Via Jeff Atwood, San Francisco-based programmer Tantek Çelik's definition of Email as "Efail:"
All forms of communication where you have to expend time and energy on communicating with a specific person (anything that has a notion of "To" in the interface that you have to fill in) are doomed to fail at some limit. If you are really good you might be able to respond to dozens (some claim hundreds) of individual emails a day but at some point you will simply be spending all your time writing email rather than actually "working" on any thing in particular (next-actions or projects, e.g. coding, authoring, drawing, enjoying your life etc.) and will thus experience a productivity failure. The obvious solution is to push as much 1:1 communication into 1:many or 1:all forms such as public blogs and wikis. ...
think two specific reasons in combination account for most of the problem. [First,] point to point communications do not scale. ...
The second reason that I think email is becoming a worse and worse problem is directly due to its higher usability barrier, that is: Emails tend to be bloated with too many details and different topics.
Essay by Liar's Poker author Michael Lewis, in December's Conde Nast Portfolio:
In the two decades since , I had been waiting for the end of Wall Street. The outrageous bonuses, the slender returns to shareholders, the never-ending scandals, the bursting of the internet bubble, the crisis following the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management: Over and over again, the big Wall Street investment banks would be, in some narrow way, discredited. Yet they just kept on growing, along with the sums of money that they doled out to 26-year-olds to perform tasks of no obvious social utility. The rebellion by American youth against the money culture never happened. Why bother to overturn your parents' world when you can buy it, slice it up into tranches, and sell off the pieces?
Via Calculated Risk, Merriam-Webster has declared "bailout" its word of the year:
The word "bailout," which shot to prominence amid the financial meltdown, was looked up so often at Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary that the publisher says it was an easy choice for its 2008 Word of the Year.
The rest of the list is not exactly cheerful. It also includes "trepidation," "precipice" and "turmoil."
"There's something about the national psyche right now that is looking up words that seem to suggest fear and anxiety," said John Morse, president of Springfield-based Merriam-Webster.
Because the ParkerCam just isn't enough for some people, I commend to you the Puppy Cam. Yes, they are adorable, I have to admit. And more technologically advanced: live, streaming video vs. a once-a-minute static JPEG. But I have no idea who these puppies are. They might even be Communists, or worse, the way they're all in one bed together like that.
Via James Fallows, a profile of Dogfish Head Brewery (and other extreme beers):
Dogfish makes some very fine beers, [Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett] Oliver says. But its reputation has been built on ales like its 120 Minute I.P.A., one of the strongest beers of its kind in the world. I.P.A. stands for India pale ale, an especially hoppy British style first made in the eighteenth century for the long sea voyage to the subcontinent. (Hops are a natural preservative as well as a flavoring.) A typical I.P.A. has six per cent alcohol and forty I.B.U.s—brewers’ parlance for international bittering units. [Dogfish brewmaster Sam] Calagione’s version has eighteen per cent alcohol and a hundred and twenty I.B.U.s. It’s brewed for two hours, with continuous infusions of hops, then fermented with still more hops. “I don’t find it pleasant to drink,” Oliver says. “I find it unbalanced and shrieking.”
Others find it thrilling. “When you’re trying to create new brewing techniques and beer styles, you have to have a certain recklessness,” Jim Koch, whose Boston Beer Company brews Samuel Adams, and who coined the term “extreme beer,” told me. “Sam has that. He’s fearless, but he’s also got a good palate. He doesn’t put stuff into beer that doesn’t deserve to be there.”
Long read from the New Yorker, with the magazine's usual wordiness, but interesting. And it's making me thirsty.
...Citibank just emailed me a notice that all of my deposits are protected by the FDIC. I wonder why they're telling me now?
More: Via Paul Krugman, an informed rundown of what this means:
Apparently Citibank and the U.S. government (i.e., we taxpayers) have reached a deal whereby we will backstop something like $300-billion in screwed assets on Citi's balance sheet. ... Here is the gist:
- Citi will carve out $300-billion in troubled assets, which will remain on its balance sheet
- The first $37-$40-billion in losses on those assets will go to Citi
- The next $5-billion in losses will hit Treasury
- The next $10-billion in losses will go to the FDIC
- Any more losses will go to the Fed
- There will be no management changes at Citi, because, you know, they are all fine and upstanding people who have done nothing wrong
- There will be some compensation limitations, but those have not yet been made clear
To be clear, this is not a "bad bank" model. Assets are not, apparently, being taken off the Citi balance sheet and put into another entity walled off from the Citi biological host. Instead, they are being left on the Citi balance sheet, but tagged and bagged for eventual disposal via taxpayers.
Biggest...bank...in the world...and we're stuck with the Administration that opened our veins for another 57 days.
Josh Marshall: "One country cannot stand a once in a century economic crisis, two wars and Norm Coleman. We have limits."
Parker and I walked past the Lincoln Park Zoo a few minutes ago, just as an ambulance passed by. The wolves in the zoo answered the ambulance. We had to stop and listen. Very cool.
Beloit College professors Tom McBride and Ron Nief annually compile a list of assumptions that first-years bring with them based solely on the year of their birth. It's fascinating:
This month [August 2008], almost 2 million first-year students will head off to college campuses around the country. Most of them will be about 18 years old, born in 1990 when headlines sounded oddly familiar to those of today: Rising fuel costs were causing airlines to cut staff and flight schedules; Big Three car companies were facing declining sales and profits; and a president named Bush was increasing the number of troops in the Middle East in the hopes of securing peace. However, the mindset of this new generation of college students is quite different from that of the faculty about to prepare them to become the leaders of tomorrow.
The class of 2012 has grown up in an era where computers and rapid communication are the norm, and colleges no longer trumpet the fact that residence halls are “wired” and equipped with the latest hardware. These students will hardly recognize the availability of telephones in their rooms since they have seldom utilized landlines during their adolescence. They will continue to live on their cell phones and communicate via texting. Roommates, few of whom have ever shared a bedroom, have already checked out each other on Facebook where they have shared their most personal thoughts with the whole world.
For these students, Sammy Davis Jr., Jim Henson, Ryan White, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Freddy Krueger have always been dead.
- Harry Potter could be a classmate, playing on their Quidditch team.
- Since they were in diapers, karaoke machines have been annoying people at parties.
- They have always been looking for Carmen Sandiego.
- GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
- Coke and Pepsi have always used recycled plastic bottles.
...and 55 others that will make you say, "huh."
After tooling around other years' lists, I say: Xers unite! (As if...)
I have a Daily Dilbert desk calendar. Here is today's strip:
Had to share.