A History Of Emoji

Nov 28 2014 @ 12:39pm

Adam Sternbergh explains where those ubiquitous cartoons come from:

Emoji were born in a true eureka moment, from the mind of a single man: dish_emoji Shigetaka Kurita, an employee at the Japanese telecom company NTT Docomo. Back in the late 1990s, the company was looking for a way to distinguish its pager service from its competitors in a very tight market. Kurita hit on the idea of adding simplistic cartoon images to its messaging functions as a way to appeal to teens. The first round of what came to be called emoji – a Japanese neologism that means, more or less, “picture word” – were designed by Kurita, using a pencil and paper, as drawings on a 12-by-12-pixel grid and were inspired by pictorial Japanese sources, like manga (Japanese comic books) and kanji ­(Japanese characters borrowed from written Chinese).

Kurita wound up with 176 crude symbols ranging from smiley faces to music notes. This feature proved so popular that the other Japanese telecoms adopted it. In 2007, Apple released the first iPhone – and the global smartphone market boomed. Apple and Google both realized that, in order to crack the Japanese market, they would need to provide emoji functions in their operating systems, if only for use in Japan. So Apple buried an emoji keyboard in the iPhone where North Americans weren’t intended to find it. But eventually tech-savvy users in the U.S., who were curious about the Japanese emoji phenomenon, figured out that you could force your phone to open this hidden keyboard by downloading a Japanese-­language app, and voilà—suddenly you could bejangle your texts with a smiling Pile of Poo.

(Image by Niels Heidenreich)

Face Of The Day

Nov 28 2014 @ 11:43am


From photographer Brittany M. Powell’s ongoing series The Debt Project:

Debt Portrait #7, Oakland, CA 2013

James Riggs Davidson III (J.R.), Electrical contractor, $52,335.63 in debt. I bought a truck and moved to California where work was scarce. Then decided to go back to school to finish a degree. After graduation, I decided to start my own business and take on more loans needed for equipment and slow times. Within the second year of business, I had to buy new truck due to an accident. By the third year of business, I was making triple payments on most loans so as to pay off quickly… then the economy tanked and my triple payments were barely a single payment due to most lenders ramping their interest rates to cover “losses.”

Powell says of her experience shooting the subjects:

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Poseur Alert

Nov 28 2014 @ 11:21am

“American culture is just about blowjobs and golf,” – Shia LaBeouf.

Renaming Black Friday

Nov 28 2014 @ 11:09am

Freddy Gray of the British Spectator proposes a “Gray Friday”:

There are two rules:

  • The first is that we do not buy anything. Nothing. Is that even possible? It must be. We can save the retail sector by bingeing for the rest of the year.
  • The second rule of Gray Friday is that we click ‘unsubscribe’ in response to any email in our inboxes that has ‘Black Friday’ in the subject line. This hits the companies where it really hurts by damaging their all-important databases.

This shall be followed by Real Monday, when we boycott the Internet for a day. Workers have a dispensation: any internet use necessary for work is allowed. But social media and online shopping should be avoided.

The Dish is grandfathered in.

Conserving The Cute Ones

Nov 28 2014 @ 10:49am


Carrie Arnold points out that conservationists bank on more attractive endangered species:

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are over 1,200 threatened mammalian species in the world, and over 300 are near threatened. But only 80 species are used by conservation organizations to raise funds and nearly all of them can be described as large, furry, and cute, according to a 2012 analysis by Bob Smith at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom.

The science behind why we feel extra-protective of adorable animals:

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Just Another Frantic Friday

Nov 28 2014 @ 9:42am

James Poulos celebrates Wal-Mart’s decision to spread its Black Friday promotions over five days:

Walmart is actually defying the logic embraced so grimly by Sears, Kmart, and millions of citizen-shoppers. Rather than chumming the aisles for the mother of all feeding frenzies, Walmart is breaking up Black Friday – “trying to cater to the changing tastes of shoppers who no longer find it appealing to camp out in the middle of the night in hopes of snagging a steal,” as The Wall Street Journal reports. Top U.S. merchant Duncan Mac Naughton explained that “people” – yes, even the uncouth and uncool – “want to shop on their own schedules,” not “set times prescribed by the retailers.” Fewer and fewer of them, says Mac Naughton, are caught roaming the store “in the middle of the night.” We should all give thanks that Walmart, so readily and reasonably caricatured as the spawn of Satan incarnate, should use its inexorable powers to shunt critics of every stripe out of their well-worn ruts.

But Barry Ritholtz sees business as usual for Wal-Mart and the other big retailers:

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Colored With Complexity

Nov 28 2014 @ 8:47am

Sebastian Smee celebrates the 50th-anniversary edition of Joseph Albers’ design classic Interaction of Color:

Color’s relativity had been established (and scorned by chromophobes) long before Interaction of Color came along. What was ingenious, and groundbreaking, was the way Albers presented the evidence: clearly, rationally, with each concise lesson leading on to the next, so that he achieved his goal – the honing of color sensitivity – in an unfolding, absorbing process. Using colored paper salvaged from printers’ workshops and bookbinders, pieces of magazine pages, paint samples, and rolls of unused wallpaper, he crafted extraordinarily effective demonstrations of color’s startling and deceptive behavior.

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A Win For Retail Workers

Nov 28 2014 @ 7:41am

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors gave a holiday gift to city retail workers on Tuesday, unanimously approving a package of measures “aimed at giving retail staffers more predictable schedules and access to extra hours”. Claire Zillman elaborates:

The ordinances will require businesses to post workers’ schedules at least two weeks in advance. Workers will receive compensation for last-minute schedule changes, “on-call” hours, and instances in which they’re sent home before completing their assigned shifts. Businesses must also offer existing part-time workers additional hours before hiring new employees, and they are required to give part-timers and full-timers equal access to scheduling and time-off requests. …

San Francisco’s proposal takes sharp aim at employers’ tendency to schedule workers’ hours with little notice—a practice especially prevalent in retail. Earlier this year, University of Chicago professors found that employers determined the work schedules of about half of young adults without employee input, which resulted in part-time schedules that fluctuated between 17 and 28 hours per week. Forty-seven percent of employees ages 26 to 32 who work part time receive one week or less in advance notice of the hours they’re expected to work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Bryce Covert cheers:

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It Means The World

Nov 27 2014 @ 9:09pm

Adam Frank suggests we should all be grateful for “this corner of the universe as embodied in the unlikely blue world we call home”:

A quick review of our solar system makes it clear that good planets are hard to find. The sun hosts eight worlds, at least six large moons, countless asteroids and countless comets. Of all those bodies there is only one place with warm oceans and blue skies and cool breezes and rainfall. And, of all the sun’s children, there is only one place where life has run riot.

It’s easy to take the Earth — and its ceaseless buzzing of wings and legs and fins — for granted. It’s easy to forget its staggering beauty or its almost incomprehensible strangeness in the near vacuum of interstellar space. But in its subtle coupling of air, ice, water and rock, our planet is nothing short of a miracle.

There are, likely, much worse places in the cosmos to try and eek out a lifetime. Places with less color, less majesty, less warmth, less coolness, less joy, less wonder. So, no matter what your year has been like — no matter what you may have lost — there is always the Earth.

A Poem For Thanksgiving

Nov 27 2014 @ 8:32pm


“First Thanksgiving” by Sharon Olds:

When she comes back, from college, I will see

the skin of her upper arms, cool,

matte, glossy. She will hug me, my old

soupy chest against her breasts,

I will smell her hair! She will sleep in this apartment,

her sleep like an untamed, good object, like a

soul in a body. She came into my life the

second great arrival, fresh

from the other world—which lay, from within him,

within me. Those nights, I fed her to sleep,

week after week, the moon rising,

and setting, and waxing—whirling, over the months,

in a steady blur, around our planet.

Now she doesn’t need love like that, she has

had it. She will walk in glowing, we will talk,

and then, when she’s fast asleep, I’ll exult

to have her in that room again,

behind that door! As a child, I caught

bees, by the wings, and held them, some seconds,

looked into their wild faces,

listened to them sing, then tossed them back

into the air—I remember the moment the

arc of my toss swerved, and they entered

the corrected curve of their departure.

(From Blood, Tin, Straw: Poems by Sharon Olds © 1999 by Sharon Olds. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. Photo by Tom Wachtel)