• Crayon Physics Deluxe is out! Been waiting for this one for a while. It’s a great concept implemented pretty well. It’s fun to think of the simplest and also the most interesting ways to solve the levels. I’ve been getting into the “physics games” (as Ned calls them) lately. Making good progress on World of Goo. By the way, I didn’t know there was a level builder for Goo. Cool.
  • Wednesday Chef: Soto Ayam (Indonesian Chicken Soup with Noodles and Aromatics). A recipe from and response to this NY Times article: From Asia, Rapture in a Bowl.
  • Volokh: Dora Costa and Matthew Kahn, professors at UCLA, are guest-blogging this week about their new book Heroes and Cowards: The Social Face of War. They had been intrigued by Harvard prof Robert Putnam’s famous article (and later, book) Bowling Alone, which demonstrates a significant drop in social engagement and social networking since the 60’s. Costa and Kahn wondered how things had come to be this way. First they explored whether people had less time for social engagement because more women were in the workforce. This turns out not to look like the case. But while they were investigating this, they came across a lot of economic research that showed pretty disturbingly that “people are less likely to be ‘good citizens’ when they live in more diverse communities,” (i.e. cities). Anyway, in a massive bit of insight, Costa and Kahn realized that the soldiers fighting in and then returning from the Civil War were an extremely diverse community with uncommonly good data recorded about them and could be used to see how social networking actually functions. Their new book is about their research into this data. Here are some of the questions about “good citizenship” they try to answer:

When are people willing to sacrifice for the common good? What are the benefits of friendship? How do communities deal with betrayal? And what are the costs and benefits of being in a diverse community?

 

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