August 31, 2005
World Keeps on Turning
worldometers.info makes me simultaneously depressed and ecstatic. Then it evens out into a kind of awe.
Sad Time to Joke
Google announces plan to destroy all information it can't index. Also: The Onion is sporting a nice newsy-lookin' redesign. And it's opened its online archives back to 1996. Hott.
August 30, 2005
The New Jam
"Breakfast Club" by DJ Z-Trip. Pass it on.
August 29, 2005
The new editor is Wen Stephenson, who has been at Ideas for a while and, before that, was managing editor for Frontline's website. And before that he worked at The Atlantic. So basically best ever all around.
Come On In, the Water's Fine
Check out these photos of yesterday's evacuation and preparation for Hurricane Katrina and see if you can guess which one is my favorite.
Click Click, Woof Woof
Clive Thompson on Nintendogs, the new, um, dog simulator for the Nintendo DS.
Honestly I don't know what to think about this.
This morning at Starbucks, I had the temerity to order a "healthy" 12-grain bran muffin alongside a malted vanilla frappuccino topped with whipped cream (read: milkshake). There should be a word for people like me at moments like these, and I suggest that word should be:
Lipocrite n. (LIPP - o - kritt) A person who negates health-conscious food and lifestyle choices with corresponding unhealthy behavior. That lipocrite totally just smothered his green salad in ranch dressing, cheddar cheese and bacon bits.
August 28, 2005
A True Notebook
Was at the Sony Style store the other day and saw the T-series VAIO -- they had it sitting atop a stack of books and, whoah, it looked like just another book. And a trade paperback at that.
Then, this morning I saw a a nice mention of the T-series over on Bart Decrem's blog (he is CEO of the company that's making that new "social browser" Flock). So this led me to investigate a little further.
One thing I didn't realize: These machines come with built-in cellular cards, so they can go online via Cingular's network as well as via WiFi. Now, check this out: CNET reports that it's $80 a month for unlimited data. That's kind of a lot... but at the same time, think about it: You could pop this thing open anytime and just be online. Cingular has a 3G network so it's a fast connection, too. VoIP, y'all.
A couple of implications: One, if I had a couple of Gs to drop I would totally drop them on this thing. Two, did you hear that Apple has been trying to recruit VAIO engineers for its new Intel-based Powerbooks? Hmm. Could be cool.
August 26, 2005
Hello? Why has nobody pointed out that Friend of Snarkmarket (and the wizard behind EPIC's musical goodness) Minus Kelvin has his mug all up in the September issue of Wired?! There I am, reading the magazine, when all of a sudden, "Is that Aaron?? Holy crap, that's Aaron!" OK, so he mentioned it himself. But if a blog post falls in the forest without an RSS feed -- nah. That's cooler than is physically possible, A.M.! Congrats!
Shining Like New Money
August Wilson, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who just completed his mammoth cycle of plays documenting black life in America throughout the 20th Century, has been diagnosed with liver cancer. His doctors told him about the cancer in June and said at that time he had 3 to 5 months left to live. I'm very happy he got to see "Radio Golf," the end of the cycle, open and close on Broadway, and I hope to eventually see the whole cycle myself. (Via Bejata.)
August 25, 2005
When's the Tikrit Tea Party?
Ha! Matthew Yglesias takes a look at the rough road to democracy:
The fact that Iraq will have a democratic constitution that honors women's rights, the rights of minorities, is going to be an important change in the broader Middle East. So says the President of the United States. But let's take this analogy seriously. Iraq is maybe going through something like its Articles of Confederation stage -- you've got your Whiskey Rebellion, your disorder, your confusion, etc.
But in a few years, they sort things out and the elite members of the nation's dominant ethno-sectarian group will work out an agreement establishing order throughout the country. The Sunnis, naturally, will be held as chattel slaves. Kurdish land and natural resources will be slowly expropriated via a series of genocidal military campaigns.
Some decades down the road, the conflicts papered-over in the initial constitutional compromise will break out into the open leading to a horribly destructive Civil War.
August 24, 2005
David Bradley and The Atlantic
This NY Observer piece on David Bradley, the guy who owns The Atlantic, is fantastic. I really really like this guy.
The Suburbs of Mexico City
August 23, 2005
OMG!!11! Google LOL
OK, we all knew Google was releasing an Instant Messenger client, but how pissed will the gearheads be when they discover it actually isn't configured to work with AIM/MSN/Yahoo/etc.? Yet, at least. They say in their FAQ that they're working on it. Currently accessible only with a Gmail username.
The Moral Hazard Myth
I'm on a tear! I found this New Yorker piece on the ideas behind health insurance by Malcolm Gladwell (he of "The Tipping Point" and "Blink") lucid and enlightening. This is my favorite kind of journalism.
The Depth of Time
Lots of quasi-random links today, I know: But I really enjoyed this rumination on the true scale of evolutionary time in the NYT.
It's a useful thing to remember the true scale of the universe -- in all four dimensions -- from time to time. Unfortunately it makes new Google applications seem slightly less exciting, but oh well.
Navel-Gazing... But Oh What a Navel
Kottke, whose GoogleOS ruminations spurred on EPIC, just dropped a mega-post about the future of the web and applications. Read it if you're a nerd.
Holding Colleges to a Higher Standard
I had kinda forgotten about The Washington Monthly and its spunky spirit -- their new college rankings are a reminder. Way cool.
Six Feet Over
So, as I mentioned, "Six Feet Under" ended, in a melancholy blaze of glory (spoiler alert). They added a wonderful coda to the show's Web site (soooooo many spoilers) for anyone who saw the final episode. The song that had us all in tears, by the way, was "Breathe Me" by Sia.
August 22, 2005
I will gladly post this link from my friend El Fe to StuffOnMyCat.com, because as the site posits, stuff + cats actually does = awesome.
United States of RSS
Peak Oil Press
We were just talking about "peak oil" this weekend -- the inflection point where production begins to contract (not dry up, just contract) -- and little did I realize it was in the NYT Mag as well, written up by none other than my hero Peter Maass.
BUT! Steven D. Levitt, who is not my hero but is a pretty smart economist, brings in da noise, brings in da de-bunk on his Freakonomics blog.
I think I probably agree with Levitt that the big effect of peak oil will be to simply cut the fat (and oh, there is plenty of it) out of oil consumption. This will probably not involve roaming bands of petro-pirates in wind-powered gun-skiffs.
August 21, 2005
Calvin and Hobbes Revisited
I can't remember where I found this now, but it is excellent.
Excellent I say.
Like Sands of Time ...
This is actually a fascinating way to view time.
PS: Speaking of sands of time, I lost a lot of those checking out this site, dedicated to testing the limits of CSS. Fellow geeks, check it out. Many of the CSS hacks are ridiculously tedious and have no real-world applications, but they will absolutely expand your view of what CSS can do.
August 19, 2005
DEATH BY CAFFEINE
This site is rad! 89.43 cups of coffee and it's OVER.
BTW, Robin and I have been outsourcing the content of this blog. Hope you enjoy.
EPIC and the Editorial Board
The Seattle P-I is starting a new project, the "Virtual Editorial Board," and Mark Trahant cites EPIC in his introduction.
August 18, 2005
He's Both a Freak and a Geek
Steve Carrell's new flick The 40-Year-Old Virgin had not particularly caught my eye -- until, that is, I saw gorilla vs. bear's post about it, which revealed that the movie's writer and director is Judd Apatow, one of the guys behind the excellent, excellent TV show "Freaks and Geeks."
Also, it's at 85% on the Tomato-meter.
The Same Thing He Does Every Night, Pinky
Today's read of the day is this New York Magazine profile of Bill Clinton. This man has got to be the best real-life tragic hero of the last three decades:
I ask Clinton why the Bush administration has gotten much softer press coverage than he did. He gives a variety of explanations, including September 11 and the rightward drift of the media. Then he gives an explanation that’s surprisingly tart: “The Bush people didn’t have anybody working for the White House who, as far as I could tell, had an inexplicable, craving need that a lot of the young people did who worked for me in that first year to talk to the press—even when they didn’t know what they were talking about.”
Wow. Kids, you know who you are.
While Google's plans for the cash remain a mystery, the company left a clue that suggests the size of the offering wasn't arbitrary. The number of shares Google plans to sell is 14,159,265. Those are the first eight digits that follow the decimal in the value of pi (3.14159265), which is a number that represents the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.
August 17, 2005
This BoGlo piece exploring the possible genetic and biological roots of homosexuality has made its way all over the gayosphere et al., but I didn't actually get around to reading it until today and wow, is it chock full of goodness. Did you know, for example, that every older brother a guy has makes it significantly more likely the guy will be gay?
Noted: Steve Coll, former managing editor of the WaPo, author of "Ghost Wars," co-reporter of those great e-Qaeda articles I linked to, and just generally one of those Nicholas Lemann-esque smart reporter guys, is now a staff writer at The New Yorker.
August 16, 2005
Color Images Projected Into Thin Air, Anyone?
August 14, 2005
Absolute, absolute must-read: The Washington Post's special report on al-Qaeda's online organizing. The video features are interesting, but it's the text pieces by Steve Coll and Susan Glasser that are truly illuminating. Print these articles out and read them this week; it will seriously help you understand the world better.
Awesome interview with Ira Glass from CJR Daily. Also, awesome story from the L.A. Times about the "This American Life" television show (!). "Television is the medium of our time," he says. Wait, why does that sound so familiar?
An excellent indictment of NASA's manned spaceflight program, which y'all know I love. (Via Collision Detection, which also features a great post on babies learning with toys.)
August 12, 2005
Very fun music video from OK Go. Via MF.
The Bard Would Love It (You Know He Would)
(PS: Crash Bonsai!)
Google buying Technorati? We'll see!
August 11, 2005
Nisenholtz Is The Man
At the Times, Nisenholtz has ambitions to super-charge the Web site and take it beyond the realm of newspaper sites and into the top tier of news sites online. He told me he envisioned multimedia reports going from two to three reports per day to 30 or 40 reports daily, while also building out a new aggregation service that would take on Google News.
Joe Gets Podded
Of all the wonderful things Current TV has done for the world, I think the best will be introducing it (the world) to Joe Hanson, a.k.a. Binowhite, a.k.a. B-Whizzle. I found Joe during my hour-long binge in the recently hott Current Studio, where you can preview the pods people have submitted and vote whether they should appear on-air. It's definitely the best part of the site (excellent blog notwithstanding). Go check out my favorite VC2, Binowhite. I can't wait to see what Joe gets into next.
August 10, 2005
Enter the Black Dog
I wish I was badass enough to actually need a tiny Linux server that plugs into any computer's USB port and takes it over.
Plus, it has a biometric thumbprint thing! It's so Snow Crash!
Manage to India
Mr. Maldonado and Mr. Simonsen, of Riverside, Calif., are part of a virtual invasion of India by American students. Graduate students from top schools in the United States, most from master of business administration programs, are vying for internships at India's biggest private companies. For many, outsourcing companies are the destinations of choice.
August 9, 2005
While in Gameworks at Tampa last weekend, I discovered the new recreational craze that's poised to grip the nation: 3-puck, 2-paddle air hockey (I have no idea who those people are, but they're playing 3P2P). Let that sink in for a moment. Three pucks. Two paddles. Eternal glory.
It's called the SEGA Hockey Stadium, and it's pretty much worth lobbying City Hall to bring it to your town.
Mapping the News
Adrian Holovaty reports that the Lawrence Journal-World has just made it "stupidly simple" to add Google Maps to its news stories online. This is something that Friend Of Snarkmarket Larry Larsen has been stumping for for quite some time.
Jimmy Wales In Context
I'm seeing this Reuters article everywhere, talking about how Jimbo Wales of Wikipedia has issued an announcement that the site will be tightening its editorial controls, freezing some content to prevent vandalism.
The article is wrong. Reuters should issue a correction. Wales has clarified that he was talking about creating a static snapshot of the site, with verified information, which would exist alongside the dynamic content. They're calling the project Wikipedia 1.0, and they've been talking about it since at least last year.
Besides, Wales says, Wikimedia doesn't really work by making "announcements." They effect change through discussions and concensus-building. He's calling for tighter editorial controls on Reuters (and Slashdot), though.
Update: Well, here's one correction, from Steve Outing at E-Media Tidbits. Still waiting on Reuters.
August 8, 2005
The lack of screenshots, feature listings, or even an explanation of exactly what it is all prevent me from guessing whether Meetro doesn't suck. (You have to actually download and install the app, which is totally played out. See more snark from Jason Pettus. And Stowe Boyd at Corante actually did post a screenshot.) But it appears to be a location-based social networking thingie that guesses where you are based on WiFi signals and tries to find other folks around you who match your profile. See also: Mates | PlaceSite | Dodgeball.
I think this location-based networking business has huge potential, especially as cell phones and other ubiquitous devices become sophisticated enough to partake in it.
When digital social networking is paired with analog social gathering places, I think people will go a bit nuts for it. Imagine a sort of venue-oriented version of the new HotOrNot Meet Me site. (The principle behind the site is that you look at a rotation of photos of random people, clicking yes if you'd like to meet each person, and no if you have no interest. If you click yes, your own photo goes into the other person's photo rotation, and if they click yes for you, you're both notified.) Or say you're relaxing in the park, and you decide you want to pull together a pickup Ultimate Frisbee game. Send out the Meetro bat signal, and bam! Ten other people chilling in the park decide they're down for it, and the game is on.
One downside for Robin -- MeetRo.com is now taken. MeetRoSlo.com, however, totally still available.
A Low-Key Little Animated Short for You
Sound required. Best not be sipping coffee.
August 7, 2005
Behold, the new darling of the blogosphere: ART LAD!
The real reason I'm linking is his first post. You seriously need to click and check it out -- it's like the sum of humanity's subconscious fears as rendered in tempera by a six-year-old.
Report on Iraq
Honestly, I have basically zoned out on the whole Iraq thing. But this report from General Barry McCaffrey on what's up is pretty interesting. Maybe I'm just a sucker for stolid militarese but it seems to have the whiff of even-mindedness about it. (Via.)
August 6, 2005
Architecture for Humanity
Old Map, New Technology
...widely regarded by scholars as one of the most important historical documents of the city ever created. This project is a collaborative exploration of the exquisite Nolli engraving, through its historic significance and contemporary application.
I like this thing because a) maps are cool, and b) it's an example of a university doing something really cool, cutting-edge, and extremely accessible to the general public.
And note that the original map engraving you're exploring with the Flash engine is six feet high by seven feet wide -- yow!
August 5, 2005
A team of astronauts set out on a mission to re-ignite a part of the dying sun. Another team was sent out before them, but was never heard from again.
As Michael Bay movie? Terrible. As Danny Boyle movie? I can't wait!
August 4, 2005
A Little Light Reading
The NY Observer asked a bunch of famous people what they're reading this summer. The very cerebral Harold Bloom reports:
I've been rereading all of Henry James and all of Faulkner and all of Whitman in preparation for a book entitled "The Evening Lad." The subtitle will be "Twelve Writers Who Define America," and they are three of the 12.
I love the fact that he is, ho-hum, re-reading ALL of James and Faulkner and Whitman.
But actually, I liked Bloom's book "Poem Unlimited" (an argument that Hamlet is the best story evar) and I think this one sounds pretty cool too.
For the record, this summer I read: "Waiting" and "The Crazed" by Ha Jin, "And Now You Can Go" by Vendela Vida, Harry Potter 5, the beginning of "The Egyptologist" by Arthur Phillips (lost steam), and one other I'm not remembering now...
will return with title later. It was "Remains of the Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Here's the best commentary I have seen anywhere on South Korea's cloned dog.
August 3, 2005
Things That Will Be Free
Now, for that concrete prediction: a complete curriculum in English and a number of major languages will exist by 2040, and translation to minor languages will likely follow soon after.
I think curricula are things we don't think enough about. I mean, I'm sure there are some people who spend quite a bit of time thinking about them. But for the general population, after school -- and even during school! -- you don't spend much time inspecting the stuff that is, you know, MOLDING THE VERY OUTLOOK AND SKILL-SET OF FUTURE GENERATIONS. (I don't think it's controversial to concede that curricula play a significant role in determining the character and quality of education -- but feel free to disagree with me.)
Anyway, I think I'd be pretty enthusiastic about a Wikicurricula project.
Although: A comment on one of Wales' posts led me to this essay, which I am currently chewing on.
August 2, 2005
Newspapers and Programmers
Two Poynter.org posts of great interest today:
Top memo right now: The NYT is officially merging its print and online newsrooms.
Rad x 2.
August 1, 2005
The Unreliable Biographer
This latest book was well-paced, thoroughly footnoted, and boasted a very well-respected author. Biographies often seem like they're pasting together scattered shreds of the subject's life to try to divine some pattern that isn't there, and this one didn't seem to do that too much.
But the entire time I was reading both books, I found myself questioning the authors' claims that their subjects were unfairly sidelined by history. Not doubting, necessarily, just constantly refreshing a mental note that the authors have much to gain from inflating the person's importance. This tendency probably isn't helped by the fact that a third book I read this summer was a novel about two biographers chasing the life of an obscure but untalented singer whom they argue history overlooked.
So how do you gauge a person's objective influence on history? The easy answer is to just read another biography of the same person or a related one. But then, after you traipse through 600 pages on someone's life, are you really that excited about seeing the story retold one more time from another point of view?
Maybe it's not important, and we should just enjoy the account of a fascinating life, aside from any question of its influence. But that's no fun.