Earl Scruggs dies at 88 →
Steve Martin, writing in The New Yorker earlier this year: As boys in the little community of Flint Hill, near Shelby, North Carolina, Earl and his brother Horace would take their banjo and guitar and start playing on the porch, then split up and meet behind the house. Their goal was to still be on the beat when they rejoined at the back. Momentously, when he was ten years old, after a fight...
Science decodes 'internal voices' →
Jason Palmer, BBC News: [T]he team employed a computer model that helped map out which parts of the brain were firing at what rate, when different frequencies of sound were played. With the help of that model, when patients were presented with words to think about, the team was able to guess which word the participants had chosen. They were even able to reconstruct some of the words,...
Church Stages Kidnapping of Youth Group Members →
Colleen Curry, ABC News: A church pastor in Pennsylvania could face felony charges for staging a fake kidnapping of youth group students in order to teach them about religious persecution. Teenagers at the Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in Middletown, Pa., were surprised when they attended a youth group meeting at the church on March 21 and were ambushed by what seemed to be real...
Video of Nas performing "Illmatic" live at SXSW →
This is not to be missed. DJ Premier is on the turntables (and acting as hype man), and AZ and Pete Rock both show up. Seriously, this is really, really great stuff. (Probably my favorite part is that Premier is wearing an Illmatic T-shirt. That’s a level so completely beyond “wearing the band’s T-shirt to their show” that I don’t even know if it’s cool or...
Remembrances of First Dates Past →
What if scenes from our lives were critiqued by reviewers? Here’s a short piece by John Warner, editor of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, that ran in Book magazine in 2002. It’s also featured in expanded form in Warner’s book Fondling Your Muse, which I recommend if only just for the best burn of Tom Clancy ever committed to paper.
Debunking the Universal Grammar... or not →
Fantastic profile in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Tom Bartlett of the “war of words” (I’m so sorry) that has erupted between Daniel Everett and Noam Chomsky on whether Everett has debunked Chomsky’s ill-defined “Universal Grammar”. The whole piece is fantastic, but this was my favorite bit, from later on in the article. Everett is far from the only...
PBS NewsHour (2012-03-22): Ahmed Rashid: 'Enormous... →
PBS NewsHour had a nice segment yesterday a few days ago with journalist Ahmed Rashid on the complex relationship between the U.S., Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Taliban. This is how the interviewer Ray Suarez introduced what I found to be the most interesting tidbit: In the book, you take us deep inside those negotiations begun quite clandestinely in Germany with go-betweens, safe passage for...
Henry Farrell's Part in Stephen J. Dubner's Upfall →
Apparently in 2005 Crooked Timber held an online seminar discussing the book — the content in the seminar seems honest to me. But somewhere along the lines, something went wrong, and Farrell now regrets it: But even if it seemed a good idea at the time, I should have known better. Yes – Levitt is an interesting and original economist, but the glib contrarianism and breezy confidence...
Israeli law eyes super-thin models as bad examples →
Daniella Cheslow writing for the AP about a new Israeli law that regulates the thinness of models in advertisements: The new law requires models to produce a medical report no older than three months at every shoot for the Israeli market, stating that they are not malnourished by World Health Organization standards. The U.N. agency relies on the body mass index, calculated by factors of...
Mali troops declare coup, loot presidential palace →
AP: Drunken soldiers looted Mali’s presidential palace hours after they declared a coup on Thursday, suspending the constitution and dissolving the institutions of one of the few established democracies in this troubled corner of Africa. Mali adopted a democratic constitution in August of 1991. The coup that lead to that constitution happened on March 26, almost twenty-one years ago...
Michael K. Williams is going to play Ol' Dirty... →
Great casting choice. Dirty comin’, yo!
Letters of Note: The Empire State Building (Helen... →
Letters of Note here with a description by Helen Keller of her experience at the top of the Empire State Building. What did I “see and hear” from the Empire Tower? As I stood there ‘twixt earth and sky, I saw a romantic structure wrought by human brains and hands that is to the burning eye of the sun a rival luminary. I saw it stand erect and serene in the midst of storm and...
Swiss ‘Satellite Janitor’ Aims To Clean Up Space... →
Carl Franzen, writing for TPM’s IdeaLab: The agency on Wednesday announced that is beginning work on a “janitor satellite” that will begin to clean up Earth’s orbit by latching onto a piece of space debris traveling at 17,400 miles per-hour and dragging it back into Earth’s atmosphere on a suicide mission, causing both the janitor satellite and the piece of junk to burn up. Franzen...
F.A.A. to Review Policy on Gadgets →