I’m not a doctor but I still want to save lives

I just recalled one of my favorite quotes from anyone: Ricky Moody in an interview with the Times Book Review stated his aspiration to “save lives” with his fiction. After all, why shoot for anything less?

I still want short stories to save lives. I want people to feel about the short story the way they feel about “Strawberry Fields Forever” by the Beatles, like their lives were changed by it in some way. And that requires I think a real commitment to dealing with . . . you know, the human passions and not being . . . not feeling that that’s in some way uncool.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-27

  • Why President Obama should have never said that he "hated the bank bailout": #
  • I would trade legislative transparency for a health care bill. I've read Eating Animals. I don't want to see how it's made! #
  • Thinking about social media as a return to a pre-literate and not desirable age. #
  • Getting ready for game time—Let's go, Team Canada! #
  • Know any students interested in journalism and technology? We're looking for an intern: #
  • Pulling the goalie with a one-goal deficit just seems stupid to me. I've seen it fail three times in the Olympics and succeed none. #

Why Obama was wrong to say he hated the bailout

As anyone who discussed Obama’s State of the Union address with me knows, I absolutely hated the speech’s opening in which Obama expressed his own hatred for the bank bailout. I hated it because Obama’s words seemed to me so, so untrue—or at least they should be untrue if he’s at all listened to the economists who surround him—so full of populist pandering. I was glad to hear David Frum echo this point on Marketplace a few days ago, arguing that it the problem isn’t just a lack of conviction but the fact that that absence of conviction will handcuff the government when it comes to pushing any sort of difficult, currently unpopular long-term policy.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-20

  • Why underdogs risk more in competition: #
  • "[GDP] measures everything . . . except that which makes life worthwhile." -R.F.K. #
  • Getting ready for South Africa: "A World Cup is the sort of common project that otherwise barely exists in modern societies." #
  • I think I'm going to read Patti Smith's "Just Kids" and Edmund White's "Rimbaud" as a pair. #
  • Listen to the new K's Choice single, "Come Live the Life": #

Why do drugstores and gas stations appear in clusters?

Marketplace covered the acquisition of Duane Reade by Walgreens and suggested that drugstores in New York are on nearly every corner because consumers seek convenience. That’s true, but to really understand why they are all over, you need to understand a little game theory. Presh over at Mind Your Decisions has a very simple explanation of why competing gas stations are found across the street from each other and, similarly, why political candidates tend to be centrists.

Listen to the new K’s Choice single “Come Live the Life”

One of my favorite albums, which I discovered by chance at FNAC ten years ago, is Almost Happy by K’s Choice. The brother and sister duo broke up and is now back together, releasing their first album since. It’s called Echo Mountain and its first single is called “Come Life the Life.” I heard the band’s lead singer, Sarah Bettens, perform it live on Tuesday in San Francisco. I’ll be posting more about her show shortly. For now, enjoy the new single:

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-13

  • Of course, pubs stagger release dates. If you want the cheaper, more portable edition, you gotta wait. Why should ebooks be any different? #
  • Why would I ever vote for a gubernatorial candidate who wants to run California like a business? #
  • "In what way do technological systems have moral characteristics?" #
  • Anyone know how to search tweets from only people you follow? #
  • Techies, pay attention: "…our greatest challenge now is the decision not to do what it is in our power to do." –Jedediah Purdy #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-06

  • Why isn't the Twitterverse reviving the #amazonfail chorus over the bookseller's dropping all Macmillan titles? #
  • Is Amazon nudging people to do the right thing and buy from independent bookstores?! #
  • Amazon/Macmillan standoff is over. Now, stop licensing eBooks to readers and start selling them! #
  • Why haven't many people pointed out that the iPad can handle epub, PDF, and Kindle–all the ebook formats! #
  • An excellent, long interview with DFW: #
  • "…sending and getting…updates to and from dozens…of people every few minutes is an image from information hell." #
  • "Any journalist who cheerleads uncritically for Twitter is essentially asking for his own destruction." #

Awesome, heartbreaking David Foster Wallace interview from 2003

Get ready to give 90 minutes of your life right now.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-01-30

  • A few photos from the GF1 of @josepharthur at @rickshawstopsf on Tuesday: #
  • The Formula For Perfect Parallel Parking…fun, but no help to this parker. -More at #
  • These coaches' challenges seem like a bad idea! #
  • I feel like I felt in 2006 while rooting for Zidane in the World Cup final, hoping Favre can still win this one after his mistake. #
  • How do people not understand the necessity of the AIG bailout? Who are these people?!? Are they human, much less American? #
  • That was a very good speech. Now, how about some results—and by results I mean universal health care not pandering economic rhetoric? #
  • Point by @CBSNews about how the Internet has trained people to be terribly impatient and that impatience shapes public policy for the worse. #
  • Re Chris Matthews: Who knows what sort of productive conversations we could have, as a society, if people were allowed to mention race! #
  • Salinger gone. Don't ever tell anybody anything. #
  • Why opinions about the Apple iPad are meaningless: @COOLERebook, I'm looking at you and your empty, rhetorical retweets #
  • Newsday spent $4MM to put up a pay wall last fall. In three months, only 35 readers paid for access. #
  • RT @NewYorker: Dave Eggers remembers JD Salinger: #salinger #
  • "…what struck me most was how wounded they were with…all the thorny emotion of life, of the world." #

Responses to Salinger

Over at the New Republic, Gish Jen asks, Why Do People Love Catcher in the Rye?

Meanwhile, the New Yorker’s Book Bench blog has collected remembrances and responses from several people, including Wes Anderson, Dave Eggers, and Joshua Feriss. The New Yorker’s Lillian Ross has also unearthed some photos she took of Salinger during the 1960s.

James Barron, who often lends his voice to the Times’ daily Front Page podcast, goes over the New York sites from Catcher in the Rye on the City Room blog.

The Guardian has a good roundup of other coverage.

News from New York bookstores

Vanishing New York collects some news on a shake-up in Manhattan bookstores: Biography Bookshop in the West Village, which you might know because it’s across the street from Magnolia, is moving. Left Bank Books, which has a wonderful selection of collectible and signed editions. Finally, Skyline Books in Chelsea is closing.

Why the iPad buzz doesn’t matter

A lot of people are saying a lot of things about the iPad. It’s revolutionary! It’s too compromised to be useful! It lacks important features like a phone, multitasking, camera, Flash support, etc. What’s certain to me is that the reactions—pro and con—are pretty much meaningless right now. I was trying to think last night about previous Apple product launches and how I felt about them. As I recall, there have been two Apple products in the past ten years that, when introduced, immediately prompted me to say, I want that! One was the Titanium PowerBook in at MacWorld in 2001 and the other was the iPod with video in 2005. Both products were updates to existing product lines. In the case of the PowerBook, it added a design unlike any other that I had seen before. In the case of the iPod, I thought that video would be a great feature that was worth waiting for. (Everyone knew it was coming once Apple had introduced the iPod Photo.) But here’s the thing, I’ve ended up not using the video feature at all during the past four years, really. I watched one movie on a plane once, and that was it. It wasn’t until I got an iPod Touch with a larger screen and better battery life that I really bothered to use an iPod to watch video.

The greater point here is that no one disputes that the iPod and iPhone were both game-changers—products that people now love and that redefined Apple as a company and a brand. I can safely say that when they launched, I didn’t want either one. I didn’t have anywhere close to enough of my music in MP3 format to make the iPod useful, and it was expensive too! The iPhone was even more expensive when it launched, and I remember thinking that there was no way I would get one because it would never handle email as well as my BlackBerry did. Of course, I did eventually get one, and it still doesn’t handle email as well as my five-year-old BlackBerry. But I don’t care because it does so many other things that I value. I can read the newspaper—several newspapers—in formats that are actually useable! I can listen to Internet radio. I can listen to live baseball games. I can listen to NPR on demand. I can browse the web. I can read stories from the web that I started reading on my laptop. In short, I can do a lot of things that I either didn’t know I wanted to do or whose value wasn’t properly contextualized for me until I actually had and lived with the device for a while.

I’m not saying that the iPad will succeed, but I am suggesting that the factors by which people are predicting its success or failure are, more than likely, incorrect because they are captive to our previous experiences. Who knows that developers will come up with for the device? Who knows what features a second or third generation update might add? Who even knows what it’s like to live with an iPad in your bag or on your desk for even a week? If anyone can take a product for which I feel I had no need and make it desirable, it’s Steve Jobs and Apple. As usual, I’ll be rooting for them. More →

How to recover erased .RW2 and other RAW files from SDHC cards

I recently lost all my GF1 photos from my SDHC card. After shooting about 70 photos, I put the card in a USB reader and it appeared to be empty on my computer. There are several free programs that will recover JPEG images from cameras’ memory cards, but recover RAW files—especially those from non-Canon/Nikon cameras—can be a little more difficult. Fortunately, there’s a free, open source program, PhotoRec, that will recover your deleted image files. You should note that once your files have been deleted, you should not continue to shoot any photos with the card in your camera. Any additional photos may overwrite the deleted photos that you want to recover.

Joseph Arthur at Rickshaw Stop or the GF1 and concert photography

I took my GF1 to a show by Joseph Arthur earlier this week, and although the noise at 1600 ISO is considerably higher than that of any dSLR, it held up reasonably well. I also tested out Panasonic’s EVF live viewfinder for the first time. Unfortunately, it is small, low resolution, and not particularly good. However, it was better than having the huge LCD on the back of my camera lit up in a dark venue. Click to enlarge the images below.