Archives » March 4th, 2007

March 4, 2007

Start Practicing The Piano Again

If you thought the “couch potato” phenomenon is something that came about with with the proliferation of television, you’re off by about thirty years. It was actually much sooner. Dave Winer puts the pieces together:

There was a pivotal, electrifying moment in the story, an interview with Helen Kelley, who was around when radio was new. She said there came a point soon after she started listening to radio when she realized she could stop practicing the piano, because she “didn’t have to make her own music anymore.”

Now this is the movement that’s being undone with the internet. Now we’re going back to being a society of creators, of producers, of what Doc Searls talks about as “the demand side supplying itself.” Blogging and podcasting and using Flickr can be seen as the equivalent of learning how to play piano; you’re doing it yourself, not waiting for others to do it for you. The younger generations write as much as they read when they’re online, if not more. And all the old farts sneer around about how it’s unprofessional and pointless, and call it “narcissistic,” but that’s because they’re part of the culture that’s going away, the culture where one person creates something and the whole world lines up to consume it. They think media has to be mass to be important, and they’re going to learn the hard way, by losing the attention of the people who think they’re full of it, who would rather chat with their friends on MySpace than watch TV.

Playing the piano is making a comeback, if only metaphorically.

Not Sci Fi

This is a real movie of the Sun, made from the STEREO-B spacecraft that launched last October to watch the sun. Last week it not only saw the sun, but it also saw a solar eclipse from one million miles away, making the moon seem tiny instead of perfectly sized like we see our eclipses here on Earth.

Hat tip to the Bad Astronomer, who hasn’t been living up to his name lately. He’s actually a pretty good astronomer.

Ward Kimball’s V&T

Ward Kimball was one of Walt Disney’s top animators in the 1940s and 50s, working on Pinocchio, Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and many other films. But he was also a huge railroad buff, as were most of the Disney folks, including Walt himself (why do you think there’s a train at Disneyland?) But Ward was the biggest railfan of the bunch, even building a full-size railroad in his own backyard, an idea which Walt copied for his own house.

Ward Kimball also used to love coming to Carson City, because back in the 1940s the Virginia & Truckee Railroad was still running. He would make the drive up from LA, ride the train, and take tons of pictures. And he would do what he did best, draw. During an excursion in 1941 he drew this “map” of the V&T route, which I came across while reading the book The Bonanza Road.

Ward Kimball V&T Map
See it large or xx-large.

There are so many great little details in this map, like the Washoe Zephyr, the guy crawling through the Sutro Tunnel, the sleeping Paiute Indian, or the cow on the tracks. But there were a few I just had to pull out and highlight.

Divorce was rougher in the old days.

The Nevada Department of Corrections, hard at work.

Roll up your windows when driving through Steamboat.

Lake View, 10 cents.