So why the heck do people want to copyright cocktails?
The squeamishness of the New York Times regarding Cee-lo’s “Fuck You.”
How well will the Volt work in China?
Is the U.S.’s elevated C-section rate due to impatience?
Pictures from Venice’s architecture Biennale.
Making greener Champagne.
How are the scientific method and democracy related?
On when the printing press-created book was first created:
Inventing the printing press was not the same thing as inventing the publishing business. Technologically, craftsmen were ready to follow Gutenberg’s example, opening presses across Europe. But they could only guess at what to print, and the public saw no particular need to buy books. The books they knew, manuscript texts, were valuable items and were copied to order. The habit of spending money to read something a printer had decided to publish was an alien one.
What you’ve got to do once you’ve got 300 identical copies of a book is you’ve got to sell it to people who don’t even yet know they want it. And that’s a very, very different way of selling.
And whereas the printers were taking advice from 15th-century humanist scholars, who said, “Wouldn’t it be good to have this? Wouldn’t it be good to have that?” they weren’t in any position to give them any advice on how to dispose of these 300 copies. And in due course they found that the only way to do this is to create a market which is trans-European.
It’s this classic example of how you get technological innovation without people really being aware of the commercial implications, of how you can make money from it. There’s quite a little similarity in the first generation of print with the dot-com boom and bust of the ’90s, where people have this fantastic new innovation, a lot of creative energy is put into it, a lot of development capital is put into it, and then people say, “Well, yeah, but how are we going to make money from the Internet?” And that takes another 10 years to work out.
How does defense win championships (in basketball)?
Has there been a breakthrough in making microchips? Matt Yglesias writes of the development:
Something interesting to consider is the kind of changes we could expect to continue seeing even if the cost of computational power did stop falling. After all, the pace of these technical advances has been so jaw-dropping that it’s almost certainly been impossible for the rest of society to fully work-out what the best way to deploy the information technology we have. In other words, though business practices have certainly changed a lot since 1995 in response to a thousandfold drop in the price of computing power, they almost certainly haven’t fully adjusted to the full implications of that change. And as Peter Orszag observed in a CAP speech earlier this year, the federal government has done even less to fully seize the available opportunities.
An interesting point:
A now-famous cartoon on the xkcd “webcomics” site shows a stick figure typing away at his computer keyboard as a voice from outside the frame says, “Are you coming to bed?” The figure replies: “I can’t. This is important. . . . Someone is wrong on the Internet.” I have thought a lot about why people get so hostile online, and I have come to believe it is primarily because we live in a society with a hypertrophied sense of justice and an atrophied sense of humility and charity, to put the matter in terms of the classic virtues.
Late modernity’s sense of itself is built upon achievements in justice. This is especially true of Americans. When we look back over the past century, what do we take pride in? Suffrage for women, the defeat of fascism, Brown vs. Board of Education, civil rights and especially voting rights for African-Americans. If you’re on one side of the political spectrum, you might add the demise of the Soviet empire; if you’re on the other side, you might add the expansion of rights for gays and lesbians. (Or you might add both.) The key point is that all of these are achievements in justice
Why do people dream of Lauryn Hill to come back strong?
Kim Jong-il appears to have a successor ready.