Archive for February 2009
In the most recent A List Apart, Mandy Brown says many of the things I’ve been thinking about reading on the internet over the last few months. If you’re interested in design, or the problems of reading on the internet, I’d strongly recommend it.
There are many dogged readers who will make this commitment whether or not the design of the page makes it easy on them, but as designers, there are a number of ways we can assist readers in the transition. Consider all of the elements that accompany an article and organize those that are most useful for gauging interest at the top. Summaries or pull quotes, as well as illustrations, allow the reader to quickly assess what the article is about. Categories and links to related content provide context. The name and affiliation of the author communicate the authority of a text. All of these elements combine to create an entryway into reading.
Apparently, economists think there are better and worse ways for us to spend our way out of the recession. Some of their most interesting suggestions:
Tyler Cowen, George Mason University: In my view, fixing the banking sector is more important than getting the stimulus right. So if you can afford to lose the money, go to a large bank (more likely to be insolvent), find their most overpriced service, and buy as much of it as you can. That way you are doing your part to recapitalize our banking system.
Ethan Harris, Barclays Capital: Get a haircut. It is a purely domestically produced service with extremely high labor content. This means no drain in spending power out of the country: it is “Buy American” without violating any trade agreements.
Robert Shiller, Yale University: I suggest using it to give an extra-generous tip to taxi drivers. They talk to lots of people, especially active business-oriented people, and they will be feeling more upbeat, sensing that some people are feeling flush, and they will communicate this feeling to numerous people, thereby helping restore confidence.
As Matt Yglesias exlpains, Pew just found that most of those things you think about the difference between Starbucks and McDonald’s customers are true:
The more money you earn, the more likely you are to want a Starbucks. The more education you have, the more likely you are to want a Starbucks. The more liberal you are, the more likely you are to want a Starbucks. The younger you are, the more likely you are to want a Starbucks. White people like Starbucks more than black people.
The one moderately surprising fact is that in aggregate Hispanics actually prefered Starbucks more than white people.
You’ve probably seen this set from The Big Picture by now, but that’s never stopped me before.
That’s the theory being offered by Harvard’s Richard Wrangham.
And with Homo sapiens, what makes the species unique in Dr Wrangham’s opinion is that its food is so often cooked.
Cooking is a human universal. No society is without it. No one other than a few faddists tries to survive on raw food alone. And the consumption of a cooked meal in the evening, usually in the company of family and friends, is normal in every known society. Moreover, without cooking, the human brain (which consumes 20-25% of the body’s energy) could not keep running. Dr Wrangham thus believes that cooking and humanity are coeval.
This is interesting:
But there’s a wide range of definitions of “home” among Americans who have lived in at least one place besides their original hometown: 26% say it’s where they were born or raised; 22% say it’s where they live now; 18% say it’s where they have lived the longest; 15% say it’s where their family comes from; and 4% say it’s where they went to high school.
(via Big Contrarian)
I enjoyed this remarkably complete — Super Mario Soda, anyone? — compilation of the varieties of branded sodas no longer being produced.
I liked this point from Paul Graham:
I think what religion and politics have in common is that they become part of people’s identity, and people can never have a fruitful argument about something that’s part of their identity. By definition they’re partisan.
And I find it hard to disagree with his conclusion:
The most intriguing thing about this theory, if it’s right, is that it explains not merely which kinds of discussions to avoid, but how to have better ideas. If people can’t think clearly about anything that has become part of their identity, then all other things being equal, the best plan is to let as few things into your identity as possible.
Most people reading this will already be fairly tolerant. But there is a step beyond thinking of yourself as x but tolerating y: not even to consider yourself an x. The more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you.
This is interesting information to have around for next time you get a cold:
Nose blowing generated enormous pressure — “equivalent to a person’s diastolic blood pressure reading,” Dr. Hendley said — and propelled mucus into the sinuses every time. Dr. Hendley said it was unclear whether this was harmful, but added that during sickness it could shoot viruses or bacteria into the sinuses, and possibly cause further infection.
The bit I’m really confused by is this, “The proper method is to blow one nostril at a time and to take decongestants.” Do people really try to blow both nostils at the same time — I never in my life thought that was possible.