My kids — 5 and 8 — are way too big for the double stroller, so a few weeks ago, my wife and I decided to start doing solo walks. I started commuting on foot from our house to the apartment we used to rent, which, until our lease runs out or somebody subleases it, is now a really expensive office.
It was terrible. I mean, the actual solo walk was okay, but it turns out that our walk together is one of the only times we actually get to speak to each other for 15 minutes without the kids interrupting us. Plus, if the conversation gets heated, at least the hot air doesn’t linger in the house.
So I’m back to pushing 100+ pounds of kid around the neighborhood. Will I be the first parent to push a teenager in a stroller? At this point, I don’t give a shit. I need our walks together more than I need to avoid humiliation.
One day they’ll be back in school again — I think? — and my wife and I can frolic around town like in the days of yore. (Or maybe they’ll get mature enough that I can leave them home with a walkie talkie.)
At my local supermarket, there are currently 42 birthday cake-flavored items lining the aisles outside of the bakery section: Oreos with "birthday cake flavor creme;" Annie's Organic Birthday Cake Bunny Grahams that are "sprinkled with fun;" breakfast foods like cereal and waffles; and a smattering of health foods, such as rice cakes, protein bars, granola and collagen supplements.
Once I started looking, it felt like birthday cake was all around me. At the liquor store, there are seven cake-flavored vodkas and one birthday cake-flavored beer. I don't smoke, but I even stopped on a nearby street where three vape shops had seemingly sprouted up overnight. Two of them sold birthday cake-flavored "ejuice," while the other sold a more generically labeled "Party Time!" variety that promised notes of rich yellow cake and sugary vanilla.
But a terrific central performance helps its social satire work
Larry King, the longtime CNN host who became an icon through his interviews with countless newsmakers and his sartorial sensibilities, has died. He was 87.
King hosted “Larry King Live” on CNN for over 25 years, interviewing presidential candidates, celebrities, athletes, movie stars and everyday people. He retired in 2010 after taping more than 6,000 episodes of the show. […]
King had been hospitalized with Covid-19 in late December at Cedars-Sinai, a source close to the family said at the time.
Only seems right to link to CNN for the obituary. But for a terrific read, don’t miss Mark Leibovich’s wonderful profile for The New York Times Magazine in 2015: “Larry King Is Preparing for the Final Cancellation”.
Mech Mechanic Simulator is a PlayWay joint, and it shows. PlayWay publish games like House Flipper and Car Mechanic Simulator, and if you’ve played or seen them, you know what to expect with this upcoming, scifi variant. The same as the others – but with mechs! That is to say, the same as the others, but better. There’s a trailer below, and a demo on Steam that I’ve had a play with.
‘s gravity gloves ruined a lot of other virtual reality games for me, because being able to point and flip objects into my hands solved a lot of awkward manoeuvring problems common in other games. It’s hard, after the elegance of Half-Life’s system, to go back to bending, sidestepping, and grasping at the air to pick up items – or worse, having your hands lack any and all collision with the world around you.
Enter the modders. Specifically, enter modder FlyingParticle, who has released HIGGS VR for Skyrim VR. It’s a mod that adds gravity glove-style interaction to Skyrim, and it looks like it works beautifully.
David Epstein’s Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World came out less than 2 years ago, but it already feels like a classic to me, both a validation of how I’ve chosen to go about my life and a kick in the pants to not get complacent, to stretch out, and go down weird paths. It’s also, as Ryan Holiday suggested to me, a great parenting book in disguise.
One way you know if a book is any good is if you are still thinking about it a year after you read it. (Or five years, or a decade, etc. The longer you think about a book the better you know it is.) Another way to know if a book is good is if it seems like every week you read an article that could be a supplementary chapter.
One thing Venus talked about that was interesting was how easy it is for professional athletes to pick up other sports. So what they are good at is not the sport itself, but it’s just a way of being in the world. It’s a sense of their own bodies and an ability to manipulate their own bodies and have sort of a visual map in your head of what the different parts are doing. At one point she was talking about doing a benefit with Peyton and Eli Manning. They’d almost never played tennis before and they started out awful, and she said it was amazing to watch them. It was like watching a film. Every stroke they hit was noticeably better than the last. Every time they hit the ball. She said you could almost watch their brains working and by the end of it they were totally competent tennis players.
It’s been my experience that if you’re a creative person, and you’re good at one thing, you’re probably good at another thing. If you’re good at drawing, you might be good at writing, too. If you’re good at writing, you might be good at playing music, too. If you’re good at playing music, you might be good at pottery. If you’re good at playing guitar, you might be a good dancer!
In order to create, there’s some little thing you have to let happen inside yourself, of just letting yourself be free. If you can turn that little switch on inside yourself in one medium, you can probably do it in another medium.
This is not exactly a popular way of thinking, but I subscribe to it: there is a “a way of being in the world” or a “way of operating” that you pick up while working in one medium that you can translate to another.
“Everyone needs habits of mind that allow them to dance across disciplines,” Epstein writes.
By the way, when Kochalka talks about that freedom switch that allows you to get over your fear of not being good enough? There’s a passage in Range for that! Researchers stuck jazz musicians inside an MRI scanner while they were improvising, and the researchers said it was almost as if the jazz musicians’ brains were able to turn off some kind of circuit that allows you to criticize yourself.
Here’s another example: this week I came across an article with the title, “The musical score is the worst thing in the history of music.” It quoted producer Mark Fell:
In my opinion, I think the musical score is the worst thing that ever happened in the history of music. I think it’s done more damage to music than any other invention. As a technology, the musical score fundamentally skewed the whole of musical practice in the wrong direction, I think.
This grabbed my interest, because I have an 8-year-old who is a natural musician, but refuses to be taught. I gently nudge him towards taking piano lessons and learning to read music, but he refuses.
Guess what? There’s a section in Range for that!
“It’s strange,” Cecchini told me at the end of one of our hours-long discussions, “that some of the greatest musicians were self-taught or never learned to read music. I’m not saying one way is the best, but now I get a lot of students from schools that are teaching jazz, and they all sound the same. They don’t seem to find their own voice. I think when you’re self-taught you experiment more, trying to find the same sound in different places, you learn how to solve problems.”
I could go on, but instead, here’s a list of (somewhat) random highlights from the book:
For a while, I was threatening to write a “Range for Artists” post, because for every chapter I could think of an example of an artist I love that exemplified the subject.
I don’t have time for that right now, so this post will have to do.
* * *
Megan McArdle: “Will is a friend, so naturally I’m dismayed by what happened. I’m also dismayed that it should have happened at Niskanen, a center-to-leftish institution I admire. And I’m even more worried to have yet another example of the damage Twitter is doing to American discourse — damage so profound that I’m beginning to think that the only way to fix it is not to urge tolerance, but for major institutions in the media and think-tank world to tell their employees to get the hell off Twitter.”
Lovely new Safari content blocking extension for Safari (iOS and Mac) by Joel Arvidsson. It targets those insipid, never-ending, utterly pointless “cookie notices”, popovers begging you to join email newsletters, and other bits of tracking. It kills dickbars and dickbar-like annoyances. I’ve been running it for days and it’s the sort of thing you don’t notice at all until you disable it and all of a sudden you’re back to approving cookie access every single goddamn time you load an article at The Guardian and squinting to find the hidden “X” that closes a popover asking if you’ll sign up for something you don’t want and never asked for.
Hush is a throwback to the days when good clever people made good clever things, polished them to perfection simply because they care, and just shared them with the world. Hush is free of charge, open source, specifically written for Safari (using SwiftUI), and it is very small and lightweight. It’s also completely private — everything Hush does, it does on your device and it doesn’t ask for permission to see what you’re doing on the web. And it’s super-simple: just download from the App Store and enable it in Safari’s preferences on Mac or Settings → Safari → Content Blockers on iOS.*
I’d recommend Hush to anyone who uses Safari, and I thank Arvidsson for making it.
* The one and only catch: Hush requires MacOS 11 Big Sur and iOS 14 or later. Honestly, though, I recommend both of those to everyone, too.
Hey, everyone! Hope you’re having a great weekend, or whatever day it is when you happen to read this. Let me welcome you to the third installment of me sharing some of my pins with you! Let’s just jump right in.
First up, we have this pin my cousin gave me for my birthday:
If you don’t understand what it’s a pin of, you may be one of the few people who isn’t obsessed with The Office. I watched The Office about two years ago, and I totally loved it. After all this time, the only merch I have to show of it is a sweater, but now I have this pin, too! It’s just coincidence they say the same thing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Next up is another moth in my collection:
You may remember my luna moth from a previous installment of these posts, but this is a new one I’ve added to my collection! I told myself no for a couple weeks, because I already have a big moth! But eventually I talked myself into it because this one is obviously very different from the green luna moth I have! I ordered this from an artist named Carissa Williams, you can find her Etsy here!
If you don’t immediately recognize this super adorable turtle duck, then I highly recommend you go watch Avatar: The Last Airbender right away! This super cute pin is one of the many fantastical animal hybrids in ATLA and is by far one of the cutest to exist. You can get this pin here!
Finally, I decided to do a 3-for-1:
Basically, I have three strawberry milk pins, and I really like all of them, so I couldn’t pick just one to show off. Now that I’m looking at them in the picture, though, I think I like the one in the front the most, but don’t tell the others I said that. I don’t remember where I got these ones, actually, but I think the two glass bottle ones are from the same place.
I hope you enjoyed seeing more of my pin collection! I’ve been collecting pins for years, but in the past couple months I’ve just started getting into sticker collecting! So maybe sometime in the near future I can show off a bit of my sticker book. If you have any Etsy shops or artists that make pins/stickers in mind you think I should check out, let me know in the comments. And have a great day!
I’ve exhausted Spelunky 2 of everything it can give me (because I’ve no interest in pursuing its remaining secret endings). I’ve therefore turned to mods to help extend the experience. There’s not much available so far, but there is Overlunky, a mod framework that lets you teleport to any level, spawn items including explosions, and zoom the camera out way far. It’s cool to play around with, and hopefully a platform for more to come.
I’ve been inundated with questions for the live stream Q&A that Chris and I are doing on Saturday at 11 a.m. Eastern on January 30, so I’m afraid we won’t be able to answer all of them before it’s time for our weekly Saturday lunch at Crafts & Vines (outside and socially distanced, of course). So, I’ll be tackling some of them on the blog. Here’s the first.
Q: Where would you recommend for purchasing nails for period pieces?
A: This is an easy one, because as far as I know, there are only two possible answers, and the appropriate one depends on what is meant by period.
From the early 19th-century until the late 19th-century, cut nails were easily available (more easily the later one gets into the century). Today, as far as I know there is but one maker of cut nails: Tremont Nail (now owned by Acorn Manufacturing). So barring reclaimed nails from a salvage place, that’s the only supplier (I think). Tremont nails can be ordered direct from the company, but are available in smaller quantities from some retailers (Lee Valley Tools and Tools for Working Wood among them).
For period work prior to the early 19th-century, the only truly appropriate choice is blacksmith-made nails. But they are not cheap…so I would use those only when I’m wholly committed to authenticity. For these, make friends with your local blacksmith, and expect to pay anywhere from $1 to $3 per nail.
If, like me, your wallet isn’t quite so well-stocked, consider using Rivierre square-shanked nails. These have the look and shape of blacksmith-made nails but at a far more affordable price. They are available in the U.S. from Lee Valley Tools. Another option is Tremont “wrought head” nails. These are tapered, cut nails, but the heads look kind of handmade (and they’re available in a black oxide finish).
p.s. If you want to read a lot more about cut nails and square-shanked nails, and how to use them, I wrote about them at length on the Fine Woodworking blog.
I’ve been driven over the Forth Road Bridge more times than I count, sat in the back of my dad’s car as we went to visit family. I’ve peered down upon the Deep Sea World, and watched the railway bridge be painted and re-painted and painted again. It’s unreasonably exciting to me, then, to see it in Microsoft Flight Simulator above. It’s one of many UK and Ireland landmarks being added to the game, alongside five new photogrammetry cities including London, in World Update 3.
John Kreese was just happy to serve
How do you want to be remembered by family and friends? That’s the question Julia Krusac helps you answer with A Legacy Journal. It is designed to help you share your life story through 14 chapters of prompt-based journaling. Thanks to Julia, I had one of these to give away to a reader, and the winner is:
Congrats Ryan! I’ve sent you an email to collect your shipping address.
It’s Amplitude Studios’ 10th anniversary, and they’re celebrating by making a bunch of their games free for the weekend. That includes fantasy 4X Endless Legend, space 4X Endless Space 2, and dungeon crawler Dungeon Of The Endless. All of their games are also deeply discounted on Steam.
The research isn't clear. Rosenblum and others see evidence that belief in conspiracy theories is increasing and taking dangerous new forms. Others disagree. But scholars generally do agree that conspiracy theories have always existed and always will. They tap into basic aspects of human cognition and psychology, which may help explain why they take hold so easily — and why they're seemingly impossible to kill.
Social and emotional factors are likely at play as well. "People are most susceptible to conspiracy theories when particular psychological needs are frustrated," Douglas says. "Specifically, people need knowledge and certainty to feel safe, secure and in control, and to feel good about themselves and the social groups they belong to." When these needs are unmet — say, amidst the fear and uncertainty of a global pandemic — conspiracy theories might seem to offer consolation, Douglas says.
But her research suggests that they might actually do the opposite. "Reading about conspiracy theories, instead of making people feel more powerful, makes people feel less powerful," she says. It may even make people less likely to take actions that would give them more control over their situation.
Editor’s Note: For the first time in Silodrome’s 10 year history we’re publishing the Top Cars list for a year in January of the following year. The reason for this is that last year we unfairly missed a car from the list because it went viral after we published the Top 10 in late December – so from now on we’ll do the Top Cars and Top Motorcycles lists in January.
As always, we compile our annual lists using web traffic logs to determine which vehicles were the most popular – so essentially it’s the readers clicking through and reading the articles that results in the votes being cast.
It’s the fairest and most democratic way of doing it that I can think of. As always, I’ll be posting the images and the intro-text in reverse order below, and each one has a link to the full article if it catches your eye and you want to read more about it.
Now without further ado, let me just say thank you for reading this far down and not just skipping ahead to see who’s number one.
The Norton Challenge P86 was a machine developed by two of Britain’s most famous piston-powered companies to save the British motorcycle industry, and to revive Norton to their former Isle of Man TT dominating form.
Sadly as with many British vehicle related projects of the 1970s it was destined for failure. However that failure was followed many years later by some stunning successes with a version of the Norton Challenge P86 that had seen further development – and proved the concept once and for all.
This is the Super73-S1 Universal Motorbike, it requires no license, insurance, or registration – it was designed to offer an alternative form of urban transportation – particularly for commuters. The “fuel tank” is actually a removable 48V 14.5 Ah (696 watts/hour) battery pack using Panasonic cells, it requires a key to remove, and it can be taken indoors to charge.
Super73 is based in Southern California, the company was founded in 2016 and it’s quickly grown into one of the most recognizable electric bike companies in the world – thanks in part to the signature frame design. Super73 bikes are now owned and ridden by A-list celebrities and professional athletes, as well as thousands of other people around the world.
For a brief time the JRL Cycles Lucky 7 was the only radial-engined production motorcycle in the world. The unusual machine is powered by an Australian designed and built 7-cylinder radial aircraft engine with a swept capacity of 2,800cc and a power output of 110 hp and 160 lb ft of torque.
A small number of custom bike builders have created their own radial-engined motorcycles over the years, and more than one has developed aircraft-engined motorcycles including the legendary Lucky Keizer who sliced two cylinders off the end of a Merlin V12 to create a V-twin motorcycle with a capacity of 5,000cc.
The Husqvarna Svartpilen 401, a newcomer to the ever-expanding small-cc market and arguably the ultimate urban scrambler, defined by its rugged, real-world usability.
Equipped with the KTM 373 liquid-cooled single cylinder engine and utilizing a six speed gearbox, it kicks out a punchy 44hp, with 27.3ft-lbs of torque. Coming in at just over 330 pounds stock, its power-to-weight ratio provides a sprightly, nimble ride. The ride-by-wire throttle is crisp, fueled by a Bosch EFI with a 46mm throttle body.
It takes a brave person to customize a new Ducati 959 Panigale, it’s a motorcycle that’s already perfect according to many in the motorcycle community, and the Ducati fanbase is one of the most fanatical and least likely to tolerate any perceived sacrilege.
That said, there’s always room for improvement and in the case of superbikes a little weight loss and additional power can go a long way indeed.
This is a rare HKS Speedway Special from 1976, it was designed and built for Japanese Auto Racing – a form of motorcycle racing somewhat similar to American flat track racing but held exclusively on wide tarmac ovals.
HKS is a globally renowned Japanese aftermarket tuning company based at the foot of Mount Fuji. The company started in the same location all the way back in 1973 in a disused dairy shed when former Yamaha engineer Hiroyuki Hasegawa and Goichi Kitagawa formed the company with funding by Sigma Automotive.
This is an original, unrestored Cushman Model 62 Turtleback, an iconic American motor scooter that was a period competitor for the likes of Vespa and Lambretta.
Although Cushman are now most famous for their series of mid-century scooters the company first started out making small industrial engines like the Husky, for farm equipment, pumps, lawn mowers, and boats.
In 1936 they developed their first motor scooter to help boost engine sales which had been lagging due to the Great Depression. The plan was simple, build an inexpensive scooter that was cheap to run, then sell them to people who needed motorised transportation but had very little money to spend.
The Ducati Mike Hailwood Replica was built as an homage to the remarkable victory by Mike Hailwood at the 1978 Isle of Man TT in the Formula One division.
This would be a victory that shocked the world and lit up the motoring press, Hailwood had retired from a remarkably successful career as a motorcycle racer 11 years earlier, and by the time he staged his comeback at the Isle of Man TT he was 38.
This is the new Valespeed 28 by Valespeed Motorcycles, it’s a limited run production bike that can be ordered either with or without the accompanying sidecar.
Living as we do in the age of Covid-19 social distancing, the humble motorcycle sidecar potentially offers a great way to move two people around by motorcycle without them having to be pressed together sharing the same seat. Despite the timeliness of a sidecar custom this bike was designed and built before the outbreak, but its timing couldn’t have been better.
Roman Bulach is a Russian engineer who lives in Siberia, specifically in the Novosibirsk region of western Siberia. Siberia is famous for both its beauty and for its rugged terrain. Normal vehicles are largely pointless as they’re incapable of traversing the local landscape – which is typically made up of deep snow, forests, rivers, muddy swamps, and the occasional mysterious meteorite crater.
The inherent difficulty in traversing Siberia has led to many remarkable vehicles being developed by the Russians, and this creativity remains ongoing. The key factors to a successful Siberian vehicle is that they need to be able to cross snow, ice, and mud, they need to be easy to fix, and they need to be able to carry people and supplies.
This is the new CCM Spitfire Six, it’s the newest offering from British motorcycle maker CCM, short for Clews Competition Motorcycles, and just 300 of them are going to be made with prices starting at £9,995 (~$12,350 USD).
CCM is one of the motorcycle industries best kept secrets, everyone has heard of Ducati, Triumph, KTM, and Honda but relatively few know about Clews Competition Motorcycles, largely because they build motorcycles in low volumes. This has been changing in recent years as various rockstars and actors take delivery of their CCM bikes, and more people outside of the UK begin to hear about the company.
The Dab LM-S is a 100% road-legal production motorcycle that has passed both Euro4 and TÜV standards – two of the hardest anywhere in the world.
Typically we don’t see custom motorcycle builders taking the time to even attempt to pass these kinds of tests as it’s exceedingly difficult and the process would bankrupt many small to medium sized garages. The benefit of passing these tests and getting certified is that your new production motorcycle is then road-legal, easily insurable, and it’ll pass those anxiety-induing annual safety checks that custom motorcycle riders dread.
The Green Legend is one of the most famous custom motorcycles built by French garage FCR Original, it started life as a standard Triumph Bonneville (865cc model) but it received a comprehensive rebuild that left it looking like it just rolled out of Bud Ekins’ California workshop in 1965.
Steve McQueen famously rode a modified Triumph TR6 desert sled throughout much of the 1960s, he was an accomplished motorcycle racer in his own right and competed in many off-road motorcycle races under the pseudonym “Harvey Mushman” to stay anonymous.
The Hercules W2000 was the first production motorcycle to be powered by a Wankel rotary engine, it showed the world that rotary-powered motorcycles were a possibility, a possibility that Norton would later develop into a wins in the British Superbike Championship, the British Formula One Championship, and the Isle of Man TT with their own rotary-powered motorcycles.
On paper, the Wankel rotary seems like a perfect engine for use in motorcycles. The engines are typically small and lightweight, and they run very smoothly with little to no vibration. The main drawbacks are emissions and apex seals – oil needs to be mixed in with the fuel to lubricate the engine and the apex seals (at each point of the rotor) typically have a limited lifespan.
The ZERO XP is a bespoke custom electric motorcycle built by renowned bike builder Hugo Eccles of Untitled Motorcycles in the USA.
Hugo is a little different to the average angle-grinder-weilding garage Jedi, he’s a graduate of the prestigious Royal College of Art in London, and in his 20+ year industrial design career he worked on projects for clients like AT&T, American Express, Hewlett Packard, Honda, TAG Heuer, Ford, and Nike.
The project to build the ZERO XP started when the team at Zero Motorcycles got in touch and expressed an interest in having him turn his attention to their latest model – the Zero Motorcycles SR/F. They supplied Hugo with access to pre-production prototypes, and the long process of sketching, design, and engineering began.
The eScrambler is designed entirely from scratch by ex-Yamaha Japan Advanced Labs Industrial Designer and former Danish Flat Tracking champion Michel Riis. Michel comes from a speedway and motocross family, has a master’s degree in industrial design from the Design School of Kolding and has been building and racing bikes since he was 12 years old.
Michel’s design brief was for a mid-size motorcycle with similar proportions to the Shanghai Customs eTRACKER concept, a more powerful mid drive motor, belt drive, refined design and production ready – meaning toolings, CNC welding jigs and molded parts. The bike also needed to be able to handle crazy-fast speeds and have good practical ‘real world’ range (up to 150km/hr, 0–100 in 3.2 seconds, and minimum 150km range per charge).
When people see the Kettenkrad, officially called the NSU Sd. Kfz. 2, for the first time they usually all have the same question. Is the front wheel actually capable of turning the vehicle?
Surprisingly the answer is yes it works quite well, and when more rapid turning is required and the handlebars are turned fully to one side or the other, which activates a track brake on that side – allowing the Kettenkrad to turn like a tank.
We were once again contacted by Yamaha Portugal to build a new custom bike, but this time under the Yamaha Yard Built program with other nine other builders from different countries. They asked us to send some drawings and ideas to them – the theme was “Back to the Dirt”.
I talked with Ricardo and he was totally in, since his first ideas also were very similar to mine. So I stopped everything I was doing and started sketching, and so with a lot of sketches exchanged with Ricardo we quickly get to the final image of the bike.
Before you get out the pitchforks and flaming torches let me put your minds at ease – no vintage Mongoose Californian BMX bikes were harmed in the production of the motorized bike you see before you.
The frame isn’t an original Mongoose unit, it was made by Adam Ryan at Kepspeed in the UK as a semi-replica of the famous BMX frame with the addition of mounts for an engine, and a top tube that doubles as a fuel tank.
The bike is the work of Tony at Sub Kulture Cycles, a disarmingly friendly guy who is currently working on an ambitious plan to build motorized versions of 12 famous BMX bikes, and he’s doing it all in his home garage.
The Desert Runner is one of the most consequential custom motorcycles built by the team at Revival Cycles, in order to build it they were shipped an unreleased Royal Enfield Interceptor from the factory under cover of night in the back of an unmarked truck. This bike and the work around it had to remain a need-to-know Skunkworks project until the model had been publicly unveiled.
The Interceptor is a critically important bike for Royal Enfield, it’s powered by the all-new 650cc parallel twin that is going to power the company well into the 21st century. Royal Enfield proudly call themselves “the oldest global motorcycle brand in continuous production” and if you’ve ever been to India you’ll have likely seen hundreds (perhaps thousands) of them weaving through the country’s notorious traffic.