links for 2010-02-12

12 Feb
  • First, try to be something, anything, else. A movie star/astronaut. A movie star/missionary. A movie star/kindergarten teacher. President of the World. Fail miserably. It is best if you fail at an early age–say, fourteen. Early, critical disillusionment is necessary so that at so that at fifteen you can write long haiku sequences about thwarted desire. It is a pond, a cherry blossom, a wind brushing against sparrow wing leaving for mountain. Count the syllables. Show it to your mom. She is tough and practical. She has a son in Vietnam and a husband who may be having an affair. She believes in wearing brown because it hides spots. She'll look briefly at your writing, then back up at you with a face blank as a donut. She'll say: "How about emptying the dishwasher?" Look away. Shove the forks in the fork drawer. Accidentally break one of the freebie gas station glasses. This is the required pain and suffering. This is only for starters.
  • I would estimate that about 80% of the…books that I do not find a complete waste of time…are at least twice as long as they should be. They make an interesting point, and then they make it again, and again, padding it out with some quasi-relevant examples, and tacking on a conclusion about What It All Means which the author clearly doesn’t believe herself. The length of the average book reflects the economics of the print trade and educated guesses as to what book-buyers will actually pay for, much more than it does the actual intellectual content of the book itself. Length may also, of course, reflect some practical judgments concerning the book as a display object…
    this may be changing as we move towards an electronic book publishing system…I suspect too that the effects will be non-symmetrical…I also suspect that we will see traditional printed books become (a) more expensive, and (b) more beautiful – their main value will be as display items rather than use items.
  • Only a few people truly understand that the value of a book is the information it contains. Their buying habits prove this. They refuse to buy e-books. They think, "I’m paying for paper. So, the e-book ought to sell for $1." When it sells for $20, they refuse to buy. Ideas in digital form are not worth what the same ideas are worth in a bound book. Yet the seller’s cost of production ought to be irrelevant for the buyer. What matters is the value of the information. Similarly, his major cost is the time it takes him to read it.
    They understand this with respect to computer software or music CDs or DVDs. They know that the cost of physical storage of digits is low: a 50-cent piece of plastic in a $1 plastic box. But they refuse to make the same mental transition when it comes to books…
    Why? No one knows. Picard's Syndrome produces irrational behavior.
  • The first element to avoiding your blade is keeping it in your hand. As Fleisher's Aaron Lenz describes it, you should hold your knife like the butt of a pistol, fingers wrapped tightly around the grip "like someone was trying to take it away from you." Some people hold a boning knife like a conductor's baton during a particularly slow part of Pachelbel's Canon. This is wrong. You will either drop your knife through your fingers, causing you to cut your knife hand with your knife, or, more likely, lose track of it in your brain's motor control center and cut the hand holding the meat.
  • Somewhat paradoxically, India’s problem with hair-trigger hysteria is set against the backdrop of one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Despite making a serious dent in both poverty and illiteracy since the advent of economic reforms nearly 20 years ago, the country has failed to foster the commitment to freedom of speech that forms the bedrock of a true democracy. Instead of standing on principle, the Indian state’s first instinct is to cave in to the mob.
  • I like to lecture on love and speak on responsibility.
    I hold forth on humility, compassion, eloquence, and honesty.
    And when my students ask,
    “Are we going to be responsible for this?”
    I say, If not you, then who?
    You think my generation will be responsible?
    We’re the ones who got you into this mess,
    now you are our only hope.
    And when they say, “What we meant
    was, ‘Will we be tested on this?’”
    I say Every single day of your lives!

    I just gave you what I knew you needed
    before you had to ask for it.
    Education is the miracle, I’m just the worker.
    But I’m a teacher.
    And that’s what we do.

  • Has this ever happened to you?
    You work very horde on a paper for English clash
    And then get a very glow raid (like a D or even a D=)
    and all because you are the word¹s liverwurst spoiler.
    Proofreading your peppers is a matter of the the utmost impotence.
  • You want to know what I make?

    I make kids wonder,
    I make them question.
    I make them criticize.
    I make them apologize and mean it.
    I make them write, write, write.
    And then I make them read.
    I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely
    over and over and over again until they will never misspell
    either one of those words again.
    I make them show all their work in math.
    And hide it on their final drafts in English.
    I make them understand that if you got this (brains)
    then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you
    by what you make, you give them this (the finger).

    Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
    I make a goddamn difference! What about you?

  • Instead of this new addition to our burden of unread messages, they might have found a way to organize what we already get and make it more useful. Maybe they could start by finding ways for us to sort email by importance, instead of by date. Or maybe by some other Googly, algorithmly way that I couldn't even begin to fathom because I'm not Google and they're the experts at data management. It's what THEY do better than anyone in the world, even today's "cool kids" Facebook and Twitter.
    So, why isn't Google doing this? Because they're looking at the cool sites and noticing how deeply they've woven themselves into our lives and they want to be like them. In other words, instead of playing to Google's strengths, it's giving in to Facebook-envy and Twitter-envy.
  • The impact of piracy can be hard to establish. Piracy, after all, occurs in the shadows, and content businesses have not done a great job of creating a sales baseline.
    The measurement challenge is not limited to books. Evidenced by recent reporting about the estimated impact of piracy on IPod app sales, the debate about what makes a figure real is clearly at issue.
    At this point, there’s not much clarity in the debate. If this is an inflection point, we need data to establish trends. Declaring the answer limits discussion.
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Posted by on February 12, 2010 in Links


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