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July 28, 2014

Walkers sugar

"Mommy makes mean art," was the judgment that the artist's daughter, Octavia, delivered 12 years ago, when she was 4, and that gets pretty close to the truth. Awarding Ms. Walker a $190,000 "genius" grant in 1997, the MacArthur Foundation noted that Ms. Walker's images explored the "vestiges of sexual, physical, and racial exploitation" handed down by slavery. She has portrayed sex of every conceivable kind between master and mistress and slave; her panoramic views of the antebellum south include scenes of defecation, amputation, emasculation and decapitation. Violent, yes, but Ms. Walker also sees an absurdist side to the gore in her work.

July 20, 2014

Chop chop

Tell someone to hurry up than telling them to "chop-chop" -- especially if the phrase is accompanied by clapping or snapping fingers.

Several etymological dictionaries trace the origins of the word to a version of pidgin English used on ships (and later by Chinese servants and traders who regularly interacted with foreigners). The Oxford English Dictionary traces the first usage of "chop chop" in print to an 1834 article in the Canton (Ohio) Register. Two years later, it would also appear in The Penny Magazine, an illustrated English publication geared toward the working class. In an 1838 article, "Chinese English," the magazine defined "chop-chop" as "the sooner the better," but made no mention of the phase being rude or curt.

According to Hobson-Jobson: The Definitive Glossary of British India, the noted Anglo-Indian dictionary published in 1886, the phrase originates from the Cantonese word kap, or 急 (which means "make haste"). In Mandarin, the word is jí, and in Malay it's chepat. This evolved into "chop-chop" and was quickly picked up by the Englishmen who traveled the Asian seas.

The utterance "chop-chop" would also become closely associated with class over time, and was almost always said by someone powerful to someone "below." A good example of this can be found in William C. Hunter's 1882 history of life in Canton, or Guangzhou, China, where he notes that "[w]hen a coolie is sent on an errand requiring haste, he is told to go 'chop-chop.' "

By the 1900s, "chop-chop" had become an established part of military jargon, with the "chop-chop signal" included in the U.S. Army's 1916 Signal book and with the phrase commonly being used to mean "hurry, hurry." Former soldier Eugene G. Schulz described how Army officers would snap at soldiers in his memoir of World War II.

July 16, 2014

sans-serif Neue Haas Grotesk

Progenitor of the beloved Helvetica font, and thus the culprit responsible for weird iterations of memes - Mike Parker - died last Sunday at the ripe old age of 85. He has been described as "the font god," which to be fair, is probably an accurate description for the guy who helped bring Helvetica to the world. However, he is also credited with the development of over 1,100 typefaces.

Parker was around through it all, having been born in London in 1929

Mergenthaler Linotype Company beginning in 1959, he created the sans-serif Neue Haas Grotesk typeface, which, as it turned out, did not play well with the industry standard metal typesetting machine. Looking for a solution, Parker and co. reworked Neue Haas Grotesk, which eventually became the font with a surprisingly large t-shirt presence on the internet.

Aside from his life's work leading up to a create-your-own Helvetica t-shirt website run by a dude named Chico, Parker developed Pages Software, which was a word processor on Steve Jobs' NeXT platform. Now, Apple's official word processor is called Pages. Parker also founded Bitstream, the first (though unfortunately now defunct) digital typeface company.

July 12, 2014

Subaru BRZ special edition, Aorta Azora Ozara ? aozora

2014 July Subaru promotions are more styling and options rebundling.


July 9, 2014


"It's adaptive, data-driven, and they are the most propitious capital allocators in political activism."

-- Anthony Scaramucci, a New York hedge fund investor and Republican fund-raiser, who attended the Kochs' annual donor conference near Palm Springs, California

July 7, 2014

Coming of age in Paris

The existing literature treats the 40s as transitional. Victor Hugo supposedly called 40 "the old age of youth." In Paris, it's when waiters start calling you "Madame" without an ironic wink. The conventional wisdom is that you're still reasonably young, but that everything is declining: health, fertility, the certainty that you will one day read "Hamlet" and know how to cook leeks. Among my peers there's a now-or-never mood: We still have time for a second act, but we'd better get moving on it.

Paris -- the world's epicenter of existentialism -- isn't terribly helpful. With their signature blend of subtlety and pessimism, the French carve up midlife into the "crisis of the 40s," the "crisis of the 50s" and the "noonday demon" (described by one French writer as "when a man in his 50s falls in love with the babysitter").

The modern 40s are so busy it's hard to assess them. Researchers describe the new "rush hour of life," when career and child-rearing peaks collide. Today's 40ish professionals are the DITT generation: double income, toddler twins.

July 6, 2014

fixed-width monospace fonts

Why Do Programmers Use Courier Typeface?

Courier is just one of many monospace fonts. They are also called fixed-width fonts. Consolas is the default font in Visual Studio, and there are even better fonts for programmers.

We like fonts where:

0 cannot be confused with O
Punctuation characters like "," are bigger because they are far more important in programming than in daily use
Brackets are distinct
"1," "I," "l," and "|" cannot be confused (that is 1, i, L, and the pipe sign)
This leads to fewer bugs. Mistyping "," as "." will often break your code and at least lead to unexpected behavior. The same is true for ":" versus ";" and so on.

Slate explainer rides on Quora.

July 3, 2014

"fold out" version of its disclosure form, prepaid

How would I receive the proposed disclosure, if I obtained my prepaid card at a retail store, rather than at a bank branch?

Pew is proposing a "fold out" version of its disclosure form that would be available in stores on the same hooks that display the prepaid cards. Right now, disclosures are typically contained inside the package containing the card, so consumers can't see them ahead of time, and they are often difficult to read, Susan K. Weinstock, director of Pew's safe checking research project said.

July 1, 2014

More data for health insurance: shopping habits

The Pittsburgh health plan, for instance, has developed prediction models that analyze data like patient claims, prescriptions and census records to determine which members are likely to use the most emergency and urgent care, which can be expensive. Data sets of past health care consumption are fairly standard tools for predicting future use of health services.

But the insurer recently bolstered its forecasting models with details on members' household incomes, education levels, marital status, race or ethnicity, number of children at home, number of cars and so on. One of the sources for the consumer data U.P.M.C. used was Acxiom, a marketing analytics company that obtains consumers' information from both public records and private sources.

With the addition of these household details, the insurer turned up a few unexpected correlations: Mail-order shoppers and Internet users, for example, were likelier than some other members to use more emergency services.

Of course, buying furniture through, say, the Ikea catalog is unlikely to send you to the emergency-room. But it could be a proxy for other factors that do have a bearing on whether you seek urgent care, says Pamela Peele, the chief analytics officer for the U.P.M.C. insurance services division. A hypothetical patient might be a catalog shopper, for instance, because he or she is homebound or doesn't have access to transportation.

"It brings me another layer of vision, of view, that helps me figure out better prediction models and allocate our clinical resources," Dr. Peele said during a recent interview. She added: "If you are going to decrease the costs and improve the quality of care, you have to do something different."

The U.P.M.C. health plan has not yet acted on the correlations it found in the household data. But it already segments its members into different "market baskets," based on analysis of more traditional data sets. Then it assigns care coordinators to certain members flagged as high risk because they have chronic conditions that aren't being properly treated. The goal, Dr. Peel

The very idea of using consumer data-mining and marketing segmentation on patients troubles some technology and health law experts. Their concern is that such practices could ultimately result in the inequitable provision of medical care.

"This intensive, intrusive kind of data analytics that leads to differential treatment of customers, even if we are fine with it in the business context, needs to be disclosed in the medical context," says Frank Pasquale, a professor in health care regulation at the Seton Hall University School of Law.

Analyzing details about household attributes and habits of individual consumers is a longstanding practice in retailing, travel and finance. Credit card marketers, for instance, may analyze consumers' buying patterns and financial wherewithal to decide whether to pitch them elite-level special-privilege cards.

Now two factors are converging to speed the adoption of these techniques in medicine.