.: May 2006 --> May 2006
» Whither implants? Mobile Box Office allows you to buy movie tickets with your cell phone, then use your phone as your movie ticket (via an on-screen barcode). The pilot program is being implemented in Michigan-based Emagine Theatres. (via ibt) [ 05.01.06 ]
» Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science have have caught the brain in the act of losing its sense of "self" as it shuts down introspection and enters a flow state during a demanding sensory task. / (1) Comments / [ 05.01.06 ]
» A Conservative Rabbi considers a Biblical injunction and ponders whether the ban on gay rabbis might not be subject to Conservative Judaism's tradition of "upgrad[ing] our biblical understanding with new scientific knowledge." [ 05.02.06 ]
» A new study shows that honeybees have a collective decision-making process that incorporates an open forum of ideas, frank "discussions" and friendly competition. "The bees' method, which is a product of disagreement and contest rather than consensus or compromise, consistently yields excellent collective decisions." Thomas Seeley, Professor of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell. / (1) Comments / [ 05.02.06 ]
» A year ago, Fluid Pudding posted her hilarious birthing story — except for the part about the fast-walking nurse. OH DEAR GOD, SAVE ME FROM FAST WALKING NURSES. It includes remarkably un-bloody pictures of a caesarean birth, and if you're a strong man or an average woman, you can take it. Except for the part about the fast walking nurse, which actually made me clutch myself when I read it. (via leahpeah) / (1) Comments / [ 05.03.06 ]
» Part of the appeal of the DaVinci Code is that it purports to offer a glimpse into secret societies and hidden history. Instead, a group of Christian scholars say that author Dan Brown got key historical background events wrong. / (2) Comments / [ 05.03.06 ]
» Salon has an excellent article that explains network neutrality and what is really at stake if the Telcos get their wish. For an analogy, think of the way cable companies operate. Have we seen competition emerge amongst cable companies within individual cities and neighborhoods? Do they always choose the programs you want to see for "Basic cable"? Do you have any recourse if they decide not to carry a particular station you want to watch? Now imagine that same state of affairs when you surf the Web. If this issue is new to you, it's worth your while to understand why the Telcos are lobbying Congress so hard. (via rc3oi) / (1) Comments / [ 05.03.06 ]
» CSM: The US does not consider the Taliban to be terrorists. "The Afghan Taliban is better organized today than it was in 2001. They have more recruits [and they] have been able to take advantage of the lawlessness, the criminal gangs, and the corruption in the government." Kathy Gannon, the former Associated Press bureau chief for Pakistan and Afghanistan. / (1) Comments / [ 05.03.06 ]
» It's just around the corner. Here are a few book recommendations for Mother's Day:
- The Book Babe's May 2006 Mother's Day Gift List and their "Tough Mamas" Reading List, a collection of the most resilient moms in the current fiction.
- About.com's Christian Books for Mom
- Children's books about Mother's Day
- Amazon's Books for Moms. (I have to say Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back—one of Amazon's recommendations for "Hip Moms"— sounds pretty darned interesting.)
- Or, if you know your Mom's taste in books, maybe you can find a title she hasn't read yet on the Waterboro Public Library's List of Reading Lists.
[ 05.04.06 ]
» A new study shows that, though they spend half as much on healthcare, the middle-aged English are healthier than their American counterparts. In fact, the health of the poorest Britons was about equivalent to that of the wealthiest Americans. [ 05.04.06 ]
» The Freakonomics blog examines how musician Jane Siberry's a voluntary payment system uses incentives to subtly influence her fans to pay more than perhaps they otherwise would. (via rw) [ 05.05.06 ]
» Remember Karen Ryan? A media watchdog group tracked 36 Video News Releases for 10 months and found that 77 stations aired nearly 100 VNRs, without revealing they had been produced by PR agencies, and not by journalists. "I was stunned by the scope. The public has a right to know who is trying to persuade them." Jonathan Adelstein, FCC commissioner. [ 05.05.06 ]
» New classes of sleeping pills make it possible for people to more or less control the amount of sleep they need. I can foresee a booming business in sleep-compression drugs for new parents. Bonus concept: "Sleep architecture"! (thanks, lizard!) [ 05.09.06 ]
» Department of Agriculture employees have been instructed to incorporate talking points on Iraq into their speeches. Scratching your head? The email includes several helpful segues, like "Several topics I'd like to talk about today — Farm Bill, trade with Japan, WTO, avian flu . . . but before I do, let me touch on a subject people always ask about . . . progress in Iraq." The examples are hilarious — but they all come round to assuring you that the President has a clear strategy for victory in Iraq. (via usfp) [ 05.09.06 ]
» This one will have you smiling all week: a ballet class for 3 to 7-year-old girls with cerebral palsy and other debilitating physical conditions. "Ballet made me realize I can still do stuff that other kids can do. [...] Even if you feel scared, it's the same for anything: If you don't try, you'll never know what you can do." Veronica Siaba, 7. / (1) Comments / [ 05.09.06 ]
» In a recent fundraising letter, Elizabeth Dole sought to rally the faithful with the warning that if Democrats "seize control of the Senate" they will "call for endless investigations, congressional censure and maybe even impeachment of President Bush". Wait, the Republicans don't approve of that? [ 05.10.06 ]
» Bottlenose dolphins use signature whistles as referential signals — ie, names. They respond to relatives' names, and will refer to a third dolphin when communicating with each other. [ 05.11.06 ]
» In a letter-writing campaign, 6th graders protest proposed tree cutting. "What is the deal with cutting down the Croatan National Forest? How would you like it if we cut down some trees around your house?" Haley Wester, a 6th grader, in a letter to Undersecretary Mark Rey, expressing concern about his proposal to sell 309,000 acres of National Forest. [ 05.11.06 ]
» Religious Affiliations of History's 100 Most Influential People, as ranked by Michael H. Hart in The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History. Catholics dominate. The highest ranking atheist: Karl Marx, at #27. I wonder if they counted Jesus (#3) as a pre-Nicene Christian, or (my choice) as a Jew? (via cn) / (1) Comments / [ 05.12.06 ]
» The Gun Owners of America has sent out an op ed piece to conservative news outlets explaining why it agrees with Moveon.org, in the fight for network neutrality.
The real problem is that we are under a distorted market from the get-go. Government is setting the rules. The result has been a government-supported oligopoly. We are lucky that those controlling physical access to the Internet have been forced to give every purchaser of bandwidth equal access – it doesn’t matter whether Gun Owners or the Brady Center is purchasing a T-1: all T-1 purchasers pay the same for the same level of service. And moreover, the phone company has to tough it if they don’t like what is being done with that bandwidth.
[ 05.12.06 ]
» In poetry-loving Yemen, tribal bard takes on Al Qaeda - with his verse. "Other countries fight terrorism with guns and bombs, but in Yemen we use poetry. Through my poetry I can convince people of the need for peace who would never be convinced by laws or by force." Amin al-Mashreqi, a Yemeni poet who is fighting Islamic militancy with poetry. [ 05.15.06 ]
» NYTimes Books: "Early this year, the Book Review's editor, Sam Tanenhaus, sent out a short letter to a couple of hundred prominent writers, critics, editors and other literary sages, asking them to please identify 'the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years.' Following are the results." Those polled chose Beloved, by Toni Morrison. Interestingly, Amazon's "Wisdom of the Crowds" rates it only at 4 stars. [ 05.15.06 ]
» People are comparing it to Orwell's 1984, but it's actually the paradigm from David Brin's Transparent Society. London Eastenders can now monitor their own neighborhood via a home CCTV channel. The question, of course, is whether they'll actually phone in crimes, or sit and passively watch them, waiting for someone else to report it. / (2) Comments / [ 05.16.06 ]
» Ideal Homes has built a zero-energy house, which produces as much energy in a year as it consumes, for less than $200,000. The house incorporates solar panels, a geothermal heating system, low-e vinyl windows, and a tankless hot water system. Specs are available from the US Department of Energy. "Every time they do a demonstration site...they build this one-off amazing house that...costs a million dollars. Everybody looks at that and says, 'That's interesting. With enough money, you can do anything.' We wanted to show that you can take any house out of a builder's product line and make it a zero energy house." / (1) Comments / [ 05.16.06 ]
» If you've followed the Pocket for a few years, you probably remember the day I introduced you to one of the original "weblogs of place", Fragments from Floyd. Well, Fred First, proprietor of Fragments, has just published his first book, and he graciously agreed to sit for my latest Bloggers on Blogging interview. Fred is a terrific interview subject—thoughtful and eloquent and funny—and we discuss everything from the rewards of blogging to the insecurity involved in becoming a writer. I know you'll enjoy it.
I would never have thought of myself at all as a writer before the blog. I anguished terribly over calling myself a writer in those early blogging months, though I knew that was where I wanted to go. And I found some peace by telling myself this: "If a man carries a gun into the woods looking for game, he is a hunter, even if he comes back with nothing in his pouch. In the same way, you are a writer."
[ 05.17.06 ]
» Last night I attended the seventh annual Wired Rave Awards, and watched my husband receive the award for technology. I couldn't be more proud of him, but the highlight of the evening for me was joining in the only standing ovation given that night—for the Honorable John E. Jones III, who was honored for his ruling on intelligent design. Update: Here I am next to the Giant Floating Head. [ 05.17.06 ]
» And for young people:
- Education World's list of School and Library Summer Reading Lists
- Suggested Summer Reading Lists from Schools, libraries, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and more.
- Horn Book's Suggested Summer Reading for Kids
[ 05.18.06 ]
» It's nearly that time again. This year, I'm creating a category for Summer Reading lists, which is linked in the sidebar to your right. To start off, a couple of suggestions for adult readers:
- UC Berkeley Summer Reading 2005 is Books for Future Presidents
- Harvard Economics Professor Greg Mankiw's 2006 Summer Reading List for his students.
[ 05.18.06 ]
» Partial DNA profiles of Jack the Ripper suggest that he may have been a woman—a theory espoused by one of the investigators of the time. [ 05.19.06 ]
» The American Library Association Recommended Summer Reading for Children and their families goes all the way through high school. [ 05.22.06 ]
» Members of the John Muir trust have found a piano near the top of Britain's highest mountain. A biscuit wrapper found beneath it is the only clue. "We have a constant battle against litter being left on Britain's highest mountain—but this elevates being a litter lout sky high into a completely different category." Sandy Maxwell, volunteer group organiser. (via dm) [ 05.22.06 ]
» Morocco has just graduated its first team of women preachers to be deployed as a vanguard in its fight against any slide towards Islamic extremism.. [ 05.23.06 ]
» New discoveries at the site of ancient Pyramids in Guatamala are giving researchers glimpses into a previously unknown—and highly advanced—Preclassic Mayan culture. It seems the paintings were found accidentally. "We are entering a golden age of Preclassic study. [The discipline of Maya research] will be marked by a time before the discovery of these paintings in the jungle of Guatemala, and a time thereafter." Stephen Houston, of Brown University. (via dm) [ 05.24.06 ]
» Don't miss this hilarious review of Mommy Wars: Stay-At-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families: Rhymes with Rich.
OK, let's slow down for a minute and unpack this description of Everymother before, with iced mochaccino latte in hand, we hurriedly whisk on. There are, in fact, great varieties of American mothers left out of Steiner's anthology. They're women for whom work is not a "lifestyle choice" but a necessity—a financial one, gauchely enough, and not an emotional one. Why do they work? To keep the electricity on.
[ 05.26.06 ]
» The Penguin/Orange Reading Group prize is given to the reading group with the most diverse and imaginative reading list. Last year's prize was awarded to the High Down Prison Reading Group, who received a visit from author Nick Hornby, who led a reading group session on his novel, A Long Way Down. "Winning is not really one of our strong points so we are pleased that the judges saw something appealing in our reading group. The chance to meet Nick Hornby is incredible, especially for the Arsenal fans amongst us." A member of the High Down Prison Reading Group. [ 05.29.06 ]
» You know, I started watching Lost at the very beginning, but I couldn't summon up sufficient interest (it seemed like exactly one thing happened in every one-hour show) and then we stopped before we'd even completed the first season. But as interest in the show increases, I am starting to regret that. The activity around the show sounds like fun, and I've been very impressed with the smart ways the shows creators have used the Web to develop and interact with their fan base. Anyway, here's a terrific article that should be interesting even to those of you who are familiar with the various fan theories, with a few clues from the producers ("What's cool about the fan community is that it doesn't seem to care what we say or don't say.") and some smart commentary from Orson Scott Card and others on what makes the show so appealing, and so addictive, to it constituency. "The story line and the action develop on multiple levels. There are hidden clues that function like the Easter eggs in gaming. Lost is a big game, and the act of watching it forces you to play along." Joyce Millman, contributor to the upcoming book of essays, Getting Lost: Survival, Baggage and Starting Over in J.J. Abrams' Lost, edited by Orson Scott Card. [ 05.30.06 ]
» A recently discovered Andean Pyramid has proven to be a cosmic "farming clock" that helped ancient farmers time the planting and reaping of their crops in Lima 4000 years ago. [ 05.30.06 ]
» Alternet: Paradox of the Perfect Girl. "Despite all the buzz about the trouble with boys...I think they have a few things figured out in terms of self-preservation. In my experience, young guys are pretty good at saying no. They are also better at taking risks, resisting gratuitous guilt and excessive caretaking, and brushing off imperfections." [ 05.31.06 ]