Tuesday, December 19, 2006

E. J. Dionne Jr. examines 2006's political and cultural changes in this Washington Post column:

"It wasn't all that long ago that Democrats and liberals were said to be out of touch with "the real America," which was defined as encompassing the states that voted for President Bush in 2004, including the entire South. Democrats seemed to accept this definition of reality, and they struggled -- often looking ridiculous in the process -- to become fluent in NASCAR talk and to discuss religion with the inflections of a white Southern evangelicalism foreign to so many of them.

Now the conventional wisdom sees Republicans in danger of becoming merely a Southern regional party. Isn't it amazing how quickly the supposedly "real America" was transformed into a besieged conservative enclave out of touch with the rest of the country?"

Monday, December 18, 2006

For the 5th straight year, Fimoculous has compiled his list of Best of the Year lists.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Dayton Daily News compiled this list of the worst Christmas specials and TV movies ever.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

This Washington Post article explains how the Madden football video game is bringing a new generation of fans to the NFL.

"This is a phenomenon the National Football League never could have anticipated. In a world in which 53 million copies of the game have been sold in the last 17 years -- the latest version sold an unprecedented two million copies in its first weekend of release last summer -- Madden has provided the league a perfect conduit to its next generation of fans. And all because of attention to arcane details that has demystified the complexities of football to a population that never before understood them."

Monday, December 11, 2006

According to this New York Times article, the surf's up in Cleveland:

"It was the kind of day that lives mostly in Cleveland surfers’ fantasies. Pushed by the storm’s winds, water the color of chocolate milk rose 10 feet in the air before slamming onto a beach of boulders and logs. The temperature was 40 degrees and falling. One surfer, Vince Labbe, climbed onto his board only to get blown backward by 40-mile-an-hour winds."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Guardian's Jonathan Jones lists the 50 works of art you should see before you die.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Richard Simmons returns to the Late Show for the first time in five years in this funny YouTube Video.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government presents "A Conversation with Stephen Colbert."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

This Associated Press article explains the origin of the "Wave."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

This New Scientist article imagines what would happen to the Earth if all the people disappeared.

"Imagine that all the people on Earth - all 6.5 billion of us and counting - could be spirited away tomorrow. . . . Left once more to its own devices, Nature would begin to reclaim the planet, as fields and pastures reverted to prairies and forest, the air and water cleansed themselves of pollutants, and roads and cities crumbled back to dust."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Before the last presidential election, Washington Monthly asked a panel of 16 writers "What if Bush Wins?" Two years later, it looks like Kevin Drum got it right with his prediction, "The Scandals Finally Break."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

This Washington Post article discusses the demise of cursive handwriting.

"When handwritten essays were introduced on the SAT exams for the class of 2006, just 15 percent of the almost 1.5 million students wrote their answers in cursive. The rest? They printed. Block letters.

And those college hopefuls are just the first edge of a wave of U.S. students who no longer get much handwriting instruction in the primary grades, frequently 10 minutes a day or less. As a result, more and more students struggle to read and write cursive."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"Fast Film is an animated homage to motion pictures, hand-made by folding 65,000 print outs of film frames into three dimensional objects." Watch Fast Film here. The official Fast Film site is here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Jon Stewart answers the question, "What Is the President's Job?" in this clip from The Daily Show.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

David Remnick discusses Bill Clinton's post-Presidency in this New Yorker article.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In this Oxford American article, music historian Charles Wolfe discusses Louis Armstrong's connection with country music. This video introduction to the article includes video of a duet between Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

This Business Week article explains that the health care industry is "What's Really Propping Up The Economy."

"If you really want to understand what makes the U.S. economy tick these days, don't go to Silicon Valley, Wall Street, or Washington. Just take a short trip to your local hospital. . . Without it the nation's labor market would be in a deep coma. Since 2001, 1.7 million new jobs have been added in the health-care sector, which includes related industries such as pharmaceuticals and health insurance. Meanwhile, the number of private-sector jobs outside of health care is no higher than it was five years ago."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Mother of All Trailers is a very funny combination of every movie preview cliche.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In 1999 Jack Black and Owen Wilson stared in Heat Vision and Jack, a TV comedy about a former astronaut and his talking motorcycle. Only one episode of the show was made. Now, thanks to You Tube, you can watch Heat Vision and Jack here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

In 1991 Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel wrote Lookwell!, a TV comedy about a crime-solving former star of a cancelled cop TV show. Only one episode of the show, which stared Adam West, was made. Now, thanks to You Tube, you can watch Lookwell! here.

Monday, September 11, 2006

In this Slate article, Jeff MacIntyre discusses the unusual process David Milch uses to create the television show Deadwood.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

RateThatCommentary.com is the "definitive commentary track database" featuring reviews of DVD commentary tracks their list of the 100 best DVD commentary tracks.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

In 2004 Ricky Gervais made two in-house training videos for Microsoft as David Brent, his character from the Office. These videos which Microsoft said were "a light-hearted way of getting our staff to think about the values they attach to working at Microsoft," have now been posted on Google video. This Reuters article has more information on the videos.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sportswriter Henry Abbot attempts to explain how the NBA works by investigating the life of a man named William Wesley in this post from the blog True Hoop.

"In many ways, the most important things I have learned from the William Wesley investigation so far are not about Wesley at all. They are about the nature of celebrity and power in the NBA. Here's an attempt to explain.

You can see it in pictures for yourself online. There he is: arriving late at night at a hotel in Shanghai with Allen Iverson, helping to break up the famous Piston-Pacer squabble in Auburn Hills, and in snappy formalwear arm in arm with the birthday boy at LeBron James’ 21st.

He has a clean-shaven head, a ready smile, and an appearance that has been compared to a grown-up Urkel.

His name is William Wesley, and for more than a decade it has been something of an open secret in the NBA that he is about as connected an NBA insider as there has ever been."

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Beloit College Mindset List "is a general statement of the experiences and events that shaped the view of the world maintained by entering students" of Beloit College's Class of 2010, who were mostly born in 1988. Some examples from the list:

1. The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.

7. They have never heard anyone actually "ring it up" on a cash register.

23. Bar codes have always been on everything, from library cards and snail mail to retail items.

24. Madden has always been a game, not a Superbowl-winning coach.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto is no longer a planet under historic new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"Game Over" is a short film that uses stop-motion animation to turn various household objects into classic video games like Asteroids, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I don't follow tennis, but every few years David Foster Wallace writes an article about tennis that makes it sound fascinating. In this New York Times Magazine article, Wallace explains why Roger Federer is the best tennis player in the world.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

In this Atlantic Monthly article, Jack Beatty explains why the current state of the economy could mean trouble for Republican candidates:

"In short, either falling real incomes or rising unemployment strongly predicts defeat for the incumbent—that is, the president’s party in off-year elections. If the experts quoted in the Times are right, real personal incomes, which have fallen since 2001, will fall this year—that’s what inflation means. If, to moderate inflation, the Fed raises interest rates to slow the economy, then unemployment will rise. Both are likely to rise together, if Gordon is right, between now and 2008. Thus, if history is any guide, economic retrospective voting should cost the Republicans the House this year and the presidency in 2008."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The word planet has never had an official definition. As this Space.com article explains, the International Astronomical Union's proposed new definition of planet could mean the solar system has at least 12 planets.

"The proposal, which sources tell SPACE.com is gaining broad support, tries to plug a big gap in astronomy textbooks, which have never had a definition for the word "planet." It addresses discoveries of Pluto-sized worlds that have in recent years pitched astronomers into heated debates over terminology.

The asteroid Ceres, which is round, would be recast as a dwarf planet in the new scheme. Pluto would remain a planet and its moon Charon would be reclassified as a planet. Both would be called "plutons," however, to distinguish them from the eight "classical" planets. A far-out Pluto-sized object known as 2003 UB313 would also be called a pluton."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Recently Geraldo Rivera said that Comedy Central's Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert "count for nothing" because they "make a living putting on video of old ladies slipping on ice." Colbert responded by appearing on the Daily Show to demand that Jon Stewart apologize to Geraldo. Stewart refused to apologize. Later, Colbert brought Stewart to his show to convince him to apologize by getting him to walk a mile in Geraldo's moustache.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I have been watching and enjoying the second season of Deadwood on DVD. Deadwood was created by David Milch, who had previously worked on Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue. This profile of David Milch originally ran in the New Yorker and tells the interesting story of Milch's life and how he created Deadwood.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Minnesota Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kennedy has endorsed Connecticut Senate candidate Joe Lieberman. The Blotter tries to make sense of this endorsement here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

As this Salon article explains, Democrats in Wisconsin think that stem cell research could be the wedge issue that will help them win in November.

"In 2004, observers attributed much of President Bush's slim margin of victory to the clever use of a single wedge issue. Ballot initiatives banning gay marriage may have lured more conservative voters to the polls in 11 states, and Bush won all those states except Michigan and Oregon.

Two years later, Republicans are again using gay marriage to rouse their socially conservative base. In November six more states will vote on whether to ban same-sex unions. But in the battleground state of Wisconsin, early polling suggests that gay marriage may be losing some of its Election Day magic -- and that Democrats have found a wedge issue of their own with as much or more drawing power."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Monday, August 07, 2006

In this Washington Post column, E. J. Dionne surveys the political landscape and asks, "Is conservatism finished?

What might have seemed an absurd question less than two years ago is now one of the most important issues in American politics. The question is being asked -- mostly quietly but occasionally publicly -- by conservatives themselves as they survey the wreckage of their hopes, and as their champions in the Republican Party use any means necessary to survive this fall's elections."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Republicans are in trouble, if even their own candidates don't want to admit they are loyal to their party. Republican Senate candidate Mark Kennedy is running TV ads that say he's really "independent" and often "crosses party lines." But as this Minneapolis Star Tribune article explains, he "voted along with the majority of Republicans on about 95 percent of all partisan votes."

In response Kennedy said, "that measuring how often he votes with other Republicans or in agreement with the Bush administration position in no way proves that he lacks independence." I guess Kennedy is independent about 5% of the time.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

This Los Angeles Times article explains how man-made chemicals have "altered the basic chemistry of the seas."

"In many places — the atolls of the Pacific, the shrimp beds of the Eastern Seaboard, the fiords of Norway — some of the most advanced forms of ocean life are struggling to survive while the most primitive are thriving and spreading. Fish, corals and marine mammals are dying while algae, bacteria and jellyfish are growing unchecked. Where this pattern is most pronounced, scientists evoke a scenario of evolution running in reverse, returning to the primeval seas of hundreds of millions of years ago."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Film Critic.com selects the Top 50 Movie Endings of All Time.

Monday, July 31, 2006

According to this New York Times article, scientists who study the differences between people today and people of the recent past have found, "one of the most striking shifts in human existence — a change from small, relatively weak and sickly people to humans who are so big and robust that their ancestors seem almost unrecognizable."

According to "Robert W. Fogel of the University of Chicago, humans in the industrialized world have undergone “a form of evolution that is unique not only to humankind, but unique among the 7,000 or so generations of humans who have ever inhabited the earth.”

The difference does not involve changes in genes, as far as is known, but changes in the human form. It shows up in several ways, from those that are well known and almost taken for granted, like greater heights and longer lives, to ones that are emerging only from comparisons of health records.

The biggest surprise emerging from the new studies is that many chronic ailments like heart disease, lung disease and arthritis are occurring an average of 10 to 25 years later than they used to."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sugarmegs.org allows you to listen to streaming audio recordings of concerts from hundreds of bands.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stylus Magazine picks (and links to) the Top 100 Music Videos of All Time.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Observer selects The 50 Albums That Changed Music.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Moonpans.com has hi-res panoramic photos taken by the Apollo Astronauts when they visited the Moon between 1969 and 1972. These panoramas are Quicktime VR Movies are that you can navigate around using your mouse.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sailwx.info's Shiptracker shows the current position of ships worldwide. Sailwx.info also tracks Tall Ships, Cruise Ships, and ships on the Great Lakes.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Sci Fi Channel has put the pilot episode of their new animated comedy, "The Amazing Screw-On Head" on their website. After watching the show, you can vote to let the Sci Fi Channel know if you think the show should join their schedule. The show, based a comic book by Mike Mignola, is summarized below.

"In this hilarious send-up of Lovecraftian horror and steampunk adventure, President Abraham Lincoln's top spy is a bodyless head known only as Screw-On Head.

When arch-fiend Emperor Zombie steals an artifact that will enable him to threaten all life on Earth, the task of stopping him is assigned to Screw-on Head. Fortunately, Screw-On Head is not alone on this perilous quest. He is aided by his multitalented manservant, Mr. Groin, and by his talking canine cohort, Mr. Dog."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

According to this Slate article, "The Republican answer to runaway health-care spending is to cap jury awards in medical malpractice suits. For the fifth time in four years, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist tried and failed to cap awards at $250,000 during his self-proclaimed "Health Care Week" in May. But this time, the Democrats put a better idea on the table.

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama also want to save on health care. But rather than capping jury awards, they hope to cut the number of medical malpractice cases by reducing medical errors."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

As this Beloit Daily News article explains, citizens of Beloit, Wisconsin recreated the George Seurat painting “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte” in Beloit's Riverside Park.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Is a major illness or injury necessary for an American cyclist to win the Tour de France? Greg Lemond survived an accidental gunshot wound to win the Tour de France three times. Lance Armstrong survived cancer and won the race seven times. Now Floyd Landis, who is currently in 2nd place in the Tour, has announced that he has osteonecrosis in his hip and will have to have hip replacement surgery after the Tour. Learn more about Floyd Landis and his injury in this New York Times magazine profile.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Kyle MacDonald has succeeded in trading one red paperclip for a house. He started with one red paperclip on July 12, 2005 and 14 trades later, on July 12, 2006 he will trade with the Town of Kipling, Saskatchewan for a house. Read the full story and see details of all 14 trades on his blog One Red Paperclip.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

This Washington Post Magazine article tells the story of several professional miniature golfers who competed at the 2006 miniature golf U.S. Open.

"The U.S. Open of the ProMiniGolf Association is a two-day, nine-round competition that kicks off at the Hawaiian Rumble, which sits on Route 17, amid a string of swimwear stores, aging shopping centers, seafood restaurants and other miniature golf courses. The Hawaiian Rumble takes its name from a 40-foot, concrete volcano in the center of the course, skirted by a moat, its waters dyed the deep, alien blue of glacial ice. Every half-hour or so, the volcano quakes with artificial thunder, and a four-foot kerosene flame spurts from the caldera. On the morning of the U.S. Open, a halo of gray fog was leaking steadily from a ring of vesicles a few feet below the crater's lip, but the flame and thunder apparatus had been turned off so as not to fray the nerves of the golfers, who were already on the course, putting away with nervous intensity."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

With today's release of Superman Returns, I thought it would be a good idea to look back at the 1978 movie Superman. No, not the Christopher Reeve film, but a rip-off the made in India. According to this review of the Indian Superman, it "is one of those rare movies that manages to offend on every level. It is badly acted, badly directed, badly filmed, and makes no sense whatsoever. And just to add that extra level of offensiveness, the whole project is probably illegal."

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

According to this WWF article, scientists have discovered a new chameleon-like snake in Borneo.

Monday, June 26, 2006

This International Herald Tribune article explains how the extinction of plants and loss of genetic diversity threatens our food supply:

"Historically, humans utilized more than 7,000 plant species to meet their basic food needs, Esquinas says. Today, due to the limitations of modern large-scale, mechanized farming, only 150 plant species are under cultivation, and the majority of humans live on only 12 plant species, according to research by the Food and Agriculture Organization."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Sun Herald compiled these links to flash animation showing photographs of South Mississippi before and after Hurricane Katrina.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

PitchforkMedia.com presents 100 Awesome Music Videos.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I Love 80s Music has links to over 1400 music videos from the 1980s.

Monday, June 19, 2006

According to this New York Times article, we are on the verge of a revolution in aquaculture that may lead to the domestication of the ocean:

"Taking a long-range view, there is little doubt that we are on the verge of a vast new artificial selection that will determine the characteristics of a future marine ecology. As recently as 20 years ago, aquacultured products were niche items — the bright red slab of lox from Norway, the crawdad from Louisiana. Today, dozens of mainstream fish are being domesticated and will soon appear at supermarket counters everywhere. Yellowtail, halibut, red snapper and even Volkswagen-size bluefin tuna are all coming under some kind of human-controlled production. And whereas animals like sheep and cattle were adapted to fit the farm over thousands of years, many of the ocean species under development today could be tamed in as little as a decade."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Oriskany, a decommissioned aircraft carrier, was sunk 24 miles off the coast of Pensacola, Fla., on May 17 to form an artificial reef. Watch the ship sink in this series of photographs called The Sinking of the Oriskany.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

This Google video shows an FAA Radar track sequence of a bank of FedEx aircraft getting into Memphis as thunderstorms pass over the airport.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Worldmapper is a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Follow this link to an optical illusion called the Big Spanish Castle.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Galactic Pizza is a forward thinking company with a vision of the future. They use only renewable wind energy. Their pizzas are delivered by people dressed as superheroes who drive electric cars, and as this article explains, occasionally they foil street crime.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Derek Abbott's Animal Noise Page is the world's biggest multilingual list of how different languages mimic animal sounds. For example, horses say "neigh" in English, "hi-hiin" in Japanese, and "i-go-go" in Russian.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

In this Washington Post column, E. J. Dionne explains that, "This month's offensive by President Bush and his allies in Congress against gay marriage and flag burning proves one thing: The Republican Party thinks its base of social conservatives is a nest of dummies who have no memories and respond like bulls whenever red flags are waved in their faces."

Monday, June 05, 2006

Last weekend Stephen Colbert gave the 2006 Knox College Commencement Address:

"And when you enter the workforce, you will find competition from those crossing our all-too-pourous borders. Now I know you’re all going to say, “Stephen, Stephen, immigrants built America.” Yes, but here’s the thing—it’s built now. I think it was finished in the mid-70s sometime. At this point it’s a touch-up and repair job. But thankfully Congress is acting and soon English will be the official language of America. Because if we surrender the national anthem to Spansih, the next thing you know, they’ll be translating the Bible. God wrote it in English for a reason! So it could be taught in our public schools.

So we must build walls. A wall obviously across the entire southern border. That’s the answer. That may not be enough—maybe a moat in front of it, or a fire-pit. Maybe a flaming moat, filled with fire-proof crocodiles. And we should probably wall off the northern border as well. Keep those Canadians with their socialized medicine and their skunky beer out. And because immigrants can swim, we’ll probably want to wall off the coasts as well. And while we’re at it, we need to put up a dome, in case they have catapults. And we’ll punch some holes in it so we can breathe. Breathe free. It’s time for illegal immigrants to go—right after they finish building those walls. Yes, yes, I agree with me."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Movie Binge team will watch every major movie released. Their site allows you to follow along as they try to watch all 85 films.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

In this Media Matters article, Jamison Foser explains that:

"The defining issue of our time is not the Iraq war. It is not the "global war on terror." It is not our inability (or unwillingness) to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable health care. Nor is it immigration, outsourcing, or growing income inequity. It is not education, it is not global warming, and it is not Social Security.

The defining issue of our time is the media.

The dominant political force of our time is not Karl Rove or the Christian Right or Bill Clinton. It is not the ruthlessness or the tactical and strategic superiority of the Republicans, and it is not your favorite theory about what is wrong with the Democrats.

The dominant political force of our time is the media.

Time after time, the news media have covered progressives and conservatives in wildly different ways -- and, time after time, they do so to the benefit of conservatives."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Neil Gaiman and Adam Rogers discuss The Myth of Superman in this Wired article.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mil Videolinkitos is a compilation of links to music videos from the 1980s. The list includes everything from David Lee Roth to Husker Du to Seona Dancing.

Monday, May 22, 2006

This video clip turns the movie "The 10 Commandments" into a very funny trailer for a new teen comedy called "10 Things I Hate About Commandments."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

This New Orleans Times Picayune flash animation shows how Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans. This article further explains how the city was flooded.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Steve Martin performs his routine, "The Great Flydini" in this YouTube video.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

This New York Times article explains why everything you know about lactic acid is wrong.

"Everyone who has even thought about exercising has heard the warnings about lactic acid. It builds up in your muscles. It is what makes your muscles burn. Its buildup is what makes your muscles tire and give out.

Coaches and personal trainers tell athletes and exercisers that they have to learn to work out at just below their "lactic threshold," that point of diminishing returns when lactic acid starts to accumulate. Some athletes even have blood tests to find their personal lactic thresholds.

But that, it turns out, is all wrong. Lactic acid is actually a fuel, not a caustic waste product. Muscles make it deliberately, producing it from glucose, and they burn it to obtain energy. The reason trained athletes can perform so hard and so long is because their intense training causes their muscles to adapt so they more readily and efficiently absorb lactic acid."

Monday, May 15, 2006

In this blog post, Brian Ross of ABC News reports that:

"The FBI acknowledged late Monday that it is increasingly seeking reporters’ phone records in leak investigations. “It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration,” said a senior federal official."

According to Ross:

"Officials say the FBI makes extensive use of a new provision of the Patriot Act which allows agents to seek information with what are called National Security Letters (NSL). The NSLs are a version of an administrative subpoena and are not signed by a judge. Under the law, a phone company receiving a NSL for phone records must provide them and may not divulge to the customer that the records have been given to the government."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Al Gore addresses the nation to discuss his first 6 years as president in this clip from last weekend's Saturday Night Live.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Bureau of Engraving shows examples of large denomination U.S. currency.

"On July 14, 1969, the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve System announced that currency notes in denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 would be discontinued immediately due to lack of use. Although they were issued until 1969, they were last printed in 1945. These notes are legal tender and may be found in circulation today; however, most notes still in circulation are probably in the hands of private numismatic dealers and collectors."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

As explained in this Stern article, Brazil's Pirahã tribe have one of the most unusual languages on earth:

"The language is incredibly spare. The Pirahã use only three pronouns. They hardly use any words associated with time and past tense verb conjugations don't exist. Apparently colors aren't very important to the Pirahãs, either -- they don't describe any of them in their language. But of all the curiosities, the one that bugs linguists the most is that Pirahã is likely the only language in the world that doesn't use subordinate clauses. Instead of saying, "When I have finished eating, I would like to speak with you," the Pirahãs say, "I finish eating, I speak with you." Equally perplexing: In their everyday lives, the Pirahãs appear to have no need for numbers."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Michael Tomasky explains why the opportunity for the Democrats in the 2006 elections is "far bigger than a few House and Senate seats if they can recognize -- and seize -- this unique historical moment," in this American Prospect article:

"The party has discipline, a tactical strategy as the opposition, and a more than respectable roster of policy proposals waiting to be considered should Democrats become the majority again. It’s quite different from, say, three years ago. But let’s not get carried away. There remains a missing ingredient -- the crucial ingredient of politics, the factor that helps unite a party (always a coalition of warring interests), create majorities, and force the sort of paradigm shifts that happened in 1932 and 1980. It’s the factor they need to think about if their goal is not merely to win elections but to govern decisively after winning them. What the Democrats still don’t have is a philosophy, a big idea that unites their proposals and converts them from a hodgepodge of narrow and specific fixes into a vision for society."

Monday, May 08, 2006

Eric Boehlert explains how, "the U.S. media abandoned its post as Bush led the country into a disastrous war" in this Salon article excerpted from his new book, "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

60 Minutes profiles Stephen Colbert in this CBS News article.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Joan Walsh explains the mainstream media's reaction to Stephen Colbert's speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner in this Salon article:

"Colbert's deadly performance did more than reveal, with devastating clarity, how Bush's well-oiled myth machine works. It exposed the mainstream press' pathetic collusion with an administration that has treated it -- and the truth -- with contempt from the moment it took office. Intimidated, coddled, fearful of violating propriety, the press corps that for years dutifully repeated Bush talking points was stunned and horrified when someone dared to reveal that the media emperor had no clothes. Colbert refused to play his dutiful, toothless part in the White House correspondents dinner -- an incestuous, backslapping ritual that should be retired. For that, he had to be marginalized. Voilà: "He wasn't funny."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Angry Alien Productions presents, "The 30-Second Bunnies Theatre Library," in which a troupe of bunnies parodies a collection of movies by re-enacting them in 30 seconds, more or less. The site includes parodies of 21 movies including Star Wars, King Kong, and The Big Chill.

Monday, May 01, 2006

If you weren't watching C-SPAN this weekend, you probably missed Stephen Colbert's remarks at the White House Correspondents Dinner. He spends 25 minutes roasting President Bush and the Washington media in front of President Bush and the Washington media. Links to video of Colbert's speech are below. They must have had no idea who he was when they booked him.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Back in 1987 I couldn't watch Husker Du on the Joan Rivers Show because it was preempted for a sporting event. Now, thanks to YouTube, I can watch them play "Could You Be The One?" and get interviewed by Joan whenever I want. (She really wants to know why they aren't as "radical" as they used to be.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Miss Pronouncer is a pronunciation guide to everything in Wisconsin, including Wisconsin cities, counties, and Indian tribes.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Roger Ebert lists his "102 Movies You Must See Before You Die," in this article. (I've seen 52.)

According to Ebert,"It's not my idea of The Best Movies Ever Made (that would be a different list, though there's some overlap here), or that they were my favorites or the most important or influential films, but that they were the movies you just kind of figure everybody ought to have seen in order to have any sort of informed discussion about movies. They're the common cultural currency of our time, the basic cinematic texts that everyone should know, at minimum, to be somewhat "movie-literate."

Monday, April 24, 2006

In this Slate article, Arthur Allen explains what's behind the Midwest mumps outbreak.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Follow this link.

Look at the name of the school and the team's nickname (on their uniforms). They are the __________ __________.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Stephen Colbert explains why George W. Bush's low approval ratings are good for the president in this clip from the Colbert Report.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Amy Sullivan explains why the Democrats are "Not as Lame as You Think" in this Washington Monthly article.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Evan Anderson is a 6-foot-10, 217-pound basketball prospect from Stanley, Wisconsin who, as this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article explains, is also a 14-year-old 8th grader.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Glenmary Research Center created these maps of religion in the United States. These county-level maps show the distribution of religions across the country. Geitner Simmons discusses the maps in this post from his blog Regions of Mind.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

James Fallows explains why bombing Iran is a bad idea in this Atlantic Monthly article.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

In 1964 the Rolling Stones recorded a Rice Krispies jingle for a TV commercial. You can watch that commercial here.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Lieutenant General Greg Newbold (Ret.) explains "Why Iraq Was a Mistake" in this Time Magazine column:

"From 2000 until October 2002, I was a Marine Corps lieutenant general and director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After 9/11, I was a witness and therefore a party to the actions that led us to the invasion of Iraq--an unnecessary war. Inside the military family, I made no secret of my view that the zealots' rationale for war made no sense. And I think I was outspoken enough to make those senior to me uncomfortable. But I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat--al-Qaeda. I retired from the military four months before the invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy. Until now, I have resisted speaking out in public. I've been silent long enough."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Comparative Interactomics, Cognitive Radio, and Stretchable Silicon are three of Technology Review's 10 Emerging Technologies that they believe will "have a big impact on business, medicine, or culture.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Now that it looks like Arrested Development will not be returning for a fourth season on another network, it's time to look back at Arrested Development's 25 Best Moments.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Monday, April 03, 2006

According to this CNN article, doctors at Wake Forrest University have grown new human organs from patients' cells.

"In the new procedure, doctors extract muscle and bladder cells from a small piece of the patient's own bladder. The cells are grown in a Petri dish, then layered onto a three-dimensional mold shaped like a bladder.

In a few weeks, the cells produce a new bladder, which is implanted into the patient. Within a few more weeks, the new bladder has grown to normal size and has started functioning.

Atala is working to grow 20 different tissues and organs, including blood vessels and hearts, in the laboratory, according to the university.

"We're not using any type of stem cell population or cloning techniques, but mainly the patient's own cells that we're using to create these organs and put them back into the patient," Atala told CNN.

Because the bladders are grown from a patient's own cells, there is no risk of rejection, as in a traditional transplant."

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bruce Sterling discusses the Modern Cafe, spimes, and shoes in this videoblog interview taped during his visit to Minneapolis last week.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

In this Washington Post column, E. J. Dionne explains why John McCain's plan to run for president in 2008 has ended his career as the Senate's maverick politician:

"The prevailing view among McCain's lieutenants -- it's also the conventional political view -- is that since the main obstacle to his nomination in 2008 comes from the right and from Bush partisans, McCain's main task is to appease the right and make nice with Bush on issues (such as Iraq) where McCain actually agrees with the president. Liberal attacks can be ignored, since most liberals will eventually vote against McCain anyway. There will be plenty of time after he's nominated for McCain to don his maverick apparel again for the benefit of moderates and independents."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Diserio.com selects the 15 Best Skylines in the World.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Guinea Worm is an infectious disease in which yardlong worms grow under a victim's skin and then force "their way out by exuding acid under the skin."

According to this New York Times article, "Now, thanks to a relentless 20-year campaign led by former President Jimmy Carter, Guinea worm is poised to become the first disease since smallpox to be pushed into oblivion. Fewer than 12,000 cases were found last year, down from 3 million in 1986."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

As reported on tonight's Daily Show, The Smoking Gun has obtained Vice President Dick Cheney's Suite Demands.

"The document is provided to hotels where Cheney will be bunking and lists how the Republican pol's "Downtime Suite" needs to be outfitted. While the vice president's requests are pretty modest (no extract-the-brown-M&M demands here), Cheney does like his suite at a comfy 68 degrees. And, of course, all the televisions need to be preset to the Fox News Channel."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

According to this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, "Wisconsin is at the epicenter of a linguistic collision."

"The unusual vowel sounds are hallmarks of a change coming at us from the Southeast, the so-called Northern Cities Shift in which "aa" and "eh" sounds are being reversed.

This change, however, is moving head-on toward another vowel change coming from the West, the so-called Low-Back Merger. In this second change, words such as caught are being pronounced increasingly like the word cot."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"The writers of the Online Film Critics Society recall the half- and completely-forgotten treasures of the past decade cinematic canon with its list of the Top 100 Overlooked Films of the 1990s."

Monday, March 20, 2006

As this Star-Telegram article explains, the Landmark Tower, a 30-story skyscraper in downtown Fort Worth, was blown-up last Saturday. The paper also provides video of the implosion.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

This Grasshopper Enterprises article explains How to Stop Time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Cockeyed.com presents the results of an experiment to determine whether you can get a new credit card with a torn up credit card application. I won't give away the ending, but their advice is:

"You should probably buy a shredder today."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Uber-Review presents the Top Ten Most Annoying Alarm Clocks.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

In this Smithsonian Magazine article Christine Dell'Amore explains why coyotes have begun appearing in American cities like Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Thursday, March 02, 2006

According to this Associated Press article, Hummer has been trying to find an indie rock song to use in a commercial. Unfortunately for Hummer, when asked, most indie rock bands respond, "We'll do anything BUT Hummer."

"The Thermals, a rambunctious rock band from Portland, Ore., were en route between gigs last year when they got a phone call from their label, Sub Pop. Hummer wanted to pay them $50,000 for the right to use their song "It's Trivia" in a commercial. "We thought about it for about 15 seconds, maybe," lead singer Hutch Harris said.

They said no...

"It had to be the worst product you could give a song to," Harris said. "It was a really easy decision. How could we go on after soundtracking Hummer? It's just so evil."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Here's a link to a video of what can only be described as an Amazing Curling Shot.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Paul Saffo, Forecaster for the Institute for the Future, discusses media, technology, and the future in this San Francisco Chronicle interview:

"Q: You've written that "Information Age" is "a profoundly wrongheaded description" of our times. What would be a better phrase?

A: It's not information. It's media. This is why I think it's been so hard for traditional media to cover what's going on. I can't imagine how you can find the discipline to be emotionally detached reporting on a revolution, the winds of which are blowing right down the hallways of the publication you work for. That's like an orthopedic surgeon trying to perform arthroscopic surgery on their own knee. It's possible, but it's hard to see through all the pain. It really is a media revolution and I think the closest parallel is what happened in the 1950s with the rise of television. The arrival of television established a mass-media order that dominated the last 50 years. This is a personal media revolution. The distinction between the old order and the new order is very important. Television delivered the world to our living room. In the old media, all we could do was press our noses against the glass and watch. This new world of personal media -- the Web, the Internet and et cetera -- not only delivers the world to your living rooms, but everywhere. And we get to answer back. And we're expected to answer back."

Monday, February 27, 2006

VideoSift brings you the best of GoogleVideo and YouTube videos as voted on by VideoSift users.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Take the quiz to find out "Which Peanuts Character are you?"

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The web site The #1 Song on this Date in History lets you find out what was the #1 song in the country on the day you were born, the day you graduated from high school, or any other day since 1940.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Monday, February 20, 2006

Bruce Sterling explains "The Futures Of Money" in this Forbes article.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The blog Get Human has compiled telephone cheat codes and tips to get through the computer and talk to a live human when calling various businesses and government agencies.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The American Book Review lists their choices for the 100 Best First Lines from Novels.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cheney accidentally shoots fellow hunter. Somehow I'm not surprised.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Edward Jay Epstein explains why Hollywood is making fewer original movies in this Slate article.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Here's a video clip of Tyson the Skateboarding Bulldog. Tyson's website includes FAQs and more pictures and movies.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

This video clip shows an amazing example of Octopus Camouflage.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Frank Calliendo impersonates John Madden, President Bush, and other celebrities during an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in this video clip.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

This ThingsAsian article discusses "The Curious Case of Jim Thompson, Thai Silk King.

"On Easter Day, 1967, American businessman and founder of the modern Thai silk industry James H.W. Thompson disappeared while supposedly on a stroll in the jungle-clad Cameron Highlands, central Malaysia."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Project Censored presents the Top 10 Censored News Stories of 2005.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Stephen Colbert discusses "Bill O'Reilly, fantasy role-playing games, and the plague of truthiness sweeping the nation" in this Onion A.V Club interview.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The new blog Republicans...or the Mafia helps you understand today's political events "by comparing corrupt Republicans and their shady goings-on to well-known characters and scenes from your favorite gangster movies."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Witold Rybczynski explains why Frank Lloyd Wright's Beth Sholom Synagogue is an overlooked materpiece in this Slate slide show.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Phrase Finder provides the meanings and origins of many colloquial phrases and sayings, including Scot free and the whole nine yards. The site also has information on euphemisms, misheard song lyrics and more.

Monday, January 23, 2006

William Gibson explains how he discovered science fiction and history in this Infinite Matrix essay.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Christopher Stern explains "The Coming Tug of War Over the Internet" in this Washington Post article:

"Do you prefer to search for information online with Google or Yahoo? What about bargain shopping -- do you go to Amazon or eBay? Many of us make these kinds of decisions several times a day, based on who knows what -- maybe you don't like bidding, or maybe Google's clean white search page suits you better than Yahoo's colorful clutter.

But the nation's largest telephone companies have a new business plan, and if it comes to pass you may one day discover that Yahoo suddenly responds much faster to your inquiries, overriding your affinity for Google. Or that Amazon's Web site seems sluggish compared with eBay's.

The changes may sound subtle, but make no mistake: The telecommunications companies' proposals have the potential, within just a few years, to alter the flow of commerce and information -- and your personal experience -- on the Internet. For the first time, the companies that own the equipment that delivers the Internet to your office, cubicle, den and dorm room could, for a price, give one company priority on their networks over another."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Michael Hiltzik explains what's wrong with the Medicare prescription drug benefit in this Los Angeles Times column:

"Forget Iraq, the economy, the abortive Social Security scheme: The defining fiasco of the Bush Administration may prove to be the utterly disastrous Medicare prescription drug benefit, formally known as Medicare Part D. Already the newspapers are filled with stories about Medicare-Medicaid patients, the poorest of the poor, being denied prescriptions by the thousands because the government, with only two full years to prepare, didn't have its computer systems tested, up, and running when the program launched January 1. The pain is just beginning."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

According to this Cincinnati Enquirer article, the new elevator system in the Metropolitan Park West Tower in downtown Seattle "alleviates passenger bottlenecks" and "minimizes stops by grouping together passengers with common destinations."

"Here's how it works:

Self-standing and wall-mounted kiosks with touch screens are installed in common areas where elevator passengers wait. Passengers enter their destination floor on the touch screen.

The requests are processed, and a message is displayed informing users to ride a specific car.

"In a conventional system, waiting passengers crowd into the first available elevator, which often results in the car stopping at numerous floors, increasing travel time," said Joe Rennekamp, vice president of engineering at Fujitec's corporate offices in Lebanon.

In time, the new Fujitec system becomes even more efficient at grouping passengers by learning elevator-use patterns, said Rennekamp, whose team of engineers pioneered the software for the system. It does this by considering historical information to learn traffic variances in the building."

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Bancroft Library presents this 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire website. The site includes an interactive map and a 360-degree panorama of San Francisco after the disaster.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Robert Gordon explains "The Basic Case Against Alito" in this post from the blog Balkinization.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

This New Scientist article explains that, "Dogs do as well as state-of-the-art screening tests at sniffing out people with lung or breast cancer. The research raises the possibility that trained dogs could detect cancers even earlier and might some day supplement or even replace mammograms and CT scans in the laboratory."

Monday, January 09, 2006

According to this Washington Post story, NASA's Stardust spacecraft collected dust from the comet Wild 2. This weekend the spacecraft will release a capsule carrying the comet dust, which will land in the Utah desert, providing a "treasure trove" of material for scientific study.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

This Los Angeles Times article tells the story of Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz, who was lucky to have good friends like Rep. Tom DeLay help him when his savings and loan collapsed.

"Reps. John T. Doolittle and Richard W. Pombo joined forces with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas to oppose an investigation by federal banking regulators into the affairs of Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz, documents recently obtained by The Times show. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was seeking $300 million from Hurwitz for his role in the collapse of a Texas savings and loan that cost taxpayers $1.6 billion.

The investigation was ultimately dropped.

The effort to help Hurwitz began in 1999 when DeLay wrote a letter to the chairman of the FDIC denouncing the investigation of Hurwitz as a "form of harassment and deceit on the part of government employees." When the FDIC persisted, Doolittle and Pombo — both considered proteges of DeLay — used their power as members of the House Resources Committee to subpoena the agency's confidential records on the case, including details of the evidence FDIC investigators had compiled on Hurwitz.

Then, in 2001, the two congressmen inserted many of the sensitive documents into the Congressional Record, making them public and accessible to Hurwitz's lawyers, a move that FDIC officials said damaged the government's ability to pursue the banker."

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

From time to time, magazines and radio stations compile lists of the 100 Greatest Albums of all time. The website Timepieces has gathered links to these 70 'All Time' Best Albums Lists from the US, UK, Netherlands and Belgium.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

According to this Washington Post article, Lobbyist Jack Abramoff "pleaded guilty yesterday to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in a deal that requires him to provide evidence about members of Congress." This Slate article examines which lawmakers Abramoff may testify against. The Post also tries to explain the complicated Abramoff scandal with this helpful chart.