Darren Barefoot
Darren Barefoot


Thinking Chaos, Thinking Fences

This is for those who descend into the code
and make their room a fridge for Superman

August 29, 2003

I look forward to a new official biography of Douglas Adams coming out in October. Via that news piece, I found a well-done summary of his memorial ceremony. It includes an excellent speech by Richard Dawkins about Adams. Dawkins offers, among other gems, this excellent Adams quote: 'If you try to take a cat apart, to see how it works, the first thing you'll have on your hands is a non-working cat.' I should mention, too, the most excellent Adams book that few(er) people have read, Last Chance to See. It's a hilarious, poignant tale of his search for the world's most endangered species.

12:17:35 PM  Permanent link to this entry    Trackback []    Books Science

This meme is on the way out, but I thought a follow-up was in order. Back in May, I wrote about PowerPoint and referenced Edward Tufte's essay The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint. Wired recently published an excerpt from the essay with the less brainy title 'PowerPoint is Evil':

At a minimum, a presentation format should do no harm. Yet the PowerPoint style routinely disrupts, dominates, and trivializes content. Thus PowerPoint presentations too often resemble a school play -very loud, very slow, and very simple.

The practical conclusions are clear. PowerPoint is a competent slide manager and projector. But rather than supplementing a presentation, it has become a substitute for it. Such misuse ignores the most important rule of speaking: Respect your audience.

10:25:06 AM  Permanent link to this entry    Trackback []    Technology

A great collection of pulp fiction book covers. They've been turned into postcards by some enterprising soul. I particularly like the romantic/erotic ones such as Naked on Roller Skates and (the downright surreal) Virgin with Butterflies. Courtesy of Coudal Partners.

10:14:12 AM  Permanent link to this entry    Trackback []    Books The Arts

On Crooked Timber, Brian is teaching a course in time travel and has some fascinating thoughts on time travel movies:

In Back to the Future in 1985 the first time around George works for Biff, and the second time around, after Marty has changed the past, Biff works for George. So this is a violation of the one-dimensionality principle. I had always assumed that the movie could be made sense of on a ‘branching time’ model. Indeed in the second movie that’s exactly the kind of model they say they are using.

He talks extensively about the Back to the Future (and don't miss the excellent comments as well). Where was this course when I was in university?

9:43:33 AM  Permanent link to this entry    Trackback []    Movies

A while back I theorized (with chart) about the varying weights of urban, suburban and rural citizens. Bree has linked to a study that verifies my theories:

Americans who live in the most sprawling counties tend to weigh 6 more pounds than their counterparts in the most compact areas. Adding to the sprawl concern: Pedestrians and bicyclists are much more likely to be killed by passing cars here than in parts of Europe where cities are engineered to encourage physical activity - and whose residents typically are skinnier and live longer than the average American.

She also has some interesting thoughts on growing up in the suburbs.

9:34:43 AM  Permanent link to this entry    Trackback []    Politics