I’m subscribed to a couple of hundred feeds over at Newsgator, but I have been seriously, seriously behind on nearly all of them — including the feeds of some close friends. I was just overwhelmed over the past year or so, and fell behind on everything. Anyway, in the past few days I chopped the items in the feeds from over 10,000 to just about 800 at present. That’s not bad, and I’m sure I’ll have to cull some more feeds and drop things I’m not reading, but if I can get it to 200-300 items a day, I’ll be able to keep up from now on.
But man, going through it, I found a ton of interesting stuff. Here’s a roundup, with credit when I can, and if I don’t credit my source, well, er, sorry:
Your Chance to Help
You could give money to the EFF, the people who are fighting to protect your freedom online.
Or how about helping this grad student pay off the flight home to say goodbye to her dad, who just passed away? I, too, lost my father from far, far away: it sucks enough, without having a big debt come of it. Got this from Pharyngula, so maybe she’s already in the black. Who knows?
Politics & Economy
(Can’t have one without the ooooo-ther. You know the tune, right?)
An Oral History of the Bush Administration. In case you didn’t already have a bad taste in your oral cavity mouth. And the great legacy? It’s all over the net, but what the hell: Muslims are apparently banned from wanting to (or expressing a desire to) sit in safe seats on a plane.
Government bails out those who got us into this mess. But the arts?
And does this look like the 1930s to you? Some people are comparing it to the late 70s and 80s. Hm.
David Galbraith has the recession in graphs, and the fact is, it’s sweeping the world: factories are cutting back or shutting down not just in the US, but all over the world, and there are concerns about even the juggernaut Chinese economy. (Latter link via Left Flank, and an interesting post that is with way more links to various thing. Not, not just the Jennifer Lee photoshoot.) Well, if dirt-cheap labour can’t save you, what can? Certainly not Russian Banks.
Here’s a Nicholas Nassim Taleb essay on the misuse of his ideas. Featuring section titles like, “How My Warnings were Received By Parasites/Economists.” (Yes, I’m occasionally reading bits of that Black Swan book of his these days, and thinking, yeah, this is sort of what SF authors try to think about a lot, so it’s not all so new to me.) Oh, and some papers on recession and recovery that Taleb, I’m sure, would hate!
Why Wall Street Always Blows It, by Henry Blodget. (This one yet to read, but it looks interesting, if bitter.) Also via Metafilter. The picture Jim Kunstler paints is pretty dark, but then, the present is pretty dark too, and his story is not without hope.
Tech & Science
Adaptive Eyewear: water-bladder glasses for the world’s poor.
How cats land on their feet — and why relatively longer falls let them do it better than relatively shorter ones.
There’s no such thing as free software, kid. (Luckily nobody trusts their teachers anymore.)
Star Maker — not the Stapledon version, either. (But I love that book and am happy to see it online. Free. I got my copy from Stefan Jones, one of the most interesting people from my long-ago mailserv days.)
Spend some quality time with Dr. Feynman. It’s a good cure for being tricked by a trio of charlatans. Oh, and more inoculation: Derren Brown talks about chicanery with Richard Dawkins.
(I’d embed the video but it’s in six parts, and I can’t seem to find a playlist embed function.)
Still doubting evolution? Creationism never produces new evidence of its model, but science does. Hmm. Never mind, if you don’t believe it by now, you will never, never never know it… no, woah-woah-woah-woaaaaah!
Third hand smoke. This is why I don’t like sitting beside you even if you smoke outside. Ya stink something toxic. But then again, the processed food we eat may also increase chances of lung cancer. (Either way, it’s bad for us.) But at least fresh blood from pretty young things is good for you after a cancer op. Huh! Vampires we shall all become. And with our heads full of debunked medical myths.
Worldchanging is doing a bunch of Year-in-Review posts. Excellent stuff, see the list at the bottom of the post.
(I’m short of SF-related links here, but there are more on my other computer. I’ll do another link dump from that one sometime soon.)
SF and Shanghai: fascinating stuff.
And this sounds SFnal, but though it isn’t, it’ll have to turn up in something I write someday: Chinese farmers are settling in parts of Africa. (It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this. People where I grew up love Ukranian food because of a similar — though different — displacement pattern.) (That last link is via Thomas P.M. Barnett.)
Paul Graham on credentials vs. performance, and why Korea’s reliance on the former and very weak focus on the latter is a big problem here now (as it was in America decades ago). This is something I’ve been very interested in for a while. Related: an interesting meme shifting the work ethic from “hard work” to “mastering distraction.”
Brian Deutsch: I like his blog again. He posted on the attitude that English teachers in Korea are interchangeable, the fact that pop singers seem interchangeable (I sense a bigger pattern forming in the entertainment industry, leasing songs into language-specific versions for different stars in various places, instead of having them waste time learning foreign languages and tour those countries singing translations of their “repertoire”), about discriminatory banking practices directed at foreigners in Korea, about how some Koreans find the worst part of Itaewon is the foreigners (wait! I agree!), and he linked to this really, really bad video that is being used to abused teach English to underaged victims public schoolchildren in Korea.
Thought Brian linked this, too, I got the link from Scott Burgeson himself (author of the book Bumgarner is so proud of appearing in). Bumgarner’s been completely off my radar for years now, but I have to say he is reacting better than I think a lot of people would be doing to the story that ended up being published about him.
“The Korean” posted a couple of interesting links about Korea-related American stuff here.
Lee Myung Bak promises what amounts to a super-secret planning session to fix the South Korean economy. (Funny how when Josh Lyman said that in The West Wing, it was a gaffe, but when it’s the Blue House, wel, what else do you expect? Then again, The Lee Administration’s approval ratings are in the potty anyway.) He also says North Korea says, with typical adolescent idiotic exuberance ignorance, “screw it,” and invites South Koreans to stage a revolt, while working in a little friendly promise of denuclearization for the US. Hey, maybe flunkyism will see us through after all? By the way, the Psychopath King is still alive… or a look-alike, just as likely. And I was hoping to sing and dance that munchkin song from The Wizard of Oz… you know, the one that goes “Ding, dong! The Witch is Dead!”
Wait, that’s what Kim is: not the Psychopath King, but the Witch King! Yay! Now to figure out how many hit dice he has, and roll up his stats. Comeliness: 2. Charisma: 3. Dexterity: ha!
Back to the economy: maybe everyone should just keep doing the same thing as before, but, y’know, like, better? For some people, it’s not so much thinking outside the box as it is noticing there’s a box outside of which thinking could occur.
Wanna see if you’d be nuked? Try Ground Zero.
Unreliable, maybe, but some people seem to have successfully unlocked their iPhone 3Gs with this Yellowsn0w thingie. I’m considering getting one when they come out in Korea this April, but I’m also leery. I explain why in the comments section of this post by my pal Marvin.
Lolbrarians. No, really. Check it.
You think your brain hurts?
Sexist? I just thought this Orangina commercial was weird, but in a sort of campy-clever way. Forgive me when I say this, but the sexuality in it is, er, cheesball and silly, slightly drag-queen-cabaretesque; not, in my opinion, something to get your knickers into a twist over. Circus sexuality, or something.
Some (dated) visions of the future really do amuse me.
As noted at the source, this is kind of “The Epic of Gilgamesh” for rappers. Trippy:
Writing gigs at Whisperjobs, if you’re not too busy or want some spare cash. (I don’t.)
There might be something useful here for you, like, say, Notesake. And try One-Two-Fiver for a neat warmup exercise! (I used it to sketch a strange meeting between a yuki-onna and a wide-eyed expat in Osaka, for a story I’ve been thinking of writing for a while now.)
Poilly Toynbee wishes you a Merry Godless Xmas.
Curious about African Rock? Also at Metafilter.
Running WordPress? Want to ban someone from visiting or trolling your site? WP-Ban might be the plugin for you.
Wanna kill some time? Left 4K dead. (Zombie shooter arcade minigame.)
Westerners like me love to complain at how Korean Chinese food is nothing like “real Chinese food.”) But, of course, what we think of Chinese food is, pften isn’t. For example, one dish I personall have been craving since I left Montreal is “General Tao Chicken”. But that’s no more real Chinese food than is jjambbong or jjajjangmyeon. Jennifer 8 Lee (yeah, that’s her byline) gave a great talk at TED about Chinese food localizations, specifically Americaized ones, and even called it “Open Source” which is a real interesting way of thinking about it.Maybe I should make some General Tsao’s Chicken for myself? Pretty greasy stuff, though.
The Commons: The world’s shared photo album, @ Flickr.