June 12, 2010
Here's the perfect gift for the 4 year old in your life: A Pedobear Plush.
Cairo, Illinois is mostly abandoned. It was once a thriving city of 15,000, but the Mississippi barges don't stop there anymore, and racial turmoil, including a three-year boycott of white-owned businesses that refused to hire black workers, killed the town's economy. The Cairo Project, from Southern Illinois University, is a good overview of Cairo's history and its current situation. Can punk label Plan-it-X start a rebirth by moving to Cairo and opening a coffeeshop? If it helps, there's still good barbecue.
It's nice to remember -- the ethereally angelic voice of Nana Mouskouri, here in red, with Harry Belafonte, doing a sizzling, personal, tremulous Au Coeur de Septembre, looking for all the world like a 1960's version Tina Fey. Here singing a spine-tingling version of Les Jours Meilleurs "Aspri Mera" 1972, and here, Puisque Tu M'aimes.
Offering up a bass track, a guitar track, and a drum track as the common fodder, Wired.com invites remixes from its readers and runs a crowdsourced music experiment. Note for those producing solo in their hovels/studies/caves/garrets/cubicles, and those looking for new sports through which to sell concert tickets and t-shirts: the artists of the future are inclined to organize into teams.
A gallery of scanned German children's books from the 18th and 19th centuries. Sounds dry, but the plates are high-resolution and gorgeous. Fans of old-school engraving, illustration, and Bibliodyssey-esque curiosities will not be disappointed. Highly extensive and bandwidth-intensive.
Sometimes called the "Miracle on Grass", the USA's 1-0 victory over England in the 1950 World Cup is arguably the biggest upset in the history of the cup; when a team of school teachers, dishwashers, and postmen beat the "Kings of Football". It was the Game of Their Lives. Today, they had the chance to do it again.
Standards editor Philip Corbett at the New York Times (allegedly) issues memo officially discouraging use of the word "tweet." [more inside]
"Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from Random Assignment of Students to Professors" by Scott Carrell and James West is the title of an interesting new study in this month's Journal of Political Economy, a leading journal in economics. (For a summary of the paper, see this review. An ungated version, too). The authors are interested in determining the role of "professor quality" in student learning. They do this by exploiting an unusual institutional feature of the Air Force Academy whereby all undergraduates are randomly assigned their professors, and all professors use the same syllabus. The authors also have the professor's student evaluations, as well each student's subsequent performance in the follow-up classes. To keep it simple, they focus only on Calculus I and the follow-up courses in Calculus (which are mandatory), though they note that an earlier study that looked at Chemistry and Physics found similar things. [more inside]
... on June 12, 1982, approximately a million people demonstrated in New York City's Central Park against nuclear arms and for an end to the arms race of the cold war. Nothing like it had ever happened before. It was not only the largest antinuclear demonstration but the largest political demonstration of any description in American history. Nothing like it has happened again, either. The tide of protest was at its high-water mark, and thereafter receded steadily. - Jonathan Schell, 2007. [more inside]
Conflict-blogger Michael Yon with a fascinating piece about Nepal, Afghanistan, the Gurkhas and the incredible technology of "Gobar Gas". [more inside]
Restoring Journalism Maureen Tkacik talks about her life as a journalist, the nothing-based economy, and the future of journalism. She suggests abandoning authority and productively channeling narcissism. (via 2p & dd) [more inside]
M-Pesa, the mobile platform based money transfer system launched by Safaricom in Kenya, is changing the landscape of money in Africa, and around the world. Competition is heating up even while the service expands internationally allowing transactions to occur between Africa, UK and Asia. Bankers, regulators, startups and operators all want a piece of the pie as even the phone manufacturers themselves get into this potentially lucrative business.