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Winter People
Topic: Society 11:30 am EST, Jan  9, 2005

Hell is other people, we are told. But Allan Gurganus wrote that Heaven is other people, too -- just other other people. They may be annoying, loud, clumsy people who snap at you and take your money. But they remind you -- especially if you are sated and numb, as so many are at the holidays -- that you are alive and your senses work and you are part of something bigger than your cul-de-sac. It's a nice reminder to have.

Even if only once a year.

Winter People

NetFlix Friends
Topic: Movies 11:17 am EST, Jan  9, 2005

See What Your Friends are Watching

1. Invite a few friends

2. Once they accept, you can see each other's ratings and suggest movies to each other.

Both you and your Friends will see how one another rated movies. If you don't rate a movie your friends won't see it.

NetFlix Friends

The Unreal Thing
Topic: Movies 11:16 am EST, Jan  9, 2005

For the past four years, a lot of people have been obsessed with the movie "The Matrix."

The movie, it seemed, dramatized a host of doubts and fears and fascinations, some half as old as time, some with a decent claim to be postmodern. To a lot of people, it looked like a fable: our fable.

The Unreal Thing
Topic: Games 8:16 pm EST, Jan  8, 2005 is an experiment in artificial intelligence. The program is very simple but its behavior is complex. Everything that it knows and all questions that it asks were entered by people playing this game. is a learning system; the more it is played, the smarter it gets.

The Brotherhood of Pranks
Topic: Arts 7:30 pm EST, Jan  8, 2005

Kortenhof had heard of a high school where pranksters had put an automobile tire over the top of a thirty-foot flagpole, like a ring on a finger, and this seemed to him an impressive and elegant and beautiful feat that we at our high school ought to try to duplicate.

The Brotherhood of Pranks

An Enlarged Heart
Topic: Health and Wellness 7:29 pm EST, Jan  8, 2005

It began with a cough. Her brother had a cough. And, after all, what was a cough? They had all had them. In winter, they passed them around like sweets.

An Enlarged Heart

A Sudden Illness
Topic: Health and Wellness 7:26 pm EST, Jan  8, 2005

We were in Linc's car, an aging yellow Mercedes sedan, big and steady, with slippery blond seats and a deep, strumming idle. Lincoln called it Dr. Diesel.

A deer.

At first, he was only a suggestion of an animal, emerging from the darkness by degrees: a muzzle, a sharp left eye. Then the headlights grasped him.

Have you seen the movie "Seabiscuit"? Did you read the book? This is the personal story of the author, Laura Hillenbrand.

A Sudden Illness

Passover in Baghdad
Topic: Society 7:24 pm EST, Jan  8, 2005

Baghdad was not the most obvious place to celebrate Passover.

Until the Second World War roughly a quarter of Baghdad's population was Jewish.

If you look carefully in parts of town that used to be Jewish, like Bataween, on the east bank of the Tigris, or around Rashid Street, a bustling commercial area, you can still see brickwork patterned into Stars of David. You can also see places where moulded stars have been hacked away.

What you can't see are the stories.

Passover in Baghdad

The Mind's Eye, by Oliver Sacks
Topic: Science 7:22 pm EST, Jan  8, 2005

To what extent are we -- our experiences, our reactions -- shaped, predetermined, by our brains, and to what extent do we shape our own brains?

Does the mind run the brain or the brain the mind -- or, rather, to what extent does one run the other?

To what extent are we the authors, the creators, of our own experiences?

Wu Zi Mu is real. His name is Zoltan Torey.

But there is much more to this article than a blind man repairing the roof of his home at nighttime, all by himself.

The Mind's Eye, by Oliver Sacks

'Blink': Haste Isn't All Waste
Topic: Non-Fiction 10:01 am EST, Jan  6, 2005

In this review, NYT's Janet Maslin makes a few snap judgments about Malcolm Gladwell's new book, "Blink", which she says is "undercut by naggingly bad grammar."

Comparing it to "The Tipping Point", she calls it "a similarly anecdotal account of how split-second decisions are made."

In this context, the news that "snap judgments are, first of all, enormously quick" passes for a bright idea.

Gladwell delivers what is essentially a hybrid of marketing wisdom and self-help -- stronger on broad, catchy constructs than on innovative thinking.

'Blink': Haste Isn't All Waste

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