some other definitions.

And here’s a fun little video from last summer demonstrating the Kiva robots mentioned in that Wired article too.

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On pricing Aerogel, Saffron & Truffles

Inventables calls themselves “the innovator’s hardware store.” They sell materials for developing new products and “pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.”

And looking around, I head straight to the Aerogel. Surely they have it. It’s totally space-age–NASA uses it after all, plus it makes for compelling demos. And since it’s generally considered an expensive material, it can only be cheaper online right?

Inventables has something they call “Flexible Aerogel Fabric” but unfortunately they’re out of stock. But they do tell us it’s only $3-$10 per square foot. Not bad at all.

For the real stuff, you have to visit the aptly named United Nuclear Scientific Supplies. Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see 5 gallons of Aerogel granules for $300.00 USD. That’s more like it; quite a suitable price for something NASA uses.

I love specialized stores like Inventables and United Nuclear. And another favorite for the list is LeSanctuaire, which provides “only the rarest choice ingredients” to “fine dining restaurants and professional chefs.” That got me thinking, how do the traditional “expensive” ingredients used in cooking compare?

  • Aerogel
    16 oz $300 (1 oz $18.75)

  • Vanilla Beans
    8.8 oz $110 (1 oz 12.50)

  • Truffles
    8.8 oz $135 (1 oz $15.34)

  • Saffron
    1 oz $190

(All of the ingredient pricing was pulled from LeSanctuaire’s site.)

Saffron wins this round.

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Pay attention to Oobject

​V​i​n​t​a​g​e​ ​E​x​e​r​c​i​s​e​ ​M​a​c​h​i​n​e​s​ Oobject

“Oobject is a kind of online Wunderkammer comprising visual lists of man-made objects.”

Another great site that’ll swallow a lot of your time. One click leads to another and another. Their lists span many topics; take a look at some of these:

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John Wayne Beef Jerky is real

John Wayne Stock and Supply Natural Beef Jerky

Celebrity food endorsements are a dicey proposition. Thanks to Uncrate for bringing this one to my attention. Funny, celebrity liquor endorsements always work. How could we forget Danny DeVito’s Limoncello? Justin Timberlake’s tequila? In fact, surely the two together create something magical? And with some of the Duke’s jerky nearby, this is the menu for your next football game.

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50 Digital Wood Joints

Digital CAD Tsugi Joint

“As computer-controlled wood processing machines move into the cabinet-makers’ workshops, the way two pieces of wood are joined together in a construction needs to be reconsidered. The digital wood joints were developed in the course of several years of reserch at the C…Lab of the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach, a project headed by Prof. Jochen Gros and Designer Friedrich Sulzer. The result of this research are 50 digital wood joints, devided into frame joints, board joints and carcass joints. We provide each wood joint in various data formats. Download the complete package (49MB) and you get them all including a PDF-Guide and suggestions for use.”

Is this the future of woodworking?

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Roundtable discussion on APL, beards, proto-nerds & awesome 70s fashion

Catherine | Myspace Video

If you’re at all interested in the history of programming languages, give this video a watch. You’ve got the father of APL, Ken Iverson himself, being interviewed along with a panel of experts.

If APL isn’t your cup of tea, then you can also watch for the crazy 70s flute music, the hardware, the fashion, the crazy hair & beards and the set design. This video is such a wonderful collection of stuff.

There’s more backstory at Catherine’s Myspace page. (And so you know, she’s working on a whole documentary on the history of APL and array programming.)

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Your 2011 Calendar

Mash Creative 2011 Limited Edition Calendar

“Mash Creative have released a 2011 version of their beautiful limited edition ‘minutes’ calendar, a successor to last years successful 2010 ‘seconds’ calendar. This one has been printed with glow in the dark ink so you can enjoy it at any time of day.”

Thanks to AisleOne for the pointer. I award many more points than normal for glowing in the dark.

Do you have a favorite calendar?

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So whatever happened to the Automats?


“A coin-operated glass-and-chrome wonder, Horn & Hardart’s Automats revolutionized the way Americans ate when they opened up in Philadelphia and New York in the early twentieth century. [...] The Automat served freshly made food for the price of a few coins, and no one made a better cup of coffee. By the peak of its popularity—from the Great Depression to the post-war years—the Automat was more than an inexpensive place to buy a good meal; it was a culinary treasure, a technical marvel, and an emblem of the times.” The book, “The Automat” by Diehl & Hardart, was a quick read, recommended.

And the depressing end of the Automats? Most of them (in New York, at least) were turned into Burger Kings.

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