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Nathan L. Walls

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Money, Mints and budgets [Apr. 2nd, 2008|10:26 pm]
Nathan L. Walls
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[music |LCD Soundsystem -- _Sounds of Silver_]

Hoefler & Frere-Jones' Typography.com compares and contrasts the new line of UK coinage with the new U.S. five dollar bill. The implication that for $525 million and 2,500 people, the U.S. is getting a worse deal than British public are ignores the fact that the the Royal Mint got the benefit of approximately 500 entrants (per the Royal Mint's Competition site) and only has to pay a very small fraction of them (presuming they're paying the winner and a subset of the invited artists).

The striking new designs, selected from an open competition that attracted four thousand entries, are the work of a 26-year old graphic designer named Matthew Dent. They are Mr. Dent's first foray into currency design.

That sounds a lot like spec work.

Moreover, Hoefler & Frere-Jones is only giving one side of the numbers. For starters, all 2,500 employees they say the U.S Mint has aren't all working over engraving stations (and apparently sucking). Just as the 915 employees of the Royal Mint didn't judge the coin competition.

Looking at budget figures from each mint's respective 2006 report, the Royal Mint [pdf] had sales of $228 million with an operating loss of about $4 million. The U.S. Mint [pdf] had $1 billion in sales with $85 million of profit.

Sure, the UK coins are handsome, but budget and employment figures aren't the cause or fault for pretty or ugly money. The agencies themselves aren't far apart when each country's population (60 million vs. 301 million) is taken into account. Wait, actually the U.S. has one mint employee per 120,400 residents, the UK one for every 65,000 or so.

H&FJ's take seems like a one-sided anti-bureaucratic cheap shot that misses another way to frame it: The Royal Mint didn't have one employee out of 915 they wanted to design their money.

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Interesting reads from the week of Feb. 24, 2008 [Feb. 27th, 2008|09:23 pm]
Nathan L. Walls
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[music |VHS or Beta -- _Bring on the Comets_]

A few days later than I wanted to put this together, but so it goes.

  1. Disclosure
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Recapping the NC Science Blogging convention [Jan. 28th, 2008|12:22 am]
Nathan L. Walls
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[music |Feist, _The Reminder_]

Corrupt Tree/RTP

Corrupt Tree/RTP f/8 @ 1/160 sec

f_4_t and I hit the second NC Science Blogging conference at Sigma Xi in RTP on Jan. 19. Divided into three breakout sessions, ample social/networking time and then two whole conference sessions.

I've posted a photoset from the day and an earlier lab tour at the EPA.

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Interesting reads: Jan. 27, 2008 [Jan. 27th, 2008|09:36 pm]
Nathan L. Walls
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[music |Groove Salad]

The fourth Krispy Kreme Challenge, NC State's growing tradition, was yesterday. Bell Tower to Krispy Kreme, eat a dozen donuts, then run back (four miles) in an hour. The prize? A green t-shirt and money raised for the NC Children's Hospital.

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Interesting reads Jan. 20, 2008 [Jan. 20th, 2008|03:19 pm]
Nathan L. Walls
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[music |Radiohead -- _In Rainbows_]

My Sunday reading habit is to work through the N&O in print and Washington Post and New York Times. Between Twitter, email newsletters and RSS feeds from the later two publications, I'll easily open about 20 browser tabs.

It struck me this morning that I was going to have a lot of material and material to write up from yesterday's NC Science Blogging conference, far more than I simply wanted to leave to Twitter.
  • "We're servants of our overload [1]" N&O ideas columnist J. Pedar Zane writes about the decline of capital 'R' Reading:

    Start with books. Recent surveys show that fewer than half of all Americans read at least one work of fiction for pleasure each year. The decline is especially pronounced among teenagers. Many factors have contributed to the trend, but the rise of the Internet is clearly a chief culprit.


    My guess is that the average American reads more words in a week than our ancestors read in a month. It's just that we're not reading books.

    Steve Jobs says the number is around 40 percent. But where is that figure coming from?

  • Half of Japan's top ten bestsellers started off as cellphone novels.
  • The New York Times on the NFL's "air it out" 2007 season:

    This was the year of the pass, when 3 yards and a cloud of dust gave way to the three-step drop. In one game of their undefeated season, the Patriots, who until this season featured a balanced offense, ran only twice in the first half. Seven quarterbacks threw for more than 4,000 yards this season, more than ever before, and two of them — New England's Tom Brady and Green Bay's Brett Favre — take their teams into Sunday’s conference championship games as favorites.

    Bill Walsh's legacy, perhaps? Remember when the 49ers lined up with Joe Montana [2] under center and had Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Roger Craig, Tom Rathman and Brent Jones and they could all catch passes?

  • The Senate is considering legislation that would force the FDA to require special labeling for cloned food. Short of that, consumer groups want allowance for labeling food as "clone-free." Interestingly, the Washington Post article says the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has to help get cloned food to market.
  1. Disclosure
  2. Though Joe Cool is dear to the hearts of every 49ers fan, I liked Steve Young better, possibly because I remember more of watching Young play than Montana.
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Truth [Oct. 7th, 2007|01:52 pm]
Nathan L. Walls
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[music |Maps -- It Will Find You]

Khoi Vinh on trying to hold onto (or worse, recapture) "the cool:"

Any time a media outlet publicly declares its intention to reach a younger demographic, chances are good that the results will make me cringe.

He's talking about NPR's Bryant Park Project, and how surprising it is that it doesn't include "jargon, zany sound effects or comedic narrative." He could be talking about newspapers, television or movies. I've read or seen too many horrible examples of 40-something suburban writing about 20-something urban trends.

Mostly, what (most) everyone comes up with is dumbing things down for a "younger" audience, adding a laugh track and calling it done. How insulting.

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Whitaker Park [Sep. 17th, 2007|09:23 pm]
Nathan L. Walls
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[music |American Analog Set -- Gone to Earth]


Stripped/Raleigh f/8 @ 1/160 sec

Posted 10 more images in the Whitaker Park set.

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Redevelopment [Sep. 16th, 2007|11:57 pm]
Nathan L. Walls
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609 Wayne Drive/Raleigh

609 Wayne Drive/Raleigh f/8 @ 1/100 sec

The apartments I spent my first four-ish years in Raleigh at, Whitaker Park are halfway demolished as new $700,000 homes go up. Up and down Anderson Drive, on the other side of Fallon Park, several teardowns. Now, Pine Drive and Oxford look like they're next.

This week, The N&O's Q section [1] asks, "How big is too big?"

From the article:

Most supporters of teardowns cite increasing property values as a positive outcome. But experts say the impact on values of existing homes is not clear.

A study at the University of Illinois at Chicago found values of existing properties near a teardown dropped by as much as 24 percent following construction of a large new house in a village near Chicago.

Building more valuable homes does boost the property tax base and can also benefit other property values by making a location more desirable, said James W. Hughes, dean of the school of planning and public policy at Rutgers University.

But a teardown also could hurt the value of the house next door, he added. As buyers eye properties only for the land, the houses themselves become a nuisance that has to be torn down. On Raleigh's Overbrook Drive, a half-acre lot is on the market for $499,000 -- $40,000 more than it sold for in June with a house on it.

The Triangle has a lot of growth issues to address. Infrastructure upgrades, water, mass-transit, schools. Add housing to the list. I'm fairly biased in what I would like to see, houses that fit the character of their neighborhoods rather than seeing castle after castle go up. Ugly castles, at that.

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Booking bands [Sep. 13th, 2007|09:26 pm]
Nathan L. Walls
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[music |Battles -- Atlas]

Take a book name, combine with band name. Here's what I came up with in a few minutes:

  • Snow Patrol Crash
  • The Hunt for Simply Red October
  • Barry White Oleander
  • About a Badly Drawn Boy
  • Cat on a Hot Hot Heat Roof
  • I'm OK, You're OK, Go (edit: someone already had this one)
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From the 103rd Floor, Sears Tower [Sep. 7th, 2007|12:25 am]
Nathan L. Walls
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[music |The Fixx -- Red Skies]


Observation/Chicago f/9 @ 1/60 sec

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