December 31, 2007

gawker, nick denton, and the rise of blog media

earlier this year, new york magazine published everybody sucks: gawker and the rage of the creative underclass.

the title and the essay have little to do with the actual underclass, instead speaking about gawker and its proprietor, nick denton.

though the piece gets it right, it probably mistakes gawker's and denton's aspirations. gawker is just a new york gossip blog.

surprisingly, nick denton offers a rebuttal in the form of a self authored comparison to rupert murdoch and william randolph hearst (in that order).

though gawker media is of considerable size and influence, the reality and historicity of nick denton's efforts are just that, a matter of history. thinking about denton's current public activities in the form of gawker media's varied publications, approaching 20 in total, one wonders what he hopes to accomplish. barring the comparison to murdoch and hearst, both of whom have made indelible marks on history, nick denton's legacy remains to be defined.

my unsolicited advice: do something good! gawker is fun enough. and you became wealthy a long time ago.

December 29, 2007

webb, 2007

a massive "brain dump" from matt webb. here are a few key passages.

on cars:
So what are the emergent properties of flocking cars? I think we'll need a certain kind of maths to model it, and that is what I was thinking about. It'll be a bit like signal processing: we'll look at the distances between successive cars, and monitor the pressure waves that move along that pipe. There will be standing waves causes by junctions, and the police will introduce special cars to act as signal dampers or oscillation providers, used to break up clots of cars. Having all the cars on the same rule system worries me, because the failure modes of homogeneous populations are nasty. We'll need a way of parameterising the rules so that different cars all behave slightly differently, so that traffic itself becomes an ultrastable system, responding to an accident by simply shifting the internal population of rules to change the equilibrium and flock around the grit instead of locking up entirely.
on internet:
So what does phenotropics mean for the Web? Firstly it means that our browsers should become pattern recognition machines. They should look at the structure of every page they render, and develop artificial proteins to bind to common features. Once features are found (say, an hCalendar microformat), scripting can occur. And other features will be deduced: plain text dates 'upgraded' to microformats on the fly. By giving the browser better senses - say, a copy of WordNet and the capability of term extraction - other structures can be detected and bound to.
on vending machines:
Vending machines on the street sell mixed smoothies. Each machine is populated with a selection of 8 from dozens of base fruit smoothies. There are 10 options on the machine, representing different mixes of the 8 fruit flavours. Genetic algorithms are used to evolve the smoothies towards the optimum flavours for that neighbourhood, based on what sells. Variety is introduced by having wild-card base flavours in that 8th slot. Sometimes you take a detour on the way to work to help out training a machine to produce your favourite cocktail.

it's worth a read.

December 10, 2007

biology as opposed to age based treatment

just as adolescents with cancer treated based on molecular profiles on pediatric protocols have better outcomes than similarly aged patients treated based on age on adult protocols, one expects improved outcomes from biology based treatment in general, as in the case of childhood infections, such as the commonly used boston criteria for infants with fever.

November 10, 2007

October 28, 2007

more on language: rap lyrics translated

This paper was turned in by an Oakland High school student who received the highest honors at the school district’s Ebonics translation competition.

October 26, 2007

an email from a friend: what happens when a person's will meets a sedative-hypnotic medication?

Cool the keys to the computeraregetting progressively fuzzy,no reallyihavetofight my way out of thisthkeys dowanttogettouched,hodufind the wordsyouwasntintersting the keyboard starteoff fuzzy and the it startsto move a little jinglethe are fuzzydidmention Ithink I am trying to raise myself out oof drugstupor right now
Yeam how are you guys, we are busym,we leave sat midmorning. Will have car, Shall we pick you guys up at the auroeu[[p[pto? Just tell us when and what time and with who,
i hope I remember how,,hehehe this whole thing looks like its sailing away........

October 07, 2007


where to go if you find yourself in the mood for dancing by the williamsburg bridge at 1am. bembe! bembe! bembe!

September 29, 2007

cellphones for world citizens

if only i was one of them. cubic telecom is releasing a GSM phone that will have free local access numbers in up to 50 cities and not have roaming charges. now you can travel globally and remain local (without being buggered by at&t). and if you have a GSM phone, you don't have to bind their handset: simply buy their SIM card and use it in your phone. via nytimes.

September 28, 2007

personal medicine 2/2 web 2.0

a few days ago, a recent graduate of a medical residency opened his own practice: dr parkinson. its business model is that of concierge medicine, but because it operates in williamsburg brooklyn, it caters to 18-40 year olds. it's gotten a lot of press in gawker, nypost, and wsj, where it resulted in lots of flames with dr parkinson replying. it's an admirable approach, both in terms of its attention to patients and to economics. follow his progress on his blog.

September 13, 2007

moltissimo mario

the other day i was watching batali's molto mario during which he made a most splendid rendition of pollo in agrodolce, which i promptly made for dinner with just as delicious results.

now, it seems that mario is doing even more kindness to us by posting some of his personal loves as a serious eater.

grazie mille!

September 06, 2007

live internet is here has allowed new users to create channels and is booming. we've come a long way since jennicam!

August 06, 2007

30 days of spam

Day 01
Breakfast: something with SPAM in it
Lunch: something with SPAM in it
Dinner: something with SPAM in it

Day 02-30


August 01, 2007

trapped in the closet, chapter 13: oh sh!t

stereogum has the preview of chapter 13 and it's gooood!

i still maintain that chapter 1 was best-- though the midget of chapter 9 was a real gift-- but you decide for yourself. critical review by wikipedia.

July 11, 2007

stasi: of things gone but not forgotten

the lives of others was one of the great films of last year. it's about so many important things and crafted in such a delicate and sophisticated way that it defies description in what has become a very succinct blog of mine. i found the movie particularly relevant because of the time i spent in berlin visiting mosman a few years ago. somehow one of the things that we missed was the stasi museum, the former stasi HQ that is featured in the film. here are david byrne's reflections after visiting it, and they are fascinating. if i haven't told you the college story of my spy professor, you must remind me next time we meet.

the structure of a cartoon

cartoonists draw with their eyes closed.

July 07, 2007

suspended in blogging

a long time ago, when i studied philosophy actively, i was fascinated with the vienna circle and the notion of human thought being "suspended in language," whereby what we say is defined by how we think and how we think is defined by how we say it. arguably, we think in different ways depending on whether we write or speak, but do we think in unique ways when we blog?

lots of people spend a substantial part of their thought in blogs-- just look at some of the regularly updated blogs at technorati-- and some even blog their lives together (1+2) though their blogs are topically unrelated. is thought as it happens during blogging particularly relational, hyperlinks and metatags included?

May 11, 2007

the harry-est town in america

amazon is tracking which towns are pre-ordering the most copies of the new harry potter book. virginia dominates. the rank is normalized per capita and is misleading since the readership of harry potter varies with age, but it's still interesting to think about why there are such strong trends.

the taxing lyrical trophy

bbc 6 music goes on a quest to find the worst song lyrics. and they do but the competition is tough.

May 04, 2007

There Is No God but Politics

a comparative piece about marx and qutb, the latter being a commonly cited source for arguments in favor of revolutionary islam, and indeed one of the original egyptian muslim brothers. the piece is good but the comparison is limited by two things. first, the power of marxism is not so much in the practical prescriptions it offers but in a fundamentally different worldview of class structure (struggle). the same probably applies to qutb's argument about spirituality and post-colonial islam states. second, proselytization of qutb's thought is fostered by its inherent islamicism and associated common language for discourse, much in contrast to marxism which spoke directly only to 19th century intelligentsia.

May 01, 2007

towards a (google) network computer

check out google browser sync, a firefox extension that syncs your browser history, cookies and passwords across independent sessions. view multiple browser tabs at home one day? automatically open them at work the next. and more. thanks

March 24, 2007


though i have not practiced for longer than i want to admit publicly-- it's hard to remember that i used to do it daily-- i still believe that yoga is one of the most important advances in human history. however, ever since a misguided soul told me that inversions increase the blood flow to the thyroid and promote healthy hormones, i've suspected that something is wrong in yoga's american practice. here is a great little piece in the slate on just that issue.

March 08, 2007


every now and then, it's important to have an existential crisis. not so much because "suffering is good for the soul," but because it makes most of the activities of daily living feel trivial. this is a refreshing state of being; perspective follows quickly and easily. arriving at this crisis may take longer.

for me and internship, it took as long as this year's mild boston winter while working in the hospital every fourth night, altogether probably about 1000 working and 2000 lifetime hours. that's a relatively long time, especially considering that about 500 of the total hours were spent sleeping.

with the freshly minted perspective, doctoring is once again joyful. of course, this also may have alot to do with the fact that i am working 8-3 and have a little bit of time to do some reading and research. residency should be more like this and less like the 50%:25% work:sleep routine. it makes for a better life. and better doctors.

February 01, 2007

provincial boston

it seems that yesterday LED Mooninites were mistaken for explosive devices.

how a circuit board with LED lights can be taken for a dangerous object, not to mention a bomb, remains to be explained.

here is a more comprehensive post on boingboing.

January 28, 2007

movie: babel

after several weeks of persuading, nina finally agreed to see babel. it's a story about xenophobia and isolation, as told in a jigsaw narrative, compelling both in its effects and as a symbol of fragmented post-modern society that the film's characters and we inhabit.

mosman, aneimark and i were riveted.

nina was not a fan, siding instead with the reviewers.


a truly fascinating video by an autistic child about his experience