Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Calvin Explains The World Today

Some people are always a bit ahead of their time. And I think this strip proves that Bill Watterson undoubtedly is one of those people.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Is Talent Born or Made?

This age-old question has arisen again in a slightly different format. Research has shown that what often separates superstars from everyday performers is just practice. Obviously, that makes a pretty good story. Most of the stories on this subject reference the work of Anders Ericsson, who has advanced some of this thought.

But can it be that any of us has the potential to be great, if only we had put in the time? This is basically the question Malcom Gladwell tackles in his latest book called Outliers, which ponders the question of how a person who's an outlier comes to be so. As you can see on the right, it's a book I recently read, and I would definitely recommend. In my opinion, while he does somewhat shortchange the role of genetics in the production of talent, nonetheless, it's a great summary of research in the area. And if it's a topic that you find interesting, there are several recent books that discuss it as well.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Places We Live

Today, I aim only to point you to this, a stunning site, which reminds us of our own blessings while educating us about the world we live in.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Wired Education

I was excited to hear there are now college classes on one of our favorite TV shows, The Wire. From the course description:

Discerning critics and avid fans have agreed that the five-season run of Ed Burns and David Simon's The Wire was "the best TV show ever broadcast in America"--not the most popular but the best. The 60 hours that comprise this episodic series have been aptly been compared to Dickens, Balzac, Dreiser and Greek Tragedy. These comparisons attempt to get at the richly textured complexity of the work, its depth, its bleak tapestry of an American city and its diverse social stratifications. Yet none of these comparisons quite nails what it is that made this the most compelling "show" on TV and better than many of the best movies. This class will explore these comparisons, analyze episodes from the first, third, fourth and fifth seasons and try to discover what was and is so great about The Wire. We will screen as much of the series as we can during our mandatory screening sessions and approach it through the following lenses: the other writing of David Simon, including his journalism, an exemplary Greek Tragedy, Dickens' Bleak House and/or parts of Balzac's Human Comedy. We will also consider the formal tradition of episodic television.

Unfortunately, college days are long over for me, and so I won't be able to take said classes. But if you have the option, make sure you do. But at the very least, just go out and rent the DVDs already. And really, that's probably good enough.

(ht: Kottke)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Mass Transit Spending

Obviously there is a lot of back and forth going on right now as to what exactly the stimulus bill will contain. I will admit that as a transportation design professional I am admittedly biased. I would love to see as much transportation spending as possible.

But I would especially love to see a large influx of funds marked for mass transit spending use. As our nation looks at the role transportation will play in its future, I am a big proponent of the positives an efficient nationwide mass transit system will bring. This article does a better job than I would making this case, and so I encourage you to go check it out. And if you have the opportunity, talk to your representatives and urge them to do what they can to increase transit funding.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Evil Behind the Smiles

Recently, I posted about the ongoing problem of slavery in the world today. Now, I strongly encourage you to read Nicholas Kristof's latest columns about sexual slavery in southeast Asia in order to become more informed.

The columns and associated videos are informative but heartwrenching. After seeing the movie Taken, which depicts the similar problem in Europe and reading these columns, there's no doubt that I'm motivated to see change come for these women. The cruelty exhibited and sad reality so many of these women face is disturbing.

Do your part, get informed, and make a difference!