Archive for January 2009

#  The Resolute Desk →

January 28th, 2009 at 20:20 // In Worth Reading 

Andy Biao describes felix’s post as a “Metafilter’s history of” the central feature of the Oval Office. The description seems just about perfect.

#  In Praise of Institutions →

January 28th, 2009 at 19:40 // In Worth Reading 

David Brooks offers a surprisingly reasonable lament about the way that kids today don’t have any respect for traditional structures of power and order.

Each of these institutions comes with certain rules and obligations that tell us how to do what we’re supposed to do. Journalism imposes habits that help reporters keep a mental distance from those they cover. Scientists have obligations to the community of researchers. In the process of absorbing the rules of the institutions we inhabit, we become who we are.

New generations don’t invent institutional practices. These practices are passed down and evolve. So the institutionalist has a deep reverence for those who came before and built up the rules that he has temporarily taken delivery of. “In taking delivery,” Heclo writes, “institutionalists see themselves as debtors who owe something, not creditors to whom something is owed.”

#  A Defense of New Jersey →

January 26th, 2009 at 20:11 // In Worth Considering 

I swear this article appears at least semiannually in some paper somewhere. This one chose the “epicenter of artistic talent” angle.

(via Ideas)

#  Auditorium →

January 26th, 2009 at 19:40 // In Worth Distraction 

A fun and well-designed game to slurp up a few minutes of your time?

(via kottke)

#  Lernu Esperonto →

January 25th, 2009 at 11:23 // In Worth Distraction 

I’ve always been curious about Esperonto, so when this post led me to this story which pointed to this site where I found the introductory course in the title link, I had to spend a few minutes working through the very straightforward and informative introduction.

#  The Ideal Lesbian Paramour? →

January 19th, 2009 at 20:01 // In Worth Knowing 

June Thomas informs us that current literature suggest it’s a Secret Service agent.

Also: Tim Carmody, noting the sidebar links to a woman fascinated by Obama’s Secret Service detail and a short note about the  broader idea of “protection porn,” sees the genre as an allegory for all romantic relationships.

#  Ripping into Thomas Freidman →

January 19th, 2009 at 19:08 // In Worth Distraction 

I’ve always had mixed feeling about Thomas Friedman. While I applaud many of his goals, I often find his style (and moustache) off-putting. But I do had to say that Matt Taibbi ripping into him certainly has it’s moments:

Or how about Friedman’s analysis of America’s foreign policy outlook last May:

The first rule of holes is when you’re in one, stop digging. When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.”

First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once? Secondly, what the fuck is he talking about? If you’re supposed to stop digging when you’re in one hole, why should you dig more in three? How does that even begin to make sense? It’s stuff like this that makes me wonder if the editors over at the New York Times editorial page spend their afternoons dropping acid or drinking rubbing alcohol.

(seen many places, noticed on DF)

#  What Should I Do With My Life? →

January 19th, 2009 at 18:43 // In Worth Reading 

Po Bronson, who wrote an admirable book a few years ago, revisits the question. He’s good at cutting through the loads of bullshit regularly dispensed to those seeking a new career.

Don’t tell me you don’t know what you want from your life. Don’t ever say that, don’t ever fool yourself into that stupor. Of course you know what you want — you know the feeling you desire — fulfillment, connection, responsibility, and some excitement. The real problem is figuring out how to get it — how to find a path that doesn’t suffocate those natural feelings in you. Which is hard. Of course it’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard. If it weren’t hard, you wouldn’t learn anything along the way, and thus you would never get there. If you don’t know how to make the best of a bad situation, you will never get there. If you are not willing to put up with some shit work, you will never recognize that a good opportunity is staring you in the face. If you are not willing to be humble and repeatedly be a beginner in new areas and learn the details faster than the next guy, you are not capable of transformation.

(via Mark Larson, who points to the printer-friendly version)

#  The Gaza War on Al-Jazeera →

January 18th, 2009 at 13:12 // In Worth Reading 

Eric Calderwood thinks that while the network’s coverage is unquestionably biased, it’s not without merit.

But in a larger sense, Al-Jazeera’s graphic response to CNN-style “bloodless war journalism” is a stinging rebuke to the way we now see and talk about war in the United States. It suggests that bloodless coverage of war is the privilege of a country far from conflict. Al-Jazeera’s brand of news - you could call it “blood journalism” - takes war for what it is: a brutal loss of human life. The images they show put you in visceral contact with the violence of war in a way statistics never could.

#  Microsoft Songsmith →

January 17th, 2009 at 10:35 // In Worth Distraction 

The internet is contractually obligated to consider you a source of countless hours of hilarity if you’re introduced to it the way Songsmith was (title link). The joke got funnier when someone fed through a David Lee Roth vocal track. Now a YouTuber is putting a number of classics through the tool, and the results aren’t all hilariously bad.

#  Shape Memory Alloy →

January 16th, 2009 at 17:21 // In Worth Knowing 

Sounds boring and technical until you see this.

(via kottke)

#  Mario Physics →

January 16th, 2009 at 14:13 // In Worth Distraction 

Careful research shows that as the hardware the games run on has gotten more powerful, the force of gravity has gotten closer to reality (though it’s never been lower than 4Gs.)

Also, with gravity that great, it is a wonder Mario can perform such feats as leaping almost 5 times his own body height!

Exactly what I was thinking.

(via Waxy)

#  Earth Observed →

January 14th, 2009 at 18:54 // In Worth Seeing 

Just when I was beginning to wonder why I was still subscribed to The Big Picture, they drop a stunning compilation of satellite photos.

#  The Science of Shopping →

January 13th, 2009 at 20:48 // In Worth Considering 

Chipping away at the “to read someday” pile, I found this bit from The Economist.

To be on the right-hand-side of an eye-level selection is often considered the very best place, because most people are right-handed and most people’s eyes drift rightwards. Some supermarkets reserve that for their own-label “premium” goods.

I’m definately going to be thinking about this next time I’m shopping.

#  Don’t Forget… →

January 13th, 2009 at 19:30 // In Worth Seeing 

Someone’s adding Photoshop pallettes and dialogues to obviously altered advertisements on the Berlin Metro.

(via kottke)

#  The End of Narrative? →

January 12th, 2009 at 20:31 // In Worth Reading 

Robin Sloan pens an interesting “think piece” about  how Google may actually be changing our way of processing information. And no, it’s not a “technology will make us stupid” thing.

Also note the very good and thoughtful responses.

UPDATE (1/14/09): Robin clarifies.

#  50 State Mottos →

January 12th, 2009 at 20:13 // In Worth Seeing 

Collected in English on one, sometimes illegible, piece of art by Emily Wick. You can also view (and order) individual states.

(via Neatorama)

UPDATE (1/17/2009): Taking a step I was too lazy or careless to, Strange Maps has listed every state motto in Latin and English, and included the story of its conception.

#  A Landmark Event for Newspapers →

January 12th, 2009 at 19:37 // In Worth Knowing 

An interesting fact: The LA Times’s online advertising revenue is now sufficient to fund its entire editorial operation — both print and online.

It’s also worth noting, as Mr. Jarvis does, that the Times newsroom is nearly half the size of its former self.

(via PSFK)