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March 12, 2011

cbenjamin: Black Dante with a new classic.  I love that Mos is...


Black Dante with a new classic.  I love that Mos is bringing that Sunday Best style back.  Two tone spectator loafers may not be your thing but they definitely work for him with the grandpa jewelry and tie clip.  

I was about 20 feet away when this went down. Shout out to JoMo for that one. I actually really preferred the second song in his set, but that doesn’t seem to have made it online yet.

Found Quotes, 4

Originally posted in The Technium

When you’re forced to be simple, you’re forced to face the real problem. When you can’t deliver ornament, you have to deliver substance. – Paul Graham

People are happy to pay for things that work well. Even if there are free options, even if the market is flooded with free. People will pay for things they love. -- Jason Fried

I like to obsess over things that don't matter because it's more fun than obsessing over things that do. -- Amanda Hocking

It’s a shame that we squandered the term “personal computer” 30 years ago. -- John Gruber

You know how everything has seemed free for the past few years? It wasn't. It's just that no one told you that instead of using money, you were paying with your personal information. -- Joel Stein

What’s so great about work, anyway? Work won’t visit you when you’re old. -- Tina Fey

It's not the voting that's democracy. It's the counting. -- Tom Stoppard

Any company large enough to have a research lab is too large to listen to it. -- Alan Kay

I'm glad I didn't have to fight in any war. I'm glad I didn't have to pick up a gun. I'm glad I didn't get killed or kill somebody. I hope my kids enjoy the same lack of manhood. -- Tom Hanks

iPad Gets GPS Location via iPhone Personal Hotspot

Zachery Bir:

I had decided to forgo the 3G version of the iPad this time around, but the only thing that was gnawing at my resolve was the built-in GPS on the 3G models. Those concerns are gone, as far as I’m concerned.


Dave Winer:

If you make a Twitter client, you have a bit of time to get out of that business. If you were thinking about writing one, don’t.

He predicted this a long time ago.

Jens Alfke:

And yes, this is enforceable, because thanks to OAuth they can and will revoke an app’s access to Twitter at the flick of a switch. They brag about how they “revoke literally hundreds of API tokens / apps a week” [ibid]. I just now realized the implications of this, actually. OAuth may be more secure than traditional HTTP auth in that it doesn’t give apps access to your account password, but the centralization of control that it gives to service providers is really disturbing.

He links to Tweetake, a service that can back up all your tweets, favorites, and direct messages.

Marshall Kirkpatrick:

Maybe Twitter’s not really for free-form posting anymore though. Maybe what Twitter leadership really wants is to create a Hollywood-glossy, TV-comfy place for "mainstream users" to read Tweets from famous people and big media brands. Maybe they’re too cool for school and don’t need the earnest nerds that built their ecosystem in the early days anymore. Now they’ve got Charlie Sheen.

Brent Simmons:

One of the cool things about Twitter is that the service sparked a bunch of UI innovation on the part of some very talented client-app developers. I want to see that continue. But it’s as if they said: no more. Stop. We’ll take over now.

Uli Kusterer wants to build a distributed Twitter:

RSS is ideal. It’s XML, so it’s extensible. It is widely supported. There are libraries for reading it for pretty much every programming language. And it was intended to be polled for new, current information. It also deals in items, which can be what each Tweet will be. And finally, at their simplest form, they are just text files on a server, so implementations can be very simple, and can happen on CDNs and other “stupid” web servers, if needed. I’ll first go into the technical infrastructure, and then I’ll illustrate how this would actually look to the end-user.

David Simon on Snoop's Arrest

I couldn't find an excerpt that would capture his take, out of context, so you should click through and read the whole thing. David Simon on Snoop's Arrest slate First of all, Felicia's entitled to the presumption of innocence. And...

Quicksilver rises from the ashes

I like to think I was one of the first people to really explore the capabilities of Quicksilver and champion its virtues, which were legion. As many of you know, core development kind of fell off when Nicholas Jitkoff (“Alcor”) headed to Google to develop its Quick Search Box (and Quicksilver was open sourced).

Well, it seems the once-venerable project is gaining some real steam, and while I couldn’t be more excited for Quicksilver and its many fans, I’m happily wedded to LaunchBar at this point (which Jitkoff himself encouraged users to try in lieu of Quicksilver).

The tsunami surge reaching the San Francisco area

Posted at Berkeleyside (photographer Steven Winter), via ABC World News.

The first 1000x of valuation is the easiest

I recently wrote that it’s fair for “founders to own about 100% of a startup while employee #1 only owns a few percent.”

My argument was that the dollar value of stock that founders get when they start the company is actually less than the dollar value of stock that emloyees get when they join. The disparity between founders and employees is therefore just a matter of timing.

There’s a corollary to this theorem:

The first 1000x is the easiest.

The first 1000x in stock appreciation is easier than the next 1000x. Here’s how:

Let’s say the company is worth $1 when you start. To get a 1000x increase in market cap, you only need to grow the company to $1000 in value. So if you join a company when it is worth $1, you only have to create $999 of value for your stock to appreciate 1000x!

And if someone else joins the company after it’s already worth $1000, he has to create $999,000 of value for his stock to appreciate 1000x!

To get a 1000x return on your stock, you either have to create $999 or $999,000 of value. One of these is easier. By 1000x.

The first 1000x is the easiest, in an absolute sense.

Serious Reads: 'My Korean Deli,' by Ben Ryder Howe

Convenience stores, bodegas, and delis populate any urban area, and in New York City it seems there can be one—or even two—on every block, hawking cigarettes, groceries, and coffee to impatient city folk. Running such a shop is not a glamorous job, so when Paris Review editor Ben Ryder Howe announced he wanted to invest his family's meager savings in a corner store, he was met with exasperation and confusion. In My Korean Deli: How I Risked My Career and Mortgaged my Future for a Convenience Store, he recounts his tumultuous experiences managing a Brooklyn storefront with the help of his Korean wife and her family.

Howe and his wife, Gab, were living at home with Gab's family in Staten Island when they decided to buy a store. In Korean culture, living at home with one's family is hardly out of the ordinary—or at least, this is Howe's justification for sleeping in a windowless basement without any semblance of privacy. But despite the significant culture and language gap between himself and his in-laws (and housemates), Howe maintains an upbeat, slightly self-deprecating tone about the living situation. He has a true affection for Gab's family, despite how challenging they can be.

Howe's mother-in-law, Kay, quickly becomes the comedic relief of the store. Howe goes into great detail describing her controlling, efficient, stubborn manner and insistence on making all final decisions related to the store. Howe quickly yields authority to his wife and mother-in-law, largely due to his utter lack of ability behind the register. As he fumbles with cash and argues with underage tobacco-seekers, he can feel disapproving stares from Kay, who steps in before disaster can occur. Their back and forth is aggressive, but Howe's narration of such scenes is humorous rather than bitter.

Once settled in, the store starts doing consistent business—it has regulars, several loyal (if quirky) employees, and is accepted by the neighborhood's old-timers. But it never really becomes a profitable venture for the family. Relationships are tested, health deteriorates, bank accounts go dry, and ultimately other career pursuits pull Howe and Gab away from the store. Howe had maintained his job as an editor, which provides supplemental income but also a host of internal crises.

I found myself seeking a bit more of the Korean perspective on this "Korean deli" experience—but that, I suppose, is another book. What Howe provides is a chuckle-inducing, compassionate look at the small business owner's experience. He brings us into his home, his neighborhood of characters, and a world that is foreign to most of us who only patronize such shops. I appreciated his insight into the back room operations of convenience stores—not only the economic side, but also the unfortunate and sticky legal situations facing all such small business owners. By the end of My Korean Deli, I was rooting for Howe; not for his deli, which the family shuttered several years ago. But I was inspired by his persistent optimism, and belief in the strength of the bonds of family and community to overcome hardship—and to face the harsh realities of business operation in New York City.

About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work is also featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.

Blogging: The Twitter Alternative

Never have I gone from loving to loathing a service so much as I have done with Twitter over the past twelve to eighteen months. As one of the early adopters who has seen it rise from its first SXSW in 2007 to where it is today with 148 million tweets daily.

Twitter’s transition over the past twelve months from a fledgling startup just trying to pay the bills and tackle the juggernaut that is Facebook to Sith Lord who tells many of the third-party developers1 to pound sand.

Brent Simmons asks what the alternative to Twitter is:

It’s self-evident, I hope, that the best alternative to Twitter would be, like the web itself, not owned by a vendor.

It would be decentralized — there would be no single point of failure (no one big fail whale) and no single concentration of power. Again, like the web itself.

The solution to this is obvious: your own blog. Think about it.

  1. You can have a hosted blog on a variety of platforms such as WordPress, Squarespace or TypePad.
  2. You have the option of hosting it yourself much like I am with this fine site.
  3. There’s great search offered via Google or Bing.
  4. It’s free and easily accessible to anyone.

Where blogging fails and Twitter succeeds is in the effort category. In the time I took to fire up MarsEdit and write this post, I could have posted a snarky 140 character version to Twitter and then gone to make a sandwich. Twitter’s greatest asset is its limitations.

It’s other greatest asset is the community aspect. As soon as I post a tweet on Twitter, I will instantly see anywhere from zero to dozens of replies to that specific tweet show up and can continue the conversation right there. With blogging, I am forced to have comments2 or the archaic functionality known as trackbacks.

Comments are inferior to tweet replies because they are hosted on my personal site rather than the commenter’s. Much like my Twitter stream, I want to have total control over every single word that is read on carpeaqua.com.3 When I retweet a tweet from someone else it is because I want to share it with my followers. More often than not, Internet commenters submit things I do not want to be associated with my writings, yet there they are hanging just below it.

Rather than putting any effort into finding or funding a decentralized Twitter alternative for the übergeeks who have had their heart broken by a company whose VCs have finally decided it is time to monetize, remember where you came from and think about using it for more than just announcements.

  1. And most likely biggest fans of the service.
  2. Never again.
  3. I think this is the same logic that John Gruber uses for not having comments on Daring Fireball. Can you imagine having to deal with both Apple trolls and fanboys below John’s The Chair piece? No thanks.

Scientific American on Coffee’s Scientific Method

I definitely disagree with a few of Summer’s minor points here (espresso must be made up of a blend?), but overall this is a very nice piece in Scientific American on brewing pour-overs.

[Guest Blog: Science in the neighborhood: How to make really good coffee]

Related posts:

  1. James Hoffmann’s Current Iced Coffee Method
  2. Chasing the Perfect Cup of Coffee with Science [Gizmodo]
  3. Profile of Coava Coffee in The Kitchn

March 11, 2011

Millions saved in Japan by good engineering and government building codes [Thoughts from Kansas]

@Dave Ewing:

The headline you won't be reading: "Millions saved in Japan by good engineering and government building codes". But it's the truth.
Projected fatalities from the Sendai earthquakeUSGS projected economic damage from the Sendai eartquakeMy heart goes out to all the people affected the earthquake in Japan, and by the resulting tsunamis which have hit much of the Pacific basin. Heck, we even saw tsunami surge in the San Francisco Bay. The damage and deaths are still being tallied, but it's worth noting that the 5th largest earthquake on record hit near the densely populated coast of Japan, and so far there are a mere 400 deaths reported. The earthquake in Haiti last year, which was 100 times weaker, killed 230,000.

The charts here, borrowed from the USGS, show projected fatalities (above) and economic damage (below) from the earthquake. Below, a table showing how many people are likely to experience various intensities of earthquake damage. Over 2 million people felt severe shaking, shaking harsh enough to cause "moderate/heavy" damage to earthquake resistant structures, and heavy damage to vulnerable structures. Japanese building codes are stringent, and engineering standards are high.

It's remarkable how, even in photographs of coastal areas near the epicenter, areas hit by earthquake and tsunami at their harshest, many buildings are still standing.

USGS chart of population exposed to the Sendai earthquake, and projected structural damage they could experience
The difference is that Japan has made a commitment to earthquake-safe buildings, and had the money to carry out that commitment. Haiti lacked the money to implement strict construction standards and a government capable of compelling compliance. Builders and government regulators in the United States have the power and the resources to ensure Japanese standards of construction apply here, but my sense from living in California for 3 years is that we may lack the commitment needed to do this.

And it's a shame, because we desperately need to upgrade our bridges anyway. Fully a quarter of bridges on public roads are either "structurally deficient" ("significant load-carrying elements are found to be in poor or worse condition due to deterioration and/or damage") or "functionally obsolete" (not up to code or operating with more traffic than design specifications planned for). Some of those bridges were designed and built as part of the Keynesian stimulus of the 1930s, and it's well past time for them to be replaced. One in five are older than 50 years old, and another one in five is at least 40 years old. Repairing, retrofitting, and replacing inadequate and unsafe bridges would cost $140 billion, a pittance relative to the damage which we will face as those bridges collapse spontaneously, or fall during earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. The San Francisco Bay Bridge is undergoing a seismic retrofit, but other bridges need attention too.

Not only would this make America safer, it would also inject money into the national economy, creating jobs on a massive scale. Given the persistent unemployment we face, that's nothing to sneeze at. And our roads are not all that needs work. Retrofitting buildings for earthquake safety and energy efficiency is vital for public safety and in order to mitigate climate change and control energy costs. A system of direct grants for states to use in bridge construction and low interest loans and grants for private contractors could provide a massive stimulus, jumpstart the green jobs market which should be booming but is awaiting supportive government policies, and put American workers back on the job.

"But Josh," I hear you thinking, "we haven't got a spare $140 billion for the bridges, let alone the money for building retrofits." Indeed, the focus in Congress right now is on cutting government spending, a goal shared by state legislatures. And that's a problem, because government spending, especially job-creating spending like I'm talking about here, is exactly what we need to get out of this economic crisis. And borrowing to build and repair infrastructure is probably the smartest sort of borrowing we could do. It's what most people and businesses do when they buy a home or an office or a factory. It makes sense, because the benefit of the purchase will persist for years to come, and it makes sense to spread the cost of the purchase across the time while it serves its purpose. If I'm to pass a debt on to my grandchildren, I'd like to also let them see what that money bought. I'd be proud to tell my grandkids that they're helping pay for the bridge we're driving across decades from now, and I'd hope they'll be proud of such things, too.

None of this is rocket surgery. For many of these bridges and buildings, plans for the retrofit and repairs may already be sitting in an architect's drawer, and environmental review may have already been completed. All it takes is money, and I can't be the only person out there who thinks this would be a great investment. Look how well it worked for Japan.

Read the comments on this post...

Also check out the featured ScienceBlog of the week: Inside the Outbreaks on the ScienceBlogs Book Club

Japan’s Strict Building Codes Saved Lives

Perhaps no country in the world is better prepared to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis than Japan.

How Things Fall Apart

by Cassie Murdoch

The New York Times has an interesting piece about Dana Adam Shapiro, a director who noticed that a lot of his friends were getting divorced and so interviewed dozens of them about their experiences.

He also made a movie that opens this weekend (Monogamy, starring Chris Messina and Rashida Jones) that draws on the things he learned, but the most illuminating parts of the article are the interview excerpts. The subjects offer a pretty frightening picture of what it's like to have your marriage fall apart.

One man, who's been divorced twice, had this to say: "I don’t care how much you might have loved the person — halfway through any divorce the only thing you can think of is: I hate this person, and I want this person to bleed." Another woman, whose marriage only lasted a year, was brutally candid about her ex's shortcomings:

"When I met him I was not particularly attracted to him, he just grew on me — maybe because I knew that he worshiped me and that I could dominate him. He wasn’t stupid; he just wasn’t interesting or worldly. Also, he sometimes dressed like an uncool retard."

Shapiro sees the interviews as “cautionary tales," and they do have that feeling of being a guide for what not to do. These people are definitely frank about what went wrong, and while it's somewhat bleak, it's also riveting — it's a little bit like watching a car accident happen.


The InBoxtini

by Edith Zimmerman

The InBoxtini is a drink I made up that's a regular dirty martini made with five parts Hendrick's gin, one part dry vermouth, olive juice, and olives. It's served up and chilled, but you drink it in a rocks glass — unlike the one pictured — so it doesn't spill everywhere, and you drink it while you go through the things in your inbox you were supposed to deal with this week but didn't. Starred emails, emails you put in folders you forgot you made, spam you sift through for stuff you might have wanted. Drink it at your leisure as you do your tasks, and when the inboxtini's over, stop using email and close your computer. It's very simple, and I plan to enjoy one shortly.



Stolen from a tumblr. via hello.typepad.com It's almost baseball time.

Did Twitter just tell client-app developers to stop?

The Twitter API announcement today has me stunned.

Instead of being pleased by third-party support and encouraging it, they talk about the need for a consistent user experience. They say that “the top five ways that people access Twitter are official Twitter apps” — but also that “consumers continue to be confused by the different ways that a fractured landscape of third-party Twitter clients display tweets and let users interact with core Twitter functions.”

The announcement says that “Twitter will provide the primary mainstream consumer client experience,” and that “Twitter has to revoke literally hundreds of API tokens / apps a week as part of our trust and safety efforts, in order to protect the user experience on our platform.”

Then it goes on to talk about about developer opportunities. There are a bunch, which is cool — but writing a Twitter client is not on that list.

Dave Winer summarizes: “If you make a Twitter client, you have a bit of time to get out of that business. If you were thinking about writing one, don’t.”

I’m seriously disappointed by this. Not as someone with a Twitter client, but as someone who likes the service and wants my fellow developers to do interesting things.

One of the cool things about Twitter is that the service sparked a bunch of UI innovation on the part of some very talented client-app developers. I want to see that continue. But it’s as if they said: no more. Stop. We’ll take over now.

Update: ReadWriteWeb, Twitter Tells Developers to Stop Building Twitter Clients:

Mainstream users are actively confused by different interfaces? And this is such a big problem that non-standard interfaces need to be stamped out? That just seems crazy, patronizing, arrogant, obnoxious and suspiciously arbitrary.

Another update: I’m just sad. So much of the fun of Twitter was seeing what developers did with it. That messy, buzzing “fractured landscape” was awesome, and I’ll miss it.

Another update: Craig Hockenberry answers the question of why third-party Twitter clients are important to the Twitter ecosystem by listing some of Twitterrific’s firsts.

A rest on West Broadway, Soho, NYC

A rest on West Broadway, Soho, NYC

A beautiful spring day in New York and after doing some errands, I let Minna out of the Ergo carrier. She walked all the way from Spring and Wooster to Prince, walked down Prince to West Broadway and made it halfway up the block to Houston St before was sat for this nice rest. She was so happy to be out walking the streets and every time she saw a dog she squealed and pointed and said, "Dog!!!" And of course every time someone passed her they smiled and waved and pointed at this tiny little person, holding my hand, wobbling along the streets of the city.

Read the Least Important Breaking News of the Day, Year

Yikes. There are a number of questions, obviously, but one of them is: Does he really?


[Daily What]

Read more posts by Amanda Dobbins

Filed Under: clickables, chris brown, news bloopers, tv

The World's Most Expensive News Backend

by Choire Sicha

Hey, how much did your content management system cost? Was it… ONE MILLION DOLLARS? Astounding, but hey, it'll be open source. So it's an incredibly expensive socialist CMS I guess. @ 4:10 pm


San Francisco: The Deluxe Fast Food Stylings of Pearl's Deluxe Burgers

From A Hamburger Today


[Photographs: David Kover]

Pearl's Deluxe Burgers

708 Post Street, San Francisco, CA (map); 415-409-6120; additional locations in Mill Valley and Alameda, CA; pearlsdeluxe.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: These hefty, extra-juicy burgers could take just a bit more seasoning, but they're still quite tasty. Creative topping options abound.
Want Fries with That? Skip the fries and go for the onion rings. Or, diversify and get the Springs—a half-order of sweet potato fries mixed with a half-order of onion rings.
Price: Pearl's Deluxe, $6.49; special burgers, $8.99; fries, $1.99

Sitting just far enough up the hill that it might consider itself outside of the Tenderloin—one of San Francisco's grimiest neighborhoods—Pearl's Deluxe Burgers certainly doesn't gussy itself up in a way to make that distinction clear. The seating area is minimally outfitted with aluminum tables and chairs, and the plastic Coca Cola menu board sits atop walls that have been painted such a timid purple as to almost appear gray. That's okay; the frills (and maybe some thrills) come on the burgers.

The burgers at Pearl's are fast food-style, but hefty fast food-style. The fresh (though pre-formed) patties weigh in at half a pound, making it possible to griddle them to a tasty crust on the outside, but still leave a generous portion of pink within. They cook the burgers to medium unless you request otherwise, and even if they went a little past my specially-requested medium rare, the burger juice still flowed impressively. The wax-paper that lined my plastic sandwich basket had collected enough liquid by the end of the meal that I found myself dipping leftover fries into the puddle. I left Pearl's quite satisfied with my very juicy burger, though I will nitpick and say that the beefy flavor could have been even better if they had added just a bit more salt.



Spicy Sly.

If the cooks at Pearl's go a little light on the seasoning, that may be because they're accustomed to piling on with all sorts of other flavorings. My standard cheeseburger came with crisp lettuce, tomatoes, onions, a slice of well-melted cheddar, and a slathering of mayo. The special burgers come with much more. A burger called Spicy Sly seemed to garner the most attention, with its mess of grilled peppers and onions underneath melted Jack cheese and a pumpkin-habanero sauce. Two of these sat at my table while I ate, but no one was willing to offer me a bite, which either says something for the quality of my friends or the quality of the burger. You can also order the King Burger, and let Pearl's "crown" a quarter-pound patty with a hot dog, cheddar and American cheese, and some Thousand Island Dressing. Or, you can opt for any of the more standard dressy burgers—mushrooms, chili, teriyaki, and pesto can all accessorize your patty.

No matter the creation, Pearl's burgers sit atop a bun that's baked at Sciambra-Passini French Bakery in Napa. Mine was toasted to a light crunchiness around the edges, with an extra bit of texture from a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds on top. Though the bun looked to have enough width to cover the whole patty, most burgers I observed got a little sloppy in the last bites. You end up picking up a few bits of escaped patty with your fingers.


I found myself profoundly disappointed by the fries at Pearl's, a bit heavy with grease and undersalted as they were. Odd, given that the better sweet potato fries fairly sparkled with salt crystals. It was the onion rings, however, that stood out, with a mild spicing in the breading. But if the rings claim top spot on my list, with sweet potato fries as second option, the beauty at Pearl's is that you don't have to choose. The restaurant will mix and match half-orders of the sides, giving you Springs (sweet potato fries mixed with rings), Spries (sweet potato fries and regular fries), or Frings (fries and rings). They'll also salvage their regular fries by ladling chili and cheese on top, but I regret to report that chili-cheese onion rings are not an option—mostly because I believe these would be called Cha-Chings!


You can round out your meal at Pearl's with a milkshake. And please do. My Oreo shake was so thick that it required intense suction even with the help of an extra-wide straw. The lazy man's choice would be to use a spoon, but the crunchy bits of cookie hiding within the sugary liquid were much more fun when slurped through a straw.

Looking around at the minimally-decorated restaurant, prices at Pearl's can seem just a bit higher than you'd expect—$6.49 for the standard burger, $8.99 for one of the special creations. But then you get a look at the deluxe size of the patty, and the copious amounts of burger juice, and the cost seems far more reasonable. Next time I'm trying the Spicy Sly, and none of my friends are getting a bite.

About the author: David Kover is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and food enthusiast. Though he's an equal opportunity eater, there's a special place in his heart for crispy slices of pizza and juicy hamburgers. He just ran his first marathon and feels this gives him license to eat whatever the heck he wants for at least the next month.

Hackin’ Jose Reyes

With a healthy, productive season, Jose Reyes will become a very wealthy man next winter. The switch-hitter, eligible for free agency following 2011, could hit the market as a 28-year-old at a premium position with at least three 5.5+ WAR seasons to his name.

That’s not to say that Reyes’ game is without question marks, however. Hamstring issues that haunted him early in his big league career crept back up in 2009, costing him most of the season, and he missed time last year getting treatment for an overactive thyroid as well as nursing an oblique injury. Reyes didn’t play poorly in 2010, but a 2.8 WAR campaign was disappointing nonetheless. One of the biggest reasons that Reyes fell short of being the championship-caliber player we’ve come to expect was a downturn in his plate discipline.

From 2007-2009, Reyes swung at 24.8 percent of pitches thrown outside of the strike zone. The MLB average over that time frame was a bit above 25 percent, so Reyes ventured outside slightly less than the average hitter. In 2010, though, he lunged at 32.1 percent of off-the-plate offerings (29.3 percent MLB average). That was about 10 percent above the big league average. Not surprisingly, Reyes’ walk rate dipped from 9.5 percent from ’07 to ’09 to just 5.1 percent last season. His wOBA was .329, his lowest mark since his first fully healthy year in Queens back in 2005.

What changed for the worse in Reyes’ plate approach last year? Courtesy of Pitch F/X Maestro Dave Allen, here are the shortstop’s swing contours from last season, compared to 2007-2009. The solid line indicates Reyes’ 60% swing contour — inside the contour, his swing rate is greater than 60 percent and outside it is less. The dotted line is his 50% swing contour — he swings more than 50 percent inside the contour line, and outside, less.

First, Reyes from the right side. Keep in mind that the sample sizes with the right-handed graph are fairly small, so it’s best not to draw sweeping conclusions based on it.

As a righty batter, Reyes expanded his zone on pitches thrown up and away. Now, here’s Reyes from the left side. This is the meatier graph for analytical purposes:

Batting from the left side, Reyes swung at fewer low-and-inside offerings, but he hacked at more up-and-away pitches from this side of the plate as well.

There have been rumblings that the Mets want Reyes to show better plate discipline and boost his OBP before the team explores a multi-year extension for their shortstop. Given Reyes’ potential price tag and the club’s imperiled finances, that might be a moot point. But Reyes will draw a bigger paycheck from someone this winter if he can stop pulling the trigger on so many pitches located eye-high and outside.

Pokemon Black and White keeps the brand battling with more than 1 million first-day sales [Updated]

Pokémon White Version (Pokémon)

The No. 2 video game title in the world (more than 210 million games sold worldwide through September 2010) may not be best known for those games by mainstream U.S. consumers, but a Saturday morning cartoon and a lightning mouse named Pikachu helped propel Pokémon as a game and an international sensation more than a decade ago.

Though the cartoon’s popularity is not as frenzied as its Time magazine cover days — it just premiered its 14th season on Feb. 12, now on the Cartoon Network — the company’s core video games are just as popular as they’ve always been. Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver Versions for the Nintendo DS have sold nearly 11 million copies worldwide since launching, and the company is continuing its solid sales with more than 1 million copies sold in one day (launched Sunday) of its newest incarnation: Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version.

Introduced as a video game in 1996 in Japan (coming to the U.S. in 1998), the company has maintained a multi-level platform of releases with games, cartoon series and cartoon movies, usually coming out around the same time to introduce new characters and unexplored worlds.

“There’s a new movie and animation series every year, but yes, when a new core game is developed, the animation and movies will feature new characters and story lines tied to the games. In this case, the animation is based on the Pokémon, locations and trainers found in the Unova region, the setting of the new Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version video games,” says J.C. Smith, director of marketing for Pokemon USA Inc.

The Black and White versions explore the Unova region and have a more urban feel than most other Pokémon landscapes, with new trainers often traversing city streets instead of forests. Forcing interaction with the new characters, players cannot play with their favorites from the older generations of games until you finish the main story. [Updated 12:45 p.m.: In an earlier version, it was noted that Ash Ketchum and Pikachu were in Pokemon Black and White. Ketchum is not.]

The Black and White versions have already sold more than 5 million copies in Japan. Though solid performers, Pokémon games did not make the top 10 games of 2010 in the U.S., but as popular titles like Guitar Hero, and the companies that make them, are shelved, it keeps trudging along with its tried and true relaunches with continued success.

Since Nintendo forecasted lower sales earlier this year and the company in general makes a bigger profit on games than on consoles, is there a new Pikachu in line to boost sales and hook gamers?

“Everyone has one [Pokémon] that they identify with.  Now with more than 643 of them, everyone’s going to have something that’s going to be their favorite…  But you can never replace Pikachu! The new starter Pokémon — Snivy, a grass-type,  Tepig, a fire-type, and Oshawott, a water-type — are sure to be well-liked,” says Smith.

New characters, the newest film — Pokémon: Zoroark – Master of Illusions — premiered in February, and a mall tour introducing new customers to the brand is also traversing the country. They’re still trying to catch ‘em all.

– Jevon Phillips


Pokemon 2010 champs will catch ‘em all in Hawaii

The Depression-era origins of manga and anime

Hayao Miyazaki, beyond good and evil

Pokemon 2009: ’Awesome, monumental’ battles

‘Airbender,’ ‘Persia’ anger fans with ethnic casting

Red Dead and “Rango”? Meet the new Old West

Dead Island and the “ballet of death”

Sanctum of Slime: Bring on the new Ghostbusters


Arlington, Virginia: Still Cooking with Gas at Faccia Luna

From Slice


[Photographs: Dave Konstantin]

Faccia Luna Trattoria

2909 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington VA 22201 (map); 703-276-3099; faccialuna.com
Pizza Style: New York–style
Oven Type: Gas deck
Price: 10, 12, 14, and 16-inch pizzas, $8.95 to $22.75

With wood-fired pizzerias sprouting up all over the Washington area (some great, some not-so-great), it's easy to forget about the New York-style, deck-oven pizza that dominated the scene until very recently. Five years ago, most people here thought Neapolitan was a type of ice cream. Where did we even eat before 2 Amys and Paradiso and RedRocks?

Faccia Luna in Arlington has been a standby for nearly two decades, and still serves a very satisfying pie. The handsome restaurant, in a prime Clarendon location, is a favorite with families and singles alike and offers terrific pizza along with a well-rounded Italian menu. All pies are available in miniature-to-gargantuan sizes and could almost hold their own if transported north to the tri-state area.


Faccia Luna's Margherita (we'll indulge the use of that name) is your basic tomato and mozzarella incarnation, and is about as close as you'll come to NY-style in DC. The endcrust is somewhat puffier than the archetype, but it's yeasty, beautifully browned, and has a pleasing spring. The cheese is commercial mozzarella, and while there's a bit more than absolutely necessary, it adds a good chew to the slice. There's a well-balanced sauce, not too sweet and wisely applied, that completes the formula and doesn't draw undue attention to itself.


Beyond this, the offerings are nearly limitless, with no fewer than thirty toppings available and a dozen named pizzas on the menu. The Melanzane Bianco is a real winner, with generous slices of rich sauteed eggplant and creamy goat cheese on a mozzarella base.

While no one outside the region has yet been able to replicate the magic formula that results in what people in New York call "pizza," Faccia Luna makes a valiant effort and succeeds in numerous ways. You're happy while you're there, you're happy when you leave, and—with any luck—you're happy the next day when you see the box in the fridge.

Twin Peaks Stills Gallery from The New David Lynch Dot Com

Click images to enlarge.

‘X-Files’ reopened? Six new Hollywood films shine a light on sci-fi show’s legacy

"The X-Files" (Fox)

Is it a conspiracy? “The X-Files” went off the air in 2002 and the spooky brand name won’t be seeing the light of day anytime soon after that forgettable feature-film revival in 2008. But here in early 2011 it feels like the truth is still out there — and we’re not just talking about the flashlights and lab coats inherited by Fox’s  ”Fringe.” Hollywood has a half-dozen movies hitting theaters — all withing a 42-day release window — that might be filed under X, in one way or another. Consider:

“I Am Number Four” (Feb. 18): Sure, “Smallville” and “Twilight” inform the tone and character vibes of this movie, but the subplots of secret alien wars on earth, discredited conspiracy theorists and extraterrestrial abductionwere written with the basic alphabet of the old Fox series. Don’t trust us, just listen to supporting character Sam (played by Callan McAuliffe), who moans to a new friend:  “My entire childhood was an episode of ‘The X-Files.’”

Adjustment Bureau” (March 4): The mysterious puppet-masters of this well-reviewed sci-fi/thriller quietly tend to the course of human history and have a penchant for JFK-era fashion and cryptic double-talk – which reminds us of celestial versions of the Cigarette Smoking Man and other shadowy figures from Chris Carter’s sci-fi epic. But really it’s the sexual tension and brainy dialogue between Matt Damon and Emily Blunt that takes us back to the best part of the “X-Files” — the crackling verve of those oh-so-special agents named Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson).

Battle: Los Angeles” (March 11):  This movie looks like a mash-up of “Black Hawk Down,” “Predator 2” and “Independence Day,” but it has a real-world heritage that Fox Mulder would admire — in February 1942 the U.S. military opened fire on UFOs above L.A. (by some police reports, there were 200 ships in the sky) without hitting anything. That event informed this modern-day invasion flick, and Sony even assembled a UFO panel of experts to amp up the connection.

Paul” (March 18): The loony duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”) star in this road-trip spoof (which they also wrote) about a pair of British genre fans who tour the UFO landmarks of America and meet the title character, a bulb-headed alien (voiced by the unavoidable Seth Rogen) who informs his new pals that he deserves credit for a certain Fox series: “Mulder,” Paul confides, “was my idea!”

Limitless” (March 18): The idea behind this Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro bio-thriller is a drug that takes the human brain to new heights of velocity and insight — but also leads to some nasty side effects and the attention of dark and powerful forces.  Sounds like it could have been a 10th-season  episode of “X-Files” — which in its nine actual seasons had plenty of heightened humans, pharmacological misadventure and laboratory morality lessons.

Source Code” (April 2): What if you took the do-it-again gimmick of “Groundhog Day” and superimposed it over a high-stress sci-fi plot where a bomber is on a path to destruction — and only one person in the blast radius can sense the time-loop repetition? You get “Source Code,” the new bomb-on-a-train thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, or you get “Monday,” the 1999 episode of “The X-Files” in which the explosives are part of bank robbery gone bad.  Jake, we feel for you — a lot of us “X-Files” fans are having deja vu lately as well.

– Geoff Boucher


Meet the writer of the new ‘Buffy’ film

J.J. Abrams speaks: The secrets of “Super 8″

“Rango” & Red Dead? Meet the new Old West

FAN ESSAY: “Firefly” farewell? It’s time to move on

Jackman is “really, really pumped” about “Wolverine”

“Fringe”: John Noble says Friday move is blessing

“X-Men: First Class”: Report from stressed-out set

Director: “Capt. America” is going to surprise people

Favreau: The reason I’m leaving “Iron Man” series

Johnny Depp: My favorite superhero is…

What Do You Think Of Emmanuelle Alt's First Vogue Paris Cover

With the arguably less provocative and more mass-minded Emmanuelle Alt at the helm of Vogue Paris now, it's no surprise that her first cover would feature the most vanilla of covers—the completely inoffensive Gisele Bundchen wearing a white dress in a frickin' field. Thoughts? (Fashion Copious)

4-Year Old Tells It Like It Is

by Cassie Murdoch

"Eating cake. I mean spending time with my family." —A four-year-old's 100% correct answer to the question, "What is best?" You can ask him anything over at Reddit, and his dad will help him answer. @ 3:30 pm


Al-Jazeera's coverage of the Japanese earthquake

If you haven't already heard, Al-Jazeera had (and continues to have) some of the best coverage of earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Here's a clip from earlier showing the tsunami rushing through a populated area.

Contrast with CNN, which was apparently home to giggles and Godzilla jokes as the quake was being reported. In the last three or four big events in the world, Al-Jazeera has had the best coverage...is this a changing of the guard?

Tags: Al-Jazeera   earthquake   Japan   journalism   TV

The Anthology Project Volume 2 Series editor Joy Ang has posted...

The Anthology Project Volume 2

Series editor Joy Ang has posted some images of the follow-up to last year’s The Anthology Project, and it looks as stunning a package as its predecessor.

Ed Levine's Caloric Journey, Week 162: Vacation and Doughnuts Are Not a Righteous Path

Doughnuts in a Box

Yesterday we had a doughnut tasting at SE World Headquarters. On a Thursday, no less. The day before my weigh-in.

Now I know full well that doughnuts are not on the path to weight loss, or even weight control. Doughnuts are one of the big holes in my weight control game. But what would you do if you were confronted by an entire conference table filled with doughnuts: big ones, small ones, doughnut holes, yeast doughnuts, cake doughnuts?

Well, I know what I did. I tasted a bunch then left the room.

The doughnuts were the only thing I ate all day, and all I had for dinner was a cup of cooked rice with some grated Romano cheese sprinkled on top for flavor. So, I actually think I did a decent job of mitigating the doughnut damage.

The problem is Doughnut Day came two days after I returned from a mini-vacation on Captiva Island in Florida, where I ate too much fried food and too many Yucatan-style barbecued shrimp, which were drenched in a spicy butter sauce spiked with lime, cilantro, and chilies. I always seem to let my caloric guard down on vacations. Don't most serious eaters?

So between the doughnuts and the vacation, my caloric journey this past week was filled with bumps in the road.

The Weigh-In

I tried to mitigate the overall damage by merely tasting many things and leaving food on my plate at every meal. We shall see if I succeeded. Here we go: 224. Up a pound from a week ago. Given the doughnuts and the vacation, I'll take it. I feel neither triumphant nor defeated. Just another week on my caloric journey.

Live-tweeting with @NoReservations On the vertical axis you can...

Live-tweeting with @NoReservations

On the vertical axis you can see both follows and mentions per minute. When the episode begins, and Anthony Bourdain starts tweeting, both metrics leap as if electrified. All told, Bourdain gained about 10,000 new followers on Monday—more than 3,000 of those during the hour-long premiere itself.

This is a simple, powerful, repeatable strategy: Tweet live during an episode’s first run. Tell your viewers about it with an on-air mention. (I like the Travel Channel’s implementation: clean and simple.) Then prompt them to tweet, too.

via Twitter Media

March 10, 2011

Nice Air Book

I am loving my 11-inch Mac Air. Random stickers I had around the office found their new home pretty quickly. Since I previously did not have a laptop, I carried a first generation iPad for my travel device. I spent...

Veteran Journos Out as AOL/HuffPo Cuts 900 Jobs | Epicenter | Wired.com

As New York Times executive editor Bill Keller pungently observed: “Buying an aggregator and calling it a content play is a little like a company’s announcing plans to improve its cash position by hiring a counterfeiter.”

Photo: One of those TED moments


  • Photographer Robert Leslie caught this quirky moment between Jeff Bezos and one of the Anybots telepresence robots, as they both hung out in the Playroom social space last Wednesday. Photo editor Mike Femia says: “I have nothing to add to this photo. It’s just one of those TED moments.”

    ★ Bending Over Backwards

    Walt Mossberg has a 500-word section on “Drawbacks” in his review today of the iPad 2. The whole thing is a crock, an example of trying to be fair/balanced/objective by bending over backwards to find negative things to say about the device. No one is arguing that the iPad 2 is beyond criticism. But almost nothing in Mossberg’s list of drawbacks is valid.

    Its cameras take mediocre still photos and Apple won’t even reveal their megapixel ratings. The company says they were designed for video, not still photography. They did capture decent video in my tests, including high-definition video from the rear camera and video good enough from the front camera for satisfying video calling. But, for a company known for quality, which bundles a new still-photo app with the device, the cameras are disappointing.

    It’s true that the image quality is mediocre, at best, and it’s fair and makes sense to lead with that as the first drawback. But regarding the lack of megapixel specs from Apple — Mossberg has an iPad 2. All he needs to do is snap a picture, transfer it to his Mac, look at the size, then multiply the width by height. These are not secrets.

    Also, the battery life, while very good, isn’t as strong as I found it to be on the first iPad. In my tough battery test, where I played full-length movies until the battery died, with the screen brightness at about 75% and both Wi-Fi and cellular radios running, the iPad 2 just barely exceeded Apple’s claimed battery life, dying after 10 hours and nine minutes. That’s 2.5 hours better than the Xoom did on the same test, but more than an hour less than I got from the original iPad, which clocked in at 11 hours, 28 minutes.

    So Mossberg’s second “downside” is that battery life for movie playback — with the brightness set 25 percent higher than Apple’s factory default — exceeds Apple’s stated 10 hours by nine minutes. Apple says you can play video for 10 hours, Mossberg gets 10 hours and nine minutes, and it’s a downside?

    You can argue that it should be a “downside” because he got over 11 hours on the same test with an original iPad, but none of the other reviewers seem to be seeing a 10 percent drop in battery life for video playback between the original and new iPads. I saw nearly identical results between the two. Josh Topolsky at Engadget saw better battery life from the iPad 2 than the original.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a review where a product that exceeds the manufacturer’s stated specs for battery life gets dinged for battery life.

    Another drawback I encountered was that the new, more tapered design makes it harder to plug cables and accessories — including the charging cable — into the main port on the bottom of the device, because it is now angled.

    I thought it was a little hard to plug in a cable the first time. Not because of the angle, but because the iPad 2’s 30-pin port seemed a bit too tight. Subsequent plug-ins were much easier, though. In the grand competitive landscape of today’s tablet market, this is a major drawback of the iPad 2?

    Despite being slimmer and lighter, the iPad 2 still has roughly the same length and width as the original, so it can’t compete with the Amazon Kindle, or the smaller seven-inch tablets, if you’re trying to juggle it while standing in a crowded subway.


    Now we get to the good stuff:

    Finally, there are two big omissions, one old and one new. The old one is that, like Apple’s prior phones and tablets, the shiny new iPad 2 still won’t play Adobe’s Flash video in its built-in Web browser. This is a deliberate decision by Apple, and puts its devices at a disadvantage for some users when compared with Android tablets, which can play Flash, or say they will soon, albeit not always well.

    So the Xoom doesn’t play Flash but promises to eventually, the Galaxy Tab does but often not well, and the iPad 2’s lack of Flash is a disadvantage? No mention that there are clearly trade-offs in play. Like that Flash Player might have some sort of effect on battery life. Or that the lack of Flash on the iPad is an impetus that motivates developers to write native iPad apps.

    The other omission has to do with cellular data. The iPad 2 can’t use, or be upgraded to use, the new, faster 4G cellular-data networks being rolled out.

    Apple says this is because the chips needed to do this are too immature, draining battery life. But the Xoom promises to be upgradeable to 4G later this year, though I have no idea how that upgrade might affect its battery life or monthly fees.

    There is no evidence that Apple’s explanation is wrong, and plenty of circumstantial evidence that they’re right (like, say, the fact that the Xoom, which Motorola promised to ship with 4G, was shipped without it), but accordingly to Mossberg, the lack of 4G is a drawback.

    The iPad 2 is a real thing that you can go buy in a store tomorrow. What is Mossberg comparing the iPad to? An imaginary tablet, available today, that does have Flash Player and 4G networking, on which neither technology has an adverse effect on battery life? Why not list the lack of a quad-core processor, instead of the iPad 2’s actual dual-cure one, as a drawback, too?

    Mossberg’s entire review is only 1,500 words; measured by the word, a full third of what he has to say about it are these “drawbacks”. By contrast, his 1,200-word review of the Motorola Xoom — a tablet nearly everyone, including Mossberg, agrees is inferior to the iPad 2 — contains one 62-word paragraph of “downsides”.

    Stating the plain truth, that the iPad 2 has no serious competition as a mainstream consumer device, doesn’t make you biased. It makes you accurate.

    Come on in 'The Kitchen'

    Each week we round up our favorite posts and recipes from our friends at The Kitchn.


    This week, the Kitchn sends us to the school of hard lox (bah dum ching!), giving us a rundown of the differences between lox, gravlax, nova lox, and all those cured fish permutations.

    Also on the Kitchn:

    Instapaper update

    Marco pushed an update to Instapaper today: Instapaper 3.0. And oh, say, this is interesting:

    Nobody knew when or why to use Stars, so I've renamed them to Likes to clarify their purpose. Generally, you should Like articles that you think are interesting and that you might recommend to others. [...] You can now browse your friends' Liked items to find great articles to read.

    (via @djacobs)

    Tags: Instapaper   Marco Arment

    Portland, ME: Wood Oven-Roasted Mussels and Turnspit Roast Chicken at Fore Street


    Fore Street's open kitchen. [Photograph: Elizabeth Bomze]

    There are many reasons why I love dining at Fore Street, but two of them are in direct contradiction with one another. First, the menu changes daily, which means that there are always new dishes to try. Second, the restaurant has a few signature items that never come off the menu, and I order two of them—the mussels ($10) and the roast chicken ($22)—almost every time I eat there.


    Wood Oven-Roasted Mussels.

    With the exception of my weekly Thai and sushi cravings (pad si ew, Alaska roll, respectively), I rarely order the same dish on repeat—especially at a place like Fore Street, where I could happily eat my through every item on the menu. But I just can't tear myself away from these two particular dishes, and my only real justification is that so many other Fore Street die-hards like me seem to be in the same predicament.*

    I once read that in a busy week, chef Sam Hayward goes through 800 pounds of mussels. I'd believe it; every time I'm there, I see at least half a dozen orders get whisked from the open kitchen to a waiting table. And though the concept of the dish is not unlike most mussel appetizers you see around—mussels in a garlicky wine broth—this particular version eclipses them all.


    For starters, the specimens served here are bigger and much sweeter than most—a hand-harvested crop from nearby Casco Bay waters. They're added raw to the heatproof serving dish—a shallow, loop-handed vessel that looks like a small paella pan—with some white wine and a garlic-almond compound butter, and roasted in the super-hot wood-fired oven until they pop open. The finished mussels are plump and juicy; the broth tastes briny and clean yet decadent from the butter and almonds, and there's a definite smoky edge from the charred mussel shells. I always think that an order of these, a few rounds of the restaurants fabulous bread from their belowground Standard Baking Co., and a glass of wine is all you need for a perfect, very affordable meal.


    Roast chicken over duckfat-fried sourdough bread with chard.

    But then there's the chicken—an even simpler preparation—and if you're one of those people who appreciates really good roast chicken, this bird's for you. A high-quality chicken (regularly from Warren, Maine-based Maine-ly Poultry or another producer of premium poultry) is brined overnight with salt, brown sugar, and a little bourbon, and then spit-roasted. The naturally self-basting process produces meat that's moist (but not spongy), tender, and faintly sweet from the sugar and booze, with gorgeously bronzed crisp skin. This particular night the chicken arrived over a bed of duck fat-fried sourdough bread and a few stems of wilted chard. Utterly perfect.

    * Full disclosure: The real reason I'm able to order these dishes over and over again without regret is that my friends freely indulge my habit and agree to order many of the other dishes on the menu. This post is dedicated to them.

    Fore Street

    88 Fore St, Portland ME 04101 (map)
    207-775-2717; forestreet.biz

    Sad Etsy Boyfriends Make Awful, Hilarious Models For Homemade Hats

    Once you're done knitting up a storm for your Etsy page, who's going to model all those wonderful wool hats you've created while you take the pictures? The same guy who holds your purse at sample sales and goes to Jen Aniston movies with you—your boyfriend, that's who. Apparently, DIY girls can count on their dudes to such an extent it's spawned a bit of an instant meme over at UrlequeSad Etsy Boyfriends. Poor guys. Let's just hope their significant others made it up to them (Urlesque)

    Snoop from The Wire arrested in drug raid

    Felicia Pearson, who played Snoop on The Wire, was arrested today on drug charges.

    Felicia "Snoop" Pearson had served a prison sentence for murder and returned to drug dealing on the streets of East Baltimore, before a visit to the set of "The Wire" led to a star turn on the show and offered a new chance to change her life.

    But her past kept creeping back - she was a witness to a murder and was arrested after she refused to testify -- and subsequent film and television offers were hard to come by.

    Now, Pearson, 30, has been accused of playing a part in a large-scale drug organization, whose members were arrested in raids Thursday throughout Baltimore and surrounding counties, as well as in three other states.

    (via df)

    Tags: crime   drugs   Felicia Pearson   The Wire   TV


    Relationshapes is back! More drama, more insight, and more just plain ol’ great geometric shapes than any other comic! “Ladies, start your handkerchiefs.”

    As always, no boys allowed.

    Read the rest at The Hairpin.

    Yale Law School Library Lending Out Therapy Dog for Stressed-Out Students

    Last fall, the blog Above the Law caught wind of a jokey stunt going on at the Yale Law School Library. In addition to checking out books, students at the top-ranked graduate school could also, it seemed, check out "Monty" (full name General Montgomery), a border terrier mix. The dog would be available to play with students for 30-minute intervals, according to the library catalogue listing. But shortly after ATL discovered this adorable opportunity, the school said that it was just a gag, and that you couldn't really check out the pooch.

    And yet now, according to a memo to students, Monty is back in circulation.

    From: Cadmus, Femi
    Date: Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 10:49 AM
    Subject: Law Library Therapy Dog Pilot Program Launches March 28, 2011
    To: Law School Students

    Dear Students:

    The law library intends to run a three day pilot program starting on March 28, 2011 during which students will be able to “check out” our certified library therapy dog, Monty for thirty minute periods. We hope that making a therapy dog available to our students will prove to be a positive addition to current services offered by the library. It is well documented that visits from therapy dogs have resulted in increased happiness, calmness, and overall emotional well-being.

    Beginning March 21, 2011, a sign-up sheet with additional information will be available at the circulation desk for students wishing to check out Monty. Even though Monty is hypoallergenic, visits will be confined to a dedicated non-public space in the library to eliminate potential adverse reactions from any library user who might have dog-related concerns. We are committed to ensuring our library remains a welcoming and comfortable environment for all our users.

    Finally, we will need your feedback and comments to help us decide if this will be a permanent on-going program available during stressful periods of the semester, for example during examinations. Please feel free to contact us at anytime at [redacted] or stop by the library administrative suite in room 300 to speak with the Librarian.

    Blair Kauffman, Law Librarian

    Law school is one thing. But when corporate firms start offering therapy dogs to overworked associates, then we might start reconsidering this whole law thing ...

    Read more posts by Chris Rovzar

    Filed Under: puppies!!!!!!, animals, dogs, law school lawyers, law students, school daze, yale, yale law school

    Is It Time to Rebuild & Retool Public Libraries and Make “TechShops”?

    To me, public libraries — the availability of free education for all — represent the collective commitment of a community to their future. They symbolize what is most important, a commitment to educating the next generation. The role of a public library should also adapt over time, and that time is finally here. It’s time to plan how we’re going to build the future and what place public libraries have, should have, or won’t have. The goal of this article is to get everyone talking about one of our great resources, the public library, and its future.

    If you’re reading this, you’re likely not reading it in a public library. Computers are cheap, and internet access is pretty good for most people. The majority of people do not get their online news from terminals at the public library. At one time the library was “the living internet” — you went there to look up something hard to find, to do research — now it’s all at our fingertips through search engines, Wikipedia, and the web.

    So where does this leave libraries? Last week I walked by the Borders on Broadway in NYC — it’s going out of business. There are many reasons, but I think most people will agree giant collections of books in giant buildings do not make as much sense (or cents!) any longer. Not commercially, and likely not publicly, such as in a library setting. So where does this leave the library? Maybe they’ll move more and more to eBooks with some weird library-DRM, collections of DVDs, and other media outside of books. But again, it’s usually better online, and available in our homes.

    Let’s explore what could be ahead for public libraries and how we could collectively transform them into “factories” — not factories that make things, but factories that help make people who want to learn and make things. Will libraries go away? Will they become hackerspaces, TechShops, tool-lending libraries, and Fab Labs, or have these new, almost-public spaces displaced a new role for libraries? For many of us, books themselves are tools. In the sense that books are tools of knowledge, the library is a repository for tools, so will we add “real tools” for the 21st century?

    Before we dive into the future, let’s take a look at the current public library scene now. Feel free to skip this part. I think it’s pretty interesting though.

    First up:

    How are public libraries used in the USA?

    Nationwide, visits to public libraries totaled 1.50 billion, or 5.1 library visits per capita. There were 2.28 billion circulations of library materials (7.7 per capita), and 1.21 uses of Internet PCs per capita during fiscal year 2008.

    Source: Public Libraries in the United States: Fiscal Year 2008

    How many public libraries are there in the USA?

    If you add up public libraries and public school libraries, it’s about 100,000, but if you just look at public libraries (ones that are not part of a school), it’s about 9,000.

    Source: Number of Libraries in the United States, ALA Library Fact Sheet

    To put a 9,000 locations number into perspective:

    There are currently (in the US) 650 Golds Gym locations, 1,750 Target locations, 2,300 Home Depot locations, 4,500 RadioShack locations, 10,000 Curves International Fitness locations, 17,000 Starbucks locations, and 32,000 McDonald’s locations.

    How many people are paid/employed in libraries? These include part-time positions.


    Other Paid Staff:

    Total Paid Staff (Public Libraries):

    Source: Number Employed in Libraries, ALA Library Fact Sheet

    How much does it cost to run these 9,000 public libraries?

    Total operating expenditures in public libraries steadily rose during the study period, going from $8.29 billion in FY1999 to $10.72 billion in FY2008 (figures are in constant 2008 dollars), an absolute increase of $2.43 billion and a percentage increase of 29.4 percent… Per capita operating expenditures increased during the period as well. Per capita operating expenditures increased from $31.56 in FY1999 to $36.36 in FY2008, an absolute increase of $4.80 per person and a percentage increase of 15.2 percent…

    Source: Library Operating Expenditures: A Selected Annotated Bibliography

    Let’s say it costs about $10 billion to run about 9,000 public libraries, that’s an average of about $1 million per year, per library. That’s not accurate, of course, but let’s deal in averages. In the same report(s), 24% of public libraries had operating expenditures of less than $50,000; 42% expended $50,000 to $399,999; and 34% expended $400,000 or more.

    Where does the money come from?

    Total operating revenue of public libraries and percentage distribution of revenue, by source of revenue and state: Fiscal year 2008, which reports that an estimated 83 percent of public libraries’ total operating revenue of $11.4 billion came from local sources; 9 percent from state sources; 0.4 percent from federal sources; and 8 percent from other sources, such as monetary gifts and donations, interest, library fines, fees, and grants.

    OK, so for the most part it’s a local effort, paid for by each community.

    Source: Library Operating Expenditures: A Selected Annotated Bibliography

    And lastly:

    Where does the money go (not including staff)?

    …69 percent was expended for print materials; 11 percent was expended for electronic materials, such as e-books, e-serials (including journals), government documents, databases (including locally mounted, full text or not), electronic files, reference tools, scores, maps, or pictures in electronic or digital format, including materials digitized by the library, which can be distributed on magnetic tape, diskettes, computer software, CD-ROM, or other portable digital carrier, and can be accessed via a computer, via access to the Internet, or by using an e-book reader, and includes expenditures for materials held locally and for remote electronic materials for which permanent or temporary access rights have been acquired, and also includes expenditures for database licenses; and 19 percent for “Other materials,” such as microform, audio, video, DVD, and materials in new formats.

    Mostly print books. That makes sense — they’re libraries. This will likely change over time, but it’s unclear how eBooks will be managed at this time. At least when a physical book is purchased it can last years, but DRM systems for eBooks have always seemed problematic to me, more so with multiple users, devices, and “lenders.”

    Source: Library Operating Expenditures: A Selected Annotated Bibliography

    Another bit of history that’s interesting is “The Carnegie Library”. More than half are still around, and 31 of the 39 in New York are still in use.

    A Carnegie library is a library built with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built between 1883 and 1929, including some belonging to public and university library systems. 1,689 were built in the United States… When the last grant was made in 1919, there were 3,500 libraries in the United States, nearly half of them built with construction grants paid by Carnegie.

    Carnegie believed in giving to the “industrious and ambitious; not those who need everything done for them, but those who, being most anxious and able to help themselves, deserve and will be benefited by help from others.”

    The design of the Carnegie libraries has been given credit for encouraging communication with the librarian. It also created an opportunity for people to browse and discover books on their own. “The Carnegie libraries were important because they had open stacks which encouraged people to browse….People could choose for themselves what books they wanted to read,” according to Walter E. Langsam, an architectural historian and teacher at the University of Cincinnati. Before Carnegie, patrons had to ask a clerk to retrieve books from closed stacks.

    Source: Wikipedia. To get funding, the formula was simple, demonstrate the need for a public library, provide the building site, annually provide 10% of the cost of the library’s construction to support its operation, and provide free service to all.

    There are modern-day “Carnegies”: “Historically, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been the largest single private foundation granting source for libraries. While the Gates Foundation led in 2000 and 2001″. Chart above, source: Worldwide education and library spending

    I have a favorite story about someone who visited a library. It’s not exactly upbeat, but I think you’ll understand why it’s a good one, even more so on the 25th anniversary of the Challenger explosion.

    The boy walked to the counter of the Lake City Public Library through a gantlet of stares in 1959. Ronald E. McNair, then 9, wanted to check out books on advanced science and calculus, but the librarian wouldn’t release them. “We don’t circulate books to Negroes,” she told him.

    Library patrons laughed at McNair’s behavior, and the librarian threatened to call the police — and his mother, Pearl.

    McNair didn’t budge.

    Instead, he hoisted himself onto the counter, his spindly legs dangling, and waited, because he wasn’t leaving without the books. After two police officers determined that McNair wasn’t causing a public disturbance, and when Pearl said she would pay for the books if McNair didn’t bring them back, the librarian acquiesced.

    “Thank you, ma’am,” McNair, prompted by his mother, said before he walked out of the library. McNair, always a precocious student, would become an astronaut and a hometown hero…

    Then, 26 years later, Ronald McNair, the second African-American in space, died at age 35 in the Challenger explosion on Jan. 28, 1986. What an amazing story and what amazing changes happened in one person’s short but spectacular life. Obviously the public library was a big part of Ronald’s life. It’s interesting to think about the 9-year-old kids now who want to build or learn something — where will they go? Who will they ask and what will they become in 26 years given the right “tools”?

    One more note (since it will be mentioned in the comments): tool-lending libraries. There are about 25 or so in the USA, and this is an excellent start.

    …tool-lending libraries allow library patrons to borrow tools, equipment and “how-to” instructional materials, usually free of charge. A tool-lending library was started in Columbus, OH in 1976. Originally run by the City, the Tool Library is now operated by Rebuilding Together Central Ohio, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that works to preserve and revitalize homes and communities in Central Ohio. The RTCO Tool Library makes available over 4,500 tools free of charge to both individuals and non-profit organizations. One of the first tool libraries was the Berkeley Tool Lending Library, which started in 1979 with a $30,000 community block grant.

    I know the fellow who runs a tool-lending spot in NYC — I should try it out. As far as public libraries go, I live in NYC, and there are 2-3 public libraries within a 15 minute walk. I really tried to use them, but the online interface wasn’t that great — most of the things I wanted to checked out were always taken, and it’s hard to beat “instant” since I have a computer and web connection. After the Kindle and Kindle apps came out, I haven’t visited the library. I realize not everyone has a device that read eBooks, but I think most of us will agree that’s where it’s heading. There are even predictions that eBook readers will be free and books will ultimately be 99 cents. That’s less than a fine, and I was always late with physical books.

    So, if you’ve made it this far you have a rough idea of the public library landscape. I think for a lot of people, we visited the public library as kids or students, and later not as much. I work with younger folks, and from what they tell me, it’s rare for them to have ever used a public library. Internet access and cheaper computers have replaced a lot of that, and the libraries they have been to recently were at schools, not public ones. The are a handful of tool-lending libraries, but it certainly isn’t a national effort (yet).

    But, looking back, where have I visited in the last few years that’s a “public-like” space for learning? Hackerspaces, FabLabs, and TechShops. If you’re a MAKE reader, you’re familiar with these, but let’s quickly talk about each one.


    Image: “DIY Freaks Flock to ‘Hacker Spaces’ Worldwide,” Wired.com

    A hackerspace is usually a membership-based location featuring workshops, tools, and people who generally like to make things.

    A hackerspace or hackspace (also referred to as a hacklab, makerspace or creative space) is a location where people with common interests, usually in computers, technology, science or digital or electronic art can meet, socialize and/or collaborate. A hackerspace can be viewed as an open community labs incorporating elements of machine shops, workshops and/or studios where hackers can come together to share resources and knowledge to build and make things. Many hackerspaces participate in the use and development of free software and alternative media and can be found in infoshops or social centers.

    There are hundreds of hackerspaces that have appeared, almost overnight, around the world. From my recollection over the last decade, the ones in Europe were really appealing, many makers were traveling around the world (Mitch Altman, for example), and eventually word spread. Now, just about every state in the USA has one, and most large cities have hackerspaces.

    Hackerspaces usually revolve around everyone paying the rent (part of the membership, the largest cost of a space) and shared costs. It’s not really possible to estimate the average cost to get one started, but it’s usually whatever the rent is for a year in your local area for a pretty good-sized location.

    Fab Labs

    Image: “Fabrication labs let student and adult inventors create products, solve problems,” Cleveland.com

    Next up, FabLabs. As of July 2010, there were 45 labs in 16 countries. Similar to a hackerspace, but Fab Labs were started before the hackerspaces really took off, and Fab Labs generally are associated with MIT, so it was more of a sponsored/academic effort and not a self-forming organic one like the hackerspaces. One of the things I really like about Fab Labs is they’re all similar in terms of the equipment they promote and use. This standardization of laser cutters, CNCs, and computers is a good base to work from if you’re going to do something in one area of the world and want others to be able to do it somewhere else, all using the same tools.

    A Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory) is a small-scale workshop with an array of flexible computer controlled tools that cover several different length scales and various materials, with the aim to make “almost anything”. This includes technology-enabled products generally perceived as limited to mass production.

    While Fab Labs have yet to compete with mass production and its associated economies of scale in fabricating widely distributed products, they have already shown the potential to empower individuals to create smart devices for themselves. These devices can be tailored to local or personal needs in ways that are not practical or economical using mass production.

    Getting a Fab Lab started can be as low as $25,000, but realistically it’s likely a few hundred thousand.


    “A TechShop Snapshot, Much inventive thinking takes place during a typical day at this community workshop.” IEEE

    And finally, TechShop. A TechShop is a commercial venture that’s almost a combination of a hackerspace and a Fab Lab. A TechShop is membership-based, has pretty much all the equipment you need to make anything, and there are workshops, classes, etc.

    TechShop is a membership-based workshop that provides members with access to tools and equipment, instruction, and a community of creative and supportive people so they can build the things they have always wanted to make. You can think of TechShop like a fitness club, but with tools and equipment instead of exercise equipment. It is sort of like a Kinko’s for makers, or a Xerox PARC for the rest of us. TechShop is designed for everyone, regardless of their skill level. TechShop is perfect for inventors, makers, hackers, tinkerers, artists, roboteers, families, entrepreneurs, youth groups, FIRST robotic teams, arts and crafts enthusiasts, and anyone else who wants to be able to make things that they dream up but don’t have the tools, space or skills.

    There are currently three locations (Menlo Park Calif., Raleigh NC, and San Francisco). They have over 1,500 members between the 3 open locations and a few already committed to San Jose. TechShop also had over 200 people signed up for SF before opening. They are working on San Jose, Calif., right now (lease signed, interior demo, and construction underway). After that, New York and Detroit are locations to follow after San Jose opens. TechShop hopes to have 100 locations in five years. Across all the locations they have about 50 people working for them.

    I asked the TechShop folks how much it cost to get a TechShop started, and they said between $1.5 and $2.5 million, depending on the market. That’s not too much above the average yearly cost to keep a public library going.

    Can libraries be TechShops?

    And here we are, the part where I propose we think about what role the public library can or should have. I’m really interested in what everyone thinks, so please post in the comments. I have more questions than answers, but my “gut” says we’re not going to see public libraries as the centers of learning state-to-state that they once were.

    If the only public space where 3D printers, laser cutters, and learning electronics happens is in fee/memberships-based spaces (TechShops, hackerspaces), that will leave out a segment of the population, who will never have access. FabLabs often are geared towards under-served communities, so perhaps it will be a combination of FabLabs and hackerspaces.

    What if we were to convert just 1% or even 10% of the 9,000 public libraries in the USA to TechShops? I say TechShop because I think they could get it done with the right amount of funding, or at least coordinate the effort. Since 1% of the USA’s public libraries is about 90, that’s close to the TechShop goal in 5 years; 10% would be 900 locations — not a bad goal.

    But why does it matter? Some of you will likely say that hackerspaces and TechShops are filling the void where a public library could have evolved to — that’s probably true. I think public libraries are one of those “use it or lose” it things we have in a society. Given the current state of budgets all over the USA, I think unless they’re seen as the future, we might just lose them.

    • How can we encourage American innovation?
    • How can we get kids access to laser cutters, CAD, 3D printers, and tools to design and build?
    • How can we train each other for the jobs and skills needed in the 21st century?
    • How can we spark the creativity and imagination of kids?
    • How can America be a world leader in design and engineering?

    I think many of these things could be helped by the re-tooling of one of our greatest resources, the public library. It wouldn’t be easy, but that’s the point — it would be a challenge and worth doing. We can wait and hope every state thinks about this, or that a hackerspace can support something like this (and allow kids to be part of it). But why wait? I think libraries and librarians are underutilized for skill-building. It’s not fun to talk about, but that’s the impression I get from everyone I talk to: they love their town to have one, but they never use it. They have the space, they have net connections, they’re in great locations — why not evolve? If space/rent is always a challenge for hackerspaces, perhaps libraries can provide this space as books go digital.

    It’s scary — laser cutters, CAD stations, CNC, 3D printers. Training needed, equipment purchases, a safety class, workshops — I’m sure there are lots of reasons it could never work out, but there are also many reasons it could. Besides, how often do you hear people talking about lining up outside the local library because the new 3D printer has arrived and they want to use it?

    I certainly do not know what the public library will be like in 10 years or 20 years, but I think the conversations we all have here may help shape some of the thinking. Post up in the comments: what do you think the public library should be in the 21st century?

    Knuckleballs and Grounders

    News out of the Red Sox camp (h/t Neyer) is that the Red Sox might finally part ways with Tim Wakefield. The season is still is ways off, so there is time for injuries to come up and Wakefield find a way into the rotation. But if this is the end of the line for Wakefield with the Red Sox — only seven wins shy of 200 and 13 away from the franchise record — it would be too bad. For one thing, last year was a rare one when two knuckleballers got a substantial number of innings: Wakefield and R.A. Dickey.

    Looking at the two pitchers’ numbers I was struck by their very different ground-ball rates, 55% for Dickey versus just 37% for Wakefield. My main frame of reference for a knuckleballer has been Tim Wakefield, so l always assumed that there was something about the knuckleball which led to lots of fly balls. But with Dickey’s high ground-ball rate maybe it is just Wakefield’s knuckleball.

    The most likely culprit with differences in ground-ball rates is pitch height. So here, on the left, are histograms of knuckleball height for the two pitchers. On the right is ground-ball rate by knuckleball height.

    So, yeah, Dickey’s knuckleballs are a little bit lower in the zone than Wakefield’s. But that alone is not enough to account for the difference: no matter the height Dickey’s knuckleballs get more grounders than Wakefield’s.

    Looking elsewhere, the big difference between the two pitches is that Dickey’s is about 10 mph faster: averaging 76 mph versus 66 mph for Wakefield. It looks like this plays a big part in the difference between the ground-ball rates:

    For the 65-70mph range where they both throw knuckleballs (though Dickey rarely and mostly earlier in his career) they get roughly the same ground-ball rate. But once Dickey’s knuckleballs get up to the mid-70s they get tons of grounders. It seems the additional speed on Dickey’s knuckleballs don’t lead to any more whiffs (whiff rate on Dickey’s knuckleballs in 8.2% compared to 8.4% for Wakefield), but rather more ground balls.

    Having two knuckleballers gives a nice opportunity to compare what is the case about knuckleballs generally versus what is unique to specific pitchers. I personally hope that Wakefield finds a way to stick around for 2011.

    Quick note: Garik16 has a great three part series on the knuckle ball that looks at both Wakefield and Dickey. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

    Reinventing your Publication for the Tablet

    Reformat or Reinvent your publication for the iPad? That was the question Joe Zeff answered yesterday in San Francisco at The WoodWing World Tour as WoodWing showed off its latest additions, including a set of HTML5 widgets that provides publishers with a way to add custom programming to their magazine apps. All of the presentations are available for download at WoodWing's community site, including Roger Black's take on where tablet publishing may be headed and Rebecca McPheters' statistical analysis of the marketplace.

    Visit Joe's blog for his smart and concise abridged version of his presentation. It's a good read!
    Above: TIME and PROJECT magazines, both publish using WoodWing publishing tools.

    VIDEO: Mystery of The Prospect Park Blizzard Photo Reel Solved!

    We have to admit, when we first heard the tale of the canister of film found in Prospect Park right after one of this winter's more impressive blizzards and then developed by an amateur photo enthusiast who turned to the Internet to find its owner, we were skeptical. We mean, do you remember that "Subway Dreamgirl" thing a few years ago that turned out to be a publicity stunt? But, egg on our face, this story is not only real, it has a happy ending. After finding the undeveloped film in prospect park, Todd Bieber posted the images to a Tumblr, and has now posted video of him returning the shots to the photographer who took them… in Europe. It's an international adventure with a twist end you've just got to click to see. (Todd Bieber)

    I Love My... Maria Cher Coat

    We all have those pieces that we can’t bear to throw away long after they fray or fail to fit because of the memories they evoke: the denim shorts you wore everyday during summer camp, the floral-print dress you put on the morning you got your new job, the leather backpack you bought before your whirlwind trip to Europe. Refinery29 wants to know: What’s your favorite item in your closet, and why? We’ll ask your favorite fashionistas—editors, bloggers, celebs, whoever—to tell us the story behind their most-beloved possessions in our new column, "I Love My...". First up is Katie Baker, who's written about everything from first kisses to Oklahoma (the musical!) for everyone from Thought Catalog to Wired. Here's the piece she loves most in her wardrobe.

    My first month studying abroad in Buenos Aires was rough. I lived in a strict Catholic Nun-run dormitory in a tiny room with a door that would constantly jam (I once had to climb up the fire escape and break in through my THIRD STORY WINDOW to get inside after-hours), all of the kids on my program made fun of my undeniably gringo Spanish accent, and I was incredibly homesick. It was during this period that I bought my Maria Cher wool coat on a retail-therapy shopping spree. At the time, it seemed a highly impractical impulse buy. It was pricy—even by Argentina’s standards—and so weather-inappropriate for the extra-humid summer days, but I knew I had to have it the second I saw it.

    The coat is magical, kind of like the jeans from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, except I don’t have to share it with Blake Lively. It’s like bacon: It goes great with everything. It seems unassuming at first, since it’s simply cut and a subdued gray, so I can even toss it on over workout gear (JK, I don’t work out, I just put it over my pajamas when I run across the street to the liquor store for a snack). But if you look closer, you notice the unique tailoring—the draped pockets, the way it falls longer, almost cape-like, in the back—and I always get compliments when I wear it to swanky work events with a cocktail dress and heels.

    My coat never gets wrinkled or stained, even when I accidentally fall asleep in it or spill coffee on it, both of which happen more often than is probably appropriate to admit. I’ve worn it while backpacking in Bolivia, campaigning for Obama in North Carolina, on ski trips, to job interviews, and to fashion shows. I have more exciting coats, sure—but this one is the only item in my closet that I never get bored with or leave hanging (lol) for too long.

    My coat kept me warm and made me feel safe and comfortable when I needed a true friend 6,000 miles away from home. Three years later, I still feel like I can handle anything when I’m wearing it—and look good while doing it, too.

    The New American Pessimism

    Charles Simic

    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    A protester at a march and rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, March 5, 2011

    I can’t remember when I last heard someone genuinely optimistic about the future of this country. I discount politicians, investment bankers and generals since their line of work requires that they offer upbeat assessments of everything from our deteriorating economy to our suicidal wars, and assorted narcissists accustomed to shutting their eyes to the plight of their fellow Americans. The outright prophets of doom and gloom among our friends and acquaintances tended to be a rare breed until recently. They were mostly found among the elderly, whose lives had an inordinate share of tragedies and disappointments, so one didn’t take their bleak outlook as applicable to the rest of us. One encountered inveterate optimists, idealists, or even Niebuhrian realists in the past; now, one finds people of all ages and backgrounds eager to tell you how screwed up everything is, and, on a more personal note, what a difficult time they are having—not just making ends meet, but understanding why the country they thought they knew has become unrecognizable.

    Just look at the assault on the rights of state workers that Wisconsin’s new governor Scott Walker and a group of state senators have rammed through a rump legislature without any debate. The same approach is now spreading to several other states in the heartland. In the new USA, teachers, union workers, women, children, the unemployed and the hopeless are the cause of unsustainable deficits, and a dog-eat-dog philosophy that is supposed to make us great again prevails.

    It must be difficult for any hostess nowadays to stop her dinner guests from reciting to each other over the course of an evening the endless examples of lies and stupidities they’ve come across in the press and on TV. As they get more and more wound up, they try to outdo each other, losing all interest in the food on their plates. I know that when I get together with friends, we make a conscious effort to change the subject and talk about grandchildren, reminisce about the past and the movies we’ve seen, though we can’t manage it for very long. We end up disheartening and demoralizing each other and saying goodnight, embarrassed and annoyed with ourselves, as if being upset about what is being done to us is not a subject fit for polite society.

    In an atmosphere of growing anxiety and hysteria, in which the true causes and the scale of our dire national predicament are deliberately concealed and obfuscated by our political establishment and by the corporate media, no wonder there’s confusion and anger everywhere. As anyone who has traveled around this country and talked to people knows, Americans are not just badly informed, but downright ignorant about most things that affect their lives. How nice it would be if our President leveled with us and told us that our deficit is caused in significant part by the wars we are fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the hundreds of military bases we are maintaining around the world, the huge tax breaks for the rich, and the bailout of Wall Street. As we know, we are not about to hear anything of the kind.

    By the president’s calculation, telling the truth to the American people would doom his reelection campaign, since he would not be able to raise the billion dollars he needs this time around. The kind of people who have that kind of money and will agree to contribute to his campaign know very well what informed voters in a working democracy would to do to them once they understood just who has depleted the national treasury to line their own pockets. No doubt, he and his political party will do anything to avoid the truth and will propose outwardly attractive solutions—like the health care bill that not only expands coverage but greatly benefits insurance companies and does little to reduce healthcare costs. They hope that these kinds of measures will lure the majority of voters who won’t bother to learn the details, but they will also send a clear signal to the moneyed classes that they won’t be inconvenienced in the least.

    As for those who continue to insist that there’s something fundamentally wrong with a democracy that doesn’t address the ever-growing income inequality the sheer madness of our open-ended military ventures in Afghanistan, the miseries of the sick and unemployed, the suffering of the near destitute and of the children and the old, they’ll be dismissed as being unrealistic in present circumstances and reminded that with the other party in power things would be even worse. The reason pessimists are multiplying is that we dishonor the intellect and the knowledge of history in this country by refusing to admit that corruption is the source of our ills. It takes no great mental effort to realize that there’s no effective political forces either in Washington or locally that are able to do anything serious to correct our self-delusions about being the world’s policeman, because any sensible solution would seriously cut into profits of this or that interest group.

    They say the monkey scratches its fleas with the key that opens its cage. That may strike one as being very funny or very sad. Unfortunately, that’s where we are now.

    I've Never Kissed Anyone, But I've Seen the YouTubes

    by Edith Zimmerman

    Good morning! Here's a double-edged sword of a video that's both heartwarming and a reminder you're sitting alone at the computer.


    The NYT's meter starts ticking

    The NYT's paywall isn't live yet, but the meter's already ticking. Go to the site's new recommendations page, and you'll see a sidebar which looks a bit like this:

    meter.tiff I'm clearly a heavy user of nytimes.com: I've read 155 articles over the past month, according to the system they've built at a reported cost of more than $40 million. I'm not at all sure that's money well spent: my suspicion is that the paywall's total revenues from the paywall won't reach that level.

    And even at this late date, it seems, the system is doing silly things like make a distinction between “Business,” on the one hand, and “Business Day,” on the other. No, me neither.

    As for the Topics, like the wonderfully-named “Blogs and Blogging (Internet),” they take you to barren and unhelpful pages like this one. If the paywall is really a navigation fee, then you'd hope that the NYT would spend a bit more effort making its website in general, and its topic pages in particular, a lot more navigable, with lots of attractive exit points. Instead, there's nothing — not even a navbar at the top.

    It seems to me that the redesigned paywall-focused site — which is feeling decidedly delayed at this point — is still decidedly on the glitchy side. If you're going to be sending out press releases about your recommendations engine, shouldn't those recommendations be “Presented by” Thomson Reuters, the launch sponsor, rather than a blank green box?

    Still, I'm impressed that my silhouette actually looks a little bit like me. Albeit me on a bad hair day.

    March 9, 2011

    Overmatter 10.03.11

    After a spate of indie food titles, it looks like football is the next audience to be treated to new voices. First The Green Soccer Journal, next The Blizzard.

    Following the references to Monocle in response to the recent NYTimes posts here, I thought it interesting to dust down this detailed look at the magazine’s print and digital design from insider Dan Hill…

    …while Andrew gives a blow by blow editorial review of the new NYTimes magazine.

    Ebony redesign revealed by SPD.

    Congratulations to the Wallpaper* team for winning a Design Week award for their Handmade issue.

    Khoi highlights the differences between print and digital production timelines, notes what every designer knows and publishers tend to overlook: digital takes longer and is less nimble than print. UPDATE –I’m happy to clarify that Khoi believes the opposite is usually true. In his post he is referring to one particular instance.

    A new children’s magazine in France: hello, Bonbek.

    The other side of magazine-y: men’s mag; model on cover; scratch n stiff knickers. Urgh.

    The other side of of trend prediction: photographer David Campbell reveals the stock photography created to feed stories of cultural/class anxiety.

    R.E.M. Electrolite

    Adicionei um vídeo como favorito do YouTube: Much more to come comment and subscribe check my other videos also request a song I'll probably have the video I am in no way associated with the content of this video, and in no form am I trying to take credit for the content shown.

    ThinkUp: An Introduction

    Adicionei um vídeo como favorito do YouTube: Brief intro video explaining what ThinkUp is and what it's for, with real-world examples. http://thinkupapp.com/

    BoingBoing asks Errol Morris, perhaps the greatest documentarian...

    BoingBoing asks Errol Morris, perhaps the greatest documentarian of all time, what’s in his bag.

    Five white shirts, button-down collars… The only way I am able to get up in the morning is to have a uniform. (How else would I be able to make a decision on what to wear?)

    GarageBand for iPad knows how hard you tap the screen

    Apple has also added mock-pressure support into the app using the iPad’s accelerometers. GarageBand uses these sensors to determine the amount of force with which each finger taps, much like a piano’s mechanical keyboard does in real life, producing softer or louder sounds in response.

    Wow, this is kind of blowing my mind. You can see it in action 39 seconds into this video at the GarageBand site, and at 49m51s in the video of the iPad 2 event. (I never watch the iLife/GarageBand demos at the Mac OS X events, and readily dismiss articles discussing these sorts of things because they rarely interest me. It seems I did the same thing when watching the iPad 2 event last week and reading about it in the interim, and missed this little gem of a feature.)

    Jetpack by WordPress.com

    Today Automattic (WordPress.com & more) released Jetpack, a plugin that brings WordPress.com functionality to self-hosted WordPress users.

    Read the backstory from Matt on why Jetpack is so important for WordPress.

    [Visit Jetpack.me]

    xhtml, wayback

    The Internet Archive gave the Wayback Machine a facelift back in January. It actually looks really nice, but I noticed something kinda odd. I was looking for old archived versions of the lcsh.info site. Things work fine for the latest archived copies:

    But during part of lcsh.info’s brief lifetime the site was serving up XHTML with the application/xhtml+xml media type. Now Wayback rightly (I think) remembers the media type, and serves it up that way:

    ed@curry:~$ curl -I http://replay.waybackmachine.org/20081216020433/http://lcsh.info/
    HTTP/1.1 200 OK
    Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1
    X-Archive-Guessed-Charset: UTF-8
    X-Archive-Orig-Connection: close
    X-Archive-Orig-Content-Length: 6497
    X-Archive-Orig-Content-Type: application/xhtml+xml; charset=UTF-8
    X-Archive-Orig-Server: Apache/2.2.8 (Ubuntu) DAV/2 SVN/1.4.6 PHP/5.2.4-2ubuntu5.4 with Suhosin-Patch mod_wsgi/1.3 Python/2.5.2
    X-Archive-Orig-Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2008 02:04:31 GMT
    Content-Type: application/xhtml+xml;charset=utf-8
    X-Varnish: 1458812435 1458503935
    Via: 1.1 varnish
    Date: Wed, 09 Mar 2011 23:09:47 GMT
    X-Varnish: 903390921
    Age: 0
    Via: 1.1 varnish
    Connection: keep-alive
    X-Cache: MISS

    But to add navigation controls and branding, Wayback also splices in its own HTML into the display, which unfortunately is not valid XML. And since the media type and doctype trigger standards mode in browsers, the pages render in Firefox like this:

    And in Chrome like this:

    Now I don’t quite know what the solution should be here. Perhaps the HTML that is spliced in should be valid XML. Or maybe Wayback should just serve up the HTML as text/html. Or maybe this is a good use case for frames (gasp). But I imagine it will similarly afflict any other XHTML that was served up as application/xhtml+xml when Heretrix crawled it.

    Sigh. I sure am glad that HTML5 is arriving on the scene and XHTML is riding off into the sunset. Although it’s kind of the Long Goodbye given Internet Archive has archived it.

    Update: just a couple hours later I got an email that a fix for this was deployed. And sure enough now it works. I quickly eyeballed the response and didn’t see what the change was. Thanks very much Internet Archive!

    Transitioning to Xcode 4

    Xcode 4 was released today, and we have 6 free screencasts available to help you quickly make the transition and learn time-saving keyboard shortcuts along the way:

    You’ll also want to download our handy Xcode 4 Shortcuts Cheat Sheet to have by your side as you’re crafting your iOS and Mac apps.

    This initial round of screencasts is geared toward those of you using Xcode 3 who want to make the jump over to Xcode 4. The concepts are familiar, but it helps to have some guidance around the new user interface. I plan to release more screencasts incrementally over the next few weeks covering features unique to Xcode 4 and general tips and tricks. I’ll happily take topic requests—just leave a comment!

    More are on the way, so please stay tuned

    Why charging for developer tools is stupid

    I saw today that Apple has started charging for Xcode. For the non-developers out there, Xcode is a tool from Apple for building software for the Mac, iPhone and iPad. It used to be free, now it costs $4.99.

    Seeing this reminded me of a Microsoft focus group I was invited to be a part of a few years ago. As a CTO who had decided to build everyone on top of free software, they wanted to know what it take to make me to switch to a Microsoft stack. I told them they were 10 years too late. You see, I made the decision to use LAMP stack not because it was cheaper, but because it’s what I knew. And the reason I knew LAMP stack was because that’s all I could afford when I was 15. The question for Apple isn’t whether businesses or experienced developers can afford their development tools, it’s the teenagers they should care about. And while $5 is still well within the average teenagers reach, it’s still a lot more friction than free. This is especially true since many teenagers don’t have a credit card of their own. What kid wants to take the time to explain to mom why he needs to borrow a credit card for something called Xcode, when he can jump over to Google and get Android tools for free?

    Apple already charges $99/year to be a member of their developer program which you need to be able to distribute applications on the App Store. While this pricing hasn’t seemed to hurt them much so far, it’s short sighted even if the effects aren’t immediately apparent. I’m a huge Apple fan and I hate watching them repeat the same mistakes Microsoft made years ago.


    Tomorrow night The Tarts of Pleasure (aka Me and KarenPlusOne) are DJing again at the Anchor Bar to celebrate Matt Rubano's Birthday!

    Come celebrate! Come dance to lots of brit pop, 90s indie, 00's indie, and only good music.

    Anchor Bar
    310 Spring Street (NYC)
    10pm - 2am

    Kittens, iOS Recipes

    When I see a kitten, I smile. I can’t help it. I don’t decide to smile, I just smile.

    Same thing with hearing about the new book iOS Recipes by Matt Drance and Paul Warren. I didn’t decide to buy it, I just bought it. Couldn’t help it.

    Martin Pilkington’s ‘Super Mega Awesome’ Xcode 4 Review

    Speaking of Xcode 4, Martin Pilkington has written a novella-length review of it, replete with screenshots:

    Xcode 4 is an interesting contraption. It has 4.0 as its version number, yet it is almost a 1.0. Xcode 1 to 3.2 were almost transitional, helping the migration from Project Builder to what we have now. In a sense Xcode 4 shouldn’t be judged on what it is, but what it shows it will be. The one thought that keeps popping into my head while using it is that there is a lot of cool new stuff, but it is lacking. The foundations are pretty much all there to build an Xcode that can compete with the likes of Visual Studio and Eclipse on all fronts. They just need fleshing out more. There are very few areas where Xcode 4 is worse than previous versions. The majority of those areas are where the features simply aren’t there, but where they may re-appear in future versions. In every other area it offers major leaps forward in usability, performance and enjoyment.

    Go Stellar

    If there's some way you read this site but you don't read my husband's, you should know that he's launched a new web app called Stellar. The story is here on kottke.org if you're interested. I'm totally addicted to the site these days and check it like five times a day. And that's a lot for me, considering how little time I spend online. Also I have a few invites, so shoot me an email if you'd like one. Also also? I'm so proud of him! He's been working very hard on it and I'm happy to see it open up to more people. Yay!

    Update: All my invites are gone. If/when I get some more, I'll let you know. And if you're using the app I'd love to hear your thoughts about it. Feel free to comment here or drop me an email. Thanks!

    Jason Kottke introduces Stellar.io

    I've been playing with it for a while, and it's great for surfacing interesting stuff  

    Apple releases Xcode 4; free for developers, $4.99 for everyone else

    Apple has released Xcode 4 for free for all registered developers. The new Xcode offers a streamlined interface "that integrates UI design, coding, testing, and debugging, all within a single window." In addition, the embedded Apple LLVM compiler underlines coding mistakes, much like Microsoft Word underlines spelling mistakes, as you type and can even correct your mistakes automatically.

    Interestingly, Apple has also decided to sell Xcode 4 to anyone for only US$4.99 through the Mac App Store. The reasons that Apple has decided to sell Xcode 4 on the Mac App Store are not clear. It's possible, however, that the company wants to spur app creation for both the Mac and iOS App Stores for developers who normally wouldn't have access to Xcode (or indeed, even know of its existence).

    Apple releases Xcode 4; free for developers, $4.99 for everyone else originally appeared on TUAW on Wed, 09 Mar 2011 15:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

    Permalink | Email this | Comments

    ThinkUp’s iPad 2 Bounty

    I don't have any experience with open source bounties, but I'm about to get some thanks to my employer, Expert Labs. We're offering some special motivation to ThinkUp contributors as we work our way to ThinkUp's 1.0 release: Get a wow-worthy contribution accepted into ThinkUp and earn yourself a brand new iPad 2 on top of "I made a great open source project better" bragging rights. 

    Expert Labs is offering a new iPad 2 (16GB, Wi-Fi only) to a community member who makes a significant contribution in the next month and a half. Here's how it will work:

    • Developers get 4 weeks to issue a GitHub pull request for a new ThinkUp feature or fix of their choice (by April 6th); plus another 2 weeks (April 20) to get that code reviewed, accepted and merged into master. As always, tests must be included in your patch submissions, and all code must comply with our style guide.
    • After all the submissions are in, the developer will post screenshots or a screencast plus an explanation of what the new feature/fix adds to the project on the mailing list. The community will then vote on what their favorite new feature or fix is. With the community's help, Expert Labs' employees (Gina, Anil, and Andy) will determine the iPad winner. 
    • The developer who has the feature which was both merged and deemed most useful gets a brand spanking new iPad 2. Expert Labs will cover international shipping, and we'll do our best to order the iPad in your local Apple Store; if not, we'll ship you a U.S., WiFi-only version from the States.

    What should you build? Here are a few ideas:

    • Create a new new data visualization that displays post statistics, analysis, or information in a useful way
    • Create a JSON API for ThinkUp post replies (Issue #565)
    • Improve the ThinkUp Facebook plugin so it offers the same features as the Twitter plugin does
    • Create a mobile CSS stylesheet to make ThinkUp easy to use on an iPhone or other smartphone
    • Create a Bit.ly plugin which stores click count statistics in ThinkUp's link database, and add a list of most-clicked links for a ThinkUp account (Issue #354)
    • Create an email invitation system so it's easy to invite people to register on a TU install without having to open registration to all (Issue #42)
    • Redesign ThinkUp's user page to use the standard dashboard/post page template (Issue #256)
    • Add the ability to see replies from multiple posts in one view (Issue #407)

    These are just a few ideas. If there's something else you're inspired to work on, go with it. But remember, to win the iPad you've got to wow the community with your work and be able to sell use cases when you post your submission to the list.

    Not a developer? Here are some ways you can get yourself that iPad:

    • Make a killer screencast of ThinkUp features or use cases
    • Draft new documentation or improve existing pages on the ThinkUp wiki with complete, well-annotated screenshots and clear, step-by-step instructions
    • Mock up a new and improved thinkupapp.com which sells ThinkUp and makes it easier for visitors to understand and get started using
    • Mock up a new visualization of ThinkUp data

    This is our first time doing a bounty like this, so let us know if you have any questions on the ThinkUp mailing list. Can't wait to see April's submissions. Good luck!

    Cross-posted to the Expert Labs blog

    Colbert interviews Dan Sinker, the journalism professor behind @MayorEmanuel

    "time vortexes are funny things"; the whole thing needs to go to print [via

    What she said

    I was horrified by yesterday's New York Times article chronicling women who shoot themselves up with pregnancy hormone to lose weight. I was going to write about it, but then my new favorite blog writer at Two Whole Cakes beat me to the punch with this brilliant post. Her conclusion is perfect.

    Add Peanut Butter to Popcorn


    [Photograph: Peanut Butter and Co.]

    It's hard to improve on a snack like popcorn: salty, buttery, and so addictively poppable. However, a little peanut butter and some roasted peanuts take this movietime classic treat to new heights.

    This recipe is perfect for popcorn you've just popped yourself, either with a hot-air popper, the stovetop, or an electric one that uses oil. You can even pop the microwavable kind (make sure it's plain and unsalted) then dress it up to make the process even easier. Adding peanuts makes it sort of Cracker Jack-like, but this recipe uses honey instead of molasses and adds peanut butter for a double peanut whammy.

    Have you ever added nuts or peanut butter to popcorn?

    About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.

    Get the Recipe!

    This Is Our Jam: Glasser, "Mirrorage"

    Glasser’s Cameron Mesirow has an epic voice, and that is not hyperbole. It's a voice best seen in the context of nature films or big wave surfing (if you are into that sort of thing)—you know those movies that show ice cliffs falling into the ocean? That's how her voice sounds. Or helicopter footage of mountains covered in rain forest? Her voice sounds like that, too. On “Mirrorage” Mesirow belts out above xylophone, electronic blips, and chimes. One gets the idea that Mesirow could sing over a bucket drummer playing for tips on a subway platform and still have the same ability to transport the listener to a pristine landscape thousands of miles from the nearest turnstile.  


    All music is for sampling purposes only. Please go out and buy the artists' records. If you would like for us to remove a track, please email us at feedback@refinery29.com.

    Objective-C Blocks in iOS 4.0

    The foursquare 3.0 application for iOS is a major release for us, and marks the maturation of several major technical efforts. With so many new features in the works, we decided that it was time to make the leap to iOS 4.0 in order to better take advantage of the platform. Since less than 5% of our iPhone API calls are coming from iOS 3.x devices, we felt that the move would not be too painful for our users. Even so, increasing platform requirements warranted serious consideration.

    The single most compelling reason for the upgrade is the addition of a new language feature called blocks. Known more traditionally as closures (almost synonymous with inner/anonymous/lambda functions), blocks allow the programmer to succinctly define an operation that encapsulates both actions and data. Closures are by no means a new concept, and have played a key role in the history of functional languages. Despite this, blocks were only added to Objective-C with the release of Mac OS X 10.6 in 2009.

    Since Objective-C is an object-oriented language, it already supports a standard mechanism for encapsulating functions and data: the class. Anywhere that a programmer might use a closure, a class instance could suffice. For example, the standard callback pattern in Cocoa takes a function pointer, and a second context pointer of type id or void, through which any relevant data is passed. The new pattern takes a single block argument, which serves as both callback function and contextual data. Many debates have weighed the merits of objects versus closures; the bottom line is that these constructs are similar tools, originating from different traditions of language design.

    One of the most thought-provoking comments I ever heard at WWDC came from a seriously bearded Apple compiler guru, during the question and answer session of a compiler talk: “We finally have closures in C!” The presentation had already made clear that the implementation of blocks in GCC was no simple task, but that comment (and particularly his word choice) made me think hard about why blocks are so valuable.

    One reason is brevity. Object-oriented programming can be very verbose, and blocks allow programmers to define small pieces of logic flexibly, inline, and in a consistent manner. The growing popularity of dynamic scripting languages has demonstrated that the concise, flexible nature of functional programming need not be reserved for ‘academic’ languages. But why does brevity matter? Is it simply a stylistic concern?

    Objective-C is a verbose language. Method names tend to be long but easy to read, because arguments are essentially labeled in every call. Less helpful is the boilerplate @ syntax required to define Objective-C classes. As a Cocoa programmer, I find myself more reluctant to write small, organized classes than when I work in C++ or Python. Blocks elegantly address the common case where we need to pass some structured data along with a callback, but don’t really need the formal class definition because we are only using the callback in one place. With blocks, the code becomes simpler, consolidated, and easier to update.

    Take for example this simple iOS 3.x (pre-blocks) animation code from a view controller:

    - (void)animateFadeOut {
        [UIView beginAnimations:@"fadeOut" context:nil];
        [UIView setAnimationDelegate:self];
        [UIView setAnimationDidStopSelector:@selector(fadeOutDidStop:finished:context:)];
        [UIView setAnimationDuration:0.3];
        self.loadingView.alpha = 0.0;
        [UIView commitAnimations];
    - (void)fadeOutDidStop:(NSString *)animationID finished:(NSNumber *)finished context:(void *)context {
        [self.loadingView stopAnimating];
        [self.loadingView removeFromSuperview];

    With blocks, the preferred pattern becomes:

    - (void)animateFadeOut {
        [UIView animateWithDuration:0.3
                         animations:^{ self.loadingView.alpha = 0.0; }
                         completion:^(BOOL finished) {
                             [self.loadingView stopAnimating];
                             [self.loadingView removeFromSuperview];

    The callback disappears, and the entire operation now appears in one line. Notice also how the new method does away with the need for a number of calls to UIView. Fairly trivial, but now imagine that the callback needs to perform a more complex action. For example, suppose we have several objects loading, and on completion of any given object, want to perform two actions: remove the appropriate loading graphic, and enable a button.

    In 3.x, we would need to pass a context containing pointers to the relevant views, contained in either a dictionary or some other container instance. Suddenly, focus has shifted to defining and constructing the context. In 4.0, on the other hand, we simply reference the objects in question inside the block, thereby defining the ‘context’:

    - (void)animateFadeOutWithLoadingView:(UIView *)currentLoadingView button:(UIButton *)currentButton {
        [UIView animateWithDuration:0.3
                         animations:^{ self.loadingView.alpha = 0.0; }
                         completion:^(BOOL finished) {
                             [currentLoadingView stopAnimating];
                             [currentLoadingView removeFromSuperview];
                             currentButton.enabled = YES;

    The beauty of this example is that we need not worry about any retain/release semantics that might complicate the lifetime of a 3.x-style context. Instead, the block ‘closes over’ all the variables that it references, and the run-time retains them as necessary. When the application completes the animation, it disposes of the block, and the references it contains. This ‘lexical scoping’ is what makes closures so useful.

    For problems with more complex memory semantics, the clarity that blocks offer becomes a substantial benefit. The feature was announced in conjunction with Grand Central Dispatch, Apple’s general purpose concurrency framework, and it is in this realm that blocks really shine. Writing safe, asynchronous code is difficult, in part because tracking the state of each context in flight can become a major bookkeeping effort. The simplicity and ad-hoc encapsulation that blocks provide will aid tremendously as we move into the era of multicore mobile computing.

    In addition to blocks, iOS 4.0 offers several other features that improve the brevity of code. The redundancy of instance variables and properties is fading away, and class extensions can now declare private members. Regular expressions, long absent from Cocoa, have finally surfaced, replacing NSScanner for many tasks. The trend towards more dynamic patterns continues, and I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before garbage collection and MacRuby make the leap from the Macbook to the iPhone. In any case, we hope that you enjoy the new release, and look forward to improving the foursquare experience even more on iOS 4!

    - George King, iOS Engineer


    Real Quick: The definition of insanity.*

    This image is a reproduction of two photographs taken around 1868 and 1872 (photographer unknown). It depicts Miss B, an unnamed patient of William Withey Gull, before and after treatment for anorexia nervosa. Gull used these images to illustrate his 1873 paper "Anorexia Nervosa (Apepsia Hysterica, Anorexia Hysterica)" in which anorexia nervosa was described and which first established the name of the condition.

    An anorectic patient of William Withey Gull, before (1868) and after (1872).

    Quelle suprise, y’all: it seems eating disorders are more common amongst teenagers than we thought, according to a new study published on Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

    There are a few factors that make this study instructive, besides the increased rates themselves. First, the study found that boys and girls are equally at risk of developing anorexia, though girls still lead in bulimia and binge eating. Second, the study found that eating disorders are strongly associated with suicidal ideation, and with social isolation and “disconnection.” Third, the median—the median!—age for the onset of an eating disorder is twelve. Twelve. Years old.

    Release the blockquotes!

    “The prevalence of these disorders is higher than previously expected in this age range, and the patterns of [co-existing illnesses], role impairment and suicidality indicate that eating disorders represent a major public health concern,” the researchers wrote. (Source)

    The trillingly-named “eating disorder not otherwise specified,” otherwise known as EDNOS, is also markedly more popular than previously thought, moreso than any of the disorders with real names.

    Many teens had behaviors that mimic eating disorders.  This means they may have serious eating behaviors, but their symptoms do not meet all the criteria to fit the diagnosis for anorexia or bulimia as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a manual for mental health disorders. This study found 0.8% of the participants had symptoms that came close to anorexia and 2.5% had symptoms resembling binge eating disorder. (Source)

    You know who falls into this commitment-phobic EDNOS category? Among others, this category comprises many of the fat kids with EDs. Because willfully starving yourself is not anorexia unless you can get below 85% of the expected weight for your age and height, and have ceased to menstruate, according to the DSM.

    So what we have here is a comprehensive study instructing us that anorexia is as common in boys as girls, that children are developing eating disorders at 12, and that eating disorders are extremely dangerous to kids’ health both medically and emotionally. Also, while anorexia rates have remained stable, the instances of binge eating disorder and bulimia have doubled since the 1990s. In a complete coincidence, the fearful cultural rhetoric regarding an alleged obesity epidemic has also doubled—at least—since the 1990s. But this is totally unconnected, I’m sure.

    This study is bad news, any way you slice it, but what has really made my blood boil is the shock and horror with which I’ve seen and heard it being discussed on the news. How dare anyone be shocked? When virtually every facet of our culture conspires to create an environment in which being fat is the very worst thing a person can be, and that one must ward off fatness with every Machiavellian contrivance, how is it surprising that children would develop “an obsessive fear of gaining weight”, and would self-injure as a result of overeating, either via purging, excessive exercise, internalized self-loathing, or extreme guilt?

    The New York Times is kind enough to furnish us with exhibit A: a new “diet” in which women inject themselves with hCG, a hormone that normally only occurs in pregnancy. Yes, this is a real thing.

    The regimen combines daily injections with a near-starvation diet, and patients, mostly women, are often enticed by promises that they can lose about a pound a day without feeling hungry. Perhaps even more seductively, they are frequently told that the hCG will prompt their bodies to carry away and metabolize fat that has been stored where they least want it — in their upper arms, bellies and thighs.

    Oh, and where do they get the hCG? Here’s a hint: it’s not synthetically made. Here’s another hint: it’s derived from pregnant women’s pee. I’ll admit my first thought was: wait, so pregnant women can sell their piss now? And like, not on eBay? To be fair, this hormone is FDA approved as a treatment for infertility, so the pee-collection is already happening for less disturbing reasons, but still.

    And did we mention the “near-starvation diet” consists of 500 calories a day?**

    Then there are the nutritional concerns about a diet that some say mimics anorexia. “The average person is going to eat 1,800 to 3,000 calories,” said Kristen Smith, a bariatric surgery dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center.

    “I don’t think it promotes healthy long-term eating habits,” she added.

    No fucking shit, Dr. Smith. But, of course, nobody who goes on this diet is interested in healthy long-term eating habits. The people who shoot up with pregnant-lady piss for dieting purposes are people who simply don’t like their back fat, or people who want to lose a few pounds prior to a bridesmaid stint, both of which examples are included in this article. I also enjoy the delicate language here: “some say” it “mimics” anorexia. Considering some research puts the average calorie intake of an anorectic person at 600 to 800 calories a day, I’d say 500 calories is more than mere mimicry.

    I make fun, my friends, because sometimes it’s all I can do; because sometimes I have to make fun or I will just cry and yell and kick people. This “diet” is preposterous, not least because abuse of hCG is linked with cardiovascular risks—as pretty much all weight-loss drugs are—and it is not worth your life to be thin. No matter how unhappy you are, no matter how ugly you feel, it is not worth your life to conform; you have alternatives. You have hope.

    Because it’s all fun and games until someone loses a mind:

    [Kay] Brown, a theater administrator who is 5-foot-8, said she was thrilled to lose six pounds in seven days, and hopeful about reaching her goal of losing 30, which would bring her close to her ideal weight of 135. She said she did not feel hungry and did not obsess about food as she had years ago, when suffering from anorexia.

    “A lot of people have a lot of opinions,” Ms. Brown said, “but I don’t want to be a person who feels like my weight is not under my control.”

    Today’s twelve year olds are tomorrow’s middle aged women injecting themselves with pregnancy hormones, and so it goes. This is just a wheel that keeps turning, and turning, and all the hand-wringing in the world won’t stop it. It will only stop when we smash the culture telling us what is normal and acceptable for a body to look like, and when we quit fearing our bodies and hurting ourselves in the name of our better health.

    * …is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    ** Worth noting: The World Health Organization identifies starvation in famine-stricken nations as a diet of less than 800 calories a day. The FDA, on the other hand, recommends that adult female humans eat approximately 2000 calories per day.

    Faking native iOS apps with HTML/CSS/JavaScript

    Matt Might has a nice tutorial on how to make mobile web apps look like native iOS apps using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

    If you a flick a web app past the bottom or top of the page, the page itself gets elastically tugged away from the URL bar or the button bar (or the bottom/top of the screen if it's in full-screen mode).

    This behavior is another giveaway that your app isn't native, and it's rarely the behavior you want in a native app.

    To stop this behavior, capture touchmove events on the document in JavaScript and cancel them. You can do this by adding a handler to the body tag, and invoking the preventDefault method on the event object.

    Huh, you can even do "pull to refresh" in JavaScript.

    One big advantage of native apps that cannot be addressed by HTML/CSS/JS is the browser interface itself. The Gmail web interface is fantastic, but every time I open a link in my email, the browser goes through its elaborate new window opening process. And then when I want to go back to my email, I have to touch the windows button, close the current window, and then click back on the mail window. The whole process is too inefficient and slow compared to the same process in a native app: no starting browser animation process and one touch to get back to what you're doing. If Apple addressed this issue -- say by making it possible for a web app to "open" a sub-browser with different open/close interactions instead of a full-fledged new window -- using web apps would be less of a pain in the ass.

    Tags: iPad   iPhone   Matt Might   web development


    I liked a YouTube video: Electrolite

    Thanks for Trumpet Winsock

    used the essential Windows app in the mid '90s? make it right by paying for it now  

    Store and Forget or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love MongoDB

    Store and Forget or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love MongoDB:

    Schemaless, JSON, Speed:

    From our experience so far, MongoDB fills an interesting niche in data-storage for high-performance Web applications. It certainly complements, and doesn’t replace traditional RDMS systems. Both technologies have their place in a modern development shop’s toolkit.

    Original title and link: Store and Forget or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love MongoDB (NoSQL databases © myNoSQL)

    Stack Overflow becomes Stack Exchange

    We are thrilled to announce that Stack Overflow has closed a follow-on round of financing led by Index Ventures with participation from Spark Capital and ourselves. Neil Rimer and Bijan Sabet will join the board. We will also add a new independent director Anil Dash.

    Stack Overflow has also changed its name to Stack Exchange to reflect growth of the Stack Exchange network. Though Stack Overflow the Q&A site for programmers is still by far the largest site, there are now more than 45 vertical sites building strong communities around, Cooking, Photography, Statistics, Math, Game Development, Physics, English, and more.

    The Stack Exchange network gets almost 20 million unique monthly visitors, and the new Stack Exchange network sites have more than double their traffic since the end of last year. Perhaps most exciting Stack Overflow, the flagship site, has developed a native business model that seamlessly creates value for sponsors and users. Careers 2.0 is a great way for companies to find talented programmers and and a great way for talented programmers to find great projects to work on.

    You can read more about the financing and Stack Exchange's plans for the money on their blog.

    New York, then and now

    A couple of covers doing the online rounds today. On the left, a cover from 1992 when Tina Brown became editor of The New Yorker; on the right a recent front cover (via Newmanology and CoverJunkie respectively).

    Hoth and Indiana Jones, in Lego

    X-Wing Dawn Patrol

    Moonlight Shadow

    Indiana Jones in the Map Room

    All photos from Avanaut. Check out more beautifully photographed scenes in his photostream.

    Jetpack just flew in to DreamHost and boy are its thrusters tired!


    Today Automattic launched Jetpack, a WordPress plugin that “supercharges your self-hosted WordPress site with the awesome cloud power of WordPress.com”. Their words, not ours. Hence the quotes.

    Jetpack is a collection of eight plugins that together combine to strengthen the WordPress core and make it even more powerful. Think of it as an expansion pack. With jets.

    DreamHost is proud to be a Jetpack launch partner!

    Included in the Jetpack core:

    • WordPress.com Stats
      “Simple, concise site stats with no additional load on your server.”
    • Twitter Widget
      “Display the latest updates from a Twitter user inside your theme’s widgets.”
    • Gravatar Hovercards
      “Show a pop-up business card of your users’ gravatar profiles in comments.”
    • WP.me Shortlinks
      “Enable WP.me-powered shortlinks for all of your Posts and Pages for easier sharing.”
    • Sharedaddy
      “The most super duper sharing tool on the interwebs. Share content with Facebook, Twitter, and many more.”
    • LaTeX
      “Mark up your posts with the LaTeX markup language, perfect for complex mathematical equations and other über-geekery.”
    • After the Deadline
      “After the Deadline helps you write better by adding spell, style, and grammar checking to WordPress.”
    • Shortcode Embeds
      “Easily embed videos and more from sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and SlideShare.”

    …and that’s just the start! There’s more features in the works for Jetpack.

    As of about thirty seconds minutes ago, all new WordPress installs completed with our One-Click Installer will include Jetpack by default.

    Already using WordPress? No worries – Jetpack is free. You can download it right now and start using it within minutes.


    That is all.

    Julian Assange, Cat Hater - NYTimes.com

    Julian was engaged in a constant battle for dominance—even with my cat, Mr. Schmitt. Mr. Schmitt is a lovable, lazy creature, a bit shy, with gray-and-white fur and an extremely laid-back way of walking. Unfortunately he also has a neurosis stemming from the time when Julian lived with me in Wiesbaden. Julian was always attacking the poor animal. He would spread his fingers into a fork shape and pounce on the cat’s neck. It was a game to see who was quicker. Either Julian would succeed in getting his fingers around the cat and pinning it to the floor, or the cat would drive Julian off with a swipe of its claws. It must have been a nightmare for the poor thing. No sooner would Mr. Schmitt lie down to relax than the crazy Australian would be upon him. Julian preferred to attack at times when Mr. Schmitt was tired.

    “It’s about training vigilance,” Julian explained.


    I kind of want to see this:

    I liked how you pinned me down and asked me if I was naughty like Mila Kunis,” Jack Ferver told The Observer. “I was at an Armory party—I was invited—and I wore this Comme des Garçons piece, which is, like, just lapels, so when you’re wearing a jacket, it looks like you have a suit on. Without a jacket—well, they asked me to put one on. And I was like, ‘This is about art. There’s Picasso on the wall behind me.’ It felt very Mila Kunis.”

    Mr. Ferver is to play Ms. Kunis’ hard-partying ballerina role in his new play, SWAN!!! His company, QWAN, has re-appropriated Black Swan (a film directed by a straight man and starring, largely, women) for the stage as a gay fantasia on balletic themes. And Mr. Ferver is a performance artist as committed as any ballerina to mastering his art. (His company previously mounted a similar production based on the British lesbian-seduction drama Notes on a Scandal, titled NOTES!!!) SWAN!!! begins its run March 10 at P.S. 122.

    Avian Fever [Observer]

    Your Suffering Will Be Bathed In Light

    by Alex Balk

    Life is a tedious dialog in which Death always has the final word, but much of the small talk in between concerns the weather. The next few days will be grey and dull, which is both seasonally and emotionally appropriate. Consider the age: certitudes dashed, confidence destroyed, ideals gladly forsaken for the cheap illusion of compromise in which the only winners are those who have already been rewarded with the greatest benefit. Consider the mood: mental and physical cruelties inflicted on the most vulnerable without remorse, anger and cynicism wrapped so tightly together that they become indistinguishable from each other, loneliness and despair so pervasive that they have supplanted even apathy and greed as our default emotional settings. Consider the endless parade of degradation and infantilization produced to further pacify a glassy-eyed nation: televised obesity contests, Katy Perry, lollipops made out of birthday cake. Where you were once at least energized by your fear of failure, the best you can do now is reassure yourself that at least it can't get worse, an empty promise even more damaging for its patent falsehood. Night, once filled with mystery and potential and the exotic hint of danger, now brings the only bit of joy you can muster up, allowing you to close your eyes and free yourself from the terrible burden of consciousness, however fitfully. Darnkess is the sole comfort that remains. I'm sorry to heap more bad news on your already ample pile of pain, but soon there will be even more light in your life: Daylight Saving Time starts this weekend. Don't forget to change your clocks.

    Photo by James Cridland, from Flickr.


    Sneak Peek: The Ebony Redesign

    crooklyn.jpgVenerable Chicago-based Johnson Publishing went for broke last year in an effort to turn the tide at their flagship magazine, Ebony. First, they reached out and hired former Harper's Bazaar Deputy EIC, Amy DuBois Barnett. She, in turn, tapped Esquire's AD, Darhil Crooks, to revamp the magazine's look and feel. Here he gives us the inside scoop on their redesign process.

    At the end of 2010 I was presented the opportunity to become the CD at Ebony magazine in Chicago. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to help redefine an American institution. We immediately set about the task of redesigning the iconic brand that was launched over 65 years ago for a new generation of readers. With a new editorial team in place, we started to rebuild the magazine piece by piece, starting with the logo:

    The new Ebony logo is an evolution of the magazine's original logo. I don't think it's ever been redesigned other than it becoming larger a few years ago. We wanted to pay respect to the legacy of the brand, so instead of starting from scratch, we took the original, cleaned it up, and began to change it into something more modern and elegant. We added contrast to the characters and shortened the height in order to work better on the cover.

    Our first cover of the "new era" is  the Comedy Issue featuring Chris Rock, Mo'nique, and Steve Harvey. Photograph by Mark Mann.


    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

    The new Ebony, of course, features new editorial. The FOB has been expanded to included new departments including The Radar, Style, Elevate, Achieve, Connect, and Live. We also added all new fonts: Brunel (serif) and a custom slab from Commercial Type, and Founders Grotesk and Founders Grotesk Condensed (sans) from Klim. There's a lot more information and extra content now, but everything has been cleaned up and organized making it easier for the reader to get in and out of each page. Here are a few samples:


     Illustration by Josue Evilla


    Photograph by Rayon Richards



    Photographs by Ken Kochey

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

    The feature well has been revamped as well. We opened up the magazine to take advantage of the amazing original and archival photography.

    Thumbnail image for EBONY_KingsOpen.jpg





    Photographs by Dudley M. Brooks

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

    We also are introducing some illustration into the mix. Shown here is a piece done by one of my favorites, Brian Stauffer.


    There's a lot more to see, but I don't want to give it all away here. Pick up a copy. This is just the beginning, so keep an eye out for Ebony.

    Special thanks to the Ebony team: 
    Lynnette Galloway, Associate Art Director: 
    Rodney Parker, Designer
    Dudley M. Brooks, Senior Photo Editor

    See related stories:
    Sneak Peek: The New York Times Magazine Redesign
    A New Look at Parenting
    First Look: Travel + Leisure Redesign
    Bloomberg Businessweek: A Second Look
    The redesign of the Texas Observer
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    iPad stand on Kickstarter is for the bathroom

    Go on. Admit it. Where do you use your iPad the most? Sure, instead of watching TV. Yup, while saving lives as a doctor. But we're being honest here, you're among friends, so we know that the real answer is -- in the can.

    And because we all know this is the truth, why not throw a few bucks into Meglio's Kickstarter project to fund their new iPad stand designed to make it easier to do just that. It'll allow you to keep your hands free for -- well, whatever it is you do with your hands while you're comfortably seated on the throne, and allow you to watch a movie or read an ebook while keeping your precious iPad free of coliform bacteria.

    Add a cupholder and you're set for the day.

    iPad stand on Kickstarter is for the bathroom originally appeared on TUAW on Wed, 09 Mar 2011 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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    Shocker From Paris: Kate Moss Returns To The Runway For Louis Vuitton

    For Marc Jacobs' highly anticipated Louis Vuitton runway show in Paris yesterday, attendees were treated to a typically spectacular collection of clothing and women (Ginta Lapina, Frida, Natasha, and Naomi just to name a few). But for an extra-special treat, the designer managed to get his old pal Kate Moss to strut down the catwalk in leather micro pants and a fur-rimmed jacket while puffing on a cigarette. Boom, instant history. We're glad the future Mrs. Hince could scoop some time out of her busy schedule preparing for her upcoming wedding and stalking stuffed animals to give us this wonderful moment of throwback cool. (Socialite Life)

    SPD is on Flipboard!

    What is Flipboard you ask? It's a fun way to browse and interact on your iPad with digital content and social media like Facebook and Twitter in a visually driven magazine like format. If you ever dreamed of being an editor, here is your chance, much like popular RSS readers of days past you can choose the content that you want to view and now SPD is easier than ever to find in the design section.

    After SPD is selected Flipboard will pull in our content including text along with related imagery and reconfigure those elements into a beautifully designed highly browsable, flipable, discoverable, digestable and sharable format.

    So, if you're iPad-enabled and pro-SPD, all you need to do is download the Flipboard app and choose SPD from the design category.

    Once you settle in be sure to tweet SPD content early and often!

    Here's a video explaining Flipboard:

    Below are some sample screens.


    Ticket Scanner App Now Available in iTunes Store

    A short but sweet announcement:

    Every last kink has been worked out of our Ticket Scanner iPhone App, and we are proud to announce that it’s available for free download NOW from the iTunes Store!

    Click here to download the App.  Happy scanning!


    'A Man Turning Back On Himself'

    This is an excellent piece on Congressman Peter King's past as a supporter of one terrorist group, turned alleged inquisitor of another:

    "We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry," Mr. King told a pro-I.R.A. rally on Long Island, where he was serving as Nassau County comptroller, in 1982. Three years later he declared, "If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the I.R.A. for it..."

    Of comparisons between the terrorism of the I.R.A. and that of Al Qaeda and its affiliates, Mr. King said: "I understand why people who are misinformed might see a parallel. The fact is, the I.R.A. never attacked the United States. And my loyalty is to the United States."

    This is a really complex story, so please read the whole thing. I really appreciate that Scott Shane, the author, was able to point out King's contradictions, while at the same time noting that Al Qaeda and the IRA are not same thing. I think beyond Peter King, the story does a good job of taking the term "terrorist" beyond the category of political slur.  It's always worth remembering that people we now (rightly) lionize, once partook in the dark arts. It's always worth remembering that American local governments, for a century, collaborated with actual terrorists, targeting American citizens, while the federal government looked the other way. 

    In that effort, I present this excerpt from Fog of War. I've never understood why, say, the firebombing of Tokyo wasn't terrorism. If you haven't seen this doc, do so immediately. McNamara maintains that he and Curtis LeMay were "acting as war criminals," while at the same time not faulting Truman for dropping the atomic bomb. And, frankly, I find him quite convincing.

    As an aside, here's something interesting on Curtis LeMay from Wikipedia:

    ...LeMay, being fully aware of Wallace's segregationist platform and undeterred by his racist intentions, decided to throw his support to Wallace and eventually became Wallace's running mate. The general was dismayed, however, to find himself attacked in the press as a racial segregationist because he was running with Wallace; he had never considered himself a bigot. When Wallace announced his selection in October 1968, LeMay opined that he, unlike many Americans, clearly did not fear using nuclear weapons. His saber rattling did not help the Wallace campaign.

    Man, people are complicated

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    Bread Baking: Soda Bread with Dried Cranberries

    From Recipes

    [Photograph: Donna Currie]

    Public Service Announcement: Most Irish soda bread includes raisins. However, I don't like raisins. So if you're lookin' at the soda bread picture thinking that the raisins look suspiciously pink, it's because they are dried cranberries. Use raisins if you prefer.

    This is an American-style soda bread. The original Irish soda bread didn't have raisins. Or cranberries. Some American-style Irish soda bread also includes caraway. This one doesn't, but if you like it, feel free to add two to four tablespoons of caraway along with the dry ingredients. You can always go gluten-free with rice flours.

    I found one recipe for soda bread that included cornmeal. In fact, it would have made a nice cornbread. Apparently during the famine in Ireland in 1848, the United States shipped dried corn to Ireland. No one knew what to do with it, so they ground it up and made bread. Whether that's true or not, it would be a fine excuse for making cornbread to go with your corned beef.

    About the author: Donna Currie has been cooking for fun and writing for pay since the days when typewritten articles traveled by snail mail. When she combined those talents in a food column for a newspaper in her area, she realized that writing about food is almost as much fun as eating. She writes the blog Cookistry and has joined the Serious Eats team with a weekly column about baking.


    serves 1 loaf, active time 40 minutes, total time 2 hours

    • 1 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
    • 1/2 cup Irish whiskey (or hot water)
    • 4 cups bread flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk


    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Combine the cranberries and whiskey (or hot water). Cover and set aside to rehydrate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.

    2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, soda and salt. Whisk to combine. Cut the butter into slices, then work it into the flour with your fingertips until it is fully incorporated. Add the honey, buttermilk and the cranberries and soaking liquid. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the liquid is absorbed.

    3. Flour your work surface lightly an turn out the dough. Knead until it is smooth. It will still be sticky - try to avoid adding more flour. Form the dough into a 6-8 inch disk about 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 inches high and place it on your prepared baking sheet. Cut an X in the top of the dough across the top, about 1/2 inch deep.

    4. Bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until the bread is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack. If you like a softer crust. cover the bread with a clean kitchen towel as it cools.

    I just picked up

    ... this fabric, at the Oakland White Elephant sale (Suzette! Sorry I missed you! Leah! Nice running into you!): 


    Yep, polished cotton, with polka-dots the way the good Lord intended them to be: fist-sized.

    What should I make? Did I mention that there was SEVEN and SEVEN-EIGHTHS yards of it? Which I bought for $23? (Some days I'm so darn lucky that it's a wonder I'm not killed by angry bystanders on the spot.)

    I got some other stuff too, including as much vintage bias tape as I could carry. Pics to come. 


    Today is the 9th anniversary of this blog. Once a year I dig through old posts, remembering what the industry was like and the topics I was interested in. This time I found a link to a post Evan Williams wrote in 2001 as Pyra Labs and Blogger were struggling:

    "First of all, the company (Pyra) is not dead, and the service (Blogger) is not going away. However: We are out of money, and I have lost my team."


    "Yes, things would have been very, very different if the Internet Bubble wouldn't have burst and we were still in that...that, Other World in which we started. In that world, things that seem dumb now (such as launching a product and letting it grow for so long without making revenue from it a priority) made sense."

    The full text is available on the Wayback Machine. I wish more CEOs blogged with even half the sincerity.

    SXSW Interactive starts this weekend. When Evan wrote the above, the conference was a few rooms along a single hallway. Now it's a monster conference, spread across multiple venues, with a speaker database so dense I don't even know where to start. Still, I'll be there and hope to catch up with any of y'all making it to Austin.

    Beautiful early 20th century infographics

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

    The State of HTML5 Audio

    When I started to work on my JavaScript Game Engine back in October 2009, the biggest problems I encountered were with the new HTML5 Audio Element. The Canvas Element already worked nicely in all browsers that supported it at the time, albeit some were a little slow.
    Now, in 2011, the rendering performance for Canvas has been improved dramatically, audio however is still broken in large parts. I think it is time for a change in tone. Be warned, there’s some profanity ahead because HTML5 Audio is still that fucked up.

    I have also been frustrated by this. There is so much cool shit you could do if browsers had better and more consistent support for audio, at least to the level described in the current HTML5 spec. So much progress has been made on Canvas and other big chunks of the browser runtime that we call HTML5, it would be nice if some collective attention could be turned to audio.

    March 8, 2011

    Tintin’s Cars

    A catalog of all of the cars that cartoonist Hergé drew in his immortal (if flawed) Tintin comics series — matched up with photographs of their real world equivalents. See the obsessiveness in full here. (Via Swiss Cheese and Bullets.)

    Buzz. Zeitgeist. Electrifying!

    I've received so many odd "Thank You" notes from New Yorker subscribers begging me to hire Malcolm Gladwell as well. I should do it. Malcolm is the one writer in English language who perfectly embodies my theories of multiple points of entry in his prose—you never have to look past the subhead to know what he'll say. Soon I'll have him. via www.observer.com The Observer is good again?!

    Cory Doctorow on HarperCollins’ Library E-Book Policy

    Cory Doctorow’s entire article in The Guardian is a must read but here’s the key paragraph:

    Whether a HarperCollins book has the circulatory vigour to cope with 26 checkouts or 200, it’s bizarre to argue that this finite durability is a feature that we should carefully import into new media. It would be like assuming the contractual obligation to attack the microfilm with nail-scissors every time someone looked up an old article, to simulate the damage that might have been done by our careless patrons to the newsprint that had once borne it.

    R.I.P. Heterosexual Female Attraction to Tom Brady

    by Edith Zimmerman

    After a long illness, HFAtTB died peacefully in its sleep last night. Primary causes of death were determined to be hair and this brief jig. Before it died, HFAtTB whispered one request, and that was to be buried in a pair of UGGs. The doctor on hand, however, pretended like she couldn't hear, and the wish will therefore not be granted.



    Twitter Presentation

    I gave a presentation at Twitter today. I was invited there by David Loftesness, whom I went to school with, and to my non-surprise, saw a number of ex-googlers there. Twitter had just been through a reorganization, and had been through massive growth over the last year. I was hence asked to talk about challenges in scaling engineering during hyper-growth, which was a topic that coincided with my next book, so I was happy to do. Because I wanted to be really open during the talk and provide lots of juicy details, I asked for the talk not to be recorded and also for the juicy bits not to be twittered. Below is the mostly sanitized version of the talk.

    Twitter employees asked really good questions, and in more than one case challenged the presentation. This is what I expect from really smart people, and I was also very impressed by the turnout. All in all, I really enjoyed giving the talk and getting difficult questions. One of the tough ones was why I wasn't using twitter more. Well, I'm going to try to use it more, and you can follow me @choonpiaw.

    After the talk, I met with one of the co-founders of Vayable, who had requested a meeting with me. It's one of the more interesting travel startups I've heard of recently, and it turned out that we knew many folks in common. There seems to be no shortage of interesting ideas, though as usual, execution is everything!

    For those who are interested, I'll be giving a similar talk at Dropbox next week.

    Young vs. Old

    by Edith Zimmerman

    Should you date someone young or someone old? On one hand, young.

    Not just because of the fun you have teasing a younger guy (“Before you were born, Morrissey was in a band called The Smiths”), but because younger guys have been presoftened by a society that has evolved a lot in the past 30 years. Women’s rights, gay rights—the younger a guy is, the more evolved he is.

    Whereas, old.

    At a basic level, an older man never gets boring. After four decades of life, [my boyfriend] is a walking encyclopedia.

    So there's your answer. Old people, because they never get boring, not one of them.


    Quit Your Job! A Q&A with Erin McKenna of BabyCakes

    by admin

    The Awl: So the founding of BabyCakes is actually fairly well-chronicled. You were allergic to wheat and dairy! You borrowed some money and started up a bakery, and you did it on a shoestring, and your finances were really tight. But what doesn't get mentioned in all this is: why! Why did you want to become the cupcake and cookie and muffin gluten-free, dairy-free queen?

    Erin: Thank you for not asking the obvious. You are the first on record. The reason I wanted to open a bakery was pretty simple: I wanted to open a place I'd like to go to. I've never been a big partier—going to a bakery after dinner was my kind of club, and in New York, there are so many incredible specialty bakeries. I felt left out. So I figured I'd just open a place that I'd be stoked to find.

    The Awl: All that whey and wheat, taunting you.

    Erin: Yes. The dairy never stops taunting. So, it doesn't go much deeper than that. I really wasn't setting out to be a baking goddess or whatnot. I just wanted to open a fun place and make some good food, share it, listen to the music I like, dress girls up in uniforms, eat cookies all day. That's it! I think I read once that Keith McNally had the same M.O. He just opened places he'd want to go. Read the full story at The Awl


    Little Brent Tables

    Brent Simmons:

    And she taught me to program — she taught me about code elegance and about how the best programmers are lazy and never want to write the same thing twice. Software architecture was dinner-table talk when I was a boy.

    What a cool mom. I’m glad to hear that her surgery went well.

    Montreal: Maple Syrup Season Arrives at Pied Au Cochon's Cabane à Sucre

    VIEW SLIDESHOW: Montreal: Maple Syrup Season Arrives at Pied Au Cochon's Cabane à Sucre

    All photos by Natasha Li Pickowicz.

    Quebec is a cold place, and during the winter, over-indulgence in heavy foods becomes something of a coping mechanism. But the province isn't just silky fats and meats, and from within the snowy cocoon of winter emerges one of the world's most mouthwatering natural sweeteners: maple syrup.

    Early March marks the beginning of sap season, and once the fields of maple trees are tapped, the province celebrates by opening the doors of the numerous family-owned cabanes à sucre, or sugar shacks, that dot the countryside. While most cabanes à sucre specialize in greasy, maple syrup-doused breakfasts, there is one sugar shack that has a slightly different pedigree.

    In 2009, chef Martin Picard—the owner of Montreal restaurant Au Pied de Cochon —retreated from the frenzied pace of his city restaurant and built a cabane à sucre in the Mirabel countryside, nearly an hour's drive outside Montreal.

    Au Pied de Cochon's outrageous proclivity for foie gras, truffles, and pork has made a seat at their restaurant one of the most coveted in the city, and it's nearly impossible to get a reservation at its rustic sugar shack.


    I arrived at Martin Picard's compound shortly after nightfall, and took my place at one of the long wooden banquet tables that line the dining hall. Immediately, the food began streaming out. A shallow stack of nutty buckwheat blinis were heaped alongside sturgeon smoked in maple syrup, spread out like a deck of cards. Chopped herbs, slim crescents of onion, and a puddle of crème fraiche completed the simple dish.


    Pied de Cochon is notoriously vegetable-leery, but their leafy reticence resulted one of the most memorable dishes of the evening: crunchy fronds of baby Romaine lettuce, fat cubes of sharp cheddar and salty ham, toasted walnuts, and undulating curls of feather-light oreilles de crises, or pork rinds, all heavily coated in a maple-syrup-infused dressing that I suspect contained both lard and butter. "This is a salad made by someone who hates salad," one of my dining companions remarked.


    A persimmon-colored Le Crueset pot brimmed over with a traditional French-Canadian soupe aux pois, or yellow pea soup, swimming with morsels of salt pork and swirls of maple syrup. Smoky, rich, and faintly sweet, Picard's peasant soup was spiked with pods of melted foie gras, Pied de Cochon's signature debauched flourish.


    Oysters, nestled in a bed of sea salt, arrived on a thick cross-section of a tree. A dozen St. Simon oysters, shipped from New Brunswick earlier that morning, were topped with gleaming pearls of "seawater jelly," a briny gelée of garlic, lime, and maple syrup. The chilly, oceanic rush of flavor was bracing.


    A flaky, golden tourtière, a traditional Quebec meat pie, ceremoniously arrived on yet another log platter. The pie's buttery crust had a hint of maple sweetness, its innards overflowing with braised pork shoulder and ground pork. Thick wedges of pie were served with a tart relish of minced marinated vegetables, which cut sharply though the tourtière's richness.


    The meal marched on, though I was already beset with an uncomfortably tight feeling in my gut. We already had finished a magnum of Chamonard's 2009 Morgon (fruity Gamay is the ideal pairing for sugar shack cuisine), and were just beginning a delicious Marsannay from Méo-Camuzet, when our server arrived with a cornflower blue skillet, an intact lobster head peering over the edge. The souffléd omelet was swathed in whole lobster claws (which were sadly overcooked), "melted potatoes" poached in maple syrup, chopped scallions, and gobs of pure pork fat the size of marbles.


    Plates of molten maki sushi, bulging with fleshy salmon and luscious pork creton, were individually deep-fried and served with a dish of thick maple and soy dipping sauce. I'm not sure why the salmon was there; the fresh, milky fish was completely indistinguishable under the cloak of the creamy pate. Pied de Cochon manages to corrupt even the most healthful aspects of Japanese cuisine.


    So much for the appetizers. A pair of roasted Cornish game hens— heads and feet splayed in all directions—glistened with beads of fat and maple syrup, as a heap of seared gnocchi was tucked beneath the undercarriage. I plucked a single gnocchi out of the pan, and bit down to a velvety, fatty surprise. Some of the "gnocchi" were actually foie gras interlopers, mixed in with the pillowy pasta. It was a sumptuous, sneaky, and classic Picard touch, though I preferred the clean, familiar finish of the hens.


    A massive pig's leg—coated with a black slick of fat resembling, perhaps disturbingly, a pool of motor oil—presided over a mound of parsley-dusted, sugared carrots and parsnips. Peeling back the thick, rubbery skin revealed an astonishingly tender and rosy slab of milk-fed pork, half-smoked and half-barbecued.


    Both meats paired well with a tannic Barbera D'Alba from Roagna, as well as feves au lard, a Quebec baked bean dish often cooked in maple syrup. Pied de Cochon's iteration overflowed out of a tin can, and was laced with cottage cheese, bacon, and a slip of olive oil. It was the most magical campfire experience I've ever had.


    Sated beyond belief, but eager for dessert, I took a brief break from the dining table for a walk in the snowy forest. When I sat back down at the table, four desserts were leering up at me: a sticky, maple-syrup sauced tarte tatin; a mountain of vanilla ice cream studded with candied maple syrup, topped with a shell of milk chocolate, chopped nuts, and a hazy cloud of maple syrup cotton candy;crêpes Grand-Mère, or discs of dough deep fried in duck fat, and coated with a glaze of maple syrup; and my favorite, Quebec maple syrup "taffy," or tire d'érable. Boiling maple syrup is poured into strips on a fresh plate of snow, eventually hardening into a chewy, warm taffy. It was playful, sticky finale to one of the most outrageous dining experiences imaginable in the dead of winter.

    Read about all the dishes in the slideshow »

    About the Author: Natasha Li Pickowicz is a San Diego-born music and food writer, and a recent Montreal transplant. In addition to updating her food blog Popcorn Plays, she contributes to a number of music publications. She also curates experimental music concerts as Popcorn Youth, and is the baker at Dépanneur le Pick-Up, a popular restaurant in Montreal. She loves Richard Olney, Cabernet Franc, Ina Garten, pizza, and goose fat.

    Are College Students "Academically Adrift"?

    Examiner column for March 9.

                The recently published book “Academically Adrift” by sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, paints a grim picture of student higher learning. 2300 students in 24 institutions were tracked throughout college and tested three times for writing ability and reasoning skills. Only 55 percent had improved during their first two years, and as seniors that number had only increased to 64 percent. The bottom line is that 36 percent of those seniors showed no improvement in writing or critical thinking as a result of their college educations.

                The essay test used to measure their learning is the College Learning Assessment, subject of some of my recent columns. Designed to measure students’ ability to problem solve, the CLA asks students to answer a question based on a series of documents that can range from informal emails to newspaper articles to technical drawings and graphs. They must evaluate the merits of those documents, and compose a reasoned argument in response. (One sample question uses documents related to a small plane crash and asks students to make a recommendation to an employer thinking of buying a similar plane.)

                This is the sort of task students will be asked to do in the future—whether they are doctors, teachers, or lawyers. Doctors need to decide the value of studies with preliminary findings of serious side effects in certain medications, teachers need to evaluate contradictory information about the effectiveness of particular teaching techniques, and lawyers can spend much of their time weighing the relative worth of eyewitness accounts. Reality is never simple, and the CLA test thrusts the student into the messy world of hearsay and contradiction as well as statistics (both reliable and unreliable.

                The CLA also asks students to “make an argument” and “break an argument” in well-organized essays. These questions measure more than writing ability; students’ reasoning skills are an integral part of the writing process. In the “break an argument” essay, for instance, students need to evaluate whether the point of view presented is supported by convincing facts. Once again, nearly every workplace environment demands an ability to argue for or against decisions and issues.

                Should we be upset that fewer than two-thirds of college graduates know how to do these tasks? Yes and no. For most of us, college consists of figuring out what’s required in particular courses, meeting those standards, and repeating that process until graduation. Real world skills? Those we learn out in the real world.

                Would it be a good idea to present college students with real world performance tasks similar to the ones on the CLA? Of course! But training teachers to incorporate those activities into their entrenched curricula is an uphill effort—one that has largely eluded the professional development workshops offered by the scholars who developed the test.

                In the absence of widespread training of college teachers—a huge expense that isn’t about to take place in this fiscal climate—the workplace will have to be the “teacher” that presents our students with tasks requiring sophisticated problem solving. College performance will continue to be based on the widely variant standards of each individual course. Many of our students are not so much “academically adrift” as “academically delayed.”

    [Video] Raekwon – “Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang”

    Directed by Konee Rok.

    Behind the Scenes footage below.

    “Shaolin Vs Wu-Tang” album; now available in stores nationwide.”

    Music by Scram Jones
    Cinematography and Lighting by Jason “Intel” Deuchler
    Camera Assistance Sal Munir
    Studio Designed by Darrin Kohavi
    Environment Art by Ryan A Campbell
    Animation by Konee Rok

    Shopping cart fun

    Shopping cart fun

    After dropping Ollie at school, Minna and I headed to the suburban-esque Whole Foods in Tribeca for groceries. Though she's been in a shopping cart once or twice before, today she wouldn't have it. She screamed "Nooooooo!!!!" and cried and did that back-arching thing so I could barely cram her in the carriage. Then she tried to climb out and continued to scream and cry so that after three minutes I had to remove her and put her back in her baby carrier. It made for difficult shopping.

    It also made me think of this photo, which is one of my all-time favorites of Ollie and my grandmother. He's nearly one and this was his first time in the cart. He clearly enjoyed it!

    cpanm 1.4 is out - the greatest release ever

    cpanm 1.4 is out last night. This is a major update and includes bunch of good things, and let me introduce two of them.

    -q is the real quiet option

    One of the things people love about cpanm is its quiet output, compared to CPAN.pm's default verbosity level. cpanm by default only prints 4 lines per module installation, namely "Fetching, Configuring, Building, Installed". We also used to have -q option since day 1, which silences all output, which is not really that useful unless you run it from another program.

    1.4 makes the -q option less quiet - it shows only the line "Successfully installed module-ver" per one module install (or a failure message if the installation fails). This is a major achievement, and I already love this output, and now put "--quiet" into my PERL_CPANM_OPT environment variable.

    > cpanm -q DBI Plack Catalyst
    Successfully reinstalled DBI-1.616
    Successfully reinstalled Plack-0.9974
    Successfully reinstalled Catalyst-Runtime-5.80032
    3 distributions installed

    Now you see it prints the number of distribution installed in the last output as well? I like it too :)

    If you want the original, absolute no output option, you can just pipe the stdout and stderr output to /dev/null.

    --scandeps, --format

    Another great feature cpanm 1.4 brings in is the new --scandeps command. This is now built in to the cpanminus dependency resolution system, and instead of building and installing a distribution, it scans the dependency tree and prints them as a text tree format, by default.

    > cpanm -q --scandeps Catalyst::Runtime
    \_ Sub-Exporter-0.982
     \_ Params-Util-1.03
     \_ Sub-Install-0.925
     \_ Data-OptList-0.106
    \_ MooseX-Emulate-Class-Accessor-Fast-0.00903
     \_ namespace-clean-0.20

    This takes into consideration that which modules you already have in your library path, so only the modules that you have to install or upgrade will be printed. If you try to see the dep tree against the vanilla perl, you can combine it with the -L option.

    --scandeps command now takes --format option too, so that you can print this information as a JSON/YAML format to use in a different program, or the dists format which is pretty interesting: it prints out the AUTHOR/Dist-ver.tar.gz format in the depth first search order, which means you can replay the installation in other machines by saving the output and the tarball as well, which you can do with the new --save-dists option.

    There are some occasions where --scandeps doesn't work like expected. See the Wiki page first if the Known Issues there explains your situation.

    There are other improvements like a better core module detection in -L, and the support for Bundle:: modules.

    Try out the new great cpanm 1.4 by running cpanm --self-upgrade.

    Note that this is probably the last major update for cpanminus. I'll react to bug fixes and toolchain updates, but the effort to make a great, minimal CPAN client has reached its goal.

    I still have a plan to write a new client, and that's in the works already :)

    Sam Gross: Sex, Race, and Frogs | The Comics Journal New Yorker...

    Sam Gross: Sex, Race, and Frogs | The Comics Journal

    New Yorker cartoonist Sam Gross numbers and catalogues every cartoon he has drawn.

    It’s from a great interview at the new Comics Journal site with one of the funniest New Yorker cartoonists there is.

    My work hasn’t changed because of The New Yorker. I don’t do things for The New Yorker; I do things for me. I don’t do anything for The New Yorker because I operate on the premise that Bob Mankoff can be there today and gone tomorrow, and the same with David Remnick. Somebody else could come in and have a totally different outlook and I will either fit in or not fit in. If I’ve geared my work toward the people that were there before, I’m basically embedded with these older people and I’m screwed. But I am my own person. You either take me or leave me, simple as that.

    The 2011 Tournament of Books

    This year's The Morning News Tournament of Books kicks off today with Franzen's Freedom vs. Teddy Wayne's Kapitoil. I'm glad to be spending this year's tournament on the sidelines...reading and choosing are both exhausting.

    Tags: books

    Apple and Appropriate Secrecy

    About a year and a half ago, I was disappointed with one of the key choices Apple had made, given that they're often described as one of the most admired companies in the world. I wrote a piece called "Secrecy Does Not Scale", to try to describe the issue:

    [T]he element of secrecy that's been required to maintain Apple's mystique has incurred an increasingly costly price. Apple must transform itself and leave its history of secrecy behind, not just to continue being innovative and to protect the fundamentals of its business, but because the cost of keeping these secrets has become morally and ethically untenable.

    Well, if it's worth calling out companies when they do something wrong, then it's just as important to highlight when they do something right. Apple is to be commended for having addressed many of the key issues that were enabled by its lack of transparency, from answering questions about the working conditions of its suppliers in China to becoming far more open about the workings of the markets it controls through its dominant iTunes and iOS platforms.

    • Apple has published an industry-leading supplier responsibility document, offering insights into the environment at Foxconn and expressing a commitment to ensuring humane and healthy conditions. And this document was clearly in progress before the publication of Joel Johnson's excellent Wired cover story about the topic (though admittedly, after significant coverage from outlets such as the New York Times), so it seems the company has been proactive about the issue even before receiving its most pointed media criticism.
    • Apple's nearly-metonymic leader Steve Jobs personally became much more transparent in his communications before his recent medical leave, answering so many emails that multiple blogs like Emails From Steve Jobs have popped up to document them. That's amplified by unprecedented communications like Apple SVP Phil Schiller's on-the-record email to John Gruber about app store rejections, just a week after my critical post had gone up. (To be clear, I'm ascribing zero credit to my post for this change, but wanted to make clear the timeline because it seems Apple noticed the how untenable its position was at about the same time many of the rest of us did.)
    • Just as important to their developer community, Apple offered clear, publicly-accessible published guidelines by which applications are evaluated for inclusion in the App Store. You can debate them, disagree with them, or be frustrated by them, but you can't say you don't know what they are.

    That's not to say that Apple still isn't fantastically secretive about many things they do. The company still works frantically to try to shroud their product launches in as many layers of secrecy as always. Apple will certainly never be a company that puts out press releases about internal reorganizations or promotions, thank goodness. But in just 18 months, there has been a fundamental shift in the way the company communicates about the issues which have the greatest social impact on the world.

    It's a positive evolution, and one that is worth calling out. Frankly, I still think they could loosen up about the secrecy around product launches, too. But I don't care about that as long as it's not having a cost in either the quality of life of the people who make their products, or in the ability for those who support the Apple ecosystem to make a living on their own terms.

    And there's still a tremendous opportunity for a company to combine Apple's culture of design and user experience with a truly open and communicative style of doing business. In fact, I suspect it may be exactly that combination that would be required for the company to face a serious challenge in any of the many markets that it dominates.

    Dave Righetti: Lord Of The HR/FB Rate

    In a couple of recent posts, I created and then tested a regression model which helps explain the variance in home run per fly ball rate. I ended up with a model which performed really well, so it’s time to turn it loose on the question that sent me down this path in the first place: can Dave Righetti really coach his pitchers to a better HR/FB rate? It turns out, the answer may be “yes”, and it could be more emphatic than I would ever have guessed.

    Up until this point, the model included data from 2002-2009, leaving last season out of the sample for testing purposes. Now that I’m satisfied with the validity of the model, I’m going to throw the 2010 data into the sample to increase the sample size and get the most accurate coefficients as possible.

    The first instinct for testing this hypothesis might be to compare the model’s projections for Righetti’s Giants against the league average. But since there have been countless manager and pitching coach changes in the league since 2002, comparing Righetti against the aggregate performance of the rest of baseball might only prove that having a consistent coach produces better results. After all, a pitching coach who has held his job for nine-plus years must be doing something right. Instead, Righetti will be tested against the four other pitching coaches who have been with their teams since 2002. Those coaches are the Cardinals’ Dave Duncan, the White Sox’s Don Cooper, the Cubs’ Larry Rothschild and the Twins’ Rick Anderson. True, Rothschild is now with the Yankees, but since the time frame is 2002-2010, he is safe to include.

    The first test is to see how many of each coach’s starters outperformed the HR/FB rate that the model would predict. Using the same data restrictions from when the model was built (80-plus innings, same team all season), each coach has between 40 and 48 qualified pitcher-years in the sample, meaning one pitcher’s performance for one season. The question is simply: in how many of those instances did the pitcher outperform his expected HR/FB rate?

    For the most part, the model splits each coach’s qualified pitchers in half between those who outperformed their expected HR/FB rate and those who underperformed their projection. Righetti is the only exception. Of the 44 qualifying pitcher-years in Righetti’s reign with the Giants, 38 had a lower HR/FB rate than the model predicted. Considering none of these other coaches had even 60-percent of their pitchers fall on one side or the other, Righetti’s 86-percent rate of starters outperforming their expected HR/FB is simply stunning.

    Let’s take things to the next level. Instead of looking at only qualifying pitchers in select seasons (five of Righetti’s pitcher-years were Matt Cain), let’s look at every inning thrown by a starter over the past nine seasons. By plugging data from the multiple season database into the model, we get an expected overall HR/FB rate for the entire time period. Since park factor is one of the variables in the model, a weighted average of park factor was used for the nine seasons. This is particularly important for Anderson’s Twins since they moved ballparks during the time frame.

    Again, Righetti is the only pitching coach who seems to have any significant effect on HR/FB rate, and it’s decidedly negative. His starters have a HR/FB almost two standard deviations away from the model’s expectations, while none of the other coaches are over one standard deviation in either direction. Also note that this looks at more than 8,700 innings under each coach’s tutelage. To outperform the model’s expected rate, which predicts the Giants to have a below-average HR/FB already, seems beyond the bounds of luck.

    For one last test, let’s include relief pitchers into the sample. Until this point, relievers have been excluded due to their low sample of innings and a general propensity to have low HR/FB rates. But when looking at an aggregation of nine seasons of data, sample size is no longer an issue. It stands to reason that if Righetti can coach good HR/FB rates, he would let his relievers in on the secret as well.

    Game, set, match, Righetti. For 13,000 innings over nine seasons, his pitchers have outperformed their expected HR/FB rate by 1.5-percentage points, an effect none of the other four celebrated pitching coaches even came close to matching. Granted, HR/FB rate does not in itself equate to pitcher success, and it may not even be a priority for other coaches. For example, Duncan is notorious for his pitchers’ ground ball rates and Anderson for his staff’s low walk rates. But the question at hand was “Can HR/FB rate be coached?” From the looks of it, the answer may be, “Yes, but only if you are Dave Righetti.”

    Doing some quick math shows the impact of the Righetti effect. The Giants have faced 55,874 batters from 2002-2010. Subtracting strikeouts, walks, intentional walks, hit batters and errors results in about 39,000 balls in play. Over that time frame, the Giants had a 37.7 FB%, meaning there were about 14,700 fly balls hit. If the model’s 10.1 HR/FB rate for San Francisco was correct, then Giants’ opponents would have hit about 1,500 home runs, but opponents hit only 1,271 home runs. The difference is over 200 home runs, or about 25 per year.

    Considering an average home run is worth 1.42 runs and every 10 runs is roughly equivalent to a win, the team’s home run prevention has contributed about 30 wins to the Giants since 2002, or about three per season. If we were to give Righetti all of the credit for that difference based on an assumed ability to coach HR/FB alone, much less any effect from improving his pitchers’ traditional skills such as strikeout, walk, or ground ball rates, than Righetti would have created about $110 million in value for the Giants over the last nine years.

    It’s unlikely that the difference is all Righetti. We may be underestimating the park factor, or the Giants may target pitchers who can succeed specifically in their park. There is room for a lot of good luck in there as well. But, given that Righetti is one constant in a sea of ever changing variables, and the results continue to stay the same year in and year out, it’s likely that he is part of the answer. We probably need to start including him in discussions about the best pitching coaches in baseball.

    ‘You can no more ‘promote’ a writer to be an editor than you can ‘promote’ a plumber to be a gardener’

    Shared by Eve
    AGREE so fucking hard

    Son of Bold Venture
    “This is idiotic, and it happens all the time, and nine times out of ten you lose a good writer and end up with a mediocre editor,” Charles P. Pierce tells Chris Jones. “I am… Read more

    Magazine of the week: Gratuitous Type

    Type ephemera is always an easy win for designers. But it’s not always presented as beautifully as in new magazine Gratuitous Type, from Brooklyn US.

    The 32-page small format magazine desrcibes itself as ‘a pamphlet of typographic smut’ and relishes its obsession as it shares varied thoughts on typography. Content ranges from a look at how a small studio revisited rejected work (above)…

    …to Evelyn Kasikov’s handsewn typography.

    The centrespread, decorated with X-shaped balloons. carries a pull-out centrefold showcasing a collection of book covers from sixties/seventies Cuba.

    It starts with the spines (above) and opens out to reveal the covers (below). Simple and beautiful, and nicely subverting the traditional centrefold girl spread.

    The whole thing is beautifully executed, with obvious care and attention paid to every detail. Yet it doesn’t end up overdesigned or soul-less – the love for the subject matter shines through on every page. This timeline of one designer’s type preferences is typical – a delicately complied piece of info design that does it job well without falling into the faddish heavy infographic approach another magazine might have fallen into.

    Gratuitous Type is published and designed by Elana Sclenker.

    Buster Posey Is Deeply Admired

    There are ballplayers some fans admire to the point of wanting their autographs, and then there are ballplayers some fans admire to the point of wanting to wear them as pelts. Giants catcher Buster Posey, we must assume, has skin like fine Corinthian leather …

    Awesome? On some level. Shuddersome? On every level.

    (Curtsy: Big League Stew)

    The Sloan Baseball Analytics Panel

    FanGraphs was well represented at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, as this intrepid reporter trailed Daves Appelman and Cameron through the halls of the Boston Convention and Exposition Center in Boston this weekend. Unfortunately, baseball in general was not as well represented as it could have been. Maybe that’s not surprising for a conference started by Daryl Morey, GM of the Rockets, and scheduled during the beginning of spring training.

    The baseball highlight of the conference – other than some question-spawning research projects about featuring eight starting pitchers or refining pitch-type values – was the Baseball Analytics panel. On the panel, moderated by SBN baseball editor Rob Neyer, were Sportvision Director of Baseball Products Greg Moore, Red Sox Director of Baseball Information Services Tom Tippett, San Diego Padres Vice President of Strategy and Business Analysis John Abbamondi, Arizona Diamondbacks Scout Joe Bohringer, and noted Author and Roustabout Jonah Keri. Strong group.

    The biggest “news” of the round table was the long-rumored Command f/x tracking system from Sportvision. Some in the Pitch f/x community have bemoaned the inability to track the catcher’s glove – perhaps made difficult by the relative lack of contrast between the glove and a dark uniform. Moore said that his team is now able to track the glove so that analysts can identify if a pitcher is hitting his spots and if a catcher is framing well. Along with the possibilities of Field f/x, which will focus on defensive positioning and ball trajectory, Moore felt that we are getting closer to “encapsulating the game.”

    Tom Tippett agreed that the two new data streams were great advances because teams can now take a step back from results, focus on process a little more and find “quality pitches” by isolating what the player can control. After lamenting the fact that he feels that maybe he has to “throw away everything” he’s done in the last 20 years, Tippett went on to get excited about perfecting the “inexact science” that is figuring out the degree of difficulty of a defensive play.

    John Abbamondi agreed that these are exciting times, but also mentioned that it’s difficult to check our answers. If we get a surprising result from one of these systems, we don’t have a second source of data that we can use, and sometimes teams are left unsure of how much impact the result should have. Jonah Keri, always thinking, suggested we install chips in the player’s brains… no, uniforms. Then he asked if that was something that would need to be collectively bargained. Moore thought that because players “have their own space and then return to their space after the play,” camera-based tech was fine for baseball, and didn’t invite the questions a chip might.

    John Bohringer, who often helped bring the conversations to a practical, scouting-based point, mentioned that many of these tools only help in the “shallow end of the pool.” The minor leagues, college, international baseball makes up the “murky” deep end. He used a “see-saw” analogy to describe the relationship between data-based analysis and eyes-first analysis, saying that the deep end often needs the scouts (a.k.a. “professional guessers”) because of the incomplete data coming out of the minor leagues. Tippett agreed but felt that he could go further: “It’s all scouting.” Video, interviews, pitch f/x data, raw stats – these are all part of the “different ways we can talk about a player’s future.”

    A conversation about market inefficiencies spawned some repartee. Jonah Keri talked about the Rays, as is his wont, and pointed out that the team had a 2.5-year stretch in which no starters hit the DL. Yes, the team filled the roster with young, able-bodied players, but they also did a lot of work on injury prevention. Their stadium houses more after-game concerts than anyone. They’re looking for that edge anywhere. When Tippett felt like the possible inefficiencies at play were greater than 2% (‘when a player is overpaid, we don’t say he was overpaid by 2%”), Abbamondi essentially disagreed by pointing out that because of personnel movement around the game, inefficiencies last less time and shift quicker. He said execution was the key because of the fact that ideas often travel with management from team to team.

    Keri talked about how many teams missed out on a pudgy Dominican catcher that is now the best player in the game, and wondered what the Rays would be like today had they picked Albert Pujols. In one universe, perhaps Vince Naimoli is still the owner and the team re-signed some of their veterans to try to supplement their youth? After a shudder passed through most of the crowd, Tippett brought the laughs by pointing out that the Rays wouldn’t have had all those top-three picks, either.

    After talking about ticket sales and dynamic pricing (Abbamondi – don’t put up the cheaper think-ahead ticket prices at the walk-up ticket booth), the panel turned to some questions from the audience. One attendee wanted to know about how teams treat the data from the minor leagues, given baseball’s unique structure of progression from one level to the next. Tippett had a good point that though major league teams have to be results-oriented, they also want to know why something happened. The minor league teams are working on “developing players, not on winning,” which makes some of the low-minor data less reliable.

    Red Sox Beacon blogger Patrick Sullivan asked about Carl Crawford‘s contract. Specifically, does the deal mean that there’s “a lot of confidence in baseball about defense now?” Tippett acknowledged that the ‘story of the Red Sox going into 2010′ was that it was all about defense and run prevention, but that the team was just looking for valuable players. The Red Sox “have some confidence in defense and the importance of defense in winning baseball,” but if you add up Crawford’s home runs and triples, he’s in the thirties. “He has power.” Keri wondered if the value of his defense could be stunted by the green monster, even if Crawford can play the obstacle well, but Tippett said that all he could say is that they “spent a long time looking” at that issue, and don’t think his defensive value will be lessened by the monster.

    All in all, the panel was an excellent general overview of the state of analytics in baseball. The panelists were well chosen, thoughtful, and had insights into the role of data analysis in the production of a winning baseball team. The only complaint (other than the fact that it took too long to get Keri a working microphone) might be that it would have been nice to see more baseball infused into the rest of the conference. It seems that the organizers are aware of the issue, though, and potential changes may even be in the works. Kudos to MIT Sloan for organizing a great conference and bringing together the best in sports analytics on a cold March day in Boston.

    March 7, 2011

    Zero Hour in Benghazi

    Nicolas Pelham

    Joseph Koudelka

    Libya, 2009

    Two and a half weeks after shrugging off Colonel Qaddafi’s dictatorship, the rebels are continuing their carnival outside the courthouse in Benghazi, the city on Libya’s east coast where they have made their headquarters. Roaring crowds taunt Qaddafi to send his planes and tanks, and promise to brave them as they did his anti-aircraft guns. Mannequins with military boots swing from lampposts, enacting the colonel’s hanging. Cartoon graffiti of him as Abu Shafshufa—literally “father of the fuzzy hair”—cover the surrounding walls. And in cafes broadcasting Arabic news, Qaddafi’s appearance triggers cries of zanga, zanga, or dead-end.

    Western civil rights movements had Jim Morrison’s “Five to One”: “The old get the old and the young get stronger. They’ve got the guns, but we’ve got the numbers. Gonna win, yeah we’re takin’ over. Your ballroom days are over, baby.” Benghazi’s version is Adil Mshaitil, a 37-year-old Islamist doctor and former inmate of Qaddafi’s jails studying in London whose recordings have likewise become anthems for the Libyan uprising. “We’ll stay here until our pain disappears,” sings his voice—pure, pietist, and unaccompanied—against the backdrop of hooting and gunfire. “We will come alive and sweetly sing. Despite all the vengeance, we will reach the summit and scream to the heavens. We’ll stand together with balm and a pen.”

    Volunteers have replaced the authoritarian government. Stalls have sprouted across the forecourt of the rebel headquarters, serving free cups of macchiato, the ubiquitous legacy of Italy’s colonialism. Nine-year-old boys patrol the crawling traffic, cautioning drivers to buckle their seatbelts. Their brothers guard the central bank, and mow the lawns. Salim Faitouri, an oil engineer until the uprising began, has been supervising a catering operation that prepares hot meals for demonstrators and Benghazi’s poor.

    The rebels’ euphoria waxes and wanes with news from the violent front—now about halfway between Benghazi and the Libyan capital Tripoli to the west—and their own efforts to forge a new governing authority. Thanks to his brutality, Colonel Qaddafi has successfully turned the democracy uprising into a war in which, while the rebels have higher morale, he has the most money and arms. By killing many times more people than died in Egypt’s uprising—in a population less than a tenth the size—he has slowed the rebellion, something that neither Tunisia’s nor Egypt’s erstwhile leaders could achieve.

    But unlike the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, the revolt in Benghazi and across eastern Libya is fully fledged. Qaddafi’s revolutionary committees, people’s congresses, and security apparatus have disbanded, offering no interim stopgap. Even transitional institutions have to be built from scratch, by a population that for forty years has been severed from governing norms, and before that took lessons from Italian fascism.

    The east now has a National Transitional Council, which claims authority over the remnants of the armed forces and which is led by the former justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil. But many in the youth revolution consider the slight elderly former judge with an old-timer’s red felt hat too old-school. In the first days of their uprising, he was still in Qaddafi’s government; he defected on February 21, after protesting the colonel’s “excessive use of violence” against protesters. Aside from Abdel Jalil, all but six of the council’s members have refused to identify themselves for fear of reprisals and the council despite promises of transparency meets behind closed doors. Its first newspaper is as partisan and sycophantic as those it replaced.

    Supporters emphasize Abdel Jalil’s revolutionary credentials, but it is unclear whether he can fill the vacuum. Beyond the courthouse, government departments and schools have yet to open. And despite the council’s goading, many shops, police stations, and military bases remain shuttered, apparently because their proprietors are still hedging their bets. Though there has been little crime, frequent gunfire punctures Benghazi’s nights.

    Some speak of a lurking hidden paw of the colonel. “His revolutionary committees come out at night and shoot randomly,” says a National Transitional Council member. Businessmen receive warnings by text message. People who previously gave me their names are now asking that they be retracted. “Qaddafi has lived with us for so long, he entered our hearts,” apologizes an oil engineer talking oil politics. In a traffic jam, a car pulls up alongside mine and a Qaddafi loyalist reprimands my driver after eavesdropping. “We are all Muammar,” the driver obediently responds, curtailing his anti-Qaddafi tirade. In an alleyway of Benghazi’s old city, a tailor who normally stitches abayas—black tunics for women—shrinks when asked why he is now sewing rebel flags. “I have to make money,” he apologizes, and clams up.

    Their fears are not unfounded. Though it has lost its buildings, Qaddafi’s internal security apparatus remains at least partially in place. Hotel receptionists subserviently field calls from a regime informer seeking information about al-Jazeera. Intruders broke into one of the very few European consulates still open here, stole its computers, and warned the consul, who had lived for two decades in the city, to flee. In this highly centralized state in which communications are routed through Tripoli, the Qaddafis still retain control over the Internet, which they can flick off with a switch—as they did on the afternoon of March 3 (it remains off)—and over both mobile phone companies. Mohammed Qaddafi, the colonel’s eldest son, owns all three. As the colonel noted in a recent speech, “it’s my country.”

    Worse than the fear has been the east’s degradation. The second city of Africa’s richest country, Benghazi is a pot-holed, battered wreck. Most of the housing predates the colonel’s rule, though the population has since quadrupled to about 700,000. The Ottoman quarter, Sidi Harabish, an architectural gem, lies sunk in a swamp of sewage. The ochre plasterwork of its walls is peeling off. In a land littered with ancient ruins, Benghazi once had a museum, but it was closed in 1980. Though the country produces some two million barrels of oil a day, the city’s marketplaces look like sub-Saharan shacks. Mari’a Kashmi, a veteran of Qaddafi’s wars in Chad and Uganda, takes home a soldier’s salary of 250 dinars a month, enough to house his four children in a single damp room. “Qaddafi cares about oil, not people,” he says. “He hates us.”

    The roads out of Benghazi reveal more desolation. Qaddafi’s Green Book economics has turned Cyrenaica’s farms—once the ancient world’s bread-basket—into dusty wastelands where goats roam, fed on stale bread. The one suspension bridge through the nearby Green Mountains was built under the monarchy. In recent years, the colonel’s state investments, prodded by his besuited son, Seif al-Islam, have only compounded the negligence. Foreign contractors imported hundreds of thousands of migrant laborers to implement projects despite Libya’s chronic unemployment. In the scrub west of Benghazi, Chinese workers, fleeing conflict, have left behind an unfinished tenement city based on a Beijing blueprint, replete with acres of concrete uniform blocs. A new Turkish-designed motorway heading west lies half-buried in sand. In the city center the few new buildings are hotels, for foreigners.

    All of which makes it easy for alternative forces—the army, the tribes, and the Islamists—to claim that they can make better use of Libya’s oil wealth. None are in great shape. After successive attempted coups by the armed forces in the 1970s, Colonel Qaddafi sent the army into Chad, and in the rout that followed thousands—senior officers among them—were captured. Later, Islamist groups emerged as the prime challengers, only to be similarly beaten down. In the mid-1990s, a group of jihadists returning from Afghanistan formed the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and waged war on Libya’s modern infidel. Hundreds, including many who had nothing to do with the violence, were rounded up and subjected to gross abuse. When a riot erupted in Tripoli’s political prison, Busalim, in 1996, Qaddafi’s guards shot 1,270 prisoners dead—all but 30 of them Islamists.

    Paradoxically, the killing designed to liquidate Qaddafi’s opposition may turn out to be a cause of his demise. In mid-December 2010, Busalim survivors set a date for February 17, 2011, to coincide with the fifth anniversary of an earlier Benghazi protest the authorities had suppressed, and they gained inspiration from the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings. In fact, they were pre-empted by fourteen lawyers protesting on February 15, two days before the planned rally, against the detention of a fellow lawyer, Fathi Turbil, who represented families of the Busalim victims seeking the return of their bodies. Seizing the moment, Mohammed Bu Sidra and other preachers issued fatwas declaring nonparticipation in street protests a sin. Under pressure from their young members, local tribal sheiks echoed the call, declaring that anyone who suppressed the protests would lose tribal protection. Army commanders in the east defected en masse.

    John Moore/Getty Images

    Opposition protest signs sit in a rebel press center in Benghazi, Libya, March 4, 2011

    Will the rebel alliance survive? To date, inclusiveness has been its hallmark. For such a violent revolutionary regime, revenge killings have been remarkably infrequent—at least for now. Young urban lawyers sit side-by-side with tribal elders and Islamists on the National Council. A non-Islamist lawyer serves as the council spokesman, and a staunch secularist is charged with running Benghazi’s education. The politicians have also consciously wooed the armed forces; youth protestors and the old border guards man their side of the border with Egypt together. Still, the armed forces will likely remain too fragile to safeguard the revolution during the transitional period. Tribal irregulars, not the army, recaptured the oil-rich town of Brega west of Benghazi. The army has also proved unable to ward off tribesmen raiding by the truckload huge armories of such heavy weapons as Sam-7s abandoned by the colonel’s militias.

    In cities across Libya, Islamist groups have proved more efficient at responding to the collapse of authority. While council members squabble for positions inside the courthouse, Islamist leaders escorted by followers with walkie-talkies emerge from their tents to mobilize the large crowds with sermons and open-air prayers in the square below. Mosques formerly required to close between prayer times are now open round the clock, and imams call for an armed jihad against Qaddafi in Friday sermons—where politics was previously banned. Salim Jaber, who heads the religious affairs office of the Benghazi council, has transferred responsibility for food distribution to Benghazi’s poor from the local markets to the mosques. Unlike in Egypt where the beltagiya, or street thugs, rampaged for several days through downtown Cairo, religious injunctions against looting ensured that attacks quickly subsided. Mosques organized collections of local weapons. And sheikhs on Benghazi’s new Free Libya radio have called on their followers to take over the jobs left by departing migrant workers.

    To a significant extent, Islamists have also extended their influence into Qaddafi-ruled territory. In Tripoli, leading preachers used fatwas to bring supporters out on the streets in defiance of curfews and militiamen who opened fire. Sheikh Sadiq al-Ghaliani, Libya’s most prominent cleric, also ruled against accepting bribes, curbing the regime’s attempts to buy loyalty. “Qaddafi, Tajoura [a city fourteen miles east of Tripoli] will be your grave,” scrawled his followers on the walls near his Saad bin Amr mosque.

    For now, most Islamists have given their assent to the National Transitional Council’s declaration authorizing UN-approved international intervention, including American airstrikes, on Qaddafi. Even jihadi groups openly look to the West to recognize civil institutions, and hope the Western powers will support democratic over military rule. But if popular mood turns against outside operations, the jihadi forces could yet play to the gallery. “No to Military Intervention,” declare the large billboards on roads outside Benghazi. “Libyans can do it alone.”

    Such messages are not only aimed at Western forces. Libyan Islamists appear equally fearful that if Western countries do enter the war, global jihadi groups might seek to turn the southern Mediterranean into their next theater. “We think we can do it ourselves without Osama bin Laden,” says Islamist leader Busidra, who is close to Libya’s jihadi groups. “Otherwise the rest of the world will be against us, and join in and it will be like the Spanish civil war.” Concerned about their own survival, he fears, military regimes in Algeria and Egypt could prop up the Qaddafi regime, not least with fresh supplies of mercenaries.

    A quick overthrow of Qaddafi might not guarantee stability either. In the past, the strong-man dominated; but with a more consensual politics each faction will demand its share. Oil workers will likely form unions, the army will want its reward for switching sides, and the tribes will seek royalties for using their land for drilling and piping oil. They all want a greater proportion of the wealth that Qaddafi hitherto kept for himself and his allies. If any of the constituencies are dissatisfied, a central authority is likely to be too weak to prevent them from resorting to force to further their claims. Thanks, after all, to their looted caches of weapons.

    Sencha’s HTML5 Developer Scorecard for the Motorola Xoom

    Aditya Bansod:

    Like we did with the Samsung Galaxy Tab we’re going to put the Xoom through the wringer, focusing on the browser to see how it performs and behaves for the mobile HTML5 developer. The short answer? The Xoom browser is not ready for prime-time — even for “HTML4” — and it urgently needs a patch update if Motorola wants the product to succeed.

    Performance looks great, and it seems very capable at browsing typical websites. What Sencha is looking at are HTML5 and CSS 3 features, and treating the tablet as a mobile web app target. Sounds rushed to market, too:

    We found consistent and reproducible issues in CSS3 Animations and CSS3 Transitions among other things. We had issues where the browser either hung or crashed. Regular scrolling was slow or below full framerate. We had issues where media playback failed or performed incorrectly. At times it felt like we were using a preproduction device, but we bought our test device from a Verizon Wireless store.


    For the luvapete, don’t ever use this. (Via Dave Winer’s linkblog.)

    The Joe West Montage

    And sometimes we must heed the call of a phenomenon whose power is more than we can rightly behold …

    Grammy Award Winner Visits W+K

    We had the honor of having Shannon Sanders perform in our atrium today. Shannon is a two-time Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter and producer for india.aire, John Legend and Johnny Lange. Check out the video and pictures below of his performance. Big thanks to Shannon for serenading us today!


    Help Us Fix This CSS Problem and Win $2,000

    Help Us Fix This CSS Problem and Win $2,000:

    They’ll do anything to win this bet!

    Here comes YouTube Next.

    Excited to share the news that our team is now a part of YouTube, and starting tomorrow I’ll be Director of the YouTube Next Lab, continuing our work here at the Next New offices in New York. Lots more to come… in the meantime, here’s Fred’s post about it all.


    Today, we’re very excited to share the news that Next New Networks is now part of YouTube. Our company will become a core component of YouTube Next, a new team that will focus on supercharging content creator development on YouTube, driving deeper expertise in partner audience development, and incubating new ideas that can be shared with the broader community.

    Since we launched in March 2007, we’ve had the goal of building an effective platform for developing, packaging and building audiences for original web video programming. To date, that programming has been viewed over 2 billion times and built a following of more than 6 million subscribers. A big part of that growth has been the more than 60 independent producers who have partnered with us as part of the Next New Creators program, including popular YouTube partners such as The Gregory Brothers, Hot for Words, and Nalts, in addition to the ongoing growth of networks like Barely Political (home of Obama Girl and “The Key of Awesome”), Indy Mogul, ThreadBanger, and Fast Lane Daily.

    While our team will continue to work out of our offices here in New York as the YouTube Next Lab and Audience Development Group, I’ll be stepping down from a rewarding stint as the company’s CEO and continue producing cartoons from my company, Frederator Studios. Our popular cartoon network, Channel Frederator, will continue its partnership with YouTube, and I’m looking forward to a close and fruitful relationship with the company personally and professionally. Our current chairman, Lance Podell, will also be joining the YouTube Next team as global head for the group. 

    Everyone here is very excited to work even more closely with the YouTube team, and looking forward to expanding our mission to provide guidance and support in creative, production, and audience development to all aspiring and current YouTube partners.

    Thank you, everyone. It’s been a great beginning.

    – Fred Seibert, CEO and Co-Founder, recently watched “Moustaches,” by mrweebl.

    Yu Suzuki reveals how Shenmue was meant to end

    Gamasutra has a post-GDC writeup of his Shenmue postmortem; also: the Another World, Marble Madness, Cave Story and Maniac Mansion postmortems  

    Meet & Eat: Grant Achatz


    [Photograph: Electric Artists]

    In 2005, Grant Achatz opened Alinea in Chicago, already well on his way to being established as one of America's premiere chefs. Over the last five years, Achatz's progressive approach to the culinary arts has earned him numerous accolades, including the James Beard Outstanding Chef Award in 2008 and a Three Star Michelin rating for Alinea in November 2010.

    Having just published his memoir, Life on the Line detailing his path to culinary greatness and his coinciding battle with tongue cancer, Achatz has simultaneously been in the process of opening his restaurant project Next, and the accompanying bar Aviary.

    With all of these accomplishments, it's no wonder the USA Network will honor Achatz with their Character Approved award on March 8 (it's airing at 11 PM EST on the USA Network). With the awards quickly approaching, we had the opportunity to chat with Grant about his upcoming projects.

    [Video: USA Character Approved on YouTube]

    Do you ever get chef's block? You can't expect to be creative everyday. You'd have to be super human. One day I get an idea for a dish that I think is really compelling, but it may be another four days before I get that light bulb moment again. You can't force creativity. But now with Alinea running at full steam and Next and Aviary opening in a month, the creative avenues have tripled. If I am having a block with Alinea, I can shift to cocktails. If cocktails aren't working, maybe I come up with something for Next. It's both added pressure and added relief.

    In 2009 you mentioned that food is in a transitional time. Are projects like Next and Aviary responses to the transforming food landscape? I don't think those are directly related. It's a collision of a bunch of different things. You get to a point where you want a new challenge. You grow as a person and as a creator. Alinea is amazing, it's my baby, but I want something else to get excited by.

    'Next' Restaurant Trailer

    What's up with buying tickets to Next instead of just making a reservation? That's creativity as well. Nick, my business partner, said, "you know, Chef, this doesn't make any sense to me. Everybody that opens a restaurant does it exactly the same way. Why don't we identify the elements of operating a restaurant that clearly don't work, rip the whole thing apart and put it back together in a way that makes sense as a business, then maybe we'll have something."

    So having five reservationists—a grand total of $175,000 a year—to answer the phone from 9AM to 6PM, and tell people they cannot come to our place to spend money, because we're full, that makes absolutely no sense.

    For Next you will have four menus a year, and each one is a different time and place. How much poetic license are you going take with those menus? We're starting out with Paris 1912 Escoffier. Anyone who has read any of Escoffier's cookbooks knows they are incredibly vague. Back in the early 1900s, they didn't have a VitaPrep blender. He pushed everything through a fine screen. Do we use a screen to uphold the authenticity of Escoffier? Or, do we use a blender to uphold Escoffier's philosophy about using the technology we have? Of course you'll use the blender.

    When we go into the future, Bangkok 2060, obviously nobody knows what it's going to be like in 2060. So, sure, we're going to take some poetic license. But you can bet we'll do our homework and look at where Thai food has been the last couple of hundred years, identify the way it's swung, and try to extrapolate what WE think it might be like in 2060.

    It looks like the Modernist Cuisine cookbook is going to have some adapted Alinea recipes. Do you align yourself with the Modernist movement? I will by no means parallel myself with the Beatles, but they went through their career, starting off in Liverpool playing one kind of music, then came to the States. By the time they did the White Album, stylistically, they were executing from a far different place. Alinea is aligned with the Modernist Cuisine movement but me, personally, I have the opportunity, to be at one time a modernist chef, then over at Next, I can be something entirely different.

    Who do you consider to be the target audience for cookbooks like Modernist Cuisine or Alinea's? Do you see the future American kitchen incorporating dishes like these? We understood when we published the Alinea book in 2008 that a small handful of people would cook out of it. But we also know, because that book was published, it lends a little more credibility to the movement. Ten years from now, it might be more popular for people to cook like this at home, for the very reason that we printed those books.

    What's the best thing you've recently eaten for under $20? We were in Tokyo about six months ago and had the most amazing bowl of ramen. It was bigger than my head. It would be like four meals for under $20, if you don't count the flight.

    Over $150? It was in Sapporo, Japan. When the chef came out at the end of the meal, I felt like I already knew him. I had never met him before, nor could we communicate, but I felt like there was this connection after eating his food. And to me that's magical.


    Pizza pizza!

    At Slice we profile pizza obsessives with the following question: The Pizza Cognition Theory states that "the first slice of pizza a child sees and tastes ... becomes, for him, pizza." Do you remember your first slice? Where was it from, and is the place still around? Not my very first slice, but I could probably tell you where it was from. It was literally Little Caeser's pizza in my tiny hometown. Every Friday night that was like the go-to in my house.

    Are you into deep dish? I am, but I prefer thin. I had the best pizza experience in my life about 3 weeks ago. It was at Great Lake, here in Chicago. It's a tiny little place, husband and wife team, BYOB. They have one pizza they make a night. You walk in, you get your salad, you get your pizza—whatever they're making that night. It's freaking awesome, man.

    An Excerpt From "Kapitoil"

    by Teddy Wayne

    Teddy Wayne's debut novel, Kapitoil, opens up The 2011 Tournament of Books at The Morning News tomorrow, squaring off against a little-known novel called Freedom by some guy whose name we forget. Kapitoil was named one of Booklist's "Top 10 First Novels of 2010," among other honors, and an excerpt won a 2010 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship. Its narrator is Karim Issar, a young, socially awkward computer programmer from Doha, Qatar, who comes to Wall Street in the boom times of 1999 and writes a program that accurately predicts oil futures based on geopolitical news articles. Karim has learned his stilted—though grammatically perfect—English through the worlds of finance and technology. In this excerpt, he attends a party in Brooklyn thrown by his colleague Rebecca, with whom there has been some possible romantic tension.

    Jessica left to talk with Rebecca and her friends, and she returned to our circle and asked, “Anyone for weed?”

    Everyone else said yes. “You want to have some fun, Karim?” Jessica said.

    I said loudly, “Yes, I would like to have some fun.”

    She said “All right,” and we all followed her to Rebecca in the corner. Rebecca watched me closely. She whispered, “You know what this is, right?”

    “I am not a child,” I said. “I know about marijuana.”

    “Okay, sorry,” she said.

    Jessica retrieved from a closet a tall red plastic cylinder that had a metal smoking pipe attached to it. She took it to the kitchen, and when she returned the cylinder was partially filled with water. One of the men removed a clear bag with marijuana in it. He inserted his fingers in the bag to pinch a small quantity, as if his hand was a machine that picks up dirt, and carefully deposited it in the pipe.

    I observed him closely so that when it was my turn I would not humiliate myself. He covered a small hole in the cylinder with his index finger while he moved an activated lighter over the marijuana, then he inhaled from the cylinder and simultaneously removed his index finger. The smoke passed through the water, and I hypothesized that it made it less carcinogenic and softer for the lungs, which made me less nervous about inhaling it, as I have never even used a hookah.

    Then he contained his breath for over ten seconds before he exhaled the smoke like a factory chimney. After he finished he said, “That’s a totally groovy bong, dude” in an intentionally false and high voice, and everyone else laughed with him although I didn’t know why, and I decided I should not make any more jokes in the U.S. because I still didn’t understand the logic of humor here.

    He shifted the bong clockwise to the next person. I was next, and while the female next to me inhaled, Rebecca looked at me again as if she was afraid for me.

    When I received the bong, I inflamed the marijuana for a long time and inhaled strongly. The water inside made a quiet bubbling sound that was pleasing and then the marijuana smoke reached my lungs, and it burned and produced tears in my eyes, but I closed them and continued inhaling at the same pace as if I was a machine that could proceed infinitely. When I was finally done, Jessica said, “Damn, Karim knows how to par-tay!” and I still contained my breath for even longer than the previous two people. By the time I exhaled there were just a few clouds of smoke, so I had absorbed the lion’s share of it and was using the product efficiently.

    I felt slightly imbalanced, but I was not truly inebriated yet. They passed the bong around the circle, and the originator asked if we were up for another round. A few people, including Rebecca, said they had inhaled a sufficient amount, but Jessica said she wanted more and asked if I did, and I said, “If you have enough remaining I would like more,” not only because I wanted to see what the true sensation was like but also to show Rebecca that I knew how to party.

    I watched the first man produce another cloud of smoke. I thought about how it was previously the marijuana plant, which came in a larger shipment that was probably sold by a drug dealer with a small income who bought it in a much larger shipment from a drug dealer with a larger income and so on, and was transported into this country by a drug dealer with an even larger income, and originally derived from marijuana plants in the ground, but that it was picked by someone with a very small income. It is always a valuable exercise to evaluate how a product arrives at its consumer, because it shows how many middle men there are and whose labor helps determine the market price.

    When the smoke contacted my lungs on the next round, it didn’t burn at all, and my body instantly felt lighter, as if someone had rotated a dial and reduced the gravity in the room.

    After I handed the bong to Jessica I thought about how:

    • 1. The party was not stimulating the economy, because most of what the guests consumed for entertainment at the party minus the alcohol was either essentially “free” (all the food was homemade, although the raw materials were purchased elsewhere) or not purchased from a store (the marijuana) or was previously purchased and reused (e.g., the music);

      • a) but then it also meant the guests were not paying for middle men or advertising;
      • b) and ultimately they were creating a “product” (a social event providing entertainment) from almost nothing via creativity and cooperation;

        • i. which is impossible in the physical world in which matter cannot be created or destroyed;

          • 1. but this is how human emotions and intangible products differ from objects;

            • a. and the most powerful material/emotion that you truly derive from nothing is love, which does not require a source and has no limit;

              • i. e.g., I have infinitely loved Zahira since the first time I saw her and will always feel that way.

    As I concluded this thought, I observed Rebecca more closely than I would normally, especially the small area between her lips and her nose and the soft angles of the two vertical lines there, and I almost became imbalanced, but I put my hand on the wall and remained vertical. I could hear the blood zooming in my ears like water boiling in a teapot, and I licked my dry lips.

    I craved water but I couldn’t go to the kitchen because I didn’t want anyone to see me in this condition. I went down a hallway to the restroom on the other side of the apartment.

    The restroom was locked, so I leaned against the wall. It hurt my back and I plummeted slowly until I was sitting. That was uncomfortable also, and then I noticed an open door to another room. Multiple coats covered the bed in a pile like a bowl of colorful herbs, and I considered that if coats were allowed to be on the bed then I could be as well.

    The room had only a small lamp on for minimal light. A picture of Rebecca’s brother was on the table by the bed and next to a black-and-white picture of a young female with long straight hair who looked like Rebecca. Three framed paintings hung on her walls of men’s faces in colors such as orange and blue and green that looked like the inverted true colors.

    A bottle of prescription pills was next to her pictures. I rotated it to read the label:

    Rebecca Goldman
    Take daily with food (150mg)

    I rotated it back and reviewed the paintings. The men looked like aliens, and their faces were very angry and sad simultaneously, and my heart accelerated and my skin perspired at an infinite number of points. I sat on the bed where there weren’t any coats and reclined and closed my eyes because the ceiling looked like it was spinning. Then I grew very panicked, because I knew I did not have complete control over my thoughts anymore, and I didn’t want to be at the party anymore and I regretted inhaling marijuana smoke only to impress Rebecca.

    I tried to regulate my breathing but I was inhaling shallowly, and then a voice said “Here,” and a cold wet cloth was on my forehead and absorbing the perspiration, and when I opened my eyes Rebecca was leaning over me. She said, “You’ve been gone almost half an hour,” even though it seemed like only a few minutes.

    “I am not feeling well,” I said.

    She continued petting my forehead. “Just stay still.”

    We stayed like that for a few minutes and my breathing deepened. “Do you think some slow music will help?” she asked, and I nodded.

    I closed my eyes and focused on the words of the singer on the stereo she said was named Leonard Cohen, and it helped reroute my brain from panicking. The line “Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm” especially helped because I had to mentally link the two images, and it was a logical connection I had never previously considered, and after he sang that I opened my eyes and Rebecca’s hair was now hanging down on the pillow like falling black water and covering everything else around my face like a cylinder and all I could see was her face looking down at me, and my body felt more stabilized.

    “Who produced these paintings?” I asked.

    “My brother,” she said. “He’s studied art since he was little.”

    “Zahira is artistic as well.” I didn’t know what else to say in that position. “But my father discouraged her from taking classes like that when she was young.”

    “That’s a shame,” she said. “Girls can do whatever they want here.” She removed the cloth from my forehead. Then she lowered her head and her hair touched my face like feathers. Her eyes fluctuated quickly from my eyes to my chest, and her warm breath moved over me, and my heart accelerated again.

    I said, “Rebecca,” because the silence felt like shallow breaths again, and she didn’t answer, so I said her name again and she said, “God, it’s been a while,” and I wasn’t certain what she was referring to but I had an idea, so I said, “Then possibly—”

    Before I could finish my sentence, which was going to be “Then possibly we should first discuss this situation from other angles,” she sat up and said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, this is a mistake.” She kept saying the word “mistake” to herself as she stood up and moved away from the bed.

    I said I was feeling enhanced and should go home, even though I was perspiring again, and tried to find my coat. The pile was large, and Rebecca stood there while I searched. She said, “You must think I’m a real shithead,” which almost made me laugh after I had analyzed the word, but because I didn’t know how to respond I looked around while I continued feeling through the pile and saw her blue wool hat on her desk.

    I said, “That is a nice hat,” and she said, “My mother knitted it for me,” and suddenly I became very sad thinking about her mother producing a hat for her, even though there is of course nothing truly sad about it for her, but I could feel pressure behind my eyes, so I refocused on the pile and finally found my coat at the bottom and said I would see her on Monday and walked out while holding it, and I exited the party without saying goodbye to anyone and took a taxi home.

    Teddy Wayne is the author of Kapitoil. He lives in New York.


    Who’s That Pokemon?!

    It’s Joe West!

    Announcement: New FanGraphs Logo

    Collect the whole series.

    Every building in NYC

    James Gulliver Hancock is attempting to draw every building in NYC. Here are a few buildings on Rivington:

    James Gulliver Hancock

    See also Every Person In New York.

    Tags: art   James Gulliver Hancock   NYC

    Bobbito Instore at Good Records, NYC

    A Discussion With The Auteur Behind "Racist Cat"

    by Alex Balk

    "Renaissance Man" is an appellation bestowed too freely these days, but if anyone is deserving of the title it is David Cho. Entrepreneur, web designer, social networking theorist, food critic and visual artist of striking conviction (his vociferous campaign against the placement of awl imagery, while wrongheaded, reveals a creative confidence that defies popular taste in favor of a spare and unforgiving aesthetic), Cho's most expressive work comes in the medium of YouTube annotation. In a series of short films that he has birthed over the last few years, Cho has given us a new way of seeing. (When Cho's Dancing trilogy debuted at Cannes, director Werner Herzog famously despaired of his own ability to achieve such an uncompromising vision.) While often perplexing, these works do what the best art does: they force us to confront a world in which certitude no longer exists and perspective is distorted by the fun-house mirror of identity. We spoke with him briefly about his latest project, Racist Cat.

    The Awl: It's always a tricky thing to ask an artist about his intentions, but I'm curious about what you're trying to say with Racist Cat.
    David Cho: I find it amusing to attribute human characteristics to things that can't actually possess those traits.

    So you're denying that there's some larger statement to it about cultural stereotypes or the feline bigotry? That seems a bit disingenuous.
    Any stereotypes we put on the cat are more of a reflection of ourselves. The animals are just screens that we project upon in the theatre we call life.

    But the title itself contains so much ambiguity. Is the cat racist or is the cat being put in a racist scenario? Or were you trying to suggest something altogether different?
    Look inside yourself. Look past yourself. That's where the answer is.

    I can see you want to leave it open to interpretation. Fair enough. I have a question about form, though: What I find most remarkable about Racist Cat is its concision. You've managed to pack several layers of meaning into a short period. Is that itself a statement on the fast pace of our modern world, or were you attempting to convey a message about the way racism permeates even our most brief interactions?
    I believe less is more. Think about it: Everything happens in an instant. How many interactions or experiences do you have that last longer than this film? Or are they just a series of smaller instances that go on to create something bigger? The cat in Racist Cat… it's a stranger whose reality you have the opportunity to make into whatever you want, because all you see is this brief window on his life. Did he drink that beer on the table? Where did the gyoza originally come from? That's all up to you.

    You've given us a lot to think about. One last question: Variety is reporting that you're in talks to helm your long-gestating project Jew-Hating Ferret for DreamWorks Animation. Can we expect to see an expansion of the themes touched on in Cat or are you going in a different direction?
    It would be premature to talk about anything beyond what I've already shown you. For what it's worth, though, I think my canon speaks for itself: Dancing Bear, Dancing Grimace, Dancing Panda, A Group Of Ducks Is Blown Away By The Wind… the work answers any questions you might have.

    And with that Cho takes his leave. "I have so much more to do," he says, with a mercurial twinkle in his eye. It's a fool's errand to bet on what to expect next from David Cho, but one thing seems sure: it'll probably have animals in it.


    Lord of the Rings extended version on Blu-ray

    This thing is going to look amazing in full 1080p. Available for pre-order on Amazon for $84.

    Tags: Lord of the Rings

    The economics of Business Insider | Felix Salmon | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters.com

    It’s pretty clear, at this point, that Blodget has given up on the idea of producing premium content for an elite Wall Street audience. Just like Nick Denton before him, he’s decided that there’s no money in micropublishing, and that if he wants to be very profitable, he’s going to have to go mass-market. Already he claims 8 million unique visitors, and he clearly looks forward to seeing that number rise substantially; there’s nothing elite about an audience that size, and when blogs grow that big they invariably leave their more elite readers behind.

    Lukas Mathis on Multitasking

    Lukas Mathis:

    However, the argument that multitasking on computers is bad because humans can’t multitask is flawed. It uses the word “multitasking” in two different ways, but implies that the two kinds of multitasking are somehow the same thing. They’re not: a task (or an app) on a computer, and a task performed by a human don’t map to each other one-to-one. In fact, a single task performed by a human can easily make use of several applications running concurrently on a computer.

    Completely agree. This is why I tend to use my iPad for distinct tasks. It’s better than the Mac for things like long-form reading and movie watching, and, for me, perhaps, long-form writing. (I wrote “The Chair” entirely on the iPad, on the flight home from San Francisco.) It’s limiting, though, compared to the Mac, for human tasks that span multiple apps, like the short-form blogging I’m doing right now. I’ve never seen anyone put it so succinctly as Mathis does here: human tasks and computer apps don’t necessarily map one-to-one.

    this is the epitome of tumblr.

    this is the epitome of tumblr.

    Kevin Slavin’s brilliant talk on how algorithms govern our...

    Kevin Slavin’s brilliant talk on how algorithms govern our lives

    Stealth bombers that try to look like flocks of tiny birds. Financial organizations trying to move closer to the internet. Reducing the Emperor of Wine to an algorithm.

    Algorithms determine what movies we watch, who we date, how we get to places, and who gets arrested.

    Kevin puts it all together in a talk that is both brilliant and eye opening.

    This is my favorite conference talk of a very young 2011.

    Note: Tricia just quoted me Mark Poster’s bit about how humans and machines constitute an interface outside the subject-object binary (translation: it’s maybe not so black and white, good vs evil.) I would say that this compliments Kevin’s talk and doesn’t contradict it (listen to the stuff at the end about humans, denial, and storytelling.)

    from Lift11

    The Ashtray Argument

    Errol Morris is back with his first NY Times blog post since last summer. Don't quite know where he's going with it yet, but it features an ashtray thrown at Morris' head by Thomas Kuhn, father of the paradigm shift and poor marksman.

    I had written a paper on James Clerk Maxwell's displacement current for Kuhn's seminar on 19th century electricity and magnetism. The paper might have been 30 or so double-spaced pages. Kuhn's reply, typed on unlined yellow paper, was 30 pages, single-spaced, with Courier marching all the way from the left to the right side of the paper. No margins. He was angry, really angry.

    Tags: Errol Morris   Thomas Kuhn


    We are super excited to announce a new program called...


    We are super excited to announce a new program called Ask The Author, featuring Simon & Schuster writers.

    This is the first use of the VYou API, which allows for a slick integration over on simonandschuster.com, where you’ll can find such authors as Chuck Klosterman, Chris Cleave, Lisa McMann, and Brad Thor interacting with their audiences.

    The channel also exists on VYou: Ask The Author.

    From today’s Wall Street Journal story, Writers Get Close on Web, about the program:

    “The author who can build a tribe via one-to-one connections, at mass, is guaranteed a career and is also going to have to work at it pretty much full time,” said Seth Godin.

    The VYou video works like this: VYou.com hosts a page that contains an author video on the left, with room for questions that have been answered on the right. The author decides which questions to answer or ignore. Only questions that authors have addressed are shown on the page. Every time a question is clicked, the corresponding video plays.

    The VYou video player can be embedded elsewhere by anybody who wants to grab it and put it on Facebook, other Web pages or blogs.

    Talk to you favorite authors!

    Good morning/Good links

    - The New York Times on TWEETS FROM TAHRIR!

    - Great piece about Broadcastr on Filmmaker Magazine. We’d spend all day on Broadcastr if only listening to spoken word didn’t make us send work emails that make no sense…

    - Choire Sicha on the Tina Brown Newsweek: ” I am impressed that it directly addresses 44-year-olds—almost any other magazine launch would be gunning for 32-year-olds.”

    - Lazy Self-Indulgent Book Reviews on Eileen Myles’ INFERNO. Yes. Yes.

    Posted by Fern

    Cigarettes Out, Obesity In

    by Edith Zimmerman

    "Obesity is almost like the new smoking." —… Is the one fun line in an otherwise fully grim article about cancer. @ 9:30 am


    Duke and the Charlie Brown Coefficient

    Duke and the Charlie Brown Coefficient:

    With Duke Snider's passing this weekend, there's been a lot of discussion of the three great New York centerfielders of the 1950s - the famous 'Willie, Mickey, and the Duke' trio. And with good cause: Snider was a great player who, for better or worse, will always be tied to those two all-time greats. The fact that he wasn't the equal of Mays or Mantle is no blemish on his fine career.

    There is at least one other metric that we can use to compare the three centerfielders that I think many have neglected. We'll call it the 'Charlie Brown Coefficient.'

    As you recall, the Peanuts comic strip was published daily from October 1950 until February 2000. In that time, nearly 18,000 strips were drawn, with a full 10% featuring baseball in some way. The height of the strip - and of its baseball fandom - came in the 1960s, though the late-1950s and early-1970s saw their fair share of top-notch strips. That also happened to be the era of Willie, Mickey, and the Duke. How often, then, were each of the three centerfielders mentioned by Charlie Brown and friends?"

    The answer won't surprise you, as Larry Granillo notes, Charles Schulz lived in Northern California.

    The Racism Of Frame

    On Friday I joked on twitter, the other day, that biggest problem with attempting to write smart is that you end up attracting people who really are smart. And sometimes they write in to tell you you're wrong. And sometimes, In such cases, your forced to acknowledge their point.

    At the end of this post I said of Huck's ridiculous Obama/Kenya comparison, "This is not skin-color prejudice." Numerous people have noted that, well, it kinda is. A sample or three.

    Aside from the fact that Obama's father was passed over by Kenyatta, you have the fact that the Mau Mau Rebellion was primarily a Kikuyu rebellion, the result of Kikuyu being kicked off their lands by white settlers. The war was primarily fought between Mau Mau Kikuyu and Kikuyu loyal to the colonial state. Fewer than 100 Europeans died in the rebellion...tens of thousands of Kikuyu died. The lazy assumption that Obama's father, a Luo by birth, would have been a part of the Mau Mau Rebellion simply underscores the fact that Europeans and Americans have NEVER understood the Mau Mau Rebellion. To them it just meant "black people doing crazy things." Huxley called it "the yell from the swamp." It was uncivilized, savage, a revolt against civilization. The fact that it was connected to real grievances by the Kikuyu, that it was a product also of Kenya's very divided ethnic heritage (as witnessed by Kenyatta's favoritism towards Kikuyu during his long presidency, and the bloody and protracted battle between Luo and Kikuyu after the 2007 elections) is ignored, or better yet, never understood in the first place. 

    I disagree with the opening post in that I think this does have something to do with skin color. Because Kenya's anti-colonialism was black, it is easier for idiotic people like Huckabee to claim that it is somehow bad if an African has a negative view of British colonialism. Imagine Huckabee trying to say the same thing about a white victim of colonization, be it the Irish, the Dutch settlers in South Africa up to the Boer War, or Canadians. There's no way, no way at all, that Huckabee would employ the same language and the same dismissive contempt for an entire people's aspirations for freedom and independence. This is absolutely about race, about Obama's "otherness," an argument that is made so much easier by Obama's ancestors and his mixed skin color. Moderate Flag.

    In an editorial they wrote during the height of Mau Mau, the Times said: "We live in a tortured period of history when strange and primitive forces are coming into their own again. Our civilization often seems but a veneer covering a dark abyss. Now and then the surface is pierced and we see frightening things." That was part of their commentary on Mau Mau. 

    Time Magazine also ran a story on Mau Mau. Not only did Time report rumors that Mau Mau oathing ceremonies involved the harvesting and eating of human brains by Mau Mau, they also had this quote from a white settler living in Kenya: "Some bastards still think Kukes are human. They aren't...Night after night, you lock the doors, see to the guns, and kiss your wife and kids goodnight, and wonder if you'll ever see another alive in the morning. We have no protection, except ourselves. And don't forget, most of us are on commando duty. Some of us can't farm anymore." Around this same time, Robert Ruark, the American author, said of Mau Mau: "To understand [Mau Mau] you must understand a basic impulsive savagery that is greater than anything we civilized people have encountered in two centuries." 

    I find these quotes remarkable in part because the world had just gone through the Second World War, which saw the gassing of six million Jews, the slaughtering of some 50 million civilians, etc. Yet it took the Mau Mau rebellion for people to think that "civilization" was endangered. Think about that, and then ask yourself, why were people so freaked out by Mau Mau? Again, fewer than 100 whites died in Kenya. A thousand Africans were hung by the British. Tens of thousands more died in the rebellion, or died in the British concentration camps. So what made Mau Mau so different? I know what I think the answer is, but it's something to ponder.

    Cynic critiques the willingness to give Huck, in all cases, the benefit of the doubt:

    Dave Weigel, back in September, when Newt Gingrich praised Dinesh D'Souza's "brilliant" book for its "interesting insight": 

    What will be the impact of D'Souza's book? If 1995 and 2007 repeat themselves, Gingrich will be the exception--people in the rest of the movement will realize just how tissue-thin this research is. If they realize that, they may then look askance at Glenn Beck's search for similar evidence of Obama's radical history. They may even question the wisdom of questioning Obama's birthplace. Could the search for some skeleton key in Obama's past be a distraction? It could be! If it were a book, it could be called the The End of Birtherism. 

    And Weigel on Huckabee: 

    Occam's razor: Huckabee is just ill-informed....I'll give Huckabee the benefit of the doubt and say he put a few different ideas in the blender. So he's not a birther; he does reveal an odd ignorance of the biography of the man he occasionally out-polls in the 2012 presidential election. (That said, I'm not sure if Obama could pass a pop quiz on the early years of Mike Huckabee.) 

    I'm picking on Weigel here because he's as competent and well-informed as any journalist covering the conservative movement, and so the problems with his coverage serve as a useful proxy for his colleagues. He predicted in the fall that D'Souza's book was so explicitly batshit crazy that it would end up discrediting birtherism, a movement that thrives on innuendo and suggestion. Well, here we are six months later, and a man who "occasionally out-polls" the president just offered it as fact. And Weigel now excuses this as being "ill-informed." 

    He's right about the ignorance, but he's wrong to dismiss or excuse it. If Obama were to chalk Huckabee's pro-life stance up to his Catholicism, Weigel would be among the first to pounce. And he'd be right to do so. If you're going to rely on pop psychology to explain policy preferences, arguing that the political is merely the personal, then you'd better understand the person you're talking about. 

    But it's also worth pondering why Weigel got this wrong back in September, because I think it explains his continued failure to grasp the point today. It's not about the facts. It's about a basic, emotional, intuitive belief that Obama is foreign. And it's about the new esotericism of the right. The fact that Obama is actually proudly American drives his critics nuts. They know he cannot mean it. And so, precisely because all of the readily available facts indicate that he is patriotic and moderate, they search everywhere for evidence that will reveal his underlying foreignness and radicalism. It's not subject to factual rebuttal because the facts that might rebut it are, in their view, further evidence of his massive duplicity. 

     And I differ with our esteemed host. This is not merely skin-color prejudice; it's not that simple. But that is, absolutely, where it starts.

    I don't want to speak for Dave here, but I'll say that when looking at this sort of thing, I try to make sharp, distinct point that evinces some degree of reflection, while avoided the kind of wild overstatement that tends to distract from your central point. But there's always a danger of hedging too much. Witness the thin allegedly sober claim that we should never accuse anyone of racism because it's "distracting"--a claim which I sometimes, myself, am seduced by. But the fact is that sometime people do say things that are demonstrably racist. In such instances, accusing them of bad behavoir, or mispeaking, or even simple evidently "nonracist" white populism is cheap.

    What you see in Keshii's comment is a textbook case of racism in its most isidious form-- racism of frame. In this case, the frame is that black people fighting a war of liberation, should only employ such means which do not offend our sense of decency. That implication, as Keshii notes in the second comment, is well established in the Western vocabulary. 

    So it's true that Huck's attack doesn't hold that Obama, himself, is a lesser human because he is black, it simply seeks to associate him with people who we've already decided, within our frame, are lesser humans. Here's an elegant racism--no need to insult Obama directly, instead simply associate him with a group of black people who have the disreputable habit of waging indelicate wars of liberation. 

    This is not about whether the Mau Mau were "right." On the contrary, it's about the right of all people--not just those in power--to be wrong. There is a reason the Mau Mau hold a place in our imagination that, say, the gulags of Kenya do not.  The racism of frame, as practiced in America, is premised on denying blacks the privilege of being wrong. It's why in a country where the right of self-defense is sacred, the notion of Malcolm X impolite telling blacks to arm themselves is seen as particularly heinous. It's why, as Keshii notes, in a world that had just experienced Hitlerism, it was the Mau Mau who truly threatened civilization. 

    I was wrong to absolve Huckabee. I'd like to say it won't happen again. But I'd be lying.

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    First Look: The Newsweek Redesign

    We have an EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK at Dirk Barnett's redesign of Newsweek which hits newsstands on Monday. It's been a quick three months since Dirk left Maxim for Lucky, and then got the call 2 days later from Tina Brown to relaunch a merged Daily Beast/Newsweek publication. Stay tuned for a interview with Dirk as he answers questions on the process and bringing back the swagger that Newsweek once had.
    Newsweek, featuring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, March 14, 2011 (above, top). Photograph by Stephanie Sinclair

    First off: Maxim to Lucky to Newsweek in under a week. Were you at Lucky long enough to get a email address? What was Tina's pitch to you?
    Tina's pitch was simple: make Newsweek a strong, vibrant, living brand again, and merge it with a strong, muscular news website, the Daily Beast. That meant a total overhaul from top to bottom of a major international brand. I was sold. Plus, the opportunity to work alongside Tina was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A week into the job I was sending Lynsey Addario to Sudan and hiring Dan Winters for our annual Oscar portfolio. And for the record: I was at Lucky for 5 days (not 2, Keith Kelly), and Brandon Holley is an amazing EIC, but something better for me came along, both profesionally and personally. It's just business.

    Explain the process you went through. Where did you start? What were the goals? Did you look back at past incarnations of Newsweek?
    Working with the fantastic designer Lindsay Ballant, we started by stripping everything away and keeping things dead simple. The mail goal was to revive Newsweek with a sleek, modern design, and pump up the photography. We definitely tried to create a subtle design symbiosis between Newsweek and the Beast, as well. This is a merger so we felt there had to some similar design personality traits. We have a series of small, tight design details that only showcase the editorial, and don't interfere in strong journalistic storytelling. And we certainly did look back at past Newsweek's. There is such a rich heritage there. We've created a new page called "Reliving History" where we pull an issue from the archive and showcase it every week. 

    Tell us about the new logo--an evolution from Jim Parkinson's slab serif. New typography throughout?
    I wanted to blog about the logo process as we were doing it, but obviously that wasn't possible. Let's just say this new logo evolution had many incarnations that are now on the cutting room floor. And the one that was eventually published was almost on that floor as of 48 hours before we hit the presses, so I'm ecstatic we were able to change the logo, in the end. The whole magazine's design is based on two typefaces, Titling Gothic and Acta (designed by Dino de Santos). The logo came from Titling, and I hired Jim Parkinson to take it and make it beautiful. Being the mastermind behind the last 40 years of the Newsweek logo, he was the perfect man for the job. At the end of the process, we had two new logos, one a modern take on the slab, and the one you see here. As Jim pointed out, running with the Titling logo was a perfect way to announce to the readers our new direction, as the whole inside has it running throughout. As for the red box, it has remained, although let's just say there was much debate about that one, but in the end, and being such a staple of Newsweek's design DNA, it endured, and I think the solution is strong, and consistent.

    Please tell us about your strategy on covers. How will you differentiate Newsweek from the other news weeklies?
    Well I can't reveal all of our secrets, now can I? Let's just say, Newsweek is back and will be a major player again. To be a successful news weekly in this day and age, we have to look and read like no other weekly. It's sink or swim time for us, this is our shot to bring it back from the dead. 

    Newsweek, Table of Contents

    Newsweek had a strong tradition of photojournalism, which had been abandoned over the past couple of years. Tell us about the role of photography and photojournalism in the new Newsweek.
    Let it be known we are bringing strong, dynamic photo-journalism back to Newsweek. We have an amazing team of photo editors led by Director of Photography Scott Hall who are doing amazing work. Situations at Newsweek over the last few years quite literally nearly killed the magazine completely, from morale to the quality of work. Sadly, one of those casualites was the photography. One of the great things about Tina is her love for photography, and she completely supports us in making strong images one of the leading voices in telling the news from week to week.

    Newsweek, News Gallery, Steve Job introduces iPad 2, March 14, 2011

    Newsweek, News Beat opener

    Tell us about your plan with infographics in the magazine.
    Infographics, another element killed off over the past few years at Newsweek, will definitely be coming back. While we plan to up the presence, we have no plans to blow them out in a Bloomberg/Wired direction, our content just doesn't require or sustain it (plus, Bloomberg Businessweek is killing it, who can compete with that?!). Rather, it will be a vital tool to telling elements of stories that photogrpahy or illustration just don't nail. We have introduced a new page, DataBeast, that will give us the opportunity to do a weekly infogrpahic on various subjects. 

    Newsweek, NewsBeast, Charlie Sheen's Meltdown, March 14, 2011

    Newsweek, "The Hillary Doctrine" feature opener

    Newsweek_3.14.11_150 Women.jpg
    Newsweek, "150 Women Who Shake the World" feature opener (above)
    and jump spread (below).

    Newsweek_3.14.11_150 Women Jump.jpg

    Newsweek, back of book "Omnivore" section opener (above)
    and "Want" department page (below).


    Newsweek, "My Favorite Mistake" featuring Harvey Weinstein

    See related stories:
    Sneak Peek: The New York Times Magazine Redesign
    A New Look at Parenting
    First Look: Travel + Leisure Redesign
    Bloomberg Businessweek: A Second Look
    The redesign of the Texas Observer
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    March 6, 2011

    David Denby: The films of the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami.

    A woman makes a date with a handsome stranger passing through town. We’re in Arezzo, not far from Florence, where the woman, a French emigrée (Juliette Binoche), has managed an antique store for some years. The visitor, an English cultural historian named James Miller (William Shimell . . . (Subscription required.)

    The Cure - Jumping Someone Else's Train

    I liked a YouTube video: Live On Stage

    What Is a Dickbar?

    Dave Winer:

    Being from the East Coast, as I am, I recognize the term “dickbar” as an eastcoastism. It refers to a new feature in Twitter for the iPhone which brings the first instream advertising to the eyeballs of Twitter users. It’s the kind of thing a guy from Philly, Gruber, who roots for the Yankees might say. As far as I know he coined the term.

    Coin it I did. What’s funny to me is that I’d never think of it as an eastcoastism — but that’s because I’ve lived my entire life on the East Coast, and that’s just how I talk. Winer picks up on these things because he’s a native New Yorker but spent a long time living in the Bay Area.

    Gruber is referring to the first rumblings of the promised business model from Chicagoan Dick Costolo, the (relatively) new CEO of Twitter. He, I conclude is 1/2 of the “dick” in dickbar.

    I love the search stream for “#dickbar”. It warms my heart.

    On Language: Hugo Lindgren's New NYT Magazine Rewrites "Lives" Column, Cuts Use Of "Fuck," "Shit" And "Dude."

    On the back page of Hugo Lindgren's newly-remodeled NYT Magazine -- you know, the one that unceremoniously axed the "On Language" column after 32 years -- there's a sweet little essay in the "Lives" column from a dude named Justin Horner.

    We say "dude" because Horner likes to say "dude." He said "dude" several times in his original version of the essay -- along with several other turns of phrase that made his writing distinct and wonderful and fresh.

    That was before Lindgren's pencil-pushers had their way with it.

    It's still a charming little yarn about a family of Mexican immigrants who stopped along the side of an Oregon road to help a man change a tire. Nothing much special about it, except the raw truth of the moment conveyed by Horner -- who isn't even a writer. He's a graphic designer. He just happens to have a terrific natural voice.

    The NYT notes that the essay was "adapted from a message board posting on reddit.com." So we went poking around for the original. It wasn't hard to find, because the Reddit community was abuzz with comments about the NYT's editorial process.

    We're glad the NYT published the piece; it's sweet and likely to bring a tear to readers' eyes -- and not the first, probably, for regular readers who miss the multitude of staples (Randy Cohen's Ethicist, Deborah Solomon's Q-and-A, Virginia Heffernan's Medium column, Pete Wells' Cooking with Dexter) now gone to make way for columns called "Riff," "Look" and "You Are Here."

    We'll leave those new features alone for the time being and let them evolve. A magazine is a living organism that needs time to breathe.

    But in going through the two Justin Horner pieces carefully -- his has been referred to as "Today You, Tomorrow Me" on the web, while the NYT's version has been less effectively titled "The Tire Iron and the Tamale" -- we found ourselves disillusioned by the unnamed editor's excessive blue pencil.

    The piece isn't ruined; far from it. But it sure ain't better, dude.

    Here are some examples.

    For instance, here's the graceful, evocative lede to the original piece that the NYT editor lopped off:

    Just about every time I see someone I stop. I kind of got out of the habit in the last couple of years, moved to a big city and all that, my girlfriend wasn't too stoked on the practice. Then some shit happened to me that changed me and I am back to offering rides habitually. If you would indulge me, it is [a] long story and has almost nothing to do with hitch hiking other than happening on a road.

    Okay, maybe it's not exactly on point. But we liked the way he moseyed into the topic, which he put on a Reddit thread on hitchhiking. Even without that context, there's a sort-of poetry to that line.

    Then Horner wrote this:

    Anyway, each of these times this shit happened I was DISGUSTED with how people would not bother to help me. I spent hours on the side of the freeway waiting, watching roadside assistance vehicles blow past me, for AAA to show. The 4 gas stations I asked for a gas can at told me that they couldn't loan them out "for my safety" but I could buy a really shitty 1-gallon one with no cap for $15. It was enough, each time, to make you say shit like "this country is going to hell in a handbasket."

    But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke a lick of the language. But one of those dudes had a profound affect on me.

    Which the NYT changed to this:

    Each time, when these things happened, I was disgusted with the way people didn’t bother to help. I was stuck on the side of the freeway hoping my friend’s roadside service would show, just watching tow trucks cruise past me. The people at the gas stations where I asked for a gas can told me that they couldn’t lend them out “for safety reasons,” but that I could buy a really crappy one-gallon can, with no cap, for $15. It was enough to make me say stuff like “this country is going to hell in a handbasket,” which I actually said.

    But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke any English.

    Let's see: the editor changed "shit" to "things," "blow" to "cruise," changed the quotes -- presumably after the "fact checkers" couldn't confirm the conversations Horner had with gas-station attendants -- noted that Horner had "actually said" the line that "this country is going to hell in a handbasket," and cut the first of the piece's many reference to "dudes."

    Then this became that.

    This, in Horner's original prose:

    I start taking the wheel off and, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones and I wasn't careful and I snapped the head I needed clean off. Fuck.

    That, in NYT-speak:

    I started taking the wheel off, and then, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones, and I wasn’t careful, and I snapped the head clean off. Damn.

    Commas, small word changes, the deletion of an obscenity...small changes, true, but nonetheless altering the author's true voice and rhythms.

    The rest of the edits go pretty much along those lines -- a shit here, a fuck there -- until we get to the ending. Here's where the NYT editor took one too many liberties with the language of the writer.


    Dude just smiles, shakes his head and, with what looked like great concentration, tried his hardest to speak to me in English: "Today you.... tomorrow me."

    Rolled up his window, drove away, his daughter waving to me in the rear view. I sat in my car eating the best fucking tamale of all time and I just cried. Like a little girl. It has been a rough year and nothing has broke my way. This was so out of left field I just couldn't deal.

    In the 5 months since I have changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and, once, went 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won't accept money. Every time I tell them the same thing when we are through:

    "Today you.... tomorrow me."


    The guy just smiled and, with what looked like great concentration, said in English: “Today you, tomorrow me.”

    Then he rolled up his window and drove away, with his daughter waving to me from the back. I sat in my car eating the best tamale I’ve ever had, and I just started to cry. It had been a rough year; nothing seemed to break my way. This was so out of left field I just couldn’t handle it.

    In the several months since then I’ve changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and once drove 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won’t accept money. But every time I’m able to help, I feel as if I’m putting something in the bank.

    No argument this time. Horner's ending was better.

    We're not against editing. But we're sorry to see the NYT Magazine simultaneously drop its classic column about language, and add elements so editor-driven that Lindgren felt it necessary to add ludicrous editor "bylines" to the ends of features.

    What made previous incarnations of the NYT Magazine so special -- we're thinking back through its history, when writers from Leo Tolstoy to J. Anthony Lukas graced its pages -- was its commitment to voice.

    We get that the NYT is a "family newspaper" and that family newspapers don't say fuck. But isn't it time for a re-think on that policy? We've been arguing for a while against the NYT's antiquated rules against obscenity -- which only calls attention to their absence, in a world where they've become commonplace in print. It's going to happen sooner or later; why not now?

    Meanwhile, we hope that the Lindgren era that began today will eventually bring with it the commitment to language and style that was the essence, and point, of the column he killed. The Horner edit isn't a very auspicious start.

    First Chief Engineer


    John Currie (in uniform), first Chief Engineer of the HMS Mauretania. Canada Dock, Liverpool, 1909. (From the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.)

    More photographs of the Mauretania under construction by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Tyneside. She was launched from their Wallsend yard in 1906.

    (via amber)

    Women's Struggles CPH Poster Pack

    Various Artists Women's Struggles CPH Poster Pack $35 For years people have been encouraging me to put together sets of Celebrate People's History posters by theme, so that they can buy them up in convenient packs based on their interests. So I've finally done it. The fifteen posters in this pack are representations of women's and feminist struggles throughout the world. You save $25 when buying these posters as a set. 1. Jane Collective, by Meredith Stern 2. Kalamazoo Corset Co. Strike, by Shaun Slifer & Sara Beth 3. Co-Madres, by Nicole Schulman & Mara Komoska 4. The Great Arizona Mine Strike, by Beth Pulcinella 5. Las Mujeres Libres, by Cristy Road 6. Emma Goldman, by Ben Rubin 7. Guerreras de Las Barricades, by Tim Simons & Barucha Calamity Peller 8. Madres de Plaza de Mayo, by John Isaacson 9. Aunt Molly Jackson, by Pete Yahnke 10. Dolores Huerta, by B. Cortez & B. Riley 11. Assata Shakur is Free, by Laura Whitehorn & Molly Fair 12. Judi Bari, by Nicolas Lampert 13. Louise Olivereau, by Aprille Thurheimer 14. Mothers of East Los Angeles, by Jen Cartwright 15. Narmada Bachao Andolan, by Robin Hewlett (15x) 2 color offset printed posters 11"x17" each unsigned/unlimited edition 02womenpak_400.jpg

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