Monthly Archives: January 2005

More good news

I heard from Elizabeth Dole today (okay, I got a form letter from her, but hey, she really knows how to work that mail-merge function). The letter was in response to the letter I sent her last November. She tells … Continue reading

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The election and our future

So it looks like the Iraqi election went about as well as expected. They expected about 58 percent turnout, and reports of turnout range from 55 to 60 percent. Many predicted that most of the violence would be over by … Continue reading

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The bizarre world of color vision

How do we see things in color? How do we know objects stay the same color when the color of the light they reflect changes as the lighting changes? We see this effect most dramatically in the theater, where the … Continue reading

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Can we get over Marshall McLuhan, already?

Okay, I’m starting to get really sick of the repeated dronings from all around the Internet about how computers are such a different medium from X, Y, or Z. My particular area of expertise is books. I’ve worked in the … Continue reading

Posted in General, Technology | 5 Comments

Spam fighter

I’m trying a new plugin that will disallow comments on posts over 14 days old. It should take effect as soon as this post is made. We’ll see.

Posted in General | 3 Comments

Satire Fridays’ demise?

I love satire. I love writing satire, too — when I’m in the mood. Unfortunately, I haven’t been much in the mood much lately. I really don’t think I should force it, do you? Last week’s example was particularly bad. … Continue reading

Posted in General, Satire | 1 Comment

Is an equal world possible?

We Americans are used to being wealthy. Heck, by global standards, even the poor among us are rich. Where else do the poor have an obesity problem? We’re so wealthy that immigrants sneak across our borders, work jobs so demeaning … Continue reading

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Troxler — and YOU!

Today’s reading delves deep into the visual system, so hold your breath and get ready to dive in. It’s “Sound-aided Recover from and Persistence Against Visual Filling-in” by Bhavin Sheth and Shinsuke Shimojo of Caltech (Vision Research, 2004). I even … Continue reading

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Some pet peeves about blog design

Now that 8 million of us have blogs (sorry, can’t remember where I got that figure), you’d think some of the mysteries of blog design would be sorted out. For example, why does everyone put the goofy little calendar in … Continue reading

Posted in General, Technology | 4 Comments

Should we give up on Roe v. Wade?

Benjamin Wittes argues in this month’s Atlantic (sorry, subscription only, but worth the price) that it’s time to give up on the Roe v. Wade decision. Since Wittes is a pro-lifer, this might come as a bit of a shock. … Continue reading

Posted in Contraception and abortion | 1 Comment

How can we tell where someone is looking?

Today’s reading is “The Influence of Head Contour and Nose Angle on the Perception of Eye-Gaze Direction” by Stephen Langton, Helen Honeyman, and Emma Tessler, of University of Stirling (Perception and Psychophysics, 2004). We’re exceptionally good at telling where someone … Continue reading

Posted in Psychology | 1 Comment

My implicit biases

It turns out, according to the implicit bias test, that I have a “moderate association between male and career.” So, what does this mean? I don’t know. My wife has always had a more “serious” career than me. She makes … Continue reading

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What Larry Summers really needs

As everyone in the blogosphere knows by now, Larry Summers, president of Harvard, stuck his foot in his mouth earlier this week when, at a meeting of college presidents, he suggested that one of the reasons why there are so … Continue reading

Posted in Satire | 2 Comments


I’m going to try a new concept here at Word Munger today: “psychblogging.” I’m working on a book proposal on cognitive psychology, and as I do the research for it, I’ll include my notes here. It’s a little different from … Continue reading

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Is a networked book still a book?

Yesterday I discussed Umberto Eco’s lecture on the future of books from the perspective of whether e-books can replace traditional books. I think Eco rightly distinguishes between “books to read” and “books to consult,” with electronic books to consult likely … Continue reading

Posted in General, Technology | 1 Comment

Umberto Eco and the Future of Books

Michael Lew points to this transcript of a lecture given by Umberto Eco on the future of books a couple years back. He makes some important observations about e-books: [B]y inserting a micro- cassette in the book’s spine or by … Continue reading

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Iron Chef America: The Review

I saw Iron Chef America for the first time last night (Apparently, the New York Times did, too). It was Bobby Flay versus Rick Bayless, two southwestern-style chefs in an epic TV battle. I’ve watched reruns of the original Japanese … Continue reading

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A couple of updates

Happy MLK day, everyone. With the holiday and everything, I wasn’t actually planning on writing today, but the wife is still asleep and the kids are upstairs being quiet, so I do have time to get you up to date … Continue reading

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So let me get this straight…

… The only reason Brad DeLong is opposed to Bush’s Social Security privatization plan is because he’s sure Bush will screw it up somehow. So if someone he trusted more was introducing the legislation, he’d be all for it? To … Continue reading

Posted in General | 2 Comments

What do we value books for?

There are bookstores that sell books by the inch. In the 19th century, many households had faux bookcases, with no books, just the spines. Even today, I have an antique room divider painted with trompe l’oeil books. The New York … Continue reading

Posted in General, Technology | 2 Comments