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On The Fence episode 1

Here’s episode 1 of On The Fence, a hopefully weekly podcast by me and Steve of Obalesque. The not insignificant audio issues are all my fault, and will be reduced in coming episodes, I sure hope. An iTunes listing is pending.

Posted: Friday September 30, 2011 by Alesh Houdek · Permalink · Comment


William Pope.L prints for sale

william pope l

The legendary William Pope.L has three pieces up for sale at 20×200, one each for $50, $100, and $500. I have no idea where to send someone on the internet to first learn about Pope.L … maybe as good a place as any is this interview.

Posted: Thursday September 29, 2011 by Alesh Houdek · Permalink · Comment


Robb Wolf’s introduction to the Paleo diet includes a link to descriptions of 5 variations on the Paleo diet at Dan’s Plan. Cheese and alcohol remain points of contention.



Login names and passwords, right? What a pain. And “Connect with Facebook” is no better. Well, Jeff Atwood has an idea of what a long-range solution might look like.



The Amazon Fire tablet is released. Pretty much what we were expecting, except that the web browser sounds like it feeds through Amazon’s engine, which supposedly makes it super fast (and able to run Flash) but which is a little icky.



One guy’s not-so-optimistic opinion: “This economic crisis is like a cancer. … The governments don’t rule the world; Goldman Sacks rules the world. … Get prepared.”



Go read my latest article at The Atlantic, Why Amazon’s new tablet could beat the iPad. We’ll all likely have a completely different perspective on this tomorrow, after Amazon makes their announcement.



Lessig's new fight

Copyright activist Lawrence Lessig has given up the fight — he’s realized that before anything else, there’s a more fundamental problem that has to be solved: the corruption of congress by money. In this video, he does a remarkable job of outlining the problem. He does a somewhat less then perfectly convincing job of suggesting a solution. Specifically. Since congress is unable to reform itself, he has a strategy that would — eventually — lead to a constitutional convention, per Article 5 of the Constitution. Bold stuff. This guy’s serious: there is soon coming a book, and here’s his presentation at the Conference on the Constitutional Convention, which he organized, at Harvard, where he teaches:

Posted: Tuesday September 27, 2011 by Alesh Houdek · Permalink · Comment


I’m not sure why we should be freaked out about the speed of light being broken. Yes, it “invalidates” Einstein’s theory of relativity. But it does so in the same sense that relativity “invalidated” Newtonian physics: that is, for a tiny sliver of edge cases that mostly apply just to theoretical physics. Just as bridges didn’t start to collapse after Einstein, nuclear reactors are not going to begin exploding if it turns out to be true that neutrinos travel slightly faster than the speed of light. EVERYBODY CALM DOWN!



Some interesting results from research on bullying: often, neither the victims nor the perpetrators of bullying call it that. They use the term “drama.”

Dismissing a conflict that’s really hurting their feelings as drama lets teenagers demonstrate that they don’t care about such petty concerns. They can save face while feeling superior to those tormenting them by dismissing them as desperate for attention. Or, if they’re the instigators, the word drama lets teenagers feel that they’re participating in something innocuous or even funny, rather than having to admit that they’ve hurt someone’s feelings.



Jay Rosen on he-said she-said journalism

After hearing a report about the new regulation clinics for abortion clinics in Kansas, Jay Rosen had a complaint:

My complaint is not the usual one that you probably get: biased reporting. No. This is he said, she said reporting, one of the lowest forms of journalism in existence, in which the NPR reporter washes her hands of determining what is true. The new Kansas regulations may be a form of harassment, intended to make life as difficult as possible for abortion providers in that state. Or, alternatively, these rules may be sane, rational, common sense, sound policy: just normal rule-making by responsible public officials.

Is it the responsibility of a reporter to try to figure out “who’s right” in situations like this? How would they even go about doing that? Rosen’s got answers.

For example: Opponents of abortion in Kansas say the regulations are just common sense. NPR could compare the proposed regulations for abortion to other procedures that are performed at clinics in that state: do the regulations for, say, colonoscopies specify that storage areas for “janitorial supplies and equipment” must be at least 50 square feet per procedure room? Or is that kind of requirement unique to the state’s proposed rules for abortion? I don’t know the answer, but NPR could try to find out. And if it’s not NPR’s job to find out, who’s job is it?

There’s more, including an exchange with NPR’s ombudsman, and it’s very much worth a read. Rosen’s here fighting for nothing less than the future of journalism. Here’s a followup.

Posted: Monday September 26, 2011 by Alesh Houdek · Permalink · Comment