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January 29, 2007

For a Limited Time

Matt says,

Both of these things will expire soon:

1) You've got a month to check out the Harvard Business Review's list of breakthrough ideas for 2007 before it goes into the paid archive. Full of counterintuitive goodness, although the articles are of uneven quality. All-in-all, provocative.

2) Copy, Right? has posted a mammoth dump of cover songs, including a cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Good Enough," from The Goonies. I loved that song because it sounded obnoxiously good as the MIDI track to the NES game Goonies II. I actually remember Goonies II being a surprisingly creepy and atmospheric game; it had these maze sequences scored by a brooding arpeggio that just freaked me out.

Comments (5) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:12 PM

January 28, 2007

Unhappy Meals

Matt says,

Michael Pollan, whose Omnivore's Dilemma may have been my favorite book of last year, has an excellent essay in today's New York Times Magazine.

Comments (3) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:45 AM

January 26, 2007

Afghanistan 1997-2007

Robin says,

My Current colleague Mitch Koss has some amazing notes on Afghanistan up over on the Current blog.

P.S. An updated Current home page launched today -- it's dope.

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:36 PM

The Same Sun

Robin says, slideshow of Mars Rover photos.

The last image is the stunner.

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:26 PM

Help Me Decide Which Movie to See

Robin says,

So there is this film noir festival going on this weekend in San Francisco, which seems like a totally awesome thing to check out, except that I have never heard of any of the movies.

So... help me out here. Take a look at the program and let me know if anything rings a bell -- or just looks interesting. I can't see any of the Friday movies, but Saturday and Sunday are both fair game.

Comments (5) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:58 AM

January 25, 2007

Everything That Can Be Remixed... Will Be Remixed

Robin says,

Step one: Transcribe iPhone ringtone.

Step two: Issue iPhone ringtone remix challenge.

Step three: Holy crap... these are actually really good!

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:27 PM

January 22, 2007

YouTube for Nerds

Robin says,

A new site called FORA is aggregating smarty-pants lectures and talks from the likes of C-SPAN, the Long Now Foundation, New America, various World Affairs Councils -- you get the idea.

Expect bad suits... bad hair... bad lighting...


Orville Schell on the future of China, whaaa? (Ring a bell?)

You've heard Will Wright jam with Brian Eno; now see it.

Who better to talk about Iran than Reza Aslan, author of the transcendently good book "Not god but God"?

This is so dope.

P.S. Except that it's kinda hard to link to videos and the pop-up player is lame-o. And they have no RSS feeds. Give them time.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:31 PM

I'm Pretty Sure This is a Tiny Glimpse of 2017

Robin says,

Check out the trailer for We Are The Strange: "Monsters Inc meets The Nightmare before Christmas inside of a retro Japanese videogame." I am pretty sure this is the first movie accepted into Sundance that was scored entirely with a Gameboy. (Roundabout via Rex.)

Comments (3) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:45 PM

A World of Endless Fascination

Robin says,

Yo, I'm back in action over at the Current blog. I'm going to post every Monday -- probably something web-nerd-related.

I actually think the question I pose at the bottom of the post is a pretty good one.

Comments (7) | Permasnark | Posted: 4:41 PM

January 21, 2007


Matt says,

Ratchet Up points to a video demo-ing software that let's DJs rapidly remix music videos on the fly. The technique is a mix between fast sampling and beatboxing, and I'd be psyched to see it done live. Especially if the source video was this.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:32 PM

January 20, 2007

Spore Score

Matt says,

Before they were just talking, but now it's reality: Brian Eno's scoring Spore. (Walkerrific.)

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:24 AM

Architecture for Humanity

Matt says,

By the way, speaking of open-source processes and design, I just learned about Architecture for Humanity's plan for an Open Architecture Network:

By embracing open-source technology and removing barriers to the improvement, distribution, and implementation of well-designed solutions, we can, more than ever before, ensure that communities in need receive innovative, sustainable and, most importantly, dignified shelter. Since the mid-1990s, the sharing of information and technology has steadily gained popularity in the high-tech and arts communities. Why not adopt this approach in the area of humanitarian reconstruction and long-term development?
I'm a bit skeptical, but it's also well-established that I'm a sap and an open-source triumphalist, so I wish them luck.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:18 AM

January 16, 2007

Matt's thoughts: Sorry, I'm late to this party. Great thread. From where I sit, the questions Robin poses ... >>

The iPhone, Secrecy, and Excellence


Two households, both alike in dignity:

Radical transparency. Or, call it the cult of openness. I am totally an adjunct member of this cult: When in doubt, put it online! The whole philosophy is best articulated, I think, by Chris Anderson over at WIRED, from whom I'm snagging the term: Take a look.

The Jesus phone. Apple guarded its newest project with a level of secrecy worthy of Cold War spymasters. The result: an object of almost unimaginable sophistication and artistry. Oh, and a delightful surprise on a Tuesday morning.

Those two schools offer fundamentally different answers to questions like: How should we make things? How should businesses operate in the world?

So how do we reconcile them?

Clive Thompson is writing about radical transparency (for WIRED, natch) and he allows that not all things should be transparent:

Obviously, transparency sucks sometimes. Some information need to be jealously guarded; not all personal experiences, corporate trade secrets, and national-security information benefit from being spread around. And culturally, some information is more fun when it's kept secret: I don't want to know the end of this year's season of 24!

But does that go far enough?

... Read more ....
Posted January 16, 2007 at 8:35 | Comments (10) | Permasnark
File under: Media Galaxy, Society/Culture

Funny, It Feels Cool Even Without All the Extra Zeroes

Robin says,

Hey! My first Kiva microloan just got paid back in full. Word to the Imani Group Store in Tanzania.

I am getting set to re-loan the money (it was just $25) to Jessica Arreaga of Ecuador. Only $350 more to go and she can buy a grill to sell shish kabobs. Any other micromoguls out there who want to pitch in?

Comments (7) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:30 PM

January 15, 2007

Vibrating City

Robin says,

Hey, go vote for Friend of the Snark Minus Kelvin over at Remix Fight. No registration necessary!

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:53 PM

January 12, 2007

World Freehand Circle Drawing Champion

Robin says,

This is perhaps even more random than that last entry: Watch this guy draw a perfect circle on a chalkboard.

The build-up is oddly suspenseful, yeah?

(Via Kottke.)

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:23 PM

Sketchy Directions

Robin says,


The punchline is: The letter got there!

Comments (3) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:01 PM

January 11, 2007

Keeping Current

Robin says,

There's a nice mention of Current over at Lost Remote. I resist talking about the channel here because a) there are perils inherent in blogging about work and b) obviously I am biased, but really, it's quite good.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:37 PM


Robin says, has another of its great, oblique photo-essays up: Thirty years of Steve Jobs. It's actually pretty remarkable to flip through. Jobs is so quintessentially American.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:59 PM

Larks and Owls

Robin says,

Everything you always wanted to know about sleep.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 4:41 PM

January 10, 2007

links for 2007-01-10

Posted January 10, 2007 at 3:19 | Comments (0) | Permasnark
File under: Five Words

January 9, 2007

Real Citizen Journalism


One depressing feature of the internet today is that there is exponentially more meta-commentary about the promise and potential of citizen journalism than there is actual, you know, citizen journalism. At least if you parse 'journalism' in any remotely traditional sense: fact-based, disinterested reporting.

One amazing exception is the Press Institute for Women in the Developing World. It's a small non-profit founded by Cristi Hegranes, who was a summer fellow at Poynter and a reporter at SF Weekly before jumping ship to start her own thing.

Her background shows: The Press Institute distinguishes itself from other citizen-journalism ventures in that it mixes an egalitarian, grassroots spirit with an unusual dedication to the core values of journalism. The starting point of her organization's work is training: The Press Institute takes citizens and makes them journalists.

You can see the result on PIWDW's site. A pilot program in Mexico is up and running, with citizen journalists there writing stories every month. (Check 'em out at the top of this page -- what a great group!)

A new program is slated to start in Nepal in March.

(Full disclosure: I am on PIWDW's Board of Directors. I am also president of the Cristi Hegranes Fan Club.)

Posted January 9, 2007 at 9:26 | Comments (0) | Permasnark
File under: Journalism


Matt says,

I think Eric Schmidt just made a thinly-veiled EPIC allusion at MacWorld: "I've had the privilege of joining the board and there's a lot of relationships... if we merge the companies we can call it Applegoo -- but I'm not a marketing guy."

What think you? Can we take credit for that one?

Comments (22) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:39 AM

January 8, 2007

Climate Is a Mental Construct

Matt says,

Clive Thompson asks the question of whether the U.S. is geographically unable to perceive global warming. Of course, I'm in Minnesota in January and my lake is still liquid, which suggests the answer is "No."

Liquid!! There are still ducks on it!!

Comments (5) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:29 PM

January 7, 2007

Ryan Larkin

Matt says,

Street Musique, Syrinx and Walking: three works by the incredible Canadian animator Ryan Larkin. I think this is what you'd get if you mashed up Fantasia, The Science of Sleep, The Earthly Paradise, a Bill Plympton cartoon, and some pot brownies.

Then there's the also-amazing short 3D documentary about Larkin's life, Ryan (part 1 | part 2). (MetaFilterrific.)

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:56 PM

January 5, 2007

Children of Men

Robin says,

I totally agree with Dustin: Children of Men was amazing. It presents a world so dark, so lost, so totally harrowing that the motes of kindness left all glow like stars.

Also, the camera work is unbelievable.

Comments (22) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:46 PM

January 4, 2007

The Question Is Posed

Matt says,

What are the benefits of following the news?

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:55 PM

January 3, 2007

Pharmacy Times's thoughts: I never heard of such a thing before: having to avoid certain foods if you're allergic to latex. ... >>

Soy, Yo

After being cautioned by my mom and sister over Christmas break about growing reports of the perils of soy milk, I undertook some casual Web research to assess these warnings for myself. I was dubious, of course. It's soy! It's ancient! Beloved by healthy Easterners for centuries! I defiantly munched my cheddar-flavored soy crispettes and started perusing Google.

Finding the controversy was easy enough. But further Googling ensnared me in a super-techy recursive loop of a conversation between Bill Sardi and his soy-bashing antagonists, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. Here, at last, my techno-triumphalist, age-of-mass-culture-is-dead self started scrambling for an "authoritative" source to lead me from this thicket.

And they totally failed me. Snopes said the jury's out. The frickin' SF Chronicle delivered a novel-length shrug disguised as a news report.

Best as I can tell, largely on the strength of this 2000 FDA Consumer report, much of the controversy derives from the fact that we currently like to consume not only soy -- the protein, the marvelous whole food that makes the peanut seem one-dimensional -- but also a number of soy derivatives in pill form, as dietary supplements. These pills or powders are made from the individual components of soy (isoflavones), and holistic health sources like to bottle 'em up and sell 'em to consumers as miracle drugs. But there's no proof these components bring any health benefits on their own, and there's reasonable evidence they might bring some risks.

So the pills, not the protein, are the problem. I think. As far as I know, the FDA still allows foods that meet certain criteria to bear a label saying, "Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease."

I have no particular point in sharing any of this, I just think it raises a few interesting questions. Sorry to those of you who read looking for a boffo insight at the end. For the record, I just finished a delicious bowl of Multigrain Cheerios, drowned in Silk.

Posted January 3, 2007 at 6:31 | Comments (11) | Permasnark
File under: Science

January 2, 2007

Note to Self: Make This Part of Everyday Vocab

Robin says,

Double-Tongued Word Wrester defines "who laid the rail." I don't know if I quite get it. I do know that I love it.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:39 PM

What's Next

Robin says,

Worldchanging did a little year-end Q&A of their own. My favorite answers are from: Jason Kottke, Peter Leyden, and David Brin.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:21 PM

Animals Dream

Matt says,

I mean, it makes sense, but I'd never really given it much thought. I remember seeing my dogs twitch in their sleep and saying, "Aww, they must be dreaming." But I guess I didn't really believe it, or I didn't really follow the thought through to its conclusion. But I find the image of a dreaming rat retracing its steps through a maze to be a little sad and, er, poignant. Am I a sap?

Comments (7) | Permasnark | Posted: 7:58 PM

New Perspective on AIDS in Africa

Matt says,

Emily Oster shares three things you don't know about AIDS in Africa. Which it's very possible that several of you already do know. But I found them novel. (Freakonomical, but they seem to have deleted the post.)

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:44 PM

January 1, 2007

Hawks on the Brain

Robin says,

Are policymakers predisposed to believe their hawkish advisors more than the doves? Maybe -- and some pretty basic natural biases built in to our brains might help explain it. Foreign Policy mag, back with a vengeance.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:23 PM


Matt says,

John Brockman's got his crew of deep thinkers he commissions with answering humankind's big questions, I've got mine. So how 'bout it, folks? What are you optimistic about? Why?

Comments (7) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:08 AM


Matt says,

Happy 2007, Snarketeers! May it be your best year yet!

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:53 AM
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