* Good advice from Jaron Lanier: how to be on the Internet.
* Exactly the sort of thing that appeals to me: bookshelf porn (note: this link is entirely safe for work, unless you have an office that bans employees from looking at books).
* Awesome: In German Suburb, Life Goes On Without Cars.
* Salinger’s toilet up for auction — seriously?. Note that the appendage “seriously?” is from Carolyn Kellogg, although she expresses my sentiments as well.
* I love Slate’s “Bogus Trend Stories of the Week” feature, in which they discuss stories based on questionable or phony numbers, anecdote, moral panic, hysteria, fear mongering, and the like. The best part: cited numbers or statistics often contradict the overall thrust of the stories themselves. Sex often plays a role, as it does in this week’s topic: Child pornography, sextortion, and Chinese hymenoplasties. Samples:
Presented with convincing data, I’m prepared to believe that child porn is growing. But if a Department of Justice report states that the number of offenders is unknown and the quantity of images and videos of child pornography being traded is also unknown, how can anybody say that the distribution of child porn is on the rise?
For the disastrous Russian heat wave has exposed a key failing of Russian society: The flow of information has stopped. There is not a single newspaper that even strives to be national in its coverage. The television is not only controlled by the Kremlin; it is made by the Kremlin for the Kremlin, and it is entirely unsuited to gathering or conveying actual information. Even the Russian blogosphere is bizarrely fragmented: Researchers who “mapped” it discovered that, unlike any other blogosphere in the world, it consists of many non-overlapping circles. People in different walks of life, different professions, and different parts of the country simply do not talk to one another. The same is true of political institutions: Since the Russian government effectively abolished representative democracy, canceling direct elections, there is no reason—and no real mechanism—for Moscow politicians to know what is going on in the vast country. Nor do governors need concern themselves with the lives and the disasters in their regions—they, too, are no longer elected but are appointed by the Kremlin.
Some Americans suffer from information overload; Russians suffer from the opposite.