Another Godfather “What If”

What if The God­fa­ther had been shot with­out Mar­lon Bran­do? (It almost hap­pened.) Or with­out Al Paci­no? (It almost hap­pened too .) Or with­out Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la? (Yup, even that almost hap­pened as well.) Then, what if Robert De Niro had played the role of Son­ny, which even­tu­al­ly went to James Caan? Here’s what it would have looked like (and, by the way, we’ve added this clip to our list of YouTube favorites):

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The New Yorker Knocks The Kindle

It’s not often that The New York­er does the gad­get review. But here we have one — Nichol­son Bak­er break­ing down the Kin­dle. The upshot? He’s not a big fan. Why? Let me give you some of the mon­ey quotes. And also note the iPhone/iPod Touch rec­om­men­da­tions at the end (where I added some use­ful links):

“The prob­lem was not that the screen was in black-and-white; if it had real­ly been black-and-white, that would have been fine. The prob­lem was that the screen was gray. And it wasn’t just gray; it was a green­ish, sick­ly gray. A post­mortem gray. The resiz­able type­face, Mono­type Cae­cil­ia, appeared as a dark­er gray. Dark gray on paler green­ish gray was the palette of the Ama­zon Kin­dle [DC note: This is why I returned my Kin­dle].”

“Despite its smoother design, the Kin­dle 2 is, some say, hard­er to read than the Kin­dle 1. “I imme­di­ate­ly noticed that the con­trast was worse on the K2 than on my K1,” a review­er named T. Ford wrote. One Kindler, Eliz­a­beth Glass, began an online peti­tion, ask­ing Ama­zon to fix the con­trast. “Like read­ing a wet news­pa­per,” accord­ing to peti­tion-sign­er Louise Pot­ter.”

“Ama­zon, with its list­ma­nia lists and its some­times inspired rec­om­men­da­tions and its innu­mer­able fas­ci­nat­ing reviews, is very good at sell­ing things. It isn’t so good, to date any­way, at mak­ing things. But, for­tu­nate­ly, if you want to read elec­tron­ic books there’s anoth­er way to go. Here’s what you do. Buy an iPod Touch (it costs sev­en­ty dol­lars less than the Kin­dle 2, even after the Kindle’s price was recent­ly cut), or buy an iPhone, and load the free “Kin­dle for iPod” appli­ca­tion onto it.”

“There are oth­er ways to read books on the iPod, too. My favorite is the Euca­lyp­tus appli­ca­tion, by a Scot­tish soft­ware devel­op­er named James Mont­gomerie: for $9.99, you get more than twen­ty thou­sand pub­lic-domain books whose pages turn with a volup­tuous grace. There’s also the Ice­berg Read­er, by Scroll­Mo­tion, with fixed page num­bers, and a very pop­u­lar app called Stan­za. In Stan­za, you can choose the col­ors of the words and of the page, and you can adjust the bright­ness with a ver­ti­cal thumb swipe as you read… Forty mil­lion iPod Touch­es and iPhones are in cir­cu­la­tion, and most peo­ple aren’t read­ing books on them. But some are. The nice thing about this machine is (a) it’s beau­ti­ful, and (b) it’s not imi­tat­ing any­thing. It’s not try­ing to be ink on paper. It serves a night-read­ing need, which the light­less Kin­dle doesn’t.”

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Dylan & Cash Together

Vin­tage video…

Solving Stonehenge?

Is Wal­ly Walling­ton onto some­thing?

Thanks Jil­lian for send­ing this one along…

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Ira Glass, Host of This American Life, Explains Why Creative Excellence Takes Time

Ira Glass, host of the beloved radio show This Amer­i­can Life, offers a help­ful reminder that excel­lence doesn’t come auto­mat­i­cal­ly. It takes effort, years of it. And he revis­its some of his ear­ly radio work in order to prove it.  A good reminder for any­one with seri­ous artis­tic or cre­ative ambi­tions.

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Yale Open Courses Now on iTunesU

Over the past two years, Yale has released fif­teen free “open cours­es.” Ini­tial­ly, these cours­es were only avail­able through Yale’s web site and lat­er YouTube. Now, they’re also acces­si­ble through iTune­sU — which means that you can put these cours­es on your iPod with rel­a­tive ease. Just click here and scroll down, and you’ll find well-pro­duced cours­es that cov­er eco­nom­ics, his­to­ry, lit­er­a­ture, physics, med­i­cine and more. Thanks to this inte­gra­tion with iTunes, we’ll soon be able to include these cours­es in the Open Cul­ture iPhone app. If you haven’t played with it, give it a try. In the mean­time, all Yale cours­es appear in our col­lec­tion of Free Cours­es, fea­tur­ing online class­es from top uni­ver­si­ties.

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Ideas to Die For

Here we have philoso­pher Daniel Den­nett apply­ing Dar­win­ian thought to human think­ing, all of which gets him into the intrigu­ing con­cept of “memes,” infec­tious ideas that can sub­vert our sur­vival instincts and threat­en whole cul­tures. It’s anoth­er good bit of think­ing from TED Talks.

Mark Lin­sen­may­er is a writer and musi­cian who hosts the pod­cast The Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life and has just released this sleazy ver­sion of a Michael Jack­son tune.

Never Mind Amazon, Get Your Free Orwell Here

The whole mini-con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing Ama­zon’s dele­tion of George Orwell’s 1984 and Ani­mal Farm from Kin­dle accounts remind­ed me of some­thing. Over at the Inter­net Archive, you can find 1984 avail­able as a free audio book. And, nice­ly, the record­ing is pro­fes­sion­al­ly done. You can down­load the full zip file here. Or alter­na­tive­ly you can get the indi­vid­ual mp3 files, or stream them, from this page. On a more per­ma­nent basis, you can find Orwell’s 1949 work housed in our Free Audio Book Col­lec­tion along with lots of oth­er free texts.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.