Archive for February, 2011

28
Feb
11

2.28.2011 … long day comes to an end with rain … the cat and dog type …

2014 Olympics, mascots, politics:

Allegations of plagiarism, high-level political meddling and sheer poor taste on Sunday marred Russia’s choice of three furry mascots to represent the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Russians chose three mascots — a cute-looking snow leopard, polar bear and hare — by popular vote in a seemingly innocent television show late Saturday that aimed to choose a people’s mascot.

Eyebrows were first raised when the initial favourite to win the most votes — a portrayal of Russian Father Christmas Ded Moroz — was rather undemocratically ditched from the competition by the organisers.

Then it just so happened that the mascot which strongman Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had declared his favourite — the “strong, fast and beautiful” snow leopard — polled easily the most votes.

via Row over Russia winter Olympics mascots.

Middle East Uprising/Awakening, Al Qaeda:  Interesting …

For nearly two decades, the leaders of Al Qaeda have denounced the Arab world’s dictators as heretics and puppets of the West and called for their downfall. Now, people in country after country have risen to topple their leaders — and Al Qaeda has played absolutely no role.

In fact, the motley opposition movements that have appeared so suddenly and proved so powerful have shunned the two central tenets of the Qaeda credo: murderous violence and religious fanaticism. The demonstrators have used force defensively, treated Islam as an afterthought and embraced democracy, which is anathema to Osama bin Laden and his followers.

So for Al Qaeda — and perhaps no less for the American policies that have been built around the threat it poses — the democratic revolutions that have gripped the world’s attention present a crossroads. Will the terrorist network shrivel slowly to irrelevance? Or will it find a way to exploit the chaos produced by political upheaval and the disappointment that will inevitably follow hopes now raised so high?

via Al Qaeda Finds Itself at a Crossroads – News Analysis – NYTimes.com.

Facebook, apps:  I think status is ridiculous …

Facebook Breakup Notifier, a new app for the site, is super simple — and will probably be super popular.

It lets users pick certain friends whose relationship status they’d like to monitor. If one of those relationships changes, the user gets notified by e-mail.

Theoretically, the app could be used by friends who just want to keep up with the love lives of their buddies so they can be there with a pint of ice cream and a shoulder to cry on when things go sour.

Theoretically.

As of last week, there could be more relationship statuses changing than usual. Facebook added “in a civil union” and “in a domestic partnership” to its list of options.

via Facebook app lets you stalk — er, monitor relationships – CNN.com.

history, WWI, RIP:  Rest in peace, Mr. Buckles … last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I

He was repeatedly rejected by military recruiters and got into uniform at 16 after lying about his age. But Frank Buckles would later become the last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I.

Buckles, who also survived being a civilian POW in the Philippines in World War II, died of natural causes Sunday at his home in Charles Town, biographer and family spokesman David DeJonge said in a statement. He was 110.

Buckles had been advocating for a national memorial honoring veterans of the Great War in the nation’s capital.

via Last U.S. World War I Veteran Dies at 110 – NYTimes.com.

natural disasters, NC, OBX:  So what is the right answer?

Rising seas probably played a role in the erosion gnawing at much of the East Coast over the past century, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says. As the seas start to rise faster, it warns, erosion will only get worse.A state science panel expects sea level on the N.C. coast to rise 1 meter by 2100. The low, flat northeastern shore, including the Outer Banks, is among the nations most vulnerable places.

State legislators took up the fight last week, with a bill that critics say would upset the uneasy balance between development and nature.

The bill would allow terminal groins, which jut into the sea like fingers, trapping sand along inlets. Groins could stabilize the eroding ends of barrier islands, including the tony enclaves of Bald Head Island and private Figure Eight Island near Wilmington.

But while groins stop erosion on one side, they can magnify it on the other. North Carolina and Oregon are the only two states that forbid hard structures such as seawalls and groins, which may protect property at the expense of a natural beach. State policy holds beaches in trust for public use.

via As North Carolina beaches erode, debate rises – CharlotteObserver.com.

technology, changes, RIP:  Rest in peace, e-mail?

Teens’ taste for texting also reflects their affinity for communication efficiency. For instance, text messaging with friends is a convenient way to check in, while they might pick up the phone for an in-depth conversation or send a more formal e-mail to a teacher.

“There’s a utility in the way that teens choose to interact with each other,” Lenhart told Discovery News. “They pick the method that works best for them at the moment, and teens are just more likely than older adults to choose a wider variety of tools to use, and that’s what’s really different.”

At the same time, younger people haven’t quite mastered a cohesive e-communication etiquette, which can present challenges in the classroom and elsewhere with text messaging or social networking on the sly.

via Is E-mail Dead? : Discovery News.

globalization, energy v. food:  Conundrum …

World ethanol production increased fivefold between 2000 and 2010 but would have to rise a lot further to meet all the targets. The FAO reckons that, if this were to happen (which seems unlikely), it would divert a tenth of the world’s cereal output from food to fuels. Alternatively, if food-crop production were to remain stable, a huge amount of extra land would be needed for the fuels, or food prices would rise by anything from 15-40%, which would have dreadful consequences.

via A special report on feeding the world: Plagued by politics | The Economist.

natural disasters, earthquake, New Zealand:  Prayers …

New Zealand police are evacuating 60 properties in exclusive Christchurch suburbs after cracks appeared in cliffs above the houses.

via World News Australia – Residents evacuated from NZ suburbs.

Middle East Uprising/Awakening, Oman:

Oman, the normally quiet sultanate along the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, joined the wave of two-month-old political protests shaking the Arab world on Sunday, as hundreds of demonstrators clashed with the riot police in the northeast port city of Sohar. Oman’s state news agency, ONA, said two protesters were killed.

Shortly after the violence, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who has led oil-rich Oman for the past 40 years, gave orders to create 50,000 jobs, ONA reported. He also ordered that the equivalent of $386 a month be given every job seeker.

Governments in several gulf countries have announced reforms and financial assistance in recent days in an attempt to curb public anger. Calls for huge demonstrations on March 4 went out on social networking sites, calling on people to take to the streets in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Jordan, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.

via Oman Protests Leave 2 Dead in Clashes With Police – NYTimes.com.

travel, coffee shops, lists:  I am a Starbucks girl (which flies in the face of my love for local eateries) .  Surprise, surprise, Seattle was #1 … but Savannah was #7 …

Like a lot of people, Novak loves seeking out coffee places when he’s traveling. A good coffee place can be like a life raft: familiar offerings, comfortable chairs, and maybe even free Wi-Fi. “I prefer the local, non-chain shops because of the variety,” Novak says, “but I just want a place to relax and get a feel for the local atmosphere, away from the tourist zones.”

No doubt, charming places like Steps of Rome helped San Francisco land in the top 3 of America’s best coffee cities, according to this year’s America’s Favorite Cities survey from Travel + Leisure.

Granted, when Starbucks and other chains reign in so many shopping centers and office-building lobbies, it may be hard to imagine how one city’s coffee scene is much better or different than any other anymore. But when we looked at the survey’s top 20 results, we found several towns with great historic districts that still offer a unique café culture.

Other winners boast plenty of independent coffeehouses—such as Portland, OR, which took the silver medal position. “Portland has more neighborhood places to get really good coffee than almost anywhere in the country,” says Matt Lounsbury, the director of operations for Portland-based Stumptown Coffee.

New York City and San Francisco were also in the Top 10, though their coffee cultures can be a little more fast-paced. These days you’re likely to find new coffee places that are truly bars: stools up against a counter, great for espresso lovers who just want a quick shot before they move on.

Even for coffee snobs, though, good coffee is an affordable luxury. “It’s a rare surprise to find a shop that makes a passable espresso,” says Novak. “But that’s the fun of finding new shops—to occasionally find that gem that makes me want to return.”

via America’s Best Coffee Cities – Articles | Travel + Leisure.

politics, skeletons:

Gov. Mitch Daniels R-Ind. is known as a strong fiscal conservative, a top selling point for a potential presidential run. But before he was governor, Daniels was the first budget director for President Bush during a time when the country went from a budget surplus to a budget deficit, and it’s likely that he’ll have to explain how that fits with the philosophy he touts should he decide to jump into the Republican field in 2012.

via Mitch Daniels: Don’t Focus On My Time As Bush’s Budget Director.

autos, China, Great Recession:  Next bubble?

When Stefan Jacoby, the chief executive of Volvo, turned up in China on Friday, it was yet another sign of where the action is in the auto industry these days. But some people are starting to wonder whether there is a little too much action.

Mr. Jacoby was in Beijing to announce plans to build a new factory in China, with the goal of selling 200,000 vehicles there by 2015 — an ambitious target, considering that Volvo sold only 374,000 cars worldwide last year.

Volvo’s plans are a logical step for a company, formerly owned by Ford, that is now in Chinese hands. But they are also part of an industrywide rush for a share of the exploding Chinese market. Even General Motors now sells more cars in China than in the United States.

China is also helping to drive the development of electric cars and giving car companies more confidence that they can invest in the new technology and find a market.

With pollution already a grave problem in some cities, carmakers expect the Chinese authorities to put restrictions on gasoline vehicles that would not apply to cars that produced no tailpipe emissions. The European manufacturers also fear that Chinese companies like BYD will get a big lead in battery technology.

via Carmakers’ Rush to China Could Fuel Another Bubble – NYTimes.com.

Academy Awards, Cher, fashion, lists:  Who still remembers this lovely Cher costume?

Cher Turns the Oscars Into a Costume Party, 1986

Cher Turns the Oscars Into a Costume Party, 1986

 

Said Cher to the audience: “As you can see, I did receive my Academy booklet on how to dress like a serious actress.” She would wear another theatrical Bob Mackie creation in ’87, when she won Best Actress for Moonstruck.

 

via Classic Oscar Photos: The 1980s – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

27
Feb
11

2.27.2011 … thinking about how we define things … from Sunday School … “religion.” How do you define “religion?”

FPC, Sunday School – Wired Word, Charlotte, faith and spirituality: I usually go to a Sunday School class that focuses on current news … it is called the Wired Word.  This week’s topic was NASCAR, which is both a local and national news topic. 😉  Kirk Hall opened with the question, “How do you/we define religion?”  Very interesting  question.  From Kirk’s weekly e-mail …

NASCAR was born in the Bible Belt and has always welcomed pre-race invocations and religious symbols on cars. The biblical image of running a good race comes to life on the track, and many drivers become saints — especially after their deaths. Fans of the sport value tradition, as well as the risks involved. But has stock-car racing become a kind of civil religion, one that can lead Christians astray? So our next class will focus on the spirituality of NASCAR and how it both helps and hinders the practice of the Christian faith.

Thomasville GA, kith/kin, places, favorites:  One of my favorite places is Thomasville GA … hello, Julie and Doug!  What a nice article!

THOMASVILLE, Ga. – When you think about it, there has to be something pretty impressive about a place that few people outside of Georgia have heard about but was once referred to by Harper’s magazine as “the best winter resort on three continents.”

That place is Thomasville. Deep in the farthest reaches of Georgia, about a rock’s throw from the Florida line, Thomasville is a town where time seems to have stood still and the Old South never completely faded away.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Thomasville is one of the prettiest towns in America for a number of reasons. Rolling green hills. Furrows of red clay in hues of carmine, mahogany, and cinnamon. Graceful plantations that bespeak of an era long ago. Victorian architecture. Southern breezes. Bobwhite quail whistling among the pines. Kudzu-covered roadsides. Towering magnolias and oaks drizzled with Spanish moss. And plenty of warm Southern hospitality.

via Thomasville is one of Georgia’s best-kept secrets – Travel Wires – MiamiHerald.com.

library, Charlotte, Great Recession:  It appears the recovery may be too late to save our wonderful library system.

The Future of the Library Task Force must submit its final recommendations next month. Among the items members will discuss and possibly act upon include:

Whether to increase hours, staffing and resources at the regional libraries. Those changes would come at the expense of the smaller branch libraries, and some are likely to close.

via Tuesday vote could include closing libraries – CharlotteObserver.com.

faith and spirituality, church, Marthame Sanders:  A really good piece by Marthame Sanders.

Eventually, though, it’s time to stop playing church and start being church.

That’s the very problem that Isaiah is facing when he preaches to the ancient Israelites. They do very well at playing the people of God: they do great at the trappings of faith: they follow the sacrificial ordinances, they fast appropriately, they make a great show of humbling themselves. But when it comes to being the people of God, apparently they don’t do so well. And Isaiah let’s them know that they have completely missed the point. The ritual serves its purpose, yes; but if it doesn’t change lives, then it’s useless. “You fast,” he says, “but you oppress. You humble yourself, but you fight and quarrel and attack.”

“True fasting, true faith,” he says, is “loosing the bonds of injustice. It’s letting the oppressed go free. It’s giving bread, shelter, clothing to those who have none. That is where your light will shine – not in the fires of burnt offerings, not in the making of ashes to cover yourself in showy grief – but in the divine light of goodness. That’s when you stop playing a role and start changing the world.”

How do we make that transition? How do we move from playing church to being church? What are the things that we do out of habit, and what are the things we do because they make a difference?

Isaiah does a great job of putting a mirror to Israelite hypocrisy. What would that mirror look like today? What does it mean when we dress up for church, but then gossip about those whom we see at church? What do we say about ourselves when we read these words about injustice, oppression, hunger, homelessness, but then spent the other six days – or even the rest of this day – focused on ourselves? Does Isaiah make us cringe, because these words sound too politically loaded, or do we take this as a cringe-worthy opportunity for self – and community – examination?

via A Low Salt Diet? « i feast therefore i am.

random, tv, House, Princeton:  I realized when I was visiting Princeton that the back of the Campus looks like the aerial shot for House’s hospital … that is because it is.

frist campus center – Google Search.

The locations used for exterior shots of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital are Princeton University’s First Campus Center, [a] UCLA, and the University of Southern California.

via What Hospital does House MD take place? – Yahoo! Answers.

Warren Buffet, annual letter:  I enjoy reading it and reading the discussion … here are some early reactions.

Warren Buffett speaking to a group of students...

Image via Wikipedia

Warren Buffett has now issued his annual letter to shareholders. Now it is the shareholders’ turn. Here are some reactions from shareholders on Buffett’s letter.

via Here Is What People Are Saying About Buffett’s Letter – Deal Journal – WSJ.

cars, Volvo, station wagons, RIP:  Rest in peace, Volvo wagons … We have driven two, a 240 and a v70 for over 20 years and 350,000 miles combined.   I always assumed  I would have at least one more …

Volvo, the company most associated with station wagons for the last 20 years, will stop selling wagons in the U.S. The market is drying up. Farewell, Family Truckster, farewell (Photo: Ford Motor Co.)The Volvo wagon had been on life support for months. After dropping the larger V70 Volvo in 2010, Doug Speck, CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, told Automotive News he was giving the V50 another year because there “is a bit more energy in the small wagon segment.” Not enough, apparently. Volvo, which was sold to China’s Geely in 2010, sold just 480 V50s last year, about two per dealer.

What happened to the Volvo wagon is a classic case of automotive Darwinism. American buyers first turned away from station wagons during the 1973 oil crisis. Their extreme length, emphasized by long rear overhangs to accommodate a third seat, made them natural targets. In the 1980s, the minivan came along and stole the people-mover business. SUVs moved to the fore in the 1990s. Far more utilitarian, they offered a lot more cargo space, a command seating position, and four-wheel-drive.

via Death of the station wagon.

Apple, Macs, change:  Still more changes … I think I will wait for Lion before getting a new Mac.

But one particularly interesting under-the-hood change that we’ve learned about is an evolution of Mac OS X’s “resolution independence” features. Resolution independence has been a long talked about feature that would eventually provide support for high DPI (dots per inch) displays. While there has been the beginnings of support for it starting in Mac OS X Tiger (10.4) and into Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6), full support was never realized. In Mac OS X Lion, however, references to Resolution Independence has been replaced with a new system that could pave the way for these super high resolution “Retina” monitors.

via Mac OS X Lion Building in Support for Super High Resolution ‘Retina’ Monitors – Mac Rumors.

twitter, Middle East Uprising/Awakening: The twitter line reeled me in … the article is very helpful at explaining the differences in the countries involved.

Five lessons we can learn from the Middle East revolutions, including “Patience Is a Virtue” | http://ti.me/fxJ2E9

via TIME.com (TIME) on Twitter.

There’s no need to panic.

Revolutions are messy affairs. They don’t follow the easy logic of middle-school textbooks. Hostilities in the American Revolution broke out a year before the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution was not ratified until nearly seven years after the decisive battle at Yorktown. In two years starting in 1974, Portugal went from neofascism to army rule to something like a communist putsch and then to liberal democracy, where, happily, it has stayed. (Along the way, events in that little country made the end of white rule in South Africa and Rhodesia inevitable. That’s another thing about revolutions: their reverberations often surprise.) The Philippines got rid of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 but is still groping toward a system of government that is both effective and democratic.

(See TIME’s photo-essay “Scenes from the Unrest in Libya.”)

In the 10 weeks since demonstrations began in Tunisia, the Arab Middle East has been messiness personified. We have seen the relatively swift and peaceful ouster of the regime in Tunisia; an 18-day standoff marked by peaceful mass protests and sporadic regime resistance before the departure of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt; demonstrations for constitutional reform combatted by deadly force, followed by negotiations in Bahrain; and most recently, the outbreak of violence bordering on civil war in Libya. And this catalog of the Arab world’s democratic winter doesn’t include the protests elsewhere, against everyone from a classic big man in Yemen to hereditary monarchs in Morocco and Jordan. So what can we learn from the region’s revolutions — and those that went before them?

But the key thing about the Arab revolution — the reason we can dream that even Libya may turn out fine — is that Arabs are doing it for themselves. This revolution is a regional one, a movement in which each nation’s young people have learned tactics, technological fixes and slogans from one another. A local TV channel — al-Jazeera, not the BBC or CNN — has been a principal megaphone. The unplanned system of mutual support that has developed may turn out to have done more to bind the region together than the top-down attempts to create pan-Arabism in the 1950s. This year, says Rogan, “Arabs have been inspired by the example of fellow Arabs. What matters in the Arab world matters to Arabs.” For that reason, it matters to us all.

via Learn to Love The Revolution – TIME.

pirates, game changer:

Until four Americans died this week after they were captured by Somali raiders, the United States and other countries considered pirates a nuisance. The world’s navies catch and release hundreds of pirates off the African coast every year, and no one has worried too much about it.

The killings represent a new level of violence in the thriving high seas enterprise.

Fifteen pirates are now in custody in the incident, many of them headed to the U.S. to face criminal charges. But experts say that may be the worst option in fighting the piracy problem.

Nikolas Gvosdev, who teaches at the U.S. Naval War College, told NPR’s Talk of the Nation that the killings could be a “9/11 moment,” like when passengers and airlines decided they had to fight back against hijackers.

via Fighting Piracy At Sea And In Court : NPR.

photographs, Middle East Uprising/Awakening, Libya:  This picture says it with very few words …

CIVIL WAR WEEKEND

via DRUDGE REPORT 2011®.

history, Frederick Douglass, Civil War:

For Douglass, his warm reception in Ireland also served as an ironic contrast to difficulties he would soon face in his native land. Even as he toured Ireland, a blight was destroying the potato crop on which the island depended. In the coming years, the disaster transmogrified into a full-fledged famine, sending millions of Irish to North America. During that period and through the Civil War years, many — but not all — Irish-Americans and their leaders opposed Douglass’s fight to gain rights for African-Americans. They opposed his efforts to win rights for enslaved blacks in the South and for blacks in the North, free but denied U.S. citizenship and subject to widespread discrimination — including, in many cases, both de facto and de jure segregation.

via Frederick Douglass’s Irish Liberty – NYTimes.com.

fast food, McDonalds:  Good question, Why?  (I actually like the oatmeal … but not so much now that I know what is in it.)

The bottom-line question is, “Why?” Why would McDonald’s, which appears every now and then to try to persuade us that it is adding “healthier” foods to its menu, take a venerable ingredient like oatmeal and turn it into expensive junk food? Why create a hideous concoction of 21 ingredients, many of them chemical and/or unnecessary? Why not try, for once, to keep it honest?

I asked them this, via e-mail: “Why could you not make oatmeal with nothing more than real oats and plain water, and offer customers a sweetener or two (honey, the only food on earth that doesn’t spoil, would seem a natural fit for this purpose), a packet of mixed dried fruit, and half-and-half or — even better — skim milk?”

via How to Make Oatmeal . . . Wrong – NYTimes.com.

Academy Awards, gLee, gLee effect:  Wouldn’t you love to be a member of the PS22 Chorus, a fifth-grade glee club from Staten Island!!

The Academy Award show is Sunday night, and excitement is growing over what celebrities will wear, what they will say, and who will be the big winners. In addition, we can expect to hear some musical performances by Mandy Moore, Randy Newman and Gwyneth Paltrow (yes, she’s singing).

But there is one group performing you probably don’t know: The PS22 Chorus, a fifth-grade glee club from Staten Island.

After discovering the PS22 Chorus on YouTube, Anne Hathaway showed up at their Winter Recital in December to personally invite them to perform at the awards show. Needless to say, there was a lot of screaming.

via The PS22 Chorus Goes To The Oscars : Monkey See : NPR.

history, Mount Vernon, George Washington:  Enjoyed this article … perspective is everything.

The new Mount Vernon humanized Washington, but only by eclipsing the true meaning of him and his home for a changing nation: not a refuge from modernity but an incubator of it.

via Rebranding Mount Vernon – NYTimes.com.

TED Prize, street art, public art:  Did not know there was a TED Prize … this one is interesting.

I first met JR one afternoon late last November in his studio in Paris. The nearest Metro station is named after Alexandre Dumas, and there’s something “Three Musketeers”-ish about the team inside too: JR; one right-hand man, Emile Abinal; and the other, their “philosopher and guru,” Marco Berrebi, were winding down from a poster-pasting trip to Shanghai and preparing for a press conference about the positive aftereffects of their portraits in the Middle East. They never really had people in the studio before, and there was some cleaning up to do — for one thing, a yellow Kawasaki motorcycle was parked right in the middle of it. Hanging on a far wall, hidden between large-scale photographs of JR’s installations, was a small trophy cabinet containing two battered broom brushes, a squeegee and a box of powdered glue. “We kneel down and pray in front of that every day,” JR said.

We sat in a corner to talk about the TED Prize, which he won a month earlier. Every year since 2005, the New York-based TED organization has awarded $100,000 to prominent figures like Bono and Bill Clinton and Jamie Oliver who are expected to use the money to fulfill “one wish to change the world.” Now 28 years old, JR is the prize’s youngest winner.

“I don’t even know how they knew my work,” he said, still flush from the news. “What I love about the TED is that it’s not, Hey, take this check and enjoy. It’s, Do something with this, and we’ll help you. I think that’s the most beautiful prize I’ve ever heard of.” Until JR announces his plans this week at the TED conference, the contours of his next project are secret, but it’s likely to resemble his earlier actions, as he calls them; only this time, he says, it will be bigger.

via Supercolossal Street Art – NYTimes.com.

gLee, Katie Couric, school chorus clubs:  I have something in common with Katie Couric …

I’ll admit it, I’m a “Gleek.”

For those of you who don’t watch the show “Glee” that would be a Glee-geek (clever…huh?)

Sure the show can be sappy, but that’s often the point. It is just fun.

However, seeing some real show choirs (singing and dancing students) was even more entertaining.

In our piece for Tuesday’s “CBS Evening News, we profile the students at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, Calif.

via “Glee” effect makes high school choir cool – Couric & Co. – CBS News.

urban planing, aerotroplis, Dubai, China:  Aerotroplis?  Enjoyed this whole article about the next stage in the evolution of cities.

In public statements, Sheikh Ahmed has equated the future of Dubai with the future of Emirates, calling his country’s mammoth airport the center of a new Silk Road connecting China to the Middle East, India and Africa.

Thanks to the jet engine, Dubai has been able to transform itself from a backwater into a perfectly positioned hub for half of the planet’s population. It now has more in common with Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangalore than with Saudi Arabia next door. It is a textbook example of an aerotropolis, which can be narrowly defined as a city planned around its airport or, more broadly, as a city less connected to its land-bound neighbors than to its peers thousands of miles away. The ideal aerotropolis is an amalgam of made-to-order office parks, convention hotels, cargo complexes and even factories, which in some cases line the runways. It is a pure node in a global network whose fast-moving packets are people and goods instead of data. And it is the future of the global city.

This hasn’t been lost on Paul Romer, the Stanford University economist overseeing the development of an instant city in Honduras. He proposes building “charter cities” in impoverished states with new laws, new infrastructure and foreign investors—free trade zones elevated to the realm of social experiment. Mr. Romer sold Honduran President Porfirio Lobo on the idea in November and has stayed on as an adviser. Last month, the Honduran Congress voted to amend the country’s constitution to allow the pilot project to proceed.

The aerotropolis arrives at a moment when urban centers seemingly have started to rule the world. Just 100 cities account for nearly one-third of the global economy. “If the 20th century was the era of nations,” South Korean President Lee Myung-bak pronounced at New Songdo’s christening in 2009, “the 21st century is the era of cities.”

The aerotropolis is tailor-made for today’s world, in which no nation reliably dominates and every nation must fight for its place in the global economy. It is at once a new model of urbanism and the newest weapon in the widening competition for wealth and security.

via Aerotropolis: The Airport-Based Global City of Tomorrow – WSJ.com.

26
Feb
11

2.26.2011 … I have a friend who posts her musings on the bus … I just couldn’t let this one go … Middle aged man with woman in too-tight t-shirt, too-short shorts and the trampiest red short boots with heavy metal zipper … in elevator at Ritz Carlton … Pretty Woman?

movies, baby boomers: Never the two shall meet?

Hollywood, slower than almost any other industry to market to baby boomers, may be getting a glimpse of its graying future. While the percentage of moviegoers in the older population remains relatively small, the actual number of older moviegoers is growing explosively — up 67 percent since 1995, according to GfK MRI, a media research firm.

via Older Audience Makes Its Presence Known at the Movies – NYTimes.com.

random, fast food, Louisville KY, Orlando FL, superlatives: Not  a superlative to be proud of …

According to numbers crunched by AggData for the Daily Beast, you’d have the best luck in Orlando, Fla., the U.S. city with the highest concentration of Burger King, Taco Bell and KFC restaurants per capita.

Other fast-food meccas: Louisville, Ky., with the most McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, Papa John’s and Applebee’s locations per 100,000 residents, and Richmond, Va., which claimed the most Olive Garden, Chick-fil-A and Hardee’s outposts per capita.

via Which U.S. City Has the Most Starbucks, McDonald’s, Olive Garden, IHOP or Jack in the Box Locations Per Capita? – TIME Healthland.

Middle East Unrest/Awakening, Jordan: Turning back the clock to 1952 …

Thousands of people demonstrated peacefully for political reform in Amman, the capital, and in other Jordanian towns on Friday, with opposition forces drawing the largest crowds since the weekly Friday protests began eight weeks ago. The opposition also expanded its demands.

The police estimated the number of protesters in the capital as 6,000, but organizers said that more than 10,000 people had turned out.

Activists from the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups said that the large turnout was a reaction to the violence that erupted last week, when government supporters clashed with a relatively small group of several hundred demonstrators who were calling for political change, injuring eight people. The protesters described being attacked by “thugs” wielding wooden clubs and iron bars.

At the rallies on Friday, Jordanians were calling, among other things, for an end to corruption, more democracy and for a return to the original formulation of the country’s 1952 constitution, without its numerous amendments — a step that would translate into less power for the king.

Naher Hattar, a political activist from Jayeen, a new coalition of leftists, unionists and retired generals who organized the first protest on Jan. 7, said, “The main demand now was to go back to the 1952 constitution. This would be a step forward.”

via Jordan Protesters Push for Reform – NYTimes.com.

The President, Constitutional Law, DOMA:  I am not sure where this one is going …

The Obama Justice Department’s announcement yesterday that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court was perhaps inevitable—not only because President Obama himself has been signalling the evolution of his views on same-sex marriage, but also because the argument the Administration had been left with for DOMA wasn’t one you’d want to stake a lot on.

The fact is that DOMA was getting harder to uphold even under less stringent tests than the one the Obama Administration now proposes. (See Jeffrey Toobin’s post for a discussion of what “heightened scrutiny” means.) That was the take-away from the ruling issued by a District Court Judge in Massachusetts, who last summer found in favor of a group of same-sex couples challenging DOMA. The couples had been married in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal, but, under Section 3 of DOMA, had been denied benefits accorded to married couples by the federal government—Social Security benefits for spouses, health benefits for federal employees’ spouses, and so on. Gay and Lesbian Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) had filed suit in 2009, charging that Section 3 of DOMA violated the equal-protection clause of the Constitution.

The Obama Administration, in other words, had been left with one argument—an argument that undermined states’ rights and asserted federal dominion in order to shore up a position that it didn’t want to defend on substantive grounds. And this was at a time when, perhaps, it would rather not be seen as upholding the federal government’s right to flout state laws. No wonder it was ready to cut DOMA loose.

via News Desk: Obama, DOMA, and States’ Rights : The New Yorker.

Warren Buffet, business, impressions:  The Oracle of Omaha lives “in the same humble Omaha house that he bought for $31,500.” His presumptive heir just bought a $15 million  NYC apartment which he intends to combine with an $8 million ap

Warren Buffett has lived for decades in the same humble Omaha house that he bought for $31,500, but a leading contender to succeed him as head of Berkshire Hathaway can’t resist a little Manhattan glitz.

A potential successor to Warren Buffett acquires an adjoining apartment in one of Manhattan’s prestigious buildings, whose celebrity neighbors include Jack Welch and Beyonce. WSJ’s Craig Karmin tells Kelsey Hubbard about Ajit Jain’s $14.65 million purchase.

Ajit Jain, who runs Berkshire’s highly profitable specialty reinsurance business, last week bought a 34th-floor four-bedroom apartment at One Beacon Court for $14.65 million, according to people familiar with the matter. It was listed at $16.5 million.

Mr. Jain already owned a neighboring apartment in the East 58th Street building, which he purchased at auction in 2009 for $8.3 million, public property records show. Close to 50 bidders vied for that unit in a bankruptcy auction but he still got it for less than the $10.4 million the previous owner paid in 2007.

That previous owner of the apartment in the 2009 deal was Marc Dreier, a New York attorney who was sentenced to 20 years in prison after running a Ponzi scheme. Mr. Dreier spent some time under house arrest in that Beacon Court apartment.

Brokers now expect Mr. Jain to combine the two apartments, which would create a residence of nearly 6,000 square feet. Both units boast large outdoor terraces that, combined, would be the biggest private outdoor space at One Beacon Court, brokers say. Beyonce, Jack Welch and Brian Williams also own apartments in the building.

via Berkshire Exec Buys $15M Pad – WSJ.com.

road food, gas station food, food trends, bucket list, TX:  Another to add to my list … I am already a diner fan … and have a favorite gas station/diner … This seems more like a gas station/food cart.

Taco trucks have gotten so popular they’re already practically passé. But there’s another way of linking motor vehicles and Mexican food: taquerias in gas stations. If you’ve never heard of such a thing, you’re not from Texas, where it’s an oft-repeated notion that some of the best tacos are sold where you buy fuel.

Some restaurateurs like the architecture of gas stations, which evoke the squat, cinderblock structures seen in small towns across Mexico. Less romantic is the advantage that former filling stations often have: grease traps, which can be expensive to build from scratch.

FILL ‘ER UP: There’s no fueling at Norma’s Taco’s, a new gas station-turned-taqueria in Pasadena, Calif. The pumps are now decorative.

In some cases, drivers can gas up while chowing down on carne asada or al pastor tacos. In others, the pump is dry, but some of the service-station vibe remains

via Gas Station Taquerias, a New Food Trend – WSJ.com.

 

25
Feb
11

2.25.2011 … home … FL was nice … home is nicer …

democracy, US, Egyptian Uprising:

Mr Herbert wanted to say that American democracy is broken because it’s been hijacked by the rich. This is one of approximately five columns liberal pundits phone in when they are uninspired or feeling lazy. Not that you can sleepwalk through a phone-in! Oh, there’s work to do. First, you’ve got to find a piping hot news hook. This can be accomplished by staring at the headlines until you run across a word that also appears in one of your ready-made gotta-get-to-brunch op-ed templates. So, let’s see… Egyptians have cast out a dictator in hopes of one day establishing a democracy. Democracy! Rich people have hijacked our democracy! Then it’s just a matter of peppering the thing with au courant Pavlovian keywords: “corporate stranglehold”, “Citizens United decision”, “Koch brothers”. Finally, one must summon the energy to loop back to the hook. “The Egyptians want to establish a viable democracy, and that’s a long, hard road. Americans are in the mind-bogglingly self-destructive process of letting a real democracy slip away.” Boom! This is is how they do it in the bigs, folks.

None of this is to say that worries similar to Mr Herbert’s about the undue influence of money in politics are unworthy of a careful substantive response. I started this post intending to offer such a response. It just turns out that this particular column’s paint-by-numbers roteness slaps you in the face so hard that I couldn’t help concluding it doesn’t merit one.

via Phoning it in: The magic of Bob Herbert | The Economist.

Detroit, public art:  OK, I found this one funny …

It’s easy to imagine why Detroit’s powers-that-be might wish to distance themselves from a famous cinematic symbol of Detroit as a violent, crumbling dystopia. Indeed, a “crowd-sourced” $50,000 RoboCop statue may seem like a cruel practical joke played on the struggling city by heartless nerds. However, it’s possible to imagine how the project may seem to some as a glimmer of hope. If Detroit’s going to make a comeback, it will need a lot of this sort of bottom-up initiative and energy. If a cast-iron monument to RoboCop suggests resignation to Detroit’s decline, it also suggests the playful will to keep Detroit alive as an object of imagination, and in imagination there is hope. Plus, tourists! That’s all nice. But for now I suspect that here in the USA the coordinating functions of social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Kickstarter will be deployed more for the amusement of well-wired geeks than for initiatives that will actually help those suffering in hard-knock cities like Detroit.

via Crowd-sourcing recovery: Detroit, you have suffered an emotional shock. I will notify Kickstarter | The Economist.

happiness, Gretchen Rubin, book shelf, Margaret Roach:  I don’t think I have to leave home to find happiness. 🙂

I love reading accounts of other people’s happiness projects — whether it’s Thoreau moving to Walden Pond or Alisa Bowman working to save her marriage. So when I heard about Margaret Roach’s book, And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

With my own happiness project, I never left my own neighborhood; for her happiness project, Margaret left New York City and a big job with Martha Stewart Omnimedia to move to upstate New York to reconnect with her first passion, gardening (she also has a very popular blog, A Way to Garden). Her account of what happened, and what she learned, is very powerful.

via The Happiness Project: “A Very Close Friend Says That I Am Not Type A, but AAA.”.

Middle East Awakening, Libya:  What next?

More than the relief at the crumbling of the institutions of repression is that of the policies of de-development. Despite its oil largesse, the east appears to be almost devoid of infrastructure aside from its oil industry. Oil is stored in gleaming modern depots while water stagnates in concrete dumps. The only ships docking at Torbuk’s jetties are tankers for export. Blackouts are commonplace. So dire is the health service that Libyans who have the means head to Egypt or Tunisia for treatment. An elderly teacher points out the spelling mistakes in the graffiti that are daubed across the town. Until recently, foreign languages were banned from the syllabus as “enemy tongues”. Few people anyway would have had the opportunity to practise them; talking politics with foreigners carried a three-year prison term.

via Libya in fragments: A new flag flies in the east | The Economist.

travel, airlines, Great Recovery:  Leading indicator of a recovery is whether the airlines can make a fare hike stick … interesting.

The bottom line here is the same one Gulliver has been spouting for weeks: any economic recovery is far from solid, and the business-travel recovery is even more tenuous than the improvement in the broader economy. Airlines are still having trouble raising their prices. In the short term, that’s good news for those of us who have jobs and are travelling—we’re travelling cheaper and better. But in the long term, a more solidly grounded recovery would be good news for all of us. When the airlines start being able to raise their prices without blinking, we’ll know we’re really on the road to recovery.

via Airline fare increases: The big airlines get cold feet | The Economist.

Vancouver BC, lists, superlatives, bucket list:  Most livable … I’d like to visit.

 

VANCOUVER remains the most liveable city in the world, according to the latest annual ranking compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The Canadian city scored 98 out of a maximum 100, as it has done for the past two years.

via Liveability ranking: Where the livin’ is easiest | The Economist.

politics, WI:  I am not impressed with the elected officials leaving the state.

THE stalemate in Wisconsin has persisted partly because a group of Democratic senators have left Madison for Rockford, Illinois, where they apparently remain, laying low. Political theatre? Gross obstructionism? Regardless of where you stand on the budget bill, there’s something to admire in that the Democrats cared enough to bolt. Something similar happened in Texas in 2003, when Republicans in the state legislature were pushing a redistricting plan that would have heavily favoured Republicans:

“In most cases, breaking a quorum has resulted in a temporary victory but a longer-term defeat,” said Steve Bickerstaff, a University of Texas adjunct law professor and author of “Lines in the Sand,” about an incident in which more than 50 Texas Democratic legislators fled temporarily to Oklahoma, New Mexico and even Mexico in 2003.

via Wisconsin: The value of bolting | The Economist.

tv, Jeopardy, technology:  I, too, have fond memories of watching Jeopardy with my grandparents, my mother, even my sister.  I  did not watch the match with Watson … but I did follow the story on the news.  I think I will watch it if it replays.

I HAVE fond childhood memories of sitting on the floor of my grandmother’s house and watching “Jeopardy” with her and her sister-in-law, who remained the undisputed in-house champion of the game into her 90s.

Perhaps we can blame Hollywood for creating unrealistic expectations about computers. Watson is not about to become sentient and self-aware and send the ex-governor of California back through time. Nor is it likely to rename itself HAL and shut the pod bay door on us. (By the way, that urban legend about HAL and IBM isn’t true.) But read some of the commenters here and you get a sense of the disappointment. For example:

Watson is merely a powerful computer interpreting massive amounts of data, thanks to some sophisticated programming. By humans.

It’s fun to watch, but a breakthrough in machine intelligence? Hardly.

In the unique case of Watson, the correct response to its win should come quite easily to us, because it’s less a matter of admitting that we were bested by a computer, than of celebrating an advance in human programming. Of course, those human programmers could probably be considered members of the elite, but let’s not hold that against them.

via Jeopardy and IBM: Watson and our superiority complex | The Economist.

24
Feb
11

2.24.2011 … realizing there is a major difference in resort wear and regular spring/summer wear … also wondering if my friends took their 3, 4 or 5 children in tow to a ritzy resort … there seem to be a lot of people that do it today.

random, Key Biscayne FL, Ritz-Carlton, travel:  Traveling with JBT on a business trip, I quickly realized  there is a major difference in resort wear and regular spring/summer wear… it was noticeable on arrival.  I forgot my pink and green Lily dress … Oops, I d not own one. The next most noticeable thing here is that there are a million families with multiple young children.  So I am  wondering if my friends took their 3, 4 or 5 children in tow to  a ritzy resort … Nonetheless it is nice to be in sunny FL where the weather is warm and living is easy.

business, leadership,  development: Interesting article about Ajay’s transition.

Throughout, Ajay leveraged his leadership skills in connecting with people. After 13 years at Citibank, he had an insider’s view of the way things worked there. Ajay explained that it “gets in your blood through a sort of reverse osmosis… But at MasterCard, I’m the outsider. So the only way I could get up to speed on the culture, what’s working, what’s not working, our competitive strengths and the like was to invest in listening”.

Thus, he spent a lot of time doing just that. Ajay describes walking into offices at the headquarters, sitting down (or “flopping in a chair”[i]) and saying “I’m Ajay. Tell me about yourself.” or “What can I do to help?” or “What should I not do”. Good start, but not good enough. Then Ajay went out to meet “people outside the big offices,” traveling around the world to visit MasterCard’s country offices to learn about their obstacles and strengths.

In general, Ajay chooses to be an optimist. In particular, he’s convinced that the “underlying secular growth is like a tailwind” for MasterCard. As people around the world switch from cash to electronic payments, MasterCard is in the “very rare” position of being able to run before the wind. And if they can manage their business “cleverly,” they should gain share and grow in the low double digits. My guess is that they will.

via Why Preparing in Advance is Priceless: How MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga Planned Ahead for His New Leadership Role – George Bradt – The New Leader’s Playbook – Forbes.

entertaining:  I like this idea of having a wood-fired pizza stove come to a yard party or block party.

Welcome to S & J’s Woodfired Pizza!

We are Sarah and Jonathan, the owners and architects of the most unique pizza experience you have ever seen! Our business was conceived out of a mutual love for pizza, family, and the great outdoors. We are a mobile operation that strives to bring the freshest and most delicious wood-fired pizza to patrons of festivals, concerts, and private events throughout Georgia. Our dough and sauce are homemade with the utmost emphasis on quality. We support local farms and use local ingredients whenever possible. Preserving the earth for generations to come is a big part of S & J’s Woodfired Pizza and we serve all of our wood-fired pizza on eco friendly biodegradable materials.

via S & J’s Woodfired Pizza.

NASA, graphics, technology: Great graphic recreation of the making of the International Space Station. USATODAY.com feature.

education, Great Recession, Former First Lady Barbara Bush:

This month, The Houston Chronicle published an opinion piece by the former first lady titled “We Can’t Afford to Cut Education,” in which Mrs. Bush pointed out that students in Texas currently rank 47th in the nation in literacy, 49th in verbal SAT scores and 46th in math scores.

“In light of these statistics, can we afford to cut the number of teachers, increase class sizes, eliminate scholarships for underprivileged students and close several community colleges?” she asked.

You’d think there’d be an obvious answer. But the Texas State Legislature is looking to cut about $4.8 billion over the next two years from the schools. Budgets are tight everywhere, but Perry, the state’s governor, and his supporters made things much worse by reducing school property taxes by a third in 2006 under the theory that a higher cigarette tax and a new business franchise tax would make up the difference. Which they didn’t.

via Mrs. Bush, Abstinence and Texas – NYTimes.com.

23
Feb
11

2.23.2011 … Leaving on a jet plane … But know when I’ll be back again … :)

random, pets, Senator Teddy Kennedy:  OK, I just liked this op-ed piece.  🙂

My feelings on this assignment were conflicted, to say the least. On the one hand, I was impersonating a dog. On the other, I was heartened by the warmth that people from so many other states felt for the senator from mine.

In time I found a strange satisfaction in writing back to these puppy-crazed children, one that I never got from answering the office phones. None of Splash’s correspondents cared about or even knew Senator Kennedy’s position on the estate tax, or whether he’d invoke cloture on a resolution to incrementally finance the defense budget. In fact, a simple “Woof!” seemed to be all the constituent outreach they needed to be assured that the senator was on their side.

Of course Senator Kennedy demonstrated his loyalty to the youth of America in many ways. He pushed to finance Pell grants for college scholarships and to ensure all children were covered by health insurance, and fought to lower the voting age to 18.

Today would have been Senator Kennedy’s 79th birthday. In December, Splash died, a little more than a year after his master. Reading that sad news, I remembered the “liberal lion” sitting at his desk while Splash slobbered away on a grimy tennis ball in the corner. It was an image that had soothed nervous interns and disarmed even Kennedy’s fiercest critics in Congress. Then I remembered the letters to Splash, and I realized those children felt the same way that I had as a kid in Boston, and still do — that we were all a small part of the Kennedy family.

via My Life as a Dog – NYTimes.com.

Justice Clarence Thomas, The Supreme Court: With all due respect, I just do not understand this one …

His “just say nothing” approach harkens back to a time many decades ago, when justices spoke very rarely at public sessions, allowing lawyers to argue their case for hours, sometimes days on end, without interruption. Arguments today are a rapid-fire question-and-answer free-for-all, with the court peppering attorneys standing before them with hypotheticals, precedents, and their own personal views on the case at hand. Thomas alone refuses to jump into the fray.

Legal blogs and various commentators have been busy the past few weeks leading up the dubious anniversary, wondering what Thomas’ silence means for the court itself, in its broader decision-making process. Written opinions remain the main way the court expresses its precedent-setting power, but oral arguments can serve an important function — helping to focus an appeal’s flaws along the fringes of constitutional limits, an exercise for the benefit of the public and the justices themselves. These public sessions are often an ideal way to test often novel legal theories and to help a justice answer any lingering issues that prove decisive in the opinion-writing process to follow.

Thomas does occasionally speak from the bench, when announcing opinions he has written, but before arguments commence. Off the bench, especially in friendly audiences, the justice can be gregarious, fun, inquisitive, and often self-reflective. He has a booming voice, and his hearty laugh is easily recognizable.

“This is a person who is remarkably at peace with himself,” said David Rivkin, a conservative attorney and longtime friend of Thomas, “a person who is very comfortable with himself — probably much more so than is typical for many people in Washington, at his level of position.”

via Justice Thomas quietly marks an anniversary – CNN.com.

Rahm Emanuel, Chicago, politics:  I don’t like Rahm Emanuel.  Sorry, Chicago.  Just seems like more of Chicago’s dirty politics.

Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, the Associated Press projected, easily overwhelming five rivals to take the helm of the nation’s third-largest city as it prepares to chart a new course without the retiring Richard M. Daley.

Rahm Emanuel sat with family members as he awaited election returns at his rally in Chicago.

With 86 percent of the precincts reporting, Mr. Emanuel was trouncing five opponents with 55 percent of the vote to avoid an April runoff. Mr. Emanuel needed more than 50 percent of the vote to win.

via Emanuel Elected Chicago Mayor – WSJ.com.

Middle East Uprising, Libya:  The Economist called it “The Awakening” … And in the second article, the picture of Gadhafi looks like a mechanical fortune-teller in a machine to me …

THE people of the Middle East have long despaired about the possibility of change. They have felt doomed: doomed to live under strongmen who have hoarded their wealth and beaten down dissent; doomed to have as an alternative only the Islamists who have imposed their harsh beliefs—and beaten down dissent. In some places, like Saudi Arabia and Iran, the autocrats and the Islamists have merged into one. But nowhere has a people had a wholly free choice in how they are ruled. And the West has surrendered to this despair too, assuming that only the strongmen could hold back the extremists.

Two months ago a Tunisian fruit-seller called Muhammad Bouazizi set fire to these preconceptions when, in despair over bullying officials and the lack of work, he drenched himself in petrol and struck a match. Tunisians and, later, Egyptians took to the streets. Almost miraculously, the people overwhelmed the strongmen who had oppressed them for decades. In the past few days tens of thousands have marched in Tehran, braving beatings and arrest. In tiny Bahrain men have died as the security forces sprayed protesters with rubber bullets and smothered them in tear gas. In Libya crowds have risen up against a fearsome dictator. Jordan is sullen, Algeria unstable and Yemen seething (see article).

via The Arab world: The awakening | The Economist.

At 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, the pro-Gadhafi forces said they were surrendering for good.

Locals said they identified several among them as foreign because of their features and accents; the accounts these fighters gave under interrogation, placed them as from Chad, Niger and other sub-Saharan African countries.

The Libyan soldiers will be handed over to their tribal leaders, Baida rebel leaders said. The foreign fighters will face a jury of local notables on Wednesday.

The fate of others may have already been determined, grimly. Earlier Tuesday in Sidi Burana, an Egyptian town on the border with Libya, Egyptian workers fleeing back home showed thumb-drive and cell-phone videos with pictures of what they said were captured pro-government mercenaries being viciously beaten in Baida. One video showed a dark skinned man, who the Egyptian workers said was a mercenary from Chad, being beaten to death. Another video showed what they said were mutilated mercenary corpses.

via Dictator Gadhafi Loses Grip in Libya – WSJ.com.

ebooks, libraries, digital media, apps:  Interesting.

Actually checking out a book, takes very little time. After all, these files contain only text, not large video or audio files. Since I had trouble finding books to download, I settled on a romance novel featured on OverDrive’s homepage titled “Hawk’s Way: Rebels” by Joan Johnston. It took less than 30 seconds to download to my iPad.

Once downloaded, books looked fine on the iPad and Dell Streak. The screen’s brightness can be adjusted using an on-screen slider and a handy navigation strip at the bottom of each page shows where you are in a book and how many pages remain in the currently opened chapter. Publishers can set the number of font sizes to which text can be adjusted. And with the app, text can’t be displayed like pages in a real book (with two columns of text on two pages opened in front of you) when the tablet is held horizontally.

OverDrive doesn’t enable synchronizing of material across multiple devices, like Amazon’s Kindle app does with Whispersync. So if I download a book on my iPad in the OverDrive app, I can’t open that book on an Android phone or desktop using OverDrive.

OverDrive serves more than 13,000 libraries with a catalog of 400,000 titles from 1,000 publishers, but it’s possible your library may not use this system (check OverDrive.com for participating libraries). The spokesman said the company plans an app for the BlackBerry by June and hopes to enable wireless downloads on other devices in the future.

via A Review of the OverDrive App for Borrowing eBooks – WSJ.com.

twitter, pirates, fact v. fiction, RIP:  Twitter line for Mr. Wood’s article just struck me.  Who would have thought that the pirates would be a force on the modern-day world stage.  Prayers for the families of the victims.

It takes more than Peter Pan to fight Captain Hook in the real world. by David Wood

Four American Sailors Shot Dead by Somali Pirates.

President Eisenhower, checks and balances, government, politics:

Unwarranted Influence also recaptures Eisenhower’s troubled second term, and his sense of urgency about distilling his political legacy and giving some final, informed counsel to the American people. That counsel, delivered in January 1961, stressed the need for balance, a key virtue in Eisenhower’s thinking. Above all, it sought to demonstrate the need for a wise balance between American liberties and national security, a tug of war that troubles the country even to this day.

In Eisenhower’s view, the military-industrial complex posed a grave risk to the checks and balances of the American government. It was a controversial thought at the time, and it still is. As Ledbetter’s book shows, Eisenhower’s words still speak to us, a full half century after he left office—an impact few other political speeches can claim.

via Eisenhower’s History-Changing Speech – Newsweek.

words, history:  OK?

The Boston Morning Post, in the midst of a long paragraph, as “o.k. (all correct)”.

How this weak joke survived at all, instead of vanishing like its counterparts, is a matter of lucky coincidence involving the American presidential election of 1840.

One candidate was nicknamed Old Kinderhook, and there was a false tale that a previous American president couldn’t spell properly and thus would approve documents with an “OK”, thinking it was the abbreviation for “all correct”.

Within a decade, people began actually marking OK on documents and using OK on the telegraph to signal that all was well. So OK had found its niche, being easy to say or write and also distinctive enough to be clear.

But there was still only restricted use of OK. The misspelled abbreviation may have implied illiteracy to some, and OK was generally avoided in anything but business contexts, or in fictional dialogue by characters deemed to be rustic or illiterate.

Indeed, by and large American writers of fiction avoided OK altogether, even those like Mark Twain who freely used slang.

But in the 20th Century OK moved from margin to mainstream, gradually becoming a staple of nearly everyone’s conversation, no longer looked on as illiterate or slang.

Its true origin was gradually forgotten. OK used such familiar sounds that speakers of other languages, hearing it, could rethink it as an expression or abbreviation in their own language.

via BBC News – How ‘OK’ took over the world.

22
Feb
11

2.22.2011 … nice to be home … cat-ching up (cat wants all my attention) … and Happy President’s Day yesterday …

President’s Day 2011:  M and I spent the weekend in and around DC and Charlottesville.  On Friday night we visited the Lincoln Memorial and on Monday, President’s Day, we visited UVA, Mr. Jefferson’s University.  It made for a nice celebration of our presidents.

public art, YA/children’s literature,Gretchen Rubin:  I love Gretchen Rubin’s posts … this one combines public art and YA/children’s literature.  So what would I like to see as public art reflecting YA/children’s literature … A big red balloon … the original Pooh stuffed animals enshrined in a sculptured 100 acre woods … Something from A Wrinkle in Time … the rock where they view  the stars with s Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which statues. So mine are not particular to setting of the story because the settings are mostly fictitious … I will think more on that.

If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, the trolley is a reference to the fact that when magical children leave London to go to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, they take a special train, the Hogwarts Express, which boards from Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross. One of the first things Harry Potter does as part of the magical world is to run through a brick wall to get to the platform hidden between 9 and 10.

This public sculpture doesn’t just make me mildly happy. I love it; I get choked up thinking about it. It gives me a feeling of elevation – one of the most delicate pleasures the world offers. So, I ask: why does it make me feel this way?

First, it’s a celebration of something I particularly love, children’s literature. Second, it’s an acknowledgment that the love for Harry Potter is so ubiquitous that this artifact makes sense. We all love Harry Potter! And I love the collision of literature and real life. And this trolley sculpture is so funny, so playful.

How could I dwell on this happiness? One of my resolutions is to Find an area of refuge, and I’ve spent quite a lot of mental energy, in the last few days, fantasizing about what delightful surprises I would plant around New York City, in the manner of the Kings Cross trolley.

This is what I would install:

From Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, in Central Park: a giant peach pit, with a door and a nameplate reading “James Henry Trotter.” I’m actually surprised this doesn’t already exist.

From E. L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: a book bag tucked behind a drape behind a statue from the Middle Ages. And also in the Met…

From Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman’s You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum: a yellow helium balloon tied to the outside stair railing. This would be so inexpensive and fun!

From Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family, in the Children’s Room at a branch of the New York Public Library in the Lower East Side: a copy of Peter and Polly in Winter, placed in the “Returns” section.

via Why Do I Feel Such Intense Happiness at the Thought of This Piece of Public Art?.

NBA Basketball, Davidson College Alums, Steph Curry:  One athlete to be proud of!

It’s NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, a three-ring circus of dunking and skills contests and games. Former Davidson Wildcat-turned-Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry ran away with Taco Bill Skills challenge Saturday night in competition at the Staples Center.

Curry beat out fellow NBA star Russell Westbrook, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, in the final round to win the challenge. He qualified for the finals with a 34-second time over the course of obstacles, passing tests, jump shots and layups. He finished up that run with a dunk, which he said later was for “all the guy guys who make fun of my dunking ability.”

Then in the finals, he finished the course in 28 seconds to win the title, beating Westbrook’s 30-second mark.

via Steph Curry wins All-Star Weekend’s skills challenge | Sports.

movies, Academy Awards, lists:  kinda fun …

A picture might be worth a thousand words. But a powerful monologue or speech might lead to gold at the Oscars. USA TODAY, along with Academy Awards expert Damien Bona, selected 10 of the more noteworthy performers who talked their way into a trophy

via 10 Oscar-worthy speeches – USATODAY.com.




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