Culture Making is now archived. Enjoy five years of reflections on culture worth celebrating.
For more about the book and Andy Crouch, please visit andy-crouch.com.

Nate:
a more than 95 theses post by Alan Jacobs



Edge-notched cards were invented in 1896. These are index cards with holes on their edges, which can be selectively slotted to indicate traits or categories, or in our language today, to act as a field. Before the advent of computers were one of the few ways you could sort large databases for more than one term at once.

Andy:
from "American Murder Mystery", by Hanna Rosin, Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2008

Falling crime rates have been one of the great American success stories of the past 15 years. New York and Los Angeles, once the twin capitals of violent crime, have calmed down significantly, as have most other big cities. Criminologists still debate why: the crack war petered out, new policing tactics worked, the economy improved for a long spell. Whatever the alchemy, crime in New York, for instance, is now so low that local prison guards are worried about unemployment.

Lately, though, a new and unexpected pattern has emerged, taking criminologists by surprise. While crime rates in large cities stayed flat, homicide rates in many midsize cities (with populations of between 500,000 and 1 million) began increasing, sometimes by as much as 20percent a year. In 2006, the Police Executive Research Forum, a national police group surveying cities from coast to coast, concluded in a report called “A Gathering Storm” that this might represent “the front end … of an epidemic of violence not seen for years.” The leaders of the group, which is made up of police chiefs and sheriffs, theorized about what might be spurring the latest crime wave: the spread of gangs, the masses of offenders coming out of prison, methamphetamines. But mostly they puzzled over the bleak new landscape. According to FBI data, America’s most dangerous spots are now places where Martin Scorsese would never think of staging a shoot-out—Florence, South Carolina; Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; Reading, Pennsylvania; Orlando, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee.

Memphis has always been associated with some amount of violence. But why has Elvis’s hometown turned into America’s new South Bronx? Barnes thinks he knows one big part of the answer, as does the city’s chief of police. A handful of local criminologists and social scientists think they can explain it, too. But it’s a dismal answer, one that city leaders have made clear they don’t want to hear. It’s an answer that offers up racial stereotypes to fearful whites in a city trying to move beyond racial tensions. Ultimately, it reaches beyond crime and implicates one of the most ambitious antipoverty programs of recent decades.

a Boing Boing post by David Pescovitz, 11 June 2008

We’ve posted previously about the turfwars that can develop between pets and home robots. Today’s Wall Street Journal surveys the battleground in a feature titled “When Dogs and Robots Collide, Somebody Needs A Talking To.” From the WSJ:

According to Daphna Nachminovitch of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, introducing robots into a pet household should be done with care. “There’s no way to explain to them that this is not a threat,” she says…

Sympathetic owners sometimes just retire their new purchases. In other cases, the pets take matters into their own paws. Peter Haney, a university administrator in Lethbridge, Alberta, twice found his Roomba in pieces after letting it clean while his flat-coated retrievers, Macleod and Tima, had the run of the house. “No one is talking,” he says…

“It comes up constantly,” says Nancy Dussault Smith, a spokeswoman for iRobot Corp., in Bedford, Mass., which makes the Roomba. “Dogs, cats, all animals, they have their own personalities, so they all react differently to the robots.”

IRobot tested its Roomba designs with pets, she added, incorporating safety measures in the motorized disc-shaped cleaner such as automatic deactivation when it is flipped over or sat on.

via Boing Boing
Nate:
by Nate Barksdale for Culture Making

The United Nations Environment Program has just launched this Google map-enabled site with before/after satellite images showing environmental change over the past few decades: cities grow, forests are converted to farmland, glaciers shrink. We’re making something of the world, both for better and for worse.

Nate:

A major Iranian state-owned company has told its single employees to get married by September or face losing their jobs, the press reported on Tuesday. “One of the economic entities in the south of the country has asked its single employees to start creating a family,” the hard-line Kayhan daily reported.

Nate:
a Boing Boing post by Mark Frauenfelder, 10 June 2008

200806100851.jpg

Readers of Todd Lappin’s Telstar Logistics blog are entitled to a free copy of the fantastic reader-made travel magazine, Everywhere.

Everywhere is a travel magazine that’s created from articles and photographs contributed by members of the online community at everywheremag.com. The community votes on their favorite contributions, then Telstar Logistics fleet management officer Todd Lappin (who also moonlights as the editor-in-chief of Everywhere) curates the best of the best to produce an inspiring travel magazine that looks fabulous on your coffee table or personal jet. Published contributors receive $100 and a free one-year subscription.

Link

Nate:
www.boston.com

In the 2004 movie “The Butterfly Effect”  - we watched it so you don’t have to - Ashton Kutcher travels back in time, altering his troubled childhood in order to influence the present, though with dismal results. In 1990’s “Havana,” Robert Redford, a math-wise gambler, tells Lena Olin, “A butterfly can flutter its wings over a flower in China and cause a hurricane in the Caribbean. They can even calculate the odds.”

Such borrowings of Lorenz’s idea might seem authoritative to unsuspecting viewers, but they share one major problem: They get his insight precisely backwards. The larger meaning of the butterfly effect is not that we can readily track such connections, but that we can’t.

Nate:
Boing Boing


Robbo sez, “Stunning photos of the Earth and the Moon taken from Mars by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.Akin to the seminal Earth rise photos from Apollo 8 in 1968 - these images made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.That’s us out there.”Link(Thanks, Robbo!

Nate:
a Boing Boing post by Mark Frauenfelder, 9 June 2008

Kevin Kelly says:

  Warren Buffett recently bet an ambitious hedge fund operator $1 million that they won’t beat the returns of S&P 500 after their extremely hefty fees are accounted for. Buffett claims investors will do as well with a no-load index fund over the ten years of the bet. He has long been critical of the performance claims of hedge funds, and his bet is intended to put his money where his mouth is.

Buffett’s million dollar bet was made on Long Bets, the accountability mechanism founded in 2002 by Stewart Brand and myself, and operated by Long Now Foundation. The intention of Long Bets is to encourage responsibility in prediction-making (by keeping a public roster of predictions), to encourage long-term thinking (by offering a opportunity to shape a long-term bet), and to sharpen the logic of forecasting (by recording the logic of predictions and bets.)

In order to make a Long Bet, bettors need to lay out their reasoning. It’s worth reading the two sides’ very short arguments about investing because the two extremes of investment advice are contrasted in them. Buffett, as usual, is stunningly clear in his argument, which ends:

A number of smart people are involved in running hedge funds. But to a great extent their efforts are self-neutralizing, and their IQ will not overcome the costs they impose on investors. Investors, on average and over time, will do better with a low-cost index fund than with a group of funds of funds.

Link

Nate:
a kottke.org post, 8 June 2008

A video clip of La Paz, Bolivia’s crossing guard zebras, the Cebra Voluntaria. Traffic in La Paz is so dangerous that its mayor started a program to have youths dressed as zebras help people across the city’s busiest intersections. From the recent issue of Monocle:

It doesn’t get much busier than La Paz’s Plaza San Francisco of a Friday afternoon. Two zebras stand on the curb chatting with a teenage girl. Then something remarkable happens: the traffic light turns red, and at the sight of the zebras, the cars actually stop. One driver, however, is a little slow and the nose of his car is left hanging over the crossing. One of the zebras skips over to the offending car and mimes pushing it backwards. Then he continues skipping across to the other side of the street.

(link)

Nate:

Steve Gifford has found a bright side to living next to an eyesore—in his case, Congo’s former embassy. In exchange for Gifford and his partner spending $200 a month cutting the grass and cleaning up, Congo granted that most elusive of city perks: parking in the embassy’s driveway. “Everybody wins,” Gifford said.

Driven by a shared dissatisfaction with South Korea’s rigid educational system, parents in rapidly expanding numbers are seeking to give their children an edge by helping them become fluent in English while sparing them, and themselves, the stress of South Korea’s notorious educational pressure cooker.

More than 40,000 South Korean schoolchildren are believed to be living outside South Korea with their mothers in what experts say is an outgrowth of a new era of globalized education.

I am by most measures a pretty deeply committed Christian. I am quite active in my church; I teach at a Christian college; I have written extensively in support of Christian ideas and belief. Yet when I ask myself how much of what I do and think is driven by my religious beliefs, the honest answer is “not so much.” The books I read, the food I eat, the music I listen to, my hobbies and interests, the thoughts that occupy my mind throughout the greater part of every day—these are, if truth be told, far less indebted to my Christianity than to my status as a middle-aged, middle-class American man.

—Alan Jacobs, Wall Street Journal op-ed

When a great number of motorcycle functions are regulated by microelectronic rather than mechanical devices, the thoughtful inspection and tuning of the cycle beside a shady curbstone in Miles City, Montana, will have become a thing of the past. They will be impossible and unnecessary. A call for caring makes sense only within a reform proposal that recognizes and fruitfully counters the technological tendency to disburden and disengage us from the care of things.

—Albert Borgmann on the limits of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

The quotations, images, and embedded media in this blog are the work of the credited authors, artists, and publications, and are employed in the spirit of fair use, commentary, and criticism. We always link to the original source of material we cite. If you think we’ve missed something, let us know. The inclusion of media on this site should not imply its owners’ endorsement (or for that matter awareness) of this book, blog, or the blog’s curators and commentators. Though we hope they’d like us.

I can’t recall a time when I’ve had to read anything other than the Scriptures so slowly and deliberately—Culture Making was that thought provoking.


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Ben, professor of management
living in Winneconne, Wisconsin

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