Instead of writing a draft and “looking it over,” it’s much smarter to break down the work of writing and editing by thinking about one thing at a time. Developing a strong thesis statement: that’s one task. Working out a sequence of paragraphs to develop that thesis: another task. Figuring out how to make a transition from one paragraph to another: another task. If you tend to have patterns of errors in your writing, look for each kind of error, one at a time. Noun-pronoun agreement? Read a draft once through looking only for that. Comma splices? Read once through with your eyes on the commas. It might seem that approaching the work of writing and editing in terms of smaller, separate tasks is unnecessarily cumbersome, but breaking things down will likely make it far easier to work more effectively and come out with a stronger piece of writing. No writer can think about everything at once.Link
"(Dick) is someone, like Raymond Chandler, who took the conventions of a pulp genre and made very adventurous literary use of them," Max Rudin, publisher of the Library of America, told The Associated Press on Tuesday...Link (Thanks, Professor Gill!)
Beyond literary merit, Rudin cited a couple of factors in choosing Dick – the 25th anniversary next summer of Blade Runner, which will be marked by director Ridley Scott's remastered "final cut," and the positive response to the Library of America's volume of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, published in 2005.
"There were a lot of people who felt their reading tastes were validated by including Lovecraft in the library," Rudin said.
Volkswagen Credit recently sent a letter to its customers, inviting them to skip a payment this month. But the fine print reveals that they will charge you $25 to take them up on their seemingly kind holiday offer.
"The holidays...time to give thanks, spread joy and shop for the best sales. Now, here's the perfect "gift" to help you stretch your holiday dollar. Volkswagen Credit is offering you the opportunity to 'skip' your December 2006 payment on your current account listed above. [...] Upon receipt of your extension agreement, we will assess your account a $25.00 extension fee, payable on your next due invoice. There is no need to send money at this time. [...] Happy Holidays!"I like the way Volkswagen put the word "gift" in quotes.
UPDATE: And the ad is back up with a new photo in the bottom right and the additional comment, "I changed my last pic maybe this one won't get flagged"
Link (Thanks, Josh Weiss!)
"In Louisville, Kentucky -- home to Louisville Slugger, America's most famous baseball bat manufacturer -- TSA has a special warning display near the security screening area at the airport.Link
"Sadly, this is the closest thing to 'local flavor' that I've seen at any of the otherwise uniformly-grim TSA outposts around the country."
SeaWorld's vice president of zoology, Mike Scarpuzzi, said the incident happened when female orca Kasatka was supposed to shoot out of the water upright so that the trainer could dive off her nose.Link
Instead, Kasatka grabbed the trainer's foot and dived to the bottom of the 36-foot-(11-metre-)deep tank, Scarpuzzi said. They surfaced less than a minute later, but she ignored other trainers' signals to draw her to the side.
The orca dived a second time with the trainer for about a minute. The trainer "stayed calm and calmed the whale down. He gently rubbed the whale, stroked her back," and she let go, Scarpuzzi said.
Powered by a oscillating linear weight that falls back and forth within the central shaft - transmitting the energy to the four ball bearing barrels. All part of the mechanical revolution in watchmaking where everyone is trying to reinvent the wheel - but this time with belts.Link
A distinguished team of U.S. researchers reported in 2005 that a gene called stathmin, which is expressed in the amygdala (the seat of emotion), is associated with both innate and learned fear. The researchers bred mice without the gene and put them in aversive situations, such as giving them a mild shock at a certain point in their cage. Normal mice exhibited traditional fear behavior by freezing in place, but the altered mice froze less often. And when both types of mice were put in an open field environment--an innately threatening situation--the mice without stathmin spent more time in the center of the field and explored more than the control mice.Link
Do individuals who have lesser stathmin expression exhibit less fear? It is unlikely that there is a one-to-one correspondence, because humans are far more psychologically complex than mice, capable of modifying their genetically programmed behavior. Yet it is not difficult to imagine that a military official who overestimates the significance of genetic information will someday propose screening Special Forces candidates, or even raw recruits, for the "fear gene." Indeed, a few years ago the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company had to pay $2.2 million to employees who had been secretly tested for a gene associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, even though the scientists who developed the testing technique said it could not work for that purpose. The company was trying to see if the workers' medical claims were attributable to their jobs or their genes.
If DNA testing for a fear gene is both scientifically and ethically dicey, what about setting out to create people who lack that characteristic? Would breeding humans without stathmin or other genes associated with fear reactions engender more courageous fighters? Would parents sign on for such meddling if they harbored ambitions for a child capable of a glorious military career or just didn't want to give birth to a "sissy"?
The main part of the pump is made from a flexible polymer sphere 5 millimetres in diameter. Teflon capillary tubes measuring 400 microns in diameter are inserted into opposite sides of this sphere.Link
A cell-friendly protein coating is then added to the sphere followed by a sheet of pulsing cultured heart cells. After just an hour the cells are firmly attached and begin driving the pump.
To test the pump, the researchers placed it in a nutrient medium at human body temperature (37°C). They watched through a microscope as small polystyrene balls contained with a fluid moved through the pump's tubes. The pump operated continuously for six days in testing.
From the New York Times:
They said their findings showed that the inscriptions related to lunar-solar motions and the gears were a mechanical representation of the irregularities of the Moon’s orbital course across the sky, as theorized by the astronomer Hipparchos. They established the date of the mechanism at 150-100 B.C...Link to NYT article, Link to abstract at Nature (Thanks, Mike Liebhold!)
Historians of technology think the instrument is technically more complex than any known device for at least a millennium afterward.
The mechanism, presumably used in preparing calendars for seasons of planting and harvesting and fixing religious festivals, had at least 30, possibly 37, hand-cut bronze gear-wheels, the researchers reported. An ingenious pin-and-slot device connecting two gear-wheels induced variations in the representation of lunar motions according to the Hipparchos model of the Moon’s elliptical orbit around Earth.
Rotterdam's Urban Cactus housing project (UCX Architects) uses ingenious staggered terraces to make huge, sunny spaces, and a building profile that seems to have been parachuted in from 1945's future.
They placed the 98 residential units on 19 floors, using the pattern of outdoor spaces to determine the overall appearance of the project.Link (via Futurismic)
The slightly irregular pattern alternates these outdoor spaces to create what are in effect double-height spaces. Each unit then receives more sunlight than a typical stacked composition.
Update: Fabio FZero sez, "The cactus building reminded me of this other architecture experiment in Montreal, created for Expo '67. It looks like a bunch of matchboxes stacked on top of each other, but provides a garden with open and unblocked view for all apartments. Impressive!"
You can't change your mind about where you're going after the doors shut. "Once you get on, you've got claustrophobia," says Mr. Glassberg, who is a senior vice president at Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc.'s TV Guide. He calls the new elevators "Wonkavators," after the flying glass elevator in the movie "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory..."Link (via Futurismic)
Most people catch on pretty quickly. Just a month after the Hearst Tower opened, some Hearst executives said they were forgetting to push buttons in old-fashioned elevators. "My problem has become that I keep forgetting to press buttons in the elevator in my apartment building, so as I tap tap tap on my BlackBerry, I realize minutes later that the elevator hasn't moved," says Atoosa Rubenstein, the departing editor in chief of Hearst's Seventeen magazine.
THE sending of false fire alarms by mischievous persons may be eliminated through use of a newly developed call box. To use the device, the sender of an alarm must pass a hand through a special compartment to reach the signal dial. Once the dial has been turned, the sender’s hand is locked in the compartment until released by a fireman or policeman with a key.Link
Those uncontested kings of pixel-based eye-candy, eBoy, have created an astoundingly beautiful new poster called FooBar, and it's an homage to all things webalicious. It's fun looking for your favorite Web brands (Boing Boing and Make are both in it!), and imagine the memories it will evoke when you look at it 20 years from now. Link
A quick roundup of posts published to xeni.net/trek, while the electricity holds out. Howdy from what's probably the only internet connection in this part of the Petén jungle. I'm traveling in Guatemala for a month, working on a series of stories in various places here, and maintaining an online journal with quick notes (and video and photos) from the road.
Much of the work in the V&A is in the public domain but many museums practice a weird perversion of copyright: they make you agree not to take (or sometimes publish) photos you take while in their halls as a condition of entry. Then they assert the bizarre claim that photos of their public domain collections are themselves new copyrighted works (even though the purpose of such a photo is to apply as little interpretation, art and creativity to the shot as possible) and charge the public a monopoly rent to reproduce the photos they've produced.
It's basically a giant racket to sell penny postcards and license fees for books. But this undermines the museum's core mission: to preserve and promote access to our shared cultural heritage. It's a form of curatorial treason -- betraying the museum's purpose to enrich its coffers.
The V&A has been a very progressive institution on this subject, generally speaking. The last time I visited, I was able to take photos with impunity -- except, bizarrely, in the gift shop (though I was allowed to stand outside of the gift shop, taking pictures of the interior).
In a move which could transform art publishing, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (V&A) is to drop charges for the reproduction of images in scholarly books and magazines. Reproduction costs now often make it difficult to publish specialist art historical material. The new scheme will come into effect early next year.Link (Thanks, Matt!)
The V&A is believed to be the first museum anywhere in the world which is to offer images free of copyright and administrative charges. It also intends to take a “liberal” view on what should be deemed scholarly or educational. The new arrangements will normally apply to all books published by university presses. Free images will also be available for exhibition catalogues and journals such as Apollo and The Burlington.
This CafePress store sells t-shirts with offensive messages spelled out in "binary" (binary representations of ASCII characters, I'm guessing), including "Fuck Karl Rove," "Bomb, and "I am a Terrorist." Link
Update: Erik sez, "I'd get one with a truly random string of Characters on it. When asked what it says, I'd say "nothing, it's random ones and zeros." Which will mean, of course, I'll be thrown off the plane for having a shirt that says nothing meaningful whatsoever. What a lovely and useful precedent!"
A leaked report from the Gowers Review -- an expert body that is making recommendations on new UK copyright -- suggests that Gowers will reject the idea that records produced in the past should get a fresh 45 years tacked onto their monopolies, a massive picking of the public pocket. Britain offered record labels a bargain: press a record, get 50 years of copyright. Now the labels are coming back and asking for nearly double that, and not just for the records they make tomorrow, but for the records they made yesterday, too.
There's no way the labels will take this lying down. We must be sure that our MPs are aware that the public is watching this issue and will call its representatives to account if they cave into a few giant corporations' greed.
The Open Rights Group has led the charge on this and maintains a public petition to Tessa Jowell, the minister who controls copyright issues in Parliament. If you're a Briton who wants to keep the UK from repeating America's mistakes, sign on now -- and tell your friends to sign on, too.
The music industry says that they are simply looking after musicians, yet the copyright in many of these recordings is not held by the musician, but by the label. Record labels aren’t a charity; they aren’t giving anything to musicians that isn’t already in their contract. Instead, they are driven by a desire to retain control over a small number of profitable recordings in order to maximise profits.Link
Term extension is not just about the ulterior motives of a powerful industry group. When artists produced works 50 years ago, they did so knowing exactly how many years of exclusive rights they would gain. And they signed those rights away to record labels knowing that they would expire in 50 years.
Copyright has always been a bargain between the interests of the rights holder and the interests of the public. A retroactive extension of the term would do nothing more than provide a windfall to the rightsholders - not necessarily the musicians, remember - and would deny the public the benefit of their side of that bargain.
If you decide to extend copyright on existing recordings, you will destroy our musical and sound recording heritage. If you extend copyright on new recordings, you will deny our children access to that heritage, but without having any significant positive impact on artists who are recording today.
"This Film..." was the best documentary I saw this year. It delves into the shadowy world of the MPAA's rating system and the way that it forms a nearly invisible but all-encompassing censorship regime that punishes indie filmmakers far more than the major studios, who run it. The censor board is set up like a star chamber, the members, criteria, and appeals process shrouded in secrecy (Dick punctures the veil by hiring a charming private eye to uncover and reveal the hidden identities of the censors). The MPAA ratings process has been called "Jack Valenti's other mistake" -- apart from seeking wildly expanded copyright, that is.
It's an honor to be introducing Mr Dick and his movie -- he's a brilliant film-maker with something to say and real courage of his convictions. I hope to see you there tonight.
Where: University of Southern California, Los Angeles: University Park Campus, George Lucas Instructional Building, 108
When: Thursday, November 30, 2006, 7:00pm to 9:00pm
The alligator had the man in his jaws when deputies arrived at Lake Parker in Lakeland about 4 a.m. today. They were called by nearby residents who reported hearing a man yelling for help.Link (Thanks, Ryan!)
[Adrian J.] Apgar, 45, of Polk City, suffered a broken arm, partially amputated left arm and trauma to his left leg.
Sci-artist Laura Splan created these nifty pillowy pills.Link
"Prozac, Thorazine, Zoloft is a group of large pillows crafted out of hand latch-hooked rugs, which have been sewn together and stuffed. These soft, oversized anti-psychotics and anti-depressants provide a different kind of comfort than their prescription counterparts. The time consuming nature of the latch-hook process provides a sufficiently mind-numbing effect. Latch hooking is a simple but tedious craft that has traditionally been used to depict idealized and romanticized images from domesticity and nature."
Go see the many other fantastic works displayed on her site, including neuroart. I also like Blood Scarf, a scarf knitted from vinyl tubing that fills with blood from an IV in the wearer, warming the body as it depletes it.