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« Behind Every Celebrity... | Main | Gloating over The Matrix »

May 16, 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 (musicals and '70s sitcoms!) 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 Plenetizin, 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.

* Here's a fascinating comment thread from a discussion on Archnet that'll interest anyone who enjoyed our q&a with Nikos Salingaros. The excellent Lucien Steil (of Katarxis, here) checks in with some very civilized and tantalizing contributions.

* 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 laggards like me, here's a q&a with the brilliant columnist Mark Steyn. Steyn, by the way, is a theater critic and historian as well as a political commentator. Here's a terrific piece by him about Bob Hope, who turns 100 later this month.

* Did you get as fascinated by the Unabomber as I did? The bitter ex-grad student, seething with high-minded anarchist contempt ... Hmm, I have dim but definite memories of going through such a phase myself, funnily enough. Robert Birnbaum interviews Alston Chase about his new book "Harvard and the Unabomber" here.

* Maggie Gyllenhaal, 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 both. I don't know about you but I find this kind of work -- voluntarily contributed, and clearly done out of love -- hard to resist.

* 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. But, whatever our opinion, it's happening, so we may as well do our best to find what's interesting in the process.

* 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.

* Steve Sailer, wrestling with the topic of Bill Bennett and gambling, visits an Indian casino east of L.A. and comes away with a lot more than just another opinion, here.

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

* Intrigued by evo-bio but unsure where to start looking into the subject? It'd be hard to beat this intro (here) to the subject by two of its leading lights, Leda Cosmides and John Tooby. (Links thanks to LimbicNutrition, 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 16, 2003


Wow, that Andy Founds website really IS cool. Zowie!

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on May 16, 2003 02:34 PM

No kidding. Beat that, fine artists.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 16, 2003 04:42 PM

I thought the boombah flash toy was awesome, then I realized I had my sound off...and it got even better with it on.

Posted by: David Mercer on May 17, 2003 07:22 PM

Ditto on the coolness of Foulds and the flash number with the polyphonic squeaking...blobs? telebloggies? Whatever.

Thank you for surfing so much!

Posted by: Felicity on May 18, 2003 09:44 AM

The real scoop is that John McWhorter has been "fascinated by giant squids all [his] life."

Posted by: David on May 19, 2003 08:31 AM

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