Monthly Archives: April 2008

How great is the world? Discovery Channel explains

On what is wrong with vengeance

Over at ( is a really good review on Jared Diamond’s New Yorker article on vengeance. What struck me was this quote from Vengeance:

“Diamond argues that the New Guineans’ everyday open embrace of such a strong emotion is not necessarily a bad thing and that modern society can circumvent people’s need for vengeance, resulting in feelings of dissatisfaction that can create unbalanced emotional lives.”

At first I read that and for a moment thought: yes, vengeance could be good. Then the moment passed. I thought of Shakespeare instead. I thought of Romeo and Juliet and how much unhappiness and suffering come about as a result of vengeance. Vengeance appears to be seeking justice, but its partiality prevents it from being seen that way. What is necessary is for justice to occur, not vengeance. Vengeance is the justice of the gutter. Our culture and civilization is about getting above that, for everyone’s sake. Even the sake of those who, like the relative of Jared Diamond, lost so much.


Student “twitters” his way out of Egyptian jail at

There’s a great story on today about the effects and use of Twitter. From the lede:

“James Karl Buck helped free himself from an Egyptian jail with a one-word blog post from his cell phone.

Buck, a graduate student from the University of California-Berkeley, was in Mahalla, Egypt, covering an anti-government protest when he and his translator Mohammed Maree were arrested April 10.

On his way to the police station, Buck took out his cell phone and sent a message to his friends and contacts using the micro-blogging site Twitter.

The message only had one word. “Arrested.”

Within seconds, colleagues in the United States and his blogger-friends in Egypt — the same ones who had taught him the tool only a week earlier — were alerted he was being held.”

It’s a great story, and a great come back to those who think Twitter is about nothing more than endless versions of “whazzup”.

You can park scooters for free in Toronto

I found this out from the Vespa Canada this is a good thing all around.

The beauty of water balloons

Australia, Global Warming and Hunger

I’ve been reading a number of recent news stories about recent problems with food –and especially, rice –shortages. This lead me to this fascinating article in the New York Times that gave a new (to me) perspective on the problem. I didn’t realize how much rice that Australia produces. To give you an idea, there is a story about:

“The Deniliquin mill, the largest rice mill in the Southern Hemisphere, once processed enough grain to meet the needs of 20 million people around the world. But six long years of drought have taken a toll, reducing Australia’s rice crop by 98 percent and leading to the mothballing of the mill last December.”

And drought is only one factor in the loss of rice. See this article for much more: A Drought in Australia, a Global Shortage of Rice

Well worth reading.

Microsoft’s “Suicide Marketing”

A rather scathing article on Slate regarding Microsoft’s positioning on XP and Vista. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but it IS funny. See:

Slavery in the 21st Century

Sadly, it still exists. From the

“Former slave Adidjatou Mani Koraou, 24, poses with her baby Friday outside a court in Niamey. In a historic first, she is suing the government of Niger for failing to implement its anti-slavery laws, rekindling a row between the authorities, who deny the practice still exists, and activists, who say that Niger is home to some 800,000 slaves. Ms. Koraou was sold to a Tuareg slave trader when she was 12 for the equivalent of $543 Canadian and then sold to be the fifth wife of a traditional healer in central Niger, said Ilguilas Weila, who heads Timidria, Niger’s only local anti-slavery group.”

Faces of the living and the dead, who are one in the same

Over at the Health blog of the New York Times is a write up of an “art exhibit” in London showing Faces of Life and Death.

It is both remarkable and common. While the faces and the comments of the people are not unexpected, the overall effect of the photographs and the quotations are. You have to see it.

The photo is from Walter Schels/Wellcome Collection and shows one woman just before and just after she dies.

Heart rates and heart rate monitors

The has a great article on exercise, heart rates, and heart rate monitors here: The Flutter Over Heart Rate – New York Times

I am glad I read it. I have always been embarrassed about my heart rate when I run, because it gets really high. The formula of 220 – my age gives me too low a rate. In marathons I like to get it around 180, and in 5-10K I can crank it up to 200! But I always thought people would see it and say: whoa, that’s crazy! Or you are out of shape. So I kept it a secret! But when I read the article, I thought: ok, there is a wide range of possible rates, then.

I have a HRM from Polar, it’s basic (like the one above), but that’s enough to help keep me focused. If I feel tired, I will tend to slow down, and sometimes I don’t want to. The HRM helps there. But in a race, it does the opposite: it helps me keep my pace. It’s too easy to go too fast in a marathon or a half. The HRM monitor keeps me in control.

What is great about this video of Desmond Dekker and the Aces singing “The Israelites”?

Well at lest two things. One, there is the greatness of that band singing that song. And two, for those of you who miss 45s and those of you who have never seen a 45, here is your chance!

Actually, seeing 45s made me think that the process of manually playing music has an effect on how you listen to music. Then, finding music, selecting it, putting it on, putting it away…all those steps to listen to a song made you think about what yo uwere going to listen to. There was deliberation. Now there are so many songs at my fingertips, and I can easily pull them up…it changes the way I listen to music.

I think this is a sign that the apocalypse is coming! :)

Rich people are often the first to know! 🙂

Complex Blog » Gucci & LV’s Designer Gas Masks

(Tip from andrew sullivan)

The difference in movie trailers from today and yesterday (1977 – Star Wars)

I came across this trailer and was struck by how slow paced and detailed it was compared to trailers nowadays. It’s hard to imagine this was a good trailer, but it must have been, to help lure people into the theatre.

I also thought: where is the voice of the GUY who does all the trailers now? 🙂 It does seem like most movie trailers now are done by the same person. It is certainly a different voice than this one.

Check out the original trailer for Star Wars and see. (Also, notice the title font for Star Wars is different).

How to deal with Phishing

While these guidelines are for Yahoo! Mail, they can be useful for anyone. Highly recommended

How Do the Scams (Fake lottery winning notifications, Advance Fee Frauds, Etc) Work?

I received an unintentionally funny email today, telling me I won a two million euro prize. Woo hoo! I thought. Actually, the first thing I thought was: this is an obvious scam. But how do such scams work? Well, if you go here:

How Do Scams Work (Fake lottery winning notifications, Advance Fee Frauds, Etc)

you will get a better idea.

(Thanks to my friend Norbert for the tip)

Where to get Free classical music downloads? Lots of places!

over at is a post on Free classical music downloads

What is good is not just the posting, but all the other URLs mentioned. There are lots of sources there! Well worth a look