29 March 2008

Back To Macro-Blogging

Greetings! Sorry for my absence this week; I had a big midterm on Friday, and since I've apparently lost my exam-taking mojo, I didn't want to risk under-studying.

I haven't been entirely absent from the blogosphere, though. You may have noticed that I've begun micro-blogging with Twitter (kmoliver). As with most of my forays into new technological territory, I was motivated by my colleague and Web Ink expert David (dmscott) and my advisor, Paul (gonuke). It is, after all, handy to know what those two are up to. Once I got going, though, I realized that Twitter isn't just like a webified instant messenger but rather an improvement. Am I the only one who was in the AIM craze mostly for the away messages anyway? There's a real opportunity for creativity and reflection in trying to sum up large swathes of your day in 140 characters. In any event, feel free to follow along if you're interested, either by joining up and becoming a "follower" or via the new widget at right in CSC proper. (All kinds of connotations in that word choice, isn't there? "How many followers do you have?")

I've got a couple of Hacker Within- and Sunday Judgment-related Twitter thoughts to share tomorrow. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, here are a few of the stories I'd have shared with you this week had I been macro-blogging. As always, you can find them as I add them in my del.icio.us links under ToBlog, which tag has turned into the FIFO data structure that organizes my news-blogging agenda.


The Fortune Cookie Chronicles blog and open-source Chinese restaurants -- One of David's recent posts over at Web Ink Now. I agree that the Windows:Linux::McDonald's:Chinese Restaurants was interesting. I stopped into a McDonald's on the road over spring break and was delighted to realize that it had been so long since I'd been in one that I couldn't remember what I used to order. I wish I could say the same about using Windows, but at least Cygwin provides a nice compromise. It's kinda like having a tasty Chinese food cart located inside your neighborhood McDonald's for when you absolutely have to go inside one to use the bathroom or view a complexly formatted Word document. By the way, I have it on good authority that Chinese restaurants outnumber McDonald'ses in Opelousas, Louisiana three-to-one. That's not just a ratio; it's the actual count. (Godspeed, Rachel.)

Regarding David's most recent post, I'd just like to add a loud amen to his point about the annoyingness of blogger pitches from PR firms. Even I'm getting them (thanks, no doubt, to David's kind mention in the new e-book, which has also gotten me one legitimate job offer, though I didn't take it). The annoying thing is, if these people looked at my blog for two seconds, they'd realize I have very little expertise in the field from which they're offering to send me review copies of new books and that I worked with David because I'm a freelance editor and not because I know anything about marketing.


Are We Ready To Track Carbon Footprints? -- Mentions a really interesting new book called Nudge. Next time someone preaches to you about how this mysterious, presumably benevolent force we call "the market" is going to save us from self-destruction, you might want to make the point Thaler makes here: “Getting the prices right will not create the right behavior if people do not associate their behavior with the relevant costs...When I turn the thermostat down on my A-C, I only vaguely know how much that costs me. If the thermostat were programmed to tell you immediately how much you are spending, the effect would be much more powerful.”

The market's only as smart as its actors' access to information allows them to be.


5 Cooks, $40, 5 Dishes, 3 Desserts -- Worth a read for the first couple of paragraphs alone. And also for the picture of Eric Ripert, who I've been intrigued by ever since I read the chapter about him in Kitchen Confidential. He's kinda goofy looking.

This seems to be a trendy subject right now; I heard a pretty similar story on NPR last weekend.


A Political Comeback: Supply-Side Economics -- Posted here solely as an excuse to also post this:


An Outsider at the Center of a Musical Universe -- Really beautiful article. I think Pareles gets Paul Simon exactly right here. I was afraid for a second that he was veering toward the usual colonialist arguments, but, on the contrary, he says,

"Those arguments can seem quaint now that the world’s music cruises the Internet and countless songs are built by cut-and-paste. The decades proved Mr. Simon’s instincts were right. Just as he had used English folk songs, doo-wop and gospel, he used African music — and later the Brazilian music that fueled “The Rhythm of the Saints” in 1990 — but by no means used it up. The sounds he drew on were far more durable than that. And his African collaborators, like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, found new, eager listeners for their own material worldwide."


With Assist From Greed, Money Makes the Man -- Another reason to love NYT film reviewer Manohla Dargis: her fearless use of parentheses for efficient asides. It's the same thing David Foster Wallace does with footnotes, but the Dargis approach is a little more, well, approachable to the average person, I think. Either way, I've long contended that there's an intense intellectual honestly (not to mention an addictive playfulness) in not backing down from making important though tangential connections solely to preserve prose fluidity. You just have to work harder to make such text readable. The fun of writers like DFW, Douglas Adams, Chuck Klosterman, and Dargis is proof that it's worth it.


Speaking of connections, my friend Evie posted a link to this hilarious video the other day. I'll leave you with it:

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