Keeping the Past a Foreign Country

At The American Conservative today, I'm discussing a new method of recording oral histories that would let museum curators tweak the words and even the facial expressions of the interviewee long after they have died.  For now, the goal is to make oral histories responsive and interactive--giving viewers the chance to ask the hologram questions and have a computer pick the right clip on the fly, so it feels like a conversation.  The pilot test is being done with Pinchas Gutter, a Holocaust su … [Read more...]

Making and Breaking Deals… in SPACE

My most recent pieces for The American Conservative are about bargains that are questionably made and broken, and one of them is out of this world.  First up, a kind of rigged deal that has probably affected every reader of this blog, followed by boycotts you may have participated in, and, finally, a disputed deal that justified the photo from space above.  General Mills and Consumers’ Contracting Access to Courts In films, signing a contract is a considered, deliberate affair. Pens ar … [Read more...]

Good Failures and Bad Fixes

In two of my recent posts for The American Conservative, I got to review Megan McArdle's The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success and to take a crack at improving a not quite fubar'd health insurance survey.  I'm also still pleased that my editor let me get away with using the roller derby image above as the featured image for the McArdle.  I can still remember, from the one time I went to a roller derby bootcamp, the coach saying "Fall up!  Fall up! Don't lose mome … [Read more...]

Prisoners are Calling. Who’s Answering?

Today, I'm over at First Things to talk about prisons, communities, and cell phones. Until cellphones made it trivial for a well-connected prisoner to reach the outside world, jailhouse policy has usually been more focused on information flowing the opposite direction. Texas is one among many states to have lengthy lists of books banned from prison libraries—Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, and Jenna Bush are among the many authors whose works have been proscribed.Jailhouse librarians and rev … [Read more...]

Just War, Culture War, Cyber… frackup

Time for another roundup of this week's writing for The American Conservative.  First up, my review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Steve Rogers's approach to loving your enemies.  Captain America Skips Politics, Stays Personal Usually, when Americans are characterized as thinking in black and white, it’s because we’ve divided the world or just our nation into “us” and “them” and are out to get rid of them as in President Bush’s statement, “Either you are with us, or you ar … [Read more...]

Flash Boys and Patent Ploys

This week, all my posts for The American Conservative had a slightly tech-y bent, starting with coverage of a software patents case, then CIA snooping, and wrapping up with a review of Michael Lewis's Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt.  (Of course, the best recommendation for Lewis as a writer is how invested he got me in a book about baseball.  I still get excited when I spot a mention of Nick Swisher in the sports section.)  SCOTUS Debugs Software Patents First, a brief patent prim … [Read more...]

World Vision, Bad Science, and Living Death Sentences

Here's the round-up of the posts I've done this week at The American Conservative, starting with the most timely one.The Perils of Workplace Purges Two organizations stumbled into controversy this week over employment and gay marriage. World Vision, a Christian organization that provides humanitarian aid, announced it would hire staff in gay marriages (previously, this was a violation of the employee code of conduct) and then, two days later, reversed the decision. Meanwhile, at Mozilla, t … [Read more...]