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Beloit College's Mindset List For The Class Of 2011

» Beloit College's Mindset List For The Class Of 2011. My favorite: "Chavez has nothing to do with iceberg lettuce and everything to do with oil." (via tir [ 09/14/07 ]

Plan 59 has a blog

» You might enjoy Pastelogram, a blog dedicated to the commercial art of mid-century America. It's the official organ of the awesome, the museum (and gift shop) of mid-century illustration. (via br [ 08/27/07 ]

Good advice on living well

» Here's some great advice to set the tone for your upcoming weekend. (1) Comments  / [ 08/24/07 ]

All our tortured heroes

» All our tortured heroes [ 07/20/07 ]

How uses, not innovations, drive human technology

» New Yorker: What Else Is New? How uses, not innovations, drive human technology. So far up my alley, and absolutely fascinating. (via br(2) Comments  / [ 07/19/07 ]

Combatting infomation overload with online sabbaticals

» Tuning out technology: Pressures of the wired world drive some to cut back on e-mail and electronic gadgets.

For Leda Dederich, there came a point about a year ago when she realized her life was overly shaped by technology. The manager of an Oakland-based online consulting firm for nonprofit groups, Dederich was a leader in her field, but she started feeling that high-tech culture was dramatically out of balance -- "like a combination of a hamster wheel and an echo chamber."

I love my computer, but the last two weeks of checking email once or twice a day and spending the rest of my time offline have been truly lovely. Highly recommended. (via 43f [ 07/19/07 ]

Funslides: carpet skates

» Awesome: Funslides are carpet skates. (via dm(1) Comments  / [ 07/18/07 ]

How one working woman cooks family meals every night of the week

» NYT: "For the past 10 years, I have starred in my own reality series: “Working Mom Cooks Weeknight Dinner.” Think of it as “Survivor” meets “Iron Chef” with a bit of “Deal or No Deal.” In the show’s long-running history there have been stretches in which the entire tribe was forced to subsist on scrambled eggs, tuna sandwiches and reheated Chinese food. But together we have overcome obstacles, gained wisdom and reached a point where my husband and I and our two boys eat balanced and even inventive home-cooked meals most nights."

Cooking dinner every night is at once much, much harder than most people realize (especially if you're trying not to waste a thing—how can I use up this bunch of cilantro?) and, once you get into the habit, not nearly as hard as it seems like it will be. If you follow the meal plan she outlines here, you'll have something to eat every night of the week. (thanks, jjg!)  [ 07/13/07 ]

The Hermitary

» A Little Weekend Reading: The Hermitary: Resources and reflections on hermits and silence.  [ 06/22/07 ]

People and their gaming avatars

» NYT Magazine Photo Essay: Absolutely fascinating: People and their gaming avatars. There's no pattern here at all, that I can discern. It's obvious why some people have chosen their avatars; others.... (thanks, jjg!)  [ 06/19/07 ]

An Aesthetics of Everyday Life

» A little weekend reading: I haven't read it yet, but this looks like the kind thing Pocket readers go for: An Aesthetics of Everyday Life – Modernism and a Japanese popular aesthetic ideal, “Iki” by YAMAMOTO Yuji. (Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, Master of Arts Program in the Humanities, University of Chicago).   [ 06/08/07 ]

The Armaggedon Flowchart

» The Armaggedon Flowchart. Be prepared! (via br(1) Comments  / [ 06/06/07 ]

A Timeline of Poisoning

» The History of Poisoning Timeline from ancient times to the 20th century. (via br [ 05/30/07 ]

What will $1 a day buy?

» Dollar a Day. Even the poorest of the poor manage to find money for extras, but they are hobbled in their efforts to better themselves by red tape. A dollar a day, by the way, is measured in US purchasing power. (4) Comments  / [ 05/04/07 ]

Women, it seems, do not work more than men

» A new study that finds that in the United States, men and women work about equal hours. (In poorer countries, women work more.)

For me, there is one major problem with this study—it lumps women who work full-time outside the home, those who work part-time outside the home, and those who work only in the home into one category. It makes sense to me that in familes where one spouse works in the marketplace and the other works at home, the time spent would be roughly equal, possibly skewing the results for those couples where both spouses had paid work.

Compare and contrast this statement from the article with the one linked above:

The most educated quarter of the American population works a combined 8.7 hours, while the lowest educated quarter works 6.3 hours—a difference of more than two hours per day.

  [ 04/30/07 ]

Negative Intelligence

» Jorn (feeling that "weblog" is the least interesting of the bunch) has posted a list of terms he has coined over the years. I love his concept of negative intelligence—the internet phenomenon where bad ideas drive out good—a concept he proposed in 1996.

[W]hat I notice on netnews is that negative intelligence rules almost everywhere-- newsgroups are great sucking black-holes of negative intelligence, where the greatest bigots have the loudest voices, and the greatest say...
The way people get smarter, generally, is by looking at multiple points of view, and letting these pov's 'debate among themselves' in the most even-handed manner possible. But in newsgroups, people who try to lay things out evenhandedly get massively squelched....

You may wish to substitute the term "political blogs" for "netnews" as you are reading this. (1) Comments  / [ 04/25/07 ]

A Village for Elders

» A group of Washington DC neighbors have formed a group called "Capitol Hill Elders" that is designed to set up a system for home maintenance and typical retirement home services for them as they grow old in their own homes. "When I was single, I didn't want to live in a singles building, and when I am older, I don't want to live with exclusively one age group. I like the stimulation of different opinions, different ideas and people at different stages in their lives." Ednajane Truax. (2) Comments  / [ 04/24/07 ]

Rice Paddy Art in Inakadate, Japan

» Did I never link this? Since 2000, the Japanese village of Inakadate has created rice paddy art depicting subjects as varied as a rice paddy Mona Lisa to traditional Japanese scenes and figures. Inakadate Village's webpage has documented villagers planting and harvesting rice from one year's design. Last year the village CIR even maintained a blog [ 04/23/07 ]

Diagrams of connections

» A collection of diagrams, including How the United States are connected to each other, a Hebrew Bible overview, Wall Street Scandals, and Star Wars. (via notm(1) Comments  / [ 04/16/07 ]

Goths: Peaceful, articulate, educated

» Has your teenager started wearing black and smoking clove cigarettes? Don't be afraid! A Sussex Univeristy study shows that most goths are articulate, sensitive, literature-loving romantics, who are likely to grow into a well-paid profession in their adult lives, "They won't like me saying it, but their lifestyle, unlike the punk scene, is a middle-class sub culture." Dr. Dunja Brill, Sussex University. (thanks, Ray!)  (1) Comments  / [ 04/13/07 ]

Well, yes.

» Menstruation questions outrage professional females in India(1) Comments  / [ 04/11/07 ]

Convents for tourists

» One day I would like to travel to Italy. And when I do, I would absolutely love to stay in a convent(1) Comments  / [ 04/10/07 ]

Young people are giving up social networking sites for Lent

» Gimme that old-time religion: Students give up social networks for Lent. Why not? I do think it's a cheat, though, to substitute one site for another. "Some of my friends think it's silly, since people usually give up food. I wanted to give up something that's really hard for me." Emily Montgomery, 16, who has given up logging onto MySpace for Lent.  (6) Comments  / [ 03/29/07 ]

The power of YOU to win (or lose) the World Series

» Your do-not-miss link of the day is this article by Hart Seely: If You Want the Yankees to Win, the Key Plays Are at Home.

As a child, I personally led the Yanks to several world championships. When the team needed help, I ran out back and pitched a tennis ball against the garage. I served up home runs to Mickey Mantle and blew fastballs past the hapless Willie Mays. The garage fell apart, but the Yankees always won.
Unless they lost. That happened because my sister hid the ball, or I just didn’t concentrate hard enough. For me and countless others, Rizzutonian metaphysics long ago became part of life.
While the Yankees are playing, we are working.

I'm not even a sports fan and I loved this one.  [ 03/27/07 ]

Wii for senior citizens

»  Retirees find Wii not just for the grandkids. Absolutely. We played Wii golf with my 95-year-old grandmother (an avid golfer until she was 90) and boy did we all have fun. Every retirement home should have a few of these. "It's a very social thing and it's good exercise ... and you don't have to throw a 16-pound bowling ball to get results. We just had a ball with it. You think it's your grandkids' game and it's not." Flora Dierbach, 72, chair of the entertainment committee at a retirement community in Chicago.  [ 03/26/07 ]

Will our present-day be too ephemeral to be found again?

» History 1980-2000 has disappeared into the ether. Sorry.

I have recently spent many hours in the National Archives, ferreting through the wartime records of MI5. The sheer richness of written material is overwhelming: letters, memos, telephone transcripts, diaries, scribbled notes in the margins. You can smell the pipe smoke and personalities wafting off the pages.
When MI5’s current files are released decades hence, historians will have a far drier time of it. Electronic messages not deemed to be of “archival” value are routinely deleted by civil servants...

(via dm [ 03/26/07 ]

Is torture really better than death?

» Dahlia Lithwick argues that the Bush administration has taken a seemingly reasonable line of argument and applied it in such a way that —by their reasoning—they have the power to do pretty much anything they want. "Look, death is worse than torture, but everyone except pacifists thinks there are circumstances in which war is justified. War means killing people. If we are entitled to kill people, we must be entitled to injure them." John Yoo, former legal counsel to the Bush administration and professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. (3) Comments  / [ 03/22/07 ]

The Global Glass ceiling

» Wow this chart is interesting. It's the Economist on the percentages of women in senior management, by country—and I would never have predicted these results. What explains Brazil? (via dm(5) Comments  / [ 03/21/07 ]

Hillary 1984

» A Hillary Clinton/1984 Apple Super Bowl ad mashup is on YouTube—but no one knows where it came from. ["Hillary 1984" represents] "a new era, a new wave of politics ... because it's not about Obama. It's about the end of the broadcast era." Peter Leyden, director of the New Politics Institute(2) Comments  / [ 03/19/07 ]

Which microlender makes the best use of my $20?

» Slate: Which microlender makes the best use of my $20? is a good rundown of the strengths and weaknesses of 6 microloan charities. In November, Cool Tools founder Kevin Kelly offered his own rundown of microlenders [ 03/15/07 ]

How to write your name in Elvish in 10 minutes

» How to write your name in Elvish in 10 minutes. (via br)  (1) Comments  / [ 03/14/07 ]

The Rise of Graphic Novels

» The image-soaked future: Graphic novels are the new literary superheroes, but what’s their secret?

So, why is this rebirth of the serious graphic novel different? Because this new wave arrives when the ascendancy of the image — presciently described by George Steiner, in 1971, in his book In Bluebeard's Castle — has begun to dwarf the power of the word. [...] Thanks to computers, even when we are obliged to read words, we expect them to be arranged in helpful modules, with plenty of graphics. The computer normalises the graphic novel as a form. The graphical user interface may one day be seen as the most important invention of our time.

(via wl [ 03/06/07 ]

Back from China

» The United States needs to import Chinese-style Foot Massage ASAP. That is all.  [ 03/05/07 ]

How telling your child she's smart can backfire

» The Power and Peril of Praising Your Kids. Based on my own experience, I completely concur with this article's conclusions. I'd much rather raise a hard-working child than one who believes that either things come easily to her, or she simply can't do them.  [ 03/01/07 ]

Stonehenges all around us

» Stonehenges all around us. Tracing the patterns of neolithic architecture through our modern cities. (via dm [ 02/20/07 ]

Mysterious Congressman Announces Dark Horse Candidacy

» The Onion: Mysterious Congressman Announces Dark Horse Candidacy [ 02/06/07 ]

Starship Size Comparison Chart

» So nerdy(3) Comments  / [ 02/02/07 ]

What can the Great Apes teach us about religion?

» God and Gorillas. Anthropologist Barbara J. King is studying the social behavior of great apes to try to piece together the roots of religion.

I look at four different kinds of behavior -- meaning-making, imagination, empathy and following the rules. Together, I think they give us a sense of what religion might have started out to be. The apes have bits and pieces of all these four things, but not in a coherent pattern that adds up to religious behavior. To my mind, apes are conscious beings and they do these four things in incredibly fascinating ways.

 (2) Comments  / [ 02/01/07 ]

Are you saving too much for your retirement?

» Are Americans saving too much for their retirement? I will agree that our financial planner's after-retirement spending calculations, based on what and how we spend now, have tended to be unrealistically high. "There is risk in saving too much. You could end up squandering your youth rather than your money." Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Boston University economics professor.  [ 01/29/07 ]

A Practical Man's Guide to Romantic Giving

» A Practical Man's Guide to Romantic Giving. If you've always been in the dark about romantic gift-giving, print this one out and laminate it. (3) Comments  / [ 01/26/07 ]

The value of nitpicking

» In The Merits of Nitpicking: A Doctor Diagnoses House, Henry Jenkins explains how popular culture can excite interest in obscure subjects, and muses on the ways that "nitpicking" might be incorporated into the educational system.  [ 01/23/07 ]

Clive Thompson on Super Columbine Massacre RPG!

» In response to the ruckus surrounding Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, Clive Thompson has played the game and he finds it surprisingly thoughtful.

What strikes Ledonne's attention to narrative detail. He painstakingly researched the killers' life stories using publicly released police investigations of the pair, and the game thus includes all manner of detail I never knew. When I started off in Harris' house, I found a box of Luvox, an antidepressant he was on that prevented him getting into the Marines. When I met up with Klebold in a basement, we sat down in front of the VCR to watch the "I've seen the horror" speech from Apocalypse Now, a movie they apparently loved.

The gamemaker's statement is online [ 01/23/07 ]

When is your personal MLK Day?

» When is your personal Martin Luther King Day?

February 14 this year is my "personal MLK day." That is the holiday I dreamed up on which a person has lived 14324 days so far, the number of days that King lived in total. The personal MLK day may be used as a time of reflection on what you have accomplished and want to accomplish.

 (2) Comments  / [ 01/17/07 ]

Procrastination explained

» Procrastination has been reduced to a mathematical equation: U = E x V / I x D, where U is the desire to complete the task; E, the expectation of success; V, the value of completion; I, the immediacy of task; and D, the personal sensitivity to delay. For some types of tasks, my biggest stumbling block would be E—what if I'm no good? For others, it would be I—what, really, is the consequence of not cleaning the house for one more hour, or day? You can measure your own level of procrastination here. (via 43f(2) Comments  / [ 01/16/07 ]

The Blow Dry is Back

» The Guardian tells us that the blow-dry is back. And don't you wish there were pictures to accompany the text?  [ 01/11/07 ]

The Literary Traditions of Gypsies

» Destination: Gypsy Europe. Despite their historical distrust of the written word, Europe's Gypsies have a growing -- and captivating -- literary tradition.  [ 01/10/07 ]

What makes a New Year's Resolution successful?

» In the first mass-participation experiment of its kind, Professor Richard Wiseman at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK is seeking to enroll 10,000 people in an online experiment on making—and keeping—New Year's Resolutions. (4) Comments  / [ 01/01/07 ]

90% of people have had premarital sex

» "More than nine out of 10 Americans, men and women alike, have had premarital sex, according to a new study. The high rates extend even to women born in the 1940s, challenging perceptions that people were more chaste in the past. [...] 'This is reality-check research,' said the study's author, Lawrence Finer. 'Premarital sex is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades.'" (2) Comments  / [ 12/20/06 ]

Paul Kedrosky's One-Sentence Challenge

» Paul Kedrosky has put forth a terrific one-sentence challenge.

Physicist Richard Feynman once said that if all knowledge about physics was about to expire the one sentence he would tell the future is that "Everything is made of atoms". What one sentence would you tell the future about your own area, whether it's entrepreneurship, hedge funds, venture capital, or something else?
Examples: An economist might say that "People respond to incentives". I had an engineering professor years ago who said all of that field could be reduced to "F=MA and you can't push on a rope".

Off the top of my head, speaking about the intersection between media, technology, and culture, I would say "People power culture with the tools they have at hand".

» Rafe answers the challenge with a sentence about programming.
» The User Experience community at Adaptive Path has taken up the challenge.

Update: There are a few people whose sentences I'd especially like to read, so I'm going to tag them here in the hope they will respond.

- Security expert Bruce Schneier
- Storyteller-about-ideas Malcolm Gladwell
- Futurist Jamais Cascio. [Jamais responds and tags seven more interesting people.]
- Founder Alex Steffen and every single one of the contributors at World Changing
- Communications expert Alan Nelson [Alan responds]
- Nanotechnologist George Elvin
- Storyteller Neil Gaiman

What would you say to the future? (11) Comments  / [ 12/18/06 ]

The Billionaire Philanthropists

» Slate has an interesting profile of the billionaire philanthropists.

You could see the businessman behind the philanthropist in the remarks of many participants in the conference. [...] The Gates Foundation dominates the philanthropic market, much as Microsoft leads in software—though it likewise disclaims any suggestion that it has too much power. [...]
Buffett, too, is giving it back the way he made it. Buffet's hallmarks are modesty and self-effacement. His business method is to search out value, empower the most-capable managers he can find, and invest with an eye to "forever." By delegating the dispersal of his fortune to the Gates Foundation, he has done precisely the same thing.

  [ 11/17/06 ]

The New Nuns

» Time has an interesting article about the young (and older) women who are entering convents today: Today's Nun Has A Veil—And A Blog. "Religious life itself is a radical choice. In an age where our primary secular values are sex, power and money, for someone to choose chastity, obedience and poverty is a radical statement." Brother Paul Vednarczyk, executive director of the National Religious Vocation Conference in Chicago. (1) Comments  / [ 11/17/06 ]

What kind of American English do you speak?

» Here's a Web quiz that's actually fun: What Kind of American English do you Speak? I come out at:

70% General American English
10% Upper Midwestern
5% Dixie
5% Midwestern
0% Yankee

(via one of those sister blogs, From Where I Write(4) Comments  / [ 11/17/06 ]

The neuroscience of speaking in tongues

» Neuroscientists say that brain scans show that when people are speaking in tongues, language centers and the part of the brain through which people control what they do are relatively quiet—supporting the description of the experience evangelicals say they are having. (4) Comments  / [ 11/09/06 ]

Is morality a shared evolutionary quality?

» Harvard biologist Marc D. Hauser has a new, big idea: that human beings, no matter what their belief system, all operate from an innate, evolutionarily defined moral grammar. His new book is called Moral Minds and Chapter 1 is available on the Web(1) Comments  / [ 11/03/06 ]

Baby Toupees

» Oh. Dear. God. When Little Lord Fauntleroy suits and puffy, puffy dresses just aren't enough. (via ssh [ 11/03/06 ]

Buck O'Neil, Negro leagues pioneer is dead

» As a followup to yesterday's news that Si Simmons has died, here's an early October obitutuary for Buck O’Neil, another Negro Leagues Pioneer. "Nowadays, whenever us Negro leaguers put on the old uniforms for autograph-signings and such, you can just see the years peel away. I’ve seen men lose 50 years in just a few hours. Baseball is better than sex. It is better than music, although I do believe jazz comes in a close second." Buck O'Neil, writing in his memoir, I Was Right On Time [ 11/01/06 ]

Si Simmons, oldest living Negro leagues player, dies

» Si Simmons, the former Negro leagues baseball player believed to be the longest-living professional ballplayer in history, died Sunday at age 111. Here's an older article describing his life and times. "Negroes had a lot of pride. They felt like baseball, that was the greatest thing in the world for them. You had some great players in those days. [...] After a while they were in the big leagues, playing ball, which you thought would never come. But eventually it did come. And that was the greatest thing of my life when I saw these fellows come up and play big league baseball." Si Simmons, reflecting on his life in the Negro leagues.  [ 10/31/06 ]

Tesco selling Pole Dancing Sets to chidren?

» Wait, what?

Tesco has been forced to remove a pole-dancing kit from the toys and games section of its website after it was accused of "destroying children's innocence".
The Tesco Direct site advertises the kit with the words, "Unleash the sex kitten inside...simply extend the Peekaboo pole inside the tube, slip on the sexy tunes and away you go!
"Soon you'll be flaunting it to the world and earning a fortune in Peekaboo Dance Dollars".
The £49.97 kit comprises a chrome pole extendible to 8ft 6ins, a 'sexy dance garter' and a DVD demonstrating suggestive dance moves.

I can't find it on the website, though. "This should only be available to the most depraved people who want to corrupt their children." Dr Adrian Rogers, of family campaigning group Family Focus. (4) Comments  / [ 10/24/06 ]

A list of cognitive biases

» Wikipedia: A list of cognitive biases. (via rw [ 10/19/06 ]

Go grrrl news: Nkeonye Okafor rocks my world

» I have a new hero: Nkeonye Okafor, 205-pound offensive lineman for the Houston, Texas-area Bellaire Cardinals. "At first, I was kind of hesitant to hit her. I thought it was a joke, but she's been out here with us all summer, and she works just as hard as everyone one else — so why not?" Kenard Ihaza, one of Okafor's teammates. (via rc3oi [ 10/10/06 ]

Children need more free time

» A new report from The American Academy of Pediatrics states the obvious: children thrive with more free time [ 10/10/06 ]

The one and only Cher

» Cher! She was one of my role models when I was a teenager—surprised? I'll bet you can't guess who the other one was. (10) Comments  / [ 10/06/06 ]


» The latest trend in upscale masculine luxury travel? Mancations [ 09/18/06 ]

Archaeologists unearth oldest writing in Western Hemisphere

» Archaeologists have unearthed what they believe to be the oldest writing in Western Hemisphere, and it's in a language they don't know.  [ 09/18/06 ]

Bel Geddes Airliner 4 + Gibson's Gernsback

» Norman Bel Geddes' Airline #4 would appear to me to be the plane William Gibson describes as a "fat symmetrical boomerang with windows in unlikely places" in his story The Gernsback Continuum [ 09/18/06 ]

NYC gets Seattle-style espresso

» New York finally gets Seattle-style espresso [ 09/15/06 ]

Pillsbury's Funny Face Packs

» I'd say that's a proto-Meatwad. [background] Don't miss Dan Goodsell's entire Funny Face Packs collection (and note that by 1966 Pillsbury had replaced "Chinese Cherry" and "Injun Orange" with "Choo-Choo Cherry" and "Jolly Ollie Orange"). (1) Comments  / [ 09/15/06 ]

Guilty people wash to cleanse their consciences

» Scientists have found that people naturally gravitate to two ways to appease a guilty conscience: doing good deeds, and washing their hands. And it seems they cancel each other out.  [ 09/12/06 ]

Banksey + Paris = BLO

» Remember Banksey? He has smuggled "500 doctored copies of Paris Hilton's debut album into music stores throughout the UK, where they have sold without the shops' knowledge". BLO [ 09/12/06 ]

Learning about the lives of slaves

» An Abolitionist Leads the Way in Unearthing of Slaves’ Past (via dm [ 09/11/06 ]

Punkin Chunkin Festival goes boom

» From the way KK tells it, the Millsboro, Delaware Punkin Chunkin Festival could maybe be renamed "Pumpkin Man".  [ 09/08/06 ]

Personal Concierge Services for the Upper-upper-middle class

» New services for the busy upper-middle-class: The Personal Concierge. "Wealthy people have staff to do this full-time. We work for all sorts of people by taking care of the things that would normally keep them away from family or personal time." Aida Middel, founder of Potomac Concierge, a do-it-all errand-running service.  [ 09/07/06 ]

Pilates of the Caribbean

» Pilates of the Caribbean [ 09/06/06 ]

The Stained Glass Ceiling

» The Stained Glass Ceiling. "People have written me in almost every church I have been in except the current one, and said, 'Timothy says women can’t preach, so how can you?'" The Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank, pastor of Crossroads United Methodist Church in Phoenix.  [ 09/04/06 ]

Laptops invade the marital bed

» The laptop love triangle. "There are many people who want a partner close, but not too close. So snuggling up next to them with the computer is for many of us the ideal situation for a feeling of contact but an assurance there won’t be eye-to-eye intimacy. The problem is not computers. Two generations ago people did it with the television." David Schnarch, director of the Marriage and Family Health Center, in Evergreen, Colorado.  [ 08/30/06 ]

Kitchen Sisters profile Carl's Corner

» The Kitchen Sisters profile Carl's Corner, Texas, a truckstop that became a town so the owner (now mayor) could sell liquor. It's now the location of Willie Nelson's annual Fourth of July picnic, and a biodiesel fueling station called "BioWillie's". The Kitchen Sisters, by the way, have produced a book called Hidden Kitchens, based on their popular NPR series.  [ 08/29/06 ]

Racism--still thriving

» As a white person who grew up in the North, I read the story of the Louisiana bus driver who allegedly made all the black children ride on the back of the bus and I think, "That can't be right. Surely there must be some misunderstanding." Then I read the story of the Mississippi church that has banned black people from attending—including the mixed race boy who accepted Jesus there just two weeks before—and I think "Oh." (thanks, lizard!)  [ 08/28/06 ]

2005 Tommy Smothers Interview

» "For Howard Stern to be the poster boy for First Amendment is just ridiculous.  That’s how low the...People used to say, three or four years ago before the Janet Jackson thing, they’d say, 'Don’t you wish you were on television now?  You could say anything you want.'  So there’s an illusion that because bad language and sex and stuff is rampant that [you have free speech].  But there’s nothing being said, except, you know, narcissistic reflections on a crotch." A 2005 interview with Tommy Smothers in which he reflects on comedy, his career, and dissent(1) Comments  / [ 08/21/06 ]

Pre-computer ASCII art

» Modern Mechanix is collecting, among other things, examples of pre-computer ASCII art, found in old issues of popular science magazines. So far, he has found articles on the typewriter art of mill worker Rosaire Belanger in the June 1939 issue of Popular Science (featuring an awesome picture of George Washington), Keyboard art, from the October 1948 Popular Mechanics, and How to make a typewritten flag, made using mystery curved characters from the July 1948 issue of Popular Mechanics.  [ 08/21/06 ]

Why African-Americans Can't Swim

» Why African-Americans can't swim [ 08/18/06 ]

1956: The British House of the Future

» The British House of the Future, circa 1956. "All electric power is drawn from a nearby atomic power station. [...] A short-wave transmitter with push buttons controls all electronic equipment. We’re sure you’ll be interested to know that the shower stall has jets of warm air for drying and the sunken bathtub rinses itself with detergent. No bathtub rings left for Mother." (via aaa)  (1) Comments  / [ 08/18/06 ]

Are State Fairs dying?

» State Fairs, once a staple summertime activity, are going out of style. This article speculates that they are just not as attractive as they once were to an audience that now has the choice of everything from casinos to water parks. But I think there's something deeper at work.

I think it has to be connected, to some extent, to the loss of the family farm. Farming used to be embedded in American life. If you weren't a farmer, you knew a farmer. State and county fairs weren't just entertainment: they were industry events. They were a chance to show off your skill, your expertise, your talent, whether that was raising pigs, growing zucchini, or making jam. (Compare log-rolling—once a chance to test a real work skill against other practitioners—and now just a quaint novelty, performed by people who have only ever rolled logs to entertain, not to actually cross the river in the course of their work).

And because farming days are necessarily spent cultivating crops in the field and processing food in the home (both surrounded by acres of farmland) farming can be a lonely life. I once knew a woman who used to show horses. She told me she learned a trick one summer. In the middle of the day when she got hungry, she would stop her trailer in front of any farmhouse she came upon. She said that invariably, the woman inside—husband out in the fields for a long day of work—would come out to see what was the matter, and then, starved for company, invite her in for lunch.

With so many farmers now just cogs in the industrial US farming machine, perhaps the same pride of work just isn't there anymore. Maybe even farmers have lost their connection to farming.

I love the State Fair. I grew up going every year, and we would walk through every barn and look at every exhibit and admire every piece of livestock. Then there was the pavilion filled with the hawkers, fast-talking pitchmen with a gadget to sell. And the food, and and the wildlife exhibits, and the butter cow. Every year, the butter cow and then ice cream. Salt-water taffy on the way out. No rides. Put up overnight, as they were, my father considered them unsafe. I love the fair. I don't want it to go away. (8) Comments  / [ 08/18/06 ]

State Fair Food Cooking: Still Competitive

» On the other hand, State Fairs are updating their food competitions by introducing contests for items like biscotti and bagels and specifically including men: in men-only baking contests, events pitting local firefighters against the sheriff’s department in Iron-Chef contests featuring local ingredients, and spectator events like chicken wing cook-offs and barbecue contests. "Cooking and gardening are almost hobbies now, not necessary for survival as they were when the fairs began. But the spirit is just as competitive as it always has been." Diane Roupe, a longtime judge at the Iowa fair.  [ 08/18/06 ]

Alfred Sirleaf, Liberia's Blackboard Blogger

» Liberia's Blackboard Blogger is a "self-taught newshound" who reads half-a-dozen newspapers every day and then summarizes the most important stories on a blackboard that hangs in front of his plywood shed. He puts up a painted "Breaking News" sign to signal a big story, he has recruited a set of stringers to send him scoops via text messages, and he's designed a system of symbols to convey the news to those who can't read. "I try to write it really clear and simple so people can read it far away, even if they are driving by. I like to write the way people talk so they can understand it well. You got to reach the common man." Alfred Sirleaf, the 33-year-old managing editor of The Daily Talk. (via Kevin Kelly's awesome new Street Use(1) Comments  / [ 08/17/06 ]

Geoffrey Chaucer hath an Exboxe

» Speaking of the fair Mr. Chaucer, he was recently introduced to the "Exboxe CCCLX" by his son. You may enjoy his reviews of Donkeye-Kynge, Civilisatioun, Trojan Kombat, Tyger Woodses Huntinge And Hawkinge, Auriole, and Grande Thefte, Collusioun, And Mayntenance ("Ye run arounde and commit various actes of trespass with force and armes, and then use yower patrones and affinitee groupes to get yow out of prisone").  [ 08/16/06 ]


» Eggcorn is the linguistic term for "spontaneous reshapings of known expressions. [...] Not every homophone substitution is an eggcorn. The crucial element is that the new form makes sense: for anyone except lexicographers or other people trained in etymology, more sense than the original form in many cases." My grandfather told me that when he was a child, he thought the term was "take it for granite" (for "take it for granted"). He knew that granite was one of the hardest rocks, and so it made sense to him that if you could "take it for granite", you could rely on it. I don't find this usage in the Eggcorn database. (via mlarson(2) Comments  / [ 08/11/06 ]

Wal-Mart/Yahoo! Avatar Fashion Show

» Yahoo and Wal-Mart have teamed up to create an avatar fashion show, designed to promote "Wal-Mart style".  [ 08/11/06 ]

Hackney's Mole Man has been tunnelling for 40 years

» The neighbors say he is destabilizing the neighborhood with his underground passages. He says he has simply expanded his basement. Meet Hackney London's tunnelling man. "Tunnelling is something that should be talked about without panicking." William Lyttle, the Mole Man of Hackney. (via rw [ 08/10/06 ]

Trek Jews: Rabbi Gershom's Jewish-themed Trekker Page

» Rabbi Yonassan Gershom is a a Hassidic homesteader, an expert on Jewish reincarnation, and author of the yet-to-be-published book "Jewish Themes in Star Trek (Where No Rabbi Has Gone Before!) " You'll want to explore his page, TrekJews, and its companion page of material from around the Web on the same theme. The Rabbi has also compiled a list of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy. (thanks, Kane!)  [ 08/09/06 ]

Large African American women in commercials: complicated.

» Do images of large African-American women in television commercials signal a wider acceptance of blacks and black culture, or is it a return to stereotypes? Some of these examples don't sound race-driven to me at all, they sound gender-driven. My own filter, I guess. (4) Comments  / [ 08/03/06 ]

Home Depot and CVS offering dual-residence jobs to retirees

» Retired, and Rehired to Sell. Home Depot and CVS are accomodating the ultimate in flextime for some retirees: summers in their home city, and winters in Florida. Why are they doing it? Because these folks would simply stop working if the company didn't accomodate them. "If we were not able to retain, train and hire and keep older people, we wouldn't have a business. The younger folks, there's just less of them. We need those older people to stay in the workforce, and people are living longer, healthier lives." Stephen M. Wing, director of government programs with CVS.

I can't help comparing this to the family benefits most employers offer to their employees who are responsible for family care (read: women), ie, very few. It was such a struggle for women to enter the workforce years ago that they really couldn't demand anything the men weren't already getting. And now it's such an economic necessity that they still don't have the leverage these retirees, many of whom don't strictly need the jobs, have. (2) Comments  / [ 08/01/06 ]

Chicago teaching new immigrants how to eat in America

» A Chicago resettlement program is offering classes in shopping and eating to new immigrants, an attempt to educate people accustomed to food scarity to cope with the sudden abundance (and junk food) that surrounds them. (thanks, Lisa!) (1) Comments  / [ 08/01/06 ]

The only 4 Shakers left in the world live in Maine

» The Last Ones Standing. There are only four Shakers left. (via dm [ 07/31/06 ]

IQ directly correlates to economic status

» After the Bell Curve. New studies show that IQ directly correlates to a child's economic status. One study measured an astonishing increase of 20 points for abused children adopted by well-to-do families. From my experience, hard work is more important than intelligence, anyway. I've known lots of really smart non-achievers. (4) Comments  / [ 07/31/06 ]

Culturally imposed differences in game releases around the world

» The Guardian has in interesting survey of culturally imposed differences in game releases across the world. It includes this interesting aside:

Westerners tend to assume linearity but Asians assume circularity. For example [... given] a stable set of circumstances a Westerner will tend to think that this signified a trend and that things will continue in the same fashion but an Asian will tend to think that it is indicative of the potential for change and ultimate return to some pre-existing state.

Inspired by The 12 Differences Between Super Mario Bros. 2 and Doki Doki Panic(1) Comments  / [ 07/28/06 ]

Pre-Negro League Professional Black Baseball Players

» Here's a great story about black baseball players playing professional baseball 60 years before Jackie Robinson. "Some of the pitchers wouldn’t let Fleet Walker call pitches for them. They would throw whatever they wanted, even purposely trying to cross up Walker. What’s interesting is that those players later admitted that Walker caught all the pitches anyway." Baseball historian Jim Overmyer, on the first black man to play professional baseball.  [ 07/28/06 ]

The happiest place on earth eats rye bread

» The happiest place on earth: Northern Europe, it would seem. And the Bahamas.  [ 07/28/06 ]

So those hunky contractors really are ladies men

» The allure of the toolbelt. I'm just saying.

"I was a kid, much younger, working for another contractor, who left me to do a deck on a house,” said one upstate New York contractor, now middle-aged, who begged anonymity. “The woman was divorced, the door to the deck is four feet off the ground."
So you’re — ?
" — Right. I’m looking at her crotch. She’s bringing me breakfast, lingering in the doorway in her bedclothes and one thing led to another and I end up in bed with her and when the boss came back from vacation she made a row and threatened not to pay. My boss was a little upset that I had sex, but I was 19 at the time, and it was a new experience for me, the older woman. When you’re 19 and you have a woman like that, you don’t ask questions, you go for it."
What did he learn from this experience?
"From that I learned — I really did not learn anything," he said.

 (1) Comments  / [ 07/26/06 ]

Indian vegetarian-only communities

» In India there is a growing trend for neighborhood societies to uphold strict vegetarian-only housing policies. It's completely legal, as are housing societies based on religion. "It's just not fair. It's a monopoly by vegetarians. If you step out to eat, there's nothing for miles because everything around is veggie." Kiran Talwar, a resident who has seen vegetarianism take over restaurants and groceries all over his childhood neighborhood. (via amy)  (1) Comments  / [ 07/26/06 ]

Minneapolis police crack down on zombie dance parties

» First they came for the clowns. Then they came for the zombies. I am not making any of this up. Pharyngula has worked up a helpful infographic for the Minneapolis Police Department [ 07/26/06 ]

Partisans see bias even in the same newscast

» Researchers have found that partisans on both sides of an issue will see bias against their side even when they are watching in the same news report.

The tendency to see bias in the news -- now the raison d'etre of much of the blogosphere -- is such a reliable indicator of partisan thinking that researchers coined a term, "hostile media effect," to describe the sincere belief among partisans that news reports are painting them in the worst possible light. [...] The best-informed partisans were the most likely to see bias against their side.

 (2) Comments  / [ 07/25/06 ]

Foodies and their annoying affectations

» Don't miss this hilariously snarky article about foodies and their affectations. When I first joined Orkut, I joined a couple of groups that were centered around food (cheese, I think, and artisian breads, and something else I was hoping to learn about). I un-joined just 24 hours later, unimpressed with the level of posturing that pervaded all of them. (via mn(1) Comments  / [ 07/24/06 ]

The Whole Foods Effect

» And now, the Whole Foods Effect. Residents in several neighborhoods have organized letter-writing campaigns to persuade Whole Foods to move into their area, partly for their own convenience, and partly to raise their property values. "A lot of the blacks are having to move because they can't afford to stay here. These are people who have owned their own homes but have had to leave because the taxes are going up. The affluent is coming in, and the have-nots are moving out, and it's not right." Fran Robertson, Columbia Heights resident who is watching her neighborhood gentrify. (1) Comments  / [ 07/24/06 ]

DM: Anecdote from the weekend

» Garret Vreeland: Anecdote from the weekend [ 07/21/06 ]

Personalized funerals all the rage with the rich

» It's my funeral and I'll serve ice cream if I want to. A new trend among the well-to-do: the funeral planner. This isn't so new (except for the price tag). My great-grandmother compiled a list of Bible verses and hymns she wanted at her funeral. (2) Comments  / [ 07/21/06 ]

The safest place or the happiest?

» Smackdown! The safest place to live (US Border Patrol as personal security force!) vs The happiest place on earth(2) Comments  / [ 07/21/06 ]

Feminism and Career

» For those who were intrigued by yesterday's interview with Stanford professor Ben Barres on gender in the sciences, this month's Carnival of Feminists theme is Feminism and Career [ 07/20/06 ]

Barres: Does gender matter in the sciences?

» NYT: Fascinating interview with Ben A. Barres, professor of neurobiology at Stanford. He started life as Barbara, and he has a unique perspective on sexism in the sciences.

Q. When you were a woman did you experience bias?
A. An M.I.T. professor accused me of cheating on this test. I was the only one in the class who solved a particular problem, and he said my boyfriend must have solved it for me. One, I did not have a boyfriend. And two, I solved it myself, goddamn it! But it did not occur to me to think of sexism. I was just indignant that I would be accused of cheating.
Then later I was in a prestigious competition. I was doing my Ph.D. at Harvard, which would nominate one person. It came down to me and one other graduate student, and a dean pulled me aside and said, “I have read both applications, and it’s going to be you; your application is so much better.” Not only did I not win, the guy got it, but he dropped out of science a year later.
But even then I did not think of sexism.

  [ 07/19/06 ]

Colorado early 20th century photo essay

» Karmen Franklin has used the Western History Photos collection at the Denver Public Library to construct Lillybridge I: An Early 20th Century Photo Essay. She has focused on the photos of local photographer Charles S. Lillybridge, who set up a photography studio in 1904 and proceeded to document life on the Colorado canals.  [ 07/19/06 ]


» Here's a musical genre I had never heard of, and would never have predicted: Nerdcore hip hop, also known as "geeksta rap". CmdrTaco reviews the Rhyme Torrents Nerdcore Compilation.

It's like a Weird Al mad libs lyric, where the rapper tries to rhyme whatever techish things pop into mind. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. MC Hawking is a great example. His track essentially an MC Battle style rap that relies on the synthesizer voice gimmick. But damnit it actually works. The lyrics are tight and amusing. I wish the hook was stronger, but thats a track I'll enjoy listening to. [...]
[A]t the end of the day, sometimes you just need to find a bit of music that you can relate to. And when you hear 'join me in the basement cuz it's warcraft patch day / time for D&D a frontalittle mainstay' day, so it's time to play D&D.... well, thats my Tuesday too.

Be sure to check out some of the artists listed on Wikipedia, for example, Commodore 64.

Formed by four members of a math club and breakdancing troupe in 1982 at a concert in New Jersey, Commodore 64 were the first group to release a single produced entirely using an Apple Macintosh computer, "Horton Hears A Ho" in 1999.

The MC Hawking entry includes sample lyrics ("I explode like a bomb. No one is spared. My power is my mass times the speed of light squared." - From "E = MC Hawking") and a fictional discography from the official website. Awesome.  [ 07/13/06 ]

The Spanish conquest of North America

» Tony Horwitz on the early Spanish conquest of what is now the United States.

Two iconic American stories have Spanish antecedents, too. Almost 80 years before John Smith's alleged rescue by Pocahontas, a man by the name of Juan Ortiz told of his remarkably similar rescue from execution by an Indian girl. Spaniards also held a thanksgiving, 56 years before the Pilgrims, when they feasted near St. Augustine with Florida Indians, probably on stewed pork and garbanzo beans.
The early history of Spanish North America is well documented, as is the extensive exploration by the 16th-century French and Portuguese. So why do Americans cling to a creation myth centered on one band of late-arriving English—Pilgrims who weren't even the first English to settle New England or the first Europeans to reach Plymouth Harbor?

 (2) Comments  / [ 07/10/06 ]

Garrison Keillor on the value of hard work

» Garrison Keillor: Hoe, hoe, hoe. On the things we lose when we move ourselves too far from our roots.  [ 07/07/06 ]

Amish farmer fights for the right to sell raw milk

» Amish farmer caught in milk sting fights dairy law. I just like saying that. (1) Comments  / [ 07/07/06 ]

How to Retire Six Months every Year

» How to retire Six Months Every Year. The article is from 1970 so the numbers are completely fictional by now, but you get the idea. (via ch(4) Comments  / [ 07/05/06 ]

The US Interstate turns 50

» The Superhighway to Everywhere After 50 years, how has the US Interstate system reshaped America? (1) Comments  / [ 07/04/06 ]

The extinction of experience

» On the extinction of experience. Are today's kids spending too much time in mediated environments at the cost of learning about the world first-hand? (via dm(1) Comments  / [ 07/03/06 ]

I hope you can answer yes

» I've never read his advice column before, but wow, I like this guy(2) Comments  / [ 07/03/06 ]

Does native language or academic training determine how we do math?

» Brain scans have revealed that Chinese speakers rely more on visual regions than English speakers when comparing numbers and doing sums [ 06/28/06 ]

Tropical Stonehenge found

» Tropical Stonehenge found in the Amazon basin. "The traditional image is that some time thousands of years ago small groups of tropical forest horticulturists arrived in the area and they never changed—(that) what we see today is just like it was 3,000 years ago. This is one more thing that suggests that through...thousands of years, societies have changed quite a lot." Michael Heckenberger, Assistant Professor, University of Florida Department of Anthropology. (1) Comments  / [ 06/28/06 ]

New Study: 'Boy crisis' greatly overstated

» A new study finds that widespread reports of U.S. boys being in crisis are greatly overstated, and may "derive from inadequate research, sloppy analysis and discomfort with the fact that although the average boy is doing better, the average girl has gotten ahead of him".   [ 06/27/06 ]

ESV's use of Mechanical Turk to provide Bible metadata

» Producers of the English Standard Version Bible wanted an electronic database that would identify all 5,500 direct quotes in the Bible by speaker. So they uploaded all of the quotes to Amazon's Mechanical Turk, a service that pays volunteers a small amount to perform tasks computers have trouble with—in this case, two cents a quote. The result? A Bible database that is unique in the world, for a cost of about $75. (via rw [ 06/27/06 ]

Believers of all religions work to hasten the return of the Messiah

» Around the world, devout Muslims, Jews, and Christians—especially Christians—are taking steps to fulfill the prophecies of their own religion in order to hasten the coming of the Messiah. It's fascinating to compare both the messianic prophecies and the individual attitudes towards other religions. (2) Comments  / [ 06/26/06 ]

Study: Americans have fewer closer friends

» A new study reveals that Americans are sharply more isolated than they were 50 years ago. "I don't see this as the end of the world but part of a larger puzzle. My guess is people only have so much energy, and right now they are switching around a number of networks.... We are getting a division of labor in relationships. Some people give emotional aid, some people give financial aid." Barry Wellman, University of Toronto sociologist. (thanks, lizard!)  [ 06/26/06 ]

Mobile phones as game controllers

» Next game controller: your phone. First comes the Wii, which will have the impact Oklahoma had on musical theatre. Or heck, the impact the talkies had on culture as a whole. It's a paradigm-shifting change. And once gaming can be done with an object you already carry around with you everywhere.... Get ready.   [ 06/23/06 ]

Millions of Millionaires

» There are now 1/2 million more millionaires globally than the entire population of New York City [ 06/21/06 ]

Star Trek fans are creating their own shows

» Here's a good example of participatory culture: Now that the television and film franchises seem to have ended, Star Trek fans are taking matters into their own hands. Using professional-quality video cameras and computer editing equipment for production and the Internet for distribution, creative fans are creating their own Star Trek episodes. One series is so popular that Walter Koenig and George Takei, both actors in the original series, have agreed to guest star. "The fans are saying, look, if we can't get what we want on television, the technology is out there for us to do it ourselves." Paul Sieber, who likens his project to "online community theater." (1) Comments  / [ 06/20/06 ]

Geoffrey Chaucer's Ocks-men, and interview

» Geoffrey Chaucer is planning his new work, a title that will be set around a new group of superheroes, The Ocks-menne.

Noble heroes from al estates of the kyngdom aren broughte togedir by Professir William of Ockham, yclepede PROFESSIR OCKS, who beth confynede to a wheelchayre syn that daye longe agoon when he dide soore wounde hym selfe wyth a deadlie razor of hys owene makynge. He doth seeke oute folke wyth speciale poweres of magicke, who shal kepe reson and justice in the reaume. Thei do fighte ayeinst the evil JOHANNES GOWERE (who hath no powere othere than to produce boredom, the whiche ys dedely enogh).

You'll also enjoy reading this recent piece: Geoffrey Chaucer hath been interviewed.

What has been your worst blogging experience? Johannes Gowere tryinge to messe up my game.

(via jch(1) Comments  / [ 06/19/06 ]

Action Girl's Guide to Living

» You'll like Action Girl's Guide to Living. In abbreviated form:

  1. ACTION IS EVERYTHING! Basically, what I mean is that it really doesn't matter what you say or even what you think, it's what you do that matters. It's pretty simple: if you think it's better to eat less meat, don't talk about it or write about it or have philosophical discussions about it, just eat less meat....
  6. BE OPEN.
  8. MOST THINGS SUCK. (Become a more discriminating person.)

Action Girl (Sarah Dyer ) has also put together a guide to Doing your own zine, and blogs over at Jinjur. (via grs [ 06/16/06 ]

Urine Samples on the Web

» Welcome to Affordable Urine Samples.   [ 06/16/06 ]

Vibram FiveFingers Foot Sheath

» Vibram FiveFingers is a new "foot sheath" that is designed to provide a barefoot feel with the protection of a hiking boot. Centripetal Notion has photos and a link to some video.  [ 06/09/06 ]

The Rise of Crowdsourcing

» I call it "Participatory Culture". Others have called it The Pro-Am Revolution [pdf] and "Mass Amateurization". I think it marks the end of the Industrial Age, and it's the very thing I've been speaking about this year, on this trip and elsewhere. Meet the Packagers, the Tinkerers, and the Masses: The Rise of Crowdsourcing.

Pharmaceutical maker Eli Lilly funded InnoCentive’s launch in 2001 as a way to connect with brainpower outside the company—people who could help develop drugs and speed them to market. [...] The "solvers" anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 per solution. [...] Jill Panetta, InnoCentive’s chief scientific officer, says more than 30 percent of the problems posted on the site have been cracked, "which is 30 percent more than would have been solved using a traditional, in-house approach."
The solvers are not who you might expect. Many are hobbyists working from their proverbial garage, like the University of Dallas undergrad who came up with a chemical to use in art restoration, or the Cary, North Carolina, patent lawyer who devised a novel way to mix large batches of chemical compounds.

  [ 06/08/06 ]

The In-between Generation

» The in-betweeners makes the very good point that the icons of the 60s are, in fact, not Baby Boomers themselves—they are of an older, in-between generation. The author presents 4 intriguing theses as to why this generation might have been so influential, but I think all of them are wrong.

When I was in high school and college, I listened to music produced by individuals about 10-15 years older than me. So did the Boomers. So does my 13-year-old niece. I would guess that the inordinate cultural influence of these writers and musicians is due to the number of boomers, not the innate "betterness" of their work compared to everything that has come since then. Madonna influenced an entire generation, too, but that doesn't make her the best singer of the age. Perhaps the Boomers are still driving cultural trends.

The Boomers came of age in a common culture that has all but disappeared. I'm not sure at what point things become irrevocably split—Cable TV?— but shared cultural experiences today are far more rare than they were 40 years ago. We may never see such a sizable "voting bloc" again. (via jch [ 06/07/06 ]

Gaming is good for you

» Researchers at London's Brunel University recently published the results of a 3-year study focused on the massive multiplayer online game Runescape which found that gaming may help young people learn important life lessons.

Study co-author, Nic Crowe says he was surprised by how quickly players as young as 11 years-old took up roles and responsibilities which demanded discipline, leadership and maturity. Young players actually set aside time for work (mining, fishing or crafting) and then made time for play (questing or chatting).

  [ 06/06/06 ]

Using comic book heros to teach science

» Neat: The California Science Center in Ontario, CA is hosting a Marvel Super Heroes Science Exhibition, which aims to teach kids science through the biology and physics of their favorite superheroes. "We're not strong as a bear, as fast as a cheetah or as indestructible as a cockroach. Our superpower is our intelligence and when we don't use it we are in trouble—and the forces of evil are everywhere." James Kakalios, physics professor at the University of Minnesota whose freshman seminar "Everything I Know About Science I Learned From Reading Comic Books" was one inspiration for the exhibit.   [ 06/02/06 ]

The Paradox of the Perfect Girl

» 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 ]

Smart article on Lost

» 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 ]

The Houseplants of Gor

» The Houseplants of Gor. [Wikipedia entry: Gor] (thanks, Lizard!)  [ 05/29/06 ]

Snarky book review of Mommy Wars

» 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 ]

World Citizen's Guide for Americans

» Business for Diplomatic Action Inc. has put together a World Citizen's Guide to try to stop Americans before they embarrass themselves abroad—again.  [ 05/26/06 ]

What is special about this number?

» Super cool: What is special about this number [ 05/25/06 ]

The Caliphate would unite world Muslims

» The Caliphate: One nation, under Allah, with 1.5 billion Muslims [ 05/23/06 ]

Moroccon female preachers designed to stem extremism

» 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 ]

Are bookstores necessary?

» Professor of Economics Tyler Cowen argues that, with the rise of the Internet, independent bookstores are no longer necessary. (via rc3oi [ 05/17/06 ]

Eastenders can now monitor their neighborhoods on their TVs

» 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 ]

The Yemeni poet who sells peace to his people

» 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 ]

The Conservative case for Network Neutrality

» The Gun Owners of America has sent out an op ed piece to conservative news outlets explaining why it agrees with, 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 ]

Religious affiliations of the world's 100 most influential people

» 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 ]

Red paper clip guy up to Alice Cooper

» I know you've already heard about the red paperclip guy. He's all the way up to an afternoon with Alice Cooper. (thanks, kelly!) (1) Comments  / [ 05/10/06 ]

102 films you must see to be movie-literate

» Jim Emerson's 102 Movies You Must See in order to have "any sort of informed discussion about movies". I've seen 41. (via the bradlands(2) Comments  / [ 05/10/06 ]

A Theatre Season reading list

» Washington University's Edison Theatre is doing something different this year: creating a suggested book list for their 2006-07 season.  [ 05/05/06 ]

Comparative Table of Languages

» The Comparative table of languages(3) Comments  / [ 05/05/06 ]

The monetary value of mothering

» What's the real value of being a mom? $85,876 for working moms, and $134,121 for stay-at-homes.  [ 05/04/06 ]

DaVinci Code 'historical background' is wrong

» 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 ]

Conservative Judaism and Gay Rabbis

» 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 ]

Reflections on the revival of 'wet shaving'

» A Little Weekend Reading: The Best a Man Can Get, a reflection on the revival of Wet Shaving.

"After the age of forty, every man is responsible for his own face." This aphorism, most commonly attributed to Albert Camus, was comforting when I heard it in my twenties.... Now I am 38, two years away from Camus's benchmark.... Alas, unless the next two years bring a sudden Botox-like transformation, the face I will be responsible for in my forties and beyond has quite as many faults as the one I was not responsible for in my twenties. And without a doubt, wet shaving has only made me more conscious of the face I am about to be responsible for. [...]
But if Camus's slogan is no longer comforting, it has become bracing. Just in time, at the age of 38, I have learned how to shave. I have become responsible for my own face.

  [ 04/28/06 ]

Jane Jacobs, RIP

» Iconic urban activist Jane Jacobs is dead.  (1) Comments  / [ 04/26/06 ]

Christian Sex Toys

» A new website called Wholly Love [ed. note: top page fine, inside pages tasteful, but possibly not quite safe for work] sells sex toys to help couples celebrate "God's fantastic gift of sex within Christian marriage". And why not? The site offers sex toys, "Dickie warmers", fishnet gloves, and a nurse's outfit. "We are constantly told as Christians what we can’t do, but there is little promotion of what we can." Stella Hagarty, co-founder of Wholly Love. (1) Comments  / [ 04/24/06 ]

The Magdalene program

» The Reverend Becca Stevens has created an amazingly successful program to change the lives of women with a criminal history of prostitution and drug abuse by treating them like precious objects. "I wanted to treat people with dignity and respect, to have a lovely place where women could feel the extravagance of being loved, and that they are worth something." The Reverend Becca Stevens, founder of the Magdalene community.  [ 04/20/06 ]

Sellling God to a captive audience

» A captive audience for salvation The largest private company running prisons and jails in the United States has formed partnerships with eight national Evangelical Christian ministries, but observers are raising questions about its constitutionality — and effectiveness. "Once you get into the program it will grab you. Doing time is hard.... This is the best place to be in the facility because there's more peace." Harold Harris, repeat offender and member of one of his prison's "God Pods".  [ 04/19/06 ]

The Martha Stewart of Japan

» Harumi Kurihara, Japan's "karisuma shufu" — a charisma housewife — is one of the most loved Martha Stewarts of Japan. Harumi's Japanese Cooking has just been published in the United States. "A Japanese mother's reputation in school rests on her bentos." Nobuko Suzuki, editor of Harumi Kurihara's Japanese cookbooks. (1) Comments  / [ 04/19/06 ]

Goth culture protects at-risk youths

» A new study suggests that the goth subculture, with its emphasis on acceptance and non-violence, may help to protect young people at risk of harming themselves. "Rather than posing a risk, it's also possible that by belonging to the goth subculture, young people are gaining valuable social and emotional support from their peers." Robert Young, University of Glasgow researcher and study lead. (thanks, chris!) (1) Comments  / [ 04/18/06 ]

Cross Walk America to reclaim Christianity

» Concerned that radical fundamentalism has hijacked Christianity in the public sphere, a group of moderate and progressive Christians have formed a group called Crosswalk, and started a cross-country hike from Phoenix, Arizona to Washington, DC to bring attention to more mainstream Christian values. The Phoenix Affirmations summarize their core beliefs. And of course they have a blog. "We are going on this journey because the Christian values of compassion, a welcoming spirit, acceptance and tolerance are being drowned out in large part by a small but vocal and well-funded minority that are using faith in America to create a divisive and polarizing atmosphere of exclusion." The Rev. Eric Elnes, Ph.D., co-president of CrossWalk America, and senior pastor of Scottsdale Congregational United Church of Christ.  (1) Comments  / [ 04/18/06 ]

Pantomime Ministries

» Awesome: Pantomime Ministries. It's real, it's largely a phenomenon of the African American church, and it's spreading. Here's one group: The Lights of Zion. Their tagline? "We mime our own business".  [ 04/18/06 ]

More on Flickr-powered collaborative photojournalism

» Emily Turrettini notices the difference between the Flickr slideshow of the CPE protests I linked here last week, and other CPE photo compilations on the Web, which depict a much more peaceful event. She wonders whether the slideshow photos depicting vandalism were taken during the French riots in November, and then deliberately mis-tagged "CPE", but I don't think that's the case. The slideshow I linked was organized by "interestingness", which is likely to skew to the sensational. The "most recent" slideshow presents a much less dramatic series of images. Note that neither is a measure of "importance" or "fairness", values that will likely always require human editorial judgement.

Of course it would be easy to deliberately mis-tag photos as they were uploaded. I posted here about the inherent limitations of tagging back in January 2005. At the time, others joined me in commenting on the potential to game the system. But Flickr is still a relatively unknown phenomenon, and I would be surprised if, at this point, anyone is trying to game it for political gain. That will likely change once Flickr becomes more widely known. Perhaps the automatic inclusion of GPS and time/date information when photos are uploaded would provide enough information to allow viewers to make more accurate assessments.

Emily is correct when she says "Caution and good judgment must prevail, not only toward the traditional media, but with regard to collaborative citizen journalism as well" — but that applies equally to the other sites she links. Organizations that participate in an event will document just one version of the event: their own. This version might be carefully constructed to present a particular narrative of the event and of the organization's role (think of the narratives routinely presented by political parties). At its least contrived, organizational records will consist of of "our favorite moments" — the parts participants themselves most want to look back on. This is right and natural and how we all organize our personal memory-markers. It is one reason I've argued that narratives must be written by a third party in order to be classified as "journalism" instead of memoir.

People photograph that which they think is "interesting". Photographers then apply another filter of "worthness" before they upload their photos to the server — or show them to friends. Every photograph has a point of view. Every series of photos creates a narrative. It will never be complete, or unbiased. Even so, barring a large-scale misinformation campaign, Flickr photos of any event should, in aggregate, represent a relatively impartial account of what could be be captured on film.

That lack of editorial control provides some protection against any person or organization seeking to control the narrative of any given event. Everyone's photos are published, regardless of their political standing or intent. Given enough participants, Flickr's inclusive nature will work against anyone deliberately skewing coverage of an event.

We need to be on guard against fraud. We need to create technological systems that will support transparency and reduce distortion. But in the end, one of our best weapons against deliberate manipulation and misinformation may be the simple, non-technical principle of inclusion. In fact, the framers of our Constitution were onto this 200 years ago. It's a little thing they liked to call "a Free Press".  (7) Comments  / [ 04/17/06 ]

Updated 'How to Save the World' book list

» Dave Pollard has updated his How to Change the World list of 80 books and articles that "forever changed my worldview, and my purpose for living." I'm fascinated with the descriptions of some of these books, the tenets of which seem entirely at odds with my own worldview. I must pick a few of them up. (thanks, Amy!)  [ 04/17/06 ]

Gladwell on how we frame the world

» New Yorker: Here's Why. A sociologist offers an anatomy of explanations, Malcolm Gladwell. (1) Comments  / [ 04/14/06 ]

What is the price of female equality?

» A Little Weekend Reading: Working Girls, Broken Society is a terrible title for a really smart article . "While the benefits of career equality are axiomatic, its negative repercussions are wilfully ignored. In a contentious essay that is sparking fierce debate in Britain, a King's College professor argues that we must confront the losses to society when women choose work over family."

Politicians, journalists and businessmen often emphasize the negative economic consequences of any barriers to female participation in the workforce, and of losing half the country's best brains to the kitchen sink. Of course they are right, and I am in no hurry to go back there myself.
But it is striking how little anyone mentions, let alone tries to quantify, the offsetting losses when women choose work over family. This is stupid.

(via dm(8) Comments  / [ 04/14/06 ]

Rival Little-people KISS tribute bands duke it out

» Rival bands clash over little-person KISS tribute. MiniKiss and Tiny Kiss tussle over who owns the concept of a little people KISS tribute band. (thanks, lizard!) (1) Comments  / [ 04/13/06 ]

Attention Deficit Trait = Acquired Attention Deficit Disorder

» Science finally catches up with me: "Dr. Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist who's studied attention deficit disorder for more than a decade, has identified a related disorder he calls attention deficit trait, and he says it's reaching epidemic proportions in the corporate world." (via 43f(1) Comments  / [ 04/11/06 ]

If corporate logos were like heraldic crests

» What if corporate logos were like heraldic crests? Brilliant.  [ 04/11/06 ]

How Flickr single-handedly invented collaborative photojournalism

» What is collaborative journalism? I would define it as news reporting, enabled by the Internet, done by a dispersed, unorganized group of people — or a group that spontaneously (and temporarily) organizes around their interest in a particular event. It's a compelling idea, but unfortunately — and in spite of many millions of blogs and wikis and online forums — actual examples are few and far between.

I had believed that was because most people are just not that interested in reporting the news, but I was wrong. Most of us can't wait to "break" a story to our friends, whether we've just witnessed a car accident, a celebrity sighting, or discovered that friends who were dating have broken up.

I'm beginning to suspect that what citizen reporters lack is the proper tool. Because the Flickr slideshow of photos of the French employment riots [Flash required] amply demonstrates that, on Flickr at least, collaborative photojournalism is thriving. That success is at least as much a product of Flickr itself as it is a product of the contributing photographers.

For those who don't know, Flickr allows members to upload photos to a public viewing area, and then "tag" them to denote their subject matter. Flickr then rates each photo according to "interestingness", a quality that is based on the ways in which other users interact with that photo. No one (outside of the Flickr team) knows exactly what that algorithm is based on, but I would guess that it measures things like the number of times each photo is viewed, the number of times another member calls it a favorite, the number of times it's emailed to others — those sorts of things.

The above slideshow consists of all public photos with a certain tag. So the first thing Flickr is doing is aggregating them. Then they are arranged by "interestingness" which means that the best photos (as judged by the community) come first. It also means that as new photos are added to the stream, it will continue to change, and more interesting photos will percolate to the top. If you haven't looked at a Flickr stream before, you'll be astonished by the high quality of these photographs.

Now, with or without Flickr, there would be people out on the streets watching the riots. But I would judge that Flickr members are now more inclined to document what they see, knowing that they can share it with others when they get home. I don't know what tools could make it this easy for other kinds of journalists to assemble a compelling story in pieces, but clearly Flickr has made something possible for photographers that was not possible before. [Updated to more clearly distinguish between written journalism and photojournalism.] (via rw)

Update: More on Flickr-powered collaborative journalism(8) Comments  / [ 04/11/06 ]

Spare the rod and spoil the organization

» Researchers claim that in groups, the ability for members to punish other members is tied to profit (or, by extension, success).

The study, appearing today in the journal Science, suggests that groups with few rules attract many exploitative people who quickly undermine cooperation. By contrast, communities that allow punishment, and in which power is distributed equally, are more likely to draw people who, even at their own cost, are willing to stand up to miscreants.

(via dm(1) Comments  / [ 04/10/06 ]

How to Write a Thank-you Note

» Leslie Harpold: How to Write a Thank-you Note. Read it, learn it, live it. (via rc3oi(5) Comments  / [ 04/07/06 ]

Scaredy cats grow up conservative

» A new study claims that insecure children tend to grow up rigid and traditional, hence politically conservative, while more confident children, eager to explore alternatives, tend to become liberal. I think the naysayer in this article has a point: these insecure people might be gravitating toward authoritarianism or the status quo, which in the US would be the right, but in China would be the (leftist) state party. For what it's worth, I was an insecure child.  [ 04/04/06 ]

The Ser-Venn-Ity Diagram

» The Ser-Venn-Ity Prayer.  (1) Comments  / [ 04/04/06 ]

Afghanistan Apostasy

» Why Afghanistan should not have dismissed the apostasy case. (via dm [ 04/03/06 ]

On Political Blogging

» What Does it Mean to be 'Political'?

The words "politics" and "political" have been so degraded and defiled that maybe it's just as well Beebo doesn't want to call us "political" but, in my opinion, we are all political writers. Indeed every act of personal reflection (however minute) followed by the public speech act of opining to the universe is a political act. It is why freedom of speech is so fundamental (and so frightening to the fascists).

Amen.  [ 03/30/06 ]

The emerging field of Porn Studies

» Sex in the Syllabus. Academia's new "porn curriculum" casts a critical eye on the aesthetic, societal and philosophical properties of smut — and makes some students squirm in their chairs.  (1) Comments  / [ 03/30/06 ]

Women to Africa: Thanks, we can do it ourselves

» Newsweek has a tremendous article on the challenges facing Africa, and the courageous women who are entering public service, determined to repair decades of corruption. "If I left after the shooting, I'd look like a coward. I told my family, 'Let me strive to complete my five years'." Dora Akunyili head of Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control on why she kept her post after an assassination attempt by the counterfeit drug cartel she was trying to shut down.  [ 03/29/06 ]

Halo as Talk Show

» Chris Burke is producing a talk show within the world of the computer game Halo 2. More evidence that, as in the offline world, software is most social as an unintended consequence of other activities, not something in and of itself. "The freewheeling conversations were split between highbrow theory and glitch-driven slapstick, peppered with armed ambushes by other players. More than 12 segments later, TSL has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, and it's easy to see why. When was the last time you saw Letterman come under small-arms fire during his monologue?" (thanks, kelly!)  [ 03/27/06 ]

Innovative uses of iPods in Education

» Georgia College & State University, a small, rural liberal arts college, has initiated a program to devise innovative uses of the iPod across campus. One professor asks students to screen required films on video-enabled iPods before class; another produces a weekly podcast of the most-asked questions from her office hours; and the school has created an "iVillage" to help freshmen adjust to life on campus.   [ 03/22/06 ]

The re-emergence of Acoustic-Era Pop

» How Pop Sounded Before It Popped describes the resurgence of interest in turn-of-the-20th-century pop music, long shunned by roots enthusiasts for its crass commercialism — and for the uncomfortable questions it raises about the artistic merit of entertainment that is based on racial stereotyping. "Acoustic-era music is the historical underdog. These are scratchy records, with 19th-century aesthetics, with racist material all over the place, with artists you've never heard of. This stuff is completely unknown, and it's a treasure trove." Richard Martin, co-owner of Archeophone Records, a label that specializes in acoustic-era pop.  [ 03/22/06 ]

Placesite geographical social networking

» Placesite is a new service that allows patrons of wifi cafes to connect with one another by reading profiles of the other (online) people there, chatting, and contributing to message forums tied to that particular place. It is an attempt to counteract the zombie effect of having so many people staring at their computers by bringing social networking to geographic places. It's interesting, but two objections spring to mind. First, a certain percentage of people have always used cafes to read and write and study. What's the difference? Second, won't this just create two classes of people, those who are able to interact with others on their computer, and those who are not? (via phblog(1) Comments  / [ 03/21/06 ]

The Smithsonian's Travelling American Food Exhibit

» Key Ingredients: America by Food is the website companion to the Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibition of the same name. It features an American Food Timeline, a collection of recipes and stories from across the USA (contribute your own!), and an exhibition schedule [ 03/21/06 ]

US Tiffin Ladies

» In India, lunch is traditionally prepared for workers by a wife, mother, or domestic and then delivered hot to the place of work. In the United States, in places with large East Indian populations, commercial versions of this service — often prepared by homemakers as a small side business — are springing up, allowing Indians to have a healthy taste of home. "Indian restaurants do not compare to what these ladies serve. Today for lunch I ate pao bhaji. If you were to see it on any menu, which I doubt, it would be mass produced. This tastes like my mom's." Vijay Beniwal, a software design engineer for Microsoft. (2) Comments  / [ 03/20/06 ]

On Morality

» An ethicist on morality, and why it matters. "If we want to reclaim moral language...we need to get comfortable with the idea of making moral judgments. [...] Therefore, I have written a short primer. It's meant for those who are not fully comfortable making moral judgments, or using the language of morality." (via rc3oi [ 03/17/06 ]

Andrew Young: Now Shilling for WalMart

» Commenting on former MLK aide Andrew Young's new role as a spokesman for WalMart, the Consumerist has this right: "Can we say commodifying credibility? [...] This is the same tactic as putting a hot chick next to a toaster in an ad, hoping to give the toaster sex appeal. There's a flip-side to that transference equation: the chick comes out looking like, by virtue of association, an appliance." (2) Comments  / [ 03/17/06 ]

Anarchy Rules

» Just as I'm settling happily into middle class respectability, along comes this article depicting the joys of being middle-aged in a shared, anarchist household. (via dm [ 03/17/06 ]

Chinese First Skiiers?

» Northwestern Chinese peoples living in the remote Altay mountains of Xinjiang province practice a unique style of skiing, and use skis whose design dates back 2,000 years. Since I am in the section of Guns, Germs, and Steel that describes the domestication of animals, I was particularly interested in the description of the days-long Altaics elk hunts, which end in them tiring the animals so much the can capture them and keep them captive. It's like a little glimpse of history.  [ 03/16/06 ]

Amish rebuild neighbor's home

» Amish neighbors take just one day to rebuild home destroyed by twister. (thanks, mab!)  [ 03/16/06 ]

Geek Humor: Economists

» As you may know, I have a fondness for specialist (aka geek) humor. For your bewilderment and amusement, I offer you: Economist Jokes. (thanks, jjg!)

Three econometricians went out hunting and came across a large deer. The first econometrician fired, but missed, by a meter to the left. The second econometrician fired, but also missed, by a meter to the right. The third econometrician didn't fire, but shouted in triumph, "We got it! We got it!"

Top 10 Economist Valentines

  [ 03/16/06 ]

Italic Handwriting

» Appalled at the terrible handwriting that surrounds them, a handwriting expert/former teacher and calligraphy expert have invented a new hybrid of printing and cursive that promises to give practitioners fast, legible handwriting. Their book is Write Now: The Complete Program for Better Handwriting. Listen, I'm all for this. I can't read notes I've written to myself even 5 minutes later. "We have a national affliction, and it's called cacography — that means 'illegible handwriting.' "That's why we're a 'Please print' nation. Nobody says, 'Please write in your lovely cursive handwriting.'" Barbara Getty, handwriting expert, former elementary-school teacher and co-creator of the Italic method of handwriting. (via dm)

Thanks to Shelly for providing the URL for the updated version of the book (corrected above). (3) Comments  / [ 03/15/06 ]

Pray as you go Podcasts

» Fabulous. A group of British Jesuits is offering a popular new service: free, 12-minute worship sessions in MP3 format, with an automated "Pray as you Go" process to automate downloading to the user's iPod. (via trevor cook [ 03/15/06 ]

China's first Web meme plays havoc with culture

» After the highly anticipated Chinese film The Promise tanked, Hu Ge created a spoof for his friends — who posted it to the Web. Perhaps you can imagine how that has played out in a culture that places high value on respect for authority, correct behavior, and is new to the Web.  [ 03/14/06 ]

Growing up Bin Laden

» Osama Bin Laden's niece, an aspiring musician, is about to get her own reality show [ 03/13/06 ]

Argentine women fight for equitable surnames

» Argentine women to government: We want to be with our husbands, not owned by them [ 03/13/06 ]

The couple who plays together better cooperate

» Time was, couples couldn't play as bridge partners socially for fear of repercussions for an "unexpectedly" played hand when they got home. These days, the rules are reversed, and gaming couples who want to preserve their relationship often choose to play online games cooperatively [ 03/13/06 ]

Parental Notification may modify behavior when there are no alternatives

» Contradicting the NYTimes study, researchers at Baruch College at City University of New York have found that abortion rates declined significantly among Texas girls after the state enacted a parental notification law, though girls 17 1/2 or slightly older were 33% more likely to have an abortion in the second trimester in order to escape the notification requirement. "[Lead researcher Ted Joyce] said [the NYTimes] analysis had a different outcome because it included two states with tiny populations, one state where the law was overturned, and two states near areas where abortion is easily accessible without parental involvement."  [ 03/10/06 ]

US Savings Lowest Since Depression

» For the first time since the Great Depression, the US savings rate is in negative numbers. "A lot of us are approaching retirement and a lot of us are approaching it with much too little saved up. They're either going to depend on Social Security, which is hardly a good bet given the state of the federal government's finances, or they're going to be taking early retirement at the age of 75." David Wyss, an economist with Standard and Poor's.

I found the 3 questions the Kinder Institute of Life Planning ask their clients to be interesting:

  [ 03/09/06 ]

A New Golden Age of British Women's Literature

» On the Orange Prize long-list. Why is women's literature finally thriving in Great Britain? Superior writers who deliver strong sales, more women editors willing to give them a go, and the the market for literary fiction — which is overwhelmingly female. "The health of fiction is when you get variety and I don't think I've ever seen a more various field for fiction, whether gender neutral or gender specific. The pasture is blooming." John Sutherland, last year's Man Booker Prize chairman. (via rw [ 03/08/06 ]

Parental consent marginally affects abortion rates

» A New York Times analysis of the states that enacted parental notification and parental consent laws from 1995 to 2004 found no evidence that those laws had a significant impact on the number of minors who got pregnant, or, once pregnant, the number who had abortions. "I see far more parents trying to pressure their daughters to have one. As a parent myself, I can understand. But I say to parents, 'You force her to have this abortion, and I can tell you that within the next six months she's going to be pregnant again.'" Jane Bovard, owner of the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, N.D.

I guess the interesting thing to me is that if parental consent doesn't significantly affect the rates of teenage pregnancy and abortion (and there is some evidence that abortion rates go up in states that adjoin those that require parental consent), then there's less reason for many pro-lifers to support these laws, and for pro-choicers to oppose them. Of course, these are two "bright-line" groups. There is no room for nuance in this debate. Comments?  [ 03/07/06 ]

Guantanamo = Bush Administration Lawlessness

» If only we could get them interested in human rights at home. "Unfortunately, I think the government's right; it's a correct reading of the law. The law says you can't torture detainees at Guantanamo, but it also says you can't enforce that law in the courts." Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. (via b&s, who has much more here [ 03/06/06 ]

Abortion rights, ZOOM!

» Wow. First South Dakota, now Mississippi. All at once that rhetorical fear-mongering in the Planned Parenthood and NOW fundraising letters is starting to sound like cool, accurate assessment.  [ 03/02/06 ]

Christian First Person Shooter

» Christians are about to get their own video game, based on the popular Left Behind book series and which — according to this writeup — features a level of violence reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto. "We've thought through how the Christian right and the liberal left will slam us. But megachurches are very likely to embrace this game." Troy Lyndon, CEO, Left Behind Games.  [ 03/02/06 ]

Social Media Rules

» Yahoo!'s Bradley Horowitz starts blogging with a terrific post on why 100% participation in social media services is not only unnecessary, it's undesirable [ 03/02/06 ]

Hip Hop at the Smithsonian

» The Smithsonian National Museum of American History has begun an initiative to collect a broad array of artifacts (including oral histories) about Hip Hop Culture and music [ 03/01/06 ]


» Buff. Re-Buff. (via c'ist [ 03/01/06 ]

Bonds in drag

» At a community fundraiser based on the hit television show American Idol, San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds judged the contest dressed as Paula Abdul. (The article includes a picture of Bonds in drag.) "I'll never tell my wife to hurry up any more. Because it took me forever to get ready. I'll never do that again. I couldn't get my hair right." Barry Bonds.   [ 03/01/06 ]

Understanding WarioWare

» What WarioWare can teach us about game design. "In a sense, WarioWare is an Understanding Comics of video games: a text that uses the representational strategies of a medium to reflect upon that same medium. But where Understanding Comics is discourse on comics, written in the language of comics, Wario Ware is more like Chuck Jones's meta-cartoon Duck Amuck. WarioWare and Duck Amuck violate convention, and in doing so draw attention to how cartoons and games are both constructed and interpreted."  [ 03/01/06 ]

Indie bands shun Hummer

» General Motors wants their Hummer vehicle to be hip, but in spite of their best efforts, most indie bands won't sell them their music. "My standard line is you guys will play a hundred million gigs before you see this amount of money. Usually they come back with, 'We'll do anything BUT Hummer.'" Lyle Hysen, head of Bank Robber Music, a licensing group that pitches songs to film, television and advertisement companies. (via rw [ 02/27/06 ]

I guess any publicity isn't always good

» In the wake of revelations that his Oprah-endorsed "memoir" was fictional, James Frey has now lost his book deal [ 02/27/06 ]

The rise of niche DVD clubs

» Further evidence of the balkanization of American culture: the rise of DVD clubs that cater to niche audiences. It works for book clubs, why not film? "Basically, we just noticed that within the [Conservative Book Club] we were selling more DVDs. [...] Our long-term goal is to sell product, but also to be a place where conservative filmmakers know that they can market their wares." Jeff Rubin, head of the Conservative DVD Club.  [ 02/27/06 ]

WoW is the New Golf

» Is World of Warcraft the New Golf? argues that the world's high-tech movers and shakers are making connections and making deals in the massively multiplayer online game. "Warcraft is like a really, really well-designed UI for real-time, ad-hoc group collaboration and management of tons of people. The tools are really interesting because they apply to stuff that we'll be using in the real world." Joi Ito, venture capitalist and entrepreneur.  [ 02/24/06 ]

What games teach us

» David Sirlin examines the messages inherent in games ("Chess appears to be vaguely about war...but it's really a game of controlling space, of reading the opponent's mind, of trickery and tactics and so on") and reflects on what What World of Warcraft really teaches: Time is worth more than skill, groups are more important than individuals, and "us" is more important than "them".  [ 02/24/06 ]

Black like me

» When Erika Thereian changed to a black-skinned avatar in the online game Second Life, she found that some of her friends no longer sought her out, certain men assumed she was sexually promiscuous, and that some people just don't like black folks. "Well, I teleport into a region where a couple people [are] standing around. One said, 'Look at the n***** b****.' Another said 'Great, they are gonna invade SL now.'" (both via rw [ 02/24/06 ]

First Transgendered EU Parliamentary Member

» A transgendered candidate for the Italian Parliament (considered a sure winner in her race) says she will dress conservatively if elected because she wants to be seen as a serious politician. "Parliament is not a theatre, it’s not a discotheque. It’s already revolutionary that a transgender gets into parliament. It wouldn’t be useful to provoke in such a stupid way." Vladimir Luxuria, Italian Parliamentary candidate.  [ 02/23/06 ]

Religious leaders reject Intelligent Design

» Protestant and Catholic leaders are speaking out against the Intelligent Design movement, joining scientists who have been battling to remove the ideology from science classes across the United States.  [ 02/22/06 ]

10 books every child should read

» Aiming to put together "a children's canon on which people might like to draw", The Royal Society of Literature asked top children's authors for a list of 10 books every child should read before they leave school. Here are the 7 resulting lists, including ones from Philip Pullman and JK Rowling. These lists are erudite enough that they would make a good year's reading for any adult, and it would be fun to read them one list at a time to try to extract the message each author was trying to get to the children. Of course, everyone likes Ben Okri's list of "10 1/2 Inclinations" the best. ("1. There is a secret trail of books meant to inspire and enlighten you. Find that trail.")

I don't know. 10 books isn't very many. What have they left off? (via mc(5) Comments  / [ 02/21/06 ]

What the Shakers Did

» New Yorker: Shining Tree of Life: What the Shakers did. Something beautiful is what. (via dm [ 02/17/06 ]

The Death of Handwriting

» The Death of Handwriting. No kidding. I was thinking that all this typing has made my handwriting as atrocious as it is, but I just came upon the business card on which I wrote my phone number when I first met Jesse — and it's a good thing he had my email address. (via dm [ 02/16/06 ]

Ageing at Home

» NYT: Aging at Home: For a Lucky Few, a Wish Come True profiles Beacon Hill Village, an innovative nonprofit organization created by and for local residents determined to grow old in familiar surroundings, and to make that possible for others. "I don't want a so-called expert determining how I should be treated or what should be available to me. The thing I most cherish here is that it's we, the older people, who are creating our own universe." Susan McWhinney-Morse, one of the founders of Beacon Hill Village. (via at [ 02/14/06 ]

Evangelical Greens

» Evangelical Leaders Join Global Warming Initiative. "As Christians, our faith in Jesus Christ compels us to love our neighbors and to be stewards of God's creation. The good news is that with God's help, we can stop global warming, for our kids, our world and for the Lord." The Rev. Joel Hunter, pastor of a megachurch in Longwood, Fla., in a television spot that links images of drought, starvation and Hurricane Katrina to global warming. (via jc [ 02/13/06 ]

The Power Law Rules Social Problems

» A Little Weekend Reading: Malcolm Gladwell reflects on homelessness, pollution, and bad cops and the problems of the power law. (via jc)   [ 02/10/06 ]

Power Law Action in Hitmaking

» A new study suggests that social feedback has a profound effect on the popularity of a song.

Participants who could see how often a song had been downloaded tended to give higher ratings to songs that had been downloaded often, and were more likely to download those songs themselves. That created a snowball effect, catapulting a few songs to the top of the charts and leaving others languishing.
The researchers divided the socially influenced group (which could see the download information) into eight different "worlds", so that only the downloading decisions within that world were visible. [...I]n one world, a Milwaukee pop punk band called 52Metro were stars, reaching number 1 in the download charts. In another world they were losers, ranked 40 out of 48.

This, of course, is the complaint bloggers have always had about the "democratic" nature of blogging and the power of A-list popularity.  [ 02/10/06 ]

Too much stuff

» Burdens of the Modern Beast. From Home to Office to School to Gym, Our Stuff Is Too Much With Us. I've been saying this for years:

The Walkman, introduced in 1979, Hine says in an e-mail, "probably set the precedent; it allowed people to be physically in a space, but mentally detached. The plethora of 'communications' devices we carry are also tools of isolation from the immediate environment."

(via 43f [ 02/08/06 ]

Ads = Brain Control

» Researchers did MRIs of 5 subjects watching Superbowl ads and found that the best ones stimulate the brain’s empathy and reward centers. (via c'ist [ 02/08/06 ]

Keys for Rides

» A Portland, Maine program allows seniors to trade in their keys in exchange for 24/7 rides. "Katherine Freund, who founded the program as an outgrowth of her graduate school project, says the key is that it uses no taxpayer money. Even if society wants all seniors to be entitled to transportation, she says, there is not enough money to meet that goal. That is how she came up with the model of a car trade-in. 'I thought, "here is all this equity depreciating in driveways from coast to coast,"' she says."  [ 02/07/06 ]

Headline Heaven

» In my next life, I want to be a headline writer: Gay ski week: Tahoe goes for Brokeback, San Francisco Chronicle.  [ 02/07/06 ]

Top 10 Pop Culture Commonalities

» Culture's magnetic forces. The Christian Science Monitor lists the 21st century's top ten pop culture common denominators.  [ 02/03/06 ]

Do the Watusi

» Learn the steps to your favorite Sixties dance crazes. The Chicken, the Blue-beat, and the Watusi, here we come. (via rw [ 01/30/06 ]

Mr Bravado Tough Guy?

» Sounds like Oprah's trying to save her reputation. Why would these people agree to appear on her show?

On a segment that also featured the book's publisher, Nan A. Talese of Doubleday, Frey was questioned about various parts of his book, from the three-month jail sentence he now says he never served to undergoing dental surgery without Novocain, a story he no longer clearly recalls.
Winfrey, whose apparent indifference to the memoir's accuracy led to intense criticism, including angry e-mails on her Web site, subjected Frey to a virtual page-by-page interrogation. No longer, as she did last week, was she saying that emotional truth mattered more than the facts. "Mr. Bravado Tough Guy," she mockingly called the author whose book she had enshrined last fall and whose reputation she had saved last week.

  [ 01/26/06 ]

The French are fattening

» Ooh la la! The French are getting fat. Prepared foods, sedentary lives, the breakdown of the family dinner, and... "With all the awareness of obesity, there is also a countertrend. The French may have begun to embrace the large woman." (via dm [ 01/25/06 ]

Making Generous Trouble

» Making Generous Trouble: Creativity for Your Smart Heart by Anne Herbert is too long (save it for your lunch hour), and will lose you over and over again. But stick with it because you will find your thread again a little further down the page. (via tboapw)

The idea is you have some great ideas. The idea is sometimes you don't notice your great ideas because they are very different than what already exists. That difference, which makes you shy off your ideas, is part of what makes your ideas great, and needed.
The idea is that the rest of us could use your great ideas if you get them out among us. The idea is your different ideas could help make a different world that would be a better place for us all to live. [...]
A guy I used to work for, Stewart Brand, said that once you have an idea you have about five minutes to do something about it. You don't have to do everything the idea calls for within five minutes, but you've got to do something right away to make it real.

I also like this part:

I was at the stuff-from-Tibet show at the De Young Museum, and the standing Tibetan metal Buddha looked me in the eye and said..."Do it directly."
And I agreed, yep, I'll do it directly. I didn't know what "Do" or "directly" meant in this case. [...]
In alternative activist organizing, one of the ways you know you're doing a good thing is that the bad guys notice it and don't like it. So you and the bad guys keep fixated on each other and on what you both understand to be activities. Einstein and others said you can't solve a problem on the level at which it was created — you have to move to another level.

  [ 01/24/06 ]

Skills for a modern-day RPG

» A list of skills for a modern-day RPG. Among my favorites: crossword, forklift driving, and l33t-sp34k.  [ 01/24/06 ]

Free to be, You and Me

» CSM: US celebrates its most misread freedom. "American Muslims often tell me how much they appreciate the freedom to practice Islam the way they want to, which they couldn't do in their native country even though it was a Muslim nation. But then they say, 'What is this nonsense about the separation of church and state — why do we need that?' They don't understand that's why they have their freedom." Charles Haynes, of the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va.  [ 01/20/06 ]

Amish on cell phones

» A Little Weekend Reading: In a 1999 Wired article, Look Who's Talking, Howard Rheingold examines the Amish relationship with technology and the modern world. "The price of good farmland and the number of Amish families are both increasing so rapidly that in recent decades they have adopted nonagricultural enterprises for livelihood — woodworking, construction, light factory work. This, in turn, has forced the Amish to adopt technologies that can enhance their productivity. [...] Far from knee-jerk technophobes, these are very adaptive techno-selectives who devise remarkable technologies that fit within their self-imposed limits."  [ 01/20/06 ]

Luddism Resources

» Luddism, Neo-Luddites, and Dystopian Views of Technology, Martin Ryder, University of Colorado.  [ 01/20/06 ]

Elie, he's my man.

» Oprah has chosen Elie Wiesel's Night as her next book club selection. "But it is not a novel at all. I know the difference. I make a distinction between what I lived through and what I imagined others to have lived through. [As a memoir] my experiences in the book — A to Z — must be true. All the people I describe were with me there. I object angrily if someone mentions it as a novel." Elie Wiesel.  [ 01/17/06 ]

Anonymity vs Accountablity

» Bruce Schneier: Anonymity vs Accountablity. "The problem isn't anonymity; it's accountability. If someone isn't accountable, then knowing his name doesn't help. If you have someone who is completely anonymous, yet just as completely accountable, then — heck, just call him Fred."  [ 01/16/06 ]

Judge Behind Bars

» A Fallen Judge Rethinks Crime and Punishment. "As a judge, Mr. Amundson says he had not thought about sentencing beyond his court; he has come to see its consequences from fellow inmates. 'I knew the era of rehabilitation was over, but I had no idea we had reduced it to just warehousing, and I don't think most judges do,' he said."  [ 01/13/06 ]

Movie Manners

» CSM: Movie Manners: An Endangered Species. "If you ask someone to keep quiet nowadays, you're likely to get back a look of genuine astonishment. People who are plugged into their own hum don't recognize your right to silence. What they recognize is their right not to be silent."  [ 01/13/06 ]



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