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« Government Help for the Arts | Main | Behind Every Celebrity... »

May 15, 2003


Friedrich --

* Here's the transcript of a long Booknotes interview with John McWhorter, the Berkeley linguistics prof and author of "Losing the Race" and "Authentically Black." I find his thinking about racial issues very simpatico. Plus a 2Blowhards exclusive (I think): McWhorter has been an enthusiastic customer-reviewer at Amazon. You can read his reviews and get a sense of his tastes here.

* Not all architecture chat is incomprehensible and jargon-heavy. Here's a freewheeling discussion about urbanism, planning and money that has its feet on the ground and some provocative ideas up in the air: New Urbanists and libertarians discuss whether it's possible for them to find common ground. Some New Urbanists tend to the NPR/Al Gore/soft-socialist side of things, while others see themselves as working with the market. Some libertarians see New Urbanists as allies, but the more hardcover libertarians see them as new-style socialists. An absorbing discussion on topics that resonate. (Link via the always interesting Plenetzin, here)

* The Daniel Libeskind WTC-site-winning proposal: admirers see it as grand and tragic yet up to date. To me, it's a trainwreck of soon-to-be-regretted fads, a videogame parlor with pretentions to gravity. So I was glad to read Catesby Leigh in the Weekly Standard (here) and Michael J. Lewis in Commentary (here), who both seem to dislike the design as much as I do.

* Denis Dutton (editor of Arts & Letters Daily) has a well-argued column here about welfare and dependency in New Zealand.

* Weird Flash genius, here.

* I suppose everyone else has read this already, but for those laggards like me, here's a q&a with the brilliant columnist Mark Steyn.

* Did you get as fascinated by the Unabomber as I did? The bitter ex-grad student, seething with high-minded contempt ... I dunno, maybe I identified, or remember going through such a phase. Robert Birnbaum interviews Alston Chase about his new book "Harvard and the Unabomber" here.

* Maggie Gyllenhaal, so tastily adorable yet edgy in "Secretary" comes off in this interview (here) like someone much too eager to be taken seriously, alas.

* I hadn't realized until today that dynamist-libertarian Virginia Postrel is writing a blog, here.

* BBC Radio Four's website runs an engaging and informative five-part series on neuroscience, here. (Look for the "transcript" buttons on the righthand side, and you'll be able to print out a copy.) Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, Director of the Centre for Brain and Cognition at the University of California (San Diego), is the very good and helpful lecturer. (Link thanks to Stumbling Tongue, here.)

* Have you run across Renderotica (here)? Erotic digital art, some of it kitschy, some of it wonderful, most of it some of both. But all of it looks like it was done out of love.

* Mark Newbold has some pretty astounding optical illusions here.

* In the Christian Science Monitor, Glorida Goodale writes about how the shrinking size of video cameras is affecting the kinds of movies and videos that are being made, here. Her conclusions are close to ours at 2Blowhards. The upside? Cheapness and spontaneity. The downside? Lousy visual quality and the potential for drivel.

* Reviewing a couple of documentaries about Hollywood in the '70s, Newsweek's David Ansen gets off some good observations, reflections and reminiscences here. An essay from Salon (here) sees the same topic from a slightly different angle.

* We may be a less closely related to chimps than we thought. Remember the contention that we share 98-99% of our genes with chimps? Helen Pearson at Nature reports that the figure may be more like 94-95%. You can read the article here.

* A British designer, Andy Foulds, has created one of the coolest websites I've ever seen, here. Content? Well... But speaking strictly from the point of view of visuals, effects and design? Far-out! It's full of surprises and delights, yet never loses its organizational clarity -- quite an achievement.

OK, maybe the Wife is right and I do spend a little too much time surfing the Web ...



posted by Michael at May 15, 2003


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