A Very Accurate Definition Of Skiing

Skiing: the art of catching cold and going broke while rapidly heading nowhere at great personal risk

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via Cheezburger

Lawyer Ads Weren’t Legal Until 1977

Toward the end of the fifth episode of Better Call Saul, Jimmy is talking to his brother Chuck about his right to advertise, at which point Chuck mentions that the practice “wasn’t even allowed until five Supreme Court justices went completely bonkers in Bates vs State Bar of Arizona“. And indeed, bar associations until that time had traditionally banned all forms of lawyer advertising — the thinking being that good work is its own advertisement through the word of mouth it generates and that discussing money matters was beneath the professionalism of a lawyer.

Chuck McGill explaining Bates vs the State Bar of Arizona, in the fifth episode of Better Call Saul

Chuck McGill explaining Bates vs the State Bar of Arizona, in the fifth episode of Better Call Saul

 

Well in 1976, an Arizona legal clinic which only handled basic legal matters placed an ad with prices for some services it provided, such as uncontested divorces and basic adoptions. The State Bar of Arizona sued them, and the Arizona Supreme Court found in their favor. But, the United States Supreme Court, having recently ruled that laws prohibiting pharmacists from advertising their prices were unconstitutional, took up the case and ruled that the same bans are unconstitutional for lawyers also. The thinking was that the rules were not only anachronistic, but that they constituted a disservice to the common man in that they prohibited the free flow of information.

It was an early ruling on the concept of commercial speech, which has since evolved quite a bit, and was most recently the reason behind the landmark ruling of Citizens United vs FEC, in which the ban against corporations spending money on political campaigns was lifted.

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From Wikipedia

Louisville, KY Is Sorta The Epicenter of Unhappiness In America

The map below shows people’s happiness levels in the United States: red means most unhappy, yellow is neutral, blue is most happy. As you can see, the biggest area of unhappiness is in Indiana and Kentucky, right around where Louisville is. But more so, there’s a kind of concentric pattern to the entire map.

City and Rural Area Happiness Controlling for Characteristics

Around Indiana and Kentucky, there’s a circle of mostly orange in which lie Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, West Virginia and Ohio: level two of the inferno. Around that, there’s another circle that’s on average happier — mostly oranges and yellows, some greens, but also some reds: Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New England.

Finally, there’s the happy outer rim, the thick fourth level which is mostly blues and greens: the entire Rockies from the Dakotas and Montana down through Colorado and New Mexico to Texas and rest of the South. If you kept going, you could imagine the ring continuing in the Atlantic, looping around through Canada — upper Quebec and Ontario — before meeting itself at the US border again.

Things go downhill again on the west coast, but there’s too little data there to say what’s going on. Perhaps that’s a small part of a larger ring that goes through Mexico and the Caribbean, the mid-Atlantic and the Northwest Passage. Or perhaps that ring is mostly yellow because happiness levels, having reached a peak in the fourth circle of (un)happiness started to go down again. Or maybe, we’re looking at the third ring of a different epicenter of unhappiness, colliding with the American one. Reading tea leaves is not easy.

wave interference

 

The happiness data comes from a survey conducted by the CDC between 2005 and 2009. The researchers that created the map are from Harvard and the University of British Columbia.

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From Unhappy Cities (PDF), via Lifehacker

The Original Plot of ‘Game of Thrones’, As Pitched In 1993

Three years before A Game of Thrones was published, a 44 year-old George R. R. Martin sent in the first 13 chapters of it to his agent, Ralph Vicinanza. With it, he included a three-page letter that laid out his vision for the series, which he had already named A Song of Fire and Ice. Pictures of the letter’s pages are below, but here are the salient points:

  • As is well-known, the series was originally supposed to be a trilogy — it since became (at least) a heptalogy:
    • The three books were to be named A Game of Thrones, A Dance with Dragons, and The Winds of Winter. The latter two names were eventually given to the 5th and 6th books, instead.
  • GRRM made it a point to say he had a strong notion of the plot and the fate of the main characters, but that he purposely didn’t want to know where the story was going, so he wouldn’t lose interest in writing it.
  • The overall plot was supposed to be comprised of three successively more serious conflicts, each being the focus of one of the books:
    1. The fight for the Iron Throne in A Game of Thrones
    2. The invasion of the Seven Kingdoms by Daenerys and her Dothraki horde in A Dance with Dragons
    3. The invasion of the Seven Kingdoms by The Others in The Winds of Winter
  • “I want the reader to feel that no one is ever completely safe, not even the characters who seem to be the heroes. The suspense always ratchets up a notch when you know that any character can die at any time.”
  • “Five central characters will make it through all three volumes”: Tyrion, Daenerys, Arya, Bran and Jon Snow
  • “Sansa Stark, wed to Joffrey Baratheon, will bear him a son, the heir to the throne, and when the time comes, she will choose her husband and child over her parents and siblings, a choice she will later bitterly rue.”
  • Robb Stark was supposed to maim Joffrey in battle, but then be killed himself — also in battle; no mention of the Red Wedding. Tyrion was then supposed to besiege and burn Winterfell instead of Theon
  • Before there was a Red Wedding, Catelyn was supposed to “die at the hands of the others”
  • Bringing a touch of incest to the “good” characters, Arya and Jon were to fall in love, but not do anything about it and instead remain tormented by passion “until the secret of Jon’s true parentage is revealed in the last book.” So, clearly Ned really is not Jon’s father, giving even more credence to R+L=J
  • Daenerys was supposed to kill Khal Drogo as revenge for him killing her brother, then run off into the Dothraki Sea, find the dragon eggs, hatch them, and use them to subdue the Dothraki and prepare to invade the Seven Kingdoms as their leader
  • After Tyrion “removed” Joffrey, Jaimie Lannister was supposed to kill his way to the Iron Throne and then blame Tyrion for all the murders. Tyrion would side with the Starks and fall in love with Arya, leading to a “deadly rivalry between Tyrion and Jon Snow”.

And now, without further ado, the actual photographs of the letter’s pages:

GRRM letter, page 1 GRRM letter, page 2 GRRM letter, page 3

 

The pictures were apparently taken at the London headquarters of HarperCollins, which publishes the A Song of Ice and Fire series in the UK and has the letter up on a wall, behind acrylic, in a “George R R Martin Room”. That paragraph that’s blacked out has piqued the interest of Reddit, where an effort to decode the text using methods that would make a spy jealous has made this much progress so far:

Decoded redacted paragraph from GRRM letter

 

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From reddit, via HappyPlace

‘The Katering Show’ Quits Sugar

The Katering Show is a hilarious, absurd, deadpan parody of a cooking show, built on the premise that one of the hosts can cook well and the other is intolerant of a lot of foods. On its third episode, Kate and Kate quit sugar — one of the few foods that Kate can eat — because Australian author Sarah Wilson did it.

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From YouTube, via Laughing Squid

Map Of Countries That Have Won The Super Bowl

Super Bowl wins, by country

 

USA! USA! USA!

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From imgur, via Vox and Neatorama

The Microsoft HoloLens Is Like An Augmented Reality Holodeck

HoloLens Builder

The floor, couch, table and walls are real. The Minecraft stuff is not.


HoloLens in the kitchen

The TV is a hologram, too

This January, Microsoft announced the most exciting thing they’ve created since the Kinect: a combination of the Oculus Rift and Google Glass called HoloLens. Except that unlike Glass, you’re not meant to wear it in public and open yourself up to ridicule and beatings; and unlike Rift, you’re not cut off from the world and placed in a (possibly disorienting) purely virtual one.

HoloLens is a set of goggles with a built-in computer which places holograms directly in your environment. So through visual trickery, you could look at your empty desk and actually see a 3-D hologram of a block of marble on it, then sculpt it into the Venus de Milo. Or you could play a game where the characters jump on your couch. Or see a screen on a blank wall. Take a look at the concept videos:

The thing is very much a prototype now, with the promise that it will be available “in the Windows 10 timeframe”. Developers and partners are supposed to get access to it this spring, but it’s not likely to be on the open market until 2016.

Wired tried it out and really liked it — they had nothing but good things to say. Engadget was a bit more real and said that in its current state, it sucks for two reasons: the prototype is heavy, hot and uncomfortable in general and the software is demo-quality only, not fully-fledged consumer-grade functionality. They did acknowledge that it has some great possibility, if Microsoft does it right. So if and when it gets there, it should make for a very, very cool gadget to get instead of the a differently-sized iPad or a smartwatch.

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From Microsoft, via Laughing Squid

Cop Lip-Sync’ing To Taylor Swift While Driving

This is just hilarious. The best part is how he pauses when people can see him, because now the whole world sees him. The second best part is definitely how well he knows the song. And the third, how much he gets into it. It’ll make your day.

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From YouTube, via Neatorama

Texas Plumber’s Truck Ends Up In ISIS Terrorists’ Hands

Mark-1 Plumbing Truck in ISIS video

The Ford F-250 above was owned by Mark Oberholtzer’s plumbing company, Mark-1 Plumbing, outside of Houston, TX. He traded it in to AutoNation in November 2013, and probably after changing hands a few more times, it ended up in a photo posted by the terrorist group ISIS. The plumbing company has since been receiving a flood of phone calls and threats, because a lot of people saw the photo and erroneously think the poor guy’s aiding terrorists.

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From KHOU, via Cheezburger

If Batman Tried Superman’s Disguise

Make It Wayne No. 13: Master of Disguise

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From What Would Josh Do, via Neatorama