Fantastic interview with John Norquist in Next American City about how freeways hurt cities and what can be done to improve the situation. I’ve been saying this same stuff for years. Probably my favorite bit, naturally about San Francisco:
A robust street grid, with lots of connections, will distribute traffic much better than a few large freeways. […] For example, when the Embarcadero Freeway, a double-deck freeway, was torn down, a majority of the trips—according to a study by the city of San Francisco—got shorter and faster because of the increased connectivity. With the freeway, there were a lot of trips where you overshot your destination and had to come back. It also attracted trips that didn’t add any value to the neighborhood: People going from Oakland to Marin County were cutting through San Francisco. When the freeway was torn down and replaced by a boulevard, it suddenly didn’t look so attractive to go that way, and [drivers] found a different way to get to Marin Country or, in some cases, didn’t make the trip.
In two new papers, Nobel Prize–winning physicist Frank Wilczek lays out the mathematics of how an object moving in its lowest energy state could experience a sort of structure in time. Such a “time crystal” would be the temporal equivalent of an everyday crystal, in which atoms occupy positions that repeat periodically in space.
MOTHERFUCKING TIME CRYSTALS WHAT. Even Witze admits the name sounds “like the title of a bad fantasy movie”.
Despite a century of research, memory encoding in the brain has remained mysterious. Neuronal synaptic connection strengths are involved, but synaptic components are short-lived while memories last lifetimes. This suggests synaptic information is encoded and hard-wired at a deeper, finer-grained molecular scale.
In an article in the March 8 issue of the journal PLoS Computational Biology, physicists Travis Craddock and Jack Tuszynski of the University of Alberta, and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff of the University of Arizona demonstrate a plausible mechanism for encoding synaptic memory in microtubules, major components of the structural cytoskeleton within neurons.
I had the opportunity to see Dr. Hameroff speak at Google in 2007 — you can view a video of that talk here. He’s an interesting fellow with a lot of very interesting ideas — some of which are (as far as I can tell as a layman) somewhat outside the mainstream.
What I’m saying is: check this out, but take it with a grain of salt.
However, two years later, when Seuss was challenged by political columnist Art Buchwald for never having written a political book, Seuss took a copy of the book and crossed out “Marvin K. Mooney” and wrote in “Richard M. Nixon.” Buchwald was so delighted that with Seuss’s consent he printed the text as his column for July 30, 1974. Nixon resigned ten days later on August 9th.
It’s a talking point so overused it’s almost a trope by this point. “How will I explain this to my children?” Obviously that’s a question parents have to answer for themselves. Unless they don’t explain anything and let the children work things out for themselves. What would that look like? It might look a little something like this classic video, where a young boy named Calen meets his first gay couple — without knowing what “gay” could be.
Fruit flies apparently self-medicate just like many humans do, drowning their sorrows or frustrations for some of the same reasons, scientists reported Thursday. Male flies subjected to what amounted to a long tease — in a glass tube, not a dance club — preferred food spiked with alcohol far more than male flies that were able to mate.
The study, posted online in the journal Science, suggests that some elements of the brain’s reward system have changed very little during evolution, and these include some of the mechanisms that support addiction. Levels of a brain chemical that is active in regulating appetite predicted the flies’ thirst for alcohol. A similar chemical is linked to drinking in humans.
What’s really cool is that they think this could help them develop treatments to help people with alcohol and other substance abuse problems. Science!
“Look. I’m not going to say that I didn’t take a few shortcuts in my passion to be heard. But I stand behind the work,” Daisey said. “My mistake, the mistake I truly regret, is that I had it on your show as journalism. And it’s not journalism. It’s theater.”
I don’t buy it. As Dan Frakes says, the fact that he lied to TAL about this makes no sense — why not just adjust the monologue for radio? Or only broadcast an accurate portion? Or at least make the producers aware that he hyped it up.
The problem though, is that he couldn’t do any of that. Jason Snell:
I agree with Daisey that his art is to make a point about truth, not report facts. But his show was structured around assumed reportage.
That’s it exactly. His stage show, which you can read a transcript of here, is structured around the idea that he went to China, saw all this stuff, and gosh what does that say about globalization and corporations and aren’t we basically just Eloi? If he had to adjust his work to report accurately about what he saw, or reframe portions in the second-hand, all the drama would be lost: he would not longer be entering the Morlock tunnels and exposing the future’s degeneracy.
All that aside, good on Ira Glass and TAL for coming forward right away and admitting their part in this. Like Patton Oswalt says:
Man, Ira Glass’ dream journal is about to get a fucking workout.
So here’s the latest thing really rustling my jimmies, courtesy of Scott McCartney of The Wall Street Journal:
The Transportation Security Administration is rolling out expedited screening at big airports called “Precheck.” It has special lanes for background-checked travelers, who can keep their shoes, belt and jacket on, leave laptops and liquids in carry-on bags and walk through a metal detector rather than a full-body scan. The process, now at two airlines and nine airports, is much like how screenings worked before the Sept. 11 attacks.
"It’s a completely different experience than what you’re used to," said Matt Stegmeir, a platinum-level Delta Air Lines Inc. frequent flier who was invited into Precheck when it opened at his home airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul.
WE USED TO BE USED TO THIS
THEN SOME REALLY STUPID SHIT HAPPENED TO AIR TRAVEL IN THIS COUNTRY
To qualify, frequent fliers must meet undisclosed TSA criteria and get invited in by the airlines. There is also a backdoor in. Approved travelers who are in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s “Global Entry” program can transfer into Precheck using their Global Entry number.
Enrolling requires a $100 application fee for a background check, plus a brief interview with a Customs officer.
So I guess we’ve quantified the value of being treated like a human being as $100 and a background check.
Regrettably, we have discovered that one of our most popular episodes was partially fabricated. This week, we devote the entire hour to detailing the errors in “Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory,” Mike Daisey’s story about visiting Foxconn, an Apple supplier factory in China.
The episode itself isn’t available yet, but it should be available this evening. However the summary alone is pretty upsetting. Update: Andy Baio has a cached copy of TAL's textual retraction, which contains some of the details on the fabrications at hand.
Recall that Daisey is also the author of a one-man play The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, also based on his “experiences” in China.
Something about Daisey’s work and attitude on this topic never really sat right with me — I could never quite put it into words, and honestly just dismissed it as fanboyism on my part. However, recall that the concurrent Foxconn suicides imbroglio was also quite a bit less shocking than it was at first brush.
In the Deep South, one of the most conservative regions of the country, Romney and his Republican rivals polished their credentials with attacks on President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy and the nation’s use of energy. “The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is,” said Rick Santorum.
See, it’s funny because Rick Santorum has no idea what ecology or biology is.
The dangers of cyanide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous cyanide is.
The re-arrest of Rebekah Brooks this morning suggests little official let-up in a British tabloid phone-hacking scandal that captured the world’s attention last July and threatens to drag Prime Minister David Cameron into questions about his ties to Ms. Brooks and other journalists.
Yes, that’s right. Re-arrest. Really good run-down of the whole case from the CSM. (Just too bad it’s on two pages.)
Don Fleming, Elvis Costello, and Emmylou Harris stopped by The Colbert Report last week to talk about Alan Lomax and American folk music. The three and Colbert also performed “Good Old Mountain Dew" and "Goodnight, Irene.” Highly recommended.
Facebook’s automatic efforts to connect users through “friends” they may know recently led two Washington women to find out they were married to the same man, at the same time. That led to the man, corrections officer Alan L. O’Neill, being slapped with bigamy charges.
According to charging documents filed Thursday, O’Neill married a woman in 2001, moved out in 2009, changed his name and remarried without divorcing her. The first wife first noticed O’Neill had moved on to another woman when Facebook suggested the friendship connection to wife No. 2 under the “People You May Know” feature.
"Wife No. 1 went to wife No. 2’s page and saw a picture of her and her husband with a wedding cake," Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist told The Associated Press.
Wife No. 1 then called the defendant’s mother.
There’s a lot more to the story, but I’m ending the quote at this point because this is how it ran in yesterday’s paper. I’m not sure why the editors chose to cut it off at that exact point, but it was a hilarious place to do so.
Animal welfare groups reacted with outrage Wednesday after the Iowa Legislature made the state the first to approve a bill making it a crime to surreptitiously get into a farming operation to record video of animal abuse. … The Iowa measure would establish a new penalty for lying on a job application to get access to a farm facility, making it a serious misdemeanor. A second conviction would be an aggravated misdemeanor.
Sen. Joe Seng, a Davenport Democrat and veterinarian who sponsored the bill, said the measure strikes a balance by discouraging animal activists from sneaking into livestock facilities but not prohibiting someone who legitimately works there from reporting animal abuse. … He said the livestock industry has legitimate concerns about unauthorized people infiltrating their facilities because they could track in disease or let mice or other unwanted vermin into farm buildings.
These kinds of exposés are generally how we find out about instances of horrific animal abuse, but on the other hand, it really is trespassing. Theoretically it should be possible for legitimate employees to report this kind of stuff too, but we’ll see how it goes.
Students and faculty at Harvard University are calling on the school to award posthumous degrees to seven students expelled nearly a century ago for being gay or perceived as gay, and they’re timing a rally for their cause to coincide with a visit by Lady Gaga.
But Harvard says it doesn’t award posthumous degrees, except in rare cases where students complete academic requirements but die before degrees have been conferred.
The university apologized a decade ago, after a student reporter found a file marked “secret court” in the university archives and wrote about the expulsions.
Wait, Harvard did what?
The group wants Harvard to formally abolish the secret court, a tribunal of administrators that investigated charges of homosexual activity among students at the Ivy League school in 1920. The tribunal remained a secret for decades and only became public in 2002 after the report in the Harvard Crimson magazine.
As part of our continuing coverage of bees, here’s a report from the Associated Press:
The Diamondbacks’ grounds crew used a combination of cotton candy and lemonade to help disperse a swarm of bees that delayed the San Francisco Giants split squad’s 11-1 win over Arizona for 41 minutes in the second inning Sunday.
With runners on second and third and one out in the second inning, a dark cloud appeared in right field, sending Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young sprinting toward left.
"I didn’t see them at first I just heard them," Young said. "I am not afraid of one or two of them. I wouldn’t flinch at that. When you start talking about 500, 600 of them yea, I am afraid of that. …"
Two programmers of the SNES game EarthBound, Koji Malta of APE and Satoru Iwata of HAL, in an interview from the September 9, 1994 issue of Weekly Famitsu:
Malta: In that sense, APE really owes a lot to the team at HAL Lab. Even when we brought up some unreasonable, difficult-to-implement request, they never brushed it off by saying, “We can’t do it.”
Iwata: Once a programmer says they can’t do something, future games are done for. What we’re considering nowadays are ways for us to avoid that. Instead we think about how we, as producers, can clearly portray our thoughts and ideas to the recipient customer without saying “We can’t do that.”
THANKS FOR MAKING THE JOB MORE DIFFICULT FOR THE REST OF US, JERKS
The last time China’s soon-to-be leader visited Iowa, he slept in a bedroom with green shag carpeting and Star Trek character cutouts on the walls. He ate eggs with a spoon because his host forgot the chopsticks.
But apparently Xi Jinping remembered the 1985 stay fondly because he insisted on returning this week to Muscatine, a small farming community he toured to learn about crop and livestock practices.
Back then, he was a young Communist Party leader seeking ideas to help his agriculture-rich region of northern China. Now the nation’s vice president, he made certain to add Muscatine to his jam-packed itinerary so he could reunite with the same Americans who showed him around the region’s hog and cattle operations and its abundant corn and soybean fields.
Yinka Adegoke and Mark Hosenball on a story we haven’t posted about on NS in a while:
James Murdoch resigned as executive chairman of News International on Wednesday, raising new doubts he can succeed his father Rupert as CEO of parent company News Corp in the wake of a phone hacking scandal at the unit he oversaw.
James will remain deputy chief operating officer of News Corp with a focus on its international TV business, a New York-based post he was promoted to last year.
Andrew Breitbart used the Internet relentlessly to ignite political scandal and expose what he saw as media bias, even if he sometimes had to edit the facts to do it.
The fiery online publisher and blogger … collapsed and died Thursday at 43…
Breitbart died after collapsing shortly after midnight during a walk near his home. He was rushed to the emergency room at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
Breitbart suffered heart problems a year earlier, but his father-in-law, actor Orson Bean, said he could not pinpoint what happened. Larry Dietz, watch commander at the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, said an autopsy was likely.
Blood’s piece does a good job of recapping some of Breitbart’s more prominent moments, including the Anthony Weiner scandal (about which he was correct) and the Shirley Sherrod “scandal” (about which he was manipulatively incorrect).
Patrick Klepek at Giant Bomb has a transcript of a recent episode of Capcom and IGN’s webshow Cross Assault. The transcript is of an exchange between Jared Rea, community manager of the streaming video site TwitchTV, and Aris Bakhtanians, a competitive fighting gamer and head of Cross Assault's Team Tekken.
Rea: Can I get my Street Fighter without sexual harassment?
Bakhtanians: You can’t. You can’t because they’re one and the same thing. This is a community that’s, you know, 15 or 20 years old, and the sexual harassment is part of a culture, and if you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community—it’s StarCraft. There’s nothing wrong with StarCraft if you enjoy it, and there’s nothing wrong with anything about eSports, but why would you want just one flavor of ice cream, you know? There’s eSports for people who like eSports, and there’s fighting games for people who like spicy food and like to have fun. There’s no reason to turn them into the same thing, you know?
You can’t go to the NBA and say “hey, I like basketball, but I don’t want them to play with a basketball, I want them to play with a football.” It just doesn’t…it doesn’t make sense to have that attitude, you know? These things are established for years. That would be like someone from the fighting game community going over to StarCraft and trying to say “hey, StarCraft, you guys are too soft, let’s start making sexual harassment jokes to each other on StarCraft.” That’s not cool, people wouldn’t like that. StarCraft isn’t like that. People would get defensive, and that’s what you’re trying to do the fighting game community, and it’s not right. It’s ethically wrong.
You giant shitmonster.
Institutionalization of something terrible does not magically make said terrible thing not terrible. 100,000 people doing something terrible means that something terrible has been done 100,000 times.
If your community is so inexorably linked to something terrible that stopping that terrible thing will make it a different community, then have you considered that your community is actually just terrible (because it is).
I’m pretty sure the reason that people playing StarCraft wouldn’t like it if someone were to jump in and make sexual harassment jokes is because that’s a terrible thing to do, not because there’s some gentlemen’s agreement against it.
It boggles me how someone can conclude that “it’s ethically wrong” to tell people not to make sexual harassment jokes and not immediately recoil in horror at what they just said.
Seriously, I cannot get over that final sentence, “it’s ethically wrong.” What an abhorrent trainwreck of an argument.
Time to get angry, courtesy of Elisabeth Bumiller and The New York Times:
The Pentagon struggled on Wednesday to clarify confusion created by an independent report that said unidentified body parts of some victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were incinerated and dumped in a landfill. Top officials promised a full accounting to the victims’ families.
Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the chief of staff of the Air Force, told reporters that only some remains from the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon — but not remains from the plane crash site in Shanksville, Pa., “as best we can tell” — were ordered incinerated by the Department of Defense in what he described as a common practice at the time.
His words were at odds with the independent report, released on Tuesday, into failings at the mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. The report said that the mortuary had body parts of some Sept. 11 victims from both the Pentagon and Shanksville incinerated and then dumped in a landfill — a startling disclosure that was the latest to tarnish the reputation of Dover, hallowed ground for the military and the entry point for the nation’s war dead.
Bonus Alex Ross material: here’s a piece he wrote for The New Yorker in 2001 about people being obnoxious during concerts:
At the invitation of Lincoln Center, Sellars staged Bach’s Cantata No. 82, “Ich habe genug” (“I have enough”), as the death scene of a woman in a sick ward. The mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson performed in a thin hospital gown, a light bulb shining in her face. As the concert got under way, a listener on the right-hand aisle started muttering to himself, apparently because he found the production offensive. Another listener asked him several times to be quiet, but the mutterer was undeterred. “This is ridiculous,” he was heard to say. “No way to treat Bach.” Then, just before the end of the piece, the mutterer belched, and his neighbor let loose with a bloodcurdling cry of “SHUT UP, ALREADY!” The heft and color of the voice recalled Jackie Gleason in his prime. Unfazed, Lieberson launched into the cantata’s final aria, whose first words were, conveniently, "Mein Gott!"
I’ve been reading Listen to This by Alex Ross, which is pretty cool. Ross is the music critic of The New Yorker, and the book is largely a collection of his writings for the magazine, along with some updates and original material.
Mentioned in the chapter about Björk is a selection of songs from Arnold Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire that she performed for a music festival. The fansite Björkish has some info on the performance:
On August 4th, 1996, Björk appeared at the Verbier Festival, and performed Schöenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, with conductor Kent Nagano, the Opera orchestra of Lyon, and Murray Hipkin, who later worked with Björk on John Tavener’s Prayer of the Heart.
The performance required three months of rehearsals, and was never officially released.
The decision not to record the performance was actually Björk’s. As explained to Alex Ross in one of his pieces:
"… Kent Nagano wanted to make a recording of it, but I really felt that I would be invading the territory of people who sing this for a lifetime."
Which is a remarkably well-grounded position, and one which I respect, but at the same time I MUST HEAR THIS GIVE THIS TO ME
Girl Scouts are dangerous — and not just to your diet. At least that’s what Indiana lawmaker Bob Morris says. He has labeled the Girls Scouts of America a radical organization that promotes homosexuality and abortion and is out to destroy American values.
Morris said he made his discoveries after talking to some knowledgeable constituents and conducting “a small amount of Web-based research.” He said the discussion and research led to his conclusions that the Girl Scouts encourage sexual activity, are a front for Planned Parenthood, and that scouts are encouraged to look up to role models who endorse feminist, lesbian and Communist agendas.
From The Epic of Gilgamesh to Infinite Jest via Dante, Dangerous Liaisons and Dubliners, the western canon is set to be turned into a 1,344-page, three-volume graphic novel.
The ambitious project from New York press Seven Stories is being hailed as the “graphic publishing literary event of the year”. Each of the 189 works of literature covered is being interpreted by a comics artist, with 130 illustrators contributing to the project including Robert Crumb, Will Eisner and Hunt Emerson. The first volume of The Graphic Canon – “From The Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons” – is out in April, to be followed by the second (“Kubla Khan to the Brontë Sisters to The Picture of Dorian Gray”) in July and the third (“From Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest”) in October.
My original reaction to this was going to be “what the dickens,” but then I realized what I did there and shot myself.
Natalia Jimenez of msnbc.com wrote a nice piece for MSNBC’s PhotoBlog on Homai Vyarawalla, who is considered to be India’s first female photojournalist. The old photos accompanying it are quite good. Read it; love it.
3ders.org translation of a story from the Dutch newspaper De Pers:
The University of Hasselt (Belgium) announced today that Belgian and Dutch scientists have successfully replacing a lower jaw with a 3D printed model for a 83 year-old woman. According to the researchers, It is the first custom-made implant in the world to replace an entire lower jaw.
The lower jaw of the elderly woman was badly infected and needed to be removed. Considering the age of the patient, a “classical” microsurgical reconstructive surgery takes too long time and can be risky. Therefore a tailor-made implant is the best choice.
Normally it takes a few days to produce a custom implant, but with 3D printing technology it takes only a few hours.
Medicine is one of the most exciting applications of 3D printers.
Capcom made an embarrassing printing error on the spine of the Resident Evil: Revelations box sent to reviewers — one made more embarrassing by the “revelaiton” today that it’s still on the version of the art sent to retailers in advance of Tuesday’s release.
Reader Zach shared this picture of the stock at the Prescott, AZ store, showing “Revelaitons” all the way down — Joystiq has since confirmed the error with the store.