An interesting linguistic cartogram from Strange Maps today. The most common language in Ireland is English. Then Gaelic. But what language do you think is third? Guess before you click though.


I was chatting with my wife about this great article I’d read about how to teach your kids to argue and she asked, “Can I just search your blog for the link?” Of course, I hadn’t blogged it.

Obviously I have not been keeping up with my commitment to myself to post something here every day. I promise to do better on that. There are tons of cool things to talk about.

Anyway, back to that article. I was telling Laura how it covered the three basic tools of argument, Ethos, Logos, and Porthos. And she asked, “Was this article about arguing or about The Three Musketeers?”

Hey, I thought it was funny.


There are several tabs in my browser that have been sitting out there waiting to be noted for a while. I think I saw most of them on Kottke, but at this point I’m not sure. If he didn’t post them, I’m sure it was just an oversight on his part!

First of all there is a new series of articles by Errol Morris in the NY Times called “Bamboozling Ourselves“. In the past he’s written in the Times about some famous photos from the Crimean and US Civil Wars. Now he’s moved on to paintings, and in particular, forged paintings. If you recall, one of the photos he wrote about previously was “forged” in a way, so Morris hasn’t changed his focus, just his medium. Morris uses art forgery to explore why folks ignore all sorts of red flags that would normally tell them not believe something. In this specific case, he looks at why the most preeminent art historians of the late 1930’s believed that some incredibly kitchy — and Nazi-inspired — paintings were actually painted by Vermeer.

Secondly, there were several articles on introverts that various folks have linked to. The most interesting is “Caring for Your Introvert,” from The Atlantic. There were also a few posts on introverted travelers and traveling. Now, I’d like to believe that I’m one of the noble introverts portrayed in these pieces, but I’m afraid the truth is that I’m just anti-social.

Finally, there is an incredible article in the New Yorker about huge differences in the amount spent on medical care in different cities. The example, the cost of health care  is twice as high in McAllen, TX than it is in El Paso, at the other end of the Texas/Mexico border. After considering and discarding a whole bunch of possible reasons for this disparity, Dr. Atul Gawande, the author of the article, presents an extremely compelling argument as to what the real cause is and what we need to learn from the situation. I do find it hopeful that Peter Orszag, the White House Budget Director, has taken to quoting Dr. Gawande’s article to help explain why the Obama administration is bothering with health care reform during a time when so many other things need attention.

  • The Atlantic: What Makes Us Happy? Back in the late 30’s, the founder of the Grants dime store chain wondered why scientists and doctors studied sick people instead of studying healthy, well-adjusted people. He thought there would be far more to learn from someone who was successfully navigating life than from someone failing at it. So he funded a study that selected 268 of the most “normal young men” at Harvard. That study is still going today — with about half of the men still alive in their late 80’s — and has provided an incredible amount of information on practically every aspect of human life. And of course, despite the best intentions of the study’s founders, very few of the men turned out to be “normal”. Over a third had psychiatric trouble, including 10% with severe problems. On the other hand, four of the men ran for Senate. One was a best-selling novelist. And one grew up to be President.
  • Posnanski: I’m Getting to That Part. So apparently Joe and his wife argue about which of them their four-year-old takes after. Each of them arguing that she takes after the other parent. Apparently she’s quite the character.
  • Consumer Reports: ShamWow Testing! With video! At least it’s good for drying off your pet. We’ve been using our clone ShamWow to dry up some other stuff our incontinent pet has made. All I’ll say is that that it definitely works for that too.
  • GCBL: Lessons from Germany’s Rust Belt. Ralf Ebert is part of the group that’s working to repurpose old industrial sites in the Ruhr Valley. The main lesson they’ve learned seems to be to pick your battles and focus on certain specific efforts.
  • Wednesday Chef: April in Paris. Luisa takes a short trip to Paris and returns with these wonderful words and pictures.
  • Posnanski: Come on, That’s Not Real! Joe comes up with a highly believable story to explain how a photo of the new Collegiate Snuggies might have come to be.
  • How to be a successful evil overlord. A lot of folks have pointed at this, and I finally got around to reading it. I’ll have to keep this stuff in mind.
  • Philadelphia Daily News: Rethinking Philadelphia. A very nice package of stories on — you guessed it — how to move Philly to a more successful future. The Daily News collaborated on this effort with a group called Plan Philly, which works on this kind of stuff full time.
  • GreenCityBlueLake: Roundup. A boatload of great information in this little post. I’m particularly intrigued by the Citizen Dashboard Project. It looks like Marc Canter (the guy who developed what ended up as Flash Player) is behind this. I think that places like Cleveland really need a kick in the pants on this kind of thing. There’s a lot of sitting around waiting for large organizations to get organized. Not happening quickly enough.
  • The Urbanophile. Cleveland: What’s Wrong? Huge post by a guy who’s never been to Cleveland (it sounds like he’s from Indy), but is very interested in figuring out why Cleveland (and Detroit) are doing so much worse than other midwestern cities. Lots of extremely insightful comments from Clevelanders and non-Clevelanders.
  • The Telegraph: Bacon Sandwich Really Does Cure a Hangover. No, really!