The myth of the eight-hour sleep

An interesting thing to read when I find myself awake in the middle of the night. In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks. His book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented…

Hackers and Makers

A longer-than-usual introduction to a reading assignment in my “Media and Culture” class turned into a useful opportunity to reflect. We are all busy people; yet somehow, many people who say they are too busy to take on another task spend hours reading, interpreting, and debating Harry Potter; some post stop-motion Lego spoofs; some do crossword puzzles; some study statistics for their fantasy football leagues; some perfect dance moves that…

Dolores Hart, who kissed Elvis Presley, is now a nun in Oscar-nominated documentary

Dolores Hart kissed Elvis Presley in her first film, starred in nine more movies within six years, and then gave it all up to become a nun. On Sunday, she returns to Hollywood to attend the Academy Awards, where a new film about her is up for best documentary short. via Dolores Hart, who kissed Elvis Presley, is now a nun in Oscar-nominated documentary  – NY Daily News.

Amazon Pulls Thousands of E-Books in Dispute – NYTimes.com

When the Kindle contract for one of the country’s largest book distributors, the Independent Publishers Group, came up for renewal, Amazon saw a chance to gain some ground at I.P.G.’s expense. “They decided they wanted me to change my terms,” said Mark Suchomel, president of the Chicago-based I.P.G. “It wasn’t reasonable. There’s only so far we can go.” With each side unwilling to yield, Amazon pulled the plug, and all…

Zombie Code and Extra-Functional Significance | Play The Past

Useless code and comments in code—these are the zombie figures of software. They serve no purpose in a program’s execution, but they exude what Mark Marino calls extra-functional significance. They have meaning beyond the program. They speak not to the machine or the compiler, but to a different audience, another reader. In software development, that other reader is often idealized as other programmers on the same project, though in practice…

Tantalizing Details for Colossal Cave Adventure Enthusiasts

The most detail I’ve ever seen about Will Crowther’s other creative projects; here, in a conversation dated 1996, he discusses “different ‘adventures’”, and reveals that he wrestled with many of the same challenges that interactive fiction programmers faced through the 1980s and on to the present. I have at various times made different “adventures.” Two stand out. One had hundreds of objects. I made a dump next to the well house,…

Childhood comic collection expected to fetch $2M | Unplugged – Yahoo! Games

What a story! The collection includes an Action Comics No. 1, from 1938, which features the first appearance of Superman and is expected to sell for about $325,000. A Detective Comics No. 27, from 1939, features the first appearance of Batman and is expected to get about $475,000. A Captain America No. 2, from 1941, in which the hero bursts in on Adolf Hitler is expected to bring in about…

Sale of Philadelphia newspapers raises bias concerns

If political powerbrokers want to buy newspapers, what are the obligations of the journalists involved? What if the journalists, as a group, tend to agree with the politics of the purchasers? “Nobody wants to stifle news,” said Mr. Rendell, a two-term mayor of Philadelphia in the 1990s. Journalists at both papers are so concerned that nearly 300 of them signed a public statement last week calling on the current and…