The return of the manifesto

A new site's recently launched called ChangeThis which hopes to, "challenge the way ideas are created and spread." They propose to do this by creating and disseminating manifestos on various topics of interest and importance.

We're betting that a significant portion of the population wants to hear thoughtful, rational, constructive arguments about important issues. We're certain that the best of these manifestos will spread, hand to hand, person to person, until these manifestos have reached a critical mass and actually changed the tone and substance of our debate.

I've been a fan of manifestos for a long time, and Kill Your Children (about the dangers of sugar) was very interesting. But I can't help but wonder why all the manifestos they offer are Adobe PDF files. They certainly look beautiful — nice colors and font treatments — but they're kind of a pain because you have to download them and launch another program to view them.

It seems to me that if the goal is to spread the manifestos, they should be presented in the easiest-to-spread manner possible, like plain text or HTML. Great manifestos of the past (Communist, Cluetrain) were about substance. They didn't look great, but they spread like crazy. That's not to say a nice looking manifesto won't also spread, of course, but I believe they won't spread as effectively because of the additional hurdles to read and distribute them. All told, I still look forward to seeing how it progresses and what topics they chose to address. It's an optimistic endeavor, and I love optimistic endeavors! [via evhead]

Fodor’s has a travel blog

I just noticed tonight that the travel site Fodor's has a blog, Right This Way…The Fodor's Blog. Who knows how long they've had it, but it looks chock full of helpful information. On August 9th there's a post entitled, Get Far Away From It All which links to a New York Times article about rustic cabins that can be rented from state parks. Handy! And just the kind of thing I like. I'm going to keep my eye on the Fodor's blog for sure.

Why I’ll never be a fast runner

An interesting article in the New York Times yesterday examines Why Joggers Labor and Olympians Fly. Apparently elite atheletes (like we know from cyclist Lance Armstrong) possess physiological traits that "normal" people don't have, such as larger hearts.

Exercise physiologists say there are three components to great running: A high VO2 max, the volume of oxygen an athlete can consume at maximum exertion; great running efficiency, a measurement of the energy used to run at a particular pace; and an ability to keep going at a high level of exertion for a long time, expressed as the percentage of VO2 max that can be sustained during a run.

Some day I'd like to get my VO2 max measured. Meanwhile, my marathon training has been progressing quite well, or it was until yesterday when I was running in the woods, took my mind off the trail, and started thinking about the interval training I was going to do after I warmed up. Then I tripped on a root and went non-Olympian flying through the air, bonking my knee as I skidded along the pine needled floor of the forest. No interval training after that, just a slow jog back home and a day of icing the knee. I guess I'm still in the "Joggers Labor" phase of my running career.

Spies like us

Having been away from New York City for nearly six weeks before I returned, I can't say exactly when the City's train systems — MTA, Amtrak, and LIRR — began their new disturbing announcement campaign exhorting all passengers to keep their eyes open and report suspicious behavior immediately to police. But I heard the announcement over and over again, on every subway I rode and while I waited at Penn Station for an Amtrak train to Boston. It was more than the old "unattended bags" line, and it was more than even a "look out for unattended bags." It sounded like, "watch everyone around you and report them to the police." It gave me a very East German Stasi-esque feeling, and of course, got me thinking about what a New Yorker would actually bother to report as suspicious behavior.

Living in NYC you see a lot of weird things, things that if you just happened to be visiting NYC you might even find "suspicious" but which are just part of living in a big, messy, diverse, crazy city. Would the woman talking to herself walking in circles count? What about people walking between subway cars, speaking a foreign language? Or someone wandering slowly, eyeing each store in Penn Station? That was me of course, not because I was casing the place but because I was trying to kill time and find a sandwich. Is asking the general population of New York City to spy and snoop on each other a good preventative measure, a la The Wisdom of Crowds, or is it an opportunity for mistrust and misunderstanding, like Annie Jacobsen's Northwest flight from Detroit to Los Angeles in June?

The most amazing salad in the world

The other night, as Jason already reported, I had dinner at Craft. One of the highlights of the meal for me was the special heirloom tomato appetizer we ordered. It perfectly accentuated the range of intoxicating sweetness to be found in these delightful vegetables (fruits, whatever).

As a fairly recent victor in Battle Tomato, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and found myself on Friday buying over a pound of heirloom tomatoes at the Greenmarket to attempt an at-home recreation of the dish. I'm happy to report that my Craft's Heirloom Tomato Salad was a huge success (coupled with fresh corn on the cob, it made for an all-Greenmarket-veggie dinner). So delightful was it that Saturday morning on my way home from a run, I stopped again at the Greenmarket to use my last few dollars to buy three more tomatoes. If you enjoy tomatoes and have access to nice ripe heirlooms, you couldn't ask for a better way to enjoy them.