Sunday, November 28, 2010

Links for Later

1. Krugman on the instability of economic moderation

2. NYT Notable Books of 2010

3. Body armor made out of prions/Alzheimer plaque material? It's The Man in the White Suit, but weaponized.

4. Do not stab one another as part of an initiation ceremony.

5. 19th century beard politics (Was Lincoln casual chic?)

6. Eugene Robinson outlines a strategy for Obama.

X-ray Biology

Review of the TSA scanners by a PhD candidate in biochemistry and biophysics.

Not encouraging, but then everyone I've talked to who's had anything to do with medical imaging has had bad things to say about this program. I was never a biophysicist, but I had a lot of time to look at imaging technology and I can say that you won't get me in one of those machines without a cattle prod. They might not be deadly, but there's no way to make X-rays compatible with human biology.

Jason Bell is right about another thing. The people most at risk from these scanners are the TSA people themselves. That's a lot of whole body radiation for anyone to be exposed to.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Watching a German charity diving event, starring a lot of people who are famous here, but only here. Fascinating to watch the social dynamics. Also, several of them seem to be pretty good divers, but everyone's attractive like one's friends are attractive, rather than like Hollywood people are.
Sorry for lack of posting. I've been working! In Germany! At the same time!

Weirdness on Weirdness

Former Ugly Betty bit actor chops up his mother with a ritual sword while ranting Masonic nonsense. Nasty.

I think the most interesting part in the article is this piece of Grant Morrison-esque detail--the first cops on the scene called a special unit of the NYPD for help:

[T]hey saw Brea gripping the sword, and a trail of blood leading to a closed door.

They retreated and called Emergency Service Unit cops, although a supervisor remained at the door and kept his eye on the suspect, which the NYPD said is standard practice.

ESU cops are "trained psychological technicians. They have additional equipment that enables them to perhaps better protect themselves," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Links for Later

1. Krugman: Obama buys into the right wing mythology.

2. Senators and TSA defend new grope and scope regime, naturally.

3. Want list: Stussy shoes

4. Terrorism then and now.

5. Alexander Hemon

6. Tycho Brahe examined

7. Tycho Brahe exhumed

Love Pats and Porno-Scanners

Bruce Schneier has a roundup of news on the TSA's overzealous and intrusive searches. Joy of joys, I get to go through this circus in a couple of hours. Everyone I know who knows anything about radiology and medical imaging says you're better off with the pat-down, because the evidence of safety just isn't there for the scanners, and either way is equally humiliating.

Two Kinds of Imagination

Two kinds of imagination: the strong, the promiscuous. One can exist without the other. Homer’s and Dante’s were strong, Ovid’s and Ariosto’s promiscuous. An important distinction when praising poets, or anyone, for their imagination. A strong imagination fast makes a man unhappy because his feeling runs so deep, but a promiscuous imagination cheers him because of its variety, because it nimbly visits then leaves all its objects and does so with a heady heedlessness. The two have very different characters. The first weighty, impassioned, usually (nowadays) melancholic, with deep emotion and passion, all fraught with life hugely suffered. The other playful, light, fleet, inconstant in love, high spirited, incapable of really strong, enduring passions and mental pain, quick to console itself even during the hardest times, etc. These two characters also yield clear portraits of Dante and Ovid: you see how the difference in their poetry corresponds exactly to the difference in their lives. Even more, you see how differently Dante and Ovid experienced exile. The same faculty of the human spirit is thus mother to contrary effects, qualities so different as to make the imagination seem virtually two different faculties. I don’t think that the deep imagination inspires courage, because it makes danger, pain, etc., so much more real and immediate than reflection does. What deliberation tells, deep imagination shows. And I believe that an imagination that does foster courage—such poets certainly don’t lack imagination, because enthusiasm always goes hand in hand with imagination and derives from it—belongs more to the deliberative, promiscuous type.

-Giacomo Leopardi

(via 3qd)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dresden Dolls

Saw them give a scorching show at the Vic on Wednesday. It looked like they'd never been happier. Openers Mucca Pazza did a bang-up job, too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Links for Later

1. How to Draw an Owl

2. "The Northmen came to Paris"

3. London panorama

4. Couple document their marriage while wearing Imperial Stormtrooper masks. Bizarre.

5. Edward Tufte's rare book collection (via kottke)

6. Warrantless searches of laptops at the border

7. Gargantuan Sikh ritual turbans

8. "Are any parts of your body sore?" asks the TSA. A sequel to "the Resistance"
9. Nassim Taleb's non-fragility diagrams

The Big Cave-In

Paul Krugman puts the finger on Obama's woes:
In retrospect, the roots of current Democratic despond go all the way back to the way Mr. Obama ran for president. Again and again, he defined America’s problem as one of process, not substance — we were in trouble not because we had been governed by people with the wrong ideas, but because partisan divisions and politics as usual had prevented men and women of good will from coming together to solve our problems. And he promised to transcend those partisan divisions.

This promise of transcendence may have been good general election politics, although even that is questionable: people forget how close the presidential race was at the beginning of September 2008, how worried Democrats were until Sarah Palin and Lehman Brothers pushed them over the hump. But the real question was whether Mr. Obama could change his tune when he ran into the partisan firestorm everyone who remembered the 1990s knew was coming. He could do uplift — but could he fight?

So far the answer has been no.
When are we going to see the fight?
Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) and an outspoken critic of the White House, said liberal anger has less to do with fears of a Clintonian move to the middle by Obama and more with a misreading of the election results by the administration.

“It’s less ‘Oh no, they’re triangulating,’ and more ‘Boy, their political instincts are really stupid,’ ” said Green, who along with other liberals has blasted the White House for suggesting it would compromise with Republicans on expiring tax cuts.

The White House “fundamentally” doesn’t get that “the only way to get Republicans to deal in good faith is to fight them, crush them and teach a lesson that if Republicans are on the wrong side of an issue there will be consequences ... so it makes sense to negotiate,” Green said.

“Right now, every time Republicans are on the opposite side of an issue from the public, it’s the Democrats who cave and talk about ‘compromise.’ It’s ridiculous.”
(via Americablog)

Airport Scanner Roundup

Would you rather be groped or scoped? The correct answer is "neither". Get ready for National Opt Out Day, November 24th.

The TSA's degrading electronic strip searches and punitive fondlings are a 4th Amendment violation, and it's really time to put an end to them before they go any further.

There's been a lot of news on this topic this week: a hundred naked scanner images were leaked today, New Jersey and Idaho introduce bills to ban the scanners, a man is threatened with a bogus $10,000 lawsuit for opting out, and airlines and pilots are boycotting the things due to health risks and humiliation.

Oh, and one of the founders of the TSA agrees that it's a violation, but says we'll all have to get used to it. Asshat.

Teenage Dream/Just the Way You Are

Before it was on Glee, Mike Tompkins did the one-man a capella version of Katy Perry's hit. Love the cymbal face.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Religion and Politics

In which Scott Beach delivers an important message on the state of discourse.

Religion and Politics

Scott Beach delivers an important message on the state of discourse.

Daniel Radcliffe Sings Tom Lehrer's the Elements

on the Graham Norton show.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Links for Later

1. NYT on the Deficit Catfood Commission

2. Paul Krugman on same

3. Firedoglake on same

4. Workflowy

5. Outsourcing in the pharma industry (what no one is saying in public)

6. Explaining Google's 10% raise

7. How to become a millionaire in three years (via lone gunman)

8. Great "about the team" page (referred by a tweet)

9. How Hedcuts are made at the WSJ

10. A guide to theoretical physics

The Catfood Commission Reports

The Chairmen's Mark is out from the Deficit Reduction Commission, and it is a steaming turd.

from Brad DeLong's inbox:
I don't know if my favorite part is adding co-pays to the VA or cutting the schools for soldiers' kids. Or the 23% top tax rate.
Talk about breaking what doesn't need fixing.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Witch House

The witch house music movement, which prides itself on being really, really obscure, to the point of being hard to find on Internet searches, has been profiled in the NYT, kind of taking the wind out of their marketing strategy, there, also.

Brian Eno on Oblique Strategies

Sunday, November 07, 2010

What Needs Doing

Who was it that asked me if I had any good Web 2.0 ideas that needed coding? I know it was one (or maybe more) of you underworked webheads. If whoever it was gives me a call, I've got a one of a pair of them sitting here unused, depending on your background and capabilities.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Future Is Now, Vol. LXXXIII: Military Medical Technology

Wired Danger Room has a roundup of the cutting-edge projects currently underway. Two big overlapping areas here: prosthetics and stem cells, with some lasers thrown in for good measure. Because, who doesn't need a stem-cell generated prosthetic with a frikkin' laser beam strapped to it?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Images of the Week

Typing ball (via boingboing)
Me too.

Tony Wilson's grave (via kottke)

Oh, that kind of electrical cables.

Whoop whoop.

When Do I Run Out of Money?

The Smart Bear's Startup Death Clock is a marvelous way to focus the mind.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Raising a Second Fund

Ben Horowitz talks about the reasoning behind Andreesen Horowitz's 2nd fund, and why they raised the size, shape and stage of fund that they did.

Post Election Post Mortem

Opinions on the causes of the election are a bit of a Rorschach test. The Blue Dogs think the Democrats need to move to the center, the Progressives think the Democrats should be more liberal, and the Republicans think that the Democrats should do whatever the Republicans want.

The best answer so far comes from Marshall Ganz, who helped create Obama's 2008 grassroots network. He believes that there's been a failure of leadership; that after the election, Obama shifted from a transformational to a transactional mode in the face of the immediate problems facing the country. In doing so, he gave up his leadership potential and created the situation we're now in.
Obama and his team made three crucial choices that undermined the president's transformational mission. First, he abandoned the bully pulpit of moral argument and public education. Next, he chose to lead with a politics of compromise rather than advocacy. And finally, he chose to demobilize the movement that elected him president. By shifting focus from a public ready to drive change — as in "yes we can" — he shifted the focus to himself and attempted to negotiate change from the inside, as in "yes I can."

During the presidential campaign, Obama inspired the nation not by delivering a poll-driven message but by telling a story that revealed the person within — within him and within us. In his Philadelphia speech on race, we learned of his gift not only for moral uplift but for "public education" in the deepest sense, bringing us to a new understanding of the albatross of racial politics that has burdened us since our founding.

On assuming office, something seemed to go out of the president's speeches, out of the speaker and, as a result, out of us. Obama was suddenly strangely absent from the public discourse. We found ourselves in the grip of an economic crisis brought on by 40 years of anti-government rhetoric, policy and practices, but we listened in vain for an economic version of the race speech. What had gone wrong? Who was responsible? What could we do to help the president deal with it?

And even when he decided to pursue healthcare reform as his top priority, where were the moral arguments or an honest account of insurance and drug industry opposition?

In his transactional leadership mode, the president chose compromise rather than advocacy. Instead of speaking on behalf of a deeply distressed public, articulating clear positions to lead opinion and inspire public support, Obama seemed to think that by acting as a mediator, he could translate Washington dysfunction into legislative accomplishment. Confusing bipartisanship in the electorate with bipartisanship in Congress, he lost the former by his feckless pursuit of the latter, empowering the very people most committed to bringing down his presidency.

Read the op-ed at it's good strategic thinking, and is essential for anyone tryingto understand the current political landscape.

Links for Later

1 Building a venture capital fund

2 Python for research

3 Surfer Andy Irons dies

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Art of Scaling Sales

Mark Suster has some smart advice for anyone trying to scale their sales force. Qualify, qualify, qualify, and let marketing handle the rest.

More at the link.