Thursday, December 13, 2007

Buried in Snow, Too Tired to Work...

...might as well surf the web.

This is what it looks like right now in Ithaca, New York:

(From Cornell's web cam.) So here are some links worth following which I've come across since, well, my last miscellaneous link-round up.

By categories:


This NY Book Review review of two books on the Iraq invasion in 2003 is very well written and quite horrifying -- and good corrective to the bloodless version that persists in our cultural memory.

An example of why the DMCA is ridiculous. For those who like humor in their politics. (via)

Paul Krugman on why calling Dick Cheney Darth Vader is actually too kind.

• There is a lot more on politics right now -- a lot of which has to do with the Democrats desperately trying to be as bad as the Republicans; see, e.g., Congressional Democrats complicity in Bush's torture regime and their pathetic caving on the budget. Mostly it's too depressing to think about. But if you want to look on the bright side, Steve Fraser at TomDispatch has you covered. The key quote:
What if the opposition is vacillating, incoherent, and weak-willed -- labels critics have reasonably pinned on the Democrats? Bad as that undoubtedly is, I don't think it will matter, not in the short run at least.

Take the presidential campaign of 1932 as an instructive example. The crisis of the Great Depression was systemic, but the response of the Democratic Party and its candidate Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- though few remember this now -- was hardly daring. In many ways, it was not very different from that of Republican President Herbert Hoover; nor was there a great deal of militant opposition in the streets, not in 1932 anyway, hardly more than the woeful degree of organized mass resistance we see today despite all the Bush administration's provocations.

Yet the New Deal followed. And not only the New Deal, but an era of social protest, including labor, racial, and farmer insurgencies, without which there would have been no New Deal or Great Society. May something analogous happen in the years ahead? No one can know. But a door is about to open.
As for why that door might be about to open... read the whole thing. Best case for political optimism I've seen in a long while.


Last week's Opus was particularly funny -- and while it pretended to be about politics, it was really about language.

This week's This Modern World is good too.

Morpheus: Neil Gaiman meets the Matrix, drawn by Sandman artist Marc Hempel (via the co-creator of one of the Morpheus's.)

And not one but two essays on 60's Marvel Comics:

• Andrew Rilestone is characteristically interesting on Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and the the question of who created Spiderman.

• And Kate Willaert is equally interesting in arguing that writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby had very different takes on Sue Storm (the sole female member of the Fantastic Four) -- which are still decipherable in the final product.

(Both of these are of specialized interest, I'll admit, but if you're uncertain about whether or not you'd be interested, click the link -- they both have wider interest than their subjects suggest.)

Misc Humor

Nietzsche's anti-Kant attack ad.

Why are there pink lights on my bridge? (From Dave's Long Box.)

Things That From a Long Way Off Look Like Flies

Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker on why IQs are rising, and what that means about what IQ tests measure. My favorite bit:
The psychologist Michael Cole and some colleagues once gave members of the Kpelle tribe, in Liberia, a version of the WISC similarities test [which asks people to sort things by category, e.g. mammals with mammals]: they took a basket of food, tools, containers, and clothing and asked the tribesmen to sort them into appropriate categories. To the frustration of the researchers, the Kpelle chose functional pairings. They put a potato and a knife together because a knife is used to cut a potato. “A wise man could only do such-and-such,” they explained. Finally, the researchers asked, “How would a fool do it?” The tribesmen immediately re-sorted the items into the “right” categories.
1000 Frames of Hitchcock boils each Hitchcock film down to 1000 frames: a marvelous exercise in Ou-X-po-style reduction, and a fascinating way to look at the films. (via (IIRC))

• Very sad news for Fantasy fans: Terry Pratchett has Alzheimer's. I'm keeping my hopes up for good results with new treatments, and wish Terry all the best.

Why time seems to slow down in emergencies. (via)

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