A Heapin’ Pot of…

Observation StewNo, I’m not talking about the proposal from AEA. Rather, over the last two weeks I’ve accumulated a lot of links, none of which I can coherently theme. So we’re going to do a “refrigerator soup” of links. Let’s dig in…

  • Doing Right in Alabama. Alabama has been in the news of late, both for the anniversary of what happened in Selma, and for the actions of the Supreme Court of Alabama with respect to Gay Marriage. Gay Marriage is one of the fronts of today’s civil rights battles, and yet again in Alabama a synagogue is leading the way. Here’s an interesting story about a Reform synagogue in Alabama that opened its doors to any gay marriage when the courthouses refused, and when the churches refused.
  • What is Blue? We’ve all heard about a certain dress that has been in the news. The debate has been about color, and color is an interesting thing. We talk about colors (and sounds) as if they are fixed things, when in reality they are just perceptions — there is no guarantee that what I think of as “green” is the same thing you think of as “green”. What is even more interesting is how language shapes color. Here’s an interesting article on that: We didn’t have “blue” until modern times. The notion is that we didn’t have a word for “blue” until recently, and without the word, it wasn’t perceived as a distinct color at all. Don’t believe me? What color is light in the UV range? Can you name the different shades of UV light? Does something exist if you can’t name it?
  • CSI:Cyber? Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down? A new show premiered last week: CSI:Cyber. I watched it, and I wasn’t that impressed. I never got into CSI:NY or CSI:Miami — they were overly focused on style, and lost the focus on story and substance. I felt the same way with CSI:Cyber — all style, and the substance was technically wrong. I prefer Scorpion if I want a technical non-realistic procedural. But who am I to talk? Here is what 10 other real cybersecurity experts think about CSI:Cyber.
  • What We Don’t Know, Gwyneth Paltrow. For all we think we know about the body, we really don’t know anything. We all know what we think of as bodily organs, without realizing that our skin is an organ, our blood is essentially an organ, and our vascular system is an organ. We worried about germs and tried to become sterile, and are the worse off for it because of our microbiomes (which probably have a greater role in obesity than we realized). Here’s an interesting article on another organ: the fascia. Gwyneth Paltrow brought this to our attention, and although she got the science wrong, she got the concept right — and this yet another organ we missed, and one that may be resposible for a lot of our chronic pains.
  • New Treatment for Migraines. I’m a migraine sufferer. When I’m dealing with a sequence of migraines, I’ll grab at anything. Last time I was in a sequence, I noticed this article about a new migraine treatment under study — image-guided, intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) blocks. I’ve always thought there was a connection to the sinuses. Quite interesting, and potentially promising.
  • Printing Yiddish. My daughter is a Yiddish scholar; as a result, articles about Yiddish catch my eye. Here’s an interesting article about a dying breed: a yiddish printer who still uses hot lead. This printer rescues old Yiddish letterpresses and uses them to print Yiddish books. You’re probably thinking that printing is printing. But Yiddish printing is more complex: “For the Forverts, and other Yiddish printers, the challenge was to set up the type right to left from a machine designed to go the other way. They did this by tricking out the keyboards and producing fonts that had notches in the right side rather than the left, which was standard. This was effective, but meant that no normal linotype could use them. So, during the drastic linotype cull of the 1970s, Yiddish fonts were the first victims because they were unusable in almost any machine that remained alive.”
  • Saving the Skymall. One last pair of articles for this serving. We’ve talked about saving the printers for a dying language. How about a dying catalog. Here are two articles on Skymall. The first looks at the company that made all of those offbeat products that the catalog made famous. These are the folks that came up with the garden Yeti. Design Toscano releases 300 to 400 items a year, a huge portion of which are designed from scratch by the company’s creative director. One of their main outlets was the Skymall, which is going away. But is it? It looks like Skymall is coming back. ScottVest, a former SkyMall advertiser, has plans to resurrect the company, but with a different business model. “We’re going to include items in the magazine that people actually want to buy”. What a novel concept?!? Of course, we all know that wasn’t the reason Skymall really died.  It was obsolecence of the catalog model. Or was it corporate raiders. In any case, it doesn’t appear to be selling things people didn’t want to buy.