Flappers

History, Infinite Series 2009-07-02 08:10

“These low-hipped gobbies never worry me,” she said. “I keep my cash straight and my decimal points in order. Furthermore, if some dumbbell starts hanging onto the cage I tell him to move on. They don’t block traffic outside my cell. Why, then, should they be starting all this plain-jane-and-no-nonsense business? They’ll be putting us in gunnysacks with nothing but our hands sticking out the next thing you know.”

A quote in the San Francisco Chronicle from a female bank teller and self-identified flapper, circa 1922. She’s fighting the power, vintage style.

From the Sparkletack podcast.

Congress API

Politics, Internet, Infinite Series 2009-04-29 01:47

Splendiferous Buffet

Economics, Infinite Series 2009-04-09 01:12

I’m inclined to repost nearly everything that Megan McArdel writes, because she’s constantly writing excellent things. For example:

“In some sense, all of history’s progress from lives that were nasty, brutish and short to today’s splendiferous buffet of iPhones, nine-month courses of physical therapy, and year-round fresh broccoli can be summed up in three words: gains from trade. We live better than a tribe of chimpanzees roaming through the primordial forest because we specialize and then exchange the fruits of our skills with each other. Trade, as the ecoomists say, increases the size of the economic pie to be divided between us.”

Physical Media, Farewell

Infinite Series, Media 2009-04-06 01:26

Borders stock is down 97% since 2005, and may be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange soon. Even during a recession, that’s a pretty serious loss - nearly total, in fact.

Dare I say it? “Physical media is just so 2005.”

Eye to the Future

Infinite Series 2009-01-30 03:29

“The make plans for the world of a century hence today based on today’s technology and practice makes no more sense than it did in 1900, when a man with a prudent eye to the future might have worried about avoiding a collapse of the transportation system due to a shortage of hay and oats.”

From Future Imperfect by David Friedman
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Daylight Saving

Technology, Life, Infinite Series 2008-11-19 04:36

Daylight saving day apparently occurred about two weeks ago. For the first time in my life, I didn’t notice.

The reason? All of my clocks are now smart; they know their timezone and the date, so they know when to display daylight saving-shifted times. (This in addition to keeping themselves synced to atomic clocks via the internet and NTP.) I have two smart clocks: one on my computer, and one on my phone. I’m very rarely more than 5 feet away from at least one of these.

I’ve removed all dumb clocks from my life. First, I don’t have any standalone clocks. Next, I don’t set the time on my microwave clock, leaving it showing “0″ when not cooking. And finally, I put a piece of electrical tape over the digital clock in my car’s stereo, so that its time display is not visible.

For the record: daylight saving time is stupid, and should be abolished. It already has been in some places. But until it is gone worldwide, smart clocks are a good workaround.

Life in 2008

History, Silly, Infinite Series 2008-09-09 07:03

What will life be like in 2008? An article from 1968 makes a slew of predictions. I’m impressed:

“The single most important item in 2008 households is the computer. These electronic brains govern everything from meal preparation and waking up the household to assembling shopping lists and keeping track of the bank balance. […]

Computers also handle travel reservations, relay telephone messages, keep track of birthdays and anniversaries, compute taxes and even figure the monthly bills for electricity, water, telephone and other utilities. Not every family has its private computer. Many families reserve time on a city or regional computer to serve their needs.”

Damn, it was doing so well right up until the last two sentences.

Phone Books Are Useful

Silly, Infinite Series 2008-07-22 06:35

Still get phonebooks delivered to your house? Wondering what to do with them? One possible use: “Place under your monitor to raise it to the correct viewing angle when searching for phone numbers online.”

Marriage Freedoms

Politics, Dating, Infinite Series 2008-05-15 05:19

Forty years ago, the US supreme court ruled that a state law to bar interracial marriage was unconstitutional. Today we have a similar ruling, this time for same-sex marriage, from the California supreme court. The case for freedom marches steadily forward; I often wish it moved faster, but I’m just glad that we keep moving in the right direction.

Cognitive Surplus

Culture, Infinite Series 2008-04-30 12:33

“If I had to pick the critical technology for the 20th century, the bit of social lubricant without which the wheels would’ve come off the whole enterprise, I’d say it was the sitcom. Starting with the Second World War a whole series of things happened–rising GDP per capita, rising educational attainment, rising life expectancy and, critically, a rising number of people who were working five-day work weeks. For the first time, society forced onto an enormous number of its citizens the requirement to manage something they had never had to manage before–free time.

[…]

I was being interviewed by a TV producer [who asked about Wikipedia]. ‘Where do people find the time?’ That was her question. And I just kind of snapped. And I said, ‘No one who works in TV gets to ask that question. You know where the time comes from. It comes from the cognitive surplus you’ve been masking for 50 years.’”

From Gin, Television, and Social Surplus by Clay Shirky