Issey Miyake was more than a designer of turtlenecks for Steve Jobs

An outfit of Miyake

I’ve been a fan of the late great Issey Miyake since the 1980s. No one at the time was doing anything as wonderful with fabric as was. Perhaps Armani, but Armani’s cuts seemed conservative in comparison.

It’s an odd thing, but this week when he died, many of the news articles kept mentioning how Miyake designed the classic turtlenecks that Steve Jobs wore all the time. And it’s true, he did make those black tops of Jobs. However, those were among the least interesting thing he designed. To get a sense of just how beautiful his clothing designs could really be, see this: Issey Miyake’s best celebrity fashion moments at the Daily Mail. As well, Vogue has some highlights.

It’s quite a legacy. And right up until the end, he was making beautiful clothes.

Besides the clothes, he has always been associated with great fragrances. Next time you can, pay your local fragrance shop a visit and see if you can get some. You may not be able to wear his garments, but you can wear his scents.

(Image: link to image in Daily Mail piece)

On art and artists being bad. From Gormley, to Hirst and more


So Antony Gormley is in the news for his  “phallic” statue which students are worried about. This is not the first time he’s made statues associated with sex, as this piece shows: Sex on the beach? This could be made into a story about artist freedom and prudishness, but I think the easier case could be made for communities being forced to deal with ridiculous sculptures of oversexed middle aged artists. It’s like the artist is an exhibitionist and what he flashes his stuff, tries to make it about you being a prude. Anyway, stuff like this makes me grumpy. Stick the goddamn stuff in a garden or something. Sculptures like Gormley and Serra who subject the public to their difficult work are jerks.

That’s Sex. Moving on to Death, Damien Hirst recently got into trouble for a work that consisted of killing flies. He really should avoid dead things and stick to what he is good at: money. Here he is burning his art to show art as currency. When it comes to money, that’s where his true talent lies. Stick to that, Damien.

Speaking of money and greed, you can read about how a company is trying to trademark a colour. Just what we need. We can thank Anish Kapoor for fostering that bad idea. Thanks, Anish.

How about some art and racism? Here’s a story of how art critics perpetuated racism with their reviews. And here’s a piece on a white artist stealing the work of a black photographer. Not surprising; still awful.

Then there is sexism, such as this: The female body under the female gaze poses a monster problem

Finally there is ridiculousness: artist asks $10,000 for McDonald’s burger ingredient flung to the ceiling.

Art can do many good things for us. But not everything about art is good, as these pieces show.

Homelessness and how it is being dealt with in some places

I believe in the future we will no longer have homelessness problems. We are not there yet. Some cities, like Houston are making progress, as this piece explains: How Houston Moved 25 000 People From the Streets Into Homes of Their Own. Other cities, like San Diego, are taking initiative. Much has to do with the city. NYC, for example. This is a piece discussing their failure:  City targeted same homeless New Yorkers over and over in encampment sweeps. But at least some people are looking into new ideas, as this shows: What Would It Take to Move Street Homeless New Yorkers into Housing?

Meanwhile in Canada, there are small scale initiatives being tried, as this piece,   Shower project, and this piece, Man forced to stop building tiny homes for Toronto’s homeless now has a new project, illustrate. The solution is proper housing. Stop gap measures are just that: stop gaps.

If you want to deal with homelessness, you need to know roughly how many  people are homeless. This explains how many there in Toronto.

Finally, here are some pieces that are related to the issue:  Is Our Homelessness Crisis Really a Drug Problem?, and “Maid” author Stephanie Land on what it feels like to be shamed for being poor, and teen transitions to sobriety and higher education.

I think about homelessness all the time. Hence these links and these pieces.

 

It’s Monday. Let’s look at how work is changing in the summer of 2022


Work has changed alot since the pandemic. People are somewhat returning to the office, though I have seen reports of it being less than 50%. As a result, you have pieces like this, talking about places trying to get people to come to the office three days a week. Should one of those days be Friday? Fuggitaboutit. As WaPo explains, nobody wants to be in the office on Fridays. Finally this piece argues you should come in for your own benefit. Ummm, maybe.

So we will still work from home for the next while. That’s fine by me. If staying on mute is a problem, you might need this Mute Me Button.

Maybe you should quit your job. The BBC makes the case for job hopping. That’s not always an option for people. How about this: Could the quiet quitting trend be the answer to burnout? What you need to know. Hopefully you have good bosses and will recognize that you need support. More likely they are too busy and you are own your own.

Good luck with things. You will need it.

And how should we live our days?


One day at a time, surely. Intentionally, also. Reflective, of course.

For a good guide on that, see: How to Make the Most of Your 24 Hours at zen habits.

P.S. I haven’t posted anything from zen habits in some time, but I recommend that after you read that, you explore other posts on his blog. Worthwhile, I recall.

P.S.S. Happy Birthday, Ma, wherever you are.

 

 

 

The Marvel Juggernaut

It’s hard to believe that Marvel Studios were once far from a sure thing. (I wrote recently about that, here.) Now that they are a part of Disney, they are a Juggernaut, with rollout plans going on well into the future, as you can see, here: Marvel outlines Phase 6 with Fantastic Four and two new Avengers movies – The Verge.

In some ways the journey is not unlike Apple’s. Apple is such a dominating player now, but back in the 90s it was hanging on by a thread.

It’s possible that both companies could falter, but I suspect we will be getting our fill of Apple Devices and Marvel Entertainment for the rest of this decade. I’ll be curious to visit this post in 5 or 6 years and see if this prediction held.

Friday Night Music with the Psychedelic Furs and….Maroon 5?

I find it fascinating when ideas reoccur in music videos. Take these two. First up is “Heaven” by the Psychedelic Furs.

Next up, “Girl Like You” by Maroon 5, some years – decades – later.

Both use a similar style, where the camera seems to revolve around the singer, allowing for lots of motion even while the singer remains in one place. It’s effective in giving the video life. It’s also interesting to see it revisited after all this time in the latter video.

Of course, there are other things that give the video action. In “Heaven”, there is literally a downpour of water! While in “Girl Like You’, there is the effect of many women appearing behind Levine as he sings.

Anyway, both effective videos. I am loathe to post music videos these days: so many times the music companies will yank the videos and leave my blog posts looking poorly. Perhaps these ones, because they have been there for some time, won’t be removed.

P.S. It’s an impressive pantheon of women appearing in the Maroon 5 video, ranging from performers to athletes to activists. You can get the details on who they are, here.

A very fine travel guide to Charleston, SC…


Can be found here: Out of Office: Charleston at Uncrate.

I’ve been to Charleston a few times recently and all those places are very nice indeed. You should go.

 

Ian Brown catches COVID again and why that’s good

It’s good not because I want him to be ill! Not at all. Rather, it’s good because what came out of that is this fine essay: I caught COVID, again – this time, nobody cares (The Globe and Mail). It nicely catches where we are in this ongoing pandemic. Not just by writing about the disease and what we are doing or not doing about it, but also what else is competing for our attention. I highly recommend it.

I hope by the time you read this Ian is well and none the worse for having suffered through another bout of COVID.

 

Some advice on visiting Toronto, from the New York Times and me

So the Times has done a recent piece on Toronto: What to See Eat and Do in Toronto. It’s nice to see. It has lots of good ideas on where to dine, where to stay, and what to do.

While it’s easy to go to the places everyone recommends, if you want to bypass that and go to some very old school restaurants, here are five classic places that have been around forever and are still great, including Swatow and Country Style. For bistro fans, here is a list of fine French restaurants that should appeal to fans of that cuisine, as I am. There’s lots of great places to dine in Toronto.

While the airport is a mess these days , there are other ways to get here. For instance, you can get catch a train from NYC to Toronto. Or you can drive. Or fly into Billy Bishop and skip Pearson.

If you get here, you can even go to some museums like the ROM for free.

All in all Toronto is having a good year for recognition: Toronto is on of the world’s most liveable cities for 2022, according to CNN Travel. Come visit if you can.

You should be writing better emails. Here’s how

You – yes you – can write better emails. To do so, first read this:  How to Write Persuasive Emails: 4 Simple Tips to Turn Blah Into Crisp Writing

Second, write down those goals.

Third, practice with the next emails you send.

Maybe you – yes you – already write emails like this. In that case, try this as an exercise: look at the emails in your inbox and see how many of them meet these criteria. I’ll bet most don’t.

A word to younger people: you might think, I don’t write emails…I use Slack or Teams or some other form of instant communication. If that’s true, then you definitely need to read that and practice it. You cannot avoid email (yet) and when it comes to key communication, you need to write good email. So get going on that.

Good luck! Was this clear? I hope so.

On the late great Claes Oldenburg

The great sculpture artist Claes Oldenburg died recently. He was a fine artist, and I was always pleased to see his Floor Burger sculpture when I went to the AGO in Toronto.  His work seems so pleasant and carefree now, but back in the day it provoked controversy.

For more on him, the Times has a good write up here, Claes Oldenburg Captured a Carefree (and Consumerist) America.

For a good review of some of his sculptures, check out this in the Guardian, Claes Oldenburg’s most incredible sculptures.

(Image is of Binoculars Building, a collaboration between him and Frank Gehry and taken by Bobak Ha’Eri)

On modular walls, indoor and out

As a result of the pandemic and CafeTO, many restaurants have put up these GRIPBlock reusable walls outside their establishments in the warmer months to draw in customers. It’s a good thing. Here’s one nearby in my neighborhood:

A good idea like that works indoors too. This Blokaloks modular system lets you build walls or even rooms inside, like this:

Smart. You can click on the link to see more designs. Would be perfect for lofts and other open concept spaces that need better definition.

Friday Night Cocktail: forget (Dirty) Shirley, go with Tom (Collins)

Sure sure, the Dirty Shirley is the cocktail du jour, and everyone seems to have dumped their espresso martinis and gone on to chug these instead. My attitude is the same as The Washington Post…so here’s their recipe for a Dirty Shirley cocktail — if you just have to try one.

That out of the way, let’s go with a classic. As the Manual says,

For a drink that has its own glass, you’d think the Tom Collins would be even more popular. It’s a classic, without a shadow of a doubt, but many imbibers don’t exactly know how to whip one up, let alone perfect it.

Sounds just right. If you agree, head on over to the Manual for their guide on How to Make the Finest Tom Collins Cocktail. You’ll be glad you did.

(Image via The Manual)

On the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London

I am fascinated by the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London. While there has been many a fine artist and their work displayed there, I am especially glad to see the work Antelope by Samson Kambalu going up next. To see why I think so highly of it, read this: Anticolonial hero statue to occupy Trafalgar Square fourth plinth from September in The Guardian.

The Guardian has been covering the work that has been placed on that plinth for some time. You can read about that, here: Fourth plinth in the Art and Design section of The Guardian. I was recently in London and saw The End by Heather Phillipson and that was good, but I’d love to see this work by Kambulu.

To learn more about The Fourth Plinth, go here. It started off empty due to lack of funds for a sculpture of William IV to fill it. I’m glad that happened. Londoners and tourists have benefitted ever since. (No offense to William IV.)

My belief is that a statue of Elizabeth II will go there once she dies. We shall see. Meanwhile check out the various artists who have had pieces there.

 

Two more signs of the ongoing crypto winter, from Minecraft and Tesla


Actions speak louder than think pieces. So these recent actions by Tesla and Mojang are just  one of many signs of the great implosion of crypto/NFTs/Web3/etc.

First off, Minecraft developer Mojang won’t allow NFTs in the game and second, Tesla just did a big crypto sell-off.

I especially liked what Mojang had to say. Essentially NFTs are anathema to the experience that they try and provide with Minecraft. They put their finger on what is wrong with all of that technology. Good for them.

As for Tesla, they were huge proponents for cryptocurrency until recently. For them to dump most of their holdings is a sign — among many signs out there — that crypto winter has set in and will likely stay that way for some time to come.

Thanks to The Verge for both of those pieces.

The New York Times says you should replace your baseball hat with a bucket hat. They are wrong :)


The New York Times thinks men should replace their baseball cap with a bucket hat. I say, No.

First off, a baseball cap can look stylish if worn the right way, even with a nice summer suit. But if you insist on switching it up, you CAN go with a bucket hat, sure. I mean, they are very trendy right now. In his latest film, even Brad Pitt’s character wears one.

And that’s one of the problems with them. For young men, bucket hats look great. But as you start pushing into your late 20s or more, you look like an old guy trying to look like a young guy. That’s never a good thing.

The other problem with bucket hats is a practical one: the brim is often too narrow. It doesn’t provide any shade for your eyes or protection of the sun. Other than hiding a bald spot, all it does is make your head hot. Who needs that?

What you do need is a good straw hat. A straw hat works in any situation. You can wear it to the beach, you can wear it to a fancy restaurant. It provides coverage from the sun. It’s lightweight. It breathes. It comes in all shapes and sizes. It never goes out of style.

So toss the baseball cap, skip the bucket hat, and get a good straw hat. Or several. They don’t even cost much. This Straw Hat from H&M costs 12 bucks. And looks great.

 

On the recent Rogers outage, some modest thoughts

With regards to the recent Rogers outage, I have to say I have great sympathy for the IT staff who had to deal with it, and unlike many, I don’t have any great solution to it. I have even greater sympathy for the millions of users like myself who were taken offline that day.

In the short term, the mandate given by Minister Champagne for the telcos to produce clear resiliency plan in 60 days is a good start. At a minimum, certain services like 911 should never be allowed to fail for anyone. As for other services, that is up to the telcos to make proposals. Perhaps failproof low bandwidth services like telephony could be taken up as well. We will see. As always, there will be cost/benefit tradeoffs.

Some people were saying that the problem is with concentration of services with only a few providers. In fact there are other provides besides Bell and Rogers, as BlogTO pointed out. I use one of them: Teksavvy. Despite good price points and good service, they hold only a small fraction of the market. If people want to vote for more diversity, they can do it with their dollars. I suspect they won’t.

In the end, people want low cost, easy of use, simple telco services. Rogers and Bell offer that. That said, I would advise people at a minimum to have their phone service and their internet service on two different providers. Heck if it is really important, get a landline. But at a minimum, split your cell phone service and your internet service. If your cell phone provider goes down, you can still contact people using the internet. You can even get a service like Fongo that will let you make phone calls. And if your Internet service goes down, you can use your phone as a hotspot to access the Internet. Will it cost more? Of course. Higher availability always costs more.

We are going to have these outages every few years, I suspect. Most companies, the telcos included, have a few big and complex network devices at the heart of their network. Those devices depend on specific software to run, and sometimes upgrading that software will fail. When it does, it may cause these outages. Just like it did to these companies in 2018.

Telecommunications is different than other utilities. In order to offer new services regularly (e.g. 5G, high speed Internet), they need to continually upgrade their technology. Electricity, water, and gas are all commodities: telecommunication services are not. The need telcos have to make improvements will always put them and us at risk.

This is not to absolve them: I think Rogers and the other telcos need to follow up on this outage with better plans to be more reliable, and the Government needs to oversee this both from a technology and regulatory viewpoint. This in the end will benefit everyone, in my humble opinion.

(All opinions expressed here are mine, not my employers. I have no inside knowledge of the services or technology provided by Rogers, other than what I read in the media, like everyone else. My opinions are based on working in IT networking since the early 1990s.)

Four more on McCartney, who is 80 this year

Paul is 80 this year, and a good year he’s been having. People are writing pieces filled with praise. He had a big show at Glastonbury with his buds. Not bad for an octogenarian.

It’s been a long and winding road from the early days of the Beatles to now. Some argue that serendipity had a big part to play in Paul and the Beatles’ Success. I’ll let you read that and be the judge. I think it had a small part.

Finally, think of your favorite McCartney song. Then dive into this and see what others famous and less famous picked as theirs: People’s favorite McCartney song. I was surprised by the frequency of Martha My Dear and Temporary Secretary. I was also surprised that Band on the Run was only picked by one person. Read it and be surprised in your own way.

 

 

On restaurants loved and lost: Mike’s Lunch in Glace Bay

It doesn’t look like much. Only that Teem sign on the right tells you that this is the location of the famous Mike’s Lunch of Glace Bay. It had a good run of 109 years in various locations in my hometown before closing in 2019.  It was one of my favorite restaurants in the whole world, and it was the first place I went and dined by myself as a young man.

Back when I was young, it was located on Commercial Street in a little galley type restaurant. It had a counter in the middle where you ate, while pinball machines lined the walls behind you and the cooking was done in front of you. In the summer I would sit next to the open door and look out at the beautiful house across the street (the only house left on Commercial Street). I can remember the sunshine and the warmth and the joy of sitting there while I waited for my food. While many diners had the famous fish and chips, my meal of choice was the Club Sandwich. Toasty bread and toothpicks held together chunks of turkey, crispy bacon, lettuce and mayo. Mine was completed with hot french fries coated with gravy and ketchup and accompanied by an ice cold Coca-Cola. To this day it is still one of the best meals I ever had.

Years later Mike’s Lunch moved to a nicer space in the Sterling. The pinball machines never made the transition, but it still had a counter. It also had nice tables and booths and friendly waitresses. I never failed to go any time I visited Glace Bay, often more than once a visit. I don’t know how, but no matter how long I had been away, when I returned they always remembered me. And the club sandwiches were as good when I was 50 as they were when I was 15. No wonder we all loved it.

I miss Glace Bay for many reasons: the Chip Wagon, Venice Pizzeria, and Colette’s, to name a few great places. But of all the places I miss, I miss Mike’s Lunch the most. Thank you Mike’s Lunch for all the great meals and great times I’ve had there. I have been to many great restaurants over the years, but if I could walk through the doors of any one of them one last time, it would be yours.

Bonus: footage of Commercial St in 1988. The town changed over time, but this is how I remember it growing up. By this point Mike’s Lunch had already moved to the Sterling. Teddy’s (or as this video called it, The Greasy Spoon, and a similar restaurant to Mike’s) was still there.

Want to be more organized next week? Start with your desk

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If you are like me, your desk gets cluttered and disorganized at times. We all could use some help. To aid you, here are some nifty desk organizers to create the most efficient desk space for you from the good people at Yanko Design. Some of them are very practical, and some of them are very cool, like this:

All are worth a look.

The best way to organize your desk is to clear it off. The next best way is to get organizers that keep it tidy.

Friday Night Cocktail: the Paloma

Why the paloma? Well, as Food52 explains, it’s a great drink to welcome the weekend with, especially their version, which is a

… fresh ‘n’ fruity riff on the classic Paloma: fragrant basil syrup, watermelon and lime juice, and Patrón Reposado (it’s sponsored  -b :)). Finish the cocktail with a pour of grapefruit soda, and don’t forget the fresh basil garnish (an optional, but delightful detail).

Sound good? If you want the traditional version, here’s Bon Appétit’s take on that: Paloma.

Last but never least, Liquor.com has lots of versions of the drink, as you can see by that link.

(Image: liquor.com)

Now you too can own your very own Vampire Slaying Kit

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I thought these things only existed in movies: I was wrong. Over at Uncrate, they have great photos of this actual Vampire Slaying Kit that you could own (or could have owned if you had been there to snap it up).

For those who fear the undead — or those that just like cool stuff — go take a look. It’s amazing.

Summertime fitness links, July 2022


Here’s a list of things on fitness and health I’ve been collecting that you may find useful. It’s summer: at the very least it’s a good excuse to walk more and eat salads more. 🙂

Exercise: a nice list of articles on getting in shape…

Diet/weight loss: four pieces on losing weight

Health in general:

Facebook is wrecking Instagram. Here’s why.


I knew the day that Facebook/Meta bought Instagram that it would eventually wreck it. It took awhile, but that day has come, at least for me. It will for you too. It went from being a place to post photos to a place to post stories to a full on replacement for Facebook/TikTok/Messenger/etc. Yuck. I can barely use it now.

For more on the disaster that Instagram is becoming, read: Building a new Titanic on the deck of the old one. This piece shows it isn’t even helping Facebook/Meta: Data Shows Decline in Instagram Post Engagement As App Favors Reels. So they ruined it for themselves AND the users. Interesting business model.

Overall I think this development suggests the decline of Facebook/Meta, the company. For more on that decline, see: What Is Facebook? in The New York Times

 

Here’s 100 tips for a better life. Why not try 3 this week?

Here are a 100 Tips for a Better Life from the site LessWrong. It’s fun and insightful. For example:

43. Deficiencies do not make you special. The older you get, the more your inability to cook will be a red flag for people.

48. Keep your identity small. “I’m not the kind of person who does things like that” is not an explanation, it’s a trap. It prevents nerds from working out and men from dancing.

53. To start defining your problems, say (out loud) “everything in my life is completely fine.” Notice what objections arise.

Take a look at all 100. Better still, pick three that you might apply to yourself and try them out. You might find by next week your life has gotten better.

Two ways to calm your thoughts this Sunday: go for a walk, do the dishes

For more on that, see this (Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh explains how to walk more mindfully — Quartz) and this (Washing Dishes Is a Great Stress Reliever, Science Says | Time).

Have a peaceful Sunday.

I switched from grocery shopping at Metro (and Loblaws) to Walmart and Instacart. It’s been much better. Here’s why

I did the math and found that I can save around $1500/year if I switch my grocery shopping from Metro / Loblaws to Walmart. I save much less and it gets more complicated if I include Instacart in the mix, though I am still doing it. Let me explain.

To determine what I could save, I built a spreadsheet of all the things that I typically buy. I set up the following columns:

  1. the price at Walmart (using numbers from the Instacart app)
  2. the price at Metro (same day numbers from the app)
  3. the difference in price. If the cell is green, Walmart is cheaper; if red, Metro is cheaper; if yellow, the comparison is off; if blue, the price is essentially the same (around 2 cents different). You can see almost everything was cheaper at Walmart, sometimes by a lot
  4. How much I save if I bought everything at Walmart that week
  5. How many times a year I buy that item
  6. How much I save a year if I buy it at all at Walmart
  7. The name of the item
  8. The category of item (Deli, Frozen, etc)
  9. The quantity of the item
  10. A description
  11. A comment

Here’s my spreadsheet on Google Sheets. You can review my numbers and see if they add up.

Of course I may buy different amounts,  and I may buy items not listed there. But that amount of savings for the year will be close, I think.

Now here’s the problem for me: I live very far from a Walmart. I don’t have a car, and there is no way I want to take that much groceries on public transit to get them. (If you can drive to any grocery store you want, then go to Walmart and you can save that much too. Maybe more.)

To solve my problem, I decided to sign up for Instacart. The problem then is all the savings turn into Instacart fees. I still estimate I save around $100 / year. (The spreadsheet has the details). Not much, but still. I essentially get the savings from Walmart to pay for my Instacart.

Overall, I see the switch to Walmart/Instacart as  positive for number of reasons:

  1. I used to shop 2-3 times a week to get all the groceries home. (This is because I don’t have a car.) It was a lot of time and effort. Now I shop with my phone on my couch and get all the groceries I need in one go. If I do any shopping in person now, it’s for speciality things. So my quality of life is greatly improved.
  2. I used to shop at my local Metro which I have hated for years. It was a crappy store for ages until Loblaws moved in. To compete, it did a make over and kept its prices low enough to keep me going there, for the most part. (I took what business I could to Loblaws). Last year they really raised their prices for the things I shop for by A LOT. There were no loss leaders. No discounts. All staples seemed to go up by 1-2 dollars. The prices were also much higher then what is in my spreadsheet. It really made me mad and frustrated. Taking my business elsewhere is satisfying: I don’t have to put up with that horrible store where I feel taken advantage of.
  3. I am budget conscious when it comes to grocery shopping. I want to best deal on food, and for commodity foods, I want the lowest price. Walmart gives that to me.

If you like grocery shopping in person and you can get to a Walmart, go to a Walmart. (Or possibly No Frills.) You can save a fair bit of money. And it’s not just my opinion. To see what I mean, read this: Which foods can you get at a big savings at discount stores? | The Star

If you hate grocery shopping and/or you don’t have a car, switch to Walmart and Instacart. You won’t save much, but the quality of life will improve considerably.

This is my experience with this. YMMV.

 

 

On General Idea at the National Gallery of Canada


One of my  favorite Canadian artists are General Idea. Living in Toronto in the 80s and 90s, there work was often on display and often on my mind. If you want to see how great they are for yourself, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa has a big exhibit of their work that is running until the Fall of 2022. Well worth a visit to take that in.

For details on it, go here: General Idea | National Gallery of Canada

An office with a view. Or maybe it’s time to pack it in and go work from Italy….


What’s that you say…work from Italy? Well according to lonelyplanet.com

If you’re a remote worker looking for a change of scene, consider the possibility that before long you could be working from the sunny terrace of a hilltop town or beachside city in Italy. Italy’s government is planning to launch a new “digital nomad” visa to encourage foreigners to spend a year working there remotely. According to The Local, a government decree was first introduced in January and voted into law on March 28.

The idea of a digital nomad visa is a great one. And there are lots of great companies that are embracing full remote. If you can handle the difficulties of the time zones and you have some Italian in you, then maybe Florence is in your Future. Andiamo!

The worst of the Supreme Court of the US?


With all the news concerning the US Supreme Court, I did some digging to see how the current court measures up against its predecessors. Here some pieces I found on the worst decisions ever made:

And here are two articles on the worst members of that court:

Judge for yourself. 🙂

 

How math can help you flip burgers (or what I find interesting in math and sciences, July 2022)

Last week  was a big one for math, with the Fields Medals being announced. As The New York Times explained:

Four mathematicians whose research covers areas like prime numbers and the packing of eight-dimensional spheres are the latest recipients of the Fields Medals, which are given out once every four years to some of the most accomplished mathematicians under the age of 40.

That piece in the Times goes in depth on each of the winners and is worthwhile.

On a lighter side, here’s a story on how Mathematics can help solve this conundrum:

Should you flip a burger once or lots of times? A mathematician has calculated an answer.

. If you love math and burgers, it’s a must read. 🙂

Other good things I’ve been reading / checking out:

On smarter cities/better cities and the death of certain visions of the city

I am a fan of smarter cities. I was actually part of a group of technologists from IBM who wrote a detailed guide on how to design well performing systems for smarter cities. I was hopeful at the time that we could help governments make lives better for their citizens by using technologies wisely.

I think that is key: the technologies should help governments, not restrict them; the technologies should make the lives of citizens better, not worse. That key idea is what I thought of when I read this piece, Toronto wants to kill the smart city forever in MIT Technology Review. I don’t think Google had that as their key idea: if they did, they didn’t communicate it effectively. As a result, their vision of the future died, at least in Toronto.

Another vision of the cities that is dying is the suburban office park. There are many of them on the outskirts of places everywhere. The story of this one in particular is likely true for any park you encounter as you drive on the edge of a city like Toronto: Lonely Last Days in the Suburban Office Park – The New York Times.

As for other visions of future, WeWork is still hanging on in major cities. Perhaps that vision — of young professionals living and working in the downtown core –will endure for a while. To read publications like BlogTO, you would think so. We shall see.

 

On rethinking work

Work takes up a significant portion of your life. To me, it is something we should always be examining, if we care about our lives.

This is especially the case during this pandemic. I think we all have been examining work as a result of it. as a result of  how we have had our working lives disrupted. That’s a good thing.

I expect employers are going to want us to resume working as if it were the Before Times. Maybe you are one of those employees who wants to go back to that time. Maybe you aren’t.

All that is to say that I recommend you read these two pieces as you reexamine your work life:

We sometimes need prompts to help us think about things. Those two pieces will help with that.

Thinking about your work life is thinking about your life in general. A worthwhile thing to do.

It’s Sunday. Here are nine pieces to mull over this afternoon.

Sure you can make yourself busy on this warm summer weekend. Or you can chill for a bit and read one of these thoughtful pieces. I know which one I am going to do. 🙂

  1. Here’s a piece on the joy of Latin. Really.
  2. 100% this: The Case for Killing the Trolley Problem
  3. Worthwhile: Piketty on equality.
  4. This is a weak piece that tries to link AI to colonialism but fails to make the case:  AI colonialism.
  5. Do you have siblings? Read this:  How Your Siblings Can Make You Happier.
  6. Worth chewing on:The limits of forgiveness.
  7. On one of our oldest technologies: the importance of wood .
  8. Dive into this list of common misconceptions.
  9. Finally, this piece on  Alexa with the voice of dead people will get you thinking.

The Drone-Jellyfish wars and more (today in robot news)

Man, what I would have given to have these Jellyfish drones monitoring my beach when I was a kid. I hated jellyfish! Still do. Kudos for the folks who came up with this. (I don’t think the drones actually fight the jellyfish, in case you were concerned about this due to my misleading title. :))

Here on land, if you are keen to have a Boston Dynamics dog robot of your own, now you can. Click on that link for more details.

On Liz 2 and Chuck too. (Monarchy Watch)


The Queen of England continues to be well loved by many, both in England and abroad. Even in TV series like The Crown, she comes across well, unlike many others in it. Fine and good.

But we will all have to face a choice once the Queen dies. To make that choice, I thought these pieces are worth bearing in mind:

August 6, 2022: you would have thought after literally being caught red handed holding the bags of cash, that Prince Charles would be embarrassed enough to not do it again. You’d be wrong. Here he is taking money from the bin Laden family. Amazing.

Meanwhile schools are renaming themselves so they are no longer associated with that other disgraced royal, Prince Andrew.

Devs! Could your next online database be a spreadsheet?

If the thought of your next online database being a spreadsheet sounds ridiculous, consider this. Yes, I know, there are times when the only thing that will do the job for you is a highly scalable, highly available relational database. Certainly, there are other times when a NoSQL database with millions of records is the only way to go. That aside, there is likely many times when you need to store one table with hundreds of records or less. In that case, consider using an online spreadsheet from someone like Google.

If you write code to store data in a spreadsheet, one of the key advantages is that you and others can then interact with that data via spreadsheet software. You don’t have to run special ETL programs to get that data there. You have all the power you need. Plus the code to interact with something like Google Sheets is much simpler than the code to interact with something like AWS’s DynamoDB. I know…I have done both.

For more on this, check this out:Google Sheets API using Python : Complete 2021 Guide. It could be just the thing you need.

How to Download Apps on Your Old iPad and iPhone in 2022

If you happen to have an old iPad and you are thinking of using it, you will find this post of interest.

Like you, I have a very old iPad. It still works fine. However, one of the problems with old iPads is that Apple limits them in terms of upgrading the iPads operating system (iOS). My device cannot upgrade past iOS 9.

The problem with having an older version of iOS is this: if you try and download apps for it from the App Store, you will get message after message saying this application needs a later iOS to download. There are a few apps that you can still download directly, but not many, and not the common ones you likely use and want.

There is a work around for this problem. (I found out about it through the video below.) First, you download the apps you want on a iOS device that has a new OS. I did this on my iPhone. Then you go to your old iPad and look for apps you purchased. Voila, the app you just downloaded is there. NOW, when you try to download it, the App Store will say you don’t have the right iOS, BUT it will ask if you want to download a backlevelled version. You say YES and now you have the app running on your iPad.

This will only work for apps that have been around for a long time. So I was able to download apps like Twitter and CNN, but not Disney+. Still you can get quite a few apps downloaded that way, and suddenly mine (and soon your) iPad is much more useful.

For more on this, watch the video.

Thanks, Jishan.

 

On Obi-Wan Kenobi

I have been a fan of Obi-Wan Kenobi since the first Star Wars, and I’ve been a fan of Ewan McGregor’s acting since his first film. So I was generally pleased with the  Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+. If you’re the same way, I highly recommend you watch it.

Like The Mandalorian, I enjoyed having the chance to see more of the Star Wars universe with characters I’ve come to know and love over time. I thought the acting and directing and visuals all good. My main complaint is that both series played it safe. There is no compelling arch and the tension is low. I compare that to two TV series I’ve recently loved: Slow Horses and The Bear. They had me hanging on the edge of my seat. Not so with these Star Wars series. They are good, but they could be so much better.

The folks who made the video in this post sums up my thoughts better than I can! Also this is a good review.

Would I watch another season of Obi-Wan? For sure! And more from the characters that make up the original trilogy. Let’s hope Disney can put them in the hands of great — as opposed to good — writers.