KPV on Tumblr

My recreational web time had slipped into a rut and become wonky and work-like. I went in search of a counterweight--someplace fun but not entirely frivolous, a playful site that lacked the competitive dickishness that pervades some gaming communities. I eventually landed on Tumblr, a "micro-blogging" site that can satisfy the hunter/gatherer impulses familiar to eBay junkies and entertain with the light touch of Twitter. When compared to sites like Pinterest and Instagram, Tumblr's community seemed to post a broader and deeper array of stuff. It also skewed young and didn't shy away from grime (or smut). It seemed rich in content that wasn't reaching me through other networks, so I dove in.

Screenshot from the KPV archive
A couple observations:

1) Tumblr’s design and image-heavy nature make international exchange easy. My blog consists of infrequent and idiosyncratic posts, attracting relatively few visitors. I know almost none of the people I 'follow' in real life, and the same goes for those who follow me. While most come from North America, a surprising number are based elsewhere.
Google Analytics, visitor location and frequency, kungpowvoodo.tumblr.com, Nov. 2011-July 2013
2) If you follow enough people, they will deliver you hundreds of images (and videos, articles, etc.) per day. The number pictures I've chosen to then add to my own tumblr is probably less than one percent of that stream. Looking back on my selection, I may have revealed hidden preferences for things such as:

Portraits of people with roosters

All-girl chess parties (throughout the ages)

Teletubbies acting out Jason Bourne fan fiction
Politicians who don't know the rules of Fight Club

Crumbling oil rigs and abandoned castles
Graffiti written on metal
(Mike about 4:30 and I cut my hair for you)
See, I'm not the only one playing this game.

Some have even discovered evidence of past lives.

Other random notes
I don't wish to leave an idealized impression of Tumblr. I call the company out for being yet another data-harvesting machine here. Also, you can read about how the site has begun segregating its naughtier users here. Update: Tumblr has responded to the censoring NSFW criticism here.

Practical tips: Here's a brief post about Tumblr shortcuts. Scrolling through your dash with the J key (next post) and K key (previous post) rather than scrolling with a mouse is particularly useful. If you would like to view your 'liked' post in an archive-like view rather than a linear scroll, check out this project.

Photo sources from top to bottom, left to right: Rooster 1, Rooster 2, Rooster 3, Chess 1, Chess 2, Teletub 1, Teletub 2, Fight 1, Fight 2, Oil Rig, Castle, Boy, Cat, Door, Seat, Ancient Elvis, GPOYx2



Kodachrome 2010, a short film describing the product's final days, explains why the film has such a distinctive look.

KODACHROME 2010 from Xander Robin on Vimeo. via Laughing Squid

I'm late to Kodachrome's farewell (manufacturing ceased in 2009 and processing ended in 2010), but coming across this short documentary seemed like reason enough to pull together a few snaps and other links.

credit: Ansel Adams via Fortune

credit: George Eastman House via The Atlantic

credit: unknown via Vintage Everyday

credit: unknown via Grapehouse

credit: Walker Evans via Fortune

credit: unknown via Grapehouse

credit: Mike Roberts via Fortune

The CBS News Morning Show's story.

The Daily Mail offers more a reporterly send-off here, including the obligatory Paul Simon song.

The Daily Kos assembles pre-WWII Kodachrome photos from the Library of Congress and the Charles Weever Cushman Collection here.

Photographer Steve McCurry shot 800,000 Kodachrome frames over the past four decades; Vanity Fair slide shows his last roll of the stuff here. And Kodak interviewed him about his transition from kodachrome to ektachrome here. Finally, National Geographic is there when he reconnects in 2002 with the subject of one of the most iconic Kodachrome photos ever.



Earth's history on a 24 hour scale.

Source: G-100 Introductory Geology at University of Wisconsin via this isn't happiness.


3rd & Mission, San Francisco

Looking south on 3rd Street from Mission Street in San Francisco, 1961 (top) and 2011 (bottom)

These two photos are taken from near the same spot 50 years apart -- looking south down 3rd Street from Mission Street in San Francisco. A close look at the blonde brick building on the left allows you to make the connection.

I get a kick from these 'then and now' comparisons. When your pictures and stories about a neighborhood's past fill your head, walking down a street is like walking down ten streets at the same time and any one of them can present itself at anytime.

Thanks to OldSF.org for developing a fantastic tool to explore a large portion of the San Francisco Public Library's photo archive. The story of how their project came to be is an example of the volunteer spirit that makes the internet awesome.

So what the story behind 3rd Street's transformation? How was this neighborhood south of San Francisco's financial district, one filled with rooming houses, pawnshops, bars, cafes, and parking lots redeveloped into an area of museums, fine hotels, large-scale retail, a convention center, a public garden, and a few pockets of affordable housing?

The SF Redevelopment Agency's summary of the 87-acre project seems rather flimsy. An historically rich account can be found in Rebecca Solnit's Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas (see Map 12 and accompanying text, pp. 85-90).

Photographs from Ira Nowinski's No Vacancy and Ben Pease's map are folded together with Solnit's beautiful prose, including perspectives from Jack London, who was born near 3rd & Brannan in 1876, and Jack Kerouac, who lived near 3rd and Howard and worked at the trainyard at 4th and Towsend for spell during the 1950s.

To the left: a slice of Pease's map detailing the neighborhood's buildings and uses in 1960. Clicking the audio/media tab of the UC Press page leads to an audio interview with Solnit and UC Press Art Director Lia Tjandra about Infinite City.


The Dissident

"The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public, he offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin -- and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost."

-Vaclav Havel (5 October 1936 - 18 December 2011)

Via shake things up via fuck yeah eastern europe

More Havel: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty obit [video]; Tavaana interview [video] about being a dissident; text from the July 1995 speech The Need for Transcendence in the Postmodern World; and his wikipedia page


Ice Cube & The Eames

I may be one of the few residents of San Francisco that maintains a deep fondness for Los Angeles. That's why I'm glad to see L.A. (and a small slice of its design history) shown some love from Ice Cube in this PST video. Hat tip to the LA Times on Tumblr.

Pacific Standard Time "Ice Cube - Eames" 2:15 from MassMarket on Vimeo.

Ice Cube should be the next Huell Howser. I'd love to see this turned into a series.


Cost of college

Tuition at U.S. colleges and universities is climbing quickly and students are struggling under unprecedented levels of debt. The notes below touch on some of what's behind these trends.

More people are attending college
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), college enrollment is at a record level and will continue to rise through 2019. Last year, 20,550,000 students were enrolled in post-secondary education (14,895,000 at pubic schools and 5,655,000 at private institutions) compared to a total of just over 12 million in 1980. (See the right-hand side of this NCES table for more detail.)

The enrollment of women and 'non-traditional' students (those older than 25) is expected to grow at a faster rate than other groups. Federal and state financial aid is often less accessible to students over 24 years old.

The growth of private for-profit colleges, such as The University of Phoenix, is also considerable. While these companies serve just 10% of the student population, those students account for 47 percent of student loan defaults, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Less money coming from states
As enrollment grows, many states have trimmed funding for their 2- and 4-year institutions. These cuts are likely to be more painful as federal stimulus spending dries up. Higher ed is particularly vulnerable to cuts from legislators because lawmakers know universities can raise funds through tuition increases. By shifting the revenue-generation burden to schools, legislators insulate themselves from the direct political backlash that accompanies cutting other state programs or raising taxes.

Incomes are flat but tuition is rising
Since the 1980s, many households have seen their inflation-adjusted income remain flat. However, over the same period, the college tuition has increased at a rate much higher than the consumer price index (inflation).

The rise in tuition even outpaces the rise of medical expenses. Financial aid has increased over time, but not enough to make up the difference, according the College Board.

How do students get by?
Students borrow the money they need. In 2010, student loan debt surpassed the nation's credit card debt, but unlike credit cards or mortgages, student loans are near-impossible to escape through steps like bankruptcy. And keep in mind, any loans parents take out to cover expenses while they kids are in school are not reflected in the tally of student debt.

Most of the stats cited above are aggregate figures. To truly understand the trends, identify problems, and conceive of solutions, it would be helpful to look deeper within those figures. Are cuts to public educational occurring in some states and not others? Which demographic segments within the current pool of 20 million+ students are taking on the greatest amount of debt? Are the greater-than-inflation tuition increases happening across the board -- at private and public institutions? at for- and non-profit schools? and in all states?

What to do?
It's hard to say, but I was intrigued by a couple of ideas mentioned in this talk between Glenn Loury from Brown University and Walter Russell Mead from Bard College. Rather than calling for more funding, they touch on using technology to improve the efficiency of higher ed and changing the way credentials are earned by students, referencing France's le bac exam as a possible model.

The press release and fact sheet for Obama Administration's "Pay as You Earn" plan for student loan relief announced on October 25, 2011.

The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers this guide to addressing student loan debt.

PBS's Need to Know offers 5 things you ought to know about student debt.

The Project on Student Debt is an initiative of the Institute for College Access and Success, a nonprofit independent research and policy organization dedicated to making college more available and affordable to people of all backgrounds. The Project on Student Debt produced this video to explain for the government's Income-Based Re-payment Program.

Illinois State's Grapevine project has published annual compilations of data on state tax support for higher education since 1960, including general fund appropriations for universities, colleges, community colleges, and state higher education agencies.

For government stats on all things education, visit the National Center for Education Statistics website. If you can't find what you're looking for, write them.

2/8/12 addition from LA Times: National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys says that more than four-fifths of bankruptcy attorneys have seen a notable jump in the number of potential clients with student loan debt.


Littlefeather speaking for Brando

March 27, 1973: Sacheen Littlefeather declines a 'best actor' award on behalf of Marlon Brando for his performance in The Godfather.

Brando's statement.

Episode 5 of the documentary series We Shall Remain provides a good account of what was happening at Wounded Knee in 1973.


Media consolidation (2011)

Blogger Frugal Dad breaks it down and lays it out for us.

Media Consolidation Infographic

Source: Frugal dad