August 30, 2006
Good post from Saheli on this situation:
[T]he United States has denied re- entry to two American citizens--one naturalized and one-native born--unless they first agree to be interrogated by the FBI abroad without a lawyer and take a polygraph test. They have not been charged with any crime.
As always with S.S.R. Datta, the analysis is nuanced and, it seems to me, correct.
Meet the Panopticon, Age 21
Bob Kerrey gets interviewed in Foreign Policy. Here's an interesting prediction:
FP: How will college students affect November's election and the U.S. presidential race two years from now?
BK: They're likely to have a very large impact as a result of this 'macaca' type of an event [involving Sen. George Allen]. They're going to be out with cameras and tape recorders and blogs, and they'll be carrying a larger part of the debate itself. I think it will likely be a relatively small fraction of young people who turn out and vote. [But] in the blogosphere and beyond, there will be something that will be comparable to this remarkable story of George Allen -- it was, I think, a 20-year-old who [broke that story]. I think you'll see a lot more of that.
August 29, 2006
Buy This Book
Okay I'm biased. I used to work at the Poynter Institute, where Roy Peter Clark hangs his hat, and I learned lots from him. Much of it was stuff that's now encoded in this book, actually. But even so, I am so glad to have it all in one place. Even better, the volume is a wonder to behold: simple, slim, elegant.
And, you know, I can tell just from the feel of it that this is the kind of book that will age like good leather shoes: One day it will be totally worn out and beaten up from overuse, but somehow handsomer for it.
Dude, I have a question though -- even when you're Roy Peter Clark, how do you score blurbs from Mark Bowden, Sister Helen Prejean, Eugene Patterson, Howell Raines, Tom French, and David Von Drehle?
Indeed, Von Drehle writes: "Roy is the Obi-Wan Kenobi of writing teachers..." Just for the record, if one of his Snarkmarket students is Anakin Skywalker (i.e. initially promising but ultimately a force for total evil) it is definitely Matt.
August 28, 2006
8.5" x AWESOME
August 27, 2006
No Surprise This One's Online
At this point, blogging software should probably just include a button that says "link to latest Malcolm Gladwell article." Because, well, yeah. It's about pensions and is, of course, illuminating and eminently sensible. And, bonus! -- the article continues on Gladwell's blog.
August 24, 2006
Ezra Klein points to video of Stephen Lewis's speech at the close of the big AIDS conference in Toronto. He's right, it's great (control-F for 'lewis' on the page). Lewis is a Canadian diplomat and, it turns out, a bracing speaker.
August 23, 2006
In The New Atlantis this month there's a review of two books on shipping containers (middle item) -- the TCP/IP packets of modern trade. (Come on, you are all blog readers out there, you know what I mean.) Somehow I find this incredibly evocative:
[...] McLean inaugurated the era of containerization on April 26, 1956 by transporting 58 containers from Newark to Houston aboard a ship called the Ideal X.
Also: It is said that the container cranes at the Port of Oakland were the inspiration for George Lucas's AT-AT walkers. It's highly plausible.
August 22, 2006
This Blogpost Automatically Generated in 0.03 Seconds
Thomson and Reuters run stories written by computers! COMPUTERS I say! Will Sullivan with the deets and the awesomely appropriate frame-grab.
August 21, 2006
Second Life and Macromyopia
3pointD transcribes a fascinating keynote talk by Mitch Kapor at the Second Life Community Convention this weekend.
Also, he gives a name to an effect I am constantly citing:
One thing that’s very important to keep in mind is something called Macromyopia. For people who are inside a new phenomenon like Second Life, we tend to overestimate the short-term effects. We think more great things are going to happen sooner than they typically do. Conversely, we underestimate the long-term impact.
Or: In the short-term, things change slower than we expect them to. In the long-term, they change more than we ever imagined they would. Now I know what to call it!
August 20, 2006
It's the Center of the Universe, I Hear
Earth: just another failed planetary nucleus. Aww.
August 19, 2006
links for 2006-08-19
The Amazing Screw-On Head
I am way late to the party on this one, but The Amazing Screw-On Head is fantastic. Mike Mignola is my favorite comic-book artist of all time so it's no surprise I like it, but still. Give it fifteen minutes.
August 18, 2006
I Just Found a Little Piece of My Soul
YouTube isn't great because it has music videos and stuff (see below).
Why the clip is cool, in adult terms: It's a rare view of industrialism as joyful and fun, not sinful and dehumanizing.
Why the clip is cool, in kid terms: CRAYONS!
New Kinds of Graffiti
Gimme a Treadmill, Gimme a Beat
August 17, 2006
A Pixel the Size of Everything
Browsing the site for Ask a Scientist, a cool lecture series here in SF, I stumbled across the coolest link ever. Down in the bottom-right corner of the page, it says: "Want to get freaked out? Click here."
Go ahead, try it.
Every time I see that thing my brain folds.
A (Really Expensive) Room of One's Own
Daniel Brook ruminates on hyper-gentrification in The Next American City:
"How can you live in San Francisco and write a book?" is, to reluctantly borrow a phrase from Donald Rumsfeld, a 21st-century question. In the past, the City by the Bay was always considered a writer’s metropolis. A hundred years ago, it was Jack London territory. Mid-century brought Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Today, Michael Lewis, Amy Tan, and Michael Chabon call the Bay Area home. These established celebrity authors can afford to live in San Francisco, but an undiscovered Kerouac or a budding Ginsberg never could.
While San Francisco’s dot-com boom may be over, the high cost of living reﬂects a "new normal." Post-bust rents remain 76 percent higher than the pre-boom rents. Writing a ﬁrst book here sounds preposterous because it is preposterous. That basic commodity Virginia Woolf identiﬁed as the prerequisite for the writing life -- a room of one’s own -- is now a four-ﬁgure monthly proposition.
Lots more in the magazine, too; check out Joel Kotkin on the triumph of the suburbs, etc.
August 16, 2006
This is an awesome idea: a cutting board with an integrated scale, allowing you to measure your ingredients as you slice 'em.
I've long wished that the task of measuring was better integrated into the cooking process. I've been on the lookout for a set of containers to hold my flour, rice, sugar and other dry goods, with lids that double as measuring cups. Let me know if you see anything.
August 15, 2006
...On a Plane
Great. First no gels or liquids... now this.
August 14, 2006
links for 2006-08-14
News from the World of Science
Fun stuff recently on EurekAlert:
- Mercury sucks
- Social networks and problem-solving
- The virtues of intuitive eating
- Migratory birds calibrate their internal compasses at sunrise and sunset
- Slime molds are survivors
Speaking of science: Here is a depressing graph.
Microsoft is releasing a free development kit for Xbox 360 games: You make them on your PC and download them to the Xbox. It ain't exactly full democratization of game development -- you can't share games made this way with random friends on Xbox Live -- but still, it's pretty great. Deets on Gamasutra.
Update: Microsoft's Peter Moore enumerates eight ways to open up the world of game development. Excellent and correct.
August 10, 2006
links for 2006-08-10
Alive in New Mombasa
You've probably seen that awesome short film "Alive in Joburg" (here it is on Google Video) -- verite-style with computer graphics, dusty depressing future, aliens, etc.
Well, the guy who directed it just got tapped to direct the Halo movie! Awesome.
August 9, 2006
I was just checking out Google Video's new ad system and happened to click on this video, a Charlie Rose episode featuring Thomas Friedman.
And it struck me: This man is going to run for political office.
Maybe not soon, but some day. Just listen to the way he talks! And come on, he's rich!
When it happens, just remember: Snarkmarket called it.
August 7, 2006
Where's the Merchant Ivory of Video Games?
I'm not sure I agree with the analogy here, but it's a fun read: Ernest Adams on why we need highbrow games in Gamasutra.
August 3, 2006
From chapter 4 of The Singularity Is Near:
Although we have the illusion of receiving high-resolution images from our eyes, what the optic nerve actually sends to the brain is just outlines and clues about points of interest in our visual field. We then essentially hallucinate the world from cortical memories that interpret a series of extremely low-resolution movies that arrive in parallel channels. In a 2001 study published in Nature, Frank S. Werblin, professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley, and doctoral student Boton Roska, M.D., showed that the optic nerve carries ten to twelve output channels, each of which carries only minimal information about a given scene. One group of what are called ganglion cells sends information only about edges (changes in contrast). Another group detects only large areas of uniform color, whereas a third group is sensitive only to the backgrounds behind figures of interest.
"Even though we think we see the world so fully, what we are receiving is really just hints, edges in space and time," says Werblin. "These 12 pictures of the world constitute all the information we will ever have about what's out there, and from these 12 pictures, which are so sparse, we reconstruct the richness of the visual world. I'm curious how nature selected these 12 simple movies and how it can be that they are sufficient to provide us with all the information we seem to need."
August 2, 2006
links for 2006-08-02
August 1, 2006
My New Favorite Blog
OMG! Muckraking Mom! Raison d'etre:
I think there’s a need for a website exclusively devoted to muckraking moms -- moms who discover the political machinery behind the politics of our every day lives and expose it. Eventually, I hope this site will grow to include the contributions of a veritable army of muckraking moms, and dads too.