Thursday, December 22, 2005

Tris McCall reviews all the Christmas Carols in his Christmas Abstract. Here's his review of "Linus And Lucy,"

"Speaking of Peanuts, I consider A Charlie Brown Christmas the high point of Western civilization. Okay, I'm kidding. A little. No, really, since Christian theology has been the font for monumental artistic expression from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to Of The Heart, Of The Soul, and Of The Cross, it's possible to see the Peanuts special as a sort of crown -- a succinct and poetic articulation of ancient principles. If you can understand why Charlie Brown chooses the tiniest and most unhealthy-looking tree in the lot, you're at least halfway to the proper spirit in which to approach the Gospels. Incidentally, the famous Linus speech I alluded to in the last entry is Luke 2.8-14, straight from the King James Version. I don't think that is made clear during the program. CBS certainly knew, and they were shitting bricks that audiences would find the special too preachy. This was 1965; in 2003, a project like this one doesn't even get out of the gate. Thank God it's been grandfathered in as an annual event -- by now it's too much of an institution for the seculars to gripe about St. Schulz, and really, how much Heatmiser can a person take?"

Click here to read all the reviews.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bound for Glory: America in Color is an exhibition of little known color images taken by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information between 1936 and 1942, a time period we usually see only in black and white. You can view the exhibition here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Once again Fimoculous presents his compilation of "Best of the Year Lists" in several categories including film, books, and music.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Photographer Arnaud Friche took this amazing panorama of Paris at Night. This version of the panorama helpfully identifies the landmarks. More of Friche's panoramas can be found here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Foreign Policy magazine presents the Top 10 Stories You Missed in 2005.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

For centuries, scientists have wondered, "why does the narwhal, or "unicorn," whale have an 8-foot-long tooth emerging from its head, and what is its function?" Harvard School of Dental Medicine researcher Martin Nweeia has discovered the answer:

"Nweeia has discovered that the narwhal's tooth has hydrodynamic sensor capabilities. Ten million tiny nerve connections tunnel their way from the central nerve of the narwhal tusk to its outer surface. Though seemingly rigid and hard, the tusk is like a membrane with an extremely sensitive surface, capable of detecting changes in water temperature, pressure, and particle gradients. Because these whales can detect particle gradients in water, they are capable of discerning the salinity of the water, which could help them survive in their Arctic ice environment. It also allows the whales to detect water particles characteristic of the fish that constitute their diet. There is no comparison in nature and certainly none more unique in tooth form, expression, and functional adaptation."

Monday, December 12, 2005

Good Experience Games is a long list of games that are "free, online, and available right now."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

"The Christmas Story" in 30 Seconds (Re-enacted by Bunnies)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Hmm, are these photos of an unusual rock, a hiker in a fur coat, or Bigfoot!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Geomythologists combine legends and science to discover the geologic history of the Earth. As this Observer article explains, they believe that a massive earthquake struck what is now Seattle in January 1700.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Rick Goldschmidt tells the story of the creation and restoration of the TV special Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer in this TV Party article:

"Then came, what I consider the most significant deleted scene, which we called "The Peppermint scene." After Santa's sleigh takes off for the Island of Misfit toys being guided by Rudolph, we see several characters for the very last time in the special. Donner, Mrs. Donner and Clarice are all proud of RUDOLPH. As Rudolph flies away, Donner says "That's my Buck!" This confirms that he is no longer ashamed of his Red-nosed son.

Yukon comes running out of the castle and yells at his sled dogs (who wouldn't pull his sled throughout the special) "See! That's how it's done!" as he looks up at Rudolph. Then Yukon throws his pick up in the air and picks it up and licks it (As he did throughout the entire special).

His pick licking never made any sense. He thought he was looking for silver and gold, but he was really looking for Peppermint. After licking his pick, he says, "Peppermint! What I've been searching for! I've found me a peppermint mine....yahoooo!"

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Military historian Martin Van Creveld examines the Iraq War and explains in this Forward article why he believes a "Costly Withdrawal is the Price to Be Paid for a Foolish War." Van Creveld writes:

"A withdrawal probably will require several months and incur a sizable number of casualties. As the pullout proceeds, Iraq almost certainly will sink into an all-out civil war from which it will take the country a long time to emerge — if, indeed, it can do so at all. All this is inevitable and will take place whether George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice like it or not."

Van Creveld concludes his article with:

"For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men."

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Seymour Hersh answers the question, "Where is the Iraq war headed next?" in this New Yorker article:

"There are several proposals currently under review by the White House and the Pentagon; the most ambitious calls for American combat forces to be reduced from a hundred and fifty-five thousand troops to fewer than eighty thousand by next fall, with all American forces officially designated “combat” to be pulled out of the area by the summer of 2008. . ."

"A key element of the drawdown plans, not mentioned in the President’s public statements, is that the departing American troops will be replaced by American airpower. Quick, deadly strikes by U.S. warplanes are seen as a way to improve dramatically the combat capability of even the weakest Iraqi combat units. The danger, military experts have told me, is that, while the number of American casualties would decrease as ground troops are withdrawn, the over-all level of violence and the number of Iraqi fatalities would increase unless there are stringent controls over who bombs what.

“We’re not planning to diminish the war,” Patrick Clawson, the deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told me. Clawson’s views often mirror the thinking of the men and women around Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. “We just want to change the mix of the forces doing the fighting—Iraqi infantry with American support and greater use of airpower."

Hersh discusses his article in this interview.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Men's Health presents 18 Tricks to Teach Your Body:

"5. Clear your stuffed nose!

Forget Sudafed. An easier, quicker, and cheaper way to relieve sinus pressure is by alternately thrusting your tongue against the roof of your mouth, then pressing between your eyebrows with one finger. This causes the vomer bone, which runs through the nasal passages to the mouth, to rock back and forth, says Lisa DeStefano, D.O., an assistant professor at the Michigan State University college of osteopathic medicine. The motion loosens congestion; after 20 seconds, you'll feel your sinuses start to drain.

10. Unstitch your side!

If you're like most people, when you run, you exhale as your right foot hits the ground. This puts downward pressure on your liver (which lives on your right side), which then tugs at the diaphragm and creates a side stitch, according to The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Men. The fix: Exhale as your left foot strikes the ground."

Monday, November 28, 2005

With less than a year to go until the 2006 elections, the Democrats are looking for new strategies to win Congressional elections. As explained in this Newsweek article, one strategy the Democrats are trying is to run candidates who are Iraq War veterans. So far eight Iraq War veterans have announced that they are running for Congress as Democrats.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pitchfork Media presents "The Worst Record Covers of All Time."

Monday, November 14, 2005

Play Risk on Google Maps of the Earth here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

One Red tells the story of Kyle MacDonald, who started with a red paperclip and began making a chain of trades for bigger or better objects. He wants to keep trading until he gets a house. Currently he has a 1000 Watt generator.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

In this New York Times article, Carl Zimmer discusses recent sleep research:

"Scientists have offered a number of ideas about the primordial function of sleep. Dr. Tononi believes that it originally evolved as a way to allow neurons to recover from a hard day of learning. "When you're awake you learn all the time, whether you know it or not," he said.

Learning strengthens some connections between neurons, known as synapses, and even forms new synapses. These synapses demand a lot of extra energy, though. "That means that at the end of the day, you have a brain that costs you more energy," Dr. Tononi said. "That's where sleep would kick in."

He argues that slow waves weaken synapses through the night. "If everything gets weaker, you still keep your memories, but overall the strength goes down," he said. "The next morning you gain in terms of energy and performance."

Monday, November 07, 2005

"I/O Brush is a new drawing tool to explore colors, textures, and movements found in everyday materials by "picking up" and drawing with them. I/O Brush looks like a regular physical paintbrush but has a small video camera with lights and touch sensors embedded inside. Outside of the drawing canvas, the brush can pick up color, texture, and movement of a brushed surface. On the canvas, artists can draw with the special "ink" they just picked up from their immediate environment. Watch the I/O Brush video."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Google has scanned the full text of over 10,000 books that you can search using Google Print. This New York Times article has more information on Google Print.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The 2005 World Beard and Moustache Championships were held last month in Berlin, Germany. Although there was no overall winner, crowd favorites included Germany's Elmar Weisser who won first place in the freestyle full beard category and America's Toots Joslin winner of the sideburns category. Links to photos of the winners in all 17 categories can be found here.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Nicholas Lemann explains how a leak became the Valerie Plame scandal in this New Yorker article.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Burritophile is a website for anyone who likes a good burrito. You can find reviews of burritos from around the United States, a list of the top places for burritos in the country, and a burrito blog.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Elizabeth Hickock built this jello model of San Francisco, including the Bay Bridge.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

While doing a google search I discovered that my friend's blog, Girl Detective, is available in French as Detective de Fille. Now thanks to Jack Vinson, a commenter on Girl Detective, and Reverso Online, I've learned that the French word for Blogenheimer is Blogenheimer.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Time magazine recently published their list of the 100 Best novels since 1923. In this Morning News article, Matthew Baldwin presents dissenting opinions of several of these novels from one-star reviews he found on Some examples:

"The Catcher in the Rye (1951) J.D. Salinger

“So many other good books…don’t waste your time on this one. J.D. Salinger went into hiding because he was embarrassed.”

1984 (1948) George Orwell

“Don’t listen to anyone who tries to distinguish between “serious” works of literature like this one and allegedly “lesser” novels. The distinction is entirely illusory, because no novels are “better” than any others, and the concept of a “great novel” is an intellectual hoax. This book isn’t as good as Harry Potter in MY opinion, and no one can refute me. Tastes are relative!”

Sunday, October 23, 2005

From Homer to Gogol to Hemingway, Stuart Kelly tells the stories of the missing masterpieces of Western literature.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson was Colin Powell's chief of staff until last January. In this Financial Times article Wilkerson explains what he saw as a member of the Bush administration:

“What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

"Most Japanese consumers can get an Internet connection that's 16 times faster than the typical American DSL line for a mere $22 per month," while "in France, you can get super-fast DSL, unlimited phone service and 100 TV channels for a mere $38 a month." S. Derek Turner explains how internet access in the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the industrialized world in this Salon article.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The CommonCensus Map Project is redrawing the map of the United States based on your voting, to show how the country is organized culturally, as opposed to traditional political boundaries. It shows how the country is divided into 'spheres of influence' between different cities at the national, regional, and local levels. View the full-size map here.

The CommonCensus Sports Map Project shows the team affiliations of sports fans. View the map of NFL team affiliations here. (The map shows some surprising data from Mississippi and Alabama.)

Monday, October 17, 2005

From Bob Mould to William Shatner, BeatnikPad has compiled a list of Cool Musicians Who Blog.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

In this TomDispatch article, Nick Turse lists the Casualties of the Bush Administration, "the seemingly endless and ever-growing list of beleaguered administrators, managers, and career civil servants who quit their posts in protest or were defamed, threatened, fired, forced out, demoted, or driven to retire by Bush administration strong-arming. Often, this has been due to revulsion at the President's policies -- from the invasion of Iraq and negotiations with North Korea to the flattening of FEMA and the slashing of environmental standards -- which these women and men found to be beyond the pale."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

This New York Times article explains that Stephen Colbert is leaving The Daily Show to start his own show called "The Colbert Report." The show will be a parody of cable news pundit shows like "The O'Reilly Factor."

"Though not intended to feature a dead-on impersonation of Mr. O'Reilly, "The Colbert Report" will have the feel of "The O'Reilly Factor," with an outspoken host delivering blunt opinions, some of them illustrated by graphics - Mr. O'Reilly calls them "talking points" - that are the equivalent of captions for the impaired, emphasizing what the host is trying to communicate.

"Like O'Reilly, we'll grab the most important word out of every sentence," Mr. Colbert said. " 'The,' for example. Also, I'll say, 'I'm angry,' and the graphic will read, 'Colbert angry.' "

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

According to this Washington Post article, the Republicans are having trouble finding good candidates for the 2006 elections:

"With an unpopular war in Iraq, ethical controversies shadowing top Republicans in the House and Senate, and President Bush suffering the lowest approval ratings of his presidency, the waters look less inviting to politicians deciding whether to plunge into an election bid. Additionally, some Capitol Hill operatives complain that preoccupied senior White House officials have been less engaged in candidate recruitment than they were for the 2002 and 2004 elections."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Al Gore gave a speech on democracy and the media Wednesday at the We Media conference in New York. His speech begins:

"I came here today because I believe that American democracy is in grave danger. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America's fabled "marketplace of ideas" now functions.

How many of you, I wonder, have heard a friend or a family member in the last few years remark that it's almost as if America has entered "an alternate universe"?

I thought maybe it was an aberration when three-quarters of Americans said they believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on September 11, 2001. But more than four years later, between a third and a half still believe Saddam was personally responsible for planning and supporting the attack."

You can read the whole speech here. (Thanks, Mike!)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

According to this New York Times article, Robert Ryang is a film editor’s assistant who "entered a contest for editors’ assistants sponsored by the New York chapter of the Association of Independent Creative Editors. The challenge? Take any movie and cut a new trailer for it — but in an entirely different genre. Only the sound and dialogue could be modified, not the visuals, he said.

Mr. Ryang chose “The Shining,” Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. In his hands, it became a saccharine comedy — about a writer struggling to find his muse and a boy lonely for a father. Gilding the lily, he even set it against “Solsbury Hill,” the way-too-overused Peter Gabriel song heard in comedies billed as life-changing experiences, like last year’s “In Good Company.”

Mr. Ryang won the contest. You can watch his very funny trailer here.

Monday, October 03, 2005

As explained in this New York Times article, Dr. Barry J. Marshall and Dr. J. Robin Warren won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine today. They discovered H. pylori, a bacterium that causes stomach inflammation, ulcers, and cancer. To prove the theory, Dr. Marshall conducted an experiment on himself.

"He swallowed a gastroscope tube to allow another doctor to look at his stomach and take several biopsies. These procedures and examinations were needed to document that Dr. Marshall had no H. pylori in his stomach and did not suffer from gastritis or another abnormality.

Dr. Marshall waited 10 days for the areas that had been biopsied to heal and then swallowed a pure culture of H. pylori. A week later, he had an unusual sensation of fullness after eating supper and felt ill. Friends told him that his breath was "putrid."

Ten days after the onset of symptoms, Dr. Marshall underwent the first of an additional three gastroscopies. Biopsies obtained through them showed that he had developed gastritis or inflammation of the stomach, but he did not continue the experiment long enough to develop an ulcer. His symptoms quickly disappeared after treatment."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Family Business Magazine compiled a list of the World’s 100 Oldest Continuously Family-owned Companies.

"All of the listed companies are at least 225 years old; four have lasted in the same family for more than a millennium. The very oldest remains Japanese temple-builder Kongo Gumi, founded in 578."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

E. J. Dionne explains the problems facing the Democratic Party in this Washington Post column:

"The core difficulty for Democrats is that they must solve two problems simultaneously -- and solving one problem can get in the way of solving the other. Over time Democrats need to reduce the conservative advantage over liberals in the electorate, which means the party needs to take clear stands that could detach voters from their allegiance to conservatism. For some in the party this means becoming more moderate on cultural issues such as abortion. For others it means full-throated populism to attract lower-income social conservatives. Some favor a combination of the two, while still others worry that too much populism would drive away moderate voters in the upper middle class. The debate often leads to intellectual gridlock."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

According to this National Geographic article, scientists have taken the first photographs of a living giant squid. You can view some of the pictures of the squid here.

Monday, September 26, 2005

This Los Angeles Times article describes how a pitch for a new TV series led to an arrest for fraud:

"In May 2003, a dapper self-described financial strategist from Century City embarked on what he promised investors would be a riveting television series based on the newly created U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Saying his drama had the blessing of President Bush and others in Washington, D.C., Joseph M. Medawar quickly found plenty of backers for the show — one that he promised would be followed by a reality-based series titled "Fighting Terrorism Together."

But on Friday, in an ending that might have been foretold by anyone with a healthy skepticism of the Hollywood pitch, Medawar was arrested by FBI and IRS agents on charges that he bilked at least 70 investors — many of them from local churches — out of more than $5.5 million. Virtually all of the money, according to authorities, went to a lavish lifestyle that included luxury cars, shopping sprees, fancy dinners and $40,000-a-month in rent for a Beverly Hills mansion."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

In this Harper's Magazine article, Bill McKibben discusses the paradox that, "America is simultaneously the most professedly Christian of the developed nations and the least Christian in its behavior."

"Only 40 percent of Americans can name more than four of the Ten Commandments, and a scant half can cite any of the four authors of the Gospels. Twelve percent believe Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. This failure to recall the specifics of our Christian heritage may be further evidence of our nation’s educational decline, but it probably doesn’t matter all that much in spiritual or political terms. Here is a statistic that does matter: Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that “God helps those who help themselves.” That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture. The thing is, not only is Franklin’s wisdom not biblical; it’s counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor. On this essential matter, most Americans—most American Christians—are simply wrong, as if 75 percent of American scientists believed that Newton proved gravity causes apples to fly up.

Asking Christians what Christ taught isn’t a trick. When we say we are a Christian nation—and, overwhelmingly, we do—it means something. People who go to church absorb lessons there and make real decisions based on those lessons; increasingly, these lessons inform their politics. (One poll found that 11 percent of U.S. churchgoers were urged by their clergy to vote in a particular way in the 2004 election, up from 6 percent in 2000.) When George Bush says that Jesus Christ is his favorite philosopher, he may or may not be sincere, but he is reflecting the sincere beliefs of the vast majority of Americans.

And therein is the paradox. America is simultaneously the most professedly Christian of the developed nations and the least Christian in its behavior. That paradox—more important, perhaps, than the much touted ability of French women to stay thin on a diet of chocolate and cheese—illuminates the hollow at the core of our boastful, careening culture."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

In this Popular Science article Dan Koeppel explains the history of the banana and why Panama disease may destroy the fruit.

"After 15,000 years of human cultivation, the banana is too perfect, lacking the genetic diversity that is key to species health. What can ail one banana can ail all. A fungus or bacterial disease that infects one plantation could march around the globe and destroy millions of bunches, leaving supermarket shelves empty.

A wild scenario? Not when you consider that there’s already been one banana apocalypse. Until the early 1960s, American cereal bowls and ice cream dishes were filled with the Gros Michel, a banana that was larger and, by all accounts, tastier than the fruit we now eat. Like the Cavendish, the Gros Michel, or “Big Mike,” accounted for nearly all the sales of sweet bananas in the Americas and Europe. But starting in the early part of the last century, a fungus called Panama disease began infecting the Big Mike harvest."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Find-a-Human database lists shortcuts to bypass the automated phone systems of several large companies and take you directly to a human operator.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Students for an Orwellian Society promotes the vision of a society based upon the principles of Ingsoc, first articulated by George Orwell in his prophetic novel, 1984. Those principles are "War Is Peace," "Freedom Is Slavery," and "Ignorance Is Strength." Since 9/11, they have been very successful.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

In this Los Angeles Times column David Mamet uses a poker analogy to give some advice to the Democratic Party:

"Control of the initiative is control of the battle. In the alley, at the poker table or in politics. One must raise. The American public chose Bush over Kerry in 2004. How, the undecided electorate rightly wondered, could one believe that Kerry would stand up for America when he could not stand up to Bush? A possible response to the Swift boat veterans would have been: "I served. He didn't. I didn't bring up the subject, but, if all George Bush has to show for his time in the Guard is a scrap of paper with some doodling on it, I say the man was a deserter."

This would have been a raise. Here the initiative has been seized, and the opponent must now fume and bluster and scream unfair. In combat, in politics, in poker, there is no certainty; there is only likelihood, and the likelihood is that aggression will prevail."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

As this essay explains, in 1984 Michael Larsen figured out a way to beat the system, and won over $100,000 on the television game show Press Your Luck.

"Having watched Press Your Luck since it premiered, Michael Larsen, then an unemployed ice cream truck driver from Ohio, came to the conclusion that the swift, seemingly random flashing lights that bounced around the Press Your Luck board were hardly random at all. By taping the show religiously and pausing the tapes, Larsen discovered that there were just six light patterns on the board. With this bit of knowledge, he practiced at home while watching the show and realized that he could stop the board wherever and whenever he wanted, if he just had patience."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

In this Reuters photo, President Bush writes Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a note about taking a bathroom break during a U.N. Security Council meeting. (Seriously)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

In this American Prospect article Matthew Yglesias explains that former FEMA Director Michael Brown is far from the only unqualified member of the Bush Administration.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Evan Thomas explains why the Bush administration was slow to respond to Hurricane Katrina in this Newsweek article.

"The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.

How this could be—how the president of the United States could have even less "situational awareness," as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century—is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

New Orleans Flood in Your City lets you compare the area of New Orleans that was flooded by Hurricane Katrina with similar areas in 49 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

In this post from the blog Political Animal, Kevin Drum explains how Hurricane Katrina exposes "the storyline — buried until now — that truly defines the nature of the Bush administration."

"The lesson of Katrina, after all, is not that the White House is bad at handling hurricanes. The lesson is that the Bush White House doesn't care much about whether things actually work. This is why they screwed up Iraq: they had an idea of what they wanted to accomplish, but figured that with energy and proper principles good results would take care of themselves. It's why the Medicare prescription bill turned out to be such a Frankenstein's monster: they knew they wanted to give seniors their pills, but they didn't really care much about actually implementing a sound policy."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Sidney Blumenthal explains how the Bush administration's "limited government" agenda is responsible for the disastrous federal response to Hurricane Katrina in this Salon article.

"Bush met with congressional leaders of both parties, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urged Bush to fire [FEMA director Michael] Brown. "Why would I do that?" the president replied. "Because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week," she explained. To which he answered, "What didn't go right?"

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Emergent-disease expert Laurie Garrett warns of the health and political consequences of Hurricane Katrina in this analysis.

"1.) The Mississippi Delta region is the natural ecological home of a long list of infectious microbial diseases. It is America’s tropical region, more akin ecologically to Haiti or parts of Africa than to Boston or Los Angeles. The most massive Yellow Fever epidemics in the Americas all swept, in the 19th Century, up the Mississippi from the delta region. Malaria was not eradicated from the area until after World War II. Isolated cases of dengue fever,another mosquito-borne disease, have been spotted in the region over the last ten years. Not only are all the mosquitoes that traditionally carry these microbes still thriving in the area, but the Aedes albopictus mosquito – a large, aggressive monster, was introduced to the Americas from Asia about 15 years ago, and now thrives in the Gulf area. Most of these troublesome mosquito species reproduce rapidly in precisely the conditions now present, post-hurricane."

Monday, September 05, 2005

This Stratfor article explains the geopolitical importance of New Orleans and why it must be rebuilt:

"The United States historically has depended on the Mississippi and its tributaries for transport. Barges navigate the river. Ships go on the ocean. The barges must offload to the ships and vice versa. There must be a facility to empower this exchange. It is also the facility where goods are stored in transit. Without this port, the river can't be used. Protecting that port has been, from the time of the Louisiana Purchase, a fundamental national security issue for the United States.

Katrina has taken out the port -- not by destroying the facilities, but by rendering the area uninhabited and potentially uninhabitable. That means that even if the Mississippi remains navigable, the absence of a port near the mouth of the river makes the Mississippi enormously less useful than it was. For these reasons, the United States has lost not only its biggest port complex, but also the utility of its river transport system -- the foundation of the entire American transport system. There are some substitutes, but none with sufficient capacity to solve the problem.

It follows from this that the port will have to be revived and, one would assume, the city as well. The ports around New Orleans are located as far north as they can be and still be accessed by ocean-going vessels. The need for ships to be able to pass each other in the waterways, which narrow to the north, adds to the problem. Besides, the Highway 190 bridge in Baton Rouge blocks the river going north. New Orleans is where it is for a reason: The United States needs a city right there.

New Orleans is not optional for the United States' commercial infrastructure. It is a terrible place for a city to be located, but exactly the place where a city must exist. With that as a given, a city will return there because the alternatives are too devastating. The harvest is coming, and that means that the port will have to be opened soon."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that, "House Speaker Dennis Hastert dropped a bombshell on flood-ravaged New Orleans on Thursday by suggesting that it isn’t sensible to rebuild the city."

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

In this Washington Post column, Eric Holdeman explains how the Bush Administration weakened the country's ability to respond to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina by destroying the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

"In the days to come, as the nation and the people along the Gulf Coast work to cope with the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we will be reminded anew, how important it is to have a federal agency capable of dealing with natural catastrophes of this sort. This is an immense human tragedy, one that will work hardship on millions of people. It is beyond the capabilities of state and local government to deal with. It requires a national response.

Which makes it all the more difficult to understand why, at this moment, the country's premier agency for dealing with such events -- FEMA -- is being, in effect, systematically downgraded and all but dismantled by the Department of Homeland Security."

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

NASA's Messenger spacecreaft recently flew by the Earth on its way to Mercury and took hundreds of photos of the Earth as it passed. You can view some of Messenger's photos and a movie of the Earth rotating here.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

David Segal looks back at his career as a music critic and his search for the great Live Concert Moment in this Washington Post article.

"You know about the great Live Concert Moment, right? I'm not talking about the kind of show where you leave thinking, "Those guys rule!" and then buy a T-shirt. I'm talking about total-body bliss, a rush so strong it turns brain cells into Jell-O and, for a moment or two, you sort of leave your skin. Art lovers would probably argue that they get the same feeling by looking at a great painting, but they're fools, and you should ignore them. A good part of what I'm talking about here is sheer volume. A painting can be many things, but it will never make your ears ring.

The Pixies, my friend, can make your ears ring."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Michael Crowley explains why the iPod may mean the end of the "Rock Snob" in this New Republic article.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Jon Stewart discusses the future of television (and tells jokes) in this Wired Interview.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Malcolm Gladwell explains "the bad idea behind our failed health-care system" in this New Yorker article:

"One of the great mysteries of political life in the United States is why Americans are so devoted to their health-care system. Six times in the past century—during the First World War, during the Depression, during the Truman and Johnson Administrations, in the Senate in the nineteen-seventies, and during the Clinton years—efforts have been made to introduce some kind of universal health insurance, and each time the efforts have been rejected. Instead, the United States has opted for a makeshift system of increasing complexity and dysfunction. Americans spend $5,267 per capita on health care every year, almost two and half times the industrialized world’s median of $2,193; the extra spending comes to hundreds of billions of dollars a year."

Monday, August 22, 2005

Henry Alford explains why editors of encyclopedias and dictionaries often put fake entries in their books and finds the fake entry in the latest New Oxford American Dictionary in this New Yorker article.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Bay Area Center for Voting Research examined the voting patterns of 237 American cities that have populations over 100,000 and ranked them each on liberal and conservative scales. They found that Detroit, Michigan is the most liberal and Provo, Utah the most conservative. Follow these links to view the complete list of liberal and conservative cities.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Jonathan Lethem examines the life of Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, in this article from Professor Barnhardt's Journal.

Monday, August 15, 2005

"For centuries, vanilla was considered exotic, luxurious, and rare," but today "it is a pejorative, employed to describe anything common, generic, or bland." Amanda Fortini explains why vanilla has a PR problem in this Slate article.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Thursday, August 11, 2005

In this Boston Globe article, Robert Kuttner argues that the U.S. is not really divided between red states and blue states:

"[O]nly a small minority of Americans are cultural warriors. Mercifully, most Americans hold appropriately complex views on contentious political or moral topics that demand complex thinking. These include the Iraq war, abortion, gay rights, religion, health care, the environment, and other issues that supposedly divide America into warring camps."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Carl Zimmer tries to answer "The Riddle of the Appendix" in this New York Times article.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

White House reporters often attribute information in their stories to "sources close to the White House." For this New Republic article, Ryan Lizza "asked 15 of the finest Bush White House reporters to help assemble a guide to the secret society of sources close to the White House. Despite the swelling ranks of scttwh, interviews revealed that there is indeed a core membership that might be called the Usual Suspects: a cadre of lobbyists, congressmen, ex-officials, and other hangers-on who seem to be programmed into every cell phone on the White House beat."

Monday, August 08, 2005

As this Smoking Gun article explains, a medieval sword, mallet, and armor are no match for a Taser:

"McClain allegedly tried to strike a cop with a four-foot sword. After missing, McClain retreated to his basement, where he donned a chainmail armored vest and leather gauntlets to protect his arms. He also added a giant wooden mallet to his arsenal and beckoned officers to come downstairs and get him. "I'm gonna crush your fucking skulls," McClain warned. Then, in a nice rhetorical flourish (for a lunatic, at least), he added, "I have a thousand years of power." That omnipotence, however, was no match for a police Taser, which felled McClain. He was then carted off and charged with felony assault and a misdemeanor count for failing to remain at an accident scene."

Sunday, August 07, 2005

In this Washington Post article, Adrian Higgins explains "Why the Red Delicious No Longer Is."

"Who's to blame for the decline of Red Delicious? Everyone, it seems. Consumers were drawn to the eye candy of brilliantly red apples, so supermarket chains paid more for them. Thus, breeders and nurseries patented and propagated the most rubied mutations, or "sports," that they could find, and growers bought them by the millions, knowing that these thick-skinned wonders also would store for ages."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Steven Hart explains why the Bush administration is "a criminal organization rather than a political party" in this post from his blog The Opinion Mill.

"Take the money and run. As long as Republicans are in power, that phrase should replace "E Pluribus Unum" on the national seal. It's the natural outcome of a quarter-century of rhetoric about how government is the problem, not the solution; how government doesn't work; how deregulation is the only way to build the economy. If government is nothing but a taxpayer-funded scam, then why not use it to enrich yourself and your buddies? If the very idea of public service as an idealistic calling has been turned into a mealymouthed joke, then where's the shame in abusing power and running the country into the ground? As long as you can convince just over 50 percent of the suckers to vote your way, you can throw yourself a party and leave the world holding the bill."

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The physics behind Kung Fu is explained at a site called Kung Fu Science.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

This New Yorker Book Review of “A History of the World in 6 Glasses” discusses the historical and social significance of what we drink:

"You don’t just drink, you drink to: to life (l’chaim) and health (santé, salud, prosit, na zdorovie, gezondheid, slainte, zum Wohl), to the monarch (“Gentlemen, the Queen”), to absent friends (the Sunday toast in the Royal Navy), to general good humor, well-being, and luck (cheers, noroc), to the company here assembled (“Here’s to us. And those like us. Damn few and they’re all dead”). Bogart’s “Here’s looking at you, kid” to Ingrid Bergman is a vestige of the Scandinavian obligation to honor your drinking partner by catching his or her eyes over the rim of your glass—much nicer than skøl, a reference to the use of enemies’ skulls as drinking vessels: “Heads up,” so to speak, rather than “Bottoms up.”

Monday, August 01, 2005

In these two Slate articles (Part 1 and Part 2) Edward Jay Epstein explains why shortening the "window" between a movie's theatrical release and its DVD release is causing Hollywood's Death Spiral.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age narrates this BBC Radio documentary on the return of the Pixies.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

This New York Times article explains the economics of used books and the Internet, including how doesn't lose money selling used books at the same time they sell new books.

"[T]here are two distinct types of buyers: some purchase only new books, while others are quite happy to buy used books. As a result, the used market does not have a big impact in terms of lost sales in the new market.

Moreover, the presence of lower-priced books on the Amazon Web site, Mr. Bezos has noted, may lead customers to "visit our site more frequently, which in turn leads to higher sales of new books."

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Boston Globe presents this gallery of bad album covers featuring the worst in '70s and '80s fashions.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

According to this Boston Globe article, next year a British company called Intelligent Energy will begin selling a motorbike powered by a fuel cell. Fuel cells use hydrogen for fuel and their exhaust is water.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Stick Man Movie Scenes asks, "So you've seen a lot of movies? Can you name the movie being acted out by Stick Man and his friends?"

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Frank Rich explains the story lines of the Valerie Plame/Karl Rove scandal in his New York Times column:

"When you look at the early timeline of this case, rather than the latest investigatory scraps, two damning story lines emerge and both have legs. The first: for half a year White House hands made the fatal mistake of thinking they could get away with trashing the Wilsons scot-free . . . The second narrative to be unearthed in the scandal's early timeline is the motive for this reckless vindictiveness against anyone questioning the war."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

This Christian Science Monitor article explains the history of the ingredients of a banana split:

"Bananas got to be big business in America not long after they were introduced at Philadelphia's Centennial Exposition of 1876. Bananas wrapped in tinfoil sold for 10 cents apiece. Soon merchants were establishing banana plantations in Central America and shipping the fruit to the United States. The United Fruit Company, which came to monopolize the banana business, grew so powerful that it virtually controlled the governments of some Latin American countries. (You've heard of a "banana republic"?) Part of the fruit's popularity was the fact that for a long time bananas, along with oranges, were the only fruits available in the winter."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Mike Davis explains the strange plans for the future of the Persian Gulf city-state of Dubai in this article.

"After Shanghai (current population: 15 million), Dubai (current population: 1.5 million) is the world's biggest building site: an emerging dreamworld of conspicuous consumption and what locals dub "supreme lifestyles."

Dozens of outlandish mega-projects -- including "The World" (an artificial archipelago), Burj Dubai (the Earth's tallest building), the Hydropolis (that underwater luxury hotel, the Restless Planet theme park, a domed ski resort perpetually maintained in 40C heat, and The Mall of Arabia, a hyper-mall -- are actually under construction or will soon leave the drawing boards.

Under the enlightened despotism of its Crown Prince and CEO, 56-year-old Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Rhode-Island-sized Emirate of Dubai has become the new global icon of imagineered urbanism. Although often compared to Las Vegas, Orlando, Hong Kong or Singapore, the sheikhdom is more like their collective summation: a pastiche of the big, the bad, and the ugly."

Monday, July 18, 2005

Nostalgia Central lists "40 Things That Only Happen In Movies," including:

15. All grocery shopping involves the purchase of French loaves, which will be placed in open brown paper bags (Caveat: when said bags break, only fruit will spill out).

33. All beds have special L-shaped sheets that reach to armpit level on a woman but only up to the waist of the man lying beside her.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Valerie Plame/Karl Rove scandal is just a small part of what's going on at the Bush White House. Frank Rich steps back and examines the big picture in this New York Times Op/Ed.

"The difference is that this time Mr. Rove got caught.

Even so, we shouldn't get hung up on him - or on most of the other supposed leading figures in this scandal thus far. Not Matt Cooper or Judy Miller or the Wilsons or the bad guy everyone loves to hate, the former CNN star Robert Novak. This scandal is not about them in the end, any more than Watergate was about Dwight Chapin and Donald Segretti or Woodward and Bernstein. It is about the president of the United States. It is about a plot that was hatched at the top of the administration and in which everyone else, Mr. Rove included, are at most secondary players."

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Follow this link to photographs of very unusual mammatus clouds taken in Nebraska in 2004.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

David Ansen asks, "Is Anybody Making Movies We'll Actually Watch In 50 Years?" in this Newsweek article.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

As this Newsweek article explains, Presidential advisor Karl Rove was the source of the leak that Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA agent.

Is this the end for Karl Rove? Slate's Timothy Noah thinks Rove should be fired and has started his Karl Rove Deathwatch. Marshall Wittmann disagrees in this TPMCafe post writing, "for Bush to get rid of Rove, would be like Charlie McCarthy firing Edgar Bergen."

Monday, July 11, 2005

The U.S. Air Guitar Championships will be held this Thursday in Los Angeles. In this New York Times article, Dan Crane, whose air guitar name is Björn Türoque (pronounced tu-RAWK), discusses the history of competitive air guitar.

"Air guitar is not about pretending to be a rock star. You must be that rock star. You might not need to put dry ice in your armbands to create smoky contrails as you strum, but it helps."

Thursday, July 07, 2005

David Plotz reports what it was like to be in London today after the terrorist attacks in this Slate article:

"The natural state of the English is a kind of gloomy diligence, which is why they do so well in hard times. In 1940, Londoners went dutifully on with their business while the Luftwaffe bombed the hell out of them. Today, most of them are doing the same. I was in Washington for 9/11, and the whole city went into a panic. Offices emptied, stores shut, downtown D.C. became a ghost town. But in London today, everyone still has a cell phone clutched to their ear. The delivery vans are still racing about, seeking shortcuts around all the street closures. The Starbucks is packed.

And when I walked by the Queen's Larder Pub, not half a mile from the Tavistock Square wreckage, at 11 a.m., a half-dozen men were sitting together at a sidewalk table, hoisting their morning pints of ale. Civilization must go on, after all."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Senator Barack Obama discusses his views on America and our place in history in his Knox College Commencement Address.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Author David Foster Wallace discusses life after college in his Kenyon College Commencement Address.

"Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I'm supposed to talk about your liberal arts education's meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. So let's talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about quote teaching you how to think. If you're like me as a student, you've never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think. But I'm going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we're supposed to get in a place like this isn't really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about."

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Science magazine celebrates its 125th anniversary with several articles discussing the "125 big questions that face scientific inquiry over the next quarter-century."

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Christopher Hayes discusses the Coingate scandal in Ohio and what it means to the Democratic Party in this Nation article.

Monday, June 27, 2005

In this New York Review of Books article, Elizabeth Drew discusses corruption in Washington. According to Drew, "unprecedented corruption—the intensified buying and selling of influence over legislation and federal policy —that has become endemic in Washington under a Republican Congress and White House. Corruption has always been present in Washington, but in recent years it has become more sophisticated, pervasive, and blatant than ever."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The New York Times explains how identity theft works in this article.

Friday, June 24, 2005

I just participated in the 2005 MIT Weblog Survey. The Survey is being conducted by the MIT Media Laboratory "to help understand the way that weblogs are affecting the way we communicate." If you have a blog and are interested in participating, follow this link.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Michael Crowley explains why golf is the ultimate symbol of Republican corruption in this Slate article.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The story of Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham and the sale of his house has taken a few unexpected turns. This San Diego Union-Tribune article explains how the investigation of the growing scandal is focusing on a defense contractor called MZM Inc. and two more members of Congress.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

How did Mark Felt, the anonymous Watergate source that Woodward and Bernstein called Deep Throat, escape detection by the F.B.I.? As this Nation article explains, Mark Felt was "in charge of finding the source of Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate scoops. In a twist worthy of le Carré, Deep Throat was assigned the mission of unearthing--and stopping--Deep Throat."

Monday, June 20, 2005

According to this Los Angeles Times article, while gas prices continue to rise in the United States,

"Today about 40 percent of all the fuel that Brazilians pump into their vehicles is ethanol, known here as alcohol, compared with about 3 percent in the United States. No other nation is using ethanol on such a vast scale. The change wasn't easy or cheap. But 30 years later, Brazil is reaping the return on its investment in energy security while the United States writes checks for $50-a-barrel foreign oil."

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Neal Stephenson discusses the latest Star Wars film in this New York Times op-ed column:

"In sum, very little of the new film makes sense, taken as a freestanding narrative. What's interesting about this is how little it matters. Millions of people are happily spending their money to watch a movie they don't understand. What gives?"

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Fred Kaplan explains what's really in the Downing Street Memos in this Slate article.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Thanks to the internet, you can now keep track of movies long before production has started. Done Deal lists scripts and pitches that have been bought by a Hollywood studio, while Query Letters I Love gives examples of scripts that hopefully will never be bought by a Hollywood studio.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Are you having trouble keeping track of all the Republican scandals? The Carpetbagger Report provides this helpful summary of revelations about the Bush White House just from last week. As the blog explains, "Any one of these stories could prompt congressional hearings, investigations, and massive media attention. They won't, of course, but they could."

This San Diego Union-Tribune article will help you get an early start on next week's Republican scandals:

"A defense contractor with ties to Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham took a $700,000 loss on the purchase of the congressman's Del Mar house while the congressman, a member of the influential defense appropriations subcommittee, was supporting the contractor's efforts to get tens of millions of dollars in contracts from the Pentagon."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A new book called The Rock Snob's Dictionary and its associated website, were created to provide information on Rock Snobs and the music they love. I haven't read the book, but the website is amusing. This page explains who the authors consider a Rock Snob and the history of Rock Snobbery. This page includes excerpts from the book.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Joshua Foer discusses what its like to survive being struck by lightning in this Slate article.

Monday, June 06, 2005

In this American Prospect article, Michael Tomasky explains why, on everything from David Rosen to Mark Felt to Pol Pot, conservatives try to rewrite history to their advantage.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Follow this link to play Pac-Mondrian.

"Pac-Mondrian closes the perceptual distance between fine art and video games by combining Piet Mondrian's Modernist masterpiece 'Broadway Boogie Woogie' with Toru Iwatani's classic video game Pac-Man."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Ohio Workers' Compensation Bureau invested $50 million in two rare coin funds controlled by a Republican Party fund-raiser. Now $13 million of the state's investment is missing along with more than 100 of the rare coins. The Toledo Blade broke the story and provides extensive coverage in this article. This New York Times article gives a shorter summary of the scandal.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Here are three articles with more information on yesterday's announcement that Mark Felt was the secret source who provided the Washington Post with information on the Watergate scandal. First, Bob Woodward finally tells the story of his relationship with the source he called "Deep Throat" in this Washington Post article. Second, this New York Times article discusses the intrigue behind yesterday's announcement. Finally, in this Baltimore Sun article, John Woestendiek explains who was right and who was wrong in guessing "Deep Throat's" identity.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Dialect Survey asked 122 questions to determine "an accurate picture of how English is used." This page lists the questions with links to maps of the responses to questions like:

What do you call the long sandwich that contains cold cuts, lettuce, and so on?

What do you call the thing from which you might drink water in a school? (The correct answer is, of course, a. bubbler.)

Which of these terms do you prefer for a sale of unwanted items on your porch, in your yard, etc.? (I've never heard of it before, but from now on I'm using Jumble.)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

In this Slate article, Neal Pollack explains how the Phoenix Suns saved the NBA.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan or BTC pipeline opened today. BTC, which transports oil from the Caspian Sea through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, took $4B and 10 years to build and is a monument to the politics of oil. As this Asia Times article explains, the BTC pipeline is part of the struggle for the control of the resources of Central Asia.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Matt Zoller Seitz discusses the history of martial arts films in this New York Press article.

Monday, May 23, 2005

In this New York Times column, doctor and author Robin Cook explains why the success of the Human Genome Project may lead to "the inevitable movement to universal health care."

Sunday, May 22, 2005

This Wired article discusses films that influenced George Lucas. According to the article:

"The film that made the most profound impression on Lucas, however, was a short called 21-87 by a director named Arthur Lipsett, who made visual poetry out of film that others threw away. Working as an editor at the National Film Board, he scavenged scraps of other people's documentaries from trash bins, intercutting shots of trapeze artists and runway models with his own footage of careworn faces passing on the streets of New York and Montreal."

The article explains that:

"One of the audio sources Lipsett sampled for 21-87 was a conversation between artificial intelligence pioneer Warren S. McCulloch and Roman Kroitor, a cinematographer who went on to develop Imax. In the face of McCulloch's arguments that living beings are nothing but highly complex machines, Kroitor insists that there is something more: "Many people feel that in the contemplation of nature and in communication with other living things, they become aware of some kind of force, or something, behind this apparent mask which we see in front of us, and they call it God."

When asked if this was the source of "the Force," Lucas confirms that his use of the term in Star Wars was "an echo of that phrase in 21-87."

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Edward Jay Epstein explains why the weekly box office grosses "have little real significance other than to measure the effectiveness of the studios' massive expenditures on ads" in this Slate article.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

As part of Slate's History Week, David Greenberg discusses the differences between academic historians and popular historians in this Slate article.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Las Vegas is 100 years old this year. To celebrate, the BBC presents a pictorial history of Las Vegas called In pictures: Viva Las Vegas. Do not miss picture 6.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

In this Nation article, Garrison Keillor discusses his love of radio, even right-wing talk radio:

"I enjoy, in small doses, the over-the-top right-wingers who have leaked into AM radio on all sides in the past twenty years. They are evil, lying, cynical bastards who are out to destroy the country I love and turn it into a banana republic, but hey, nobody's perfect."

Thursday, May 12, 2005

In this New Yorker article, Elizabeth Kolbert explains what can be done, and what is and isn't being done about global warming.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Tim Grieve explains Everything you wanted to know about the "nuclear option" in this Salon article.

"What's the "nuclear option"?

It's Frist's plan to change the Standing Rules of the Senate in order to prohibit Democrats from using the filibuster to block votes on Bush's judicial nominees. Under the current rules, senators in the minority can indefinitely delay a floor vote on judges -- or on just about anything else, for that matter -- by engaging in extended debate . . . With the nuclear option, Frist and his supporters would effectively change that rule so that filibusters on judicial nominees could be cut off by a simple majority vote."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Malcolm Gladwell discusses whether popular culture makes you smarter in this New Yorker article.

Monday, May 09, 2005

In this Slate article Jacob Weisberg explains how the Republicans have developed the unusual political philosophy he calls "interest-group conservatism":

"One might have expected that once in command, conservative politicians would work to further reduce Washington's power and bury the model of special-interest-driven government expansion for good. But one would have been wrong. Instead, Republicans have gleefully taken possession of the old liberal spoils system and converted it to their own purposes. The result is the curious governing philosophy of interest-group conservatism: the expansion and exploitation of government by people who profess to dislike it."

Sunday, May 08, 2005

In 2002 major league baseball agreed to new economic rules designed to improve baseball's financial viability. One of these new rules, called the debt service rule, "ties the amount of debt a team is allowed to carry to its cash flow." As this Washington Post article explains "whether intentional not, the debt service rule has had another effect: Since player payroll is by far a team's largest expense, many debt-ridden teams found the best way to get in compliance with the rule was to shed payroll and limit spending." The debt service rule is reining in the free spending of the New York Yankees.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Are you looking for something to do this weekend? How about The Time Traveler Convention at MIT?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Daily Show's Steven Colbert is getting his own show called The Colbert Report.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

In this Washington Post column, E. J. Dionne explains the current debate in Congress over social security and advises the Democrats that its time to leave the table:

"Walking away from a rigged game is hard for some people, especially when those running it and the respected opinion-makers who support them insist that this time the game will truly be on the level. But, especially when the danger involves gambling away the future of Social Security, the truly responsible thing is to leave the table."

Monday, May 02, 2005

In this New York Times Magazine article, Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, follows two minor league baseball players as they try to learn to hit with power.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

This St. Petersburg Times article profiles the writers of the Onion and discusses the process they use to write each issue:

"DiCenzo types a list of headlines that made the cut: 30 about the pope and 60 others. At 7 p.m., the writers gather around the table, the last glimmers of sunshine fading.

"We have a lot of good, solid pope jokes," says Garden.

They agree on "Pope's Renal System Proves Fallible" and "John Paul II's Last Words: "Pope Sled,"' their riff on the Citizen Kane "Rosebud" line. They also like "Pope-Killing Virus Claims Another Victim."

They decide against "Make 10 Billion Commemorative Plastic Items" because it's similar to their recent story about NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

They choose three for the Web site and pick "Heaven Not As Opulent" for the lead pope story in their next issue."

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Thomas Frank explains why the Democrats don't understand the culture backlash and why it cost them the 2004 election in this article from the New York Review of Books.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

In this Newsweek column, Jonathan Alter explains why he thinks House Majority Leader Tom DeLay should stay in his post until the 2006 election:

"DeLay's views on muscling the judiciary and ending the separation of church and state (which he believes is a fiction) offend the Constitution. That makes it too important to leave to the media and the rest of the Washington scandal machine to remedy. This job belongs to the voters, who can hammer the Hammer by siding against his many acolytes in Congress. Let's make 2006 a referendum on the right wing. For that, DeLay must stay."

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Edward Jay Epstein tells you "How To Finance a Hollywood Blockbuster" in this Slate article.

"As paradoxical and absurd as it sounds, it's cheaper for a Hollywood studio to make a big-budget action movie than to make a shoestring art film like Sideways. Consider Paramount's 2001 action flick Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. On paper, Tomb Raider's budget was $94 million. In fact, the entire movie cost Paramount less than $7 million."

Monday, April 25, 2005

Elizabeth Kolbert explains how global warming is changing the arctic in this New Yorker article.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

I've added Metafilter to the blog roll on the right side of Blogenheimer. Metafilter is a community weblog with many members since anyone can join and contribute a link or a comment. I almost always find something interesting there.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

According to this Globe and Mail article, Bobby Clarke, a ferry operator from Northern Manitoba may have video taped bigfoot:

"What he captured, according to his sister, Sharness Henry, is the image of a massive creature that stands eight, nine, maybe 10 feet (three metres) tall, walking along the edge of the water through some bulrushes. Near the end of the video, the creature turns and appears to stare into the camera, but the details of its face are impossible to make out.

"He's really hairy," Ms. Henry said."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

As part of its series of discussions about "the present and future of the Democratic Party" Salon interviews Brian Schweitzer, the Democratic Governor of Montana.

"The future is wearing a turquoise bolo tie wrapped around the open collar of a blue-and-white-striped button-down dress shirt. And if that doesn't sound quite right, then you haven't considered the mismatched gray suit coat or the blue jeans and boots down below. Meet Brian Schweitzer, the soil sciences major who grew up to be the governor of Montana -- and may be the next best hope of the Democratic Party."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Sasha Frere-Jones discusses the reunion of the band Slint in this New Yorker article.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Web Zen presents 10 ways to kill time on the internet including games like Shootin' Starz and Notepad Invaders.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

In this New York Times article, Edmund Andrews explains the potential dangers of the alternative minimum tax:

"Baffling in its complexity and often bizarre in its impact, the alternative minimum tax is a giant undeclared tax increase that will ensnare tens of millions of moderate-income families in the next several years."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

This Slate article explains how names become popular:

"Once a name catches on among high-income, highly educated parents, it starts working its way down the socioeconomic ladder. Amber, Heather, and Stephanie started out as high-end names. For every high-end baby given those names, however, another five lower-income girls received those names within 10 years."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

In this New Yorker article James Surowiecki explains why the value of the dollar is falling and what it could mean for America's economy.

Monday, April 11, 2005

In this American Prospect article, Michael Tomasky wonders why no one in the mainstream media seems to have noticed that, according to the polls, George W. Bush is one of the least popular presidents in modern American history.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Off the coast of Dubai, the Nakheel Corp is building a group of man-made islands called "The World", that will be shaped like the earth's continents.

"The World will consist of between 250 to 300 smaller private artificial islands divided into four categories - private homes, estate homes, dream resorts, and community islands. Each island will range from 250,000 to 900,000 square feet in size, with 50 to 100 metres of water between each island. The development is to cover an area of 9 kilometers in length and 6 kilometers in width, surrounded by an oval shaped breakwater. The only means of transportation between the islands will be by marine transport."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Google Maps can now find a satellite image of any address. Just click the Satellite link in the upper right hand corner.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

According to this Business Week article, "In 1932, there were an estimated 150 pinball-machine makers worldwide. Today, Stern Pinball stands alone. Based in Melrose Park, Ill., about 10 miles west of Chicago, Stern has been the only game in town since its remaining competition folded in 1999, making Gary Stern -- its silver-haired, pinball-tie-wearing Willy Wonka of sorts -- the only person keeping this piece of Americana from extinction. "If we ever quit," he says, "that will be the end of pinball."

Monday, April 04, 2005

In this American Prospect article, Ohio University historian Kevin Mattson explains what liberals should learn from the tactics of conservatives during the 1960s:

"The right’s tactics weren’t loud or theatrical. Its activists operated under the radar to lay the groundwork. They worked almost entirely within the system, changing the Republican Party from moderate to conservative precinct by precinct. And their story challenges the left-wing narrative of idealism during the decade. That’s precisely why it should inform the way liberals think about the future. To win real power, liberals need to think about infrastructure, institutions, and ideas. And they’re not going to get these if they look to the late ’60s for inspiration."

Sunday, April 03, 2005

According to this Scientific American article, "Researchers are starting to pin down what déjà vu is and why it arises. But have you read this already? Maybe you just can't remember."

Thursday, March 31, 2005

This Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article discusses Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold's recent trip to Alabama. According to the article, "Wisconsin's junior senator spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday driving around this politically forbidding "red state," meeting with liberal and conservative Democrats, Bush voters, local dignitaries and a curious Alabama media, enjoying the improbability of it all.

"When was the last time some Democrat from another part of the country went into Greenville, Alabama, and just said, 'What's the deal here?' " Feingold said before his trip.

You could look at Feingold's Alabama adventure as an extended conversation between North and South over the current woes and future direction of the Democratic Party.

Or you could view it as a guy who might run for president taking his style and message out for an early road test."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I blogged about the World Beard and Moustache Championships back in 2003, when it was held in Carson City, Nevada. This National Geographic article discusses the history of the event and the competitors as they prepare for the 2005 championships in Berlin, Germany. The article also includes this gallery of Beard and Moustache Champions.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

This New Yorker article discusses the question, "How much money should a doctor make?"

Sunday, March 27, 2005

In this Foreign Affairs article Historian Niall Ferguson examines the current world political and economic situation and wonders, "Could globalization collapse? It may seem unlikely today. Yet despite many warnings, people were shocked the last time globalization crumbled, with the onslaught of World War I. Like today, that period was marked by imperial overstretch, great-power rivalry, unstable alliances, rogue regimes, and terrorist organizations. And the world is no better prepared for calamity now."

Thursday, March 24, 2005

According to this article, "Two tiny species of tropical octopus have demonstrated a remarkable disappearing trick. They adopt a two-armed 'walk' that frees up their remaining six limbs to camouflage them as they slink away from trouble. . . . Instead of its usual sprawling crawl, O. marginatus fled from divers by striding on two arms, with the rest of its arms wrapped around its body, giving it the appearance of a walking coconut."

The article includes video of the walking octopus.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

From the placebo effect to tetraneutrons to the Kuiper cliff, New Scientist lists 13 things that do not make sense.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

David Brooks is a columnist who never met a conservative he didn't like. Surprisingly, Brooks uses this recent New York Times column to describe a group of conservative Republicans he calls the Masters of Sleaze. As Brooks' explains:

"Back in 1995, when Republicans took over Congress, a new cadre of daring and original thinkers arose. These bold innovators had a key insight: that you no longer had to choose between being an activist and a lobbyist. You could be both. You could harness the power of K Street to promote the goals of Goldwater, Reagan and Gingrich. And best of all, you could get rich while doing it!"

Monday, March 21, 2005

In this Los Angeles Times article Joe Robinson explains why paid time-off (PTO) banks are another way risk is being shifted from the employers to the employed:

"Paid time-off banks combine sick leave and vacation days, creating what at first looks like a jackpot — extra vacation days and more flexibility. But the winnings are subject to the vagaries of chance — your health — and corporate sleight of hand. Once your sick days are used up, further absences not covered by short-term disability come out of your holiday hide . . . American workers who have used up their puny sick-day allotment will have to decide whether to stumble to work sick or stay home and burn up vacation days. Or worry that if they roll the dice and take time off, it could jeopardize a paycheck if a health emergency hits. It adds another layer of guilt to gobs already there in taking a vacation, making it seem selfish to squander days that might be needed if you or a family member get sick."

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Everyone gets spam, but only's Rob Cockerham understood that his spam was telling him "An Unsolicited Commercial Love Story."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

David Edelstein picks the 20 movies with the most absurd twist endings in this Slate article.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

You can download video of a 1981 Replacements concert in the 7th Street Entry from this page on the Twin/Tone Records site.

"During the first week of September 1981, Twin/Tone took the mobile recording unit and rented a bunch of video gear and recorded 15 bands live (five nights) at the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis... These QuickTime movies are from the show on September 5th.

The band had released "Sorry Ma..." earlier in the year and were already working on future projects. These clips are presented as they were recorded live... in set order and very much with the tuning that troubled the night. The Replacements were the middle band of three (Husker Du closed the show) and played two 25 minute sets."

Monday, March 14, 2005

Batman: New Times is an animated movie made with Legos featuring the voices of Adam West, Mark Hamill, Courtney Thorne-Smith, and Dick Van Dyke.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

In 1964, a young Jim Morrison acted in a promotional film produced by Florida State that the people of IFILM have renamed Jim Morrison: College Dork.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Today William Gibson is best known as the author of novels like Neuromancer and Pattern Recognition, and as the man who coined the term “cyberspace.” But in 1967 he was a draft-dodging hippie living in Toronto's Yorkville neighbourhood. In this video clip, a 19-year-old Gibson takes CBC TV on a tour of the village where Beatle-haired kids, drugs, and free love ran rampant.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

This Columbia Journalism Review article makes the case for comics journalism:

"Since the renaissance of the mid-eighties, more and more writers and artists have been producing serious nonfiction comics about current events, from war crimes to hip-hop. In the mid-1990s, Joe Sacco’s two books on Palestine were hailed as groundbreaking works and made Sacco the best known of the new graphic journalists. Now comics, or graphic, journalism is turning up in daily newspapers, where its inherent subjectivity contrasts sharply with the newsroom’s dispassionate prose — another round in the debate over what journalism should be in the twenty-first century."

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

In this Slushfactory column, Dwayne McDuffie explains his "Grand Unification Theory" of television: "The last five minutes of St. Elsewhere is the only television show, ever. Everything else is a daydream."

Monday, March 07, 2005

This Portland Mercury article tells the story of Warren Hill, who paid 75 cents at a yard sale for a Velvet Underground acetate that may be the most expensive record ever sold. While this New York Times article discusses "Chinese Democracy," the most expensive record never made.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

While visiting my parents last weekend, I learned of plans to build a wind farm of 133 wind turbines on hilltops near my hometown. As this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article explains, these plans have divided local residents between those who see wind power as a clean energy source, and those who think its a bad idea to build 400 foot windmills next to the state's largest bird refuge. As my old high school science teacher says, "I can see 10,000 birds flying through a meat grinder."

Thursday, March 03, 2005

This page contains links to a three-part Los Angeles Times series examining the U.S. economy.

"Los Angeles Times reporter Peter G. Gosselin has spent the last year examining an American paradox: Why so many families report being financially less secure even as the nation has grown more prosperous. The answer lies in a quarter-century-long shift of economic risks from the broad shoulders of business and government to the backs of working families. Safety nets that once protected Americans from economic turbulence — safeguards like unemployment compensation and employer loyalty — have eroded or vanished. Familes are more vulnerable to sudden shifts in the economy than any time since the Great Depression. The result is a daunting "New Deal" for many working Americans — one that compels them to cope, largely on their own, with financial forces far beyond their control."

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

In this Washington Post column, E. J. Dionne Jr. discusses the racial bait and switch technique conservatives have been using lately.

"Conservatives profess to be horrified by political correctness . . . But increasingly, it is conservatives who are using political correctness to sidestep hard issues. Consider the bait-and-switch in the Gonzales case: Democrats thought it appropriate to use Gonzales's nomination to launch a debate about torture policy. Gonzales is Latino. Therefore, Republicans insisted, Democrats who wanted to debate torture policy were anti-Latino."

Monday, February 28, 2005

In this L.A. Times column, Christina Klein explains "Hollywood's latest strategy of globalization, known as local-language production. As foreign audiences show signs of tiring of Hollywood's formulaic blockbusters and express interest in seeing portrayals of their own cultures on screen, Hollywood has responded by making "foreign" films" like "A Very Long Engagement", "Kung Fu Hustle," and "Sideways."

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Stephen Metcalf examines "What the Clash meant to rock 'n' roll" in this Slate article.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Eric Boehlert updates the Jeff Gannon scandal in this Salon article entitled, "Gannongate: It's worse than you think."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

According to this Guardian Unlimited article, "Daniel Tammet is an autistic savant. He can perform mind-boggling mathematical calculations at breakneck speeds. But unlike other savants, who can perform similar feats, Tammet can describe how he does it. He speaks seven languages and is even devising his own language. Now scientists are asking whether his exceptional abilities are the key to unlock the secrets of autism."

Monday, February 21, 2005

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Frank Rich discusses the Jeff Gannon scandal in this New York Times column. Rich writes, "The prayers of those hoping that real television news might take its cues from Jon Stewart were finally answered on Feb. 9, 2005. A real newsman borrowed a technique from fake news to deliver real news about fake news in prime time."

(New technology from the New York Times Link Generator allows you to use this link to access this article even if you are not registered at the New York Times.)