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."