The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Bob Stepno § The structure of journalism today / 2014-03-10 18:42:32

Perl Is a Shinto Shrine

“We don’t often talk about love at gatherings like this; it seems too squishy.” — Clay Shirky, in a speech at Supernova ’07 that really is quite pleasant. Filled with fun nuggets. (Joho!)


Liberals, Progressives, and the Future

Noah Millman on the temperamental difference between liberals and progressives over at the new American Scene. I interpret it thusly: Liberals like poetry; progressives like science fiction.


Number Five

Via Fimoc: trailer for Wes Anderon’s new movie, The Darjeeling Limited. If this follows the pattern established by previous Wes Anderson movies (Bottle Rocket: hated it; Rushmore: loved it; Royal Tenenbaums: hated it; Life Aquatic: loved it)… I will hate it.

But that’s okay, because the next one is The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is based on a Roald Dahl book, and I would hate to hate that.


links for 2007-07-20


Eureka Moment

The oppressive frequency of the need to replace the blades in my Gillette Mach 3 finally drove me to desperation this summer. When a pricey box of 20 razor cartridges ran out in a matter of weeks, I began hunting for an alternative. I have found it.

Just like this Ask MetaFilter poster, I was led to the Merkur 1904 stainless steel “Hefty Classic” double-edged safety razor by a post on Cool Tools. After reading the unanimous raves of the MeFirati, I bought the razor, a badger-hair shaving brush, and some shaving cream, and put blade to face.

Wonderful. It’s this solid, stubby metal instrument with a delicate platinum blade that bows so gracefully when you screw it in place. Few moments in masculine hygiene are as satisfying as making smooth, perfect rectangles appear on your face where foam and hair had been just before. I’m a full-fledged member of the cult now. My gaudy, plastic Mach 3 is officially retired. Does this make me old-school yet?


The Story of Squonk

I just finished reading the McSweeney’s story “The Tears of Squonk, and What Happened Thereafter,” about a circus elephant hanged for murder in a small Tennessee town in the early 20th Century. Brilliant. Affecting, gripping, wonderfully written, and a little bit heartbreaking. It’s one of those stories that you Google when you finish reading it, and then come to find out many wondrous things. For example, the story’s not entirely fictional. In fact, an entire book has been written about it, attempting to get at the truth behind what happened that day in Tennessee.

And then there’s the squonk, a legendary creature from the Pennsylvanian wilds said to dissolve into a pool of tears and bubbles when cornered.

There’s a throwaway reference to a ballet, “La Chauve-Souris Dorée,” by a choreographer named Plastikoff — “a rare work,” the story says, “in that it celebrated not courtship, but daily love, the often-pale and unnoticed emotions that pass between a man and wife.” Google yields no English references to Plastikoff, but “La Chauve-Souris Dorée,” or “The Gilded Bat,” is the name of a promising story written and illustrated by Edward Gorey.

I love texts that make you want to Google every word. And I love that you can.


This American Brain


Aaron pointed me to Radio Lab, a public radio show about science.

Am excited to report that it is by far the coolest radio show I’ve ever heard — in the truest sensory meaning of the word. I think it might be the best radio show in the world. Or in history.

Forgive me. Am caught up in the throes of enthusiasm and hyperbole. But seriously: It’s great. Here’s why:

  • It’s about science.
  • It’s incredibly aggressive with audio montage: dialogue overlaps and spills over, music and sound effects pile up in layers, outtakes and asides shimmer at the edges. The result is astonishing, and dense in the best possible way.
  • It has a wonderful vocal style: They’ve completely rejected the voice-of-god format, as well as the voice-of-casual-god format, and even the voice-of-friendly-NPR-god format, and replaced it with a truly conversational, sometimes contentious tone. Very often, hosts will interrupt each other and say something like: “Wait, what? What does that even mean?”
  • Lovely, lilting, IDM-y music.
  • Only five episodes per season. This is an amount of media that I can actually process!

I’ve only listened to a few episodes but my favorite so far is Sleep. It includes: an explanation for the fact that you always sleep strangely on your first night in a new place, dolphins with parallel brains, the scourge of improperly folded proteins… and Tetris dreams.

So, I officially have a gigantic crush on this show — both because it’s good, interesting journalism, and because it’s such a palpably new way of doing radio.


iPhone Snark

All I have to say about the iPhone is it sure took Apple long enough to create the wifiPod. 😛


This Working Library

Jack Stauffacher, designer and printer, on his books:

“Without this working library,” notes Stauffacher, “I would have no compass, no map, to guide me through the density of our human condition.”

Hmm. Maybe that’s what an alethiometer really looks like?


The Eurekronomicon

Tell me this has never happened to you waiting for a red light:

Like me, you probably don’t associate the traffic lights on Southampton Row with the end of the world.

But it was while waiting there in 1933 that the Hungarian polymath Leo Szilard conceived the idea of a nuclear chain reaction, and thus the creation of the atomic bomb.

In the Telegraph, Tibor Fischer continues:

The car contains Szilard and his de facto chauffeur, Wigner (only Szilard would use a future Nobel Laureate as his taxi service). They are trying to find Albert Einstein to convince him of the need to urge the US government to start building an atomic bomb before the Nazis do.

When they finally locate Einstein and outline how chain reactions can be achieved, Einstein comments: “Daran habe ich gar nicht gedacht” (I hadn