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Friday, 28 February 2014

» Seasons 1 and 2 of the BBC Sherlock are genius, but Season 3 is...lazy. Can it be fixed? My latest. [ 02.28.14 ]

» I worked in food service for about 10 years. I always made great tips, and I have no problem with the tipping system. But I found this article on running a no-tip restaurant compelling, particularly his observations about the people who were most opposed to his alternate system.

I'll add an anecdote of my own. One night I served a couple drinks. The man paid and I went on my way. When I returned to the table to see how they were doing, the man said to me "I'm going to tip you even though I know you have a closet full of designer jeans at home."

I had a lot of choices at that moment. I took a few seconds to select from among them. And then I said, thoughtfully, "Well, as a matter of fact I don't have any designer jeans, but I think I deserve to have nice things as much as anyone else."

At this point, his date (I presume they weren't married) took over. "She's on her feet 8 hours a day," she started out, and I walked away. (For the record, it was usually 12 hours or more.) As I remember, he was a white, middle-aged male. And that exchange, it seems to me, was about status and who should - and should not - have it. [ 08.19.13 ]

» Grandmothers from around the world pose with their signature dishes. What beautiful women and what intriguing food. I have a hard time thinking about Caterpillar in Tomato Sauce, but the final dish doesn't look too bad—and who could resist that beautiful Malawian grandmother's smile? [ 08.01.13 ]

» I'm not particularly nerdy, but I was still surprised that I've read only 23 out of NPR's Top 100 Science-Fiction & Fantasy Books. (Tally your total here.) I enjoy both genres, so I'll use this as a reading list when my current stock runs dry. What did they leave off? Let me know so I can add it to my "to read" list.

As a side note, I'm always a bit annoyed to see these genres lumped together, since they are so different from each other in type and tone. Actually, I guess that statement alone makes me pretty nerdy, eh? [ 07.31.13 ]

» So this is a thing: Robert Downey Jr. Pinups. Oh, Internet you never disappoint me. [ 06.30.13 ]

» So this is a thing:

I had no idea, but I've run into this 3 times just today. Does anyone know the history of this? (hat tip K.R. Lary and Stuart Ian Burns) [ 05.29.13 ]

» Lately it's often about food choices. Sometimes about clothing choices. Last night it was, briefly, because it was getting dark. 46 Reasons My Three Year Old Might be Freaking Out. Funny because it's true. (thanks, jjg!) [ 02.28.13 ]

» Last May was the anniversary of the Hindenburg Disaster. Here is the amazing Atlantic spread commemorating the day. Image 14 is the very essence of the 1930s-future. [ 11.29.12 ]

» WSJ: Men Get the Jobs That Get Them Ahead, Study Finds. I've tended to believe that a lot of pay disparity is based on women's inability or unwillingness to negotiate as aggressively as men - your starting pay is the basis for all of your raises throughout your time at any company. When you start lower, you will stay lower, even if you and your male colleagues receive identical pay raises.

But this article suggests that women simply are not given the same opportunities, no matter what their title, that are given to men. Pure and simple. [ 11.16.12 ]

» The day of the election, I heard a Political Science professor say that the Obama campaign had an unbelievable amount of information about voters. What they were doing put Nate Silver in the shade, he said. Here's a glimpse of that data machine and how they did it.

Details are sparse, but intriguing. Past voting records and consumer information played a role. I have to wonder what data they were buying. Credit card records would seem to offer the broadest picture into people's spending habits. And does this attention to behavioral data explain why I got so few robo-calls this year? [ 11.12.12 ]

» Seriously, the most awesome Hallowe'en costume ever. (thanks, jjg!) [ 11.01.12 ]

» Incredible images from the Atlantic of the landfall and aftermath of Sandy. The Red Cross could use your donation right now to help people affected by the storm rebuild their lives. Donate online or send $10 to the Disaster Relief fund by texting REDCROSS to 90999. [ 10.30.12 ]

» The Awesome: Trick or Treat Cookies for Hallowe'en. [ 10.19.12 ]

» After declining for at least 40 years, injuries to children under age five rose 12% between 2007 and 2010. The possible cause? Mobile devices.

I'm sure it's true. I often see both parents and nannies lost in their smartphones while their very little children run, climb, and play at the park. What resonates most strongly with me is the section at the end of the article which paints an alarming picture of both the depth and length of distraction these devices provoke. [ 10.05.12 ]

» Halloween is coming. You wish you had a wonderful book for your children to celebrate the season. Now you do! The very talented Linda Stanek is making her latest e-book, The Jack O' Lantern Tree, available to everyone for free from October 4-8.

Please download it and read it to your kids (or your own inner child). It's available for download to Kindle or computer. If you're new to the Kindle universe, go here to learn how: Click "Free Reading Apps" in the menu bar if you have a Mac, iPad or Android. [ 10.04.12 ]

» I could have written Speak, Recipe: Reading Cookbooks as Life Stories, so beautifully does it capture my attitude toward old cookbooks and the histories - both cultural and personal - they embody.

Food is such a revealing window into culture, history, commerce, and geography. Cookbooks freeze all of those facets in a specific place and time. Part proscriptive text, part aspirational literature, and sometimes part diary, for me cookbooks stand with film, television, advertising, and fashion as important, multi-layered, cultural documents. [ 10.03.12 ]

» Another new report shows unsafe levels of toxic chemicals in many school supplies and outerwear. Avoid any product made with vinyl or PVC, especially for your children.

The report recommends that parents:

(via @KPbabydoctor) [ 10.01.12 ]

» So, bad news on the rice - all types, brown, white, organic, conventional, crackers, etc.

The new findings from a Consumer Reports investigation show "significant" and "worrisome" amounts of inorganic arsenic in nearly every rice product tested.

We've been eating quite a bit less than we once did, but this is still terrible news. I agree with the call for the FDA to set limits on this. [ 10.01.12 ]

» I remember, a few years ago when I was cleaning out the medicine cabinet, searching for a safe way to dispose of my expired drugs. The City of San Francisco website advised that they were working on a solution, and could everyone please just hang onto their drugs for a while longer. Sure! Glad to help!

No more. Tomorrow, Saturday September 29, is The 5th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Yes, it's that happy time of year when, from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm, you can drop off your unwanted prescription drugs at designated collection sites, getting them out of your house and keeping them out of everyone's drinking water. Search for a nearby site, and finish up (or start) your Fall housecleaning with a bang. [ 09.28.12 ]

» When I die, what will happen to Rebecca's Pocket? To my photos on Flickr? To my Facebook page? What will happen to yours? Experts recommend that you name a "digital executor" and that you make a list of all your digital assets, along with logins and passwords. They also recommend that you clearly state your wishes: should your Facebook page be shut down, or would you prefer that it be left as memorial for your friends and family?

To simplify matters, you might also consider using a password management system so that your digital executor need only type in your master password to access all your online accounts. Then they need only consult your long list in the instance that your computer goes down in flames with you. [ 09.28.12 ]

» Here's a terrific guide that reminds me of my own Eating Organic on a Food Stamp Budget project from 2007. It's called Good Food on a Tight Budget and it aims to give you the resources you need to eat healthily - and well - while keeping your food costs down. There are tools for meal planning, shopping guides, cost guides, recipes, and more. [ 09.26.12 ]

» In case you haven't seen this everywhere else: 22 Things You're Doing Wrong. That fitted sheet thing is a vale of tears, especially with flannel sheets, but the origami bag-close is just awesome. [ 09.24.12 ]

» Now no one will ever come visit us. [ 09.21.12 ]

» 75 years of "Hobbit" covers. The 1965 cover is the one I remember from my childhood. [ 09.21.12 ]

» Tifo! Who knew it had a name and such cultural reach? [ 09.14.12 ]

» Happy 100th birthday, Julia Child. Thank you for all the inspiration. [ 08.15.12 ]

» 50 Things Every Creative Should Know. A pretty good list. (via JMF) [ 08.07.12 ]

» Oh my goodness, yes: From the Culinary SOS archive: Mac 'n' cheese galore! [ 07.20.12 ]

» Wall Street Journal: Top Five Economic Charts of 2011. [ 12.31.11 ]

» Wow, read the story of the identical twin boys, one of whom has known from early childhood that she was transgendered. It is hard to imagine what this family has faced, but how blessed Nicole and Jonas are to have parents who love them so much. (thanks, jjg!) [ 12.16.11 ]

» I was speculating to my husband recently on the reasons for the dire financial straits of the United States Postal Service. Well, the Internet, of course, but the alternative delivery services seem to be doing fine in the same environment. Why is it different to be UPS than the USPS?

And then it dawned on me: the Postal Service has a mandate to deliver mail to every person in the United States. That means a Post Office and a Postmaster and probably a Mail Carrier in every small town. Other delivery services can focus on profitable markets and let small-town customers make the drive to the nearest big town if they want to use their service.

Pure speculation, of course -- my specialty. So I was extremely gratified to read this analysis which draws the same conclusion (and points to an outline of some other significant factors).

Update: Here's an Economist article that makes many of the same points. [ 12.14.11 ]

» Yes, it's time to make Star Wars cookies using holiday cookie cutters. You can thank me later. [ 12.13.11 ]

» If Tolkien were Black. African-American authors N.K. Jemisin and Anthony Durham are reimagining the fantasy genre - and in the process, winning awards and selling lots of books. I'm putting them on my "to read" list. [ 11.11.11 ]

» Genius. (via @schampeo) [ 11.09.11 ]

» Join me this weekend in Gdansk! I'll be keynoting at the Blog Forum Gdansk, October 15 and 16. I'd love to see you there. [ 10.10.11 ]

» A 7-year-old comic fan reviews the new DC reboot of her favorite hero, Starfire - and nails it. (via @medley) [ 09.30.11 ]

» The New Yorker: Poverty and Income in America: The four lost decades, John Cassidy

Median earnings for full-time, year-round male workers: 2010--$47,715; 1972--$47,550. That's not a typo. In thirty-eight years, the annual earnings of the typical male worker, adjusted to 2010 dollars, have risen by $165, or $3.17 a week. If you do the comparison with 1973 it is even worse.

[ 09.28.11 ]

» A journalist, filmmaker, and Australian game studio have teamed up to develop a first person shooter that uses a camera instead of a gun - requiring the player to film wartime events then create narratives to explain them to at-home viewers. Action + media literacy + political education = awesome.

It's...about navigating through a morally gray world and making decisions that have human impact. It's about finding the story you want to tell, as each of our environments is filled with different story elements you can film and combine in your own ways.

I hope it's also about dodging bullets and noticing traps and staying alive. Remember, Defiant, if you can't die, it's no fun. (thanks, jjg!) [ 09.26.11 ]

» A Texas juror was held in contempt of court after trying to friend the defendant on Facebook during the trial. [ 08.30.11 ]

» Honey Laundering! Seriously, though, be sure to buy your honey from local sources and read labels to make sure the packaged food you are buying doesn't contain honey, especially if you have small children. Honey imported from Asia may contain chloramphenicol (an animal antibiotic banned by the FDA in food) or lead. [ 08.18.11 ]

» Have you read Blackout and its continuation, All Clear, by Connie Willis? They won the 2010 Nebula Award for Best Novel, the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, and were nominated for the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Novel. And my goodness are they good, a historical page-turner. Perfect summer reading. Here are photos to accompany the books, two sets of pictures from London during the Blitz. Britain's finest hour indeed, and I didn't appreciate how much so until I read this novel. Even if you're not usually into genre fiction, I highly recommend them. (via kottke) [ 07.25.11 ]

» Why oh why did no one tell me the University of Nebraska, Lincoln has the only academic quilt-studies program in the world and - more importantly - the International Quilt Study Center & Museum? All in all, Ardis Butler James, its founder, has left an impressive legacy. 1 Comments / [ 07.18.11 ]

» On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal published a scathing article on Young Adult fiction. There is definitely some truth to the article, but as someone who is just barely familiar with the genre, it's impossible for me to judge just how accurate or representative the writer's examples are.

Readers objected, of course, starting a thread on Twitter called #YASaves. But here's the most interesting part of the story: the Wall Street Journal posted a subset of those tweets to their Storify account, pointed to it from their Twitter account, and invited further comment to their Facebook page.

So what do you think about the stodgy, conservative old Wall Street Journal proving to be the savviest of new-media newspapers? 2 Comments / [ 06.06.11 ]

» Is it food, is it art, or is it a weird new hybrid that dare not be named? You be the judge. (via @LATimesFood) [ 06.03.11 ]

» As you know, the last few years I've maintained an ongoing collection of Summer Reading Lists through the season. This year my schedule simply won't accommodate that expediture of time. Rejoice, however! The Reader's Advisor Online keeps a list of recommended reading throughout the year (scroll through the entry until you get to the section "Lists"). Check in every Monday to see the latest hotness in the literary world. To get you started, here's their Memorial Day entry. [ 06.01.11 ]

» Criminy. All Plastics Are Bad for Your Body, New Study Finds. At the very least, refuse to microwave your food in any plastic container, and when it comes time to restock your storage containers, invest in some nice, non-reactive, glass. [ 05.17.11 ]

» Such a lovely story about an organ donor, his family, and the people whose lives they saved. [ 05.16.11 ]

» Wow this is gorgeous. I especially love the interior view into the swimming pool. I suppose this - or a reasonable facsimile - will be how I'll know if I'm ever rich. [ 05.13.11 ]

» Of course you know that sex makes you happier, but did you know it may also "relieve stress, improve sleep and burn calories...reduce pain, ease depression, strengthen blood vessels, boost the immune system and lower the risk of prostate and breast cancer"? Interestingly (or predictably) the more sex that men have, the longer they live; the more that women enjoy sex, the longer they live. Either way, it's time to get busy. [ 05.03.11 ]

» Is Alzheimer's disease diabetes of the brain? One scientist thinks so, but surprisingly, the way to protect yourself is not to cut back on sugar, but to avoid nitrates.

Years ago, a few scientists suggested that nitrosamines might cause diabetes. The concept was not pursued until now. We performed experiments in the laboratory and showed that very low, limited exposures to nitrosamines (the type found in food) cause Alzheimer's-type brain degeneration, dementia, diabetes, fatty liver disease and obesity. Adding high fat to the diet made the disease-causing effects of nitrosamines much worse.

(via @ebertchicago) [ 05.02.11 ]

» I can hardly believe it, but today Rebecca's Pocket is 12 years old. I don't have as much time to update now as I did then, but it is still a pleasure. Whether you've been visiting here since my first post, or discovered the Pocket just last week, I appreciate your attention - and I hope we can meet together here 12 years from now. [ 04.27.11 ]

» It seems that book publisher Random House is jumping on the multi-platform bandwagon with a partnership with a video game company to create multiple properties around the same story.

The Holy Grail here would be for Random House to produce a book that sells well, with us ultimately investing $35 million in a triple-A console game backed by a $12 million marketing campaign that draws a commitment from Hollywood for a movie or television event.

Well, I guess so. If you spent half that much marketing a single book might it not also draw some Hollywood attention? (via tra) [ 04.18.11 ]

» The Wall Street Journal reports that luxury hotels are scrapping the bathtub in favor of increasingly elaborate showers. This matches my experience - and makes me sad. Showers are great for washing up in the morning, but after a long day of travel, work, or sightseeing I crave a long, hot bath. And, as noted at the end of the article, many of these showers are pretty, but turn out to be very badly designed. [ 04.15.11 ]

» Top 10 Dying US Industries. (Read the original report. [pdf])

This is an ongoing game my husband and I play: industries that are dying and product categories that turn out, like the telegraph, to be transitional (for example, the small, stand-alone consumer video camera). I thought of another last week when our new Yellow Pages was delivered. How are phone directories still in business at all? [ 04.14.11 ]

» LA TImes: National Grilled Cheese Day: 12 recipes from the Test Kitchen. Click through the description of the sandwich for the recipe. Also, "test kitchen"? At a newspaper in this business environment? [ 04.13.11 ]

» I am a 91-year-old bodybuilder. Wow. And he's looking good.

At 85 I had a crisis. I looked at myself in the mirror, and saw an old man. I was overweight, my posture was terrible and there was skin hanging off me. I looked like a wreck.

(via rc3) [ 04.07.11 ]

» What do you get when you mix Harold Perrineau from "Lost", Victor Garber from "Alias", Cherry Jones from "24", and Margaret an 3-month long Role Playing/Alternate Reality Game...that human rights organization Breakthrough created for Facebook? That's not a convoluted in-joke, it's America 2049 and it just started on Monday.

If all you want to know is "Why a game, and why Facebook?" you'll have to ask the organization's founder, Mallika Dutt:

Human rights have to begin at home, and we really feel the best way to reach people at home is through the power of pop culture, which is what distinguishes us from other social groups. [...]
There's a lot of literature out there right now about how gaming has the potential to be a transformative experience. We've always been looking at what's trending, what's changing, and where young people are, and try to connect to them that way. Right now the answers are games and Facebook.

[ 04.06.11 ]

» If you're as anxious as I am to dine at Next Restaurant - the perfect convergence of my great loves: fine food, food history, and theatre - you will enjoy this tour through their first menu's (Paris 1906) hors d'oeuvres selection. [ 04.05.11 ]

» Read this:

In October 2006 a 32-year-old milk truck driver barricaded himself in an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania and shot 10 young girls execution style before putting his nine-millimeter pistol to his head and pulling the trigger.
The crime shocked America, but what came next was perhaps more stunning. Within days grieving parents reached out to the widow of the killer, offering forgiveness and financial assistance.

A new University of British Columbia study suggests that just by reading about such an extreme act of human goodness, you are now primed to be better to others - at least temporarily. [ 04.04.11 ]

» The Enduring Power of Virtue, Kentaro Toyama.

Concern for virtue simmers within the public sphere, and it bubbles over on occasion. [...] Despite these occasional mentions, public discourse about virtue is muted. To abuse a recent parlour game, below is a graph of the rate of occurrence of the words "virtue" and "technology" in Google's Ngram Viewer, which plots frequency of words occurring in books over time. We see a rapid rise of technology in the last forty years against a two-century slide in virtue. [...] Somewhat similar results are had with "virtue" against "institutions," "policies," and "systems."
But is virtue still relevant today? For many people, talk of virtue brings to mind chastity belts and shining armor. I prefer definitions, however, that distance themselves from the moralizing.

(via @alanatcra) 1 Comments / [ 04.01.11 ]

» Twitter reminds me of this 2006 post, which I linked at the time: On Morality, written by an ethicist in an attempt to provide a primer on moral thinking for those liberals who might be squeamish about making moral judgements.

There is a straightforward moral case to be made not just against the current crop of Republican politicians, but also, I think, for liberal values. But as long as we cede moral language to conservatives, we will not be able to make this case effectively. Nor will we be able to speak to the legitimate fears of people who (correctly) think that morality is extremely important, who are worried that it's under seige, and who (mistakenly) suppose that only conservatives are willing to speak up for them, or that defending morality involves an obsession with preventing gay marriage, or something like that. [...]
We all perform actions. And whether or not we reflect on the kinds of actions we think we should perform ... we will end up performing some actions and not others, living in accordance with certain principles, and developing a particular character. It will be true of one person that she ruthlessly pursues her own interests; of another that she drifts along, allowing her actions to be determined by the preferences of those around her; of another that she tries to preserve her image of herself as 'virtuous' only as long as it is not too inconvenient to do so; and of another that she tries to respond to others with generosity and honesty and respect, even when this is difficult. [...]
This being the case, it makes sense to try to figure out which principles we think should try to live by and which sorts of persons we think we should try to be.
[ 03.31.11 ]

» George Orwell: In Defence of English Cooking.

It is commonly said, even by the English themselves, that English cooking is the worst in the world. It is supposed to be not merely incompetent, but also imitative, and I even read quite recently, in a book by a French writer, the remark: 'The best English cooking is, of course, simply French cooking.'
Now that is simply not true.

2 Comments / [ 03.30.11 ]

» The Abuse of Private Manning. It's real, it's true, and it's shameful. (via w.o/l) [ 03.16.11 ]

» Oh wow these are beautiful. Black history/sociology charts hand-drawn in 1900 by W.E.B. Du Bois's students. [ 03.09.11 ]

» The fountain of youth (again): Exercise. [ 03.07.11 ]

» For years I've puzzled at finding coconut oil in my health food store - isn't it the very worst for your health of all the oils? But as it turns out, it's only partially hydrogenated coconut oil that should be considered poison. New research shows that saturated fat may not be as bad for you as was previously thought. And delicious coconut oil - at least in small amounts - is good food. 1 Comments / [ 03.04.11 ]

» I understand the desire for a bright line in the matter of free speech, but I have to say, I think I agree with Justice Alito's dissent in the Westboro case. Particularly since, as the Justice notes, picketing the funeral was "central to respondents' well-practiced strategy for attracting public attention". Brutalizing innocent victims in order to promote your own cause is surely something more like advertising than self-expression.

For what it's worth, I agree with his dissent in the crush video case, too. 1 Comments / [ 03.02.11 ]

» The last US veteran of World War I has died at age 110. After returning home from the Great War, he was captured in 1941 while traveling overseas on business - and survived 3 years as a civilian POW in the Philippines. Frank Buckles, rest in peace. [ 02.28.11 ]

» This is why I love Rafe. His writing is always so smart and sensible, and usually cuts through the prevailing ideology on both the right and the left. If he's not already, he should be in your daily rotation. [ 02.25.11 ]

» Quilts are unparalleled for their supreme practicality combined with skilled and intricate artwork. One day I'll learn to make them myself, and when I do, this quilt of the New York City Subway map - or one like it - will be on top of my list. (via jmff) [ 02.17.11 ]

» Michigan man extinguishes house fire with snow blower. [ 02.09.11 ]

» When Mark Ketterson contacted the U.S. Naval Academy to arrange a memorial service for his partner, the memorial coordinator asked his relationship to the deceased. Ketterson said that John Fliszar was his husband.

"They were always polite, but there was this moment of hesitation," Ketterson recalled. "They said they're going to need something in writing from a blood relative. They asked, 'Are you listed on the death certificate? Do you have a marriage license?'"
He was and they did, the couple having been married in Des Moines when gay marriage became legal in Iowa two years ago.
Ketterson sent a copy of the marriage license. That changed everything.
"I was respected," he said. "From that moment on, I was next of kin. They were amazing."

I can't even imagine what that meant to him. (via LdlO) 2 Comments / [ 01.31.11 ]

» I'm deep in preparation for the holidays, and I might as well make it official: I'll be on hiatus for the remainder of 2010 and into the beginning of 2011. Happy holidays to everyone, whichever ones you may celebrate. I'll see you in the New Year! 1 Comments / [ 12.14.10 ]

» Americans and Chinese people see the world differently because they actually see the world differently.

"Americans are looking at the focal object more quickly and spend more time looking at it," he said. "The Chinese have more saccades [jerky eye movements]. They move their eyes more, especially back and forth between the object and the [background] field."
The finding suggests that East Asians literally spend more time putting objects into context than Americans do. The differences are not just reflected in how individuals recall and report their memories but in how they physically see an image in the first place.

1 Comments / [ 12.07.10 ]

» Bruce Schneier: Close the Washington Monument.

Securing the Washington Monument from terrorism has turned out to be a surprisingly difficult job. The concrete fence around the building protects it from attacking vehicles, but there's no visually appealing way to house the airport-level security mechanisms the National Park Service has decided are a must for visitors. It is considering several options, but I think we should close the monument entirely. Let it stand, empty and inaccessible, as a monument to our fears. [...]
Terrorism isn't a crime against people or property. It's a crime against our minds, using the death of innocents and destruction of property to make us fearful. Terrorists use the media to magnify their actions and further spread fear. And when we react out of fear, when we change our policy to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed -- even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we're indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail -- even if their attacks succeed.

[ 12.02.10 ]

» Pay attention to this one:

This week, the court will hear what could be its most important case in years, and I'll bet you have never even heard of it. The case is AT&T Mobility Services vs. Concepcion. If the case is decided the way many observers predict, it could end class-action litigation in America as we know it.

(via @dahlialithwick) [ 11.08.10 ]

» The 10 weirdest physics facts, from relativity to quantum physics. (via @ebertchicago) [ 10.26.10 ]

» When you are a loving husband whose wife develops gestational diabetes and is put on bedrest, what do you do? Create the most adorable breakfasts ever. (via acoj) [ 10.19.10 ]

» Ari Ne'ema, the first openly autistic Presidential appointee, wants the world to stop trying to cure autism, and to start improving the quality of life of people who are different. I'd never thought much about it, but Mr. Ne'ema is smart and persuasive - and he's convinced me that neurodiversity is important.

Most of us have had deeply personal experiences of social isolation, bullying and abuse, lack of support, discrimination, and plenty of other problems. But it's much more productive for us to focus on how we can improve people's lives than to keep presenting people as pitiable burdens.
No more pity. It doesn't help anybody.

[ 10.12.10 ]

» Modernist food photography from IKEA's new cookbook, available for free in Sweden only. (Any Swedish readers willing to pick up a copy for me?) I'll wager you've never seen the like. (via jmff) [ 10.08.10 ]

» "Her name is Toni Stone. She grew up in St. Paul and once played for a team called the Twin Cities Colored Giants, which played on what played on what was called Barnstorming Circuit of the Midwest. She was the first woman to play professional baseball for the Negro Leagues, she played against some of the best players in the game, and she even hit a single off of Satchel Paige." When you've finished the interview, the book is called Curveball. [ 10.08.10 ]

» Top 10 Horror Novels: From Jim Thompson to Daphne du Maurier, stories that live up to their genre and genuinely do give readers sleepless nights. [ 10.06.10 ]

» How to Finish a Game. You can apply this thinking to the (non-game) project you're working on right now. My favorite concept: "Finishing is a skill you can get better at". (via w.o/l) [ 10.05.10 ]

» What will future generations condemn us for?

[A] look at the past suggests three signs that a particular practice is destined for future condemnation.
First, people have already heard the arguments against the practice. The case against slavery didn't emerge in a blinding moment of moral clarity, for instance; it had been around for centuries.
Second, defenders of the custom tend not to offer moral counterarguments but instead invoke tradition, human nature or necessity. (As in, "We've always had slaves, and how could we grow cotton without them?")
And third, supporters engage in what one might call strategic ignorance, avoiding truths that might force them to face the evils in which they're complicit. Those who ate the sugar or wore the cotton that the slaves grew simply didn't think about what made those goods possible. That's why abolitionists sought to direct attention toward the conditions of the Middle Passage, through detailed illustrations of slave ships and horrifying stories of the suffering below decks.
With these signs in mind, here are four contenders for future moral condemnation.

I immediately thought of Professor Appiah's second nomination. What did he miss? (via rc3) [ 10.04.10 ]

» Dick Lochte, President of The Private Eye Writers of America: The Top 20 Private Eye Novels, the Top 20 Private Eye Movies, and the Top 20 TV Private Eyes. [ 09.29.10 ]

» Which science fiction book first published within in the last 10 years will be considered a classic? Nominations from SF authors and readers. [ 09.22.10 ]

» Why are books the size they are? Because of the sheep. [ 09.17.10 ]

» It is an honor merely to be nominated (twice!). Go vote for your 3 favorites! Update: Hey! I won! [ 09.16.10 ]

» The trouble with Google Books is a surprisingly interesting article about the importance of metadata - and the ways in which Google's culture of innovation has potentially destroyed the value of the Last Library.

Google Books was conceived of in two ways. The first is as a new library -- I call it the "last library" -- an aggregate of all the libraries in the world. The second is as a big database, a storehouse of information that you could search the way you search Google. The idea behind that is that books are just stored information. If I want to know who wrote Roosevelt's inaugural speech, I can do a search and look it up.
But those two ideas are at odds with each other, which is something that Google didn't realize. The beauty of Google is that you don't need metadata, after all. You just barrel into the text and pull out what you want. So metadata -- information about the source text -- was not something they focused on.

More from Dr. Nunberg here and here. [ 09.16.10 ]

» Jonathan Franzen: 4 Books You Must Read. [ 09.15.10 ]

» If, like me, once you start canning, you just keep canning, please bookmark this page: 50 Ways to Use Preserves, Jams, Jellies, Marmalades & Fruit Butters. (via JMFF) [ 09.14.10 ]

» Transmedia hits the mainstream! Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment have committed to a filmed version of Stephen King's Dark Tower series - 3 films and 2 television seasons to "connect the dots", with one television season's storylines to be "informed by a prequel comic book series that King was heavily involved in plotting".

"With this story, if you dedicated to one medium or another, there's the horrible risk of cheating material. The scope and scale call for a big screen budget. But if you committed only to films, you'd deny the audience the intimacy and nuance of some of these characters and a lot of cool twists and turns that make for jaw-dropping, compelling television. We've put some real time and deep thought into this." Ron Howard, director and producer of the series.

Transmedia has now officially moved from being "the future" to being "the present": In April the Producers Guild of America officially recognized the title of "Transmedia Producer". Here's a guide to creating a transmedia project of your own. [ 09.13.10 ]

» 10 Reading Revolutions Before E-Books is a smart and subtle survey of the history of reading, and ways in which technological advances resonate beyond the book itself to realign individuals' thinking process and the culture itself.

In Elizabeth Eisenstein's account in The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe, print changed readers' expectations of texts, especially their universality and fidelity, since everyone everywhere was (in theory) reading an exact copy of an identical text. This assumption proved particularly instrumental in the subsequent Scientific Revolution. Benedict Anderson thought print helped readers of a common language in a highly fragmented Europe think of themselves as an "imagined community," crucial to forming the modern nation-state. Marshall McLuhan and Walter Ong thought print helped further reorient language from sound to vision, paving the way for our screen-fixated present. This is a reorientation that, as Ong argued extensively, begins with writing itself.

[ 09.10.10 ]

» Minas Tirith - made from matchsticks. Truly phenomenal. There's a certain kind of mind that loves working at this level of detail. They create letter art, lettering illustrations, knitted cities, paper art, and miniatures of all kinds. Reading them, one suspects a similar sort of mind in the most passionate typographers. (thanks, jjg!) [ 09.09.10 ]

» Librarians at the College of Eastern Nevada have replaced the Dewey Decimal System with Netflix categories in order to allow students to more readily find the books they need. They've provided a handy cheat sheet for faculty who are accustomed to researching the old fashioned way. I was pretty neutral about this until I got to the part about classifying Wuthering Heights as "Romantic Comedy". Seriously, people, have you ever read any of the Brontes? [ 09.08.10 ]

» Behind the growing empire of quirky neighborhood grocery stores known as Trader Joes. I've always wondered where they sourced their products - from everywhere, it turns out, name brands included. Turns out there's much more to know about them than just that. (via w.o/l) [ 09.07.10 ]

» This week: Otherworld literature, books for adventurous girls, and what to read for the rest of the year.

NPR: Ricks' Picks: Best Books About War In Iraq
NPR: Three Books For The Self-Help Skeptic
Guardian UK: Otherworld literature: From total believers to complete sceptics, the author of Mirage Men selects books that are 'informative, entertaining, puzzling or all three at once'
Guardian UK: Ten of the best religious zealots in literature

Children and Young Adults:
PBS: Series Books Featuring Adventurous Girls
PBS: Booklights: Thirty Summer Books, Tot to Tween

And for the Rest of the Year:
NY Magazine: The Twenty Our most anticipated fiction and nonfiction of fall
Guardian UK: David Grossman and the new publishing season: In this week's podcast we take a look at the new publishing season and open the betting on who this year's Christmas bestsellers will be

Thus endeth Summer Reading 2010. [ 09.06.10 ]

» I've always felt that language shapes our very perception of the world. In any language, what is named or not named, how things are framed, or what information is embedded (gender or tense - or, in Turkish, whether you witnessed an event yourself) - these things do more than color a narrative. They are the means by which humans construct reality. Language forms understanding. It dictates how we perceive the world, and how we convey our experience to others. One of the advantages of learning a new language is that it gives you a set of new eyes. A new language creates new brain spaces and connections, literally forcing you to step to the side and consider experience from a new perspective.

Or so it always seemed to me. Now psychologists are proving my thesis - and the effect language has on perception, memory, and cognition is startling even to these experts.

Update: This weekend the New York Times Magazine has a long article on the same subject.

Some 50 years ago, the renowned linguist Roman Jakobson pointed out a crucial fact about differences between languages in a pithy maxim: "Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey." This maxim offers us the key to unlocking the real force of the mother tongue: if different languages influence our minds in different ways, this is not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about.
[ 09.03.10 ]

» Take a walk through the world of fan-produced movie posters and fake peripheral properties. These are gorgeous works, ranging from Fake Criterion DVD Covers (scroll down for Star Wars), Aliens vs Pooh and The Poohing (a Winnie the Pooh/The Shining mashup), and this gorgeous Star Wars travel poster art - and those are just my top 3. [ 09.02.10 ]

» 12 Fish Every Eater Should Avoid: the most unhealthy, environmentally, and socioeconomically unsustainable seafood choices in the world. It's from the Smart Seafood Guide, which also lists your best and worst choices nationally and regionally (since where you are will define sustainability in certain cases). [ 09.02.10 ]

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