Maneki Neko

Saw one of these outside a Thai restaurant and wondered about it.   Now I know:

"The Maneki Neko is a common Japanese sculpture, often made of ceramic, which is believed to bring good luck to the owner. The sculpture depicts a cat beckoning with an upright paw, and is usually displayed — many times at the entrance — in shops, restaurants, pachinko parlors, and other businesses. Some of the sculptures are electric or battery-powered and have a slow-moving paw beckoning."

Wikipedia: Maneki Neko ...

Learning techniques

Wired has a conversation with Robert Bjork (who researches learning techniques at UCLA; no relation, or is there?).   He comes to some not-always-obvious conclusions:
"If you study and then you wait, tests show that the longer you wait, the more you will have forgotten," Bjork said.
But here's the cool part: If you study, wait, and then study again, the longer the wait, the more you’ll have learned after this second study session. Bjork explains it this way: "When we access things from our memory, we do more than reveal it's there. It's not like a playback. What we retrieve becomes more retrievable in the future. Provided the retrieval succeeds, the more difficult and involved the retrieval, the more beneficial it is."
Link to article...

Everyone's a criminal

GW Law professor Orin Kerr's testimony before the Judiciary Committee on why the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is dangerous.    This and other carelessly written laws open almost everyone up to the possibility of Federal prosecution, just for doing what they do every day.    While this may or may not be a problem given current interpretations and enforcement, this is exactly the kind of thing that can do untold damage in the wrong hands.   If everyone is a criminal, then the decision to arrest or not arrest can be made based on other, more politically interesting criteria.

Full text (PDF) ...

M. Robinson on the Bible

Marilynne Robinson on the debt that literature owes the Scriptures.    This is a great example of why I love Robinson.   She didn't send a watered-down version of this to some Christian magazine.   She sets up camp in The New York Times and then calmly and contentedly (without a hint of anxiety) starts educating people.   She's just embarrassingly good at this.



David Damberger discusses failure, and why admitting it is integral to any eventual progress.   He details some (seemingly) impressive work he had done for non-profit organizations in Africa, and then shows why it was exactly the wrong thing to be doing.


I stumbled upon this (very) short story by E. A. Poe while searching for geographical information about the Congo River.     Life apparently is very like a box of chocolates...


Mary Karr interview

I've posted a poem by Mary Karr before, but here's a longer interview with her.   I've yet to read some of her longer works, but I think they'll make the list after watching this.

As a bonus, here's a link to one of her poems.


"The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt."

— Bertrand Russell


"... [W]e are not at liberty to be enslaved."

— Douglas Wilson