Archive of November 2009
“SuperFreakonomics” and Climate Change ¶
Elizabeth Kolbert brings on the snark, and it’s delicious.
Everybody Loves A Smart Aleck ¶
I enjoy Amelie Gillette’s snark from time to time, and this one didn’t disappoint. The whole situation with the television industry begs the question, “Who’s in charge around here?”
George Packer on the shift in Obama’s support:
The most disappointed people I meet are under thirty, the generation that made the Obama campaign a movement in its early primary months. They spent their entire adult lives under the worst President of our lifetime, they loved Obama because he was new and inspiring, and they felt that replacing the former with the latter would be a national deliverance. They weren’t wrong about that, but the ebbing of grassroots energy once the Obama campaign turned to governing suggests that some of his most enthusiastic backers saw the election as an end in itself. The Obama movement was unlike other social movements because it began and ended with a person, not an issue. And it was unlike ordinary political coalitions because it didn’t have the organizational muscle of voting blocs. The difficulty in sustaining its intensity through the inevitable ups and downs of governing shows the vulnerability in this model of twenty-first-century, Internet-based politics.
Andrew Sullivan in response:
This is an ocean liner that was boarded by a bunch of insurgents in a dinghy. You can’t captain the liner the way you did the dinghy. But if you wonder if the liner has changed direction, look at the apoplexy of the old regime. They’re not fools. And they know they’re losing.
Incognito Browsing ¶
I’ve been finally getting a chance to play around with Chromium the open source branch of the Google Chrome project, and have been really impressed so far. My favorite tidbit is this part of the notice when you open an “Incognito Window”:
Going incognito doesn’t affect the behavior of other people, servers, or software. Be wary of:
- Websites that collect or share information about you
- Internet service providers or employers that track the pages you visit
- Malicious software that tracks your keystrokes in exchange for free smileys
- Surveillance by secret agents
- People standing behind you
So, it has been about a year since I decided to leave Sarah Lawrence without a plan or an idea of what the future might bring. I wish I could say that I understand the story of my past year, or that I could turn it into some kind of anecdote for others out there who are struggling to find their way in life.
But I don’t think I can yet. What I do know is that somehow things have improved. Every day isn’t a chore right now, and I’m not consistently scared about what I’m doing or where my life is headed. I’ve been trying to work hard, but I wish I knew more specifically what parts of the effort I have been putting out have helped me to feel like I have re-entered the world around me.
Sure, I’m still usually at home, and I have a hard time going out and meeting new people. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I’m allowed a certain amount of misanthropy and melancholy, without those things I probably wouldn’t be who I am, honestly.
However, I’m now regularly doing things and effectively taking care of myself day after day. That I have arrived here after only a year is no small feat, and I’m grateful for all the help from all the people in my life that I’ve had along the way. It’s cheesy and cliche, but I don’t express my appreciation enough, and I hope you know how much you mean to me. (You all know who you are.)
I don’t expect this to find its way to many people I don’t know, but to anyone who might be listening who is experiencing stumbling blocks that you don’t understand in your life, I hope you can find the heart to reach out to the people who love you (you’ll know them by the fact that they’ll return your phone calls) and ask them for anything that you need, even if you don’t know what that is.
David Pogue: Cleaning Up the Clutter Online ¶
I believe I agree with the sentiment here regarding ads, especially on pages that are intended for reading.
As for Readability, I wish that it were an unnecessary tool. It is a much more difficult project to try to educate writers and designers and readers about typographic treatment on the web. It is more work for the standards makers and browser builders to devise, agree on, and implement ways for type to be treated far more intelligently on the web. But it’s worth it, because even though there are rules and guidelines to making texts more readable, writing will never be one-design-fits-all.
So, David Pogue, I know you’re listening. Take on this cause! If people are responding to you so well on Twitter, point them in the direction of something by Mandy Brown. The best way to tackle the readability of the web isn’t by trying to automatically reformat it (although it’s a good stop-gap). No! We need to raise awareness to push the community of people who write for and publish online to take the extra care to make words readable.
Thank you for your help. :)
WebKit’s Web Inspector Updates ¶
These guys really are doing fantastic work building and refining tools that are helping to turn the web into a first-class platform.
Monsters and the Moral Imagination ¶
I’m a little late on posting this, but it’s still worth a read. Stephen T. Asma wrote a great little piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education about our relationship to the idea of monsters and makes the case that even in a liberal world of moral relativism, the idea of the monster is a useful — and accurate — construct. Good stuff touching a lot of ground.