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September 29, 2008

The Global Economy

Robin says,

It's not just the U.S. markets; now the Nikkei-225 is down 5%, the Hang Seng is down 5.5%, Brazil's index is down 10%, etc., etc. For some reason, this creeps me out in a way the Dow, etc., did not.

What's the best source for smart reporting on this crisis -- from a global perspective? The Economist seems to be posting at magazine-pace... FT seems okay. What else is out there?

Comments (4) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:52 PM

Elements in the Basement

Robin says,

This video:

  1. dramatizes basic chemistry as interludes at a dance party
  2. is crazy
  3. was produced for the European Union's YouTube channel!

To all these things I say: YES.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:08 PM

September 28, 2008

Behold, the Maltese Falcon

Robin says,

WHOAH. Telstar Logistics has a couple of great shots of the coolest boat in the world. It sort of barely fits under the Golden Gate Bridge. I wish it belonged to an evil genius super-villain instead of a VC.

Comments (6) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:39 PM

September 25, 2008

Edward Hopper on Salvia

Matt says,


The eerie art of Gregory Crewdson. (via)

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:32 PM

September 24, 2008

Trompe L'Oeil

Matt says,


Julian Beever's three-dimensional sidewalk drawings are the new salvia. (Via.)

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:15 PM

September 21, 2008

Orchestra of One (Age Four)

Robin says,

Video of the day: Cutest kid ever = sound machine. Give it 'til 0:50 at least! And then you won't be able to stop.

It's like that video of the crazy-haired kid (which I cannot find, because all I can think of to search for is "video crazy hair kid") except cuter.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:13 PM

September 19, 2008

Tim's thoughts: NB: I still think you are privileging production over consumption -- to the extent that consum... >>

Towards engagement

Note 1: Robin very subtly outed me early last week, but I needed a little while to get my groove on before announcing myself: I'm augmenting my blogging here with a blog about journalism, which will contain the insights and discoveries I encounter while doing a year-long research fellowship at the new Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri. I'll probably cross-post this over there, but I needed some of the brilliance of the Snarkmarket hive mind to help shape my thoughts on what follows. You'll find a little background for this post here.

Note 2: What follows is an attempt to thread several very obvious lines of reasoning together into something possibly slightly novel. Not at all assured of success, so consider this a preemptive apology.

I've often heard expressed a lamentation for the disappearance of a news commons. When we all no longer look to oracular information sources like Walter Cronkite and the New York Times, the thinking goes, we stand in danger of retreating into our narrow ideological corners. Under this model, the front pages of a daily general-interest newspaper form the foundation for civic dialogue.

In an intriguing paper, Indiana University professor Mark Deuze reminds us that this notion of a news commons was not presented hand-in-hand with the idea of democracy. Until recently, newspapers were constrained into having one front page for everybody. Over time, we've come to view this constraint as a feature, not a bug.

Under the news commons model, we aim for our citizens to come to the voting booth (or the city council meeting or the church supper) armed with the same information from a few reliable sources. So democracy means weighing our common set of facts against our diverse values, and reaching a conclusion respected by all. Cf. David Mindich, so you don't think I'm beating at straw men:

"One of the most powerful things about journalism itself is that it can communicate to a large audience and then we can have discussions about facts and where the facts bring us; but if we no longer are paying attention, then the facts donít have the same weight. In the absence of fact opinion becomes more powerful. Itís not only the journalists themselves; itís the culture apart from the news that has abandoned political discourse based on commonly agreed upon facts."

... Read more ....
Posted September 19, 2008 at 4:01 | Comments (15) | Permasnark
File under: Journalism

September 15, 2008

Tweeting the Debates on Current

Robin says,

Been working on this. Get your #current hashtags ready!

Update: Neat-o video promo!

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 1:51 PM

September 13, 2008

This Space Intentionally Left Blank

Robin says,

I'm going to just go ahead and put a post here with nothing in it, because I know I'm going to find something cool on Monday and want to blog it -- but will feel weird about bumping down DFW.

So now I'll just be bumping down this empty post. Which is not sad or serious at all.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:30 PM
Matt's thoughts: I thought it most appropriate to post my real eulogy over on <a href=" >>

In Memoriam: DFW

I've read these two or three sentences from Infinite Jest over and over since I first encountered them. Scenes from what may be a junkie's last hit, in a bathroom during a party:

'I say is someone in there?' The voice is the young post-New Formalist from Pittsburgh who affects Continental and wears an ascot that won't stay tight, with that hesitant knocking of when you know perfectly well someone's in there, the bathroom door composed of thirty-six that's three times a lengthwise twelve recessed two-bevelled squares in a warped rectangle of steam-softened wood, not quite white, the bottom outside corner right here raw wood and mangled from hitting the cabinets' bottom drawer's wicked metal knob, through the door and offset 'Red' and glowering actors and calendar and very crowded scene and pubic spiral of pale blue smoke from the elephant-colored rubble of ash and little blackened chunks in the foil funnel's cone, the smoke's baby-blanket blue that's sent her sliding down along the wall past knotted washcloth, towel rack, blood-flower wallpaper and intricately grimed electrical outlet, the light sharp bitter tint of a heated sky's blue that's left her uprightly fetal with chin on knees in yet another North American bathroom, deveiled, too pretty for words, maybe the Prettiest Girl Of All Time (Prettiest G.O.A.T.), knees to chest, slew-footed by the radiant chill of the claw-footed tub's porcelain, Molly's had somebody lacquer the tub in blue, lacquer, she's holding the bottle, recalling vividly its slogan for the last generation was The Choice of a Nude Generation, when she was of back-pocket height and prettier by far than any of the peach colored titans they'd gazed up at, his hand in her lap her hand in the box and rooting down past candy for the Prize, more fun way too much fun inside her veil on the counter above her, the stuff in the funnel exhausted though it's still smoking thinly, its graph reaching its highest spiked prick, peak, the arrow's best descent, so good she can't stand it and reaches out for the cold tub's rim's cold edge to pull herself up as the white- party-noise reaches, for her, the sort of stereophonic precipice of volume to teeter on just before the speakers blow, people barely twitching and conversations strettoing against a ghastly old pre-Carter thing saying 'We've Only Just Begun,' Joelle's limbs have been removed to a distance where their acknowledgment of her commands seems like magic, both clogs simply gone, nowhere in sight, and socks oddly wet, pulls her face up to face the unclean medicine-cabinet mirror, twin roses of flame still hanging in the glass's corner, hair of the flame she's eaten now trailing like the legs of wasps through the air of the glass she uses to locate the de-faced veil and what's inside it, loading up the cone again, the ashes from the last load make the world's best filter: this is a fact. Breathes in and out like a savvy diver –

'Look here then who's that in there? Is someone in there? Do open up, I'm on one foot then the other out here. I say Notkin someone's been in here locked in and well, sounding unwell, amid rather a queer scent.'

– and is knelt vomiting over the lip of the cool blue tub, gouges on the tub's lip revealing sandy white gritty stuff below the lacquer and porcelain, vomiting muddy juice and blue smoke and dots of mercuric red into the claw-footed trough, and can hear again and seems to see, against the fire of her closed lids' blood, bladed vessels aloft in the night to monitor flow, searchlit helicopters, fat fingers of blue light from one sky, searching.

Posted September 13, 2008 at 7:07 | Comments (4) | Permasnark
File under: Books, Writing & Such

An Irresistible Entertainment

Matt says,

The Howling Fantods has concluded its David Foster Wallace motivational poster contest. (via)

Gasp. DFW killed himself yesterday. How awful.

This MetaFilter thread collects some of his inimitable work:

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 7:55 AM

September 12, 2008

Another Laptop Audio Auteur

Robin says,

This is my favorite genre, apparently. Shugo Tokumaru should do the soundtrack for the next Studio Ghibli movie. Check out his track Parachute. Does it sound like "I Saw Three Ships" to anybody else?

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 3:42 PM

September 10, 2008


Robin says,

How much do you love this? The title sequence from To Kill a Mockingbird. Totally beautiful.

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:19 PM

The Annotated Shampoo Aisle

Robin says,

GoodGuide looks great -- it's a database of products (mostly bathroom and kitchen stuff for now, but presumably expanding over time) connected to a deep well of information about supply chains and environmental impact. Products all get a score, 0-10. I love the idea of being able to instantly query this site from the grocery store via, say, an iPhone app.

And yo, this is the kind of project a news organization could/should have done. It's all about context!

Alexis Madrigal has the scoop at

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:05 PM

September 8, 2008

House of Pancakes

Matt says,

Hee. I loved House of Leaves, too. (Via Bookslut.)

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:36 PM

September 7, 2008

First Index

Robin says,


I know this is ridiculous, but c'mon... I'm proud of it! My first appearance in a work of Popular Non-Fiction. Big thanks to Jeff Howe for including Current, and both my colleague Ezra and I by extension.

Clearly, you should buy the book, Crowdsourcing, immediately, so as to send an unmistakable message to publishers: Snarkmaster citations mean big money!

Comments (6) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:45 PM

Walker Gone Wild

Matt says,

Mpls wonder-blogger Max Sparber offers a peek at some of the most fascinating esoterica in the permanent collection of my beloved Walker Arts Center. Sample:

The Walker has dozens of pieces by Pettibon; this particular one is an ink-spattered sketch of the most self-reflective character in the history of comics, Batman, facing a woman with a gun while disconnected passaged from his endless internal monologues crowd his head. Most of the quotes a vaguely sexual, or explicit, such as a comment from Robin saying, "I have studied the bats trying to understand Batman's complex psycho-sexuality." This actually seems intended as a retort to Batman's first quote. "Robin," he says, "you came too soon."

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:57 PM

September 5, 2008

Tim's thoughts: I always preferred 1 Corinthians 12 myself: 14 For the body is not one member, but many.... >>

America in Speeches

I've gone back and read through eight of the major speeches from the past two weeks (Joe Biden | Bill Clinton | Hillary Clinton | Barack Obama | Rudy Giuliani | Mitt Romney | Sarah Palin | John McCain). Among the two sets of familiar and predictable elephant-and-donkey-tinged themes expressed, all the speakers paint one surprisingly consistent portrait of America. I find that portrait significant and a bit sad for how much of America it excludes. This is nothing new, of course, but it stands out for me after two straight weeks of this stuff.

You are eligible for positive mention in a convention speech if you are a member of the middle class. Fortunately, "middle class" is a vague enough term that it might characterize as much as 73 percent of the American population. Still, with John Edwards in exile, it's striking how infrequently the poor are mentioned, given how much poverty is a part of America. Convention-watchers may also be surprised to discover that several Americans are quite rich.

You may also merit positive mention if you labor in one of the following professions: steel working, the clergy, farming, loading dock operation, military service, politics, small business entrepreneurship or pre-secondary education. Employees of the service or retail industries, information technology companies, the media, higher education, science, medicine or law — to name a few examples — are unfortunately invisible.

... Read more ....
Posted September 5, 2008 at 7:30 | Comments (3) | Permasnark
File under: Snarkpolitik

September 4, 2008

Hard-Hitting RNC Commentary

Matt says,

Random Twitterer is right, yo. Sarah Palin's suit is the surprise hit of the night. I'm the guy that has long hated coverage of female candidates that insisted on mentioning their clothing choices, but seriously, I want that suit. Even my potential appearance in Steve Schmidt's talking points about male blogger misogyny cannot prevent me from complimenting that fierce piece of gun-metal grey hottness.

Comments (3) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:30 PM

September 3, 2008


Robin says,

Wired is running a blog that chronicles the behind-the-scenes process of "assigning, writing, editing and designing" a feature.

The feature is about Charlie Kaufman.


It looks great so far: videos, story pitches, emails, etc. You have to be a pretty giant nerd to enjoy this level of meta-media, but I assume you are, so check it out.

(Via Alexis Madrigal.)

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:24 AM

September 2, 2008


Robin says,

MP3 of the day: Ratatat remix over on Gorilla vs. Bear.

Also: This track from High Places is lovely. But I'm a sucker for clicky-clacky music.

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:35 AM

September 1, 2008

Understanding Googlechromazon

Robin says,

Can't decide what's cooler -- Google Chrome or the fact that they had Scott MccCloud make an explainer comic book for it.

Yeah, probably the comic book.

Update: Whoops, no, it's Chrome. This thing is beautiful.

Comments (7) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:30 PM
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