click here to skip the menu and go to the page content
about | archive rss | atom

rebecca's pocket

.: 2005 --> june


@ Summer Reading 2005: has been moved to its own page.

[ 06/01/05 ]

@ Reader Jim Higgins of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points me to his paper's summer reading recommendations. (From his list, Jim would appear to be a science fiction aficionado.) I've added this link to my master summer reading list.
[ 05/21/05 ]

@ Citizen Filmmaking: Following the filmmakers of the 48-Hour Film Project.
[ 06/01/05 ]

@ This made the rounds while I was away: 11 steps to a better brain. Mozart, movement, memory, and...marmite! [more...]

According to research published in 2003, kids breakfasting on fizzy drinks and sugary snacks performed at the level of an average 70-year-old in tests of memory and attention. Beans on toast is a far better combination, as Barbara Stewart from the University of Ulster, UK, discovered. [...] If you can't stomach beans before midday, wholemeal toast with Marmite makes a great alternative. The yeast extract is packed with B vitamins, whose brain-boosting powers have been demonstrated in many studies.

Thanks to the lovely Kate, we came home with a little jar of Marmite. The secret, she (and numerous Aussies) told me, is to spread it thinly, very thinly, over butter.
[ 06/01/05 ]

@ Getting Things Done aficionado Merlin Mann explains an impressive paper-based management scheme found on Edward Tufte's site. If you love low-tech as much as I do - or if you just want to get organized - you'll want to take a look.
[ 06/01/05 ]

@ Meet the Julia Child of Asian cuisine: Corrine Trang (via a full belly)
[ 06/02/05 ]

@ Conventional Farming and Energy Costs: A Well-Oiled Machine.

The average U.S. farm uses 3 kcal of fossil energy in producing 1 kcal of food energy (in feedlot beef production, this ratio is 35:1), and this does not include the energy used to process and transport the food.
Last time anyone checked--according to the Hopkins professors no one has since a 1969 Defense Department study--food travels an average of 1300 miles between farm and table in the US. That's a lot of oil up in smoke.
And the energy efficiency of industrial ag has deteriorated over time. Richard Manning claims that in 1940, just before chemical-intensive agriculture really took hold, the average farm actually produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil energy used, and that by 1974 the ratio had fallen to 1:1.

[ 06/02/05 ]

@ The Paradox of the Hedge.

These new moats both evoke and provoke the divisions between public and private, embrace of the urban spectacle and retreat from it, the creative conflict arising out of proximity and the tranquility born of solitude. It's hard to say which side of the hedge is more besieged. But what is certain is that, in the words of John Chase, "Hedges are the sleeper hot-button issue in civic affairs." [...]
West Hollywood, like many of the cities that surround it, had a 42-inch height limit for hedges, which was often flouted. In May 2001, the city drafted a rule that would have permitted taller hedges, with the proviso that homeowners first apply for permission. The idea was to maintain the feeling of an "urban village." It was, in other words, a matter of communitarianism. Or so the city's planners thought. But when word got out, the citizens of West Hollywood were outraged. "I have to get a permit to grow a hedge?" they cried.
"The spaces are as important to people as their pets," Chase says. "It was as though you rang their doorbells and said, 'We're taking your dog.' It's an indicator of how people feel about the city. Does the gaze of passersby defile your space?"

(via theory of the daily)
[ 06/02/05 ]

@ I should note that Blogtalk Downunder was just great. Among the new people I met were the Witty Knitter and Australian Senator Andrew Bartlett, who presented a paper about politicians with blogs. His special interest, I'm told, is refugees - and you have to admire a civil servant who can write "This is the third time I've missed specific Nick Cave concerts because the Senate has been sitting." Maybe I have a future in politics after all.
[ 06/02/05 ]

@ The Economist: Sex changes. Women are gaining equality in professions that used to be male preserves, but not complete equality.

The glass ceiling is giving way to glass partitions: women are not spreading out evenly across these professions. Instead, they are concentrating in the less well-paid bits of them. [...]
Family-friendly working conditions mean that female GPs abound, but higher-paid hospital medicine (such as surgery and gynaecology) remains largely the preserve of men. ...[T]here are still few women in areas where competition is fiercest and earnings highest. Helen Fernandes, a surgeon at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, reckons that many women are put off surgery by the expectation that they have to be constantly available for work. "You can't leave in the middle of an operation, even if you have a child to pick up from the nursery and will lose your place there if you are late." But such demanding specialisations are also the most lucrative ones.

[ 06/03/05 ]

@ The Paradox of the Contented Woman Worker.

[Researchers designed problems to test individuals' math abilities, first individually, then competitively.] On average, the women made as much as the men under either system. But when they were offered a choice for the next round - take the piece rate or compete in a tournament - most women declined to compete, even the ones who had done the best in the earlier rounds. Most men chose the tournament, even the ones who had done the worst.
The men's eagerness partly stemmed from overconfidence, because on average men rated their ability more highly than the women rated theirs. But interviews and further experiments convinced the researchers, Muriel Niederle of Stanford and Lise Vesterlund of the University of Pittsburgh, that the gender gap wasn't due mainly to women's insecurities about their abilities. It was due to different appetites for competition.

[ 06/03/05 ]

@ Parke Wilde has been writing about the tension between the Federal Dietary Guidelines and federally funded agricultural "check-off programs": [more...]

[T]he reader can recognize that the [Federal Dietary] Guidelines encourage a diet with lower average amounts of some combination of foods from other categories, such as added sugars, high-fat snacks and desserts, meat, and high-fat dairy products.
Nevertheless, the best-known and best-funded federally sponsored consumer communications promote increased total consumption of beef, pork, and dairy products, including calorically dense foods such as bacon cheeseburgers, barbeque pork ribs, pizza, and butter. These communications are sponsored by the federal government's commodity promotion programs, known as "checkoff" programs. The programs are established by Congress, approved by a majority of the commodity's producers, managed jointly by a producer board and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and funded through a tax on the producers. The federal government enforces the collection of hundreds of millions of dollars each year in mandatory assessments, approves the advertising and marketing programs, and defends checkoff communication as the federal government's own message -- in legal jargon, as its own "government speech" (Becker, 2004). Federal support for promoting fruit and vegetables is small by comparison (Produce for Better Health Foundation, 2004; M&R Strategic Services, 2002).

Parke goes on to explore the nutritional implications of, and economic justification for the Dietary Guidelines and these programs.

Now, he reports, the Supreme Court has officially recognized the beef commodity checkoff advertising program as "Government Speech", hence, protected speech. The Justices, he says, would appear to know quite a lot about nutrition.
[ 06/03/05 ]

@ Martha Stewart: Ironing a Shirt.
[ 06/03/05 ]

@ Visiting Seminarians may be interested in reading some of my work, particularly the history of weblogs, my perspective on weblogs and journalism and the difference between participatory media and citizen journalism. You will probably also be interested in this excerpt from my book on weblog ethics.
[ 06/06/05 ]

@ The Mobility Myth. [more...]

The gap between the rich and everybody else in this country is fast becoming an unbridgeable chasm. David Cay Johnston, in the latest installment of the New York Times series "Class Matters," wrote, "It's no secret that the gap between the rich and the poor has been growing, but the extent to which the richest are leaving everybody else behind is not widely known."
Consider, for example, two separate eras in the lifetime of the baby-boom generation. For every additional dollar earned by the bottom 90 percent of the population between 1950 and 1970, those in the top 0.01 percent earned an additional $162. That gap has since skyrocketed. For every additional dollar earned by the bottom 90 percent between 1990 and 2002, Mr. Johnston wrote, each taxpayer in that top bracket brought in an extra $18,000.
It's like chasing a speedboat with a rowboat.

This might be a good time to bring out the old chart of US Income Distribution, 1980-1999.
[ 06/06/05 ]

@ In the fight against global warming, local governments are leading the way.

Mayors of more than 150 cities ranging from Los Angeles to Atlanta have signed an agreement pledging to move their communities toward the greenhouse-gas reductions laid out the Kyoto Protocol. And last week, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - a pro-business Republican - proposed cutting the state's greenhouse-gas emissions by 25 percent, proclaiming: "The debate is over ... and we know the time for action is now."
In this context, California can have a profound influence - not only on the environment, but on shaping public policy. As the 10th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and a crucible of environmental policy, California's decisions could again lay the groundwork for the future path of the entire nation.
"If this continues, when you add it all up, it will be significant activity on climate change even without a national policy," says Pietro Nivola of the Brookings Institution in Washington. "Very often that is the way policy works: When enough major states take action, then eventually the central government follows."

Where the people lead, the government will follow.
[ 06/06/05 ]

@ Cooking for Engineers: Equipment & Gear: Microwave Safe Containers. (via a full belly)
[ 06/06/05 ]

@ More summer reading lists:

Appended to the 2005 Master Summer Reading List. (thanks in part to waterloo library blog)
[ 06/06/05 ]

@ Human Events, a national conservative weekly, asked a panel of 15 conservative scholars and public policy leaders to help us compile a list of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries. John Stuart Mill's On Liberty? Hurt me, baby!
[ 06/06/05 ]

@ I second David's endorsement of Dolphin Transportation [, but obnoxious music, so watch out] in Naples, Florida, and of Mara's incredible professionalism. Highly recommended.
[ 06/06/05 ]

@ Schneier: Accuracy of Commercial Data Brokers.

PrivacyActivism has released a study of ChoicePoint and Acxiom, two of the U.S.'s largest data brokers. The study looks at accuracy of information and responsiveness to requests for reports.
It doesn't look good.

This is need to know information. Read the whole thing.
[ 06/07/05 ]

@ CJR Daily: CNN begins broadcasting CNN International's Your World Today, Nation reels.[more...]

I agree that Your World Today is vastly superior to those designed for the domestic audience. It has sometimes been the only English-language television available when I've been abroad, and I've always felt I had a better picture of world events then, than I ever get from watching American media. Part of that is simply focus, of course: news of the world, without the national-centric lens that any local news program automatically does, and should, have. As the CJR demonstrates, though, there's more to it than that. The reporting is actually, well, reporting.
[ 06/07/05 ]

@ Iraqi reality-TV hit takes fear factor to another level. [more...]

"Grip of Justice" dominates the 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. time slot in Iraq - at least anecdotally. There are no Nielsen ratings here.
It's broadly popular and considered a key tool in fighting the insurgency. But critics say the show violates prisoner rights by publicly humiliating suspects before they are proven guilty. As domestic detainees, these men are not covered by Geneva Convention rules for prisoners of war. [...]
But supporters say the nightly show helps Iraq fight an insurgency that has no qualms about using video-tapes of beheadings to sow terror. Many Iraqis say they welcome the program as proof that their government is doing something - anything - to make the country safe.

The obvious analogue is Cops. And, like Cops, this program provides a story of good and evil, with a clear narrative: law breakers are bad, often stupid, and bound to fail. Law enforcers are wise, brave, and morally superior to the social deviants they protect us from.
[ 06/07/05 ]

@ More Citizen Filmmaking: Revenge of the Amateurs. [more...]

Felux's moody, mythic tale of Jedi clairvoyants racing agents of the Emperor to find a powerful artifact at the dawn of the Rebellion. [...] "Revelations" also may be the most technically ambitious fan film ever made, a seamless synthetic tapestry of computer-generated star cruisers and howling tie fighters, crystalline cityscapes swimming with spacecraft, impertinent security droids and twirling light sabers.
And all of it a collaboration among scores of volunteer actors, set builders, semipro animators and technicians. Computer graphics and sound were cobbled together over the Internet. Among their achievements: turning a rock quarry in Virginia into a persuasively unpleasant penal colony on the Outer Rim, and converting Shenandoah Caverns into the deep recesses of a Jedi monastery.
I wonder: If a handful of overachieving basement dwellers armed with a consumer-quality digital camera and some inexpensive 3D animation and video-editing programs can produce such a finely lacquered bit of sci-fi cinema, what precisely do we need Hollywood for?
Let the Rebellion begin.

The writer draws the wrong conclusion, though. Participatory culture isn't about dissatisfaction, it's about enthusiasm. That, and the availability of the technology necessary to participate.
[ 06/07/05 ]

@ Women Find Their Place in the Field

"Farming has changed, and farmers now have to do things they are traditionally really bad at: marketing, educating consumers, collective action, communication," Ms. Rogowski said. "And it can't be a coincidence that women are traditionally good at those things."
To expand her farm's business and its reach in its community, Ms. Rogowski arranged for weekly deliveries of produce to centers for the elderly, mentored immigrant farmers from Mexico and Guatemala, started a catering business that uses local produce, sells vegetables at eight weekly farmers' markets and is an activist for land use reform.
"Women farmers aren't a special-interest group," she said. "Our issues are the same as all American farmers - we all want to keep our farms, and we have to make money from them. But women have come up with a lot of the new ways of doing it."

[ 06/08/05 ]

@ Cooking for Engineers: Making Butter. You know I'm going to do this. Homemade bread and homemade butter, with maybe a little homemade apple butter? Imagine the savings! Imagine the flavor! Imagine the fun!
[ 06/08/05 ]

@ 'Lactivists' Taking Their Cause, and Their Babies, to the Streets [more...]

Whether to breast-feed in public, many nursing mothers say, is not simply a matter of being respectful of another person's sensibilities. They cite research by the Food and Drug Administration showing that the degree of embarrassment a mother feels about breast-feeding plays a bigger role in determining whether she is likely to do so than household income, length of maternity leave or employment status.
The American Academy of Pediatrics urges women to feed their babies only breast milk for the first six months, and continue breast-feeding for at least an additional six months. If its recommendations were followed, the group estimates that Americans would save $3.6 billion in annual health care costs because breast-fed babies tend to require less medical care. But while more women are breast-feeding for the first few weeks, fewer than one-third are still nursing after six months. Some doctors attribute the decline to self-consciousness and the difficulties of finding spaces where nursing seems acceptable.

Isn't this the traditional purpose of the baby shawl? Both to warm the baby and provide the mother with a bit of modesty when she's feeding her child. This seems like a balance that can be easily achieved. Anyone who has gotten so far from human nature that the sight of a working breast offends them needs to get over it; and it doesn't take much to throw a towel over your shoulder when you're feeding your child.

My favorite bit:

Nursing mothers are pressuring businesses, too. Burger King has declared that mothers are welcome to nurse. Starbucks - the target of a letter-writing campaign that asked "What's more natural than coffee and milk?" - has, too.

What indeed?
[ 06/08/05 ]

@ The Breast Bottle

The Breastbottle is exactly what it's name suggests: a bottle in the shape of a breast. It is made of surgical-grade silicone and is soft and pliable like a woman's breast. It holds 7 ounces of milk and is dishwasher safe. [...]
"I've had mothers come in almost in tears because they're going back to work next week and the baby won't take a bottle," [store owner Sandra] Hendrickson said. "They try the Breastbottle and it works."

(via dangerousmeta)
[ 06/08/05 ]

@ Strengthen the Good

STG is the nexus of a network of bloggers committed to raising awareness for small charities around the world. Every so often this space highlights a new "micro-charity" - a small, inspiring charity, one with a real face and where $1 makes a difference - and the bloggers in the network link to that post, sending traffic, and awareness, the charity's way.

[ 06/08/05 ]

@ Another reading list: The San Francisco Chronicle's 100 best nonfiction books of the 20th century written in English about -- or by an author from -- the Western United States (1999)
[ 06/08/05 ]

@ Schneier: US Medical Privacy Laws Gutted.

In the U.S., medical privacy is largely governed by a 1996 law called HIPAA. Among many other provisions, HIPAA regulates the privacy and security surrounding electronic medical records. HIPAA specifies civil penalties against companies that don't comply with the regulations, as well as criminal penalties against individuals and corporations who knowingly steal or misuse patient data.
The civil penalties have long been viewed as irrelevant by the health care industry. Now the criminal penalties have been gutted.

[ 06/08/05 ]

@ Customized pricing on websites. [more...]

The [CNN] article cites "a retail photography Web site charging different prices for the same digital cameras and related equipment depending on whether shoppers had previously visited popular price-comparison sites" and "one [Amazon] buyer [who] deleted the electronic tags on his computer that identified him as a regular customer and noticed the price of a DVD changed from $26.24 to $22.74."
Yep -- it's good old-fashioned price discrimination, the inevitable result of an increasingly "personalized" Internet.

The Annenberg Report is called Open to Exploitation [pdf], plus they have a handy little quiz [pdf] you can print out to shock your co-workers.

(via boingboing)
[ 06/08/05 ]

@ The Academy Awards allows nominated documentaries to include "Partial reenactment" - but how much is too much? The Controversy about Mockumentaries.

The winners of the [Academy] award admitted they used reenactments but they never revealed how much of the film they recreated to make us believe we were watching the event as if it were real. The producers never told us the percentage of the film they faked. Yes, faked. What the producers did made their film a hoax. They wanted the audience to believe it was watching real footage, not their recreations, to make a more believable film. The producers eventually admitted they used antique cameras, distressed film stock, period vehicles, and a cast of 700 people. Yes, there was a cast of 700, including many children and dogs, all used to recreate scenes of a 1963 civil rights march in Birmingham, Alabama. Those who later screened the movie again, and this time more carefully, estimate that at least half the film was not authentic. Does that make the film a lie? For me it does.

[ 06/08/05 ]

@ Ask Metafilter: What books are on your summer reading list? (Recursive!)
[ 06/08/05 ]

@ Don't miss Ingo Günther's Globes.
[ 06/14/05 ]

@ 'The latest smart marketing tool, film directors' 'making-of' weblogs stoke fans' zeal by drawing them into what feels like an inner circle.'

"People are looking for 'real content,' " said Adrian Sexton, vice president of digital marketing for Lions Gate Films, which hosts several directors' blogs. "With a blog, people can look for themselves at the way you handle your choices creatively, where you got the money for the film, how you landed the talent. They can see something outside the usual way moviemaking is presented."
"The studio websites [for movies] are a bit stagnant," ["X-Men" director Bryan] Singer said. "They're just so traditional." Viewed with that in mind, footage of the director discussing film color corrections and managing extras doesn't exactly shatter the traditional movie marketing paradigm. But in one of the site's most widely discussed postings, Jackson invites Singer to the New Zealand set of "Kong." There, an apparently exhausted Jackson pretends to snooze in a La-Z-Boy recliner while a bewildered Singer directs a scene in Jackson's movie.
"There's a kind of theater that occurs during the making of a movie that's unique to each production," Singer said. "If you're willing to expose yourself a bit, it can be a wonderful method of getting the word out and sharing that experience with the people who are most interested - the fans."

(via dangerousmeta)
[ 06/14/05 ]

@ Austin Public Library Wired for Youth: Book lists.
[ 06/14/05 ]

@ NPR: An Armful of Books for the Summer.
[ 06/14/05 ]

@ Rich-poor gap gaining attention. A remark by Greenspan symbolizes concern that wealth disparities may destabilize the economy.

Greenspan's comments at a Joint Economic Committee hearing last week were typical, for him. Asked a leading question by Sen. Jack Reed (D) of Rhode Island, he agreed that over the past two quarters hourly wages have shown few signs of accelerating. Overall employee compensation has gone up - but mostly due to a surge in bonuses and stock-option exercises.
The Fed chief than added that the 80 percent of the workforce represented by nonsupervisory workers has recently seen little, if any, income growth at all. The top 20 percent of supervisory, salaried, and other workers has.
The result of this, said Greenspan, is that the US now has a significant divergence in the fortunes of different groups in its labor market. "As I've often said, this is not the type of thing which a democratic society - a capitalist democratic society - can really accept without addressing," Greenspan told the congressional hearing.

[ 06/14/05 ]

@ Legal Guide for Bloggers.
[ 06/14/05 ]

@ Useful: Security guru Bruce Schneier has designed a computer program that will manage all your passwords for you.
[ 06/15/05 ]

@ Guardian: Interest grows in solving cryptic CIA puzzle after link to Da Vinci Code. [more...]

[T]he race to find the secrets of Kryptos, a sculpture inside a courtyard at the CIA's heavily guarded headquarters in Langley, Virginia, may be reaching a climax.
And interest has soared since Dan Brown hid references to Kryptos on the cover design for his bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code, and suggested it might play a role in his next novel, The Solomon Key. [...]
Placing it in the thick of many of the best code-breakers in the world, they never thought it would take this long. "These were events I thought would take months not years," Mr Sanborn, a Washington-based sculptor, told the Guardian.

For more, visit the official Kryptos page. (via boingboing)
[ 06/15/05 ]

@ Fun: What color eyes will your children have? (via a whole lotta nothing)
[ 06/15/05 ]

@ A Small World seems to be Orkut for the upper crust. [more...]

We list the most popular restaurants, hotels, and night clubs in over 60 major cities, summer and winter resorts and we keep track of major events, parties, exhibitions, film and music festivals and sporting events such as motor racing, tennis, sailing, golf, and others.

Motor racing????? Apart from the social tier, I wonder if there are any other differences? Do I have any Small World readers?
[ 06/15/05 ]

@ Techno-rebels spread wireless network vision.

They are modern-day freedom fighters trying to encourage people to host wireless connections to the Internet, with the hope of eventually unplugging the entire city.
The idea: If enough people share bandwidth and a spot on their window ledge for a small radio antenna, eventually anyone in the city will be able to go online free. It's a new form of civic activism - driven by computer programmers who want to pool their collective knowledge for the greater good.

[ 06/15/05 ]

@ A study published in the April issue of Science shows that on teams of every kind, diversity equals success.

"Do people go out of their way to collaborate with new people?" said Luís A. Nunes Amaral, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering and the corresponding author on the paper. "Do they take this risk?"
"We found that teams that achieved success -- by producing musicals on Broadway or publishing academic papers in good journals -- were fundamentally assembled in the same way, by bringing in some experienced people who had not worked together before. The unsuccessful teams repeated the same collaborations over and over again."

[ 06/16/05 ]

@ They are more serious than the average hobbyist, but not working professionals: meet the prosumers.

Haik Sahakian, who develops websites at Fidelity Investments, is only too happy to hand out copies of his latest DVD, produced with a $400 Sony video camera and a copy of Adobe Premiere editing software. It's a traditional yule log video but it's "the first one with director's commentary as an optional feature," Sahakian notes proudly.

That's what I'm talking about.
[ 06/16/05 ]

@ NPR: Sun-Kissed Summer Cookbooks and Recipes
[ 06/16/05 ]

@ Ahmed has done an Arabic translation of my weblog ethics.
[ 06/16/05 ]

@ I'm ashamed to say that I didn't know about Mukhtaran Bibi, a woman who was sentenced by a tribal council in Pakistan to be gang-raped because of an infraction supposedly committed by her brother. Nicholas Kristof has the story and some pertinent questions about her recent arrest by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf - and our administration's support of President Musharraf.
[ 06/17/05 ]

@ MP launches drug test machine, tests positive. [more...]

However, the politicians were keen to stress that such was the power of the device, positive results could easily come from so-called "cross contamination", for example by touching cash or a door handle previously handled by a drugs user. "You could pick it up from anywhere couldn't you?" Hart said.

Fantastic! Law enforcement can now target people who are somehow in contact with drug users, say through a large social network, or geographically, for example, anyone who lives in a city.
[ 06/17/05 ]

@ NPR: Summer Reading Picks from 3 critics. I guess I'm in the mood for something light right now, because Here, There, and Everywhere, Misfortune, and Lint all sound really appealing to me. [more...]

[And Jamais Cascio has posted an intriguing review of Accelerando, which is freely available in a variety of formats.] (Added.)
[ 06/17/05 ]

@ Think Different News: Fond du Lac, Wisconsin vendor Super Fast Pizza focused on what its customer's want - hot, fast pizza - and designed a process that allows them to take orders and make pizza on the road. (via the artful manager)
[ 06/20/05 ]

@ Jamais Cascio reviews a number of world changing computer games.
[ 06/20/05 ]

@ Fortune: Power Plays (a series of energy factoids for entrepreneurs and others).

Appliances that are switched off but still plugged in account for 5% of U.S. energy consumption and cost consumers $3 billion annually. - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

(via the alternative energy blog)
[ 06/20/05 ]

@ Neal Stephenson argues that ancillary media enable storytellers to create popular stories uncluttered with inessential detail for the general public, while simultaneously creating expanded universes elsewhere for hardcore fans. His argument would be more convincing if he had chosen any film besides Revenge of the Sith as his example. [more...]

Sith is a terrible film. (Less terrible than its two predecessors doesn't make it any good at all). The people I know who enjoyed it, did so by actively re-imagining the film: filling in blanks, improving scenes, and adding detail that doesn't exist onscreen. In truth, I don't believe the omitted details were deliberately "off-loaded" by Lucas. My strong suspicion is that more gifted storytellers took Lucas's plot points and simply assembled them more skillfully than he could. Too many of those "extra" details are essential to the primary story. As a story-teller, Stephenson should understand that.

The film needs to stand on its own. If it doesn't, it's a failure. Just like the conceptual art I hated so much in the 70s, if viewers need to go to a secondary source to make sense of a work of art, it's just not doing its job.
[ 06/21/05 ]

@ Dad: The Periodical.

Retirement brought the chance for a fresh start, or, perhaps, a last opportunity to say to the children -- and now the grandchildren: This is who I am, and here are some of the people and a lot of other influences that made me this way, and, incidentally, that may have affected you, too. [...]
Such were the experiences that set the stage for publication of the Grampaland Journal, a four-page quarterly newsletter, now in its second year. The first issue of Grampaland carried the following explanation on the cover: "Note: This is the inaugural issue of Grampaland Journal, a periodic publication designed to bridge the generations with writing drawn from a variety of past and contemporary sources and distributed to a limited readership. Contributions are welcome. -- The Editors." It has a circulation of 18 -- children, grandchildren and a few other relatives.

(via my apple menu reader)
[ 06/21/05 ]

@ A short summer reading list by sports columnist Peter King. And NPR book editor Karen Grigsby Bates lists books that "take me someplace I can't get to myself". (Added.)
[ 06/21/05 ]

@ Today I'm starting a new feature on Rebecca's Pocket: Bloggers on Blogging. Every month, I'll be interviewing a different blogger about what they do, how they do it, and what it means. For my inaugural issue I'm very pleased to present my interview with Matt Haughey, writer/editor of A Whole Lotta Nothing, PVRblog, and Metafilter. Our interview was so lengthy that I divided it into two parts. In Part One we talk about writing, becoming a blogger, and how to be widely read. I'll post Part Two on Friday.
[ 06/22/05 ]

@ CardSystems Solutions has disclosed that it should not even have had 200,000 of the 40 million credit card accounts that were compromised in a recent security breach. Will privacy finally become a security issue?
[ 06/22/05 ]

@ NPR: A Cure for Kids' Summer Reading Doldrums. Books children will enjoy reading.

And it's a problem that we grown-ups don't have to deal with. When the weather gets hot and the beach beckons, we trade in our nutritious, fiber-filled reading for a diet of delicious junk: gruesome mysteries, trashy romance novels, tell-all autobiographies.
Meanwhile our kids are on a forced march through books in which a dog dies and a child learns a painful lesson, or a parent dies and a child learns a painful lesson, or a child dies and ANOTHER child learns a painful lesson.

[ 06/22/05 ]

@ Flirtation in the age of Tsunami. Ah, youth!

Pacaran [flirtation], of course, is older than the hills in Banda Aceh and has lost none of its fervor despite the region's embrace of Islam 700 years ago. Yet technology and prosperity has given young Acehnese more freedom than their parents enjoyed, including the ability to call or text message members of the opposite sex at any hour, and the mobility to meet each other on scooters at a burger joint, or even in traffic. [...]
There is even a morning pacaran session on the bridge close to Iskandermuda University, where young college students and teens in jogging suits gather under the pretext of exercise. But the slow pace of exercise indicates that these young people are more interested in coquetry than spoiling a perfectly good sweat-suit with sweat.

[ 06/23/05 ]

@ From failed author to media magnate: Janet Evanovich is using a creative approach and good old-fashioned common sense to market her bestselling books. [more...]

While her success speaks to her tenacity and devotion to family, it owes as much to marketing prowess. When fans, impatient for her next novel, began asking her to recommend other writers like her, Ms. Evanovich hired one instead. Thus began a separate line of paperback romance-thrillers with Charlotte Hughes as co-author and St. Martin's as publisher. Four books in that series became best sellers. [...]
Ms. Evanovich plots her first week of promotion to include book signings at big stores that report their sales to publications that publish best-seller lists. As in past years, the publication of the new Stephanie Plum novel will include a Stephanie Plum Daze festival in Trenton, the setting for the novels. Featuring live music, food, a character dress-up contest and historical-society tours of Trenton sites mentioned in the series, a festival on June 25 is expected to attract several thousand fans. Barnes & Noble will be there selling books.

Her approach is refreshingly non-egotistical, don't you think? Evanovich doesn't seem to see the "working writer" as an artiste, but as a businesswoman.
[ 06/23/05 ]

@ New Book List: graphic novels for first-time comics readers. (Added.)
[ 06/23/05 ]

@ Pulled up by the banjo strings [more...]

Sixty thousand visitors to the Crooked Road are expected this year; in contrast, attendance at the 18th-century living-history village of Colonial Williamsburg has stayed flat for the past three years.
This search for "roots music" is part of a broader change in tourism, in which older, more specialized audiences are searching for places that evoke an idealized time. While music pilgrims have been drawn to the mountains for centuries, fueling several revivals, the scene has only recently been discovered by tourism professionals ready to package the twangy commodity.

Of course, Floyd, VA, which features prominently in this piece, is the home of one of my favorite weblogs, Fragments from Floyd.
[ 06/23/05 ]

@ I'd like to draw your attention to a wonderful blog I just discovered, the Artful Manager. Proprietor Andrew Taylor has a wonderful gift for drawing lessons about his specialty - arts administration - from current events, business theory, and technology. He recently wrote a wonderful post on Espoused mission vs. mission-in-use, which will certainly be interesting to anyone in business - or anyone looking for an effective means to understand and possibly change their own behavior. He also has an some interesting ideas about what Amazon-style recommenders can teach arts programming professionals. Interesting, original thinking - highly recommended.
[ 06/23/05 ]

@ Beautiful:

Banned from broadcasting news since February's royal coup, Nepali radio reporters have found a new way to get their bulletins out: loudspeaker.
Every evening, about 300 people gather on a roadside in Biratnagar, 500 kilometers (310 miles) east of Katmandu to listen to Keshav Bhattarai read out the news from an open air studio on the roof of a narrow, three-story building.

Remember, you're only as oppressed as you allow yourself to be.
[ 06/24/05 ]

@ My husband and I invented this game a while ago. Not this game, exactly, but one like it, in which players travel from place to place by walking on a treadmill or some similar device, and shoot bad guys, or hide, or whatever the game action is, by actually doing the movement themselves. It would be way more fun to physically participate in the game than to sit and work a controller; and it would be way more fun to exercise by playing an action game than by riding a stationary bike. And what 10-year-old would rather sit and veg out in front of a television than act out some action scenario with special effects? (via boingboing)
[ 06/24/05 ]

@ In Part Two of the first Bloggers on Blogging interview, Matt Haughey talks about living online, his most memorable moment, and reveals his formula for making money with your blog.
[ 06/24/05 ]

@ CJR Daily on the awesome Kidspost. I wish they had an RSS feed.
[ 06/24/05 ]

@ CSM: How the Web Changes your reading habits is a rotten title for an article that discusses two really interesting approaches to online reading:

ScentHighlights gets its name from a theory that proposes that people forage for information much in the same way that animals forage in the wild. "Certain plants emit a scent in order to attract birds and bees to come to them," Chi says. ScentHighlights uncovers the "scent" that bits of information give off and attract readers to it. [...]
BuddyBuzz is based on a reading technique called RSVP (Rapid Serial Visual Presentation) that's been around since the 1970s, says Matt Markovich, editor in chief of BuddyBuzz. Using it, people can learn to read with good comprehension up to 1,000 words per minute, Mr. Markovich says.

[ 06/24/05 ]

@ Accidental Consequences News: How airport security changes your fashion habits.

As they have become conditioned to the intrusiveness of modern security measures, undressing and redressing in front of revolving casts of strangers, travelers have developed new routines of composure, evolving their wardrobes to speed them along. And clothing makers have come up with innovations to meet their needs. Shoe companies like Florsheim, Clarks and Rockport sell "airport friendly" shoes without steel shanks. Underwear makers promote support bras made without an underwire, as even a small bit of metal can trigger a sensitive alarm.
"Americans have simplified the way they dress for travel," said Valerie Steele, the chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. "It's not a question of dressing better or worse. It's about dressing in a way that is more transparent."

[ 06/24/05 ]

@ Unintended Consequences News: Bruce Schneier on teaching kids to be safe:

I think "don't talk to strangers" is just about the worst possible advice you can give a child. Most people are friendly and helpful, and if a child is in distress, asking the help of a stranger is probably the best possible thing he can do.
This advice would have helped Brennan Hawkins, the 11-year-old boy who was lost in the Utah wilderness for four days. "The parents said Brennan had seen people searching for him on horse and ATV, but avoided them because of what he had been taught."

[ 06/24/05 ]

@ To celebrate its 3000th post, WorldChanging is once again turning the site over to guest contributors. It should be interesting.
[ 06/27/05 ]

@ The fleet of US school buses has a safety record unequalled within the transportation industry — 40 times safer than family cars. (via david barber)
[ 06/27/05 ]

@ Billy Graham's huge success was a combination of charisma, a deliberately inclusive message, and brilliant use of the new media technologies. [more...]

"He was reared as a fundamentalist, who very self-consciously, early in his career, decided to forsake the fundamentalism of his childhood in favor of a broader, more inclusive, evangelicalism, which was not so separatist or sectarian," says Randall Balmer, professor of American religion at Barnard College in New York. [...]
At the same time, Graham was the first to employ electronic media in a way no one had before. His "Hour of Decision" radio broadcast, first aired in 1950, became the most listened-to religious program in the world - a position unchallenged for decades.
"He came to prominence at a unique moment in history," says Mr. Balmer, "when various media technologies were just emerging in the country. And he, and more particularly his associates and his team, jumped on them and exploited them brilliantly in order to advance his career."

I'm also impressed that Graham refused to preach before segregated audiences [via]. I wonder who the first Web evangelist will be?
[ 06/27/05 ]

@ A new Spanish law which will compel men to perform half the housework has met with approval from Parliment, disapproval from some women's groups, and creativity from some entrepreneurs. [more...]

The Barcelona-based inventor, Pep Torres, has designed a washing machine called Your Turn. It uses fingerprint technology so that it is impossible for the same person to use it twice in a row.
He has also come up with a cunning idea to persuade even the most macho of men to do the ironing - heavy weights hanging down from the iron.

The article observes that men are not taught housekeeping skills. I would say that in the United States, neither are women anymore. (via the Divine Miss Em)
[ 06/27/05 ]

@ Brain researcher Sandra Witelson has studied over 100 human brains, including Einstein's. Her work has uncovered some interesting and surprising differences between men's and women's brains — and inspired some controversy.

Men and women appear to use different parts of the brain to encode memories, sense emotions, recognize faces, solve certain problems and make decisions. Indeed, when men and women of similar intelligence and aptitude perform equally well, their brains appear to go about it differently, as if nature had separate blueprints, researchers at UC Irvine reported this year. [...]
Some activists fear that research like Witelson's could be used to justify discrimination based on gender differences, just as ill-conceived notions of human genetics once influenced laws codifying racial stereotypes about blacks, Asians and Jews.
"The brain is being sculpted gradually through sets of interactions," said Anne Fausto-Sterling, a gender studies expert at Brown University. "Even when something in the brain appears biological, it may have come to be that way because of how the body has experienced the world."

(via fragments from floyd)
[ 06/27/05 ]

@ In reading through the 1999 Slashdot article linked from the footnote to my Matt Haughey interview, I noticed this comment: [more...]

Re:Cool, but can you make a living at it? (Score:1)
by jkottke (13651) on Monday May 24, @09:23PM (#1881520)
Eventually, someone will make money off of the weblog concept....just not very much.

Heh. Jason, of course, just quit his job this year to blog full-time.....
[ 06/27/05 ]

@ It was just a matter of time: Bloggers promote products for cash. [more...]

Dot Flowers's ad agency paid Cutler $5 this spring to promote the florist and put a link to its website on his blog, or online journal, short for web log. Cutler, who does not disclose the payment on his blog, is one of more than 2,000 bloggers whom marketer USWeb enlisted to hawk products and services. That helped the nascent florist double its sales in the first three months and shoot up near the top of Google's search list, according to USWeb.
Yes, corporate America has discovered the blog and found that the grass-roots medium for supposedly unadulterated opinions is also a powerful marketing tool in a country where about 37 million Americans read these online journals. Even the state of Pennsylvania has joined in, offering free vacations to people who blog on its tourism site.

As noted in the sidebar, Rebecca's Pocket is currently supported by your Amazon purchases; before that, it was supported by me. Rest assured that if I were going to betray your trust, it would be for more than $5.

Most bloggers agree that they should always disclose any conflict of interest. Thoughtful members of the community are working out exactly how to support themselves and their costs in a responsible way.

A blogger who says, "A person is not spending their time to throw something up on the Internet unless they have an objective or an ulterior motive" is way outside prevailing blogging culture.

I enjoy sharing information. So do most of the bloggers I know. Like most others who participate in the online gift economy, I've accrued substantial benefits from my increased visibility — but I didn't realize that was even possible when I started.

There's a lot that could be said about this, but transparency is the key. When Tiger Woods wears a Nike shirt, people understand that he has been paid to do so. When people read a traditional ad, they understand that the space is paid for. Readers will intuitively understand that bloggers' endorsements are likely to be paid fictions on the day they believe most bloggers are liars.
[ 06/28/05 ]

@ In November, two initial screenings on a US-born cow produced conflicting results for Mad Cow disease, but the Department of Agriculture refused to order a third test to resolve the conflict. When department's inspector general ordered a third test (which ruled positive), the Agriculture Secretary was miffed. Read about the politics of Mad Cow disease. Me? I'm buying grass-fed. (via US food policy blog)
[ 06/28/05 ]

@ Stephen Burzio, a NYC attorney who represents low-income tenants, on the recent Supreme Court ruling Kelo vs New London, et al, that any local or state government could seize property through its power of eminent domain for the purpose of economic development.

Missing from the Kass piece, and nearly all of the Sunday editorials on Kelo, is a basic understanding of the history of eminent domain abuse under the "old rules." [...]
Whether the projects in question are strictly public or for the public benefit is not the question editorialists should be asking. What they should be asking is, "Is this a good use of the land in question?" And, "Are current residents treated fairly and given some form of due process?"

[ 06/28/05 ]

@ Summer Reading List: Science and Religion Reading list by Science-and-religion academics. (Added.)
[ 06/28/05 ]

@ John Furrier has posted a terrific interview with my husband, Jesse James Garrett, on Ajax, its importance for business strategy, and the Web 2.0. I confess I was afraid it would be boring. I'm happy to report that it was not. If you have anything to do with your business's website, you need to listen to this piece.
[ 06/29/05 ]

@ Jesse Walker considers a trend in radio programming — shuffle radio — and reflects on what radio really needs to do to compete with iPod. He's absolutely right. The time is ripe for old-fashioned album-oriented rock stations (read: personally, eccentrically, broadly programmed radio) to make a comeback. And guess what? If radio doesn't do it, motivated amateurs will. And when those amateurs gain a strong enough following, they will eventually support themselves with advertising, as radio stations do, or offer subscription services to their most avid fans. [more...]

As the world becomes more and more information-overloaded — and as mass amateurization spreads into every area that once was the domain of professionals — people will be more and more willing to pay for great Filters.
[ 06/29/05 ]

@ How to Make Your Blog Accessible to Blind Readers. (Some of this advice seems more attuned to commercial sites than blogs. Bloggers are among the most sophisticated writers of hypertext. Clicking from link to link on many weblogs would completely eliminate meaning from both the text and the links.) Related: Is Blogging Accessible to People with Vision Loss?
[ 06/29/05 ]

@ Knitting resources for the blind:

(via yarnmaven)
[ 06/29/05 ]

@ NPR: Summer Page-Turners, Karen Grigsby Bates. (Added.)
[ 06/29/05 ]

@ Kenyan, 73, kills leopard with bare hands. Nuff said.
[ 06/30/05 ]

@ Un-American News: Credit Chief Slams Free Reports:

Equifax's chief executive says he opposes federal legislation that lets consumers obtain a free copy of their credit report to help them monitor financial accounts for fraudulent activity.
CEO Thomas Chapman called the legislation unconstitutional and un-American because it cuts into profits that Equifax and two rival credit reporting agencies -- Experian and TransUnion -- earn from selling credit reports and monitoring services. Equifax maintains credit data on 220 million Americans. The company earned $1.27 billion in revenue last year.

Because the United States was founded for Big Business, of Big Business, and by Big Business.
[ 06/30/05 ]

@ Well, this is an interesting question: Should a country ordered to pay reparations for its actions under a brutal dictator, continue to be bear that financial burden once the dictator has been removed?
[ 06/30/05 ]

@ The Green Office Guide [pdf] (via alternative energy blog)
[ 06/30/05 ]

@ Thrifty Fun: Home Improvement: Conservation
[ 06/30/05 ]


comments? questions? email me