Posts Tagged ‘cities

29
Jan
14

1.29.14 … “Snow days are our Sabbath days. They bring with them a commandment to pause, to curl up by a fire, stay in your pajamas or go outside and catch a snowflake and marvel at its tiny beauty. Or do nothing … Be Still.” … if I could choose a perfect birthday …

If I could choose a perfect birthday, it would include any combination of the following: time with or hearing from friends and family, snow, early daffodils outside and perfect timing for my forced paperwhites inside (I also love London for my birthday! :))

I am blessed to have some glorious combination every year, and this year has been no exception.  Thank you, family and friends, for making my day perfect!!

So as I went to sleep yesterday, this was my last thought … I can’t wait to check outside tomorrow. It will be magical.

So I had the chance to check at 4:50 am.  Thank you Old Dogs! And the report  … It was a wee bit icy, actually more ice than snow. So after a few minutes … we all agreed: we would be  happier in bed.

Photo

Photo

A Gift From Above/Wrapped in White, snow day = Sabbath Day, Be Still, washingtonpost.com:

 One of the first things I discovered  on this snow day!

What a nice way to look at the the world this morning.

Snow days are our Sabbath days. They bring with them a commandment to pause, to curl up by a fire, stay in your pajamas or go outside and catch a snowflake and marvel at its tiny beauty. Or do nothing.

Snow Sabbath days are the kind of days when your mother can actually catch you on your home phone and ask, “Hey, can you talk? What are you doing?”

“And you say, ‘I’m doing nothing’ ” — this time, without exasperation. “How are you, mama? I have nothing to do, so tell me about every single thing that is happening at home.”

And she does.

And you listen as you look out the window and the snow is falling. And you have all the time in the world because the snow has given you permission to have nowhere to go.

Snow days are our Sabbath days. They remind you of the note you came across lying in the snow in Connecticut. The plain paper held down by a single, cold stone beckoned you to go inside the college chapel because, as the note promised, it was the most quiet place in the world. And you went inside because you had a few minutes before you had to rush to catch an airplane. And the silence inside was so thick it commanded you to “Be still.”

And you did.

And the snow, this snow in Washington, reminds you that we have been too much in a hurry, pulled along by our collars, stressing, trying to make the clock slow down, beat the light, “making more and more money, but not getting any peace,” as a friend’s grandmother in Louisiana said. “More and more money and ain’t getting no peace.”

The snow is a bookmark in a loud world. Ordering respite, quiet, poetry.

via A Gift From Above, Wrapped in White (washingtonpost.com).

And with the light of day … Winter magic!!

Photo: Winter magic!!

kith/kin, coffee, cities, urban planning, via Discovering Urbanism,  City: Rediscovering the Center, William Whyte: Great discussion about cities at coffee this morning with wonderful friends. Thanks for the birthday coffee. I think I did read some of his stuff in the 80’s. I would love to have the syllabus for my 1981 economics seminar on urban planning.

Discovering Urbanism: City: Rediscovering the Center

Great discussion about cities at coffee this morning with some very old friends, Davidson friends. Thanks for the birthday coffee. I think I did read some of his stuff in the 80’s. I would love to have the syllabus for my 1981 economics seminar on urban planning.

William Whyte was the foremost empiricist of cities in the 20th century. He sought to turn the planning and design process on its head – to start with detailed observations of how the smallest scale of an urban place is used by people and work outward from there, designing places and writing codes accordingly. City: Rediscovering the Center begins with lessons drawn from sixteen years of meticulously recording plazas, streets, small parks, and marketplaces with time-lapse video and scientifically parsing out the patterns of behavior. Once the basic observations of human nature have been identified, he launches into an evaluation of the health of downtowns in their entirety.

What jumps out right away from Whyte’s study is the attention he pays to the most basic human needs. How does the provision of food impact the life of a place? Where do people use the bathroom? How can one find light on a cool day and shade on a sunny day? In other words, he doesn\’t travel very far up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which I find to be a refreshingly humble and practical disposition toward the power of physical space in our lives. He never reaches for transcendence by design; that’s reserved for what happens in these places.

This leads to Whyte’s most important insight of all, one that really underscores each chapter of the book, that is: people want to be around other people. We are inherently social beings. As simple as this insight seems, it actually ran head on against the prevailing notion in planning at the time that people want as much space for themselves as possible. Whyte noticed that not only did friends clump together when sitting in a plaza, but even strangers tended to take seats in reasonable proximity to each other rather than evenly disperse themselves throughout the space. Well-used places were safer, both in perception and reality. People who stopped for conversation on sidewalks would typically not step out of the way, preferring to be in the center of movement. Parks and sidewalks that were outsized for their activity tended to swallow up its life and repel visitors. People like to be crowded, but not too much.

via Discovering Urbanism: City: Rediscovering the Center.

southern winter storms,  2 Inches=traffic nightmare, Atlanta, Atlantic Mobile:  Amazing events in Atlanta …

How much money do you set aside for snowstorms when they’re as infrequent as they are? Who will run the show—the city, the county, or the state? How will preparedness work? You could train everyone today, and then if the next storm hits in 2020, everyone you’ve trained might have moved on to different jobs, with Atlanta having a new mayor and Georgia having a new governor.

Regionalism here is hard. The population of this state has doubled in the past 40-45 years, and many of the older voters who control it still think of it as the way it was when they were growing up. The urban core of Atlanta is a minority participant in a state government controlled by rural and northern Atlanta exurban interests. The state government gives MARTA (Atlanta’s heavy rail transportation system) no money. There’s tough regional and racial history here which is both shameful and a part of the inheritance we all have by being a part of this region. Demographics are evolving quickly, but government moves more slowly. The city in which I live, Brookhaven, was incorporated in 2012. This is its first-ever snowstorm (again, 2 inches). It’s a fairly affluent, mostly white, urban small city. We were unprepared too.

The issue is that you have three layers of government—city, county, state—and none of them really trust the other. And why should they? Cobb County just “stole the Braves” from the city of Atlanta. Why would Atlanta cede transportation authority to a regional body when its history in dealing with the region/state has been to carve up Atlanta with highways and never embrace its transit system? Why would the region/state want to give more authority to Atlanta when many of the people in the region want nothing to do with the city of Atlanta unless it involves getting to work or a Braves game?

The region tried, in a very tough economy and political year (2012), to pass a comprehensive transportation bill, a T-SPLOST, funded by a sales tax. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an attempt to do something. The Sierra Club opposed it because it didn’t feature enough transit. The NAACP opposed it because it didn’t have enough contracts for minority businesses. The tea party opposed it because it was a tax. That’s politics in the 2010’s. You may snicker, but how good a job has any major city done with big transportation projects over the past 30 years?

via How 2 Inches of Snow Created a Traffic Nightmare in Atlanta – Atlantic Mobile.

Emergency Update: APS will ‘shelter in place’ for the remainder of evening 1/28/14:  Just curious: Has this ever happened before?

January 28, 2014 at 11:03 pm Leave a comment

Atlanta Public Schools has called an emergency “shelter in place” for all students and staff who remain in schools due to inclement weather and adverse road conditions. We will continue to transport students who are already enroute on buses, and parents will still be permitted to pick up students. For students who are sheltered in our schools, we will ensure proper security, supervision, and food. District leadership will continue to monitor the weather to provide additional updates as they become available.

The district is contacting all parents of students impacted by this decision.

via Emergency Update: APS will ‘shelter in place’ for the remainder of evening 1/28/14 | Talk Up APS.

And the answer is … yes …

that’s exactly what happened in 1982. My sister (class of 1984) got home, but there were lots of kids who spent days at the school.

Drifting Snow On The Outer Banks, WUNC:

Caption from Twitter: Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, beautiful even when surrounded by snow. 9:32 a.m. 1/29/14

Caption from Twitter: Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, beautiful even when surrounded by snow. 9:32 a.m. 1/29/14

via VIDEO: Drifting Snow On The Outer Banks | WUNC.

Bank of America Stadium:  Ice up, son, ice up!

Solvitur ambulando, The Christian Century:  Great article …

It is hard to walk toward some things. We may have dangerous things to face in life: illness, divorce, dementia, death, tragedy of all sorts. We also have wonderful things to face: birth, marriage, graduation, new jobs, new starts. Life after illness; life after divorce. The good news is that we do not walk alone. We have each other: family, friends, coworkers, doctors, therapists, classmates, neighbors. And most of all. we have Jesus—who has already been wherever we are going, and who will walk with us. Solvitur ambulando.

via Solvitur ambulando | The Christian Century.

Artist Simon Beck, intricate snow art:  It is created by walking … for miles!

It’s possible you’ve never heard of Simon Beck, but after today, you won’t be able to forget him or his wintry works of art. Simon is an artist and is most well-known for making incredibly delicate and detailed art in the snow, just by walking over a fresh snowfall. He literally walks miles in the snow to create these pieces. And the part that blows our minds? He could spend hours upon hours creating one design, just to have it be covered by snowfall or blown away by the next day. But he still makes them.

Simon walks over layers of fresh snow in special shoes to create his mind-boggling art.

via Artist Simon Beck Creates Intricate Snow Art by Walking for Miles.

LOL, inclement weather and heavy traffic:

Due to inclement weather and heavy traffic on my street, (see photo) I’m closing the studio early and headed downstairs. Please go back home to your families. There’s not enough hot chocolate for everybody.

lavender labyrinth,  Mt. Shasta:  And I will close with this … one of my favorite birthday greetings! … sending love and lavender from Mt. Shasta …

05
Aug
13

8.5.13 … Ansel Adams on YouTube: What an amazing artist! … Edison Mazda Lamp … random … 1600 Pennsylvania on Zillow … in light of Detroit … Carry In-Carry Out… 6″ mini me … weird twitter …

Ansel Adams, YouTube:  What an amazing artist!

Ansel Adams Reveals His Creative Process in 1958 Documentary

in Art, Film, Photography | February 20th, 2013 2 Comments

Today marks what would be the 111th birthday of Ansel Adams, the American photographer who captured the sublime power of the wilderness, taking iconic images of the American West, most notably in Yosemite Valley. (See photo gallery here.) Original footage documenting the creative life of Ansel Adams is surprisingly hard to come by online. So A/V Geeks and Develop Tube did us all a favor when they revived this 1958 documentary revealing Adams’ technical approach to photography, the cameras and related gear he carried to the field, and his thoughts on the artistic horizons of photography.

Ansel Adams, Photographer (1958) is available at YouTube and Archive.org. It will now appear in the Documentary section of our collection of 500 Free Movies Online.

via Ansel Adams Reveals His Creative Process in 1958 Documentary | Open Culture. 

The Fox Theatre Atlanta, Edison Mazda Lamp: Why “Mazda” lamp? “The name Mazda has nothing to do with today’s popular car maker. Instead, it refers to Ahura Mazda. Mazda is an ancient God of an Iranian religion known as Zoroastrianism. His name means “Lord of Light and Wisdom.”

The Fox Theatre Atlanta

June 26

An amazing piece of Thomas Edison history was recently discovered within the walls of the Fox Theatre. This light bulb, or electric lamp as they were once called, is an “Edison Mazda” lamp.

Even though decades have passed since these kinds of bulbs could be purchased, it still looks much like the light bulbs we use today.

In 1909, General Electric began using the trademarked and registered name, Mazda, for its incandescent light bulbs. The name Mazda has nothing to do with today’s popular car maker. Instead, it refers to Ahura Mazda. Mazda is an ancient God of an Iranian religion known as Zoroastrianism. His name means “Lord of Light and Wisdom.”

For more information on historic theatre restoration please visit http://www.foxtheatreinstitute.org/

via The Fox Theatre Atlanta.

random:

It just occurred to me that I have clothes hanging in my closet that are “vintage.”

President Obama, housing questions,  1600 Pennsylvania, Zillow roundtable, Yahoo! News:  Love this Zillow entry for 1600 Pennsylvania.

Zillow Zestimate for the White House

President Barack Obama lives in a 16-bedroom, 35-bathroom single-family home that would cost nearly $320 million if it were for sale, according to online home-buying site Zillow.com. (Spoiler: It’s not.)

Still, Zillow’s tens of millions of monthly users will be able to settle in Wednesday for an interview with the president — a virtual roundtable focused on housing policy, part of his drive to retake the initiative on economic issues.

Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff will moderate the event, using questions submitted through a range of social media with the hashtag #AskObamaHousing. Zillow will be looking for especially frequent questions, as well as queries that housing experts think are timely. The White House will not get the questions in advance.

via Obama to take your housing questions in Zillow roundtable – Yahoo! News.

cities , city survival, cities that thrive, Zero Hedge, Detroit:  In light of Detroit …

I doubt that anyone in 1968 predicted Detroit would lose most of its industrial base and half its population over the next 40 years (1970 – 2010). Such a forecast was beyond even the most prescient futurist.

Four decades is not that long a time period, and our inability to predict large-scale trends over that time frame reveals intrinsic limitations in forecasting.

Nonetheless, the dramatic decline of Detroit and other industrial cities makes me wonder if there are dynamics that we can identify that could enable us to predict which cities will thrive and which will decay.

Here is my semi-random list of potentially decisive urban dynamics:

1. Since most people live in cities, global trends that appear abstract from 40,000 feet manifest in cities.

2. Single-industry cities are highly vulnerable to disruption if that one industry declines.

3. Cities that are dependent on highly centralized institutions and industries are more vulnerable to disruption that cities with a broad base of smaller, decentralized employers and sectors.

4. Cities that depend on highly centralized employers attract people seeking to become employees; cities that are not dominated by centralized organizations but foster rapidly growing decentralized sectors are more likely to attract entrepreneurial talent and capital.

5. The cities’ primary industries must pull in profits and capital from the nation and world.

6. Highly centralized industries with rigid hierarchies, local political control and vertical supply chains do not foster the same entrepreneurial spirit and ecosystem as decentralized, fragmented industries that are still open financially and politically to competition and cooperation.

7. Rigidly controlled, centralized dominant political and financial organizations cannot foster the complex ecosystem of innovators and risk-takers that generate new wealth.

8. The Ratchet Effect is key: it is easy to expand payrolls, land area, benefits and pensions as the tax base and tax revenues expand; it is essentially politically impossible to shrink payrolls, benefits and pensions as the tax base shrinks and tax revenues decline.

9. Cities with dynamic ecosystems of mobile knowledge workers, innovators, risk-takers and mobile capital will tend to attract these same wealth creators from less dynamic and opportunistic cities and towns, in effect poaching the most potentially productive people and capital from 2nd tier and 3rd tier cities.

Here is a relevant quote from the above article on the poaching of capital and human capital by major cities:

As metropolises such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou become black holes for resources, medium and small-sized cites have encountered difficulties in their development. “The most frustrating part about Tianjin [an industrial city an hour southeast of Beijing] is that we don’t own the resources that commonly exist in first-tier cities – good resources are all taken by Beijing.”

10. Cities that offer cost-effective good governance are attractive to non-elite productive people; cities that skim wealth via corruption and do not provide efficient services offer disincentives to productive people who have a choice of where they live.

11. Wealth is not just the financial wealth of the residents or the tax revenues generated by the tax base. Social and human capital, and the networks that enable flows of information, talent and capital are critical types of capital. We can adapt Bob Dylan’s line here: “Those cities not busy being born are busy dying.”

12. Cities are ultimately constructed not just of infrastructure and political policy but of incentives and disincentives and individuals who respond to those inputs. In this view, the infrastructure of transit, parks, libraries, etc. and non-material policies and cultural-economic zeitgeist create the incentives and disincentives that people respond to.

Cities that offer incentives–most importantly, a healthy ecosystem of like-minded people–to innovators, risk-takers and mobile capital to fund new enterprises will generate a self-reinforcing feedback loop that attracts more productive people and wealth. Those cities that centralize cartels and political elites who naturally suppress competition as a threat to their control are vulnerable to systemic decay as the disincentives to the most productive overwhelm the self-liquidating incentives of rigid, sclerotic, centralized hierarchies.

The one thing we can safely predict is that technological and social innovations will continue to arise and disrupt the Status Quo. If cities are like ecosystems, then we can see that cities that are static monocultures are much more prone to decay and collapse than cities that encourage a complex wealth of competing and cooperating enterprises and networks.

Perhaps these dynamics apply not just to cities but to entire nations.

via Guest Post: Which Cities Will Survive/Thrive? | Zero Hedge.

National Park Visitors, Carry In-Carry Out, WSJ.com:

There are 55 fewer trash cans at one national park in D.C. as park rangers ask visitors to carry out their own garbage. http://on.wsj.com/13Aonau

The idea behind project ‘Carry In-Carry Out’ is to free up the park service’s trash haulers to pursue beautification projects, such as flower planting.

Do you think the park’s priority should be beautification or maintenance? Are you willing to carry out your trash?

National Park Service chief groundskeeper Anthony Migliaccio piloted his utility vehicle down the George Washington Memorial Parkway, surveying the good, the bad and the ugly in the government’s new effort to get visitors to do something that doesn’t come naturally: haul away their own garbage.

Along the parkway’s main stem—a lush, tree-lined Virginia roadway that runs from George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate to the forests of Turkey Run Park—there are now 55 fewer garbage cans. In their place are signs informing people that they are now expected to tote away their half-eaten hot dogs, soiled paper plates, crushed soda cans and the like.

With the Iwo Jima statue in the background, a sign at the Marine Corps Memorial explains Trash Free Parks, with complimentary bags.

The idea behind project Carry In-Carry Out, explained Mr. Migliaccio, is to free up the park service’s trash haulers to pursue more noble beautification projects, such as flower planting.

But training the masses to stuff their own refuse back into their cars, purses and strollers is causing something of a stink.

On a recent day, one lonely can in a busy park overflowed with visitors’ refuse. Meanwhile, a nearby dispenser of free plastic trash bags—each printed with a plea for folks to retain their own waste—remained full.

via National-Park Visitors Are Asked to Take Their Trash With Them – WSJ.com.

3-D Printed Version of Yourself, mini me, Wired Design | Wired.com: I’m with you, FB friend  … one of me is probably quite sufficient … But still wondering what I would do with a 6″ mini me …

Using the latest in 360-degree scanning and 3-D printing technologies, Twinkind, a new company based in Hamburg, Germany, will turn you, your loved ones, or your pets into a marvelously detailed little statues. It might seem a bit gimmicky if the results weren’t so stunning. The final figurines, which can range in size from roughly 6″ (around $300) to 13″ (around $1,700), are strikingly, maybe even a little unsettlingly realistic, capturing everything from poses and facial expressions down to hair styles and the folds in clothes, all in full, faithful color.

via For $300, You Can Buy a Stunning 3-D Printed Version of Yourself | Wired Design | Wired.com.

Twitter Inc., Weird Twitter, The Daily Dot: weird …

In what you’d have to call a journalistic coup for any news service, The Wall Street Journal has, at long last, gotten Twitter Inc. to comment on the heady subculture known as Weird Twitter.

Weird Twitter, for the uninitiated, refers to a loose confederation of Twitter users who use the social network as a platform for experimental verbiage: satire, poetry, collage, the absurd—all are included. In its push for an eclectic and overdeveloped aestheticism, it resembles a 21st-century branch of Dada.

Simply put, Weird Twitter is pushing the envelope in ways that do not necessarily align with Twitter’s best financial interests. Take the whole sponsored posts angle, for instance: that’s the type of corporate leaching that brings out the quiet anarchist in some people. As the WSJ explains:

Ryan Woodsmall, a 34-year-old information-technology worker in St. Louis., hates promoted tweets. When he notices one from, say, Wal-Mart or Bank of America, in his feed, he will reply to the tweet or retweet it after editing the tweet to insert misspelled words or other flourishes that he hopes will reflect poorly on the brand. He also does this because he hopes it will drive up the cost of advertising for the brand.

“It’s just fractions of pennies and it’s juvenile, but it’s still satisfying,” says Mr. Woodsmall.

That satisfaction may not have much basis in reality, however. According to Twitter spokesman Jim Prosser, the company has an algorithm in place to ensure advertisers never pay for “insincere” engagement—meaning cubicle warriors like Woodsmall would have to get more creative in their disruptions.

That’s not the part that hurts most about Prosser’s comments, however. In the article, he also framed Weird Twitter’s protests, attitude, and policy of self-selection as “the eternal battle people have over hipsterdom.” Ouch. Meanwhile, another employee, John Manoogian III, defended Weird Twitter as “just regular people trying to reclaim the platform with ironic, meta-humor.”

Hard to know which comment Weird Twitter would be more offended by.

via The Daily Dot – Twitter Inc. finally comments on Weird Twitter.

12
Jul
13

7.12.13 … Corn Chowder Salad: I must be hungry … driverless cars: “What automation is going to allow is repurposing, both of spaces in cities, and of the car itself“What automation is going to allow is repurposing, both of spaces in cities, and of the car itself”… Another of those great Lindsey family debates (second only to the value of the electoral college): boil them or grill them? … The Met has reached into its bottomless duffel bag of curiosities to present an exhibition of early and extremely rare baseball cards … Can you see Hugh Grant as The Doctor?

Corn Chowder Salad:  I must be hungry … I had some corn today…not very good.  I have a bowl of corn for a higher purpose.

original

This is a fun twist on a corn chowder recipe that I love from my native New England.  I have been living in the heartland (Chicago) for over a year and as I look at all of this fresh corn,   it makes me wonder – is it tooo hot for corn chowder?  Maybe, but I wonder – how about a corn chowder SALAD?   It absolutely works and its gives you that homey feeling when you eat it.

via Corn Chowder Salad.

driverless cars, cities, NYTimes.com: “What automation is going to allow is repurposing, both of spaces in cities, and of the car itself.”

Imagine a city where you don’t drive in loops looking for a parking spot because your car drops you off and scoots off to some location to wait, sort of like taxi holding pens at airports. Or maybe it’s picked up by a robotic minder and carted off with other vehicles, like a row of shopping carts.

A test of Google’s self-driving car.

Inner-city parking lots could become parks. Traffic lights could be less common because hidden sensors in cars and streets coordinate traffic. And, yes, parking tickets could become a rarity since cars will be smart enough to know where they are not supposed to be.

As scientists and car companies forge ahead — many expect self-driving cars to become commonplace in the next decade — researchers, city planners and engineers are contemplating how city spaces could change if our cars start doing the driving for us. There are risks, of course: People might be more open to a longer daily commute, leading to even more urban sprawl.

That city of the future could have narrower streets because parking spots would no longer be necessary. And the air would be cleaner because people would drive less. According to the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 30 percent of driving in business districts is wasted in a hunt for a parking spot. The agency estimates that almost one billion miles of driving is wasted every year as people search for parking.

“What automation is going to allow is repurposing, both of spaces in cities, and of the car itself,” said Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law, who specializes in robotics and drones.

via Disruptions: How Driverless Cars Could Reshape Cities – NYTimes.com.

Hot Dogs, Sous Vide, Electrocution, BA Daily, Bon Appétit, kith/kin:  Another of those great Lindsey family debates (second only to the value of the electoral college): Do you boil your hot dogs? Grill them?

According to this article … Mere child’s play! Check out these 10 weird cooking methods, from sous vide to solar power to (gulp!) electrocution …

Photo: Do you boil your hot dogs? Grill them? Mere child's play! Check out these 10 weird cooking methods, from sous vide to solar power to (gulp!) electrocution >> http://bonapp.it/178ZIch

COOKING TIPS

10 Weird Ways to Cook Hot Dogs, from Sous Vide to Electrocution

It doesn’t get much easier than throwing a hot dog on the grill. But it does get harder–if you so choose. We rounded up 10 alternative ways to cook a hot dog, then checked in to see what the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen had to say about them.

via 10 Weird Ways to Cook Hot Dogs, from Sous Vide to Electrocution: BA Daily: Bon Appétit.

Metropolitan Museum,  baseball cards, NYTimes.com:  Add this exhibit to the list … loved baseball cards, especially the famous Honus Wagner card.  Why you ask?  I loved reading this book to my son Edward … Honus and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure: Dan Gutman.

Tinker to Evers to Chance. Tinker to Evers to Chance. I don’t care that much about the All-Star Game, but Tinker to Evers to Chance.

Please don’t misunderstand. In my boyhood my life was so defined by baseball that I often conflated the Yankees starting lineup with the Twelve Apostles (batting leadoff and playing second base, Horace Clarke; batting second and playing center field, Simon who is called Peter). But the use of performance-enhancing drugs — by the players, not me — and the related corruption of once-sacrosanct statistics have cooled my enthusiasm. Not for baseball so much as for the baseball of today.

I prefer a more innocent time. A time when the same ball might last the entire game, and fielders wore gloves not much larger than their hands, and batters strived to hit ’em where they ain’t. A time when ballplayers brawled with fans, and tobacco companies used baseball cards to entice the young, and a small group of corrupt baseball heroes from Chicago could throw the World Series, and …

In truth, the dead-ball era was about as innocent as the gyrations of Little Egypt, the Dita Von Teese of the day. But this distant time — a two-decade period between the close of the 19th century and the ascent of a true game changer, the home run hitter Babe Ruth — was far more colorful, helping to cement baseball’s claim as the national pastime.

Now, as if to please wayward fans, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has reached into its bottomless duffel bag of curiosities to present an exhibition of early and extremely rare baseball cards. Rows and rows of long-dead ballplayers stare out from the past like the mug-shot denizens of the New York Police Department’s once-famous Rogues Gallery.

via Metropolitan Museum Opens Huge Show of Baseball Cards – NYTimes.com.

and yes, the Honus Wagner card is part of the exhibit …

And while it may not be a masterpiece from the Northern Renaissance, Ms. Spira also has a rare T206 Honus Wagner card, the size of a matchbox and valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions. Its worth derives partly from the supposed back story: that Wagner, a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates and perhaps the greatest all-around player in history, blocked continued production of the card because he did not want to help promote cigarettes to children.

Beyond that, the card is striking for the rugged nobility conveyed in the face of its subject. He was the awkward son of hardscrabble immigrants, big-chested, bowlegged and with shovel-like hands that threw rocks and dirt to first base along with the ball. But he was baseball royalty, and his expression on this card says he knew it.

via Metropolitan Museum Opens Huge Show of Baseball Cards – NYTimes.com.

The Periodic Table of the Muppets, Mike BaBoon Design: fun …

A comprehensive depiction of many memorable Muppet characters from throughout the years (and some not-so-memorable ones as well).

Each square represents a different character and indicates the primary Muppeteer(s) for that character, as well as the year and production in which the character made its debut. Borders align with hair/hat colour, background aligns with skin/fur colour, and colour of the abbreviated name represents nose colour (for characters with noses that is).

The separate sections are based on the show the characters were either created for or most often associated with. The icons within each section are then organized by year of creation.

via Mike BaBoon Design: The Periodic Table of the Muppets.

 Hugh Grant, Almost,  The Doctor,  Mental Floss:  Can you see Hugh Grant as The Doctor?

Romantic comedy lead Hugh Grant now seems an unlikely choice for a sci-fi hero, but he was one of the first actors approached when casting a Ninth Doctor for the 2005 series revival. Grant turned the part down due to skepticism about the show’s potential to succeed, but he later got a second chance of sorts when playing one of the Doctor’s regenerations in a 1999 spoof production for charity which also featured fellow would-be Doctor Joanna Lumley. With trademark self-deprecation, the actor notes that while he regrets his choice, it might have done the show some good, as he’d “probably make a mess of it” anyway.

via 11 People Who Almost Played The Doctor | Mental Floss.

26
Oct
11

10.26.2011 … Coffee with Bob and Joni … Again we will solve the problems of the world … John is on his way back from Kuwait … 26 hours in Kuwait City … 24 hours travel time each way!

travel, kith/kin:  24 hours to KWI … 26 hours in KC … 24 hours back …and now  eagle landed and is snoozing on the sofa … Poor thing … Off on the early bird to LGA in the AM.

Halloween, cartoons, viral videos:  Now for a little fun …

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Halloween Light Show 2011 – This Is Halloween – YouTube.

Steven Pinker, language, RSA Animate: I love these animated whiteboard videos!  And Steven Pinker is one of my new favorites (thanks katie!) – Language as a Window into Human Nature – YouTube.

RSA Animate Language as a Window into Human Nature – YouTube.

potatoes, food, history, changed the world:  Food history … also interesting …

When potato plants bloom, they send up five-lobed flowers that spangle fields like fat purple stars. By some accounts, Marie Antoinette liked the blossoms so much that she put them in her hair. Her husband, Louis XVI, put one in his buttonhole, inspiring a brief vogue in which the French aristocracy swanned around with potato plants on their clothes. The flowers were part of an attempt to persuade French farmers to plant and French diners to eat this strange new species.

Today the potato is the fifth most important crop worldwide, after wheat, corn, rice and sugar cane. But in the 18th century the tuber was a startling novelty, frightening to some, bewildering to others—part of a global ecological convulsion set off by Christopher Columbus.

About 250 million years ago, the world consisted of a single giant landmass now known as Pangaea. Geological forces broke Pangaea apart, creating the continents and hemispheres familiar today. Over the eons, the separate corners of the earth developed wildly different suites of plants and animals. Columbus’ voyages reknit the seams of Pangaea, to borrow a phrase from Alfred W. Crosby, the historian who first described this process. In what Crosby called the Columbian Exchange, the world’s long-separate ecosystems abruptly collided and mixed in a biological bedlam that underlies much of the history we learn in school. The potato flower in Louis XVI’s buttonhole, a species that had crossed the Atlantic from Peru, was both an emblem of the Columbian Exchange and one of its most important aspects.

Compared with grains, tubers are inherently more productive. If the head of a wheat or rice plant grows too big, the plant will fall over, with fatal results. Growing underground, tubers are not limited by the rest of the plant. In 2008 a Lebanese farmer dug up a potato that weighed nearly 25 pounds. It was bigger than his head.

Many researchers believe that the potato’s arrival in northern Europe spelled an end to famine there. (Corn, another American crop, played a similar but smaller role in southern Europe.) More than that, as the historian William H. McNeill has argued, the potato led to empire: “By feeding rapidly growing populations, [it] permitted a handful of European nations to assert dominion over most of the world between 1750 and 1950.” The potato, in other words, fueled the rise of the West.

Equally important, the European and North American adoption of the potato set the template for modern agriculture—the so-called agro-industrial complex. Not only did the Columbian Exchange carry the potato across the Atlantic, it also brought the world’s first intensive fertilizer: Peruvian guano. And when potatoes fell to the attack of another import, the Colorado potato beetle, panicked farmers turned to the first artificial pesticide: a form of arsenic. Competition to produce ever-more-potent arsenic blends launched the modern pesticide industry. In the 1940s and 1950s, improved crops, high-intensity fertilizers and chemical pesticides created the Green Revolution, the explosion of agricultural productivity that transformed farms from Illinois to Indonesia—and set off a political argument about the food supply that grows more intense by the day.

via How the Potato Changed the World | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine.

‘Inhalable’ Caffeine, inventions: Would you snort one?

Courtesy of AeroShot

Is caffeine addictive? Certainly, it produces tolerance and withdrawal symptoms if it is stopped abruptly. But even though it is the most widely used drug in the world, few caffeine users exhibit signs of serious addiction — namely, compulsive drug-related behaviors despite negative consequences. That could be in part because caffeine is legal and easily and cheaply obtained. Or, it could be because the effects of caffeine use — especially in a hyperefficient society — are generally positive.

So, while previous products, like inhalable aerosolized alcohol, led to bans in multiple states, AeroShot seems more likely to garner praise (especially from employers — and editors).

The new product will hit stores in New York City and Boston in January and will be available online in several weeks, according to Edwards. The retail price is expected to be $2.99 per inhaler — cheaper than a Starbucks latte.

via What We’ve All Been Waiting For: Zero-Calorie, ‘Inhalable’ Caffeine – TIME Healthland.

Moammar Gadhafi, legacy: to many Africans he is a “martyr, benefactor, instigator.”  Leaves a conflicted image.

Moammar Gadhafi’s regime poured tens of billions of dollars into some of Africa’s poorest countries. Even when he came to visit, the eccentric Libyan leader won admiration for handing out money to beggars on the streets.

“Other heads of state just drive past here in their limousines. Gadhafi stopped, pushed away his bodyguards and shook our hands,” said Cherno Diallo, standing Monday beside hundreds of caged birds he sells near a Libyan-funded hotel. “Gadhafi’s death has touched every Malian, every single one of us. We’re all upset.”

Gadhafi backed some of the most brutal rebel leaders and dictators on the continent, but tens of thousands are now gathering at mosques built with his money and are remembering him as an anti-colonial martyr, and as an Arab leader who called himself African.

While Western powers heralded Gadhafi’s demise, many Africans were gathering at mosques built with Gadhafi’s money to mourn the man they consider an anti-imperialist martyr and benefactor.

Critics, though, note this image is at odds with Gadhafi’s history of backing some of Africa’s most brutal rebel leaders and dictators. Gadhafi sent 600 troops to support Uganda’s much-hated Idi Amin in the final throes of his dictatorship.

And Gadhafi-funded rebels supported by former Liberian leader Charles Taylor forcibly recruited children and chopped off limbs of their victims during Sierra Leone’s civil war.

“Is Gadhafi’s life more important than many thousands of people that have been killed during the war in these two countries?” asked one shopkeeper in the tiny West African country of Gambia, who spoke on condition of anonymity fearing recrimination.

“Gadhafi was a godfather to many Ugandans,” said Muhammed Kazibala, a head teacher at a Libyan-funded school in the country’s capital.

The Libyan leader also built a palace for one of Uganda’s traditional kingdoms. It was a fitting donation for a man who traveled to African Union summits dressed in a gold-embroidered green robe, flanked by seven men who said they were the “traditional kings of Africa.”

Gadhafi used Libya’s oil wealth to help create the AU in 2002, and also served as its rotating chairman. During the revolt against Gadhafi, the AU condemned NATO airstrikes as evidence mounted that his military was massacring civilians.

Gadhafi’s influence even extended to Africa’s largest economy: The Libyan leader supported the African National Congress when it was fighting racist white rule, and remained close to Nelson Mandela after the anti-apartheid icon became South Africa’s first black president.

via Across Africa, Gadhafi remembered as martyr, benefactor, instigator in the continent’s wars – The Washington Post.

rhinos, South Africa, endangered species: A group of rhinos is called a “crash.”  But why do people destroy animals for human rituals … craziness.

Black rhino in Kenya

Johannesburg’s bustling O. R. Tambo International Airport is an easy place to get lost in a crowd, and that’s just what a 29-year-old Vietnamese man named Xuan Hoang was hoping to do one day in March last year—just lie low until he could board his flight home. The police dog sniffing the line of passengers didn’t worry him; he’d checked his baggage through to Ho Chi Minh City. But behind the scenes, police were also using X-ray scanners on luggage checked to Vietnam, believed to be the epicenter of a new war on rhinos. And when Hoang’s bag appeared on the screen, they saw the unmistakable shape of rhinoceros horns—six of them, weighing more than 35 pounds and worth up to $500,000 on the black market.

Investigators suspected the contraband might be linked to a poaching incident a few days earlier on a game farm in Limpopo Province, on South Africa’s northern border. “We have learned over time, as soon as a rhino goes down, in the next two or three days the horns will leave the country,” Col. Johan Jooste of South Africa’s national priority crime unit told me when I interviewed him in Pretoria.

You might also wonder why they bother. The orneriness of rhinos is so proverbial that the word for a group of them is not a “herd” but a “crash.” “The first time I saw one I was a 4-year-old in this park. We were in a boat, and it charged the boat,” said Bird. “That’s how aggressive they can be.” Bird now makes his living keeping tabs on the park’s black rhinos and sometimes works by helicopter to catch them for relocation to other protected areas. “They’ll charge helicopters,” he added. “They’ll be running and then after a while, they’ll say, ‘Bugger this,’ and they’ll turn around and run toward you. You can see them actually lift off their front feet as they try to have a go at the helicopter.”

via Defending the Rhino | Science & Nature | Smithsonian Magazine.

twitter, women, Occupy Wall Street:  Where are the women?

Twitter is still the social media outlet of choice for Occupy Wall Street, but new analysis into the #OWS tweets has found a surprising gender imbalance in those who’re talking about the protests: Fewer women seem to be doing so, despite Twitter being a female-dominated service overall.

According to analysis by Attention released yesterday, only 30% of tweets mentioning Occupy Wall Street were from female users, even though over 64% of all Twitter users are believed to be female as a result of a 2010 Pew survey. That number is actually up from where it was a month earlier; by mid-September, fewer than 20% of Occupy Wall Street tweets were from women.

via Why Aren’t Women Tweeting About Occupy Wall Street? – Techland – TIME.com.

The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Will Ferrell, FYI:  Never heard of this award … have to look it up.

Actor and comedian Will Ferrell jokingly gives the thumbs-down during his introduction as the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor honoree at the Kennedy Center in Washington. At left is his wife, Viveca Paulin.

via The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor: The red carpet – The Washington Post.

The Mark Twain Prize recognizes people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain. As a social commentator, satirist and creator of characters, Samuel Clemens was a fearless observer of society, who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective of social injustice and personal folly. He revealed the great truth of humor when he said “against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

The event is created by the Kennedy Center, and executive producers Mark Krantz, Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, and Cappy McGarr. The Kennedy Center established The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in October 1998, and it has been televised annually. Recipients of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize have been Richard Pryor (1998), Jonathan Winters (1999), Carl Reiner (2000), Whoopi Goldberg (2001), Bob Newhart (2002), Lily Tomlin (2003), Lorne Michaels (2004), Steve Martin (2005), Neil Simon (2006), Billy Crystal (2007), George Carlin (2008), Bill Cosby (2009), and Tina Fey (2010).

via The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for Humor.

Gabrielle Giffords, therapy, Asheville NC:  Must be a pretty good therapist in Asheville!

TUCSON, Ariz. — U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is in North Carolina for two weeks of intensive therapy sessions as she continues to recover from a gunshot wound to the head.

Giffords’ office says in a statement Sunday that the Arizona congresswoman is expected to spend time with a therapist who has worked with her in Houston for the last several months and has been extensively involved in her therapy.

Giffords will work with the therapist from Monday through Nov. 4 in Asheville, N.C. No other specifics on her therapy were given.

Her staff says the trip is strictly rehabilitation-related and has been planned for several months. No public appearances or events are scheduled.

Giffords is recovering from a brain injury suffered on Jan. 8 in Tucson. Six people were killed and 13 were wounded, including Giffords.

via Gabrielle Giffords In Intensive Therapy For Two Weeks.

time:

What the second law of thermodynamics has to do with Saint Augustine, landscape art, and graphic novels.

Time is the most fundamental common denominator between our existence and that of everything else, it’s the yardstick by which we measure nearly every aspect of our lives, directly or indirectly, yet its nature remains one of the greatest mysteries of science. Last year, we devoured BBC’s excellent What Is Time? and today we turn to seven essential books that explore the grand question on a deeper, more multidimensional level, spanning everything from quantum physics to philosophy to art.

via 7 cross-disciplinary books to understand time, Steve Jobs in 200 timeless quotes, and more.

Chemistry: A Volatile History, tv, BBC:  I just love the BBC shows!

Now, thanks to the fine folks at BBC Four — who previously pondered such captivating issues as the nature of reality, the age-old tension between science and religion, how music works, and what time really is — you can refresh and enrich your understanding of this complex world with Chemistry: A Volatile History, a fascinating three-part series by theoretical physicist Jim Al-Khalili, exploring everything from the history of the elements to the rivalries and controversies that bedeviled scientific progress to the latest

via BBC’s Volatile History of Chemistry | Brain Pickings.

Mitchell International Airport, Mitchell International Airport, “recombobulation area”:  I have to ask my Milwaukee friend Donna if she’s utilized the “recombobulation area.”

Taking off your shoes and pulling out your laptop at airport security may leave you feeling discombobulated.

The Mitchell International Airport staff has set up some chairs and a sign just past one of the security checkpoints to help you out.

They’ve labeled it the “recombobulation area.”

Yes, it’s a joke. At airport security.

The sign has been hanging at the Concourse C security checkpoint for about a month. Some passengers get it immediately. Some take a few steps, then laugh. Others look up and say, “Huh?”

“See? You’re getting recombobulated right now,” Melissa Fullmore said Tuesday morning to another traveler who was putting on his belt.

via Airport draws smiles with ‘recombobulation area’ – JSOnline.

gender differences, economic hardship, Great Recession:

Measured in terms of absolute job loss, men bore the brunt of the Great Recession, hence the term “mancession.” On the other hand, men have fared better than women in regaining jobs during the slight rebound sometimes called the recovery.

Interesting comparison, but gender differences in economic hardship reach beyond employment statistics.

Many people – even those who live alone – share a portion of their earnings or devote unpaid hours of work to family members, including children and others who are dependent as result of age, sickness, disability or unemployment. Measures of economic hardship should take responsibility for dependents into account.

Women tend to be more vulnerable in this respect than men, primarily because they are more likely to take both financial and direct responsibility for the care of children.

via Nancy Folbre: The Recession in Pink and Blue – NYTimes.com.

Lake Lanier GA, Atlanta, FYI:  Lake Lanier to within 9 feet of historic low … 😦

Authorities say Lake Lanier has dropped below 1,060 feet above sea level and is now just nine feet above the historic low it reached during Georgia’s devastating drought of 2007-2009.

The lake has been on a downward trend for months now, away from the full pool of 1,071 feet and stirring memories of the drought.

The lake’s historic low water level of 1,051 feet was set on Dec. 26, 2007.

Business owners tell The Times of Gainesville (http://bit.ly/oVGFJi) that the low water level has drained some tourism.

Bob Benson, a lake guide, said there are stumps everywhere sticking out of the water, and many people aren’t going out on the lake.

via Lake Lanier drops to within 9 feet of historic low  | ajc.com.

Aftershock Survival Summit, books, Global Recession:  Not pretty!

At one point, Wiedemer even calls out Ben Bernanke, saying that his “money from heaven will be the path to hell.”

This wasn’t the first time Wiedemer’s predictions hit a nerve. In 2006, he and his team of economists accurately predicted the four-bubble meltdown in the housing, stock, private debt, and consumer spending markets that almost sunk America.

Regardless of his warnings and survival advice, Bernanke and Greenspan were not about to support Wiedemer publicly, nor were the mainstream media.

As the warnings went unheeded, and America suffered the consequences, Wiedemer penned his latest prophetic work, “Aftershock: Protect Yourself and Profit in the Next Global Financial Meltdown.”

Once again his contrarian views ruffled feathers and just before the book was publicly released, the publisher yanked the final chapter, deeming it too controversial for newsstand and online outlets such as Amazon.com.

Despite appearances, “Aftershock” is not a book with the singular intention of scaring people, explains DeHoog. “The true value lies in the sound economic survival guidance that people can act on immediately. I was able to read the original version with the ‘unpublished chapter,’ and I think it’s the most crucial in the entire book. After contacting Wiedemer, we [Newsmax] were granted permission to share it with our readers. In fact, viewers of the Aftershock Survival Summit are able to claim a free copy of it.”

In the Aftershock Survival Summit, Wiedemer reveals what the publisher didn’t want you to see. Citing the unthinkable, he provides disturbing evidence and financial charts forecasting 50% unemployment, a 90% stock market collapse, and 100% annual inflation.

“I doubted some of his predictions at first. But then Robert showed me the charts that provided evidence for such disturbing claims,” DeHoog commented.

via Aftershock Survival Summit Predicts the Unthinkable.

coffee, cities, lists:  It seems surprising to me that the home of the chain Starbucks is “the mother ship for coffee-loving AFC voters.”  But I have been there ad it is true!

No surprise—the home of Starbucks is the mother ship for coffee-loving AFC voters. But there is more than just that familiar logo here—you’ll find plenty of indie coffeehouses all over the city, as well as espresso shacks and carts on street corners and in parking lots. All that caffeine gives the locals an edge, but in a good way: they ranked No. 2 for smartest locals in the AFC. And while colder months seem like a great time to enjoy that hot cup, the Emerald City took last place for winter visits.

via America’s Best Coffee Cities- Page 2 – Articles | Travel + Leisure.

books, media, viral, discourse:  All I can say is interesting …

There is something both ridiculous and refreshing about all this. Ridiculous because 90 percent of Morozov’s criticisms are wildly unfair (and also because, you know, http://bit.ly/AnsweringMrGrumpy)…and refreshing because here is a work of book-bound nonfiction — chock full of claims to be assessed and arguments to be discussed — that is actually being assessed and discussed. In a public forum! Discourse, and everything!

That shouldn’t be an anomaly, but it is. Books both e- and analog — the kind that exist not to tell a tale, but to advance an argument — face a fundamental challenge: The interests of books-as-artifacts and books-as-arguments are, in general, misaligned. Books are great, definitely, at capturing ideas. Books are great at claiming cultural ownership of ideas. Books are great at generating speaking gigs based on ideas. Books are great at getting authors paid for ideas. But books are much, much less great at actually propagating ideas — particularly ideas of the relative nuance that Morozov’s “Internet intellectuals” tend to favor.

Which is a flaw that’s easy to forget, given books’ cultural status. A book deal is a big deal; those who have gotten one will make a point, as they should, of highlighting the achievement. A writer and an author.

via ‘Public Parts’ and its public parts: In a networked world, can a book go viral? » Nieman Journalism Lab.

vertigo farming, Queens NY, organic produce, locavore:  Innovation … got to love it.

Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm is at the forefront of urban agriculture in the United States. Operated by four young entrepreneurs on an acre of rooftop in Queens, New York, the farm grows organic produce that is sold to local restaurants, co-ops and farmers markets across New York City. Business is growing quickly, with a second location opening in the Spring of 2012 and booming demand for rooftop vegetables, herbs and honey. To educate urban dwellers about the food systems upon which they rely, the farm hosts regular educational tours, workshops and field trips for schools and community groups.

via World Challenge 2011 – 2011 Finalist – Vertigo Farming.

Condoleezza Rice,  Freedom Agenda, The Freedom War, books: “There is both a moral case and a practical one for the proposition that no man, woman, or child should live in tyranny. Those who excoriated the approach as idealistic or unrealistic missed the point. In the long run, it is authoritarianism that is unstable and unrealistic.”

“We pursued the Freedom Agenda not only because it was right but also because it was necessary,” Rice writes in her book. “There is both a moral case and a practical one for the proposition that no man, woman, or child should live in tyranny. Those who excoriated the approach as idealistic or unrealistic missed the point. In the long run, it is authoritarianism that is unstable and unrealistic.” So there’s no sense dwelling on the final demise of tyrants, whether Gaddafi or, for that matter, Saddam Hussein, whose hanging turned into a hideous spectacle as well. “Time to move on,” says Rice.

But the fascination of Rice’s memoir, and it is fascinating, is less in the broad vision put forth for a more democratic world than in the gritty description of the way decisions were made in the White House and the State Department as the Bush administration sought to adapt to a universe radically changed by Al Qaeda’s attacks on the United States in 2001.

Rice’s account of the immediate aftermath, as seen from inside the halls of the White House, is both vivid and disturbing. The threat of a second wave of attacks was real. The possibility that biological or other weapons might be used seemed imminent: some lunatic had put anthrax in the mail; one report received at the White House said many of the people there might have been poisoned with botulinum toxin; another report said a plot was afoot to disseminate smallpox. The intelligence was rarely definitive, and it took a toll on everyone involved.

Rice is honest enough to say that at one point she was just about burned out. While attending a ceremony on the White House lawn soon after she became secretary of state, she saw an airliner approaching. It was on a normal route to land at Reagan National Airport, but for a few moments she thought it was coming straight toward the executive mansion. “Tomorrow I am going to tell the President that I want to leave at the end of the year,” she thought. “I can’t do this anymore.”

But she soldiered on, and key to Rice’s role was the confidence of the president, who emerges from her book as sharper than the clichés indulged in by his critics, but perhaps too familiar, too folksy with those he likes and relies on.

The wars launched by the Bush administration have cost the United States more than $1 trillion and many thousands of lives. Were they worth it? The Middle East has been a volatile region, with countless wars at countless cost, Rice said as we talked in Stanford. “I don’t think you put a price on a Middle East that will look very different without Saddam Hussein and with movement toward freedom.”

via Condoleezza Rice Memoir: The Freedom War – The Daily Beast.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, book club:  My book club is reading this book this week.  I had never heard of Henrietta Lacks or of the book.  I have not read it and cannot go, but I am intrigued after reading this review.

When Henrietta Lacks (1920-1951), an African-American mother of five who migrated from the tobacco farms of Virginia to poorest neighborhoods of Baltimore, died at the tragic age of 31 from cervical cancer, she didn’t realize she’d be the donor of cells that would create the HeLa immortal cell line — a line that didn’t die after a few cell divisions — making possible some of the most seminal discoveries in modern medicine. Though the tumor tissue was taken with neither her knowledge nor her consent, the HeLa cell was crucial in everything from the first polio vaccine to cancer and AIDS research. To date, scientists have grown more than

via 5 Unsung Heroes Who Shaped Modern Life | Brain Pickings.

Bob Pierpoint, RIP:  Another from a different era of broadcast journalism is dead.  Don’t you love this picture?  Rest in peace, Bob Pierpoint.

Pierpoint_White_House_large.jpg

Bob Pierpoint was a mainstay of CBS News during the golden age of that organization. He was part of the Murrow team and covered the Korean War while in his 20s. He became a White House correspondent during the Eisenhower Administration and stayed on that beat through the time of Jimmy Carter and beyond. It was some time in the 1970s that the picture above, which delighted him, was taken. He was an avid tennis player and had just come from a match on the White House court when he had to do a standup, obviously framed from mid-torso upward. I first saw that picture in Barney Collier’s book Hope and Fear in Washington (The Early Seventies), and I believe it was the jacket photo on Bob’s own book, At the White House. I got it from the collection of his papers at his alma mater, the University of Redlands.

When I was growing up, Bob Pierpoint was the most glamorous product of my home town in California. (That was before Redlands’s own Brian Billick went on to win the Super Bowl, and Landon Donovan became Mr. Soccer USA.) He would come back and tell our public school assemblies what it was like to cover the Kennedy or Johnson Administrations; this was as close as we came to first-hand contact with national politics. He was patient, generous, and non-big-shot-ish in a way I noticed then and admire more in retrospect. He was two days older than my father, and a good friend to my parents and tennis rival to my father when he was in town. When my wife and I first moved to Washington he and his wife Patty served in loco parentis for a while.

He will be remembered, and should be, as a connector to a different, prouder era in broadcast news. But he was also a good friend, husband, and father. Our sympathies to his family.

via Bob Pierpoint – James Fallows – National – The Atlantic.

time: I have always wanted a chiming clock in the house … it keeps you conscious of and accountable for time.

Each hour when my watch, computer, or phone beeps, I stop whatever I’m doing, take a deep breath, and ask myself two questions:

1. Am I doing what I most need to be doing right now?

2. Am I being who I most want to be right now?

At first it seemed counterintuitive to interrupt myself each hour. Aren’t interruptions precisely what we’re trying to avoid? But these one-minute-an-hour interruptions are productive interruptions. They bring us back to doing what, and being who, will make this a successful day.

This isn’t all about staying on plan. Sometimes the beep will ring and I’ll realize that, while I’ve strayed from my calendar, whatever it is I’m working on is what I most need to be doing. In those situations I simply shift items on my calendar so my most important priorities still get done and I make intentional choices about what I will leave undone.

For me, a once-an-hour reminder, one deep breath, and a couple of questions, has made the difference between ending my day frustrated and ending it fulfilled.

via The power of an hourly beep | Daniel Pink.

summer jobs, internships, college, summer camps:  I think there i something here …

For the most part, interns do work that is wholly unrelated to any sort of day-to-day task that full-time employees fulfill. Indeed, not only do most offices give interns mundane tasks that the aforementioned employees would never do, but they are also given tasks that will only be taken over by another intern. In short, interning in any office, regardless of the field, will likely mean you will be performing more secretarial duties than industry-specific ones. Anyone thinking that taking an internship with Goldman Brothers will give him or her a better shot at becoming a full-time employee is misguided. As such, taking an internship for the sake of career advancement is an unwise decision.

As alluded above, internship experience rarely parallels relevant work experience. Moreover, a student with (all else equal) an internship experience — indeed, even two — will not receive a substantive boost in the hiring process. The dirty secret of the professional world is that everyone knows that internships are vehicles through which companies can unload their undesirables onto unsuspecting college students.

Given this, it is reasonable to conclude that internships provide few potential benefits for their laborious components. Not only are interns wasting time in their respective offices by performing arcane duties, they also are allowing their last free summers to go by the wayside. Indeed, for all intents and purposes, college summers are the last ones for which we will have a legitimate array of choices. Accordingly, students would be well advised to engage in activities that they would enjoy, as opposed to activities that they misguidedly believe will yield long-term benefits. To this end, there are more efficacies in volunteering, working in non-profits or even taking classes than doing an internship. However, the most benefit comes from being a camp counselor.

At my particular summer camp, Four Winds Westward Ho, I have learned many workplace skills that are more relevant than what I could obtain from an internship. For example, at Four Winds, located on tiny Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Seattle, I am fully integrated into the aforementioned professional hierarchy. I am given great responsibility; indeed, I am responsible for the physical, emotional and mental well-being of up to seven children for two four-week sessions.

via Opinion: Skip the internship, go to camp | USA TODAY College.

D.C., Georgetown, urban planning: Shooting itself in the foot?

IMAGINE A CITY telling its largest private employer — one that pays millions in taxes and salaries, strives to hire local residents and voluntarily does community service — that it can’t grow anymore, that it might have to cut back. That seems far-fetched in light of today’s scary economy, but it’s essentially what D.C. officials are telling Georgetown University by insisting it either house all its students or cut back enrollment. The District seems distressingly disinterested in promoting a knowledge-based economy.

Georgetown’s 10-year plan for its 104-acre main campus, the subject of hearings before the D.C. Zoning Commission, would cap the undergraduate population at current levels while increasing graduate students by about 1,000. Enrollment in 2010 was 14,033, of whom 6,652 were undergraduates. The plan is modest: It contains no major new building, no additional parking and an offer to reduce the main campus enrollment by moving some graduate students to satellite locations. Still, adjacent neighborhoods — particularly Burleith and Foxhall — are up in arms, and they seem to have city officials on their side.

via It’s D.C. vs. Georgetown in urban planning – The Washington Post.

Lululemon killing:  Too weird.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys on Monday began selecting a jury in the trial of Brittany Norwood, a 29-year-old charged with killing her co-worker in an upscale Bethesda yoga shop.

via Lululemon killing trial begins Monday – Crime Scene – The Washington Post.

social media,  police,  gangs, antisocial side:  Darwin Award?  Why is social media so hard to resist?

Gangs are just following societal trends,” said a federal law enforcement official who spoke about the issue on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss how agents use social media to target gangs. “Facebook and Myspace are now some of their primary methods of communication.”

via Antisocial side of social media helps police track gangs – The Washington Post.

economics, unrest: “… relatively undemocratic governments have historically extended voting rights in order to convince a restive public of the promise of future redistribution. In the West, that is not an option. A bit more growth and a bit less austerity might take the edge off public anger. But if social unrest has its roots in the effects of structural economic changes, a more fundamental societal reckoning may be needed. ”

Growth that undermines existing social institutions and dislocates workers is also likely to generate instability. In China mass migrations associated with rapid catch-up growth and urbanisation are often blamed for causing instability. Instances of “mass disturbances” have risen steadily since 1993, even as the Chinese economy has enjoyed scorching growth. Ricardo Hausmann of Harvard University similarly argues that Egypt’s steps towards economic liberalisation stimulated an appetite for greater opportunity that fuelled discontent with the ruling regime.

Research by MIT’s Daron Acemoglu and Harvard’s James Robinson finds that relatively undemocratic governments have historically extended voting rights in order to convince a restive public of the promise of future redistribution. In the West, that is not an option. A bit more growth and a bit less austerity might take the edge off public anger. But if social unrest has its roots in the effects of structural economic changes, a more fundamental societal reckoning may be needed. A study by Patricia Justino of the University of Sussex examined inequality and unrest in India and found that redistribution can quell an outcry. That may well be the outcome of the current turmoil, too.

via Economics focus: Unrest in peace | The Economist.

skywatching, Aurora Australis:  Aurora seen from the ISS in Orbit – YouTube.

Check out this awesome video captured from the International Space Station as it flew over the Aurora Australis. Stunning!

via Flying above the Aurora Australis | Go Make Things.

recipes, scrambled eggs, chopsticks:  Scramble with chop sticks!

And last but not least, ditch that fork! Scramble your eggs with a heat-proof spatula, a flat-topped wooden spoon, or for the perfect curd, chopsticks.

via 5 Common Scrambled Eggs Mistakes : BA Daily: Blogs : bonappetit.com.

21
Oct
11

10.21.2011 … Buttery and Beanery … hasn’t changed a bit …

places, Buttery & Beanery: John and I ventured to Davidson and dined at the Buttery and Beanery – ‎”A Convenient Store & Restaurant”!!! Funny … not a “convenience store” but a “convenient store.” 🙂

cities: “Ecosystems outlast organisms.”

In modern times, it’s almost unheard of for a city to run out of steam, to disappear or to become obsolete. It happens to companies all the time. They go out of business, fail, merge, get bought and disappear.

What’s the difference?

It’s about control and the fringes.

Corporations have CEOs, investors and a disdain for failure. Because they fear failure, they legislate behavior that they believe will avoid it.

Cities, on the other hand, don’t regulate what their citizens do all day (they might prohibit certain activities, but generally, market economies permit their citizens to fail all they like).

This failure at the fringes, this deviant behavior, almost always leads to failure. Except when it doesn’t.

Ecosystems outlast organisms.

via Seth’s Blog: Cities don’t die (but corporations do).

Moammar Gaddafi, dictator, vanity: wigs?

The long, strange tale of Moammar Gaddafi is at an end, after the former Libyan leader was shot and killed in his hometown of Sirte Thursday.

At the hospital, Libyan officials ran a number of tests, including on hair samples for DNA, to prove the identity of the dictator who had been on the run for the last two months. The hair was not Moammar Gaddafi’s. The slain leader was wearing a wig.

via Gaddafi’s wig: A dictator undone by vanity? – BlogPost – The Washington Post.

Al Gore, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Apple’s Board: Good advice … “Don’t ask what Steve would have done. Follow your own voice.”

Jobs, Gore reminded the audience, had become a Disney board member after selling his Pixar animation shop. “He used to talk initially about how after Walt Disney died, the company always got in trouble about asking ‘what would Walt do in this situation?’” Gore said. “And he made it very clear — ‘I don’t want that at Apple.’ He made it clear to Tim Cook and everyone else, ‘Don’t ask what Steve would have done. Follow your own voice.’”

via Al Gore on Steve Jobs, Tim Cook and Apple’s Board (Video) – Peter Kafka – AsiaD – AllThingsD.

Vice President Joe Biden, absurd claims, fact checkers, journalism: As I have said before, I love the fact checker articles … useful with regard to both parties.

More important than the raw figures is the rate per 100,000 individuals. Murder did go up—though the rate did not double from 2009 to 2010, as Biden claimed. But rape has gone down. Biden actually asserted it had tripled.

Biden’s office referred us to officials in Flint. After inquiries from The Fact Checker, Dawn Jones, a spokeswoman for Flint’s mayor, issued a statement from Public Safety Director Chief Alvern Lock saying: “The City of Flint stands behind the crime statistics provided to the Office of The Vice President….This information is the most accurate data and demonstrates the rise in crime associated with the economic crisis and the reduced staffing levels.”

The statement said the murder rate for 2010 was different than the FBI statistics because of a “clerical error” when the data was submitted to the FBI. (Someone in the police department forgot to add people to the murder rate if they died long after the assault.) But the revised number for the FBI will be 58 murders, not Biden’s figure of 65, because the FBI only counts willful homicides, not manslaughter and negligent homicide, Jones said.

The statement, however, was strangely silent on the massive discrepancy in the rape statistics. There have been a number of studies (see here and here) that document that the FBI statistics do not capture all forms of rape. The FBI stats include forcible intercourse but not oral sex or other forms of sexual assault.

But that issue does not explain why Biden’s rape statistics would be so much higher than what was reported in the local press over the years. The Flint Journal on May 24, in fact, reported the number of rapes had declined in the city from 2009 to 2010.

via Biden’s absurd claims about rising rape and murder rates – The Fact Checker – The Washington Post.

Facebook, student grades: Interesting analysis …

Mr. Junco found a direct relationship between site use and out-of-class sociability: the more time a student spent on Facebook, the more likely that student was to be involved with extracurricular activities.

Meanwhile — contradicting the zero-sum logic of some who might believe that a minute spent social networking is a minute spent not attending to schoolwork — the study found no substantive link between time spent on Facebook and time spent studying.

Mr. Junco said in an e-mail that he was surprised by the fact that the number of times a student checked Facebook each day was only weakly related to academic performance.

“This tells me that spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook is related to negative outcomes, while just checking Facebook for a few minutes each time is not,” he wrote.

via Facebook’s Impact on Student Grades – NYTimes.com.

brain development, exercise: “Miracle-Gro for the brain.”

Dr. John Ratey has discovered that exercise releases a special brain-nourishing protein – something he calls “Miracle-Gro for the brain.” The research means that exercise has added benefits for adults, but also for children and learning at school. We’ll find out how increasing physical activity before and during school can help kids improve their grades, lower their anxiety levels and keep them healthy all at the same time.

(Originally Aired: 4/14/2011)

via WFAE 90.7 FM.

recipes – biscuits: Great biscuits to me are not fluffy … but it is definitely worth trying to make some.

There are biscuits, and then there are biscuits. Whether you like to savor them solo with honey and butter, paired with ultra-crunchy fried chicken, or slathered with sausage gravy (hello, breakfast!), they can be the sleeper hit of any meal. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make fluffy, picture-perfect biscuits—as well as to gather appeals for seconds from everyone at the table.

via Secrets to Perfect Biscuits | The Feed.

apps, exercise: An exercise app …

Everyone knows that fitness is a worthy end unto itself, but that doesn’t mean that many people don’t need a little extra motivation. Enter Nexercise, an iPhone app that brings a dose of gamification to the world of fitness, with medals, discounts and even free merchandise offered as rewards for physical activity.

Now available in the iTunes store, Nexercise rewards users for walking, running, aerobics, yardwork, dancing, or any physical activity that lasts at least 15 minutes. Users begin by telling Nexercise what activity they’re about to start, and with their phone somewhere on their body, they then go ahead and do it. When they’re done, they hit a button to notify Nexercise, which verifies the activity has taken place via the motion of the device. In return, users earn rewards such as points and medals — with bonus points awarded for exercising with a friend — as well as discounts on a variety of products and services. The more points a user amasses, the better the deals become, and at the end of every month there’s a grand prize. Users can also check into gyms, view their exercise history, and compete against friends added to the app’s friend list via a connection with Facebook and Twitter.

via App turns exercise into a game, with rewards for healthy activity | Springwise.

Steve Jobs, Android, President Obama, modern medicine: If nothing else, he was opinionated … “I’m going to destroy Android. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

The Associated Press reported that Jobs, an eternal competitor, was reportedly furious after Google introduced its Android operating system, calling it a stolen product. “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” he reportedly said. “I’m going to destroy Android. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

While Apple and Google had enjoyed a close partnership before the Android launch, Jobs reportedly told Google chairman Eric Schmidt that he had no interest in settling Apple’s lawsuit over the system. Android is now the world’s dominant smartphone platform.

Excerpts of the book obtained by the Huffington Post run over Jobs’ relationship with the current administration. According to the report, Jobs told Obama that he was “headed for a one-term presidency” and criticized the president for not being business friendly. Still, Jobs reportedly offered to help Obama with his advertising but knocked heads with senior aide David Axelrod.

In a short preview of an interview with the book’s author posted by CBS, Isaacson said that Jobs regretted his decision to delay surgery that could have prevented his pancreatic cancer from spreading. Jobs had a rare form of pancreatic cancer that could be treated with surgery.

When Isaacson asked Jobs why he chose to treat his cancer with alternative medicine before consenting to surgery, Jobs told him that he “didn’t want my body to be opened…I didn’t want to be violated in that way.” It’s not clear if delaying the surgery truly would have made a difference in the end, the Associated Press reported, but doctors did say that Jobs waited a “significant period” of time before accepting the recommended treatment.

via Steve Jobs bio: His thoughts on Android, Obama and modern medicine – The Washington Post.

websites: This is useful … It checks to see if a site is still valid … but why not just put the address in the browser. Is It Old?.

“Ms.”, history: I remember my dad ranting about women who used “Ms.” It is such a non-issue today.

Ms. was suggested as a marriage-neutral honorific as early as 1901 and periodically in the years thereafter, but it never got any traction until about 1970. And with all the success that it has enjoyed since then, it’s easy to forget the resistance it met when it was first widely put forward, in the months before the magazine’s launch.

My wife was cleaning out a closet the other day and came across an issue of the Wellesley College News dated October 21, 1971—precisely 40 years ago, it now strikes me. It contains a truly remarkable letter from the president of the college, Ruth Adams (1914-2004), which I am delighted to quote nearly in full:

I read with a certain horror your lead editorial of October 14.

I consequently make this request of you: when it is necessary for you to include my name in a news story or editorial, may I be referred to either as Miss Adams or as Ruth Adams, please.

I deplore the use of the depersonalizing, degrading, and meaningless Ms. When mail comes into my house bearing that appellation, I rate it as slightly more consequential than that mail which comes addressed either to “Occupant” or “Resident.” The destination of both categories is immediately the wastepaper basket. If a correspondent cannot display the interest, intelligence, and courtesy of determining the maiden or married state of someone to whom he [sic] is writing, the correspondence is of no value. …

I rather like my maiden status and wish to have it indicated when I am identified publicly. I indeed was of the generation that was brought up believing that a married woman was referred to by her husband’s name, and only when she was translated into widowhood was she properly identified by her given name together with her married name.

Autre temps, autre meurs!

So, with this plea that I may retain the identity with which I have lived, lo, these many years, herewith my request to be identified as Miss Adams or Ruth Adams but not as that nullity which is Ms.

Seriously, there are so many important and consequential aspects involved in our attempts properly to define and identify women this cause is trivial in comparison and leaves you vulnerable to patronizing laughter.

The use of maiden is worthy of note. Also, translated into widowhood.

I was reminded of Miss Adams’s sentiments recently while listening to an NPR segment about efforts in France to get rid of the term mademoiselle. There wasn’t a push for a Ms.-like term, merely a move for all adult females to be referred to as madame. The reporter talked to a 45-year-old woman in the street whose comment shows how far this particular campaign has to go: “As long as no one calls me ‘monsieur,’ I’m fine. Anyway, we naturally refer to an older, unmarried woman as ‘madame.’ And if you you’re married but don’t look your age, you might get called ‘mademoiselle.’ It’s flattering one way and less so the other, but that’s life.”

via Ms., 40 Years On – Lingua Franca – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

One Scene, websites, film critique, Brazil: Another one that caught my attention.

Barely a scene, this is one of those thankless transitions that shows how our protagonist gets from point A to point B. It doesn’t really advance the narrative or reveal new information about characters. In old-timey screenwriting parlance, it’s just “shoe leather.”

But look at this leather!

The intro of Sam Lowry’s vehicle is old-school Monty Python hilarious, but I’ll never forget the revelation of Shangri-La Towers, which is at first really funny and then almost immediately kind of depressing. Talk about world building. Even when the different elements of the filmmaking seem to be operating at cross-purposes, the jaunty score, battered set design, and sumptuous cinematography somehow work in concert to make this absurd future feel not just plausible but likely. And that poster behind the kids looks like it was stolen from 2011.

This entire little journey could have been handled with a cheaper/easier/saner dissolve, but instead, like with every scene in Brazil, we get something epic and unexpected and beautiful.

via One Scene: Brazil – From the Current – The Criterion Collection.

spaces, cooking, tiny kitchens, kith/kin: Our favorite house had a tiny kitchen … my daughter loved that house and swears she will never have a big house. Tiny spaces can make for great kitchens.

I turned to Shaun Hill, chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant the Walnut Tree. Before moving to his current roomy premises, Hill ran Merchant House in Ludlow from a 3m by 2m domestic-sized kitchen. In this space he singlehandedly whipped up Michelin-starred meals for up to 24 diners (with four choices). When he decided to move on, no other chef was brave enough to take on the tiny kitchen and he had to turn Merchant House back into, well, a house.

So what did he learn? “When I started there, I had been cooking for a thousand years and you have in mind ideas for what you would like to make, but it doesn’t necessarily work in the space. Quite a few things didn’t work – anything that required too many pans.” But, he promises, there are definite advantages. “It concentrates the mind. There are fewer things to turn into a disaster zone, and it doesn’t take hours to clean – you have to tidy as you go, so you can use the same space for whatever’s next.”

Mark Bittman is equally sure that size should not be an issue. When the food writer was pictured in his former kitchen in the New York Times, readers demanded to know how he created anything in such an inadequate space – which he finds hilarious. “People all over the world make do with a hotplate and nothing else, and they do fine. I’ve never felt oppressed by my small kitchen.” Instead, he points out, cooking is less tiring when everything is within reaching distance.

via Size shouldn’t matter: tiny kitchens | Life and style | The Guardian.

“Whispering windows”, marketing, technology, 24/7:

Whispering windows have been a favorite of advertisers and marketeers for a few years now. The windows are equipped with speakers and programmed to emit sounds or speech as passers by walk past the built in sensors. Often they are designed to entice or create intrigue for those on the street, but the windows installed in South African 8ta stores are adding a new level of functionality to the technology by enabling customers to browse the store’s catalogue throughout the day and night.

8ta is a mobile brand from South African Telkom that operates numerous stores selling the latest devices and services. Aiming to make a visit to their stores a sensory-rich experience for shoppers, the brand has tapped One Digital Media for a variety of technological elements. The stores’ whispering window technology “turns store windows into glass window speakers, creating a unique way to deliver messages throughout or around your store,” as One Digital Media explains. However, the windows differ from similar whispering window examples we’ve seen recently; their innovative use of through-glass touch technology allows customers to browse through a store catalogue after hours, even requesting a callback when the store reopens. Also included in 8ta stores are large video walls showcasing 8ta’s latest commercials and handset deals, as well as “pick ‘n watch” screens that allow customers to interact with and learn more about the different mobile phone models. Touch tables, meanwhile, are on hand to detail and compare all the handsets available.

Bricks and mortar may still play a key role in many product categories, but that doesn’t mean physical stores can’t borrow elements from the best of the online shopping experience — including the ability to deliver multimedia messages and product information 24/7. Other retailers around the globe: be inspired!

via ‘Whispering windows’ let stores interact with shoppers 24/7 | Springwise.

animals, animal behavior: I definitely believe animal’s feel.

But why should our inability to measure these phenomena mean that they don’t exist at all? That’s exactly what scientist and animal advocate Jonathan Balcombe explores in The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure — an absolutely remarkable and fascinating journey into the rich, tender and complex emotional lives of animals.

Balcombe examines a new generation of research on animal feelings, especially animal pleasure, illustrated with joyful images of the animal kingdom by some of the world’s leading wildlife photographers. The story unfolds with equal parts affectionate enthusiasm and scientific rigor, extending a gentle invitation to reexamine our relationship with living beings, reaching for more kindness, more empathy and more wholeheartedness in how we think of and treat other animals.

Nobody denies that other humans are sentient, though it’s no more possible to prove another human being is sentient than it is to prove an animal’s sentience. We don’t accept such solipsism. It would be far-fetched. So let’s stop drawing this line between humans and all other animals.” ~ Jonathan Balcombe

via The Exultant Ark: The Secret Emotional Lives of Animals | Brain Pickings.

gender stereotyping, men:

The human male is in crisis. Or at least he must be, given the recurring themes in this season’s crop of new TV shows. Apparently the networks have sensed something in the zeitguyst that cries out for reassurance, and they have scampered to oblige. Oh, sorry, men don’t scamper. They stride purposefully. And network TV’s recent purposeful steps include the following:

How to Be a Gentleman, about a prissy fop destined to be made into a real man (CBS);

Man Up, about three grown men feeling like they’re anything but (ABC);

Last Man Standing, in which Tim Allen angrily defends traditional masculinity from the encroaching forces of femininity and metrosexuality (ABC).

Here now is where I trot out my man bona fides. Yes, I like to grill meat and drink beer. I also like to play video games, and I share an interest in some of the media aimed at my seven-year-old son. I also love my cats, have had long talks with my son about feelings, and one time in the housewares section he asked my wife if she thought I wanted a new vacuum cleaner (I was uncertain about switching to a bagless model, but it’s working out well).

via Jeff Alexander on The Gender Stereotyping of Man Shows | TIME Ideas | TIME.com.

dictators, class: Dictators and classy don’t seem to mix?

When you’re the ruthless autocrat of an oppressed country, chances are your inside coterie consists entirely of yes men. And yes men are notoriously unreliable judges of taste — especially when their boss has a reputation for executing those who don’t mesh with their personal sense of … um … style. You know, for example, that no one was willing to give Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi pointers in aesthetics when he decided he wanted a huge golden fist crushing an enemy fighter jet to grace a courtyard inside his compound in Tripoli — as seen here after rebels seized the compound in late August 2011. Classy!

via What Dictators Consider Classy – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

Arab Spring, Tunisia, democracy: Democracy is not going to be easy. “From dictatorship to democracy in less than nine months: Tunisia remains not only the seedbed of the Arab Spring but its model.”

But Harrath is referring to his native Tunisia, the country that lit the touch paper for the uprisings that toppled the regimes of its larger neighbors to the East. Its revolution, sparked by the death of a fruit seller in Sidi Bouzid, was quick, almost clinical, taking barely a month to sweep President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali from power. Tunisia’s democracy is also blooming before others in the region, with elections called for this Sunday, Oct. 23. From dictatorship to democracy in less than nine months: Tunisia remains not only the seedbed of the Arab Spring but its model.

And that model may prove uncomfortable for the western countries that have hailed the uprisings and joined the public denunciations of regimes with whom they until recently did business. An Islamist party Ennahdha is topping the polls as Tunisians prepare to select a Constituent Assembly to pen the country’s new constitution and set up its transitional government. Tunisians living abroad have already been invited to cast their ballots. Their ranks include exiles whose mistreatment, not only by the Tunisian authorities but by storied democracies and institutions that might have been expected to protect them, informs their worldview.

via A Tunisian Islamist in Exile Expresses His Hopes Ahead of Oct. 23 Election – Global Spin – TIME.com.

Facebook, LOL: Facebook Voicemails from my Mom – YouTube.

16
Oct
11

10.16.2011 … worshipped at First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte … then Big sis came in for a quick visit …

FPC, Rev. Roland Purdue, The Wired Word: Worship at First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte was great.  I am loving having Rev. Roland Purdue as interim minister … he keeps us thinking … Today he preached on “Paradise Lost: Searching for the Garden of Eden.”  –  ” We already know the way home … ” And  The Wired Word is a great Sunday School class … This week we discussed “World-Changers Steve Jobs and Fred Shuttlesworth Die on Same Day.”  Ultimately it led to a discussion of vocation and whether we believe God has called each of us individually.

kith/kin:  Nothing better than weekend visits with friends and family … Big sis Mary Stewart came for a quick visit  after going to her college reunion … stories of fideles and golden goblets, hole in the wall gang.  Funny thing is we are more alike as we get older … Anyone else noticed that about a sibling?

Occupy Wall Street, GOP, politics, culture:  Interesting that Axelrod says GOP doesn’t get it … if you read each  GOP candidate’s response  Mitt clearly doesn’t get it (or is he merely trying to deal with it … see next section on humor).  I think Axelrod misrepresents the GOP response.

A senior political adviser to President Barack Obama is charging that the Republicans seeking the presidency don’t understand the American public’s pent-up anger over corporate excesses.

David Axelrod tells ABC’s “This Week” that the American people “want a financial system that works on the level. They want to get a fair shake.”

He appeared Sunday, a day after scores of demonstrators protesting corporate business practices were arrested in New York’s Times Square in a confrontation with police.

Axelrod faulted Republicans who have been pushing in Congress to soften or repeal the landmark legislation Obama pushed through last year, tightening regulation of business practices.

Axelrod said he doesn’t believe “any American is impressed” when hearing GOP presidential candidates who want to “roll back Wall St. reform.”

Speaking to small crowd at a retirement community in Florida on Oct. 4, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney expressed an unsympathetic view of the Occupy Wall Street movement. “I think it’s dangerous, this class warfare,” he said. Romney declined to comment further when asked about the protests by ABC. His response? “I’m just trying to get myself to occupy the White House.”

via David Axelrod On Occupy Wall Street: GOP Doesn’t Understand Protests, America’s Anger.

jokes, humor, crisis:  Interesting analysis … particularly interesting is that Romney tries the same joke in response to Occupy Wall Street and homelessness …

In June, the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney found himself under attack for a joke he tried to make at a meeting with a group of unemployed people in Tampa, Fla. “I am also unemployed,” Romney announced, insinuating that the job he lacked was the presidency.

His mistake, of course, was to have ignored the very meaning of the economic crisis, including the class-based divisions and anxieties it has aggravated. His statement of identity and identification (“I am also X”) achieved the exact opposite effect, underscoring the unbridgeable gap between the “unemployed” multimillionaire and the out-of-work Floridians. But in a sense, the joke ultimately worked, though not in the way Romney intended: it showed, above all, his own cluelessness. The joke was on him.

The subsequent moralizing responses of Romney’s critics were remarkably uniform. They boiled down to the admonishment that the crisis is not a laughing matter, that poking fun at unemployment is disrespectful to the unemployed, and so forth. But what if, on the contrary, humor and crisis share a common provenance? What if humor invariably germinates in response to a crisis, as a reaction to the excessive splits between us and our social, political or economic reality; or to the divisions within us; or to the rifts within reality itself?

Humor is not, as some believe, a coping strategy or an outlet for the frustrations that cannot be expressed in any other way … or at least it is not just that. At its best, it is the self-consciousness of crisis.

….

How does humor relate to this future and how does it cope with this sentiment? Far from assuaging the anxieties stimulated by the unknown, it is a symbolic device that enables human beings collectively to confront their own finitude and ageing, not to mention the limits of their social, political and economic realities. In the insecure employment (even) of the investment banker and the melting away of savings, we recognize ourselves in the present and, more importantly, in the future, forming, perhaps, a basic bond of solidarity.

Hence: (1) the temporal fissure between the present and the future is the site of the crisis; and (2) humor puts this divide under a symbolic spotlight. But who, exactly, laughs at whom when the temporal structure of the crisis is made visible? Is it the present that laughs at itself? Does it chuckle at its grim future? Or is it our future, laughing at us in the present?

Paraphrasing Martin Heidegger, we might say that the essence of humor is nothing humorous; it is, rather, the separation, variously called “time,” “self-consciousness,” “critique” or “crisis,” of the I from itself and from the world it lives in. When humor responds to a crisis, it reverts back to its own essence, launching a tacit critique that retraces the divisions and contradictions from which the crisis has erupted. But while the essence of humor is nothing humorous, this should not prevent us from having a good, hearty laugh.

via Jokes and Their Relation to Crisis – NYTimes.com.

 genetics, happiness, nature v. nurture:  My mom always said, “money won’t make you happy, but it certainly makes unhappiness easier.”

THE idea that the human personality is a blank slate, to be written upon only by experience, prevailed for most of the second half of the 20th century. Over the past two decades, however, that notion has been undermined. Studies comparing identical with non-identical twins have helped to establish the heritability of many aspects of behaviour, and examination of DNA has uncovered some of the genes responsible. Recent work on both these fronts suggests that happiness is highly heritable.

As any human being knows, many factors govern whether people are happy or unhappy. External circumstances are important: employed people are happier than unemployed ones and better-off people than poor ones. Age has a role, too: the young and the old are happier than the middle-aged. But personality is the single biggest determinant: extroverts are happier than introverts, and confident people happier than anxious ones.

That personality, along with intelligence, is at least partly heritable is becoming increasingly clear; so, presumably, the tendency to be happy or miserable is, to some extent, passed on through DNA. To try to establish just what that extent is, a group of scientists from University College, London; Harvard Medical School; the University of California, San Diego; and the University of Zurich examined over 1,000 pairs of twins from a huge study on the health of American adolescents. In “Genes, Economics and Happiness”, a working paper from the University of Zurich’s Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, they conclude that about a third of the variation in people’s happiness is heritable. That is along the lines of, though a little lower than, previous estimates on the subject.

via The genetics of happiness: Transporter of delight | The Economist.

War on Drugs, drugs, cities:  very interesting piece!

Just as New York and Chicago were the fiercest resisters of Prohibition, big cities are today home to the most vibrant drug markets. As the upper classes began fleeing America’s great cities in the 1930s and taking with them much of the wealth, drugs filled the void, while at the same time deepening exacerbating the urban crisis. The word “brownstone” became a slang term for heroin, perhaps best immortalized in Guns N’ Roses’ 1987 song “Mr. Brownstone,” but also evident in the Velvet Underground’s 1967 song “I’m Waiting for the Man,” where Lou Reed sings about going up to Harlem to meet his dealer, “Up to a brownstone, up three flights of stairs / Everybody’s pinned you, but nobody cares.” The drug trade fueled enormous amounts of crime, further dragging down cities’ reputations and driving out those who could afford to leave.

As with alcohol in the 1920s, when Prohibition was foisted on cities by small towns, today’s anti-drug policies are most popular among white suburban and rural conservatives. Urban voters, who bear the brunt of the damage of America’s misguided drug policies, are more liberal and likely to favor reforms like marijuana legalization and needle exchanges, but just like their predecessors who opposed Prohibition, they are forced to acquiesce to the federal war on drugs. We can even see the same pattern in ultra-liberal Netherlands, where the national government wants to restrict the sale of cannabis to foreigners, against the wishes of Amsterdam (although Rotterdam has not been so tolerant).

It’s no coincidence that Vancouver is both North America’s leader in urbanism and hard drug policy, having fought the Canadian federal government to win the latter distinction. It’s bred “Vancouverism,” a distinct architectural and urbanist genre, and was also the first city on the continent to open a legal supervised injection center, where heroin and cocaine users can shoot up in the presence of medical professionals, safe from the threat of overdose and arrest.

But the old “poor druggy cities, rich clean suburbs” paradigm is eroding. The suburbs are beginning to see poverty, and rural areas have recently given birth to two bonafide drug trends, OxyContin and methamphetamine. ”Brownstone” is starting to make people think more Park Slope Coop and less dimebags of dope, and attitudes towards drugs are inching in a more liberal direction. Marijuana legalization seems to be on the horizon in California and the West, and hard drug users are at least hearing more rhetoric about being treated less punitively. It remains to be seen how far both urbanism and drug reform will go, but as the two issues dissociate from each other, we may begin to see more rational dialog on both cities and drugs.

via The War on Drugs Is a War on Cities – Forbes.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Susan G. Komen Foundation, “pinking”, prayers, kith/kin:  What should i buy this year? As some of you know I buy something pink that I use everyday for a friend who has experienced breast cancer that year.  I make a point to remember them in a prayer when I use the item.

shop for a cure

Think pink! Shop our favorite fashion, beauty and home finds that donate to Breast Cancer research—and show off your support.

Think pink! Shop our favorite fashion, beauty and home finds that donate to Breast Cancer research—and show off your support.

via Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Susan G. Komen Foundation – Jennifer Aniston – Celebrity – InStyle.

Ameriprise Financial, aggrieved employees: “If you work for the dog food makers, they are probably going to serve you some dog food.”

As for Ameriprise’s 401(k) plan for its employees, there may well be areas where it has broken the rules. But it is hard to have a ton of sympathy for aggrieved employees in one important respect. If you work for the dog food makers, they are probably going to serve you some dog food. And some of it may not be your favorite variety.

via Turning a Lens on Ameriprise Financial – NYTimes.com.

02
Oct
11

10.2.2011 … I just saw regular unleaded gasoline for $2.92 in Spartanburg South Carolina … Mamma’ s birthday #85 has been celebrated and it was a grand event …

kith/kin: Mamma’ s birthday #85 has been celebrated and it was a grand event.  Prime at Lenox Square was a great choice.  Great to be with the siblings and my wonderful eighty-something mom.  She has the best mind I know.  And we did not discuss the Braves.

gasoline prices, travel: I just saw regular unleaded gasoline for $2.92 in Spartanburg South Carolina.

Occupy Wall Street Movement, bankers v. revolutionaries, Wall Street v. Main Street:  I hard on NPR that this movement was the liberal’s tea party before it gt politicized.

The “Occupy Wall Street” movement has taken over a park in Manhattan’s financial district and turned it into a revolutionary camp. Hundreds of young people chant slogans against “banksters” or corporate tycoons. Occasionally, a few even pull off their clothes, which always draws news cameras.

“Occupy Wall Street” was initially treated as a joke, but after a couple of weeks it’s gaining traction. The crowds are still tiny by protest standards — mostly in the hundreds, swelling during periodic marches — but similar occupations are bubbling up in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington. David Paterson, the former New York governor, dropped by, and labor unions are lending increasing support.

I tweeted that the protest reminded me a bit of Tahrir Square in Cairo, and that raised eyebrows. True, no bullets are whizzing around, and the movement won’t unseat any dictators. But there is the same cohort of alienated young people, and the same savvy use of Twitter and other social media to recruit more participants. Most of all, there’s a similar tide of youthful frustration with a political and economic system that protesters regard as broken, corrupt, unresponsive and unaccountable.

“This was absolutely inspired by Tahrir Square, by the Arab Spring movement,” said Tyler Combelic, 27, a Web designer from Brooklyn who is a spokesman for the occupiers. “Enough is enough!”

via The Bankers and the Revolutionaries – NYTimes.com.

Anwar al Awlaki, justified killing, war on terror, slippery slopes:  This killing of  a US citizen is going to be debated … “due process in war.”

Anwar al Awlaki’s rise from American-born cleric to key terror plotter had put him atop the U.S. terror “hit list.” Under the code name Objective Troy, intelligence tracked Awlaki for months near his hideout in Yemen.

Early Friday, a CIA drone found its target.

The Washington Post reports that a secret Justice Department memo sanctioned the killing of Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who became an al Qaeda propagandist and operational leader.

The document followed a review by senior administration lawyers of the legal issues raised by the lethal targeting of a U.S. citizen. Administration officials told the Post that there was no dissent about the legality of the killing.

The administration has faced criticism – and a legal challenge – over its targeting of Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents. The memorandum may represent an attempt to resolve a legal debate over whether a U.S. president can order the killing of American citizens.

With regard to the killing as a counter-terrorism measure, the memo deems, in the words of one officials, “due process in war.”

The killing of a U.S. jihadist

“The administration has tried to make very clear that this was an act of self-defense, that Awlaki was part of not only al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, but he was the external operations chief. He was ongoing in his plotting against American citizens – not only having done so in the past, but continuing to do so in an imminent way,” said CBS News national security analyst Juan Zarate.

“So based on the rules of self-defense, based on the principles that we’re at war with al Qaeda and the fact that he was a part of the group, self-professed, all of that suggests that it’s lawful and appropriate to go after him and to kill him,” Zarate said.

When asked if the drone attack against a U.S. citizen – in effect, execution without trial – sets a precedent, Zarate said, “It’s a good question – you run the risk of a slippery slope here. I think people are asking very appropriate questions about what the limits of the government’s power can be in terms of going after Americans who are part of al Qaeda, and we’ve seen in the recent past that Americans have formed more and more part of the al Qaeda network – not just Anwar al-Awlaki, but others. There are important questions to ask about what the process is and what the procedures are to determine who is an imminent danger to the United States.”

via Justice memo authorized killing of Al-Awlaki – CBS News.

Former President Bill Clinton, President Obama, history:  They always say history repeats itself.  I am amazed how Bill Clinton seems to keep himself in the press. … “vigorous defense of President Barack Obama against what he calls the same anti-government stance he faced during his campaign and presidency.”

Bill Clinton is using the 20th anniversary of the launch of his presidential bid to offer a vigorous defense of President Barack Obama against what he calls the same anti-government stance he faced during his campaign and presidency.

Clinton told a crowd of about 5,000 people gathered outside the Old State House Museum in downtown Little Rock that Obama faces a different set of challenges than he did in 1992. But Clinton says Obama faces the same debate over the role of government.

Clinton spoke at an event marking the anniversary of his 1991 announcement that he’d run for president. He told the crowd that he decided to run because he believed the country needed a new kind of politics and a new economics.

via Clinton: Obama faces same debate from ’92 bid – CBS News.

Groupon, deal sites, marketing:   “Fading allure?”

Shopping coupons have a long history, and they will undoubtedly continue to play a significant role in local merchants’ efforts to attract customers. But what has become apparent is a basic contradiction at the heart of the daily deals industry on the Internet.

The consumers were being told: You will never pay full price again. The merchants were hearing: You are going to get new customers who will stick around and pay full price. Disappointment was inevitable.

Some entrepreneurs are questioning the entire premise of the industry. Jasper Malcolmson, co-founder of the deal site Bloomspot, compares the basic deal offer with lenders’ marketing subprime loans during the housing boom.

Even worse from the merchants’ point of view, the popularity of the coupon sites fed a relentless bargain-hunting mentality among customers that did not use them. “Every day, we get an e-mail or phone call saying, Can we match someone else’s price?” said Ms. Bengel of Wellpath. “We’re not Wal-Mart.”

And the long-term reputation of the merchant may be at risk, according to a new study by researchers at Boston University and Harvard that analyzed thousands of Groupon and Living Social deals. The researchers found that fans of daily deals were on average hard to please. After they ate at the restaurant or visited the spa, they went on Yelp and grumbled about it. This pulled down the average Yelp rating by as much as half a point.

“Offering a Groupon puts a merchant’s reputation at risk,” said John Byers, a professor of computer science at Boston University who worked on the project. “The audience being reached may be more critical,” he said, “than their typical audience or have a more tenuous fit with the merchant.”

Even Amazon, the retailing juggernaut, has found quick riches are elusive. Its response in New York has been tepid. A subscription to The New York Observer had 84 takers, as did a “Sex and the City” tour. A Latin cooking class attracted 61 people, an Asian bistro 109.

Kevin Walters, manager of the Creole Restaurant and Music Supper Club on Third Avenue in Manhattan, said he was “very, very surprised” to sell only 77 deals through Amazon. “It should have been huge,” he said. Amazon declined to comment.

Despite the lackluster response, Mr. Walters will probably try another coupon. “I’m in East Harlem,” he said. “If the rest of the economy is shaky, then East Harlem is depressed. One way or another, I need to get people here.”

via Deal Sites Have Fading Allure for Merchants – NYTimes.com.

John F. Kennedy, Cold War, bomb shelters, Peanut Island, FL, history: I have toured the shelter for Congress at the Greenbriar and it was very interesting.  If I were nearby, i would probably go see this one.

President John F. Kennedy, who was facing a series of nail-biting face-offs with the Soviets, even recommended a fallout shelter for all Americans “as rapidly as possible” in an October 1961 speech. Two months later, Kennedy was presented with his own top-secret tropical bomb shelter off Palm Beach, Fla., on an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean.

Few even know it is here, but some area residents believe that the bunker is a must-see attraction that could put Peanut Island, a manmade islet, on the map.

Termed the “Detachment Hotel” in documents, the fallout shelter here was built by Navy Seabees in less than two weeks at the end of December 1961 and sits a short stroll from a rambling colonial-style house that doubled as a United States Coast Guard station. Deftly camouflaged by trees, it was hard to spot. If people asked, they would be told it was a munitions depot, nothing more. Kennedy visited the bunker twice during a drill.

“The government never declared it existed until 1974,” said Anthony Miller, a member of the executive board of the Palm Beach Maritime Museum, a nonprofit organization that leases part of the land on Peanut Island and runs a charter school and gives tours of the bunker and the former Coast Guard station. “But it was the worst-kept secret in Palm Beach.”

With the Soviets intent on shipping nuclear warheads to nearby Cuba, Kennedy was assured a radiation-proof haven a mere five-minute helicopter hop from his oceanfront winter home on millionaire’s row in Palm Beach. Peanut Island sits just between Palm Beach and its ritzy companion, Singer Island. It was intended to be used as a terminal for shipping peanut oil; that never happened, but the name stuck.

To ensure the president’s safety during the summer, when he visited the Kennedy compound on Hyannis Port, Mass., a sister shelter was built on Nantucket Island in 1961; it has never been open to the public.

The Florida bunker, which fell into disrepair in the 1990s, was cleaned up and has been open for tours since 1999, shortly after the museum leased the land. Buried under layers of concrete and built with quarter-inch-thick walls of steel and lead, the bunker looks like something out of the television show “Lost.”

via For Kennedy, a Secret Shelter Was a Cold War Camelot – NYTimes.com.

Gov. Mitt Romney, politics, political strategy, 2012 Presidential Election:  Maybe his strategy is to play both sides … and to me closing loopholes seems like a fair way to solve the tax shortfall because loopholes are usually geared to a special interest group.

Much of the business community in Massachusetts was puzzled. Mitt Romney, a Republican with high-caliber corporate credentials, had run for governor pledging to sweep aside barriers to business and act as the state’s “top salesman.”

Gov. Mitt Romney in 2005. By the next year, he was in campaign mode and had scaled back a plan to close tax loopholes.

But just a few months after Mr. Romney took office in 2003, what he delivered seemed anything but friendly to the C.E.O. crowd: a bill to financial firms for what they saw as $110 million in new corporate taxes — and a promise of more to come.

“How could he do this to businesses as a business guy?” Joe Casey, then a top executive at a Massachusetts bank, Seacoast Financial, recalled asking colleagues whose companies had to pay up after the Romney administration closed a tax loophole. “It was very aggressive, and it was a surprise.”

For the next three years, the Romney administration relentlessly scoured the tax code for more loopholes, extracting hundreds of millions of corporate dollars to help close budget gaps in a state with a struggling economy. It was only after Mr. Romney was gearing up in 2005 for a possible White House bid that he backed away from some of his most assertive tax enforcement proposals amid intensifying complaints from local companies and conservative antitax groups in Washington.

Much of the business community in Massachusetts was puzzled. Mitt Romney, a Republican with high-caliber corporate credentials, had run for governor pledging to sweep aside barriers to business and act as the state’s “top salesman.”

Gov. Mitt Romney in 2005. By the next year, he was in campaign mode and had scaled back a plan to close tax loopholes.

But just a few months after Mr. Romney took office in 2003, what he delivered seemed anything but friendly to the C.E.O. crowd: a bill to financial firms for what they saw as $110 million in new corporate taxes — and a promise of more to come.

“How could he do this to businesses as a business guy?” Joe Casey, then a top executive at a Massachusetts bank, Seacoast Financial, recalled asking colleagues whose companies had to pay up after the Romney administration closed a tax loophole. “It was very aggressive, and it was a surprise.”

For the next three years, the Romney administration relentlessly scoured the tax code for more loopholes, extracting hundreds of millions of corporate dollars to help close budget gaps in a state with a struggling economy. It was only after Mr. Romney was gearing up in 2005 for a possible White House bid that he backed away from some of his most assertive tax enforcement proposals amid intensifying complaints from local companies and conservative antitax groups in Washington.

via Romney’s Strategies as Governor Bucked His C.E.O. Image – NYTimes.com.

culture, Great Recession, waste, Halloween:  Halloween used to a home-made holiday … a sheet and a pillowcase … $& Billion???

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans plan to spend $6.9 billion this year for Halloween. To put that number into context, the same NRF survey found that Americans planned to spend $3.3 billion as recently as 2005.

This biggest chunk of this money — $2.5 billion of it — will go to costumes. Of that total, a little more than $300 million will be spent on costumes for pets. We’ll also drop $2 billion on candy and just under that on decorations.

This year isn’t an anomaly, either. Halloween spending did decline in 2009, when it dropped by about $1 billion to $4.8 billion. But by last year, it had bounced back to $5.8 billion.

via Now That’s Creepy: Americans Will Blow $7 Billion on Halloween | Moneyland | TIME.com.

NYT, food, drink, media:  I actually enjoyed this interactive issue and especially this article on food cravings.

This Food and Drink Issue of the magazine — the fourth annual — is full of questions. I have two of my own, and they’re the same questions I’ve been asking myself since I began cooking 40 years ago. How can food change my life? And how can food change the world?

I grew up during a time when the awareness of the quality of food was practically nil. It’s true that in the ’50s and even the ’60s people still cooked, even if much of the food was “convenient,” like Jell-O mold or tuna tetrazzini. It’s also true that pigs were still raised on farms, most vegetables were seasonal and hyperprocessed junk hadn’t yet achieved hegemony. But back then we took the good stuff for granted and never thought it would get anything but better.

The ’70s and ’80s were a more optimistic era, because cooking was in the news and the American food revolution was in full swing. It turned out, though, that it wasn’t a revolution but a civil war. Our side featured good people arguing for real, mostly simple cooking done with fresh, well- raised ingredients, a retreat from convenience and overly fancy stuff and a return to the basics. Arrayed against us in this fight — a struggle for the American palate and ultimately the global diet — was Big Food, spreading like the Blob.

It was hardly a fair fight: we were naïve, optimistic and unprepared, armed with spatulas, good food and journalism. The bad guys had nuclear weapons like scientific marketing and advertising, billions of dollars and, worst of all, government support.

via The Food & Drink Issue – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.

But can cravings for sweet or salt or fat be classified as actually, legitimately addictive? The processed-food industry doesn’t much like the A-word, preferring its own coinage: craveability. With financing from the World Sugar Research Organization, whose sponsors include Coca-Cola, the Welsh psychology professor David Benton has argued that food cravings do not meet the technical requirements of addiction. (Among other examples, fasting — the food equivalent of needing a hit — doesn’t result in enhanced cravings.) The American Beverage Association paid for a 2006 review that makes a similar argument about caffeine. While some may ingest the stimulant to suppress withdrawal symptoms, the study declared, caffeine “does no harm to the individual or to society, and its users are not compelled to consume it.”

The junk-food industry may have a point. Dr. Nora D. Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says that drugs can set off brain responses that are far more powerful than those caused by even the most luscious food. On the other hand, she notes, “clearly, processed sugar in certain individuals can produce these compulsive patterns of intake.” The difficulty of trying to kick a food habit, however, is that you can’t just go cold turkey from all food. Still, the best strategy for the afflicted, according to Volkow, is to mimic drug programs and completely avoid foods that cause the most trouble. “Don’t try to limit yourself to two Oreo cookies, because if the reward is very potent, no matter how good your intentions are, you are not going to be able to control it.”

via The Food & Drink Issue – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.

Former President  Bill Clinton, Back to Work, books:   Everybody want in on the solution …

“Back to Work” addresses the subject Mr Obama has been weakest with: job creation. Mr Clinton sounds some classic themes from the 1990s with a bit of fashionable greenery flown in. The private and public sector should be partners, not antagonists: anti-government rhetoric may be good for politics (and TV ratings) but it is bad for policy-making. A modern economy requires a government that is active but smart rather than one that is active but driven by vested interests. But the blurb also promises some “specific recommendations” on how to put people back to work and create new businesses—and even double America’s exports. It is impossible to judge whether this is just flannel or serious argument until the book is released next month. It is also far easier to make recommendations from the comfort of retirement than it is to govern. But a president who presided over America’s Indian summer—a period of sustained growth and disciplined government—should at least have something to say to a new generation of politicians who live in a far stormier time.

via Bill Clinton’s “Back to Work”: Missing Bill | The Economist.

architectural styles, polls: Well, how well do you know your architectural styles?

Colonial-style houses are best-sellers in the Washington area, comprising 40 percent of all home sales in the area.

How do you know if your house is one of those, and why does it matter?

As Susan Straight reports in this week’s Real Estate section, “real estate professionals say that knowing your Colonial from your Federal- and Tudor-style home really matters when it comes to buying and selling. That’s because certain styles are more popular than others, and a home’s style can factor into its resale value, agents say.”

via How well do you know your architectural styles? – Post User Polls – The Washington Post.

street art, websites, lists: From a postsecret tweet: Street Anatomy,   Wooster Collective and  Banksy – Outdoors.

NBA lockout,Stephen Curry, Davidson College:  You go Steph …

It was an awkward moment, that first day of class at history of education, when the professor did a roll call.

“Wendell Curry?”

“Actually, my name is Wardell,” the student replied. “But people call me Stephen.”

And with that, any hope of blending in was also history. The other students, mostly freshmen, stared and pointed because this was not your usual Davidson classmate.

via NBA lockout opens door for Stephen Curry’s education | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper.

business, management, lists:  The Ten Things Only Bad Managers Say  … this one struck me … most big firms close off access to such sites on the internet.  I agree that if they require you to be accessible 24/7, you should be allowed a little freedom 9-5 in exchange.

I won’t have you on eBay/ESPN/Facebook/etc. while you’re on the clock.

Decent managers have figured out that there is no clock, not for white-collar knowledge workers, anyway. Knowledge workers live, sleep, and eat their jobs. Their e-mail inboxes fill up just as fast after 5:00 p.m. as they do before. Their work is never done, and it’s never going to be done. That’s O.K. Employees get together in the office during the daytime hours to do a lot of the work together, and then they go home and try to live their lives in the small spaces of time remaining. If they need a mental break during the day, they can go on PeopleofWalmart.com or Failblog.org without fear of managerial reprisal. We are not robots. We need to stop and shake off the corporate cobwebs every now and then. If a person is sitting in the corner staring up at the ceiling, you could be watching him daydream—or watching him come up with your next million-dollar product idea. (Or doing both things at once.)

via Ten Things Only Bad Managers Say – BusinessWeek.

bike messengers, culture,  NYC, random:  You never know what you will find …

The scene, more reminiscent of a garage-band festival than a bicycle event, captured the spirit of the East Coast Messenger Stage Race, Mr. Horse’s hastily arranged, informal competition for a small group of hardy riders — mostly bicycle messengers — from across the country. The five-day race, through a tangled network of roads from Boston to Washington, was the latest project for Mr. Horse, a competitive cyclist and bike advocate who has emerged in recent years as one of the best-known figures in the city’s brigade of professional messengers.

Mr. Horse, 29, has raced against a sport utility vehicle from Harlem to Brooklyn in a Web advertisement for Mercedes-Benz, worked as a producer and cameraman on a reality series about bicycle messengers for the Travel Channel and performed stunts for more than two months for “Premium Rush,” a bike-centered action movie to be released next year. He has won national and international messenger competitions, as well as sponsorship deals with Red Bull, Oakley sunglasses and the urban bike-wear company Outlier.

But there is a paradox at work here: just as corporate brands and Hollywood try to harness the increasing visibility of urban cycling through its most recognizable character, the grease-grizzled New York City messenger, that subculture is dwindling in the face of higher-tech competition.

The contradictions don’t end there — what kind of grunt job garners brand sponsorships? — but such is the changing state of the messenger’s role as it has morphed from job to lifestyle. The Stage Race, too, is more about messengering as a rugged cowboy ideal than as an efficient way to shuttle important documents between corporate offices. Surely, few — if any — have sent a package from Boston to Washington by bicycle.

Amid this shift, Mr. Horse has become a symbol for a group that prides itself on standing apart.

via The Bike Messenger Goes Hollywood as a Culture Dwindles – NYTimes.com.

David Gerbi – “revolutionary Jew”,  Libya, synagogue, post- Arab Spring, restoration, history: “What Qaddafi tried to do is to eliminate the memory of us. He tried to eliminate the amazing language. He tried to eliminate the religion of the Jewish people,” said Gerbi, whose family fled to Italy when he was 12. “I want bring our legacy back, I want to give a chance to the Jewish of Libya to come back.”

David Gerbi is a 56-year-old psychoanalyst, but to Libyan rebels he was the “revolutionary Jew.” He returned to his homeland after 44 years in exile to help oust Muammar Qaddafi, and to take on what may be an even more challenging mission.

That job began Sunday, when he took a sledgehammer to a concrete wall. Behind it: the door to Tripoli’s crumbling main synagogue, unused since Qaddafi expelled Libya’s small Jewish community early in his decades-long rule.

Gerbi knocked down the wall, said a prayer and cried.

“What Qaddafi tried to do is to eliminate the memory of us. He tried to eliminate the amazing language. He tried to eliminate the religion of the Jewish people,” said Gerbi, whose family fled to Italy when he was 12. “I want bring our legacy back, I want to give a chance to the Jewish of Libya to come back.”

The Star of David is still visible inside and outside the peach-colored Dar al-Bishi synagogue in Tripoli’s walled Old City. An empty ark where Torah scrolls were once kept still reads “Shema Israel” — “Hear, O Israel” — in faded Hebrew. But graffiti is painted on the walls, and the floor and upper chambers are covered in garbage — plastic water bottles, clothes, mattresses, drug paraphernalia and dead pigeon carcasses.

via Libyan “revolutionary Jew” to restore synagogue – CBS News.

cities, urban development, homebuilding, suburbs:  Very interest article about homebuilding and what need to happen with the next generation of homes…

While we obsess over the new in terms of what we keep in our houses — the ever-increasing speed and functionality of our Smartphones, entertainment options built into refrigerators, sophisticated devices that monitor, analyze and report on our sleep cycles, even the superior technology of the running shoes we put on before heading out the flimsy fiberboard door — we’re incredibly undemanding of the houses themselves. These continue to be built the same way they have for over a century, and usually not as well. Walls and windows are thin, materials cheap, design (and I use the term loosely) not well-considered. The building process is a protracted affair, taking far too long and creating embarrassing amounts of building waste (over 50 percent of all waste produced in the United States, in fact).

Then there’s a company like Blu Homes, which has demonstrated a clear commitment to merging housing and high tech — to the tune of a $25 million investment, in fact. They recognized the tremendous inefficiencies in home-building and have developed 3D technology that allows for personal customization (clients can click a mouse to alter floor plans, choose green features and select finishes), as well as a proprietary building process and innovative steel-framing technology that allows their homes, as their Web site explains, “to be built to the highest aesthetic and environmental standards and be delivered quickly and economically nationwide.”

But following a long line of V.C. types dabbling in housing, Blu has set its sights on a small slice of an already niche market — high-end modern prefab, which accounts for maybe half of a percent of the less than 5 percent of architect-designed homes in the country. Devoting this much R&D and software development to so few homes feels akin to installing a $250,000 solar array on a garden shed. Why not devote that energy to transforming cookie-cutter developer homes?

Chang writes, “The disconnection between the rising diversity of housing needs and the monotony of housing production speaks to the tenacity of the postwar American dream — the enduring allure of the detached house with front lawn and backyard patio — as well as to the profitability of catering to these aspirations.”

Chang sees this moment — with millions of houses now in foreclosure, many deteriorating or abandoned — as one to seize, and I couldn’t agree more. It is possible, he considers, that once the economy revives we will simply return to home-building-as-usual:

But right now we have an opportunity to rethink suburban housing: to make it responsive not to dated demographics and wishful economics but rather to the actual needs of a diversifying and dynamic population — not only to the so-called traditional households but also to the growing ranks of those who prefer to rent rather than buy, who either can’t afford or don’t want a 2,000-square-foot-plus detached house, who are retired and living on fixed incomes and maybe driving less, who want granny or nanny flats, who want to pay less for utilities and reduce their carbon footprint, and so on.

Housing can’t be equated with high-tech: a home is, or was, a long-term investment not beholden to the dizzying speeds of change and innovation that drive say, Apple, which must continually reinvent and redefine its product to meet consumer demand. But housing is woefully behind the times, and now it needs to see opportunity in crisis, not wait it out by launching pop-up shops and interactive Web sites that empower consumers to such revolutionary things as customizing bathroom tile and kitchen backsplashes.

We’re beyond the point of a fresh coat of paint and a new sales pitch. If we’re going to continue to hold on to the single-family home, we need to transform it. There is a demand for smaller, more energy-efficient homes in less car-dependent neighborhoods; all aspects of the industry, from designers to lenders to planners to consumers, should meet it. In this era of anti-government fervor, subsidizing the American Dream isn’t an option; transforming it is the only one we’ve got.

via Shifting the Suburban Paradigm – NYTimes.com.

cities, photo gallery:  Great photo gallery/slide show of a city and its geometry, as seen from above … unfortunately I can’t pull the pictures.

“New York reveals itself only at a certain height, a certain distance, a certain speed!” Jean-Paul Sartre wrote a half-century ago, before the city grew even higher. The ideal perch, Sartre suggested, is not at the pedestrian’s height, distance or speed, but in the sky. Here, benches and mounds of shrubbery combine to form an urban oasis of curlicues, now being redesigned, at the Jacob K. Javits Plaza in Lower Manhattan.

via City Geometry, Seen From Above – Slide Show – NYTimes.com.

Supreme Court , 2011 term, criminal cases,  First Amendment cases:  It will be an interesting year.

“The docket seems to be changing,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy told reporters at a judicial conference in August.

“A lot of big civil cases are going to arbitration,” he said. “I don’t see as many of the big civil cases.”

Still, the shift in focus toward criminal and First Amendment cases will soon be obscured if, as expected, the justices agree to hear a challenge to the 2010 health care overhaul law. That case promises to be a once-in-a-generation blockbuster.

In the meantime, the justices will hear an extraordinary set of cases that together amount to a project that could overhaul almost every part of the criminal justice system.

The court will decide whether the police need a warrant to use advanced technology to track suspects, whether jails may strip-search people arrested for even the most minor offenses, whether defendants have a right to competent lawyers to help them decide whether to plead guilty, when eyewitness evidence may be used at trial, and what should happen when prosecutors withhold evidence.

“The Supreme Court has positioned itself to improve the quality of the criminal justice process from beginning to end,” said Eric M. Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University.

The court will continue its intense engagement with the First Amendment. But where earlier cases involved quirky issues like dog fights, funeral protests and the Seven Aphorisms of a fringe church called Summum, the marquee First Amendment cases this term involve issues of sweep and consequence.

In one, the court will rule on whether the government may ban swearing and nudity on broadcast television. In another, the justices will decide for the first time whether there is a “ministerial exception” to employment laws that allows religious institutions to discriminate in ways others employers cannot.

The health care case is not the only juggernaut looming on the horizon. In the next term or two, the court may well address same-sex marriage, affirmative action and illegal immigration. For now, the justices are focused on criminal cases, especially ones concerning the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a fair trial.

via Supreme Court Turns to Criminal and First Amendment Cases – NYTimes.com.

Google, advertising, developing countries, Global economy, internet access, corporate social responsibility, India:  OK, Google doe they need internet access before clean water, medicine, healthy supply of food?

LIKE the travelling fairs that still roam India, a snazzy white bus trundles along the subcontinent’s B-roads, stopping in small towns for a few days at a time and inviting locals into another world. But in place of tightrope-walking girls and performing monkeys, its main attraction is access to the internet. For some visitors, it is their first time online.

The Google Internet bus is a free, mobile cybercafe dreamed up by the search giant and run in association with BSNL, a large state-owned internet service provider (ISP). It has covered over 43,000km and passed through 120 towns in 11 states since it hit the road on February 3rd, 2009. Google estimates that 1.6m people have been offered their first online experience as a result. Of those, 100,000 have signed up for an internet connection of their own. Like a high-school drug dealer, though admittedly less nefarious, the idea is to hook them young and keep them coming back. In return for its efforts, Google says it gains a better understanding of their needs. That, in turn, lets it develop products for the potentially huge local market.

via Internet in developing countries: Hailing the Google bus | The Economist.

iPhone, psychology, love, addiction:  OK, I love my iPhone, literally.

WITH Apple widely expected to release its iPhone 5 on Tuesday, Apple addicts across the world are getting ready for their latest fix.

But should we really characterize the intense consumer devotion to the iPhone as an addiction? A recent experiment that I carried out using neuroimaging technology suggests that drug-related terms like “addiction” and “fix” aren’t as scientifically accurate as a word we use to describe our most cherished personal relationships. That word is “love.”

As a branding consultant, I have followed Apple from its early days as a cult brand to its position today as one of the most valuable, widely admired companies on earth. A few years back, I conducted an experiment to examine the similarities between some of the world’s strongest brands and the world’s greatest religions. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) tests, my team looked at subjects’ brain activity as they viewed consumer images involving brands like Apple and Harley-Davidson and religious images like rosary beads and a photo of the pope. We found that the brain activity was uncannily similar when viewing both types of imagery.

This past summer, I gathered a group of 20 babies between the ages of 14 and 20 months. I handed each one a BlackBerry. No sooner had the babies grasped the phones than they swiped their little fingers across the screens as if they were iPhones, seemingly expecting the screens to come to life. It appears that a whole new generation is being primed to navigate the world of electronics in a ritualized, Apple-approved way.

Earlier this year, I carried out an fMRI experiment to find out whether iPhones were really, truly addictive, no less so than alcohol, cocaine, shopping or video games. In conjunction with the San Diego-based firm MindSign Neuromarketing, I enlisted eight men and eight women between the ages of 18 and 25. Our 16 subjects were exposed separately to audio and to video of a ringing and vibrating iPhone.

In each instance, the results showed activation in both the audio and visual cortices of the subjects’ brains. In other words, when they were exposed to the video, our subjects’ brains didn’t just see the vibrating iPhone, they “heard” it, too; and when they were exposed to the audio, they also “saw” it. This powerful cross-sensory phenomenon is known as synesthesia.

But most striking of all was the flurry of activation in the insular cortex of the brain, which is associated with feelings of love and compassion. The subjects’ brains responded to the sound of their phones as they would respond to the presence or proximity of a girlfriend, boyfriend or family member.

In short, the subjects didn’t demonstrate the classic brain-based signs of addiction. Instead, they loved their iPhones.

As we embrace new technology that does everything but kiss us on the mouth, we risk cutting ourselves off from human interaction. For many, the iPhone has become a best friend, partner, lifeline, companion and, yes, even a Valentine. The man or woman we love most may be seated across from us in a romantic Paris bistro, but his or her 8GB, 16GB or 32GB rival lies in wait inside our pockets and purses.

My best advice? Shut off your iPhone, order some good Champagne and find love and compassion the old-fashioned way.

via You Love Your iPhone. Literally. – NYTimes.com.

Paying the Grace Forward, Kent Matlock, culture, Jerry Richardson, Denny’s, kudos: I don’t think this side of the story has been told.  Kudos to Mr. Matlock for telling this story.

Dr. Gloster bestowed his grace on me. Early in our careers, we all have people who are kind and considerate to us, and I learned to treasure them for two reasons: They’re rare, and their actions inspire you to pay that grace forward.

In the early 1980s, I was an advertising manager at Georgia-Pacific. I had worked for a few ad agencies before that, and wanted to return to that side of the industry. I couldn’t find a job with an agency, however, so I decided to start my own. My mother, Jean, who had taught accounting, joined me a few years later as our accountant. At the time we started, minority companies in Atlanta often partnered with larger organizations, which gave the smaller companies more opportunities. We experienced much of our growth that way.

My mother taught me loyalty, and I learned several lessons from clients. Jerry Richardson, C.E.O. of the restaurant company TW Services, then parent of Denny’s, taught me about doing the right thing. We were working on crisis communications for Denny’s after it was accused of racial discrimination in the early 1990s. Jerry didn’t just write checks to settle lawsuits; he asked me what the company could do to improve its practices. He instituted a thorough review and worked with the N.A.A.C.P. on new corporate policies.

Some people criticized me and called me names for working with Denny’s, but Jerry taught me never to let anyone define you. We emerged as an even stronger firm, and Denny’s is still here today.

via Matlock Advertising’s Chief, on Paying the Grace Forward – NYTimes.com.

Bruce Ivins, anthrax mail suspect, Kappa Kappa Gamma – UNC Chapter:  I was in KKG at UNC in the late 70s … very strange. “Strange sorority fixation was link that led to anthrax suspect.”

The Kappa connection

Haigwood had met Bruce Ivins in the mid-1970s during graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She recalled his incessant questions about her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Having joined the sorority as an undergraduate, Haigwood stayed involved as the adult adviser at the UNC chapter. Ivins, she says, always asked her for information about Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Nancy Haigwood says Bruce Ivins was obsessed with her sorority.

“Every time I talked to him, nearly, he would mention it,” says Haigwood. “And finally I said, ‘You know, Bruce, that’s enough!'”

Ivins’ obsession with Haigwood and her sorority continued years after they graduated from UNC. Ivins had started his job at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases — USAMRIID — at Fort Detrick, Maryland, in 1980. Haigwood, too, was living and working in suburban Washington.

One day in 1982, she came home to find her sidewalk, fence and car spray-painted with red graffiti: “K K Γ” — the Greek letters of her sorority.

“Because of the Kappa connection, I immediately thought of Bruce Ivins,” Haigwood said.

via Strange sorority fixation was link that led to anthrax suspect – CNN.com.

headlines, War on Terror, drones, modern warfare: That one jumped out at me …

Wall Photos.




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