Herewith notes provoked by certain long-lived browser tabs not primarily focused on technology or the Net. Considerably random.
Still Warming · In the great debates of this or any day, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. And in the debate around anthropocentric global warming, the facts are not, among reasonable people, still in question: Climate change and evolution, from The Economist, not only slam-dunks the data, but continues with an instructive lesson on how it is that we come to believe things via a nice analogy with evolution; something that a notable contingent of airheads also fails to believe in.
China · Once again citing The Economist, check out The end of the end of history, which is interesting and ends with an observation that China’s model of loose capitalist authoritarianism seems subject to no existential threat.
I’m not sure. I think that the vast and fast-growing population of educated and worldly citizens of China has vast unsuspected potential to surprise the world when one day they decide that the costs of their iron-fisted nanny-state civic regime outweigh its benefits.
While I acknowledge its tiny sample size and anecdotal nature, I found Interviews with Young Chinese Rock Fans suggestive of some of the unsuspected currents flowing just under the civic surface (and also oddly touching). Warning: Not entirely safe for work.
Interstellar Preparation · Suppose you wanted to expand the current all-in bet Homo sapiens is riding on the survival of this particular planet and solar system. You’d want to send long-lived ships on slow voyages into deep space. Nobody knows how to do this. Sci-fi writer Charlie Stross, who’s also a first-rate geek and good blogger, offers a practical proposal in Looking under the street lamp again.
The proposal? Park a ship at the Earth-Sun L2 point and find out what works and doesn’t in the current ideas about long-term deep-space survival. Sounds good to me.
Length Matters · I have repeatedly argued in this space that the biggest change in the world of human discourse in my lifetime is that long-form, medium-form, and short-form writing have all become economically viable and capable of attracting large audiences. Since these forms differ deeply and qualitatively in how and when and where they work, this is a big deal.
Nicholas Carr takes these issues up in Short is the new long, and offers some really useful links. I have consistently disagreed with almost everything Carr has argued for some years now, and do here too; I see no evidence that the long form is going away. One small piece of evidence; as a consequence of the huge usability of frictionless shopping by e-books, I’ve read more books in the last six months than the preceding three years. Yep, some of it is pop-culture pulp, but I’ve also been gleefully exploring Guy Deutscher’s tomes on current linguistics.
Having said all that, Carr is as always worth reading.
Periods and Spaces · Derek Miller offers Six reasons to stop typing two spaces after a period. I’m one of those awful people who do the two-spaces thing, mostly as a leftover habit from having learned to touch-type on an actual typewriter.
Derek has convinced me that I’m wrong, so I’m gong to try to deprogram my thumb. Also, there’s a small move afoot to take up the single-space pledge as a memorial to Derek, who is dying of cancer and deserves one.
VC Money · I’ve repeatedly argued here that if you’re doing something Web-centric in a startup, you should try really hard not to take any VC money. Fred Wilson, who’s a VC and a good writer, offers some reasons for turning down money and, for those who don’t, about raising and (not) spending it. Highly recommended.
Airplane Ticket Economics · You may have recently noticed news about a dust-up in airline ticket sales, certain travel aggregators no longer BFF with certain airlines. I travel a lot but didn’t quite manage to figure out what was going on. Crankyflier, in Why American Wants to Go Around the Reservation Systems, offers an explanation that sounds perfectly plausible to me.
Music Piracy · We’re talking about geeks running BitTorrent, right? Nope, we’re talking about record companies stealing from artists and getting thrashed in court.
Owned By Who? · To be precise, workerowned.org; you can’t say it any more simply. The issues are complex and go deep and I’m not even sure I agree, but I’m glad that some pure old ideologies are still in there kind of punching.
Lines and Colors · This is the blog of Charley Parker, which I’ve recommended in this space before. Basically every day, he offers a pretty picture which constitutes a recommendation for some source of interesting pictures. They range from anime scribblers to postmodern digital pulp, but also include gems like Chardin: Painter of Silence, which I had to consider if only on the basis of its title.
Aussie Economics · A few years ago I wrote about how the Australian economy is deeply different from that here in North America, in a way I found admirable. John Hempton, a finance-industry guy who writes entertainingly, and often about the tastiest scams, dives a little deeper on the same theme in Lessons in my laundry — part 1.