The Daily Pick

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Children Develop Cynicism at an Early Age

By the time children are in second grade, they know to take what people say with a grain of salt, particularly when the statement supports the speaker's self-interest, according to a published study by Yale researchers.

From EurekAlert.
posted by The Daily Pick at 9:01 AM | link | 1 comments

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

New Service on Long Island Railroad: Electrocution

My Dad rode the Long Island Railroad for years. As I recall his stories, he was not a big fan of the experience. Now they apparently have a new service, as related by current LIR rider David Spector:

"Here's an interesting notice found in the bathrooms of certain Long Island Rail Road trains. Once you see it, you'll wonder exactly what on earth the LIRR has in store (besides ever-increasing fares, late trains, and generally poor service) for its riders."

Photo here.
Boing Boing link here.
posted by The Daily Pick at 7:09 AM | link | 0 comments

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Suicide Hotline Available 9 to 5

TORONTO (Reuters) - A Canadian province will shut its 24-hour suicide hotline and replace it with one that operates only during business hours.

Prince Edward Island, a small province on Canada's East Coast, says it is too expensive to operate the hotline around the clock. Starting June 1, it will be open only between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The plan drew protest from mental health groups across the country on Wednesday.

"How many times, when you get upset or worried or concerned about things, is it in the middle of the day? It's usually at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning when you wake up," said Joan Wright, executive director of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention based in Edmonton, Alberta.

posted by The Daily Pick at 9:02 AM | link | 0 comments

Monday, March 28, 2005

Ference Haraszti Photographs

Really love these photos from Ference Haraszti. They were mostly shot in Budapest, Alaska, and North Carolina. (The hat trick of high culture!)
posted by The Daily Pick at 9:02 AM | link | 0 comments

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Lennie's Lines

If you were a fan of Law and Order, then you'll remember all the great one-liners from the late Jerry Orbach. Well, someone has collected many of them on this page and that page. Rest in peace, Lennie.

Lab technician (trying to establish the age of a skeleton): "Once we get the chemical analysis, we can narrow it down."

Lennie: "Great. When you get an answer, give me a call at the retirement home."

posted by The Daily Pick at 8:15 AM | link | 0 comments

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Top 50 Cult Films

A list of Entertainment Weekly's Top 50 Cult Films. Followed by 5 Minutes to Live's Top 50 in the same category. Everything from The Shawshank Redemption to Barbarella to The Brain That Wouldn't Die.
posted by The Daily Pick at 1:36 PM | link | 0 comments

Friday, March 25, 2005

Miss Beasley: Liberal Hunter

Oh sure, Miss Beasley, the Bush's new puppy seems all cute and cuddly. But don't let her near a liberal for goodness sakes. She'll rip them to bloody shreds.

Be sure to play "Educating Miss Beasley" from The

"Help Barney teach Miss Beazley how to protect the White House from liberal America-haters! Neutralize as many crazy radicals as you can, but be careful - if you don't attack fast enough, you'll get trampled."

Use the arrow keys to move about the white house lawn. Then use the space bar to attack. If you chomp on one of the dozens of liberals -- Al Franken, Ted Kennedy, Dan Rather, John Kerry, Michael Moore, Bill, Hillary, and even Chelsea Clinton -- then they die in a gory pool of blood.
posted by The Daily Pick at 9:53 AM | link | 0 comments

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Revenge on Annoyers; How to Annoy

Ian Urbina recently wrote a New York Times article about how Americans exact revenge on telemarketers, bad drivers, and loud cell phone users. Below is an excerpt, about how Mr. Wesley Williams began sending junk mail back to companies, and how he added extra weight to the packages, so the companies would have to pay more postage.

Anyways, the writer, Urbina, is looking for more of life's annoyances and small revenges. Scroll down to the bottom of's article to find out how to submit your story or suggestion.

Wesley A. Williams spent more than a year exacting his revenge against junk mailers. When signing up for a no-junk-mail list failed to stem the flow, he resorted to writing at the top of each unwanted item: ''Not at this address. Return to sender.'' But the mail kept coming because the envelopes had ''or current resident'' on them, obligating mail carriers to deliver it, he said.

Next, he began stuffing the mail back into the ''business reply'' envelope and sending it back so that the mailer would have to pay the postage. ''That wasn't exacting a heavy enough cost from them for bothering me,'' said Mr. Williams, 35, a middle school science teacher who lives in Melrose, N.Y., near Albany.

After checking with a postal clerk about the legality of stepping up his
efforts, he began cutting up magazines, heavy bond paper, and small strips of sheet metal and stuffing them into the business reply envelopes that came with the junk packages.

''You wouldn't believe how heavy I got some of these envelopes to weigh,'' said Mr. Williams, who added that he saw an immediate drop in the amount of arriving junk mail. A spokesman for the United States Postal Service, Gerald McKiernan, said that Mr. Williams's actions sounded legal, as long as the envelope was properly sealed.


Annoyances, Take Two

And if you're looking to annoy people, you can go to I don't know if these work on monkeys, but some suggestions include:

General Ways to Annoy People
Announce when you're going to the bathroom.
Before exiting the elevator, push all the buttons.
As people talk, smell their shoulders.
Ask people what gender they are.

posted by The Daily Pick at 8:13 AM | link | 0 comments

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Angry Flatmate Moves Out

Oh No! Our friend from "Things I Hate About My Flatmate" has finally moved out. No more complaints about the messy and inconsiderate roommate. He's posted a final goodbye though. And check out the funny archives while you're there. I'm not sure which flatmate is more loopy.

posted by The Daily Pick at 10:39 PM | link | 0 comments

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Cowbell Craze

I posted a gif file last week of Will Ferrell playing the cowbell, and man, I've gotten more emails, conversation, and suggested links out of that one tiny post than all the other posts combined.

For those of you who don't know the Will Ferrell/Christopher Walken Saturday Night Live spoof of VH1's Behind the Music, then 1. What rock have you been living under? and 2. You can see it here. And here. And here. It's well worth your time. There is even a transcript of the skit online, though it doesn't do the performance justice without Walken's delivery and Ferrell's physical comedy.

But that's just the start...

1. Wikipedia has a reference to the SNL skit in its Cowbell entry. "During a popular Saturday Night Live sketch, Christopher Walken played famous music producer Bruce Dickinson, insisting that "more cowbell" is the key to making Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" a success: "Guess what? I got a fever. And the only prescription... is more cowbell." Wikipedia adds: "Cowbells are sometimes popular noisemakers at sporting events, despite attempts to suppress them."

2. Urban has this entry: "More Cowbell" = 1. "Something everything needs more of," 2. "A remedy."

3. The Washington Post interviewed Blue Oyster Cult about the More Cowbell skit. Regarding Gene Frenkle, the enthusiastic cowbell player who is listed "In Memoriam" at the end of the sketch...

Lead singer Donlad Roeser breaks into a laugh. "That's a total fiction," he says. "They made up that character." And he adds: "We all thought it was phenomenal. We're huge Christopher Walken fans. I've probably seen it 20 times and I'm still not tired of it."

4. Wow, there is even The Cowbell Project, which asks for readers to send in "Songs that don't have a cowbell, but should," and furthermore asks readers to actually add cowbell to the tracks.

Unfortunately, the downloads of these songs don't work anymore. Nevertheless, the text is hilarious:
"Guitar, Bass, Drums, Keys. The foundation of rock music. Occasionally strings are used to give a lush, orchestral feel. But we all know when a song needs that extra oomph, that extra push over the top, there's only one thing that will satisfy: The Cowbell.

It's the cymbal's evil third cousin. It's the dark ring that pounds in the back of your brain and lets you know, it's time to rock. The cowbell is an instrument that can't be overused. It should never be underused. Many great rock and roll songs are perfect because the cowbell is used just right.

Here you'll find some of the top cowbell songs ever. These are the songs that took this dark, clanging demon and pounded the essence of rock into your veins and left imprints of the dark master in your subconscious. Click on the track and you'll hear why the cowbell, when used properly, is the perfect instrument."

5. Fortunately, The Cowbell Project rejected's submission of Hall and Oates' "You Make My Dreams Come True" with, you guessed it, more added cowbell. But he posted it on his own site, and now it's still there. Check it out at the bottom of the Cowbell page. It's definitely worth a laugh.

Thanks to everyone who emailed comments and suggestions!

posted by The Daily Pick at 8:43 PM | link | 1 comments

Monday, March 21, 2005

Scary Robotic Cat

We had a scary robotic NASA head a few weeks back. Now, we've got a toy robot cat named NeCord that responds to human interactions. A direct link to the video is here. This thing freaks me out. The first ten seconds of the video are fine. Then NeCord really starts to get creepy. When it starts to meow I have to turn it off.

This all brings up the "Uncanny Valley" law, which states that robots that seem somewhat real make humans very comfortable. But robots that are almost real scare the hell out of people. More from reBlog.
posted by The Daily Pick at 1:32 PM | link | 0 comments

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Dave Eggers Interview

Eggers Interview

A great interview with Dave Eggers about his books, his publishing projects, and 826 Valencia.

posted by The Daily Pick at 6:50 PM | link | 0 comments

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Earliest Memories

The Exploratorium, a science museum in the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, ran a cool exhibit a few years back. They had people write in and describe their first memories. These varied, from watching african violets in the rain, to eating rat poison, to recognizing a mother, to getting trampled by a herd of sheep. Anyways, the exhibit is no longer accepting memories, but all the past memories are posted on the site. There are hundreds of them. Check it out. And the rest of the Exploratorium's site.

(And yes, that's a picture of a child eating a dog's bowl of food. Love the expression on the dog's face.)

posted by The Daily Pick at 8:15 AM | link | 0 comments

Friday, March 18, 2005

Exquisite Photoshop

Christine Texiera is a frequent reader of the Daily Pick. Since her Layercake Project is down for the time being, perhaps she and others of you fluent in Photoshop would like to surf over to Exquisite Crops, (Yes, that's crops, not corpse, though sometimes it seems to be corpse), a project developed by Charles Platt. Basically four contributors will add to the same canvas. And together you'll create some really weird/cool/new/collaborative art. Similar (and thus the name) to the 1920's surrealist method of creating literature through blind collaboration.

For a detailed explanation from Charles Platt, go to Boing, Boing. For the actual site, go to

Happy photoshopping.

posted by The Daily Pick at 8:31 PM | link | 0 comments

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Monkey See, Monkey Use Robotic Arm

I like to start my classes by asking students if they have any announcements, news, gossip, observations, whatever. Last year, one of the students explained a science project run by Duke University. Basically, a monkey was given the ability to operate a robotic arm. Other students had read about this also. They added that the monkey could use the robot arm in the same room, or even by remote control while watching a computer screen. No, no, said another student. The robot arm is hooked up to the monkey's brain through electrodes, and the monkey can move the arm just by thinking about the arm. And, another student added, the monkey can do this in California, even if the arm is across the country in North Carolina.

Anyways, this may give you an idea of the kind of work we get done in my class. We had a good laugh about all this, and the rest of us thought these four or five students were out of their minds.

Well, turns out: It's all true. And then some. The monkey's brain has adapted to the point where it acts as if the robot arm is actually an appendage and not just an external device. Check it out at the Duke University Medical Center.

And I'd like to point out (obviously) that most groundbreaking advances in science, literature, and art originate in North Carolina.

posted by The Daily Pick at 8:14 AM | link | 0 comments

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Give Me a Half Pound of Bologna with that Dostoyevski

Larry Baker's first novel was a critical success, but it didn't sell very well. He couldn't place his second novel at all. He went with a very small publishing house for his third novel. For some reason, Barnes and Noble wouldn't stock his book anywhere, not even in his hometown. So, Larry asked his local grocer if he could place the book at the entrance to the store. The grocery store manager said, "Why not?" It sold pretty well, so another two grocery stores started selling copies. In two months, they sold almost a thousand copies of the book. All in Iowa City. Larry tells his tale in Books in Grocery Stores: A Testimonial, from

posted by The Daily Pick at 10:08 PM | link | 0 comments

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Date of Your Death

I hope many of you will be able to attend my funeral. If you'd like to mark you calendar, it should be just a few days after September 29th, 2043. That's what seems to think at least. If you're morbidly curious, like apparently I am, surf over to the site, enter your birthdate, your gender, your outlook on life (optimistic, pessimistic, normal, sadistic), smoker/nonsmoker, and your body mass index. Make a plan. The clock is ticking...

posted by The Daily Pick at 8:14 AM | link | 0 comments

Monday, March 14, 2005

Might I suggest that we increase the frequency and volume of the cowbell?

Thanks to Paul Czarapata, of Collectively, On a Whole for more cowbell.

posted by The Daily Pick at 7:52 PM | link | 0 comments

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Newsday Coverage

I think New York Newsday has some of the best national and international coverage on the Web. Great coverage of the war in Iraq, and especially how the way is impacting military families in New York State. Great photographs no matter the subject material. And you don't even have to register to read the articles.

posted by The Daily Pick at 8:15 AM | link | 0 comments

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Satan's Laundromat: Photoblog

We always feature photography on The Daily Pick, and this week we seem to be centering on New York City. In that continued vein, please surf on over to Satan's Laundromat, which, I'm sure, is a very clear reference to something New-York-Cityish that I'm unaware of. As the webmaster says: "This is a photolog of New York, with an emphasis on urban decay, strange signage, and general weirdness." Definitely worth a visit.

posted by The Daily Pick at 8:13 AM | link | 0 comments

Friday, March 11, 2005

Seeing Through Hearing

This is Pat Fletcher, and those aren't sunglasses. Pat is blind, and she's an amateur scientist. Those are "hearing" glasses she's wearing.

"For the past few years, she's been experimenting with a revolutionary new technology that allows her to see through sound. Using a simple computer program that she downloaded from the Internet, called "The vOICe", which translates visual images into soundscapes, Pat's brain is able to translate those sounds back into images."

Thanks to this link from CBC Radio One.

posted by The Daily Pick at 8:35 PM | link | 0 comments

Thursday, March 10, 2005

L.A. Photo Gallery Posts Archives

The Stephen Cohen Gallery in L.A. has a great online gallery of past photography exhibits. Click on any of the artists on the left side of the archive page.

posted by The Daily Pick at 8:12 PM | link | 0 comments

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Collaboration and Group Diversity: They Work

I really like this article. It explores, among other things, the importance of adding new members to successful teams, in order to keep them successful.

"Northwestern University researchers discovered that the composition of a great team is the same whether you are working on Broadway or in economics.

The researchers studied data on Broadway musicals since 1877 as well as thousands of journal publications in four fields of science and found that successful teams had a diverse membership -- not of race and gender but of old blood and new. New team members clearly added creative spark and critical links to the experience of the entire industry. Unsuccessful teams were isolated from each other whereas the members of successful teams were interconnected, much like the Kevin Bacon game, across a giant cluster of artists or scientists."

posted by The Daily Pick at 8:12 PM | link | 0 comments

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

David Byrne's New Playlists

David Byrne would like you to listen to his favorite music. Now you can on his new Internet radio station.

posted by The Daily Pick at 6:26 AM | link | 0 comments

Monday, March 07, 2005

Top Ten Ways to Live Longer

Forbes Magazine lists and explains the best ways to live longer. They include the obvious (stop smoking, eat your antioxidants), the somewhat obvious (get a pet, be rich, be optimistic), and the perhaps not very obvious (have more sex, don't oversleep). The article includes this funny quote from Woody Allen: "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying."

posted by The Daily Pick at 9:28 PM | link | 0 comments

Sunday, March 06, 2005

How to Destroy the Earth

This site begins "Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe..." and it continues on to list the top ten ways to destroy the earth. Options include "Blown up by matter/anti-matter reaction," "Destroyed by vaccum energy detonation," and the ever-popular "Sucked in to a giant black hole." Thanks for the post, Sam's archive.

And thanks to Clive Thompson's terrific blog, Collision Detection, of which you'll see more of on here soon.

posted by The Daily Pick at 7:26 PM | link | 0 comments

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Elvis Impersonator Hall-of-Fame

I can't find this person's name, but he/she has collected over a hundred photographs of Elvis impersonators. Rock on.

posted by The Daily Pick at 5:03 PM | link | 0 comments

Friday, March 04, 2005

My Favorite Photographer: Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark was a student of Diane Arbus. Mary Ellen has shot the Indian Circus, the street children of Seattle, Mother Teresa's Missions, and the Oregon women's security ward, among many, many projects. There are hundreds of photos on her site. Just click on "Books," then click on the individual titles. Set aside a half-hour. Visit. It will lift your life a little.

posted by The Daily Pick at 8:41 AM | link | 0 comments

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Sesame Street Top 25

Progressive Boink has listed his 25 most favorite Sesame Street episodes. With pics and recaps.

posted by The Daily Pick at 7:22 PM | link | 0 comments

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Retitled Romance Novels

(This is an archive posting for my sister, whose birthday is March 2nd. Note: Longmire's website has been updated with new work since the DP's original posting.)

Hey, it's my sister's birthday. Happy Birthday, Kerri!!

I bet Kerri will get a laugh out of this dude named Longmire, who has taken old Halequin-like Romance Novel Covers, and re-titled them with phrases like "The Legend of the Totally Lost Mountie" and "I Married a Sissy-Boy."

posted by The Daily Pick at 6:14 AM | link | 0 comments

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

"Oh man, the Mother Goose woman just hit him with the bible!! Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha...

Forwarded from Stephen Elliott. This really is hilarious.

"An operations manager for Jack in the Box was late for a meeting and called his boss to let him know. As he was leaving the voice mail message, he witnessed an accident and went on to provide "play by play" of the incident. This is the actual voice mail message. It was forwarded so many times within Jack in the Box, it crashed their voice mail server." <>
posted by The Daily Pick at 6:50 PM | link | 1 comments