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- The Grand Canyon is now a Dark Sky Park
- Are meal kits the future of restaurants?
- Why I buy suits from Zara
- On the superior virtue of the oppressed
- On the Facebook Boycott, and social media platforms generally
- Is everything political? What is wrong about thinking that way?
- Robot Fast Food workers, automats, and food trucks: food of the future (some notes)
- A good document on NoSQL database technology
- David Hockney: still going, still great
- Derek Parfit: Why anything? Why this?
Monthly Archives: June 2009
You may think it’s silly, but according to Gizmodo, this baby can reach speeds of 45 mph! Not bad for a shopping cart! Sure, the suspension is lacking (nonexistent), and the centre of gravity is high, but hey, these are details. Go check out this blog post to see a video of this roadster in action. It’s cool.
Coach (continues) going after the young market with “Poppy” (or, I must not let my daughter see this site :))
The Couch brand is everywhere (no doubt alot of that counterfeit) and looks like it is making forays into a younger market with this Poppy line. Lots of glam, causal bags and shoes that will no doubt be a big hit. I expect to see these cropping up near Abercrombie & Fitch stores as well as appearing in Coach stores generally. For more on this, see Coach – Poppy
Anyone around the age of 25 might be interested in this blog post: 25 And Over from the blog Tomato Nation. It has lots of practical advice on what you should leave behind. Not all of this applies to all 25 year olds, of course: some of you might be insulted that someone presumes that this applies to you (for example, Learn to walk in heels or Drinking until you throw up is no longer properly a point of pride). Other things likely will apply to most people at that age (e.g. Take care of yourself or Know How). It’s a good article, and worth a read.
However, I would like to offer some looking forward advice and perspective. You may not know this, but you are entering (or in) a time of your life when you have the most independence and freedom you will have, ever. You are healthier and stronger than anyone a generation later than you is. You have financial independence. You have no dependents. You can take care of yourself. You can do practically anything you want to do, anytime you want.
Sure, you have your troubles. And sure, you could have more money. And for some of you, some of those things may not be true. But for alot of you, they are. And if they are, I would encourage you to take advantage of this time. It will be shorter than you think. Enjoy it while you can.
(Flickr image from clevercupcakes’ photostream)
Warning: if you love fish, don’t read this article on the NYTimes.com site while hungry. The thought of it will have you rushing out for fish.
Even with all that butter, a fish poached like this will still be relatively lean. Not to mention delicious. And better still, it is simple to prepare and simple to clean up afterwards.
The other thing interesting about this article is that is clearly proves that the way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach. 🙂
Andrew Sullivan has the full speech that Obama gave today to mark the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. While it is a very good speech, and it shows you the longer term perspective of Obama, I thought this passage was great and it reminds me of what Martin Luther King used to complain about:
“It’s not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago.”
…it depends on where in the world you are. Certainly in many parts of the world it is. But not the only one. Check out this World Map of Social Networks from Vincos Blog
As you can see, in other parts of the world like Brazil and China and India (very big places all), Facebook is secondary to other players.
Incidentally, I came across this map/blog via the blog The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan, who had a link to this post World Map of Social Network Dominance on FlowingData that ended up linking to this blog.
When I think of technology and how it affects my life, my thoughts tend to go to the higher end stuff. But to note something Paul Krugman ponts out here on his blog (Bar mitvah – Paul Krugman Blog – NYTimes.com), it’s very likely the low end stuff that makes the most of a difference in our lives. After all, we take these technologies and others — fridges, canned and frozen food, paper — for granted, but it is the stuff we would be lost without if we didn’t have it. I would gladly take my Amana fridge over my Blackberry anyday.
The Sony Walkman is 30 years old. I still recall seeing my first Walkman. I was amazed at how good the sound quality was and yet how small it was. It was revolutionary to me.
There was another revolution, too. A social one. There was alot of talk at the time about how people were tuning out the world even as they were moving through it. It was not seen as a positive development.
All that has changed now, and how this technology is perceived now is very different than it was back then. To see how different, I recommend reading this article on the BBC web site. They asked a 13 year old to give up his iPod for a Walkman and to report back his experiences. It’s a good read: BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Giving up my iPod for a Walkman
According to the WSJ.com,
“The Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale.
Interviews with technology experts in Iran and outside the country say Iranian efforts at monitoring Internet information go well beyond blocking access to Web sites or severing Internet connections.
Instead, in confronting the political turmoil that has consumed the country this past week, the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes, according to these experts.
The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, and Nokia Corp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.”
This is signifigant beyond the Iran. As all our communications become digital, it becomes possible for everything we do to be tracked and monitored by any government. And that is possible because all communications on the Internet goes through centralized hubs at major ISPs.
We need to have communications as distributed as possible. We need a new Internet.
In the meantime, check out: Iran’s Web Spying Aided By Western Technology – WSJ.com
I am an instant fan of this song from the Noisettes.
The video and the band has such great style, too. As I was listening to it (and looking at the Karmann Ghia car), I thought: this reminds me of girl groups of the 50s and 60s. If you are not familiar with them, check out the Ronettes, the Shangri-las and others — including my favourites, Martha and the Vandellas — in this medley here:
The 1970s are popping up alot this week, it seems. Besides MJ and Farrah, there is this film clip from the new Ice Age movie (Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs) that features the hit classic “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” from the great Lou Rawls.
When I was growing up in the 70s, there was a morning radio show that I swear played this song every morning before school for…I dunno….months, at least. (Along with an advertisement for chainsaws, so now, when I recall going to school, I think of Lou Rawls and chainsaws). That aside, it IS a great song. And if you want to see it done by Mr. Rawls himself, it’s here:
Very 70s — the song is from 1976 — but Lou Rawls is smooth in any decade.
Of the many things being written about Michael Jackson, this one caught my attention. According to this CrunchGear post:
“some of the equipment he used was so creative as to warrant a patent”
If you go here, Michael Jackson, king of pop and.. inventor?, you can get the details, including a link to the patent (with his name on it). Also, you can see an embedded video with showing the patent in action. Very cool.
I learned about popular culture in the 1970s. I hadn’t thought of it too much until this week. Too much of 70s culture was bad, and shows like “That 70s Show” reminded and reinforced that for me. I was very glad when the 70s pop culture gave way to 80s pop culture.
But with the passing of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, and the release of new tapes from Richard Nixon, it all came back again this week. I recalled having a T shirt with Farrah Fawcett on it when I was a kid. (Hey, so did everyone else! 🙂 ) And of course I had seen the Jackson 5 many times on TV.
I pulled up some videos of the Jackson 5 on YouTube and found this:
It may seem strange and funny, but since colour TV was still fairly new back then, and special effect were pretty limited (Star Trek wasn’t just phony looking because of budgetary reasons), this may have been seen as pretty cutting edge. And Carol Burnett and other variety shows — and there were lots back then — would likely have had big budgets.
Whatever you think of all that, one thing I can’t help but notice is that Michael Jackson has always been a great dancer. Great performer, period. As were the Jackson 5. When all is said and done, and all the trappings of the 70s are put aside, they were great.
And if you are hankering for more 70s goodness after that, here are the Jackson 5 on Cher’s show, doing a medley of their hits. (Medleys were HUGE on variety shows.) For this, the only special effect is those tuxedoes.
How hard is it to write a novel? I suspect it is difficult, but this blog post, Why New Novelists Are Kinda Old, or, Hey, Publishing is Slow shows why it is really difficult to write a novel at all, never mind a good one. (Found via a tweet from Tim O’Reilly)
Reading this, I can’t help but think of what is one of my favourite Monty Python’s sketches: Novel Writing with Thomas Hardy. It is just so wonderfully absurd.
An exerpt from my favourite book, Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino:
Trading Cities 4
In Ersilia, to establish the relationships that sustain the city’s life, the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses, white or black or gray or black-and-white according to whether they mark a relationdhip of blood, of trade, authority, agency. When the strings become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants leave: the houses are dismantled; only the strings and their supports remain.
From a mountainside, camping with their household goods, Ersilia’s refugees look at the labyrinth of taut strings and poles that rise in the plain. That is the city of Ersilia still, and they are nothing.
They rebuild Ersilia elsewhere. They weave a similar pattern of strings which they would like to be more complex and at the same time more regular than the other. Then they abandon it and take themselves and their houses still farther away.
Thus, when traveling in the territory of Ersilia, you come upon the ruins of abandoned cities, without the walls which do not last, without the bones of the dead which the wind rolls away: spiderwebs of intricate relationships seeking a form.
The protests against the elections in Iran are occurring in many places and many ways. One way protesters in Iran are trying to get their messages out to the world is via the Internet, while those against the protesters are trying to shut this down. To bypass this, Iranians are using proxy servers around the world. Where around the world? Well…everywhere. The good folks at the Renesys Blog have put together this great post (The Proxy Fight for Iranian Democracy) that not only explains how this works, but gives you visualizations (such as the one I am linked to above) showing where Iranians are going to communicate. It’s a great article, although it helps to be a “techie” to appreciate it.
It’s visualizations like this that remind me that, while we live in the visible world, there is an invisible world of computer networks and radio waves and air traffic paths and other such constructs that we are only vaguely aware of and yet we are often highly dependent upon.
No one does remakes like the Muppets. And who better to sing “Yellow” by Coldplay than Beaker! Enjoy.
YouTube – Muppet Beaker sings Yellow by Coldplay
More tapes with the “thoughts” of Richard Nixon have been released. (Tapes Reveal Nixon’s View of Abortion – NYTimes.com) Including this astonishing quote:
“There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,” he told an aide, before adding: “Or a rape.”
There is extensive coverage of Iran over at this site: The Field: Al Giordano Reports the United States
But one thing that caught my eye is this cartoon, which is very true:
Roger Ebert really really really dislikes Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Which is bad for him, since he had to sit through it. But good for us, because we get to read a wonderfully scathing review of the film! Go read it: it’s fun!
As for me, I am going to be taking my seven year old, and he will likely he will love it. That will be good enough for me. And that will good enough for Michael Bay and the folks who made this film, because we will be bringing in alot of money as a result. So don’t feel too bad for people getting reviews like this: they’re doing ok. 🙂
(P.S. Thanks to Victor for pointing this out!)
Don’t you hate it when the church on your street is converted into a place that is catering parties for Oscar de la Renta’s 2009 Resort Wear show? Ok, perhaps that doesn’t happen quite that way to your and your neighborhood, but it has happened to some residents of Park Avenue in Manhattan.
I must say I felt some sympathy for the Park Avenue Residents (who are in a) Fight (with a) Caterer Over Events at a Church Hall. Sure they are very wealthy, but the well off want to have some say over how their neighborhood goes as anyone else (if not more so). What surprised me is that they are having to fight so hard and such an uphill battle to win this case.
It’s an interesting story. The NYTimes.com has the details.
I want to link to a stunning photo of the recent events in Iran. If it disappears from this blog, go to this link to see it. (In fact, go see the picture regardless. I had to shrink it here, and that doesn’t do it justice.)
What impressed me in this photo is what is transpiring in the moment it was taken. In the foreground, four men are attacking a man on the ground. The four men are big men. They have clubs. It’s very likely they are organized. Perhaps they are the Baseej/Basij.
In the moment that it is being taken, the men are about to be attacked by women in the background. These women are not armed. They are dressed in traditional — or at least non-Western — clothing. They do not look to be students or a mob. But they appear to be outraged by this attack, and they are counterattacking the men despite the risk of doing so.
There are many great photos of what is happening in Iran. But I thought this one was particularly strong. If I were a great painter, I would want to paint this scene.
See Iran’s Disputed Election – The Big Picture – Boston.com. It is great to see all the amateur photos and videos on the Internet. And it is not right to compare them to these pictures. They serve a different purpose. But in terms of journalistic photography on other MSM web sites, nothing compares to The Big Picture.
What do workers employed by some Chinese companies in Africa and China have in common? According to this article, Job Conditions Worsen in Areas of China, Experts Say – NYTimes.com and this one: The dark underside of Chinese building boom in Africa – The Globe and Mail, it’s bad working conditions. And why are working conditions bad? The same reason as always: it is cheaper to have people work under bad conditions, and if you are an employer indifferent to the lives of others, than you stand to profit from bad working conditions.
China and Chinese companies need to raise their standards. In the short term the worker will suffer, but in the longer term, China will.
I was just finishing up my run tonight when I was struck by a car. I did what I usually do, which is run up Yonge St., cross Castlefield Ave. and then stop just around the entrance to the parking lot at the end of the street. I do that mainly because I don’t want to get swiped by a car pulling in.
Instead, just as I stopped, in an instance I was struck while walking on the sidewalk and knocked to the ground, scrapping up my knee and shin and banging up my upper right leg. I turned my head and saw this big white car and for a split second I thought it was going to keep going and really run me over. But it stopped and two young guys got out.
At first I was really angry. I was yelling at them: what are you doing? I’m on the sidewalk?! And then it was a bit weird, because I asked them who was driving and I got different answers.
I got up and was going to go home. But they were calling 911 and I thought: what if I am in shock and some injury I don’t know about affects me later? (I was thinking of Natasha Richardson here.) As it was, in a few minutes the fire trucks came and they checked me out. Then the police came. Then the paramedics.
The paramedics said my blood pressure was high, but other than the scrapes, I seemed ok. They were going to drive me home, but because the police officer wanted to talk to me, I went home with him.
It turned out that a young woman was a beginner drive and she shouldn’t be driving unless she is without someone older (I think), and the guys she was with wasn’t. They are going to get charged for that.
As for me, I eventually got home and checked out my leg. I think it’s going to be pretty bruised tomorrow. Right now it is starting to bruise and it is swollen, and my leg is scratched up. But nothing seems broken, and I was lucky not to bang my head or anything.
I feel sorry for the the young people in the car, but it really bothers me getting struck on the sidewalk. Actually, what bothers me about this more than getting hit is that I am always so concerned about the kids getting hit by a car. You see, when I was a kid, I was run over while I was crossing a busy street by a car going too fast. I can remember getting slammed to the pavement and going unconscious. It was me and my cousin. The young guy who hit us said it was our fault and they were going to take us to the police and put us in jail, so we ran away, not knowing any better.
I was also lightly struck by a car when I was in college. I was crossing in front of this little old lady, and she was stopped, and I thought: ok, she is waiting for me to go. But as soon as I was in front of her, she started going, and I was knocked onto her hood. It was very minor, but being on her hood, I could see she had glaucoma so bad, her one eye — the one I thought she saw me with — was white!
So you can see why I am paranoid about cars. And why I am usually careful with myself and especially my kids around cars. I just didn’t expect to be struck from behind by one while walking on the sidewalk on the street where I live.
“Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.
“Martin Luther King once said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian people’s belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.”
— U.S. President Barack Obama
Yes, man is finally going to walk on the moon, and you can follow it on twitter!
40 years ago, when this happened, there was no twitter (or Internet, for that matter). To mark these events, Nature is using modern technologies like blogs and twitter to help you live (or relive) these events.
Go see ApolloPlus40 (ApolloPlus40) on Twitter for more information.
Someone has build a very cool page that has the old and new testament (New International Version) all laid on one page.
You have to see it.
If you want to chase your twitter avatar to green, but you don’t want to trust another service or program to do this, you can do it yourself. (Think of it like an arts and crafts project. 🙂 )
To do this the way I did, you need to have access to Microsoft’s Photo Editor and the photo that you used for your current avatar.
1) Open your avatar photo using Microsoft’s Photo Editor.
2) Click on “Image”
3) Click on “Balance”
4) Change the selection from “All Colours” to “Green”
5) Change the Brightness setting to “100”. The picture should now be green. You can play around with the brightness setting if you want.
6) Click on the “Ok” button
7) Click on “File”
8) Click on “Save As…” Give it a different name than your current avatar in case you want to switch back later
Now go to twitter.com
1) Click on “Settings”
2) Click on “Picture”
3) Use the “Browse” button to find your new green avatar
4) Click on “save”
You should be done!
If anyone knows how to do this with other technology like Mac OS X or Linux, please comment below with a link. Thanks.
This show: Vermeer, Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art Masterpieces from The Rijksmuseum, at the Vancouver Art Gallery
should be considered by anyone in the Vancouver area this summer. I haven’t heard much of the show, but with works from those two artists, I suspect it is either really good or great (depending on how many paintings are there from those artists). If anyone goes, please comment. And enjoy the show.
should be considered by anyone in the Vancouver area this summer. I haven’t heard much of the show, but with works from those two artists, I suspect it is either really good or great (depending on how many paintings are there from those artists). If anyone goes, please comment. And enjoy the show.
The next big debate in the U.S. will be about Health Care. There will be alot of things said for and against public vs private options. Anyone actively engaged in this discussion should read this: When Health Insurance Isn’t Health Insurance – Swampland – TIME.com. Even if you strongly believe that the private way is the best way to go — I don’t — then you need to have an answer for this kind of thing.
The NYTimes.com has very good coverage on the situation in Iran,
including an article pertaining to the social of Web 2.0 technology
Social Networks Spread Iranian Defiance Online – NYTimes.com.
I am struck by how actively platforms like Facebook, YouTube and
Twitter are being used inside and outside of Iran. So much so, in fact,
that Twitter had one of their infrastructure service providers postpone
a outage to maximize access to the service by the people of Iran. (The
outage is now scheduled for 1:30 am in Iran: middle of the afternoon in
Like Obama did during the election and afterward, Iranians are doing
many things, including changing how people perceive social networks.
This article, Grocery-flyer gourmets over at The Globe and Mail , asks: can you cook for two on $8 (or 1 for $4..or…well, you can do the math). It takes some work, and likely buying in bulk would help, but you can make good low cost meals cheaply. In fact, they have a game they illustrate to make it somewhat fun to do. I might give it a try.
I think to make it easier, stocking up on rice, beans, onions, potatoes, carrots, even other root vegetables like turnips and parsnips, would go along way to driving down the cost. So would having your own supply of tomatoes bottled. Even better, having your own herbs.
Another way to save? Eat less. Certainly eat less processed food. And drink more water.
I’m not sure what story these photos are associated with, but this slide show, titled Prints and the Revolution, has nine striking photographs, such as this one, where model “Assitan Sidibé wears a Marni polka-dot top. Christian Lacroix striped top. Marc Jacobs dress. Christian Louboutin shoes. Dries Van Noten bracelet”. Fantastic (and expensive) clothes, great looking models, but really great photography. Fashion photography at it’s best.
As fallout from the elections in Iran continues, a side debate is occurring around the role of mainstream media and in particular, the role of CNN. As you can see from the title of this article in the NYTimes.com: Dear CNN, Please Check Twitter for News About Iran, CNN (or at least CNN.com) has had poor coverage of the events in Iran. Indeed, not only is alot of information about Iran being sent around on sites like twitter as well as many blogs, but condemnation of CNN has also been happening at the same time. So much so, in fact, that criticism of CNN on twitter can be found by searching for #cnnfail. Check out the article for more on this story.
It’s odd to read this article and think of Google in the same way we now think of Microsoft. From Microsoft, to Google, to Twitter, each company had it’s day when it was seen as the premiere innovative company, only to be surpassed by the other. While Microsoft is still competing with Google (see Bing), Google is still seen as the one to beat. Or is it? See, Hey, Just a Minute (or Why Google Isn’t Twitter) in the NYTimes.com and decide for yourself.
I love this video from AI
The first time I saw it, I was surprised. Check it out. Better yet, check out the site: Activist. Hey, you need new summer duds. Maybe you even need a ‘board. Why not get it here?
Many languages have unique words that describe something so much better than any other languages. On Fridays, regardless of the weather, I like to embody a word best described by the French. And that word is Flâneur. According to Wikipedia:
The term flâneur comes from the French masculine noun flâneur—which has the basic meanings of “stroller”, “lounger”, “saunterer”, “loafer”—which itself comes from the French verb flâner, which means “to stroll”. Charles Baudelaire developed a derived meaning of flâneur—that of “a person who walks the city in order to experience it”. Because of the term’s usage and theorization by Baudelaire and numerous thinkers in economic, cultural, literary and historical fields, the idea of the flâneur has accumulated significant meaning as a referent for understanding urban phenomena and modernity
The Wikipedia article is really good. After reading it, you may want to become a flâneur yourself.
Like the Great Wall of China, the Great Firewall of China is impressive but not impregnable. According to Mashable.com, the government of China had cut off access to alot of social networking sites like YouTube, Twitter, and others recently, likely as a result of the 20th Anniversary of the events in Tiananmen Square. Apparently access has been (at least partially) restored. But were things ever totally cut off? According to this, The Great Firewall of China Stands Tall, Still Not Unbeatable, not really. Indeed:
“…what’s working? Well, VPN is still an option. Services like HotSpot Shield also work, as well as various proxy servers. And yes, despite the overwhelming blockade of half the Internet, people in China are still tweeting”
The question sounds ridiculous on the surface, but whether it’s the Great Firewall, the massive surveillance of users of instant-messaging service TOM-Skype, or now, this, China’s “Green Dam” Censorware Could Spawn a Zombie Network, China is capable of taking actions that have a big effect on the Internet. For example, wWhat would happen if hackers started exploiting poorly written software installed on millions of Chinese computers (e.g. like Green Dam) on a regular basis? Could it get so bad that the owners of the world’s biggest routers got together and decided to cut Chinese IP addresses from their routing tables, essentially dropping it from the Internet, in order to curtail the threat? That’s an extreme scenario, although not an impossible one.
In the end I suspect there will be some changes made to the Green Dam program. And while it will limit Chinese citizens, there will also be limits and work arounds found for it, just like there is for the Great Firewall (and likely the Skype software too).
In some ways Chinese restrictions are going to spur innovation on the Internet. The constraints they impose will lead to creativity. Perhaps instead of destroying the Internet, China will — intentionally or not — make it stronger.
(Photo is from jblyberg’s photostream on flickr.com).
As this Globe and Mail article explains, Glenora Distillers from Cape Breton (David) has won a big victory and is celebrating the end of a nine-year name battle against the Scotch Whisky Association (Goliath). Why? For using the word “Glen” in its product. Really. Never mind it has “Canada” right on the label (see the picture). And never mind that Cape Breton is very rich in Scotch heritage. In fact, when I first heard of Glen Breton, I thought: about time!
So if you want to celebrate a big victory for the underdog and enjoy a glass of truly fine single malt at the same time, pick up a bottle of Glen Breton. Better still, go to Cape Breton and get it directly. You’ll be glad you did.