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Derivative Works from Daniel X. O'Neil

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Naked Economist

A few years ago, when I was stressing over my inability to publish my third book, Economics, I took a continuing education class at the Graham School of General Studies called, oddly enough, Economics. I just wanted to get out of the house and engage with some people, and that's exactly what I got out of the class.

The instructor,  Charlie Wheelan,  was  just getting ready to publish his book called Naked Economics. I thought it was funny that he was writing a real Economics book that had a sexy title and I was writing a fake Economics book with a straight title that had a poem about how the Unabomber masturbates. I don't think he found it as amusing as I did.

Anyway, he was a good teacher. Great explainer. And now he's doing it for Yahoo! Finance. Here's a snip:

The Top 10 Reasons for Soaring Health-Care Costs: The Naked Economist - Yahoo! Finance

3. Health care is a "luxury good".

Wait. Before you start sending me angry e-mails, please let me clarify. I'm not saying that health care is a luxury. I'm saying that health care is a "luxury good," which is a technical term in economics. It refers to any good that wealthy people demand in disproportionately greater amounts than less wealthy people.

The opposite is an "inferior good", which is something that people actually consume less of as they get richer. Ramen noodles, for example, are likely to be an inferior good. I'm certain that my graduate students eat far more of them than Donald Trump does, his capacity to afford huge quantities notwithstanding.

Mr. Yuk is Mean, Mr. Yuk is Green

This haunted me as a child. The menacing music and voiceover were enough to skeeve you, but I kinda looked like that kid climbing the bathroom sink, jonesing for some poison.

Pinpointing Chicago's Italian-American Community

Just got this on CTA Alerts:

Jul 09 5:51PM      
Due to the World Cup Soccer Celebration, #90 Harlem buses are being temporarily rerouted at Addison and Harlem.

Update: here's the Sun-Times coverage.

The Nipple of Zidane

Like most sane people, I don't really care about soccer. The World Cup has been pretty interesting to follow, though, in a "what-happened-today" kind of way, not a "holy crap what time's the game on" kind of way.

Yahoo!, as usual, is using technology to do cool things and drive the interest of humans. Their MatchCast is a typical live-action interface, with some added features like chat, trivia, stats, etc.


This was great at the end of the match to instantly see who made their penalty kicks.

But the New York Times live blogging of the event was perfectly good for allowing me to peek in and see what's going on in breathless, exclamatory text:

Break Materazzi reached around and twisted Zidane’s nipple! That’s what got Zidane so steamed! Materazzi tricked Zidane! Or so it seems from the replay. Can’t be totally sure though.

All Hail Italy.

Mark Bender, Creator of the First "Wide Right Turn" Sign

I have a number of artistic obsessions, most of them revolving around the concept of Derivative Works. I love making annotated compilations, manic compendiums, and morose lists. One of my primary and lasting obsessions is with Wide Right Turn signs. I started collecting them a few years ago and I created an online home for them here on my Poetry and Technology website.

Impact in the Back

I call it "an incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society" because every different sign says the exact same thing. You see, when large trucks make a right turn, they swing a little bit wide to the left first.

When Flickr came out, I started posting all my new captures there. I'm now apparently an authority on the subject, if Google pagerank is to be believed.

Last week I got an email from Mark Bender, an American ex-pat living in Scotland, who tells me that he created the very first Wide Right Turn sign. I believe him. Why? Because his story rings true and he seems (via email) to be the real McCoy. Here’s what Mark has to say:

I did the job with my friend Jim for two guys who with a company called R & L Trucking, which I think is now R & L Carriers (210) 337-6653 4202 US Highway 90 E. San Antonio, TX. They wanted the sign for their own fleet of something like 27 trucks but also wanted to expand their business to making signs. I have no idea what happened to that idea for them but thought I'd check on the web and see what they are up to now. Now, these might not be the same guys but it is likely as R & L Trucking is pretty particular. Way out on the north side of San Antonio on the loop 410.Heck, I could probably drive you today. If was not stuck in cold old Scotland!

I did it 30 years ago, when I was 19 years old. Many impostors hoped to improve on my original. I was doing graphic design (all by hand, no computers then) and as my dad is an architect, I knew a thing or two about drafting. Most of my work was very simple and linear. Anyway, my pal, Jim, who I was working with (still great friends after all these years) got this job.

We went to a local place (R & L) and they thought it would be a good idea to get a sign made that warned people of this problem. I suppose it was really for their trucks! They also thought it might be the sort of thing they could sell to other trucking companies... I guess they were right as it turned out! :) All they knew was the text: WIDE RIGHT TURNS. They had in fact made signs that said that the words but nobody noticed them.

At the time, the idea of putting an image that "showed you" the problem was unheard of. Also the perspective idea (sort of "as seen by" your minds eye) was also new. I told them I would do something that would absolutely work for them. At the time there simply were no graphical signs like this at all, and I don't think there many even still as it is sort of almost a un ique creation (my gift and my curse by the way). I have always loved perspective (I have a degree in philosophy, so perspective in all its forms really) and immediately knew how the sign would work. Like I said, I am not a great illustrator but I am still proud of the idea (actually, my favorite bit is the crazy explosion bit where the car and the truck collide!

I guess I always loved the "POW" and "WAM" from Batman the TV show). When I returned to the states after such a long time and found them all over the place and also that they had started to mutate in all their variations (as you lovingly documented with your work), I was delighted.

I got paid $500 and never thought about it again. A few years later I move to Scotland and only returned after about 15 years. Imagine my surprise when I got on my first highway and started seeing my little sign on the back of just about every truck on the road. It was really fun to see. My little slice of fame! :) Well, I returned to Scotland and now years later I wanted to show someone the sign but could not find the original. Mine is this one!

I mentioned the fee I got of $500 'cus when I discovered how popular my concept had become, it struck me that somebody probably made lots of money off it and it was not me (just wish I got a dollar for every one sold!, still 500 bucks to a 19 year old 30 years ago was good money!).

Thanks so much! This is a real delight to see it again. Boy, I was not very talented as an illustrator but the idea was a winner. It's funny because my sister actually became the designer and runs a company (BENDER WELLS CLARK DESIGN) that specializes in SIGNAGE in San Antonio. She's better then I am! :)

I am a filmmaker and my most recent film is an animation. I didn't draw any of it as I have learned to leave the art to people better suited to it. Still the ideas man, I directed the film which you may like to have a look at called Rogue Film.

All hail Mark Bender, Creator of the First "Wide Right Turn" Sign.

Fan Fail Millennium Park Crown Fountain Water Sculpture

Someone oughtta reboot Crown Fountain.

Error message-- "Fan Fail". This error message showed up intermittently on Friday, June 30, and Monday, July 3, 2006.

Bush Has Birthday Dinner with Richard M. Daley, Mayor

Presidential Helicopter, originally uploaded by juggernautco.

Here's his helicopter flying from O'Hare. Here's a story about the din-din.

Man Getting Arrested at Accident Scene, Fourth of July

Arrest88 I like to take videos while driving by accident scenes. I'm not into gore or blood & guts, early Andy Warol-style, but more the workaday fender benders that greatly affect the traffic of a region. There's always so much interesting tension and display-- a "scene"-- that is worth capturing.

Yesterday we were going to a BBQ and fireworks out in the suburbs and there was a slowdown indicative of a fresh accident (police cars still arriving, clog-up just a 1/4-mile away, cars seen zooming with singular enthusiasm just past the scene). So I got out my camera.

The accident was a single truck that seems to have fishtailed. The trailer it was pulling got 1/2 - flipped. The cool thing was that I caught someone (the driver?) getting arrested (see here):

Meta-Anonymity: Articles from the NYT re: Anonymity Policy

Here's a general post to hold all articles in the NYT about their anonymity policy.

Briefers and Leakers and the Newspapers Who Enable Them
Published: May 8, 2005

The Public Editor
Secrecy, Security, the President and the Press
Published: July 2, 2006

Panel at The Times Proposes Steps to Increase Credibility
Published: May 9, 2005

SearchObits from the Archives: October/ November 2003

I am migrating all of my obituary posts from other places, including a Salon Blog I started in 2002, over to here. For ever more, these posts are called "SearchObits", because what I do is perform original research on the full text of the obituaries using internet search engines, thereby creating a brand-new derivative work.

Continue reading "SearchObits from the Archives: October/ November 2003" »


Daniel X. O'Neil: Chicago-based writer and internet developer. I am a co-founder of and the People Person for EveryBlock, a site that pulls together local news and public information. I run dozens of personal projects and websites for clients, and also own half of a poetry book company.


EveryBlock: A news feed for your block.
CTA Tweet: Unofficial Twitter tracker for the Chicago Transit Authority.
CityPayments: Database of all vendors, contracts, and payments that have been posted by the municipal government of the City of Chicago
Wesley Willis Art: Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
Wide Right Turn: An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.


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    • Wesley Willis Art
      Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
    • CTA Alerts
      Wireless notifications about service on the Chicago Transit Authority.
    • Wide Right Turn

      An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.
    • Derivative Works Art Manifesto
      Humans own their experience of copyrighted content.
    • Y!Q Link Generator
      Simple form for creating Y!Q links to add relevance, annotate text, and provide more sophisticated layers of meaning to web content.