Roundup No. 3

The Social Sciences

Jim Manzi offers an interesting critique of the social sciences:

Over many decades, social science has groped toward the goal of applying the experimental method to evaluate its theories for social improvement. Recent developments have made this much more practical, and the experimental revolution is finally reaching social science. The most fundamental lesson that emerges from such experimentation to date is that our scientific ignorance of the human condition remains profound. Despite confidently asserted empirical analysis, persuasive rhetoric, and claims to expertise, very few social-program interventions can be shown in controlled experiments to create real improvement in outcomes of interest.

He writes in fairly broad strokes, but I find myself wishing that there was more available constructive public debate over what the social sciences are, how they work, what they can tell us, and what the limitations are.

Sarah Palin

Vanity Fair has published a piece on her by Michael Joseph Gross called “Sarah Palin: The Sound and the Fury”. Not much new here, but worth the read to get a better sense of how removed she is even from her own neighbors.

Current History

Another September 11th has come and gone, and McSweeney’s has again published John Hodgman’s “Welcoming Remarks Made at a Literary Reading, 9/25/01” by way of remembrance:

Every year, we wonder what might be appropriate on this day, and we can never think of anything more appropriate than this piece, which Mr. Hodgman originally delivered at a literary reading shortly after September 11, 2001.

I hadn’t read the piece before this year, but I’m inclined to agree.

Everything is OK, really.

A gentle reminder courtesy of my friend, Cori.

Annals of Type

I missed this last month: Hoefler & Frere-Jones announced a new font called Forza, based on rounded rectangular shapes. As usual, I love the colors on the specimen page. I’m especially fond of the slanted setting in the 9th frame. Seems like it would be a natural fit as a display face for a magazine. (Actually, it reminds me of Wired for some reason.)

Also, don’t miss the interview with Roger Black on The Big Web Show about web type and templates. Some of the fonts available through his new project Webtype look really great, especially the Clarendon-esque BentonModernRE. It would be nice if the specimens were set at a more comfortable reading width and with more breathing room between lines.