Archive for December 16th, 2010

16
Dec
10

12.16.2010 … et is home (via redeye) … molls is finishing up … jack is skiiing … john is chillin’ in Miami … and I am playing with my iPad (so there is a lot today) …. and happy 235th birthday, Jane!

memories, Christmas, Atlanta: … the lightings with all the choirs singing on each level and then riding the pink pig around it!

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Here’s an undated pic of the Rich’s Christmas tree atop the “crystal bridge.”

Jane Austen, google doodles: Happy 235th!

Google Doodle celebrates Jane Austen's birthday

Google Doodle celebrates Jane Austen’s birthday…. but not in the US.

Welcome to the Happy Birthday Jane Blog Tour sponsored by Maria Grazia of My Jane Austen Book Club blog. If you have joined the party in process, you have landed on one of the fifteen Austen bloggers or Austenesque authors that are honoring our favorite author today. The full list of participants is listed at the bottom of this blog post.

via Happy Birthday Jane Austen Blog Tour: A Celebration of her Legacy – Her Juvenilia « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog.Silhouette of Jane Austen

Here’s your chance to be published in the upcoming anthology entitled JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT, which will be published in Fall 2011 by Ballantine books and edited by Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose.

All you have to do is write a story inspired by the life or works of Jane Austen, and enter a short story contest. The winner will be published in JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT.

via Jane Austen Addict Blog.

culture, Ben Franklin, 21st Century: Great op-ed piece.

American culture was built on the notion of bourgeois dignity. We’ve always been lacking in aristocratic grace and we’ve never had much proletarian consciousness, but America did produce Ben Franklin, one of the original spokesmen of middle-class values. It did produce Horatio Alger, who told stories about poor boys and girls who rose to middle-class respectability. It does produce a nonstop flow of self-help leaders, from Dale Carnegie to Oprah Winfrey. It did produce the suburbs and a new sort of middle-class dream.

Americans could well become the champions of the gospel of middle-class dignity. The U.S. could become the crossroads nation for those who aspire to join the middle and upper-middle class, attracting students, immigrants and entrepreneurs.

To do this, we’d have to do a better job of celebrating and defining middle-class values. We’d have to do a better job of nurturing our own middle class. We’d have to have the American business class doing what it does best: catering to every nook and cranny of the middle-class lifestyle. And we’d have to emphasize that capitalism didn’t create the American bourgeoisie. It was the social context undergirding capitalism — the community clubs, the professional societies, the religious charities and Little Leagues.

For centuries, people have ridiculed American culture for being tepid, materialistic and middle class. But Ben Franklin’s ideas won in the end. The middle-class century could be another American century.

via Ben Franklin’s Nation – NYTimes.com.

art, the law:

Scala/Art Resources, NY.

Raphael’s Lady Justice at the Palace of the Vatican.

In ancient Egypt she was known as Maat, the goddess of harmony and order, depicted in the Book of the Dead as a kind of personified jeweler’s scale, weighing a human heart against a feather to determine a soul’s fate in the afterlife.

A new book surveys the history of Lady Justice. Above, “Lady of Justice” by Jan R. Mitchell, located outside a federal building in the U.S. Virgin Islands. More Photos »

In Greece she became Themis, sister, wife and counselor to Zeus, and the Romans then rolled her and her daughter Dike together to form Justitia, the only one of the cardinal virtues to have a signature look in ancient art. But the look of the grande dame we have come to know as Lady Justice — as interpreted by artists like Giotto, Brueghel and Reynolds — has been as changeable as a catwalk model’s.

She has strode forth naked and clothed, shoeless and shod, sword wielding and weaponless. She has been accompanied by a dog (for fidelity), a snake (for hatred) and a whole menagerie of other sidekicks that would befuddle the modern courthouse visitor, including an ostrich, whose supposed ability to digest anything was seen by the ancients as a useful attribute for the machinery of justice.

As the Yale Law School professors Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis show in an unusual new book just out, “Representing Justice” — an academic treatise on threats to the modern judiciary that doubles as an obsessive’s tour of Western art through the lens of the law — Lady Justice’s familiar blindfold did not become an accessory until well into the 17th century. And even then it was uncommon because of the profoundly negative connotations blindfolds carried for medieval and Renaissance audiences, who viewed them as emblems not of impartiality but of deception (hence the early use of the word hoodwink as a noun, meaning a blindfold or hood).

via Yale Law Professors Fix Their Eyes on Blind Lady Justice – NYTimes.com.

apps, lists: Lots of suggestions … even a NYT webpage that brings all app articles togethr.

SKETCHBOOK PRO ($8): Experienced artists can create masterpieces with this program. Hobbyists and children can happily lose themselves for hours. The app is powerful, yet fairly intuitive.

via For the iPad, 10 Favorite Apps – App Smart – NYTimes.com.

Take Me To My Car (free)

There are various 99-cent apps with names like Find My Car and Car Finder that can help you remember where you parked that car — which comes in handy when you need to locate your vehicle among hundreds of others in the airport parking lot after a week at the in-laws’. Take Me to My Car offers a decent free option for the iPhone. Information: takemetomycar.anresgroup.com. For Android users, Car Locator ($3.99) offers a free trial version good for several uses. Information: Androidlicenser.com.

via Airport Apps That Put You First in Line — Practical Traveler – NYTimes.com.

Mobile Applications – The New York Times.

iPad: murse!

But guys who want to lug around their iPads are finding themselves quietly reaching for a so-called man purse, or murse. The iPad-shaped bags seem to be the gadgetphile’s equivalent of a woman’s clutch.

via Coming to Grips With an iPad Carrier – NYTimes.com.

culture, education, ADHD:

Perhaps eager to make clear that A.D.H.D. is far more than a metaphor for the distractions of modern life, scientists love to point out examples that date to well before the term was invented.Dr. Urion invoked Sir George Frederick Still, the first British professor of pediatric medicine, who in 1902 described the syndrome precisely, speaking of a boy who was “unable to keep his attention even to a game for more than a very short time,” and as a result was “backward in school attainments, although in manner and ordinary conversation he appeared as bright and intelligent as any child could be.”Dr. Muenke brought up “Der Struwwelpeter“ “Slovenly Peter”, the 1845 children’s book by Heinrich Hoffmann, which contains the story of “Zappel-Philipp,” or “Fidgety Philip.” One English translation was done by Mark Twain, that great chronicler of boys.The circumstances of modern life can give rise to the false belief that a culture full of electronics and multitasking imperatives creates the disorder. “People have this idea that we live in a world that gives people A.D.H.D.,” Dr. Urion said. Of course one shouldn’t drive and text at the same time, he continued, but for “a harbor pilot bringing a huge four-masted sailing vessel into Boston Harbor, paying attention was a good idea then, too.”

via Untangling the Myths About Attention Disorder – NYTimes.com.

Great Recession, public works: We have been spoiled. New Shovel-Ready Project – WSJ.com.

Elizabeth Edwards, RIP: Very good article.

In the beginning, more than eight years ago, it was easy to be drawn to Mrs. Edwards, whose appeal enhanced her husband’s. John Edwards had stood by an older, hearty woman of substance; perhaps that boded well for women with dimming memories of their 40s and long-ago visits to the gym.

Mrs. Edwards made self-deprecating remarks about bad hair days, absent-mindedly stuffing a cellphone into her bra as she rushed to an appointment. She was a figure of catharsis, her journey as a mother pocked with sorrow and late joy.

A lawyer by training, her intelligence was keen, her commitment to health care reform and poverty unwavering. She was a refreshing model of a powerful woman, the un-Angelina.

via Elizabeth Edwards, Through Many Eyes – NYTimes.com.

random:

Video: How to Make a Gingerbread House for Your Mug | Serious Eats.

technology, e-mail: “tb;dr”: too boring, didn’t read.

Your theories are welcome, but I believe that the complexity of getting through a spam-filter maze with ever more dead ends is a key cause. When you put together many rules and different systems, some of which are not specifically designed to work with each other, unexpected properties emerge. This is much how intelligence may work, at a vastly more complicated scale. But certainly, emergent properties make it difficult to predict how a given input will be output.

But this is not all bad. We can embrace e-mail’s emerging ambiguity. If a sender can never know whether we received a message, the social expedient of “I’m terribly sorry; it must have landed in the bin” remains a viable white lie. (Editor’s note: that e-mail about compensation truly did not arrive.) It could be, though, that there’s a simpler cause. My e-mail may have become “tb;dr”: too boring, didn’t read.

via Over-eager spam filters: The emerging ambiguity of e-mail | The Economist.

products: And to make matters worse, it tastes awful.

Dannon — part of the world’s biggest yogurt maker Danone— agreed to pay a $21 million fine and stop making exaggerated health claims for two popular Dannon products under a settlement with the federal government and attorneys general from 39 states on Wednesday.

via Dannon’s Activia, DanActive health claims draw $21M fine – USATODAY.com.

college sports, education:

The millions of dollars being generated, however, continues stirring resentment by former athletes. Emmert defended the NCAA’s and universities’ use of those funds.

“There are 14 schools in the U.S. that broke even in their athletic programs last year,” he said. “Every other one of them put significant to dramatic amounts of money into their sports programs to support their student-athletes. That young man or woman you’re talking about was able to gain benefit from the best coaching staff, the best facilities, the best trainers, the best educational environment anybody can get anywhere in the world. OK, so the university generates some revenue to help support that effort. I don’t have a problem with that.”

Does the possibility exist that evolving media, which continue opening new revenue streams, has created an imbalance among the NCAA, member schools and the athletes they serve?

Emmert came back to the oft-heard defense that revenue produced by popular sports such as football and sometimes basketball support the masses.

via NCAA president: ‘We can never’ get to place where athletes are paid – USATODAY.com.

retail, apps, business models: guilty! I try to support local retailers, especially bookstores … but a book was 50% more in the store and Amazon shipped it for free.

“It’s so useful,” Mr. Tang says of his new shopping companion, a price comparison app called TheFind. He says he relies on it “to make sure I am getting the best price.”

Mr. Tang’s smartphone reckoning represents a revolution in retailing—what Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Chief Executive Mike Duke has dubbed a “new era of price transparency”—and its arrival is threatening to upend the business models of the biggest store chains in America.

Until recently, retailers could reasonably assume that if they just lured shoppers to stores with enticing specials, the customers could be coaxed into buying more profitable stuff, too.

via Phone-Wielding Shoppers Strike Fear Into Retailers – WSJ.com.

retail, something’s wrong with this picture, Christmas:

In the middle of Manhattan’s FAO Schwarz, Evelyn Goldstein turns away from a display of toy cars and discreetly takes a phone off her belt clip. In a low but urgent voice, she says: “I’m in vehicles, and I need empty carts.”

Toys are not fun and games for Ms. Goldstein, the lead personal shopper at the famous toy store. Particularly not on the third-to-last Friday before Christmas.

Perhaps no industry relies on holiday crowds as much as the toy business: Sales from November and December typically comprise 40% of the year’s revenue, according to the retail analyst NPD Group. During the holiday season, thousands of people visit FAO Schwarz each day. Customers sometimes start lining up outside around 7 in the morning.

If the store’s staff is on the front line of customer service, Ms. Goldstein heads up Special Ops. She cultivates a base of clients that includes plenty of big spenders who make an annual pilgrimage at Christmas time.

Married, Ms. Goldstein doesn’t have children—just two dogs and many nieces and nephews. Because of her job, she doesn’t celebrate the holidays until after Christmas. All she wants? “A vacation,” she says. She also wouldn’t mind a diamond necklace that shows a pony-tailed Barbie in silhouette. She knows just where to get one.

via Toy Stories: a Day in the Life of a Personal Shopper – WSJ.com.

technology, cloud computing, paradigm shift: It’s coming …

They are an attempt to realize the old idea of a “network computer,” or one which is mostly a front end for network services.

Of course, many people already spend most of their time with their PCs and Macs connected to the Net. Many use Web-based email programs or streaming music programs instead of local software.

So the time may be right for a cloud computer, a change in the paradigm. Google certainly hopes so.

via Google Goes to the Cloud for a New Idea in PC Operating Systems – WSJ.com.

RIP, A&P, changes, the past: My daughter was reading a short story the other day and I had to explain to her what the A&P was.

A bankruptcy filing would be a stark turn for the once-prominent grocery-store holding company, which started out as a tea and spices shop in the 1800s.

Back then, executives showcased their expansive ambitions by adopting a name that paid tribute to the first transcontinental railroad. The company eventually became the nation’s first national supermarket chain, with 16,000 stores by the 1930s.

But A&P has been squeezed by rival chains like Wegmans, Stop & Shop and ShopRite and continued high U.S. unemployment and lackluster consumer confidence.

Grocers that solidified low-price images before the recession, including Kroger Co. and Stop & Shop, owned by Netherlands-based Royal Ahold NV, saw their sales grow. But those that tried to keep prices higher—such as A&P and Safeway Inc.—suffered sales declines as shoppers intensified their search for deals.

After years of retrenchment, A&P’s store count has dwindled to more than 400 outlets in eight Eastern states and Washington, D.C.

via A&P on Brink of Chapter 11 – WSJ.com.

Great Recession, education, public works: We had to pay for transportation to public schools in suburban Chicago years ago.

The other options include, creating a 1 ½ mile “no transportation zone” around every school – meaning bus service would only be provided to the students who live past that boundary. Another proposal would adjust school bell times, and possibly create a longer school day. In addition to those proposals, CMS transportation officials looked at expanding shuttle stops, but their research showed that might actually cost more.

via CMS Cuts Could Toss 50K Students Off Buses | Charlotte News | Weather | Carolina Panthers | Bobcats | FOX Charlotte | Top Stories.

culture, teenagers, parenting:

They say you never escape high school. And for better or worse, science is lending some credibility to that old saw. Thanks to sophisticated imaging technology and a raft of longitudinal studies, we’re learning that the teen years are a period of crucial brain development subject to a host of environmental and genetic factors. This emerging research sheds light not only on why teenagers act they way they do, but how the experiences of adolescence—from rejection to binge drinking—can affect who we become as adults, how we handle stress, and the way we bond with others.

via How Teen Experiences Affect Your Brain for Life – Newsweek.

education, Great Recession: This is very sad.

After weeks of debate that touched on academics, race and politics, Evanston Township High School District 202 approved a dramatic plan Monday night that eliminates a combined honors English and history course for the highest-achieving incoming freshmen — usually white students.

The unanimous school board vote paves the way for freshmen of all races, socioeconomic and achievement backgrounds next fall to take the same freshman humanities course next fall. Proponents of the move see it as a way to diversify advanced courses and circumvent the traditional process of tracking students into courses by test scores that often places minorities in lower-level classes.

The board approved the plan despite opposition from hundreds of parents who signed a petition urging officials to at least delay the proposal while it can be studied further.

via Evanston Township High School District 202 eliminates honors English course – chicagotribune.com.

travel, Idaho, bucket list:

In recent years, Sun Valley has been looking forward: both the Lodge and its sister property, the Sun Valley Inn, have been refurbished. At Bald Mountain, the bigger of Sun Valley’s two ski areas, 645 acres of snowmaking and the recently opened Roundhouse gondola have raised the quality of a day on the slopes. At Dollar Mountain this season, the terrain parks have a host of new rails and jibs.

via 36 Hours in Sun Valley, Idaho – NYTimes.com.

Crafts, memories, fails: OK … I have failed at capturing my families memories, but do I rally want someone else to do it for me, for money …

Everyone, it seems, except the most compulsively organized, has hard drives or boxes full of family photos waiting to be placed in albums or scrapbooks. All too often, that day never comes, and the psychic burden of their presence grows heavier with each passing year. To solve this dilemma, we tried four different custom scrapbooking services that would do the work for us.

Two of the services created old-fashioned glue-and-paste books using colored card stock and fanciful embellishments to showcase our photos; the other two arrived at these effects digitally, in printed albums or album pages. While the former offered textural variety and richness, the latter were less bulky and accommodated more photos. Our experience taught us that professionals really do know how to scrapbook better than we ever could, although each book required some investment in our time as well as money.

Nancy Nally, editor of Scrapbook Update, an online trade journal, says that custom scrapbooking services are “a quiet underground” niche within the larger $2 billion a year scrapbooking industry. One byproduct of the recession is that consumers have begun to place greater value on handmade gifts, even as their leisure hours seem to shrink, Ms. Nally says. Many commission scrapbooks as a gift for a child graduating from high school or getting married, or as a tribute or anniversary gift, she says.

via Turning Family Scrapbooks Over to the Pros – WSJ.com.




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