A late-comer but definitely one of my favorite albums this year.
NPR’s Planet Money published an amazing piece of journalism on the mechanics of the global garment industry illustrated by the life-cycle of a cotton tshirt. Alex Blumberg narrates as they follow the shirt from cotton seeds in Mississippi, to the rhythm of the machine weaving process in Indonesia, to the lives of people in Bangladesh and Colombia where the shirts are made, to the box container ships that make global shipping affordable, and eventually onto our bodies. Well, not our bodies, yet. Order a shirt here.
Not only is the story of the shirt, the earth-straddling industry that makes it possible, and the impacts of industry on people’s lives interesting and, in my preachy opinion, capital-I Important, but the presentation is also fantastic—wonderfully shot, concise videos; detail-rich supplementary text, and well-designed infographics. A good way to spend your lunch hour, especially if you care about clothes.
Perfectly done piece. The video is packed with information and humanity, and the website is a great supplement. Awesome piece on important stuff.
A great talk on detrimental ass covering and making statistics make sense.
(I skipped the spoiler filled intro, so no imbed. More spoilers in the Q&A, but none in the talk).
"[W]e now live, we are told, in the Computer Age. What is the outlook for Luddite sensibility? Will mainframes attract the same hostile attention as knitting frames once did? I really doubt it. Writers of all descriptions are stampeding to buy word processors. Machines have already become so user-friendly that even the most unreconstructed of Luddites can be charmed into laying down the old sledgehammer and stroking a few keys instead. Beyond this seems to be a growing consensus that knowledge really is power, that there is a pretty straightforward conversion between money and information, and that somehow, if the logistics can be worked out, miracles may yet be possible. If this is so, Luddites may at last have come to stand on common ground with their Snovian adversaries, the cheerful army of technocrats who were supposed to have the "future in their bones." It may be only a new form of the perennial Luddite ambivalence about machines, or it may be that the deepest Luddite hope of miracle has now come to reside in the computer’s ability to get the right data to those whom the data will do the most good. With the proper deployment of budget and computer time, we will cure cancer, save ourselves from nuclear extinction, grow food for everybody, detoxify the results of industrial greed gone berserk — realize all the wistful pipe dreams of our days.
"The word "Luddite" continues to be applied with contempt to anyone with doubts about technology, especially the nuclear kind. Luddites today are no longer faced with human factory owners and vulnerable machines. As well-known President and unintentional Luddite D.D. Eisenhower prophesied when he left office, there is now a permanent power establishment of admirals, generals and corporate CEO’s, up against whom us average poor bastards are completely outclassed, although Ike didn’t put it quite that way. We are all supposed to keep tranquil and allow it to go on, even though, because of the data revolution, it becomes every day less possible to fool any of the people any of the time.
"If our world survives, the next great challenge to watch out for will come — you heard it here first — when the curves of research and development in artificial intelligence, molecular biology and robotics all converge. Oboy. It will be amazing and unpredictable, and even the biggest of brass, let us devoutly hope, are going to be caught flat-footed. It is certainly something for all good Luddites to look forward to if, God willing, we should live so long. Meantime, as Americans, we can take comfort, however minimal and cold, from Lord Byron’s mischievously improvised song, in which he, like other observers of the time, saw clear identification between the first Luddites and our own revolutionary origins.
As the Liberty lads o’er the sea
Bought their freedom, and cheaply, with blood,
So we, boys, we
Will die fighting, or live free,
And down with all kings but King Ludd!”
In 1997, Van Sant was doing a reading at a bookstore from his novel Pink. (Dedicated to River, the book starred a thinly disguised version of him.) An audience member asked him who had hoisted River Phoenix’s body into the car.
"I was hoping that viewers would project themselves into the film and decide for themselves who it was," he told her.
"Okay, then," she replied. "Who picked him up in your version?" Van Sant paused. "In my version … in my version, I pick him up.""
Grantland’s great excerpt on My Own Private Idaho from the book Last Night at the Viper Room.
Roger Ebert’s review of Stormy Monday as video essay about the magic of film.
Math only has the illusion of being effective when we focus on the successful examples. But our successful examples perhaps only apply to a tiny portion of all the possible questions we could ask about the universe…
The black hole that is physics. Great stuff.
-Adam Rothstein “City of Human, City of Machine”