Tuesday, August 31, 2010

[tap, tap] Is this thing on?

erasers arranged into neat rows and columns, for a colorful quilt effect

Caught in a whirlwind between two trips, a change of planned fall nursery schools, and replacement of family room floor and couches. All a bit much for my head, and hence for my blogging rate. Anyway, wanted to showcase these images that I loved from the aptly named and strangely addictive blog Things Organized Neatly. Good to exercise those visual muscles once in a while...

a neat abstract pattern of hinged wooden clothespins against a black background

(via kottke)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Can't leave you hangin'!

Headed off to let Speck meet her cousin for the first (real) time while galavanting at the grandparents' house. Here's a little video that captures her current level of enthusiasm and skill in climbing and sliding at the local playground...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My barbaric yawp

man asleep on arms at deskI appear to have fallen into a blogging hole. Rather, the last week sort of wrung me out, physically and mentally, in a variety of ways too pedestrian to be worth enumerating, and suddenly I have a lot of tabs and no sign of blogular life. (And might I just say that this gizmo is my new favorite thing, simultaneously inflicting order and enabling procrastination to heady degrees.) Anyway, here are some things of note...
  • Atrios notes a sensible policy that would help us through these challenging economic times, but probably won't even get discussed.

  • It's certainly not a good sign for the recovery when people cause riots just lining up for Secion 8 housing!

  • Here's a good point, about both current (infuriating) affairs and the weaknesses of the Democratic party.

  • Speaking of good points, pithily put, here's one about language and Othering (or the definition of normal).
    (via NowThis)

  • Here's a good essay: The Real Struggle Behind Climate Change: A War on Expertise
    As part of a more general assault on the very notion of expertise, the narrative starts with a truism that is actually true:

    "Not every smart person is wise..."

    only then extrapolates it, implicitly, to a blatant falsehood

    "all smartypants are unwise, all the time; and my uninformed opinion is equal to any expert testimony."
    Interesting points here about the culture of science that gets overlooked (e.g., ambitious post docs are always looking for holes in their elders' theories, in order to make names for themselves, yet the "critics" assume that everyone involved is a "sell-out" marching in lock-step)...

  • Related (but funnier): If sports got reported like science... -- why do we presume it reasonable to require all sorts of esoteric knowledge in our recreation that we find unbearable in more serious matters?
Well, that clears things up a bit, and should be enough for everybody to chew on until I can get my act together a bit. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


The idea that going without traffic signals (or designing around them) actually makes intersections more efficient and less dangerous just blows my mind. Taking advantage of the power of human ability to negotiate such meetings with minimal signals and communications. Pretty neat.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not what his family has planned

...but this seems the appropriate blogger memorial for Ted Stevens. After all, I heard about the plane crash via the Internet pipes...

Getting better all the time

When you hear somebody say that the recession is over, don't you believe it. More and more people are tightening their belts, and that's not good for our long-term prospects...

A willful return to the dark ages?

slice of chalkboard with mathematical equations written on itReally, I can't find anything funny about this level of misunderstanding, let alone the promulgation of ignorance as a way of life. We are fortunate to live in a time of remarkable scientific discovery, but we seem consitutionally incapable of allowing it to guide us toward a better life, whether it's effective public health interventions, acceptance of homosexual parents, or avoidance of climate disaster. Being unwilling to accept fundamental concepts of reality -- because you don't understand the difference between "relativity" and "relativism" or because gravity seems nonintuitive -- is a recipe for disaster for an individual, let alone a nation.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Terrible things, wonderful things

Terrible things
  • Handy tools for keeping track of your kids become deadly in the hands of abusive stalkers and spouses. A word to the wise.
    (via FreeRangeKids tweets)

  • I had this same response to the Michele Obama anti-obesity campaign -- can't you focus on fitness rather than further stigmatizing fat kids? jeez.
    (via Alas a Blog)

  • America would rather unravel its civilization than take a few extra tax %'s from those who are doing ok or spend money to perk the economy back up. What on earth?!
    (via Atrios)
Wonderful things
  • There's new evidence that there may have been no Big Bang, but rather that the universe has no beginning or end. Should be interesting to see how this is received both in the scientific community and as it impacts widespread humanistic philosophy.
    (via Follow Me Here)

  • Some scientists have managed to harness the powerful pattern-recognition abilities of the human brain to improve the performance of a protein-folding algorithm. Neat as a concept -- gaming as cloud computing -- and as an application where non-experts can contribute in a meaningful way.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Live and let live

Fareed Zakaria has this exactly right. And I think he was both brave and honorable in returning his award from the ADL, whose involvement in this entire issue is downright shameful.

Friday, August 06, 2010

A few cheerful bits for Friday

Just a few, to leaven the usual doom and gloom...
  • Billionaires Pledge To Spread the Wealth -- Warren Buffet induces a landslide of largesse among his peers.

  • National Night Out -- one kid recreates an environment for unstructured neighborhood play, reminding a lot of parents that the end of their yards isn't the end of the world (and making a couple of new friends along the way)!

  • It Made My Day -- folks sharing the little episodes along the way that brightened their day or gave them a laugh.
And, of course, nothing improves your day like a bear on your head!

Speck in stroller, grinning, with teddy bear lying on her head

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Another chink in the wall

wedding ringsIt seemed obvious to me that CA Prop. 8 was unconstitutional, but I wasn't sure that a court would be ready to spell that out. Let's hope this doesn't rush ahead to the Supreme Court, given its current creepy level of right-wing agenda. Still, hooray!!

Edit: seems right to add this bit of snark... Yep.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Exactly right

One of the most on-point things I've seen this year: Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!
7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

(via a Medley tweet)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Digital divide

a computer screen, blue with the word 'you' written on itI think that there's a new digital divide opening up, and it's not as simple as whether you know how to work your desktop computer -- it's about whether or not you realize that there's an immense and important social space out there. We often laugh about elderly Senators who don't know what email is (or who think of the Internet as a series of tubes), but really there's a mental shift that occurs between just shifting your phone calls into email and developing unique relationships entirely derived from online contact (or almost entirely conducted there).

This is different from the ubiquity of connection provided by constant messanging and the like, but related, in that it represents a change in our definition of friends and in our ways of building meaning, and also a shift from viewing a computer as a tool to seeing it as a transparent access to a separate set of spaces out there in the cloud. You either have a visceral understanding of this or you are missing a mode of awareness of the world.

(link via rc3.org)

Really, this quote applies to so many parts of government these days

...that I sort of hate to narrow it down:
'While we appreciate your desire to revise the statute to reflect your expansive vision of it, the fact is that we must work with the actual language of the statute, not the aspirational version' that [Agency] had provided."

Monday, August 02, 2010

Quote of the day

How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn't they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a little while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from each other, by mutual consent? Or do we share the same secret without knowing it? Wear the same disguise?
stone carved with a spiral
- Don DeLillo
sam & sara motel
(via whiskey river)