Tuesday, August 19, 2008

stray bullets

Novelist Neal Stephenson Once Again Proves He's the King of the Worlds Stephenson spends his mornings cloistered in the basement, writing longhand in fountain pen and reworking the pages on a Mac version of the Emacs text editor. This intensity cannot be sustained all day—"It's part of my personality that I have to mess with stuff," he says—so after the writing sessions, he likes to get his hands on something real or hack stuff on the computer. (He's particularly adept at Mathematica, the equation-crunching software of choice for mathematicians and engineers.) For six years, he was an adviser to Jeff Bezos' space-flight startup, Blue Origin. He left amicably in 2006. Last year, he went to work for another Northwest tech icon, Nathan Myhrvold, who heads Intellectual Ventures, an invention factory that churns out patents and prototypes of high-risk, high-reward ideas. Stephenson and two partners spend most afternoons across Lake Washington in the IV lab, a low-slung building with an exotic array of tools and machines to make physical manifestations of the fancies that flow from the big thinkers on call there.

Making an Arguement for Misspelling Most teachers expect to correct their students' spelling mistakes once in a while. But Ken Smith has had enough. The senior lecturer in criminology at Bucks New University in Buckinghamshire, England, sees so many misspellings in papers submitted by first-year students that he says we'd be better off letting the perpetrators off the hook and doing away with certain spelling rules altogether. Disagree. Lern too spel, dumas.

Music and memory: How the songs we heard growing up shape the story of our lives Matching our intuitions about music, researchers have found that music is an important influence on our memories. We associate songs with emotions, people, and places we've experienced in the past.

Tweaking with Sherlock Holmes I just found this fascinating aside on Sherlock Holmes in a 1973 paper on amphetamine psychosis, suggesting that the cocaine-using Holmes displayed the classic repetitive behaviour often seen in frequent users of dopamine-acting stimulants.

The couple who lived in a mall After Michael Townsend and Adriana Yoto found their skyline blighted by a colossal mall, they protested it in an unusual way -- they moved in.

Macbeth (1040-57) King of Scotland Macbeth lived during brutal times. He defeated Duncan I in 1040 and reigned for seventeen years. His story differs from Shakespeare's play written nearly six centuries later.

How can I survive a night in the Alaskan wilderness?
Using Photographs to Enhance Videos of a Static Scene (via)
List of problems solved by MacGyver (via)
The Olympics with MST3k If I hadn't recorded it, I'd think I'm losing my mind. (don't miss it, MSTies) (via)
Cthuugle The complete HP Lovecraft Search Engine (via)
Musée Patamécanique (via)

RIAA Lawsuit Victim Becomes Free Culture Activist
World's Largest Record Collection (it's for sale and quite a bargain at $3 million for 2.5 million records)
Jean-Luc Godard: YouTubed
Monty Python on Public TV in 1975

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