December 30, 2009
Is aviation security mostly for show? An essay by Bruce Schneier.
MAN is one of a number of animals that make things, but man is the only one that depends for its very survival on the things he has made. That simple observation is the starting point for an ambitious history programme that the BBC will begin broadcasting on January 18th in which it aims to tell a history of the world through 100 objects in the British Museum (BM). A joint venture four years in the making between the BM and the BBC, the series features 100 15-minute radio broadcasts, a separate 13 episodes in which children visit the museum at night and try to unlock its mysteries, a BBC World Service package of tailored omnibus editions for broadcasting around the world and an interactive digital programme involving 350 museums in Britain which will be available free over the internet. The presenter is Neil MacGregor, the BM’s director, who has moved from the study of art to the contemplation of things. “Objects take you into the thought world of the past,” he says. “When you think about the skills required to make something you begin to think about the brain that made it.” via The Economist [more inside]
A three judge panel of the 9th Circuit has ruled a police officer can be sued for damages for tasing a motorist. The court held use of tasers must be justified by a strong government interest that "compels" employing such force Practically speaking, police agencies will likely have to revise their policies to limit taser use to situations where a person poses an obvious danger. Field use of tasers currently varies across jurisdictions. The Police Executive Research Forum, however, has advocated for a similarly restrictive policy. [more inside]
Footnoted.org, a blog devoted to pointing out those buried atrocities in SEC filings, is having its annual worst footnote of the year contest. contenders include Chesapeake Energy disclosing it spent $12.1 million to purchase Aubrey McClendon's antique map collection, Martha Stewart's $3 million retention payment to remain at Martha Stewart Omnimedia and InfoGroup disclosing it really spent $852K on former CEO Gupta's yacht instead of zero. Polls close tomorrow.
Dissertations on His Dudeness. (SLNYT) Descriptions of a new book of academic essays on The Big Lebowski such as: "“ ‘The Big Lebowski’ and Paul de Man: Historicizing Irony and Ironizing Historicism”
Robespierre, a frequent contributor at Fodor's Travel Talk Forums online, suddenly stopped posting to the boards in July of last year. NPR's All Things Considered did an essay on why he stopped and the reactions of his fellow forum posters. [more inside]
Man from the Margin: Cao Cao and the Three Kingdoms You'll perhaps have read or watched reports that archaeologists believe they have found the tomb of Cao Cao (曹操) (of course, not everyone agrees with the identification). Warrior, strategist, statesman and poet, Cao Cao lives on in the cultural memory of China, a by-word for cunning and of course a central character in the great historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms and hence also recent John Woo blockbuster Red Cliff. To understand the man in his historical context, there's little better in English than the 1990 George Ernest Morrison Lecture in Ethnology given by now-retired Professor Rafe de Crespigny, one of the foremost Western scholars of the Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms periods of Chinese history. He makes several of his vastly erudite essays on Chinese history available at the ANU's website.
"Once you start procrastinating pleasure, it can become a self-perpetuating process if you fixate on some imagined nirvana. The longer you wait to open that prize bottle of wine, the more special the occasion has to be." Something to keep in mind in this season when many are flush with gift certificates.
There ain't no room for these cheap regrets (except for when a bogan band makes your angst an anthem)
Rowland S. Howard was the guitarist for The Boys Next Door and the Birthday Party. He released his second solo cd, "Pop Crimes" in October this year, ten years after his debut solo effort. He died today.
101 new uses for everyday things lists some interesting and sometimes innovative ways to use things you find around the home.
November 13, 2001: Musical unknown Andrew W.K. (Previously 1, 2) releases his debut album "I Get Wet." It is a simple rock record of power chords and unabashed, un-ironic party music -- exemplified perfectly both by its first song, "It's Time To Party," or its lead single, "Party Hard" -- released during a month of American depression, paranoia, and insincerity that borders on nihilism. The album finds mainstream success, selling over 30K copies in its first three weeks, with songs from the record appearing in commercials, movies, and television shows, not to mention heavy rotation on MTV and awesome appearances on Conan and Saturday Night Live. [more inside]