Sep. 30, 2008

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5:18 am

Thus, the Treasury plan is a disgrace: a bailout of reckless bankers, lenders and investors that provides little direct debt relief to borrowers and financially stressed households and that will come at a very high cost to the US taxpayer. And the plan does nothing to resolve the severe stress in money markets and interbank markets that are now close to a systemic meltdown … This is again a case of privatizing the gains and socializing the losses; a bailout and socialism for the rich, the well-connected and Wall Street. And it is a scandal that even Congressional Democrats have fallen for this Treasury scam that does little to resolve the debt burden of millions of distressed home owners.

Professor Nouriel Roubini, on the still imminent Wall Street bailout. (Via Glen Greenwald.) (#)

Sep. 28, 2008

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8:17 pm

Older people are definitely sillier and more open to admitting things they like that they may not have admitted before. We are so much more bored than young people, and I think we yearn for high-school-style communication.

Linda Keenan, offering up one explanation for the online exhibitionism of so many post-30-year-olds. (#)

Sep. 26, 2008

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7:45 am

In May I had my first meeting with a major label, Universal Music Group. I went alone and prepared myself for the worst, having spent the last decade toeing the indie party line that the big labels were hopelessly obstinate luddites with no idea what was good for them. I’m here to tell you now that the labels understand their business a lot better than most people suspect, although they each have their own surprisingly distinct personality when it comes to how they approach the future.

Justin Ouellette, from a lengthy exposition on the death and rebirth of Muxtape. The RIAA is, indeed, a big stinking bully. (#)

Sep. 25, 2008

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11:22 am

I doubt that I’ll ever make anything one-tenth as intelligent, thoughtful, and engaging as The Wire, and, in all likelihood, neither will you. But, again, that’s not the point.

The inspiration you need to take away from this is the idea that every scene matters to some arc. Even the one minute with the drunk furniture assembly. Whether your given “scene” is in a screenplay, or an Excel spreadsheet, or the Tweet that you’re about to type about your flight delay: it matters. It all matters.

Merlin Mann, calling on all of us to write into our arc. (#)

Sep. 19, 2008

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8:05 pm

[Modern film] spoon-feeds us, which has the effect of watering down our collective cultural imagination. It is as if we are freshly hatched birds looking up with our mouths open waiting for Hollywood to feed us more regurgitated worms. The ‘Watchmen’ film sounds like more regurgitated worms. I for one am sick of worms. Can’t we get something else? Perhaps some takeout? Even Chinese worms would be a nice change.

Alan Moore, from an interview on Hollywood and its adaptation of his most celebrated work, Watchmen. (Via Jason.) (#)

Sep. 17, 2008

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10:51 am

[S]ome people actively search for routine and repetition as a means to cope with stress or anxiety – which in turn provides the stability to focus (and be creative). Why is instability and disruption so often cited as a means to creativity or innovation?

Sam Martin, from the Design Mind blog, responding to a video installation by Berlin-based artist Jan Koepper (#)

Sep. 16, 2008

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6:20 pm

Now, let us discuss the Élites. There are two kinds of folks: Élites and Regulars. Why people love Sarah Palin is, she is a Regular. That is also why they love me. She did not go to some Élite Ivy League college, which I also did not. Her and me, actually, did not go to the very same Ivy League school. Although she is younger than me, so therefore she didn’t go there slightly earlier than I didn’t go there. But, had I been younger, we possibly could have not graduated in the exact same class. That would have been fun. Sarah Palin is hot. Hot for a politician. Or someone you just see in a store. But, happily, I did not go to college at all, having not finished high school, due to I killed a man. But had I gone to college, trust me, it would not have been some Ivy League Élite-breeding factory but, rather, a community college in danger of losing its accreditation, built right on a fault zone, riddled with asbestos, and also, the crack-addicted professors are all dyslexic.

George Saunders, ripping apart that obnoxious "regular Joe" schtick Republicans seem so fond of. Sometimes I love The New Yorker. (#)

Sep. 12, 2008

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8:16 pm

If the work that really matters to you involves understanding a relationship between a handful of seemingly unrelated things and then figuring out the best way to portray, magnify, or resolve those relationships, then you’re already doing creative work. Any time you make a connection between two or more axes that hadn’t occurred to you 10 minutes ago, yes, you’ve done something creative.

Merlin Mann, a dude who's web famous for his writing on 43 folders but creates brilliant material all over the place, writing about his renewed focus on creativity and quality in a world full of cruft. (#)

Sep. 11, 2008

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6:37 am

Just as everyone in development is enamored with scaling, it seems that far too many designers ask the question, “how much content can we dump in here, and still have things make sense?” rather than “how can we nix this nonsense, and just say what we mean?”. In many projects, it’s taken a priori that all the content that exists going into a project must remain intact. Of course, this leads to the new site simply shuffling a rotten core, putting a new face on old problems. Really, what’s diluting the web are piles of meaningless words, not a lack of style.

Matt Brown, suggesting some ways designers could help simplify the web. (#)

Sep. 6, 2008

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7:39 am

When we think of events in the distant past or distant future we tend to think abstractly about why they happened or will happen, but when we think of events in the near past or near future we tend to think concretely about how they happened or will happen.

Seeing in time is like seeing in space. But there is one important difference between spatial and temporal horizons. When we perceive a distant buffalo, our brains are aware of the fact that the buffalo looks smooth, vague, and lacking in detail because it is far away, and they do not mistakenly conclude that the buffalo itself is smooth and vague. But when we remember or imagine a temporally distant event, our brains seem to overlook the fact that details vanish with temporal distance, and they conclude instead that the distant events actually are as smooth and vague as we are imagining and remembering them.

Daniel Gilbert, on the difficulty of predicting future happiness. (#)

Sep. 2, 2008

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4:43 pm

Start poking around the names in the Google Chrome comic book and the names are there. Scott McCloud’s drawings aren’t just a useful pictorial explanation of what to expect in Chrome; it’s practically a declaration of independence from the yesteryear traditions of browser design of the past 10 years, going all the way back to Netscape’s heyday when the notion of the web was a vast collection of interlinked documents. With Chrome, the web starts to look more like a nodal grid of documents, with cloud applications running on momentary instances, being run directly and indirectly by people and their agents. This is the browser caught up.

Chris Messina, on the historic significance of Google's announcement – and beta release – of the Chrome browser. (#)

Sep. 1, 2008

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1:28 pm

Yes, we need to have a rational conversation in this country about striking the balance between providing students with age-appropriate sex education and a rational discussion about moral values and their role in making sexual choices. I am a full and complete supporter of comprehensive sex ed – which includes information like “there is no such thing as blue balls” and “no means no” and “saying no to sex can be a sign of respect for both of you.” But clapping our hands in joyous rubbernecking over Bristol Palin’s being in the family way is not going to be the start of any discussion. It makes us look as judge-y as we accuse Them of being, it makes us look like abortion-promoters instead of choice-respecters (it does mean both choices, after all) and it makes us look like we think a 17-year-old target is easier to hit than a 44-year-old target. Sex education will be a great topic for discussion and reform in an Obama Administration, and it wouldn’t – and shouldn’t – involve the now rather-public embarrassment or shaming of a 17-year-old girl.

Megan Carpentier of Jezebel, urging all the lefties to back the eff off the whole Bristol Palin pregnancy annoncement. Since when did Jezebel become the voice of reason? (#)

Aug. 29, 2008

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7:39 pm

Is he kidding? How can John McCain make the argument that Barack Obama isn’t ready to be president when he picks a running mate with even less experience than Obama to be his vice president? Is he actually retarded? When you are seventy two years old and attempting to undertake one of the most strenuous jobs in the world for at least four years, don’t you want to at least consider the notion that you might drop dead?

Memo to John McCain: you might drop dead.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has been a governor for two years, and before that a mayor for ten, the mayor of Wasilia (population 5,000). My brother-in-law was the Republican mayor of Waseca, Minnesota, which has about the same size population, and I can tell you with absolute certainty after playing foosball with him in his basement that my brother-in-law is not ready to be president of the United States of America. I’m not even sure that he’s ready to be president of his rotisserie football league.

Michael Ian Black, on John McCain's misguided VP pick. (#)

Aug. 27, 2008

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5:00 pm

Engineers have long (since at least the 1950s) used the term unobtainium when referring to unusual or costly materials, or when theoretically considering a material perfect for their needs in all respects save that it doesn’t exist. By the 1990s, the term was widely used, including formal engineering papers. (As an example, Towards unobtainium [new composite materials for space applications], by Misra and Mohan describes how the ideal material (unobtainium) would weigh almost nothing, but be very stiff and dimensionally stable over large temperature ranges.)

The Wikipedia entry on Unobtanium. (Re-blogged from kottke.org.) (#)

Aug. 26, 2008

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6:49 pm

Any application that lets you “friend,” “follow,” or otherwise observe another user should include a prominent (and silent) “PAUSE” button.

I think users of apps like Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal, Delicious, and, yes, FriendFeed, would benefit from an easy and undramatic way to take a little break from a “friend” – without inducing the grand mal meltdown that “unfriending” causes the web’s more delicately-composed publishers.

Merlin Mann, proposing a (frankly ingenious) way to enable polite personal management of your social network. (#)

Aug. 24, 2008

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5:08 pm

This fatality (no photograph without something or someone) involves Photography in the vast disorder of objects—of all the objects in the world: why choose (why photograph) this object, this moment, rather than some other? Photography is unclassifiable because there is no reason to mark this or that of its occurrences; it aspires, perhaps, to become as crude, as certain, as noble as a sign, which would afford it access to the dignity of a language: but for there to be a sign there must be a mark; deprived of a principle of marking, photographs are signs which don’t take, which turn, as milk does. Whatever it grants to vision and whatever its manner, a photograph is always invisible; it is not it that we see.

In short, the referent adheres.

Roland Barthes on each photograph's relation to its referent. (#)

Aug. 22, 2008

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3:45 am

Everyone born after Ghostbusters 2 just blends into one huge, apple-cheeked, nubile symbol of my mortality.

Jon Stewart, from a Daily show rant addressing Olympic gymnasts – and more generally, all the young dudes. (#)

Aug. 21, 2008

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2:16 pm

Messaging platforms like IM and SMS are defusing the idea of location as a hurdle to accessing content, it’s true. But somewhat unwittingly and paradoxically, they’re also tethering themselves to individual clients, to physical hardware with unique stores of data. When the data on a device is the only copy of its kind, its location is more important than ever. Until these services have an IMAP-like solution, they won’t truly be able to liberate us from location, or be as useful or as powerful as they can be.

Khoi Vinh, arguing for an extension of the concepts that drive IMAP email to other messaging protocols. I love the idea of IMAP for SMS. (#)

Aug. 17, 2008

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8:57 pm

I never want to forget that something’s fried.

Jeffrey Steingarten, commenting on a dish prepared by Bobby Flay for Iron Chef America. (#)

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8:42 am

When you control the pipe you should be able to get profit from your investment.

Sen. John McCain describing his stance on net neutrality. (#)