For those fresh local vegetable lovers among us, epicurious.com has a what's-in-season flash based map
covering the whole USA by state. Cute. Of course, anyone who takes this sort of stuff serious would hopefully not need to use the internet to know what is fresh. Try your friendly garden stand or farmer's market instead, no?
Back in March I mentioned this quote, by Jaime
, in a post of mine
Just thinking about [a $25,000 windfall] can be fun in itself. When you have a little money to play with, you can fantasize and own everything, but once you spend it, you only own what you bought.
Never before has Jaime's statement been more painfully true with the Iraq war, where the direct cost to our gov'ment - counting only funds appropriated by Congress — so far runs to roughly $523Bn, according to this guy
However, that's the direct cost — money directly spent on the project. There are indirect costs, too: Joseph Stiglitz estimates the true cost of the war to be $3Tn to the United States, and $3Tn to the rest of the global economy. These are indirect costs, and factor in the long-term additional expenses that the war has accrued — everything from caring for brain-damaged soldiers for the next 50 years through to loss of economic productivity attributable to instabilities in the supply of oil from Iraq.
Direct costs or not, he goes on to ask what we could
have spent the money on instead. It's the sort of window shopping we all like to do, but it just doesn't normally involve so much cold hard frickin' cash. One suggestion:
.. the direct costs of the Iraq war exceed the maximum cost estimate for a manned Mars expedition, infrastructure and all, by 20%.
And there is more in the comments.
We all know that NYC has cleaned up its act and the murder and crime rates are mere fractions of what they were even twenty years ago, but it is hard to truly conceptualize what it might have been like in the worst sections of that town, and others.
A picture is worth a thousand words, though, and here are a couple dozen
From a Paul Graham essay on arguing
(the lowest form of which he defines as irrelevant name calling), to a visual representation on createdebate.com
, this explains why I so very often find myself frustrated in arguments.
Cory Doctrow on statistics
, saying exactly the sort of things that I've said before.. but maybe more well written:
.. the fact is that attacks by strangers are so rare as to be practically nonexistent. If your child is assaulted, the perpetrator is almost certainly a relative (most likely a parent). If not a relative, then a close family friend. If not a close family friend, then a trusted authority figure.
And yet we continue to focus our attention on the meteor-strike-rare paedophile attack instead of protecting our children from the real, everyday dangers they face from the familiar. This has the [effect] of making our children less safe..
I mention this in the wake of the nine year old subway rider in NYC
, where the subways there are most likely many
times safer than they have been in previous decades and the child was probably less likely to run into someone they knew than if they were hanging out in their own apartment building. Responses to that story were varied, but mostly vehemently against it, calling the mother who allowed it an unfit parent.. These same
people tell stories of riding the subway or walking through Manhattan in the 70's when they were young, admitting that it was probably a good experience in the end, yet in the same breath admitting that they won't let their kids out of the back yard until they're 30, married, and wearing a titanium exo-skeleton.
And, of course:
This is the same calculus that allows the fear of terrorism to take away our liberty.
What gets me the most out of all of this is that in my daily conversations with folks - smart, dumb, young, and old - it seems
like most people understand the negative effects of the fear-mongering press and the loss of liberty and civil rights that all this causes.. yet people will still put their foot down about their child's safety, and the protection of such-and-such monument in po-dunk town that has a 99.99999% chance of never being attacked by terrorists.
In theory, we are all liberal, open, sharing people. In reality, all it takes is one scared mofo in the back of the room to start circling the wagons.
Sometimes I think life would be easier as a sea slug
. They're cute, anyway.
Update: slugs, now a popular form of commuting
I'm a fan of photography and obviously dabble a bit myself, but I don't take any of it too seriously. Some people do, and Flickr
has become huge because of it. They started with a basic function: online picture storage and access. Then they expanded upon the features and options. But they didn't stop there. Just like Google, they've kept their basic functionality open and the result is some interesting third party facilities (aka mashups) like Tag Galaxy
, which allows you to browse through Flickr photos in a 3D planet-based interface using keyword tags as search criteria.Flickrvision
is another neat application that mashes Google Maps and Flickr together to provide a real-time peak into the geographical locations of images that are being added to Flickr on a second-by-second basis. It has a surreal feel to it as you play peeping tom to millions of unknown strangers, taking a look into each of their lives, if only for a brief moment.
Spending just five minutes staring at this application will make your mind bend in some
way, if only for the sheer randomness of it all. You see a skyscraper in NYC one second, and a family of farmers in Indonesia the next. After that comes a baby picture from Montana, a Concert photo in the Netherlands, and a cat snap in Göteborg, Sweden. Perhaps the oddest feeling I noticed, really, was my perception of how much we are all really alike (or, at least those who post photos to Flickr are). Images of groups of friends, Baby pictures, Pet photos, and art pics.. All a little bit of history repeating.
The details of the human condition might be come out different each time, but ultimately the story is the same.
My buddy Bri-Guy submitted to me this argument
for the Clinton landslides in the Appalachia regions of the country. Whether I buy the hypothesis (Appalachia is mainly white, under-educated old folk) or not, there are fun maps, which you all know gets me going like nitrous in a funny car.
Nevertheless, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think Obama is headed for the nomination. It isn't anything concrete that is driving this opinion of mine, just the general feeling I've gotten from talking to various folks from my area, and around the nation. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong..
I still think I'd like a hybrid. McCain-Clinton might be a monster, but an Obama-McCain ticket or a Obama-Clinton ticket (or, hey, a genetically engineered robot human that is the fusion of all three) has a certain appeal to it, no?
As I mentioned carbon sequestration recently
I figured I'd mention this, too: The U.S. Department of Energy awarded $126.6 million in grants on Tuesday to test carbon capture and storage in underground caverns.
The DOE has identified enough underground "sinks" to store 1,000 years of storage capacity.
Imagine, if you will, a thousand long years from now, an earth so terraformed by the might of tiny men - termites in a billion year old house - that it is literally crumbling at the edges, rank farts of toxic gases belching out of her like a tired old diesel run to the ground.
The California test will be in the San Joaquin Basin in Central California, where CO2 will be compressed and pumped 7,000 feet underground.
Imagine a world in which real oil, the oil of your forefathers, was a historical mark on history, not your reality. A world ten hundred years in the future where real oil is a dream, a faint but pleasant smell from the past. A world with a halo of crusted CO2 cloaked around it, and us teeter-toppling on top.
GreenPeace on Monday issued a report that called so-called clean coal "dubious technology" and inadequate.
"Carbon capture and storage is a scam. It is the ultimate coal industry pipe dream," said Emily Rochon, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace International..
Which got me thinking, why? From Wikipedia:
Unminable coal seams can be used to store CO2, because CO2 absorbs to the coal surface, ensuring safe long-term storage. In the process it releases methane that was previously adsorbed to the coal surface and that may be recovered. Again the sale of the methane can be used to offset the cost of the CO2 storage, although release or burning of methane would of course at least partially offset the obtained sequestration result.
Well, that explains it. What will the world look like in 1,000 years? Does anybody even have the slightest idea what 3008 might mean for the world? Broken, tired out, heaving big sighs of gaseous relief as the final sunset of the last human's eyes slowly pulls their lids down down down over'n out, bingo; she's free. Or, abandoned? Left for greener pastures, the tired old jalopy - that backwater! - left with broken mirrors and busted out tail lights out, seeping fluids of noxious chemicals at the sagging, rusted out seams. Perhaps.. gentrified and stately, with all the honour of a singing plastic fish father's day gift forgotten and dusty on the mantel. No, hopefully not. I'd hope for ignorance and bliss, and a playful childlike spirit, as if mother earth thought that those first 4.5 billion years old went by in a blink of an eye, just the beginning of a long and lustrous career of fending off the pock marks and blemishes a young teen can occasionally find themselves doing battle with upon the surface of their faces.
Or not all of it, anyway.
Unsurprisingly, research shows that people don't read, they skim
.. although people spend more time on pages with more words and more information, they only spend 4.4 seconds more for each additional 100 words.. when you add more verbiage to a page, people will only read 18% of it.
Considering previous posts of mine stating American readership statistics
(58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school. 42% of college graduates never read another book) I am not at all shocked by these numbers.
I know I
skim like a motherfucker most of the time.. it's when I stumble on something interesting
to me that I stop to really read thoroughly.
Nevertheless, there are two kinds of people in this world: Channel Surfers and TV Watchers. I have no doubt that the internet is merging these two kinds of people into (dare I say it, oh my barely-beating cynical heart) the worst of both worlds: net surfers (I feel uncomfortable using the more standard "web surfer", but I'll leave that for a later discussion). The content proliferates, yet is broken down into ever-decreasing bite-sized formats. This makes for people who can't consume a lot of one thing - or at least aren't used to - and yet they must continuously consume; a dangerous thing.
Some other bits from the link:
On an average visit, users read half the information only on those pages with 111 words or less.
Which means anyone who may have stumbled upon this page is already gone before they've read this sentence.
People spend some of their time understanding the page layout and navigation features, as well as looking at the images. People don't read during every single second of a page visit.
This is the part that actually surprises me a little bit, and is a vote in favour of better (and more) concentration on UI design. If it takes time to figure out how to use/navigate a site (or car, or watch, or doorknob) then it is probably, in some way, broken. I, myself, probably spend no more than half a second dealing with navigation issues on any particular webpage. I'm there for the content, and I'm immediately reading and skimming. While I'm surely being turned into a subconsciously zombified consumer what with all the banner, text, and flash based ads out there, I truly do not notice them or have any conscious awareness of their content. It is worth remembering that this isn't true for everyone.
So what does this mean? It means less than half the people who show up here even made it to the second paragraph of this post.
Not too bad at all
- I wonder if he dreams a tempo giusto?