Archive for December 2009

#  The Decade’s Worst Movie →

December 31st, 2009 at 13:51 // In Worth Knowing 

Though I think that title doesn’t quite properly belong to Crash — this was the decade of Gigli, From Justin to Kelly, and many other terrible and unloved movies — this is exactly right:

Bad movies get made all the time. But what infuriated me about “Crash” was that so many people mistook it for something profound when it was truly the opposite. It shouts at the top of its lungs: “I’M SUBTLE! I’M NUANCED!” and [too] many people somehow agreed.

(Found like this: Jeff Goldberg linked to TNC, who linked to Postbougie who cited the title link. All of those links are probably worth perusing as well.)

#  Magical Thinking & Underwear Bombings →

December 30th, 2009 at 15:53 // In Worth Reading 

Though there’s nothing obviously new in this piece by Bruce Schneier on CNN, it’s nice to see the argument against the recent hype so clearly articulated. I thought this was a point too seldom made:

Our current response to terrorism is a form of “magical thinking.” It relies on the idea that we can somehow make ourselves safer by protecting against what the terrorists happened to do last time.

(via DF)

#  Views of Hannakuh →

December 16th, 2009 at 15:22 // In Worth Considering 

I thought seriously about linking to David Brooks’s column about the story behind Hannakah. But then The Awl juxtaposed his words with those of Sarah Palin and I decided I’d go with that.

#  Statosphere →

December 15th, 2009 at 17:46 // In Worth Reading 

This is unquestionably the best blog I’ve run across this month, and it’s certainly in the running for best new-to-me blog of 2009. A sampling of the near-daily statistics you can learn:

(via @fakelvis)

#  Change Blindness →

December 14th, 2009 at 17:11 // In Worth Knowing 

This video offers an interesting experiment. But (after you watch the video) I thought these comments were worthwhile:

This is ridiculous! First of all these two people look like they could be brothers. Also, the blatant misdirection is never addressed. Every time somebody interacts with one of the two, their attention is always drawn away from the face of the person.

That is kind of the point of the experiment. Unless average humans make a point in looking at the other they work on assumptions. And one assumption is that things usually stay where they are.

This doesn’t surprise me at all. Working in retail, I can tell you that people just don’t pay attention to the people who serve them. Customer will come in asking for an employee who told them something last time, when you ask who it was or if they can describe the person, they often have no idea. … People pay attention to whatever they came in for, but they don’t pay attention to their surroundings.

Anyone notice that the Professor’s shirt color changes from the first shot of him to the next?

(via DF)

#  You Took Me Seriously →

December 9th, 2009 at 18:12 // In Worth Distraction 

I’d argue it’s required that both Dr. Seuss fans and aspiring artists like these Letters of Note.

(via @austinkleon)

#  The Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld →

December 8th, 2009 at 20:01 // In Worth Reading 

Excused by nostalgia for the decade’s passing, but really here because of Jeff Atwood and my not seeing it the first time. His unquestionable best:

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.

#  When Authoritarians Relent →

December 7th, 2009 at 19:19 // In Worth Considering 

While there’s a lot in Drake Bennet’s piece about the Berlin Wall that would have a high school history student slapping their head — really, Mr. Bennett, no historical event has a single cause? — this bit caught my eye:

According to Suri, there are three major factors that determine how a government, especially an authoritarian government, responds to this sort of popular protest. The first is how effective the traditional organs of state power and repression are - everything from the police and military to the state-run media. The second is the sort of international obligations the government has: In 1989 the Soviet Union was deeply indebted to the United States and Western European countries, and Gorbachev, he argues, had much to lose by alienating them, while China’s government had more faith in its economy’s ability to survive as an international pariah. And the third is simply how comfortable, all things being equal, the country’s leadership is with violence.

#  Good Riddance to Language Extinction →

December 2nd, 2009 at 21:02 // In Worth Reading 

In a delightful and wide-ranging essay John McWhorter makes some good points about the underappreciated upside of the dwindling number of spoken languages.

Can we say that the benefits of linguistic diversity are more important, in a way that a representative number of humans could agree upon, than the impediment to communication that they entail? Especially when their differentiation from one another is, ultimately, a product of the same kind of accretionary accidents that distinguish a woodchuck from a groundhog?

(via IotD)

#  Nail Houses →

December 1st, 2009 at 19:35 // In Worth Seeing 

Up’s Carl Fredricksen is probably America’s most famous nail house resident, but he’s certainly not the only one.

(idea via FYE)