Links for 2009-12-02

  • Our solar system is a wondrous and frightful venue, and from the magmatic center of the sun to the ghost ships orbiting Neptune, Hollywood has explored it all. Join us for a cinematic voyage through the scifi solar system, which features if not the most well-known movies about our sister planets, then at least the ones that tell us something interesting about the way we think of other worlds.
  • "TELLER: I mean, we pretty much know what we have to do, right?

    BETHE: Something about building an atomic bomb.

    TELLER: (looking at own laptop screen) So there's some plutonium, and--dammit, the Jets are losing. "

  • "Television should be a glorious time waster, but being given three seasons of Lost on DVD is like being given a prison sentence. You slog through the first season, and not only is the hefty second season waiting around the corner, but it has brought its friends: Seasons 3, 4, and 5. Boxed sets have transformed television from light entertainment into homework."
  • "When people find out that I spent 23 months covering the Obama campaign, one of the first questions they ask (right after "Is Obama still smoking?") is about the Secret Service. Are the agents scary? Are they mean? What is it like working alongside them? Most people know very little about the Secret Service; they just picture the instantly recognizable image of a man in a suit with an earpiece. The one thing we do know about them--the fact that they are (in theory, at least) willing to sacrifice their lives for their protectees'--does little to dispel the mystery. And so, in addition to photographing the candidate and his crowds of supporters, I began to photograph Obama's Secret Service detail, fascinated by what it represented and what could be communicated through its image. "
  • Good thoughts on the problem of taking small children out in public and on planes. We've been lucky thus far, and have avoided any major meltdowns from SteelyKid in public places.
  • "Having struggled to grasp the rule stating that force is equal to mass times acceleration, Vaughan's students would reportedly have been given an elegant case study in the concept were he still alive to describe the way his 1992 Mazda Protégé lethally collided with a large oak tree late Saturday night."
  • "Nearly three years after Tufts University drew headlines for a student journal's publication of a racially charged article, trustees have declared that "freedom of expression and inquiry are not absolute."

    The university's "Declaration on Freedom of Expression" calls free speech "fundamental to the academic enterprise," but outlines a series of broadly defined values that could limit what students can say and do. The statement notes, for example, that expression at Tufts should "respect the human dignity of others" and maintain a climate that does not interfere with students' ability to "study, grow, and attain their full potential.""

  • "Academics' commitment to free expression shouldn't be put on hold because of the threat of violence, according to a joint statement issued Monday by a coalition of academic and civil liberties groups.

    "The failure to stand up for free expression emboldens those who would attack and undermine it," says the statement. "It is time for colleges and universities in particular to exercise moral and intellectual leadership. It is incumbent on those responsible for the education of the next generation of leaders to stand up for certain basic principles: that the free exchange of ideas is essential to liberal democracy; that each person is entitled to hold and express his or her own views without fear of bodily harm; and that the suppression of ideas is a form of repression used by authoritarian regimes around the world to control and dehumanize their citizens and squelch opposition.""


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