Lost in translation

by Henry on April 3, 2006

via “Steven Berlin Johnson”:http://www.stevenberlinjohnson.com/2006/03/dan_hill_has_a_.html, Dan Hill has written a “blogpost”:http://www.cityofsound.com/blog/2006/03/why_lost_is_gen.html on the creative (but slightly creepy) ways in which _Lost_ is beginning to invade the real world.

bq. Some have speculated that the show is only being produced a few episodes in advance, as the screenwriters are wrangling the numerous ideas generated in fans’ forums into the script … But the most sophisticated tactic I’ve seen deployed thus far lasted for a few seconds on-screen, and has yet to play out fully online. In series 2, episode 13 (‘The Long Con’), the Hurley character is casually seen reading a tattered manuscript found in one of the suitcases washed up on the beach. He shows the name of the prospective book: Bad Twin by a ‘Gary Troup’, and makes an off-hand complimentary comment on the content. And the scene moves on. However, this book, Bad Twin, “actually exists in Amazon.com”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1401302769/102-7191170-2490510?v=glance&n=283155. Scroll down and check the ‘About the author’ section to discover that Lost’s fiction and Amazon’s facts have collided …

Time to get cracking on that essay on Sir Thomas Browne’s _Urn Burial_ methinks.


by Brian on April 3, 2006

I really don’t have anything to add to it, but I wanted to highlight this very nice post on thanking by Roger Shuy over at Language Log.

My colleague Daniel Hausman and his collaborator Michael McPherson (formerly President of Macalester, now of the Spencer Foundation) have just published the new edition of their book Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy, and Public Policy; (UK).

This is the perfect book for many of our readers, presenting moral philosopical ideas in a way that directly shows how and why they matter for issues in economics and public policy. It contains accessible introductions to ideas in economics and moral philosophy (eg utility theory, social choice theory, game theory, libertarianism, utilitarianism and egalitarianism) and uses the controversies around pollution transfers and school vouchers to illuminate the debates about these concepts, and to show why those debates matter for public policy. There’s a great analysis of the notorious Larry Summers memo, a chapter which outlines the incredibly intricate “equality of what?” debate and an illuminating chapter about efficiency (which everyone who dares to use the word “effiicent” should be forced to read if only that were efficient). It is one of those unusual books which is great for an undergraduate or graduate class, but which as a professional economist or philosopher you will still learn a good deal from, not only about how to present complex ideas in a lucid manner, but about the ideas and debates themselves. It is also an unusual second edition, in that the authors have actually rewritten the book substantially, rather than just tacking a new chapter on the end and calling it a new edition. Strongly recommended.

The Times Gets a Revamp

by Kieran Healy on April 3, 2006

The “New York Times'”:http://www.nytimes.com/ website just got a new design, and at first glance passes the test of being better-designed than “my homepage”:http://www.u.arizona.edu/~kjhealy. (It had been failing this test for the past five years or so.) As I write this, the new look is set off by a “photograph of Bill Frist”:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/03/us/03frist.html apparently demonstrating the best technique for strangling cats you have “rescued”, but I presume this will not be a permanent feature. My first reaction is that the page is pretty large — it looks like it’s a full 1024 pixels wide, and there’s a lot of stuff squished onto it, too. Too much, really. They could have cut out that right-hand quarter (with all the market/investor garbage) and just stopped the front page at the big six thematic blocks (Arts/World/etc). I’m sure the likes of “John Gruber”:http://daringfireball.net/ or “Cameron Moll”:http://www.cameronmoll.com/ will have more informed things to say.

Lurking in one corner is an ad for “that awful contest”:http://www.nytimes.com/marketing/winatrip/ to Win a Trip with Nick Kristof. I haven’t seen too much comment about this since it launched a few weeks ago, but I know I can’t be the only one to have winced. At present, my favorite candidate to accompany Kristof is Tom Friedman, with Anna Nicole Smith a close second and Christopher Hitchens (belligerently drunk version) trailing in third.

_Update_: On the design, “this scaled-down screenshot”:http://www.subtraction.com/archives/2006/0403_the_awesome_.php (scroll down) of the whole front page confirms that the people who will love this the most are designers with 30-inch monitors (rotated 90 degrees). It’s too wide for my laptop (a current-model iBook). “Gruber likes it”:http://daringfireball.net/linked/2006/april#mon-03-nytimes_design a lot. He thinks it’s “much less crowded than before,” though he also thinks “there’s just way too much there” — so remember, if you are talking to a designer, that word “crowded” doesn’t mean what you think it means.