Category Archives: society

More on Freakonomics

Felix Salmon added an interesting comment to my recent entry, a review of Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. I thought I’d respond to it here, rather than in another commment. Here’s what he wrote…

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A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything – by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
It’s not too often that I read the introduction, preface, or acknowledgements of a book. Rarer still are the times that I find these introductory materials as finely written and intriguing as the book itself. In fact, the only book in the last few in which the introductory materials were even remotely interesting was Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. Until, that is, I read the Explanatory Note of Freakonomics. It took only the first few paragraphs to hook me. After that, my only concern was that the main part of the book would be a letdown.
As it turns out, I had no need to worry.


The Ultimate Self-Promotion

A “street artist” called Banksy decided to do a little guerilla marketing last week by hanging his paintings in a few rather conspicuous locations. The Wooster Collective website has photos of the art installations, along with this explanation…


NYPL Digital Gallery

With the recently opened Digital Gallery, the New York Public Library has given internet users access to approximately 275 thousand images–from drawings to maps, early photographs to illustrated manuscripts. It’s a lot of fun to browse through it, but you might want to make sure you have plenty of time before jumping in; it’s easy to get lost in the stacks.
I had planned to show a thumbnail of a few of the images from the site, but after looking at the main Frequently Asked Questions page, I was a little confused about whether or not I was allowed…

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Lawrence Lessig Featured on West Wing

Lawrence Lessig, hero of the digital frontier and leading advocate of free culture everywhere, was featured in this week’s episode of The West Wing. He himself wasn’t on the show, but was played by the mad scientist from Back to the Future (Christopher Lloyd). Lessig teaches Constitutional law at Stanford University and chairs the Creative Commons project. In his blog Lessig explains how he wound up on the show, in his typical humble fashion…

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Machiavelli Rice

Oh my. Condi “Machiavelli” Rice made it through the first round of confirmation hearings, as expected. Here’s one reponse to a question about Iraq that upset me a bit…


The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog

Here is a major resource for information related to the earthquake and tsunami: Let’s pray, donate, and do whatever else we can to help those who are suffering in the wake of the devestation.


You Might Say He’s a Good Steward

I was reminded of Bush’s shameless, duplicitous statement in the second presidential debate, “You might say I’m a good steward of the land,” when I read yesterday’s New York Times article about the administration’s overhaul of environmental regulations…

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Networks Refuse to Run Church Ad Saying All Are Welcome

A few days ago the Eschaton blog posted an entry about CBS and NBC refusing to run an ad from the United Church of Christ. Apparently, it was deemed too controversial by the two networks. The ad, which you can view at, shows burly bouncers turning people away from a church. Then these words appear on the screen: Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we. A voiceover concludes…


Trying to Be Fair

In a Washington Post article, executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. describes the policies in place at his newspaper to separate the editorial staff from the news staff and to maintain as much objectivity as possible. It’s an excellent reminder of the standards that most mainstream news organizations apply to their reporting, even when it comes to political campaigns … Granted, bias inevitably can creep in from time to time, no matter how hard the news outlet tries to keep it at bay. And we shouldn’t just blindly trust what we read in the paper. But I think there’s a real danger in throwing up our hands …