Posts Tagged ‘health

24
Feb
13

2.24.13 … feasting on facebook …

Lent, organic smoothies, feast days:  On my feasting day, i saw this … maybe I should try it for a week and then see if I want to go back on …

Here’s a POWERFUL Healing Tonic to help reduce inflammation:

source:Jay Kordich Organic ALKALINE Powerhouse! (makes over 1 quart/ 32
ounces) 1 large (unwaxed) Cucumber (English) 2 Limes peeled 1 cup
Spinach 1 cup Parsley 1 Green Apple 6 ribs Celery 1 inch Fresh
Ginger Root If you drink a tonic like this DAILY, in 30 days you
will notice a big difference in your skin, in your daily challenges
with swollen fingers, hands and your digestion will improve. 90
days of juicing this way, the chronic inflammation you may be
experiencing WILL significantly decrease. Granted, you need to also
mirror your food habits by eating Alkalizing foods as well.
via Facebook.

history, historical films,  Argo, NYTimes.com: Since seeing Argo , I’ve wondered how
much was true.

This awards season, though, some
of the Dream Factory’s highest-profile contenders — “Lincoln,”
“Argo,” “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Django Unchained” — have been
subjected to unusually insistent fact-checking from journalists,
politicians and op-ed pontificators. Among the accusations:
Connecticut congressmen did not vote against the 13th amendment in
1865, as shown in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” Iranian
Revolutionary Guards did not chase a plane carrying six American
Embassy workers down a Tehran airport runway in 1980, as they do in
the climax of Ben Affleck’s “Argo.” And a freed slave in 1858 did
not lay waste to a Mississippi plantation called Candyland to free
his German-speaking wife, as in Quentin Tarantino’s brazenly
fantastical “Django Unchained.” Arguments over these movies raise
familiar questions about art and its uses: Is art supposed to make
us better people, give us moral instruction, work toward the social
good or exist merely for our personal pleasure? Above all, does it
have to be true? When it comes to this recent crop of historically
informed movies, these eternal conundrums have been intensified by
an acute contemporary anxiety about the truth that has less to do
with how rightly or wrongly “Argo,” for instance, gets its facts
than with the crumbling monopolies on the truth held by
institutions like the government and the press. … Movies tend to
tell more than one story. “Argo” isn’t just about a thrilling
rescue: it is also about two powerful institutions — the American
movie industry and the Central Intelligence Agency — that are
masters of dissembling. … Given some of the stories that
politicians themselves have peddled to the public, including the
existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, such concern is
understandable. It can often seem as if everyone is making
stuff up all the time and in such a climate of suspicion and
well-earned skepticism — punctuated by “gotcha” moments of scandal
and embarrassment — movies are hardly immune. But invention remains
one of the prerogatives of art and it is, after all, the job of
writers, directors and actors to invent counterfeit realities. It
is unfair to blame filmmakers if we sometimes confuse the real
world with its representations. The truth is that we love movies
partly because of their lies, beautiful and not. It’s journalists
and politicians who owe us the truth. via The
History in ‘Lincoln,’ ‘Argo’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ –
NYTimes.com
.

Argo, BBC News:

The central element of the story sounds
incredible but is in fact true. The CIA cooked up a plan to spirit
the six out of the country on a scheduled flight from Tehrans
Mehrabad airport, masquerading as Canadians working on a
non-existent science-fiction film. via BBC
News – Argo: The true story behind Ben Afflecks Globe-winning
film

snark v. sweetness, Harvard Business Review: interesting …

Sweetness has a couple of faces. It expresses an openness to the world, a wish to be useful, an
innocence, a goodness, a guilelessness, a disinclination to insist
on your own interests. If there is a poster girl, it is Jess (Zooey
Deschanel), the female lead in New Girl, the new show from Fox. New
Girl turns out to be a veritable shrine to sweetness, as four
roommates rescue one another from the stream of misadventures with
madcap enthusiasm and a touching generosity.

Why sweetness? Well, we are coming out of an era of some darkness. We
seemed almost to celebrate skepticism and snark. We dwelt upon the
grimmest aspects of the human experience. TV and movie making were
increasingly ghoulish, with new standards of viscera and depravity.
Shows like CSI and NCIS dwell lovingly on the crime victim. Bright
lights and strategically placed towels protect our sexual
sensitivities, but everything else on the autopsy table is
enthusiastically examined. Once the standard bearer of
heartlessness, The Silence of the Lambs (1991) now looks a little
quaint. Since its release, we have seen a succession of werewolves,
vampires, serial killers, and human monsters of every kind. If you
are 40 or under, you’ve grown up on a steady diet of heartlessness.
via The Decline of Snark and the Return of Sweetness – Grant McCracken –
Harvard Business Review
.

Evolution Of Mom Dancing (w/ Jimmy Fallon & Michelle Obama), YouTube, LOL:

Evolution
Of Mom Dancing (w/ Jimmy Fallon & Michelle Obama) –
YouTube
.

In honor of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign, and to
encourage parents everywhere to get up and get moving with their
kids, Jimmy Fallon and Michelle Obama present the “Evolution of Mom
Dancing.” via Evolution
Of Mom Dancing (w/ Jimmy Fallon & Michelle Obama) –
YouTube
.

Smart Ass Cripple, twitter, Roger Ebert:  A tweet I just had to follow up …

Roger Ebert
(@ebertchicago)

2/23/13, 11:15 AM Smart Ass Cripple
gets the last laubit.ly/121KLdB

I’ve found a new way to
amuse myself, which, after all, is what life is all about.One Last
Laugh First, I picture some anthropologists about a thousand years
from now discovering my crippled skeleton. That makes me chuckle.
My skeleton will be a keeper for them because they’ll know right
away it belonged to a cripple.  It bears the ravages of
sitting on my ass all day. It’s twisted and bent. It’s contracted
up fetal. The bones are soupy soft. Sitting takes a toll. If God
intended for humans to sit on our asses all day, she would have
made us all Congressmen. But my body either sits in a wheelchair
(or on a crapper) or lies in bed. Every day I abuse my body by
making it get out of bed.

via Smart Ass Cripple: One Last Laugh.

history, literature, novels:  I feel stupid … I have not read any and have not even heard of all of them.  😦

According to the
novel’s liveliest, undisciplined, and most raucous traditions (and
to the word “novel”‘s etymology), the purpose of fiction is to
bring readers “news” of the real state of things as experienced and
expressed in everyday speech. The novel’s job is to reflect the
truth of our lives in common in a way that official and respectable
languages—whether these be Latin, law, economics, public policy,
cybernetics, or professional humanism (the list goes on and
on)—can’t. History is one of those respectable languages by which
we expect to be instructed in navigating the present by placing
that present within a story of grand human development headed
toward some benign purpose.

via 10 Books That Rewrite History.

Banksy, public art, ownership, Bloomberg:  Who owns it?  good question.

BBC News – ‘Banksy’ boy worker image on Poundland shop wall.The stencilled image depicts a poor child making Union Jack flags on a sewing machine and was located on the wall of a Poundland discount shop in the Wood Green area of north London. The work was later removed and was to be auctioned in Miami. It was withdrawn
moments before the auction. Photographer: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty

via Bloomberg.

Michelle Obama’s Bangs, midlife crisis: .Michelle Obamas Bangs

Michelle Obama’s Bangs The Result Of Midlife Crisis? First Lady Jokes About Hair During Interview

via Michelle Obama’s Bangs The Result Of Midlife Crisis? First Lady Jokes About Hair During Interview.

Paul McIlhenny,  Tabasco,  RIP, NOLA.com:  RIP, Mr. McIlhenny.

Paul McIlhenny, an ebullient executive who for 14
years led the family-owned company that makes Tabasco sauce and who
reigned as Rex in 2006, died Saturday at his New Orleans home,
apparently of a heart attack. He was 68. Mr. McIlhenny, whom The
New York Times once called “The Scion of Spice,” became the
company’s president in 1998 — the sixth family member to hold that
title — and chief executive officer two years later. At his death,
he still held the latter position and also was chairman of the
board of directors, but a cousin, Anthony “Tony” Simmons, was named
president last year. The company, which was founded by Edmund
McIlhenny in 1868 on Avery Island, near New Iberia, sells Tabasco
sauce in about 165 countries and has 11 websites outside the United
States, in North and South America and Europe. During Mr.
McIlhenny’s years at the helm of the McIlhenny Co., he worked
aggressively to expand the number of items to which the familiar
Tabasco logo could be affixed. They include T-shirts, aprons,
neckties, teddy bears and computer screensavers, as well as seven
varieties of hot sauce. via Paul
McIlhenny, CEO of the company that makes Tabasco sauce, dies at 68
| NOLA.com
.

stress, health:

Roughly 25
percent of people say stress gives them an upset stomach or
indigestion, according to a survey by the American Psychological
Association. Here’s why: Prolonged anxiety slows digestion as your
nervous system directs its energy toward the organs and muscles
most critical to survival. This, in turn, can cause nausea,
constipation, cramping, and bloating.

via Side
Effects Of Stress: How Stressing Out Hurts Your
Body
.

Downton Abbey, Jane Austen, Journal of Victorian Culture Online:
Two of my favorites … linked …

But the connections between Downton Abbey and the
nineteenth-century novel (and Jane Austen’s novels in particular)
go far beyond the American penchant for indulging in the love
stories of “our betters” that come to pass while drinking high tea
in corseted costuming. Even a cursory glance at film adaptations of
Austen’s novels staring Downton Abbey actors reveals the
similarities between the events at Downton and the plots of
Austen’s novels. via Downton
Abbey & Jane Austen; Or, in Praise of Lady Mary | Journal
of Victorian Culture Online
.

The Pope, Twitter:  No surprise …

The Pope Is
Quitting Twitter

The Pope is giving up Twitter
when he leaves his office later this month. via The
Pope Is Quitting Twitter
.

House of Cards, NYTimes.com:  On my list to watch …

The Washington
that majestically unfurls in the credits for “House of Cards” is
recognizable to anybody who has spent time there. But even though
it can be a monumental kingdom filled with portent, it can also be
a fairly quotidian and sometimes ugly small town — but that’s not
the kind of place you make a huge, expensive television show
about.

An original series picked up and distributed by
Netflix, “House of Cards” is a great looking, lavishly made
13-episode series based on a BBC mini-series. It was developed and
produced by Beau Willimon, a guy steeped in politics as an aide to
Charles Schumer, Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton and who also wrote
“The Ides of March,” a film directed by George Clooney that got
high marks from politicos for its verisimilitude. “House of Cards”
revolves around Frank Underwood (played with lizard-like glory by
Kevin Spacey), a Democrat and House majority whip, who, when passed
over for a promotion to secretary of state wreaks revenge on all
who would lay him low. His willing partner is Zoe Barnes (played by
Kate Mara), a reporter/blogger at The Washington Herald, a
fictional establishment newspaper in the capital. via “House
of Cards”: Two reporters talk deconstruct the deck. –
NYTimes.com
.

apps ,
iPhone, Android , Digits – WSJ
:  I am such an iPhone loyalist … but I have friends that love their android …

When it comes to developing apps, the iPhone is
usually the first option. Look at apps like Instagram, which was
exclusive to the iPhone for an extended period of time before
landing on Android. But there are plenty of reasons to want to go
with an Android phone.

via Apps That Might Make You Want to Switch to Android – Digits -WSJ.

Danica Patrick, Daytona 500, firsts, kudos:  Congrats …

 

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Congratulations to Danica Patrick for becoming the first woman in history to win the Daytona 500 pole on Sunday.

via (1) Facebook.

17
Nov
11

11.17.2011 … MARTA Gold Line to Civic Center to Megabus to Charlotte (with a mere 2 hour delay) … WOOHOO! great visit with the mum and sis!

Atlanta, MegaBus, travel, kith/kin: Megabus to Charlotte. WOOHOO! great visit with the mum and sis… Massive traffic jam … This delay is not Megabus’ fault … View from the bus for the last 1/2 hour … 🙂 — at I 85

.

This is what I was trapped in …

A truck driver has been charged in a wreck that completely shutdown Interstate 85 for four hours on Thursday.

Rafael Lopez, 48, of New Jersey, has been charged with driving too fast for conditions, according to Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Bill Rhyne.

The southbound lanes reopened at about 2 p.m., and traffic started to slowly move again. The northbound lanes reopened at about 2:45 p.m.

A truck ran off the road and into the support for an electronic message board used for AMBER alerts and other information that spans all lanes of the interstate. It caused the structure to collapse across the northbound lanes near mile marker 67, according to the Highway Patrol.

via I-85 Reopens; Driver Charged In Wreck – Local News – Greenville, SC – msnbc.com.

A Very Young Dancer, children’s/YA literature, followup:  Having friends in the ballet world I found this interesting …

IN the fall of 1976 “A Very Young Dancer” leaped into the imaginations of a generation of little girls. This children’s book by the photographer Jill Krementz chronicled the day-to-day life of a 10-year-old student from the School of American Ballet, following her to class and through her starring role as Marie in New York City Ballet’s “Nutcracker,” for which she was handpicked by George Balanchine himself. (“George Balanchine’s Nutcracker,” performed by City Ballet, begins its 57th season on Friday at the Koch Theater.)

Stephanie DePierro was profiled at 10 in Jill Krementz’s 1976 photo book “A Very Young Dancer.”

For a time the book’s subject, Stephanie, was perhaps the most famous and easily recognizable ballerina in the world. Young readers wanted to be her. There were bags of fan mail and appearances on “Today,” “Midday Live With Bill Boggs” and a one-hour “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” Christmas special.

For anyone who’s read the classic book, it’s easy to see why it was a best seller. Stephanie’s intensity — her beauty, her dark eyes and her seriousness — draws the reader in. The stark black and white lends some of the photos a Grimm’s fairy tale quality, with a haunted undertow that appeals to girls. And it offers a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the most prestigious ballet academy in the country, which has an almost mystical quality for aspiring ballerinas. (My own daughter is a student there.)

via ‘A Very Young Dancer’ and the Life That Followed – NYTimes.com.

Roget’s Thesaurus, words:  You know what, I must be a real nerd … I love Roget’s Thesaurus, too.

A confession: I love Roget’s Thesaurus. Mine is not a popular position to avow. Most writers I know, asked if they use a thesaurus to discover more interesting vocabulary for their essays or stories, bristle with resistance. Haven’t those who look up “say” in the Thesaurus and consequently force characters to “utter,” “breathe,” “pour forth,” “state,” “declare,” “assert,” “aver,” “relate” “murmur,” “mutter,” or “gasp” ruined countless reading experiences? Haven’t students who looked up “refute” and found “confute” next on the list composed arguments that got off on the wrong track, only to be further derailed when they decided that “apodixis” suited them better than “proof”? Whatever folks think of Stephen King, most would agree with his advice, in On Writing:

One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones.  This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes . … Make yourself a solemn promise right now that you’ll never use “emolument” when you mean “tip.”

via An Aficionado (Connoisseur, Fan, Devotee, Enthusiast) Speaks

college majors, humanities:

“So, what do you study?”

“I’m an English major and I’m also pre-med.”

Blank stare. Glazed eyes. Crickets. So begins another awkward introduction in the dining hall.

Similar situations are erupting on campuses across the country as a small, but growing number of aspiring doctors choose to major in the humanities or social sciences instead of the usual bio or chem. Last year, nearly a quarter of medical school applicants majored outside the sciences, and for good reason: Nowadays, medical schools don’t care about what you majored in during your undergrad.

Admissions rates are virtually equal for science and non-science majors, and most med schools encourage undergrads to take substantial courses in the humanities to prove that they’re concerned with the human condition, not just the human body.

For pre-med English majors like me, the idea is simple. I want to spend my college days reading Shakespeare; I want to spend my post-college life delivering health care to under-served communities. Why should I have to choose between them?

The possibility of becoming a non-science pre-med is far from obvious to most college students, however.

via Are you pre-med? Major in the humanities | USA TODAY College.

Davidson College, Arab Spring Lecture, William Roebuck:

William Roebuck is director for the Office of Maghreb Affairs in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. His office has been on the front lines, helping shape the U.S. government’s diplomatic response to the momentous developments known as the Arab Spring. His lecture will focus on the wave of revolutionary movements across the Arab World, as well as his recent experiences in Libya. A question and answer session will follow the lecture.

via Davidson College – Arab Spring Lecture.

diets, health: Ooh … t00 many questions!

1““““““`11111Have you tried out a trendy diet plan, such as a juice fast, the 17-Day Diet, Wheat Belly, the Paleo Diet, or the Dukan Diet (a.k.a. the “Kate Middleton Diet”)? Or are you committed to an older weight-loss plan, such as Weight Watchers or South Beach? If you’ve found success with a popular diet—or want to rant about your bad experiences with one—we want to hear from you for an upcoming Gourmet Live feature on the best diets for food lovers. Please cut and paste the following questions and send your answers to gourmetlive@condenast.com.

DIET QUESTIONS:

What is the name of (and any books associated with) the diet you tried?

How did you choose this diet?

What foods and drinks—if any—are you required to give up for the diet?

How would you sum up the other “rules” of the diet in three or four sentences?

How did you feel while on the diet (emotionally and physically)?

How long were you on the diet and did you lose any weight (if so, how much)?

What were the best things about the diet?

What about the worst things about the diet?

Would you recommend this diet to a food loving friend? Why or why not?

Can we quote you by name? If so, please supply your name as you’d like to be listed, and (if you are comfortable with this), your age and gender.

via Have You Tried a Trendy Diet Plan? — Gourmet Live.

food, globalization: “And, as our food supply becomes ever more globalised, I can’t help but imagine that more and more producers of “luxury” foods will seek to make their product even more desirable with reference to a hyper-specific, utterly imaginary atlas of aspirational origins.”

Provenance is a tricky issue. Over the past few years, the names of agricultural regions, villages, and even specific farms have proliferated on urban menus and shelf labels, providing the aspirational consumer with a shorthand guarantee of authenticity, taste, and, often, local origin.The idea is that by listing the farm on which your heirloom tomato was picked, chefs honour growers as the co-producer of flavour; meanwhile, by achieving protected designation of origin (PDO) status, traditional makers of pork pies and prosciutto preserve the geographic context of their product, as well as its artisanal technique and, often, its continued economic viability.For consumers, however, these place names tend to form a more abstract cartography of implied inherent value. I confess to finding it reassuring that the lamb on offer at the restaurant up the street comes from Jamison Farm, even though I have no idea where that is, and I look for San Marzano DOP tomatoes despite the fact that (this is a little embarrassing) I couldn’t point to their carefully protected origin on a map….However, it is the branding geniuses at Marks & Spencer, suppliers of underwear and luxury ready-meals to the UK, who have taken the abstract, yet powerful, geography of food labeling to its logical, imaginary conclusion. While re-reading Sarah Murray’s excellent book, Moveable Feasts (of which more later), I came across this nugget:Sometimes places that are entirely fictional are created to add to the appeal of a food. British chain Marks & Spencer recently introduced “Lochmuir salmon,” despite the fact that Lochmuir cannot be found on a map.Marks & Spencer is refreshingly open on the subject of Lochmuir’s non-existence, with Andrew Mallinson, the company’s “fish expert,” explaining to The Scotsman newspaper that “it is a name chosen by a panel of consumers because it had the most Scottish resonance. It emphasises that the fish is Scottish.”

And, as our food supply becomes ever more globalised, I can’t help but imagine that more and more producers of “luxury” foods will seek to make their product even more desirable with reference to a hyper-specific, utterly imaginary atlas of aspirational origins. Chinese fois gras will come from the French-sounding Beauchâteau, Vietnamese mozzarella will be marketed under the faux-Italian name of San Legaro, and the role of geography in food description — originally intended as a means to reconnect consumers and producers — will end up further disguising the industrial commodity chain while creating an entirely alternate universe, made up of the places that we dream our food comes from.

via The Atlas of Aspirational Origins.

The Vatican, lawsuits,  Benetton,ad campaigns:  Truly bizarre:  world leaders kissing!

The Vatican is promising legal action to stop the distribution of a photo of Pope Benedict kissing an imam on the mouth. The photo is fake, by the way, and is part of a shock-factor advertising campaign by Italian fashion company Benetton that features world leaders getting fresh.

Benedict’s inamorata in the photo is Ahmed Tayeb, leader of Al Azhar in Cairo, Sunni Islam’s most influential institution. Another ad shows President Obama kissing Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The new campaign, as well as the UNHATE Foundation, a new Benetton think tank aimed at, um, communicating love, are part of the company’s social responsibility strategy. Click here for the foundation website and here for slideshow of the ads. WSJ’s Heard on the Runway has more here, and the Journal has a story on the ad campaign here.

The Vatican, however, isn’t feeling the unhate. It said in a statement Thursday its lawyers in Italy and around the world had been instructed to “take the proper legal measures” to stop the use of the photo, even in the media, Reuters reported. And Here‘s a link to the statement in Italian, for what it’s worth. (Prego.)

The statement said the ad was “damaging to not only to dignity of the pope and the Catholic Church but also to the feelings of believers.” It wasn’t clear whether the Vatican intended to sue Benetton directly.

via The Vatican is threatening a legal response Italian fashion company Benetton’s new ad campaign of world leaders kissing – Law Blog – WSJ.

art, photography, Nate Larson, Marni Shindelman, “Geolocation”series: “The images originate as tweets that Larson and Shindelman select for their poignancy, humor or some other quality. They then travel to the places that the tweets were sent from, indentified by GPS coordinates embedded in the messages, and take a picture. The resulting works pair image with words, to sometimes startling effect.” … interesting concept.

Every photograph in Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman’s “Geolocation”series starts with a caption. But the artists don’t write them themselves.

The images originate as tweets that Larson and Shindelman select for their poignancy, humor or some other quality. They then travel to the places that the tweets were sent from, indentified by GPS coordinates embedded in the messages, and take a picture. The resulting works pair image with words, to sometimes startling effect.

A selection of “Geolocation” images is on view at Montpelier Arts Center. Read my review of the exhibition (whose images are also available in book form), and check out a few of the pictures after the jump.

via Art in focus: Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman – Going Out Gurus – The Washington Post.

Storify:  How Storifying Occupy Wall Street Saved The News … still trying to figure out storify!

In the dead of night on Monday, November 14, Zuccotti Park in New York City was raided by police. In the preceding days, there were crackdowns at several of the major Occupy protests around the country. The effort had apparently been coordinated between cities. Monday night’s actions against the original Occupy Wall Street encampment were stern, heavy enough to bring a decisive end to the protest. But the raid only served to turn up the heat in New York and around the country.

As they have since the Occupation began, people on the ground fired up their smartphones to report the events as they happened, and curators around the Web gathered and retweeted the salient messages. But early on in the raid, mainstream media outlets began reporting that the police were barring their reporters from entering the park. The NYPD even grounded a CBS News helicopter. The night had chilling implications for freedom of the press. But the news got out anyway. The raw power of citizen media – and the future of news envisioned by a site called Storify – thwarted the media blackout.

But for the Monday night raid at Zuccotti Park, and indeed for much of the Occupation, Storify has come into its own as the social news curation tool par excellence. In fact, thanks to the media blackout Monday night, some of the most important news outlets in the country would not have had a story if not for Storify.

In October, it rolled out a brand new editing interface making the tool vastly easier to use. And one week ago, just before the police raided Zuccotti Park, Storify made its move, redesigning its homepage as a destination featuring the most important stories on the social Web. Storify’s vision is no less than a leveling of the media playing field. On the Storify homepage, lifelong and first-time journalists stand side by side.

Damman says this is the perfect demonstration of the Storify redesign. These social media documents are the real story, and the NYPD’s obstruction of credentialed journalists only shows how out of touch the police are. “The police in New York don’t realize that it doesn’t matter to not have journalists on the scene,” Damman says, “because everybody is a reporter. What happened last night shows that they don’t get that.”

“Most of the content comes from the people on the ground, from the 99%.”

via How Storifying Occupy Wall Street Saved The News.

tweet of the day, Steph Curry:  🙂

Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30)
11/17/11 8:00 PM
Lol no doubt i have something nice in store RT @sdotcurry: Cmon son! #blood RT @StephenCurry30: Big game tomorrow. What do I wear lol?
Occupy Wall Street:  Do you think OWS reflects the sentiment of  50 % of the country?

The Occupy Wall Street protests continue to spread around the country, highlighting grievances some Americans have about banks, income inequality and a sense that the poor and middle class have been disenfranchised. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that almost half of the public thinks the sentiments at the root of the movement generally reflect the views of most Americans. What are your thoughts about the movement? Do you agree with the protesters’ methods? Please note you must be logged in to post a comment.

via Public Opinion and the Occupy Movement – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.

criminal acts, fashion, Marc Jacobs:  Thought this one interesting …

In a case that seems ripe for Sherlock Holmes, Scotland Yard is investigating an alleged theft of samples from designer Marc Jacobs‘s Spring 2012 fashion collection that took place along a posh London Street.

The missing clothes, shoes and handbags were from the collection that the designer showed on his New York runway in September, as well as less-dramatic looks from his so-called pre-collection, according to a person familiar with the situation. Police estimated the value at £40,000, or a little more than $63,000.

Marc Jacobs executives declined to comment.

[JACOBS]ReutersMarc Jacobs had to cancel its planned London ‘press day’ for fashion editors; above, a look from the Spring 2012 collection.

Sales to retailers of the Marc Jacobs collection closed in October, and the loss won’t affect products destined for stores next spring, said the person familiar with the situation. Those items are already being manufactured. What’s more, the brand has duplicates of the samples in New York, the person said.

But as a result of the samples’ disappearance, the Marc Jacobs brand was forced to cancel its planned London “press day” where fashion editors and reporters are invited to view the collections. Press days allow publications to see and select items they may photograph in future issues.

via Marc Jacobs’s Spring Collection Allegedly Stolen in London – WSJ.com.

President Abraham Lincoln, Mormons, history:  Very interesting piece!

On Oct. 20, 1861, a vital piece of the Utah puzzle was solved, as the final lines of a telegraph were strung together, linking the

Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific, through an office in Salt Lake City. On that auspicious occasion, which spoke so loudly of union, Brigham Young remarked,“Utah has not seceded, but is firm for the Constitution and laws of our once happy country.” Those were words guaranteed to warm Lincoln’s heart. Two days later, more good news, as General J. Arlington Bennett wrote him to ask if he could recruit 1,000-10,000 Mormons to fight for the Union.

But the question was far from solved, and on Nov. 18, Lincoln attacked the Mormon question in a most Lincolnian way. Instead of ordering an invasion, Lincoln ordered information. Specifically, he asked the Library of Congress to send him a pile of books about Mormonism, so that the aggregator-in-chief could better understand them. These included “The Book of Mormon” in its original 1831 edition, and three other early studies of the Mormons, with extensive, lurid chapters covering their polygamy. For some reason, he also ordered a volume of Victor Hugo, in French, a language he could not read.

Fortified by his reading, Lincoln came to a great decision. And that decision was to do nothing. Sometimes that, too, can be a form of leadership — what Churchill called “a masterly inactivity.”

Typically, Lincoln reached his decision through a homely parable, told to a Mormon emissary:

When I was a boy on the farm in Illinois there was a great deal of timber on the farm which we had to clear away. Occasionally we would come to a log which had fallen down. It was too hard to split, too wet to burn, and too heavy to move, so we plowed around it. You go back and tell Brigham Young that if he will let me alone I will let him alone.

That parable is about as much as we will get in the way of a formal explanation, but it is enough. To his generous store of common sense, we might also add the freshness of Lincoln’s memories of the bloodshed at Nauvoo in 1844, when angry mobs had killed the Mormon leaders, with elected officials standing by and doing nothing. And the centrality of Utah to the grand vision of a transcontinental republic, embraced fully by America’s most western president to date.

26
Sep
11

9.26.2011 … So many friends and family members have birthdays this week … hmmm … 9 months after Christmas. Today would be the 108th birthday of my grandmother and the 76th birthday of my father-in-law. And happy birthday to Debbie … still going strong!

tv, theme songs, music:  Fun?  Do you have a favorite?  I love The Doris Day Show … Que sera, sera … TV Theme Music and Songs – TelevisionTunes.com.

global economy, end of an era:  Interesting analysis …

People just don’t disappear. Look at Germany in 1946 or Athenians in 339 B.C. They continue, but their governments and cultures end. Aside from the dramatic military implosions of authoritarian or tribal societies — the destruction of Tenochtitlan, the end of Nazism, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the annexation of tribal Gaul — what brings consensual states to an end, or at least an end to the good life?

The city-states could not stop 30,000 Macedonians in a way — when far poorer and 150 year earlier — they had stopped 300,000 Persians descending on many of the same routes. The French Republic of 1939 had more tanks and troops on the Rhine than the Third Reich that was busy overrunning Poland. A poorer Britain fought differently at el-Alamein than it does now over Libya. A British battleship was once a sign of national pride; today a destroyer represents a billion pounds stolen from social services.

Give me

Redistribution of wealth rather than emphasis on its creation is surely a symptom of aging societies. Whether at Byzantium during the Nika Riots or in bread and circuses Rome, when the public expects government to provide security rather than the individual to become autonomous through a growing economy, then there grows a collective lethargy. I think that is the message of Juvenal’s savage satires about both mobs and the idle rich. Fourth-century Athenian literature is characterized by forensic law suits, as citizens sought to sue each other, or to sue the state for sustenance, or to fight over inheritances.

 

We all know what will save us and what is destroying us. But the trick is to see how the two will collide. A new tax code, simple rates, few deductions, everybody pays something; new entitlement reform, less benefits, later retirement; a smaller government, a larger private sector; a different popular culture that honors character rather than excess — all that is not, and yet is, impossible to envision. It will only transpire when the cries of the self-interested anguished are ignored. My expectation is that soon that the affluent of suddenly rich China and India will come down with the Western disease that we see endemically in Europe and among our own, even as America snaps out of it, and recommits itself to self-reliance and wealth creation. But when I look at 18th-century Venice, or 1950s Britain, or France in 1935, or 3rd-century Athens, or 5th-century AD Rome, I am worried. I don’t think we wish to live in a quiet but collapsed Greece in the age of Plutarch, forever dreaming about a far off age of past accomplishment.

 

via Works and Days » Why Does the Good Life End?.

random, Shakespeare, a few million monkeys, random: 🙂

Today (2011-09-23) at 2:30 PST the monkeys successfully randomly recreated A Lover’s Complaint, The Tempest (2011-09-26) and As You Like It (2011-09-28). This is the first time a work of Shakespeare has actually been randomly reproduced.  Furthermore, this is the largest work ever randomly reproduced. It is one small step for a monkey, one giant leap for virtual primates everywhere.

The monkeys will continue typing away until every work of Shakespeare is randomly created.  Until then, you can continue to view the monkeys’ progress on that page.  I am making the raw data available to anyone who wants it.  Please use the Contact page to ask for the URL. If you have a Hadoop cluster that I could run the monkeys project on, please contact me as well.

via A Few Million Monkeys Randomly Recreate Shakespeare | Jesse Anderson.

Montmartre, Parisian Wine, Paris:  We heard about this wine (not particularly good … vineyard faces North), but the festival is supposed to be great fun.

The fabled Parisian district of Montmartre celebrates the arrival of the new vintage of the beloved Clos Montmartre wine with the Montmartre Harvest Festival, from Oct. 5 to 9.

The only Parisian vineyards still active exist because the government stepped in to support the recreation of the area’s original vines after a real estate development project threatened their existence early in the 20th century. The first vines were replanted in 1933.

During the festivities, the neighborhood fills with street musicians and singers, entertaining visitors who come to sample Clos Montmartre and a wide selection of wines from Aquitaine, Gard, the Drôme and other regions. Winemakers offer advice along with regional produce designed to accompany their wines. Since this year’s theme is “Islands,” rums from the Caribbean will also be among the refreshments.

via Parisian Wine Celebrated in Montmartre Festival – NYTimes.com.

Bollywood, Silk Smitha, The Dirty Picture: Ooh la la … promises to push at the boundaries of what is sexually acceptable in Bollywood. :

Through the 1980s, South Indian film star Silk Smitha was shorthand for sex. Her fans just couldn’t get enough of her inviting eyes and heaving bosom, but her racy roles meant she never made in big in Bollywood. The picture about her life is already generating heat, months ahead of its release. The film’s first trailer, which was released this month, has found a huge audience (over 800,000 hits on YouTube).

A poster of Silk Smitha from “Miss Pamela,” released in 1989.

The sobriquet Silk came from her first Tamil film “Vandi Chakkaram,” in which she played a bar girl named Silk. In a career spanning 17 years, she did more than 450 films in a variety of languages: Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi.

The Dirty Picture promises to push at the boundaries of what is sexually acceptable in Bollywood. Ahead of the film’s release, here is a look at some other female film characters who rewrote the rules.

via Breaking Bollywood’s Rules – NYTimes.com.

Colin Firth, movies:  Sounds like a very interesting movie.

The King’s Speech star made a 650-mile round trip from London to have tea with Eric Lomax at his home in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland.  Colin described 92-year-old Eric’s life as “an extraordinary story”.

After the war Eric was filled with hate, particularly for Nagase Takashi, the interpreter who interrogated him.  In 1988 Eric tracked him down and they met on the bridge over the River Kwai. Takashi apologised and was forgiven by his victim. The pair then became friends.

via The League of British Artists: COLIN Firth has made a secret visit to the former prisoner of war he will play in his next film..

global economy:

Paramount is copying the tricks long used by rich-world businesses to fend off low-cost rivals from emerging markets: better designs, newer machinery, shorter production runs (to give rarity value to each line) and faster delivery to local markets.

Britain bounded ahead in textile production two centuries ago, and established firms have been looking over their shoulder ever since. An early challenge came from the textile industry in New England, where countless townships called Manchester were founded (of which one survives). That cluster soon faced competition from factories in the low-wage American South.

The cotton industry has carried on travelling: its technology moves easily to wherever labour costs are low. The pattern has been repeated for other sorts of ventures. More complex technologies are harder to copy, so their diffusion has been slower. But technology eventually spreads. It is what drives economic convergence, making large parts of the developing world better off year by year.

The big question for the global economy is whether the rapid growth in emerging markets can continue. The broad economic logic suggests more of the world economy’s gains should come from convergence by emerging markets than from the rich world pushing ahead. Each innovation adds less to rich-world prosperity than the adoption of an established technology does to a poor country. At the start of the industrial revolution the cotton industry alone could make Britain’s productivity jump. But now that the frontier is wider, there is less scope for leading economies to surge ahead. More of the world’s growth ought to come from catching up.

And perhaps the pessimism about America and Europe is as overdone as the optimism about emerging markets. The rich world is an enticing place when viewed from the developing world. For all its troubles, America’s economy is a source of envy. Europe’s high-end industries and luxury goods are not easily mimicked. Emerging-market firms find it easier to do business, to raise finance and to find skilled workers in the rich world. Such attributes are hard to replicate. If it were easy, the emerging economies would already be rich.

via The path ahead: Cottoning on | The Economist.

Paleo Diet, health:  I think this would probably work for me.

For more than 25 years, De Vany has been an advocate of what he calls “evolutionary fitness”: a regimen of low-carb eating and interval- or cross-training workouts (with periodic fasting) aimed at controlling insulin. But he has also become the grandfather of the growing Paleo movement, a health philosophy built around the belief that modern life — dating from the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago — is simply alien to our genes. Believers say that only by returning to a diet of wild game and fresh produce, eliminating grains and dairy, and exercising in short, intense bursts, can we thrive in a world of escalators and cheese fries.

There’s no doubt that something is way off about our collective health; rampant rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes make that self-evident. And there’s no doubt that this is a direct result of our high-fat, high-calorie, sedentary lives. But is there something more authentically “human” about life in the Paleolithic — something that makes humans simply better adapted to an ancient diet and ancient exercise patterns? Not exactly.

For one thing, there was no single Paleolithic “lifestyle.” Survival in Ice Age Europe, for instance, was vastly different from life on the African savannah, requiring different diets, behaviors and genetic adaptations. For another, human DNA didn’t freeze in place at some mythical peak. In fact, we’re still evolving.

via Paleo Diet: ‘New Evolution Diet’ Author De Vany on Food and Exercise – TIME.

Netflix, business models, change:   I am still hoping this a NEW Coke type mistake … I don’t care who is to blame.

Canadians: they’re lovely people. Seriously. And we bet they’d offer a hearty and sincere “Sooorry.” But according to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, we should blame them for the split between Netflix and the new DVD-by-mail service called Qwikster.

“It’s all the Canadians’ fault,” Hastings joked Thursday as he answered questions about the fracturing company while celebrating Netflix’s first anniversary of its Canadian launch. The Great White North got its first taste of Netflix last September, as a streaming-only endeavor.

“Is broadband good enough that streaming only, without DVD, is a good enough product to catch on?” Hastings wondered. Turns out, it certainly was. Netflix decided to keep Netflix as a strictly-online enterprise, without offering the DVD-by-mail service. And business was good. Good enough to exist on its own, apparently.

Seeing the success of streaming in Canada, Hastings brought the results back to the U.S. The DVD-by-mail division was unbundled from the streaming service in July, meaning users would have to pay for each. And this week Netflix announced the postal program would become a separate company, now (laughably) known as Qwikster. We’ve never seen a better definition of “going postal.” The Netflix stock has tumbled more than 30 points this week in reaction to the name change.

via Netflix Split: Should We Blame Canada? – TIME NewsFeed.

technology, marriage:  I think technology has made my marriage a little worse. 😦

So he has his and I have mine. But technology gives us ours too: YogaGlo.com, an $18-a-month service allowing us to take any one of several dozen yoga classes taught and videotaped at a studio in Santa Monica, Calif. Joe and I both love yoga and love going to classes together. But like so many hobbies when you’re working parents, this one mostly gets the divide-and-conquer treatment. Yet YogaGlo provides an opportunity to practice more yoga, individually and together.

Last week Joe called me at work in the morning and said, “You want to do a class once we get the kids to sleep tonight?”

I said, “Yes, but send me an Outlook invitation so it gets on my calendar and I can plan my day accordingly.”

He agreed and later sent me an email that said, “I love it when you talk organization to me.”

via Technology: My Marriage’s Secret Glue – WSJ.com.

apps, Snapseed: 

SnapseedBy Nik Software, Inc. View More By This DeveloperOpen iTunes to buy and download apps.

Try Snapseed for FREE from 9/20—9/23 and get the app Apple named their iTunes App of the Week in August!

via Snapseed for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), and iPad on the iTunes App Store.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, movies: Breakfast at Tiffany’s turns 50.  Wow … it was really cutting edge in 1961.

Happy Birthday, Breakfast at Tiffany‘s! The Audrey Hepburn classic turns 50 today, and in celebration of the half-century milestone, the film has been restored and reissued on Blu-ray DVD ($19.99 at Amazon.com). That means Breakfast at Tiffany‘s fans can see Holly Golightly‘s iconic Givenchy wardrobe, oversize shades and statement jewelry in high definition. Tell us, what’syour favorite Breakfast at Tiffany’s fashion moment?

Breakfast at Tiffany's

via Breakfast at Tiffany’s Turns 50 Today! : InStyle.com What’s Right Now.

Facebook,  changes, LOL:  

University of Chicago, medicine, gifts:  $42 Million Gift to the university to create an institute devoted to improving medical students’ handling of the doctor-patient relationship … I hope it works.  I fortunately have generally had great care.

Years later, Ms. Bucksbaum and her husband, Matthew, would come under the care of Dr. Mark Siegler at the University of Chicago Medical Center, a doctor they found compassionate and humble. “He goes by Mark,” Ms. Bucksbaum noted approvingly, “not ‘Doctor.’ ” Medical students, they thought, could do well to emulate him.

Now, the Bucksbaums are donating $42 million to the university to create an institute devoted to improving medical students’ handling of the doctor-patient relationship. The Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence, to be announced Thursday, will be led by Dr. Siegler.

“To care for a patient,” Dr. Siegler said, “you have to care about a patient.”

via University of Chicago Gets $42 Million Gift for Bucksbaum Institute – NYTimes.com.

college admissions:   “Full-pay” students favored … hmmm.

Among all four-year colleges, the admission strategy “judged most important over the next two years” was to recruit more out-of-state students, a group that typically pays sharply higher tuition at public institutions. Private institutions don’t charge higher tuition to out-of-state students but do rely on international students, who often come from wealthy families and pay the full cost of attendance.

The survey found that recruiting larger numbers of “full-pay” students, those who receive no financial aid, was viewed as a “key goal” at public institutions. Providing aid for low-income students was cited as a lower priority.

Dozens of colleges profess on their Web sites to a policy of admitting students without regard to financial need. Yet, the Inside Higher Ed survey found that 10 percent of four-year colleges reported admitting full-pay students with lower grades and test scores than other admitted students.

Roughly one-quarter of admission directors reported pressure from someone — college administrators, trustees or fund-raisers — to admit a student irrespective of her or his qualifications to attend. Admission preferences made big news recently two years ago at the University of Illinois.

via Survey: Admission directors increasingly favor ‘full-pay’ students – College, Inc. – The Washington Post.

Emily Deschanel, Bones: Congratulations, Emily … but get back to work … we are missing Bones this fall.

Bones star Emily Deschanel and her husband, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s David Hornsby, welcomed their first child Wednesday, a baby boy named Henry Hornsby, Deschanel’s rep confirms to PEOPLE exclusively.

via Emily Deschanel and David Hornsby Have a Son : People.com.

12
Sep
11

9.12.2011 … to unwind from 9/11, i watched Elizabethtown on Netflix … never seen it … definitely liked it …

9/11 Anniversary, Post 9/11:  Relieved that the anniversary of 9/11 is passed … and we can go on with the new normal.

Elizabethtown, movies: I really enjoyed Elizabethtown … good music … nice way to relax after 9/11 anniversary.

In its trimmed version, “Elizabethtown” is nowhere near one of Crowe’s great films (like “Almost Famous”), but it is sweet and good-hearted and has some real laughs, and we can just about accept Claire’s obsessive romantic behavior because if someone is going to insist that you have to fall in love, there are many possibilities more alarming than Claire.

via Elizabethtown :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews.

BofA, old news, enough said:  From last week … 30,000, 35,000, 40,000 … but the number keeps changing.  Can you imagine working for BofA?  Oh, I can since John does … this is wearing on the moral.  Enough said.

The Journal said BofA executives met Thursday at Charlotte, North Carolina, where the bank is headquartered, and will gather again Friday to make final decisions on the reductions, putting the finishing touches on five months of work.

Investors are pressing BofA to improve its performance after it lost money in four of the last six quarters and its stock has fallen by half this year.

The Journal said the proposed job cuts may exceed BofA’s last big cutback in 2008 when it called for 30,000 to 35,000 job cuts over three years. That move was triggered by an economic slowdown and the planned takeover of securities firm Merrill Lynch & Co.

Earlier this month, the Charlotte Observer reported that BofA executives were discussing plans to potentially shed 25,000 to 30,000 jobs over the next several years.

BofA had earlier planned to cut 3,500 jobs, its Chief Executive Brian Moynihan had said in a memo to staff on August 18, as it tries to come to grips with $1 trillion of problem home mortgages.

BofA announced a far-reaching reorganization of its senior management team on Tuesday, which included the departure of consumer bank chief Joe Price and wealth management head Sallie Krawcheck.

Banks are shedding jobs worldwide as stricter regulations and a tough second quarter for trading income take their toll on investment banking units in particular.

More than 70,000 staff cuts have been announced this year or are reported to be in the works at U.S. and European banks, some of them to be lost over three or four year programs.

via BofA discussing about 40,000 job cuts: report | Reuters.

Supreme Court, politics, Separation of Powers Clause,The Constitution,: Again, politics is mucking with the notion of separation of powers … Not saying  scrutiny  is not in order ….  “The Democrats singled out three conservative justices -– Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito –- for “alarming reports” of their appearances at politically themed events.”

Article III, Section. 1:

The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

via Separation of Powers Under the United States Constitution.

In a letter that is being sent Friday to House Judiciary Committee leaders, 43 Democrats called for a hearing on a bill that would require Supreme Court justices to follow the ethics requirements of the Judicial Conference Code of Conduct in withdrawing from cases where they may have a financial or political conflict. The justices now use the code for “guidance” but are not required to follow it.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, would also require the justices to disclose publicly their reasons for any withdrawal from a case and would set up a process to review possible conflicts if a justice refuses to step aside.

The notion of imposing higher ethics standards on the Supreme Court appears to be gaining momentum among House Democrats and outside legal scholars, but its prospects in the Republican-controlled House are still uncertain.

The bill “would go a long way towards restoring the public’s confidence in the Supreme Court” after several recent controversies, the Democratic lawmakers said in the letter. An advance copy was provided to the New York Times.

The Democrats singled out three conservative justices -– Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito –- for “alarming reports” of their appearances at politically themed events.

Justice Thomas has received the most recent scrutiny not only for his appearances before Republican-backed groups, but also for his acceptance of favors from a prominent conservative contributor in Texas, Harlan Crow, and his wife’s work as an advocate for conservative legal causes.

Conservatives, in turn, have sought to spotlight politically tinged appearances and trips by members of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, including Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. The Democrats’ letter does not mention any of the liberal justices, however.

via Democrats Seek to Impose Tougher Supreme Court Ethics – NYTimes.com.

President Obama, Presidential Speeches, old news, Great Recession, Unemployment, Jobs Act:  “Such an approach—setting himself up as the grown-up in town—didn’t work for Mr. Obama during the debt-ceiling debate over the summer.”  Also interesting, historically such Presidential Speeches had virtually no effect on the economy.

Throughout his speech, Mr. Obama made repeated references to Republican plans and ideas, and even used a phrase similar to that employed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia when he talked about American’s getting their “fair shake.”

Highlights of the President’s Economic Plan

Payroll tax cut from 6.2% to 3.1% for workers in 2012, up from a 2% reduction this year.

Cost: $175 billion.

Payroll tax cut from 6.2% to 3.1% for employers and eliminated for qualifying new hires in 2012, plus 100% expensing for new investments.

Cost: $70 billion.

Infrastructure investments, including modernizing schools and rehabbing vacant homes, and funding for states to rehire teachers and first responders.

Cost: $140 billion.

Extending unemployment insurance and new programs for jobless.

Cost: $62 billion.

TOTAL: $447 BILLION

At the same time, in a tone that was alternatively demanding and exasperated, he offered a robust defense of the Democratic vision of government and sharply criticized Republicans for their position on taxes and limited government. “Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses and our workers,” Mr. Obama said. “But we can help.”

As such, the speech was the latest in a series of efforts by the White House to present the president as above the Washington fray, a strategy designed to appeal to independents the president needs to win reelection but who have been deserting his cause of late.

Such an approach—setting himself up as the grown-up in town—didn’t work for Mr. Obama during the debt-ceiling debate over the summer. While Congress’ approval rating took a greater beating, according to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, Mr. Obama also took a hit. The Journal/NBC poll showed a sharp drop in voters’ confidence that Mr. Obama can achieve his goals.

via Obama Asks Congress for $447 Billion In Cuts, Spending; Tepid GOP Response – WSJ.com.

There have been only seven speeches about economic and business issues before a joint session of Congress since the end of The Great Depression. 24/7 Wall St. has reviewed these speeches and found that they had virtually no effect on the economy, despite the detailed proposals.

Of the seven addresses, two were about labor trouble, and both by Harry Truman: One about the railroad strike in 1946, and the other about the steel strike in 1952. Neither speech was effective. The strikes were settled by labor and management irrespective of the speeches. As a matter of fact, the railroad strike ended the day of the president’s speech.

The balance of the speeches addressed different crises such as soaring energy costs, inflation, and recession. Each of these speeches offered specific road maps for economic improvement. While each president gave a broad description of the trouble, most offered a specific set of solutions. Rarely were any of the plans adopted, either because of political opposition or because the problems resolved themselves. In many cases, the economy got worse after the presidential address. It is impossible to trace any recovery to the presidential proposals in almost every case. Those that were enacted into law were so substantially changed by Congress that they barely resembled the presidents’ suggestions.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed all of the presidential addresses to joint sessions of Congress from The Great Depression through the present to identify all those that dealt primarily with the economy.

via How The Seven Biggest Presidential Speeches On The Economy Failed: 24/7 Wall St..

President Obama, foreign policy: “Fact is, President Obama could lead a Navy SEAL team to neutralize al-Qaeda’s Ayman al- Zawahiri and Anwar al-Awlaki, broker a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, engineer a South Korean buyout of North Korea, take out Iran’s nuclear operation, and resolve Pakistan-India tension — and get little credit in the polls. … That’s because those things don’t create a single job.”

Indeed, barring some truly major overseas event, foreign policy matters may play less of a role in this election than in any in recent memory. The three televised debates have traditionally set aside one focusing on foreign policy matters, but you’d have to wonder whether they will bother this time around — unless it’s a session on foreign trade policy or maybe how isolationist the country should be.

Fact is, President Obama could lead a Navy SEAL team to neutralize al-Qaeda’s Ayman al- Zawahiri and Anwar al-Awlaki, broker a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, engineer a South Korean buyout of North Korea, take out Iran’s nuclear operation, and resolve Pakistan-India tension — and get little credit in the polls.

That’s because those things don’t create a single job.

Bolton naturally blames Obama for the lack of focus on foreign policy.

“He never raises the issue unless he’s forced to” Bolton said, or when there are big operations such as the demise of Osama bin Laden.

via Does anyone care about foreign policy? – The Washington Post.

Michael S. Hart, RIP, Project Gutenberg, kudos:  Project Gutenberg … what a great idea. Kudos, Mr. Hart and rest in peace.

Michael S. Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg, died in his home on September 6th. He was 64 years old.

Hart, an early pioneer in digital publishing, was involved with eBooks since the early days of computers. He founded Project Gutenberg, one of the largest and longest running online literary projects, and he is also credited with having made the first eBook when he typed the U.S. Declaration of Independence into a computer back in 1971.

via Project Gutenberg Founder Michael S. Hart Has Died – GalleyCat.

bike polo,high school clubs, Myers Park HS, FPC, Charlotte:  Fun! I know a lot of these families … many at First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte.

The team is mostly sophomores and juniors with a few freshmen and seniors, both male and female.

They’re a smorgasbord of rowers, soccer players, pole-vaulters and Odyssey of the Mind members.

“It’s a big melting pot,” said founder Harrison Raby’s sister, sophomore Elizabeth, 15. “There’s no judgment ever. Everybody is always accepted. …It’s a brotherhood and a sisterhood.”

Though they’ve come a long way from broken croquet mallets and a soccer ball, the bike polo club still doesn’t get too caught up in the rules. It’s akin to pickup football with less aggression and more laughs.

As any high school club founders know, not all of the 250 students who signed up show up. But as long as a dozen come on Sundays, that’s all they need.

At this year’s “Stampede,” where all the Myers Park clubs set up tables and vie for members, they’re counting on a lot of bike polo hype and some freshmen blood to keep the club alive.

Another goal for this year is to incorporate a service aspect. They’d like to get involved with Burrito Bikers, a small group of people who ride around uptown Charlotte on Sunday mornings, passing out 50 to 70 steaming breakfast burritos and drinks to Charlotte’s homeless.

Working with their friends at South Mecklenburg High, the Myers Park students are also trying to jump-start a South Mecklenburg bike polo team for a little competition.

Says Conway: “It’s a fun time.”

via Polo on bicycles? Yep, new club draws 250.

city v. country, health: Very interesting statistic.

Cities once infamous for pollution, crime, crowding and infectious diseases have cleaned up their act.

“They may have a better educational system,” says Patrick Remington, project director of County Health Rankings, a report published by the University of Wisconsin that ranks more than 3,000 counties nationwide against others in their states.

“They may have more job opportunities,” Remington continued. “All these things come together to make urban areas (and), in particular, suburban communities, healthier than their rural counterparts.”

The report found that 48 percent of the healthiest counties were urban or suburban, while 84 percent of the unhealthiest counties were rural.

via City counties ranked healthier than rural! – CBS News.

Wicked Start, web-based services, start-ups, new business:  I love the innovative ideas.

In my last post, I described a Web-based service called Wicked Start that can bring a measure of automation to the process of getting a new business off the ground. Wicked Start lays out a sort of template for each of 10 major steps in starting a company, suggesting ways to proceed, pointing out what might be overlooked, and offering various resources and advice. I also briefly mentioned a Wicked Start user: Hari Kaur, a yoga instructor who four months ago opened her own jazz-yoga studio in Manhattan, called Hari NYC. Ms. Kaur tried the Web site at the suggestion of one of her yoga students, who just happens to be the founder of Wicked Start, Bryan Janeczko.

I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at how Wicked Start proved useful to Ms. Kaur, so for this follow-up post I asked her to walk me through some of the steps that the site took her through. Wicked Start’s 10-step program is laid out on a single Web page called “the Road Map.” At the top of the road map is a progress-tracking bar that tells you at a glance how close you’ve come to completing the entire process. Ms. Kaur’s tracker indicates that she’s 60 percent complete. She noted that she had jumped around among the 10 modules in the road map that represent the 10 start-up steps — Wicked Start doesn’t pressure you to do things in order, or to do all the steps, or to do any of the steps in a particular way. But let’s take them in order, anyway.

via Step by Step With an Automated Start-Up – NYTimes.com.

news, random, gumby, criminal acts:  Gumby robber? “San Diego’s KGTV News reported that the clerk told his boss he didn’t know who Gumby was and described the character in the store as a ‘green SpongeBob SquarePants.'”

A person dressed as Gumby walked into a Southern California convenience store, claiming to have a gun and demanding money, but costume trouble and a skeptical clerk thwarted the would-be robber.

In this surveillance video taken Sept. 5, 2011 and released by the San Diego Police Dept. shows a suspect dressed like Gumby telling a convenience store clerk he is being robbed, fumbling inside the costume as if to pull a gun, dropping 27 cents and leaving. Police say the attempted robbery took place Monday Sept.5, 2011 at a 7-Eleven in Rancho Penasquitos, Calif. (AP Photo/San Diego Police Department)

In this surveillance video taken Sept. 5, 2011 and released by the San Diego Police Department showing a suspect dressed like Gumby telling a convenience store clerk he is being robbed, fumbling inside the costume as if to pull a gun, dropping 27 cents and leaving. Police say the attempted robbery took place Monday Sept. .5, 2011 at a 7-Eleven in Rancho Penasquitos, Calif. (AP/Photo/Siego Police Department)

Surveillance video shows someone — police think it was a man — in a bulky, green costume and another man entering 7-Eleven in Rancho Penasquitos early Monday.

Gumby demanded money, but the store clerk thought it was a joke and ignored the life-size Claymation character, telling him he was cleaning up and didn’t have time to waste, said San Diego police Detective Gary Hassen.

“You don’t think this is a robbery? I have a gun,” the costumed man said, fumbling inside his costume as if trying to retrieve a weapon, Hassen said.

But the green-gloves seemed to get in the way, and rather than pull a gun, he dropped 26 cents on the floor, Hassen said.

The video shows the second man, who came in with the Gumby suspect, but was not dressed as Pokey, walk out of the store.

The costumed character “can’t pick up the money and he can’t get the gun,” Hassen said. So when the other man pulls up in front of the store and honks, the would-be robber runs to the white or silver minivan and takes off, Hassen said.

San Diego’s KGTV News reported that the clerk told his boss he didn’t know who Gumby was and described the character in the store as a “green SpongeBob SquarePants.”

via Gumby calls it a robbery, clerk thinks it’s a joke  | accessAtlanta.

languages, resarch,random:  “Despite those differences, at the end of, say, a minute of speech, all of the languages would have conveyed more or less identical amounts of information.”

It’s an almost universal truth that any language you don’t understand sounds like it’s being spoken at 200 miles per hour — a storm of alien syllables almost impossible to tease apart. That, we tell ourselves, is simply because the words make no sense to us. Surely our spoken English sounds just as fast to a native speaker of Urdu. And yet it’s equally true that some languages seem to zip by faster than others. Spanish blows the doors off French; Japanese leaves German in the dust — or at least that’s how they sound.

But how could that be? The dialogue in movies translated from English to Spanish doesn’t whiz by in half the original time, after all, which is what it would have to do if the same lines were being spoken at doubletime. Similarly, Spanish films don’t take four hours to unspool when they’re translated into French. Somewhere among all the languages must be a great equalizer that keeps us conveying information at the same rate even if the speed limits vary from tongue to tongue.

To investigate this puzzle, researchers from the Universite de Lyon recruited 59 male and female volunteers who were native speakers of one of seven common languages — English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish — and one not so common one: Vietnamese. They instructed them all to read 20 different texts, including the one about the housecat and the locked door, into a recorder. All of the volunteers read all 20 passages in their native languages. Any silences that lasted longer than 150 milliseconds were edited out, but the recordings were left otherwise untouched.

The investigators next counted all of the syllables in each of the recordings, and further analyzed how much meaning was packed into each of those syllables. A single syllable word like “bliss,” for example, is rich with meaning — signifying not ordinary happiness but a particularly serene and rapturous kind. The single syllable word “to” is less information-dense. And a single syllabile like the short i sound, as in the word “jubilee,” has no independent meaning at all.

With this raw data in hand, the investigators crunched the numbers together to arrive at two critical values for each language: The average information density for each of its syllables and the average number of syllables spoken per second in ordinary speech. Vietnamese was used as a reference language for the other seven, with its syllables (which are considered by linguists to be very information dense) given an arbitrary value of 1.

For all of the other languages, the researchers discovered, the more data-dense the average syllable is, the fewer of those syllables had to be spoken per second — and the slower the speech thus was. English, with a high information density of .91, is spoken at an average rate of 6.19 syllables per second. Mandarin, which topped the density list at .94, was the spoken slowpoke at 5.18 syllables per second. Spanish, with a low-density .63, rips along at a syllable-per-second velocity of 7.82. The true speed demon of the group, however, was Japanese, which edges past Spanish at 7.84, thanks to its low density of .49. Despite those differences, at the end of, say, a minute of speech, all of the languages would have conveyed more or less identical amounts of information.

via Why Some Languages Sound So Fast – TIME.

education, Flipped Classroom, Knewton, graphics, kith/kin:  I can name several students who would have greatly benefitted by this teaching method!

FLIPPIN’ CLEVER: Lots of people ask how to be a “thought-leader” in a noisy marketplace. Here’s a clever approach: Knewton sponsored a smart infographic about what the “flipped” classroom means. Neat way to galvanize the discussion–and keep Knewton’s name front and center.

via EdSurge: Word Jousts, Groupons For Higher Ed, And The Flipped Classroom | Fast Company.

photography, LIFE, kisses, random:  What’s your favorite?

via The Kisses We Remember – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

The Conspirator, movies, follow-up:  Joni always finds great stuff … Search Lincoln Assassination Papers at Fold3.

innovation, Speakeasy Dollhouse, plays, random:  I can’t quite figure this one out …

Inspired by Lee’s miniature crime scene sets, I have decided to create the scenes from my family mystery using my own handmade sets and dolls. Utilizing evidence from autopsy reports, police records, court documents, and interviews, I have built a dollhouse-sized speakeasy, a hospital room, a child’s bedroom, and a pre-war apartment. I also have begun the process of creating lifelike dolls with moveable limbs to live in these sets. I have been photographing the sets and dolls in order to create a book (with the help of my designer, Brian Azer.) The first half of my story is completely written and needs to be photographed and printed into part one of the two-part series.

via Speakeasy Dollhouse by Cynthia von Buhler — Kickstarter.

gLee, tv:  September 20! In case you care … GLEE – Season 3 Preview – YouTube., GLEE – “Dodgeball” Season 3 Promo (Extended) – YouTubeGlee Exclusive: Meet Emmas Parents – Todays News: Our Take | TVGuide.com.

Space Oddity, children/YA lit, picture books, viral books:

An illustrated version of the 1969 David Bowie song Space Oddity, featuring Major Tom “sitting in a tin can far above the world”, has become a surprise viral sensation.

Canadian illustrator Andrew Kolb conceived of the book as a free PDF to showcase his talents to publishers, featuring colourful, retro illustrations of the astronaut as he rockets away from earth and floats “in a most peculiar way” through space. The ending – “Ground Control to Major Tom, your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong” – means it is “maybe not necessarily the warmest, cuddliest children’s book,” Kolb has admitted, but he posted it for free on his website in August, rapidly receiving more than 90,000 views, along with demands from fans asking to buy physical copies.

Its popularity follows another recent children’s book internet sensation, the tongue-in-cheek bedtime story Go the Fuck to Sleep, which hit the top of Amazon.com’s bestseller charts months before publication after a pirated PDF took off online.

Unfortunately for Kolb, as well as requests to buy the book, he also received an email from the music group holding the rights to Space Oddity, and has now been forced to take down the PDF and to remove references to the Bowie song from his pictures. Although the Bowie version of the book can still be viewed elsewhere online, on Kolb’s own website it is described merely as a “picture book set in space”, with the proviso that “this is merely a concept and no physical form of this book will be made until all involved approve of the collaboration”.

via Space Oddity picture book is viral hit | Books | guardian.co.uk.

apps, photography, Photo Academy, storytelling, Storify: here are a few I have found that interest me:

 App Store – Photo Academy.

Storify is looking for people who are passionate about the future of storytelling and who believe great stories can change the world. We strongly believe in design thinking and building products focusing on real user needs.

via Create stories using social media – storify.com.

Earlier this summer we launched a few tools to make it easier for developers to create new apps for WordPress.com. Starting today, you can integrate your WordPress.com blog with Feedfabrik and Empire Avenue.

Turn Your Blog Into a Book

Have you ever wanted to publish your own book, or a collection of your favorite blog posts?

Feedfabrik makes it easy to convert your WordPress.com blog into a book format, and even allows you to customize the cover design and book contents. You can order a hard copy of your book, or a digital PDF edition.

To try it out, head over to Feedfabrik, choose Bookfabrik, then select “I’m on WordPress.com.” Receive a 10% discount on all September orders with the code “WORDPRESS-INTRO”.

Grow Your Social Capital Online

Empire Avenue is a Social Stock Market, where your social networking activity and engagement earn you virtual currency and determine your virtual share price. It also helps you discover new people and brands, and allows you to invest virtual currency in their profiles by buying shares on the Social Stock Market.

Along the way you’ll have a bit of fun, make new connections, and learn about social networking and the value of your network! Empire Avenue is completely free and deals in virtual currency. Sign up today to get started.

via Two New Apps for WordPress.com — Blog — WordPress.com.

photography, DSLR, video lessons: 

Color is a powerful tool for expression, even when you don’t know what you’re doing. A while back I accidentally had my camera set to a cooling white balance while shooting outside in a warm afternoon light, and all my pictures had an icy, bright cast that at first bothered me but soon delighted me. I hadn’t thought of the urchins and buoys and things I’d shot as looking any way other than the way I saw them. Yet with a slight change in environment, they would look completely different. I didn’t “correct” the white balance after the fact because it ended up being a unique and interesting take — that I can’t exactly take credit for.

They’re going to have a second tutorial later in the month for post-processing color effects. If you haven’t played with Lightroom or Aperture (to say nothing of Photoshop and the like), you owe it to yourself to give one a try. The versatility of DSLRs made me fall in love with photography all over again, and as nerdy as it sounds, knowing my way around menus and applications was a big part of that.

via Video: Learning About Picture And Color Modes On Your DSLR | TechCrunch.

09
Sep
11

9.9.2011 … John’s trail name is No Sweat … watching an old NG special on the AT … what should mine be?

Appalachian Trail, trail names, National Geographic, Netflix: Streaming Netflix and watching a apecial on the AT.  John’s dream is to hike it … he will, and he already has his trail name …”No Sweat” … I can’t imagine what mine will be …

education, college, reading, empathy:

Researchers from the University at Buffalo gave 140 undergraduates passages from either Meyer’s Twilight or JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to read, with the vampire group delving into an extract in which Edward Cullen tells his teenage love interest Bella what it is like to be a vampire, and the wizardly readers getting a section in which Harry and his cohorts are “sorted” into Hogwarts houses.

The candidates then went through a series of tests, in which they categorised “me” words (myself, mine) and “wizard” words (wand, broomstick, spells, potions) by pressing one key when they appeared on the screen, and “not me” words (they, theirs) and “vampire” words (blood, undead, fangs, bitten) by pressing another key, with the test then reversed. The study’s authors, Dr Shira Gabriel and Ariana Young, expected them to respond more quickly to the “me” words when they were linked to the book they had just read.

Gabriel and Young then applied what they dubbed the Twilight/Harry Potter Narrative Collective Assimilation Scale, which saw the students asked questions designed to measure their identification with the worlds they had been reading about – including “How long could you go without sleep?”, “How sharp are your teeth?” and “Do you think, if you tried really hard, you might be able to make an object move just using the power of your mind?” Their moods, life satisfaction, and absorption into the stories were then measured.

Published by the journal Psychological Science, the study found that participants who read the Harry Potter chapters self-identified as wizards, whereas participants who read the Twilight chapter self-identified as vampires. And “belonging” to these fictional communities actually provided the same mood and life satisfaction people get from affiliations with real-life groups. “The current research suggests that books give readers more than an opportunity to tune out and submerge themselves in fantasy worlds. Books provide the opportunity for social connection and the blissful calm that comes from becoming a part of something larger than oneself for a precious, fleeting moment,” Gabriel and Young write.

via Reading fiction ‘improves empathy’, study finds | Books | guardian.co.uk.

youth, culture, tattoo remorse:

The Rise of Tattoo Remorse: Heavy Cost to Erase What’s Often an Impulse Decision

Most fads are relatively harmless, inexpensive, and, by their very nature, short-lived. Tattoos, however, have become remarkably trendy at the same time they’re as long-lasting as purchases get. If and when you have that sweet $80 tattoo you got on a whim in college removed because it now looks silly, the procedure will wind up being far more painful (“like getting burnt with hot baking grease”) and way more expensive ($3,600!) than when you got tattooed in the first place.

The Boston Globe recently profiled a few of the many tattooed Americans who regret their decisions to go under the needle and now just wish their skin was ink-free. According to a 2008 poll, 16% of the inked suffer from “tattoo remorse,” and the number of people electing to have tattoos removed—like the number of people choosing to get tattoos, by no coincidence—has been on the rise in recent years. In 2009, there were 61,535 surgical procedures performed to remove tattoos.

That doesn’t necessarily mean 61,535 tattoos were actually removed that year. In some cases, it takes 15 or more sessions to remove a single tattoo. Each of these sessions can be an ordeal. In order to scare his kids away from getting tattoos, actor Mark Wahlberg had them observe when a few of his tattoos were removed. This is how Wahlberg described the experience:

“It’s like getting burnt with hot baking grease,” he told Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” in February. “There’s blood coming up, it looks like somebody welded your skin. Hopefully that will deter them.”

Of all the tattoos that can be later regretted, perhaps none is worse than the name of one’s ex. One 25-year-old student told the Globe that, naturally, he wished he didn’t have the name of his now ex-girlfriend (Kate) tattooed on his buttocks:

“I was in love,” he explained, a warm smile spreading across his face as he recalled how he felt when he impulsively went to the tattoo parlor. Now? The smile disappeared. “It reminds me of her.”

And obviously not in a good way. Talk about a pain in the butt.

Some tattoos don’t age well for other reasons. The 31-year-old marketing director described in the story’s introduction got her ankle tattoo—a Chinese symbol supposed to symbolize a warrior and scholar—when it seemed like the cool thing to do in college. Later, she found out the mark translated as something like “mud pie.” Embarrassed—because the mark was basically meaningless, and because the tattoo was a mismatch for the professional world she now worked in—she wound up spending $3,600 to have the tattoo removed over the course of two years.

via The Rise of Tattoo Remorse: Heavy Cost to Erase What’s Often an Impulse Decision | Moneyland | TIME.com.

word clouds, President Obama, Obama’s 2011 Jobs Speech:  Some sites won’t let me exerpt … “Obama’s 2011 Jobs Speech” by Justin Wolfers

mobile cloud:  Storm clouds brewing!

Apple iCloud. Google Music. Amazon Cloud Drive. Microsoft SkyDrive and Office 365. OnLive. Dropbox. Jungle Disk. These are just a few of the many new services promising to let consumers access their music, pictures, videos, games, documents and other files anywhere, anytime, from any device via wireless networks. In theory, these services offer a bright future for consumers, especially those who value convenience and want access to all their content no matter where they are.

But in reality, there are dark storm clouds brewing. These mobile “cloud” services won’t happen without radiofrequency spectrum, a natural resource that is quickly becoming scarcer because of outdated regulatory and technological spectrum access methods.

via Will spectrum scarcity sink wireless access to content in the cloud? — Broadband News and Analysis.

Apple, iOS 5 , iPhone 5:  Can they top themselves again …

The new build has several additional features enabled including Facetime over 3G and the speech-to-text features that we have previously talked about.

The carrier partners have been instructed to test Facetime over 3G extensively, raising hopes that iPhone users will soon be able to use Facetime anywhere they have a data connection. This doesn’t mean that we will be seeing Facetime 3G in the final release, of course, but it does mean that carriers are at least being encouraged to test it on their networks.

This build of iOS 5 is said to be a newer one than the one available to developers currently, which is beta 7. Currently, Facetime must be used over WiFi connections only, limiting its usage as you are normally around a computer when you’re on WiFi and can use higher quality services like Skype.

Apple’s new speech-to-text feature is also said to be in the build as well. This feature, which we have seen referred to as ‘Dictation’ internally, allows users to tap a microphone button and speak into the iPhone, which will transcribe the voice into text passages. This feature apparently works very much like Android’s speech-to-text and is said to be ‘very polished, quick and accurate’. This was initially thought to coincide with a system-wide ‘Assistant’ feature that would act much like fellow Nuance partner Siri’s capabilities.

via Apple’s carrier partners get ‘near-final’ build of iOS 5 with speech and Facetime 3G – TNW Apple.

Facebook, helpful hints:

For all of Facebook’s popularity, many of its users are still nervous about how to maintain their privacy on the network. Google’s rival social network, called Google+, answered the call for easier sharing control: Each post clearly shows which groups of friends will see it, and these groups are privately named by users.

This week I’ll dig into the latest updates on Facebook, which aim to ease the process of controlling one’s profile and privacy. An upcoming Facebook developer conference in two weeks is expected to reveal additional changes.

via Facebook Updates Help Users Share Better With Others – Katherine Boehret – The Digital Solution – AllThingsD.

business class, travel: Service is the key. 🙂

This all sounds like very nice stuff. The Consumerist blog says all the fancy stuff “hearken[s] back to the day of luxury carriers like Pan Am and the high-end airlines favored by international business travelers.” But do business travellers really care that much about this sort of thing? The main complaint many flyers have about big American carriers is that their service is rotten, not that their goodie bags are insufficiently stocked. Amenities are an important part of the service experience. But they’re not as important as making sure your customers get where they are going on time and happy.

via First class on American Airlines: Classing up first class | The Economist.

Nike, shoes, Back to the Future, movies:  Belated tie-in?

In 2015, Marty McFly slipped on a pair of Nike Air Power Laces, white-and-gray high-tops with teal specks and wrap-around ankle straps, which self-fastened electronically. Now, four years earlier, Nike is going Back To The Future (er, forward to the past) to re-release the movie’s famous sneakers–and from what we’ve seen, the 2011 Nike MAGs, as they’re called, are as slick as the DeLorean DMC-12 they arrived in.

via Nike Unveils MAG, Marty McFly’s Kicks From Back To The Future II | Co. Design.

health, exercise, swimming:  I have always thought I would like some lessons.

When you break it down, swimming has a high potential for embarrassment. It requires us to show grace, coordination and strength—all without the security of clothing. This didn’t seem to bother us back when we worked as lifeguards at the YMCA or as splash-happy counselors at Camp Good Times. But over the years, without regular access to a pool or a pond, many of us have grown tentative in the water.

It’s worth rebuilding our confidence, though, because swimming offers a total-body workout like no other. And as many athletes are discovering, this non-impact activity is an excellent alternative for joints that have become stiff from years’ worth of pavement-pounding. It can help us feel weightless—and even ageless. “The water doesn’t know what age you are when you jump in,” said Dara Torres, who at 41 was the oldest woman ever to make the U.S. Olympic Swim Team. “So why not?”

While complete novices are best served by a class or private instruction, some lapsed swimmers just need a little push. We asked two professional coaches for advice on getting back in the swim.

via Advice for Nervous Swimmers – How to Swim if You Haven’t in a While – Oprah.com

Plato, Atlantis, archeology, fact v. fiction:  “His ideas about divine versus human nature, ideal societies, the gradual corruption of human society—these ideas are all found in many of his works. Atlantis was a different vehicle to get at some of his favorite themes.”

If the writing of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato had not contained so much truth about the human condition, his name would have been forgotten centuries ago.

But one of his most famous stories—the cataclysmic destruction of the ancient civilization of Atlantis—is almost certainly false. So why is this story still repeated more than 2,300 years after Plato’s death?

“It’s a story that captures the imagination,” says James Romm, a professor of classics at Bard College in Annandale, New York. “It’s a great myth. It has a lot of elements that people love to fantasize about.”

Plato told the story of Atlantis around 360 B.C. The founders of Atlantis, he said, were half god and half human. They created a utopian civilization and became a great naval power. Their home was made up of concentric islands separated by wide moats and linked by a canal that penetrated to the center. The lush islands contained gold, silver, and other precious metals and supported an abundance of rare, exotic wildlife. There was a great capital city on the central island.

….

Romm believes Plato created the story of Atlantis to convey some of his philosophical theories. “He was dealing with a number of issues, themes that run throughout his work,” he says. “His ideas about divine versus human nature, ideal societies, the gradual corruption of human society—these ideas are all found in many of his works. Atlantis was a different vehicle to get at some of his favorite themes.”

The legend of Atlantis is a story about a moral, spiritual people who lived in a highly advanced, utopian civilization. But they became greedy, petty, and “morally bankrupt,” and the gods “became angry because the people had lost their way and turned to immoral pursuits,” Orser says.

As punishment, he says, the gods sent “one terrible night of fire and earthquakes” that caused Atlantis to sink into the sea.

via Atlantis Legend — National Geographic.

Blackbeard, The Queen Anne’s Revenge, Beaufort NC, history, archeology:  I love this stuff …

After 15 years of uncertainty, a shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina has been confirmed as that of the infamous 18th-century pirate Blackbeard, state officials say.

The Queen Anne’s Revenge grounded on a sandbar near Beaufort (see map) in 1718, nine years after the town had been established. Blackbeard and his crew abandoned the ship and survived.

Until recently, the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources emphasized that the wreck, discovered in 1995, was “thought to be” the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Now, after a comprehensive review of the evidence, those same officials are sure it’s the ship sailed by one of history’s fiercest and most colorful pirates.

“There was not one aha moment,” said Claire Aubel, public relations coordinator for the North Carolina Maritime Museums. “There was a collection of moments and a deduction based on the evidence.”

via Blackbeard’s Ship Confirmed off North Carolina.

astronomy, new planet: Most earth-like … only 36 light years away!

A new planet found about 36 light-years away could be one of the most Earthlike worlds yet—if it has enough clouds, a new study says.

The unpoetically named HD85512b was discovered orbiting an orange dwarf star in the constellation Vela. Astronomers found the planet using the European Southern Observatory’s High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher, or HARPS, instrument in Chile.

Radial velocity is a planet-hunting technique that looks for wobbles in a star’s light, which can indicate the gravitational tugs of orbiting worlds.

The HARPS data show that the planet is 3.6 times the mass of Earth, and the new world orbits its parent star at just the right distance for water to be liquid on the planet’s surface—a trait scientists believe is crucial for life as we know it.

via New Planet May Be Among Most Earthlike—Weather Permitting.

photography, apps, kith/kin:  My favorite professional photographer Mark Fortenberry likes Hipstamatic.  I am still learning.

Learn more about a few of my favorite photo apps in the gallery above.

And once you’re hooked, keep up with the latest and greatest at iPhoneography.com or push your creative edge with The Art of iPhoneography, both great resources for mobile creativity.

via Artsy Travel Photos? There’s an App for That – Intelligent Travel.

Dancing with the Stars, tv, Chaz Bono:  Now this will be interesting …

Although he may have something to prove, Chaz, however couldn’t be more beloved by his fellow contestants and the dancers who have all dubbed him a ‘very cool dude.’

via Chaz Bono ‘struggling with rehearsals because he lacks rhythm’ | Mail Online.

education, technology, iPads: 

School districts across the country are plunking down major cash for iPads—even for kindergarten classrooms—but there hasn’t been much research about whether using them actually boosts student achievement. So James Harmon, a veteran English teacher from the Cleveland area, decided to conduct his own experiment (PDF). His finding? His students learned better with the aid of iPads—if used correctly.

Harmon’s experiment began at the start of the last school year when the school district provided his school, Euclid High, with a set of 24 iPads. The school serves a population that’s majority black and low-income, and Harmon knew that traditional approaches to teaching reading and writing weren’t working. His gut instinct was that the iPads would help the school’s English teachers find new, creative approaches to teaching the content, but he also wanted to justify asking for more iPads with data-based evidence.

So Harmon divided the sophomore class into two groups, one iPad-free control group, and one that had access to the tablets at school. For consistency, he also ensured that all three sophomore English teachers taught the same curriculum. According to his experiment’s end-of-year data, students with access to an iPad were more likely to pass both the reading and writing sections of the state standardized test.

via Teacher’s iPad Experiment Shows Possibilities for Classroom Technology – Education – GOOD.

education, learning styles, edupunks:  Ar you an edupunk?  education, no … learning journey!

It’s the best of times and the worst of times to be a learner. College tuition has doubled in the past decade, while the options for learning online and independently keep expanding: you can take a free Stanford class with 100,000 other students, hop on YouTube to find an instructional video, or ask a question on Twitter or Quora and share your work on a forum like Github or Behance. Anya Kamenetz’s new free ebook The Edupunks’ Guide is all about the many paths that learners are taking in this new world. So we teamed up with her to find out: are you an edupunk?

the THEME

Three-quarters of students don’t fit the traditional mold of straight-from-high-school-four-years-of-college-first-job. We want to see a real learning journey: online and real-world resources and communities you’ve found, classes, internships, conferences, jobs, dead ends or wrong turns, and the person or people who really made a difference in getting you where you are today (or where you hope to be).

the OBJECTIVE

Doodle a map of your most important learning experiences. Show us what it’s like to learn outside the traditional academic model.

the REQUIREMENTS

Submit your entry here. We will accept submissions through Sunday, September 11. Check back on to see the slideshow and vote on your favorite. The winner will receive a GOOD T-shirt and see their infographic displayed on GOOD.is.

via Project: Doodle Your Learning Journey – Education – GOOD.

small business, internet, etsy:

In anticipation of Hello Etsy, a summit on small business and sustainability, we teamed up with Etsy to ask you which local businesses you love. We received tons of great submissions celebrating small businesses across the world.

via Submissions: Which Small Businesses Do You Love? – Culture – GOOD.

06
Sep
11

9.6.2011 ‎… In my day, today was the first day of school … at least when I was little … I think … Just finished Paris Was Ours … would recommend it … next on the stack, The Eyre Affair …

Labor Day, first day of school, history:  I just reprinted her whole history of when, why  and how the Labor Day/School Start changed.

The day after Labor Day is traditionally known as the first day of school. But according to a survey by Market Data Retrieval, 75 percent of American students headed back to class before this week—and that’s been the trend for the last decade. So why do we still associate Labor Day with back-to-school, and should we return to a post-holiday start?

The first public school in the United States, the 376-year-old Boston Latin School, opened on April 23, 1635. But thanks to agrarian society, a spring start to the school year didn’t catch on. Families needed kids to work the fields, which meant that sometimes the first day didn’t happen until October. Although urban areas didn’t have crops to pick, fear of diseases like cholera and scarlet fever made people afraid of staying in sweltering summer classrooms.

During the 20th century, state governments began to standardize the number of days students should be in school, as well as when schools should start. Since most campuses didn’t have air conditioning, opening in August simply wasn’t practical. During the 1940s and ’50s, starting school just after Labor Day, when temperatures were coming down, became common.

By the 1980s, the first day of school began moving into late August as states mandated longer school years. Teachers and parents had also been complaining that a September start meant final exams fell in January, so students had to study over Christmas break. With an earlier start, finals are finished by the time vacation begins.

The advent of No Child Left Behind in 2001 caused the start of school to creep up even further, toward the first week of August. But starting earlier doesn’t give students more time to learn before spring state standardized tests: Districts are not allowed to administer tests before or after a certain number of instruction days have passed.

Now, there’s a growing movement to move school back to a post-Labor Day start, in large part because of economic concerns. Air conditioning schools during the hot summer months isn’t cheap, so cash-strapped districts looking to save money are moving toward starting in September. Public schools in Tulsa, Oklahoma moved their start date from August 19 to the day after Labor Day, “and saved approximately $500,000 through reduced utility costs.”

Tourism boards also advocate for a post-Labor Day start, because starting school on August 8 (as was the case in Memphis, Tennessee this year), means families have less time to take vacations. Hotels, resorts, county fairs, and even the local roller rink take a financial hit from August start dates. Thanks to tourism boosters, states like Virginia, Michigan, and Minnesota have enacted laws saying that school can’t begin until after Labor Day. Michigan’s tourism economy has seen a 25 percent boost since the law was passed in 2009.

Earlier start dates also mean high school sports teams begin practicing in hot August weather. Six football players and one assistant coach have already died this summer from heat-related incidents.

So will more states follow suit and move the first day of school back after Labor Day? Not necessarily. Younger generations have grown up starting school in August, so they’re used to it. Advocates are also up against year-round schooling proponents. Given that most parents work full time and struggle to find and pay for child care during the summer, a year-round school schedule may sound pretty appealing.

via Why the Day After Labor Day No Longer Means the First Day of School – Education – GOOD.

Paris Was Ours, bookshelf:  On the recommendation of my mother in law, I read Paris Was Ours.  I should have read it before the trip … but actually it pulled together many observations so it was a useful and enjoyable post-Paris visit read.

Paris Was Ours is a collection of memoirs about the French capital. It answers the question that I, as the book’s editor, asked myself when I first dreamed up the idea: Why of all the places I’ve lived, did Paris affect me the most? For, although I’ve lived in half a dozen cities, this one left the deepest mark.

My book is about the transformative effect of living in Paris — “the world capital of memory and desire,” as the writer Marcelle Clements calls it so indelibly in these pages.

In this volume, thirty-two writers parse their Paris moments.

via About the Book – Paris Was Ours: 32 Writers Reflect on the City of Light.

The Eyre Affair, bookshelf, kith/kin:  intrigued by the opening chapter, I am enjoying The Eyre Affair which comes highly recommended by Joni.  From the author …

Full of surprises and drama that excites no-one but me. It all began back in those Halcyon days of 1988 with two names and a notion scribbled with a pencil on the back of an envelope: Thursday Next and Bowden Cable and someone kidnaps Jane Eyre. Like many ideas of mine it grew and festered in my mind a little like the gunge that you find on refrigerator seals, waiting for the time when It would ripen sufficiently for me to give it life on paper. The first draft was a deadly serious screenplay written on an old typewriter. This ultimately became a short story on a 486 Toshiba running DOS and then lengthened into a serious attempt at a book. By 1993 I had 40,000 words, some of them in the right order – here the book stalled and I wrote another three before returning in 1997, finally arriving at a first draft by new year’s day 1998, this time on an Apple Macintosh PB 190. The story spanned writing technology.

via Beginnings – The Eyre Affair & Thursday Next.

popups, popup theatre, internet, social welfare:  A popup theater that streams from a phone and can be used anywhere … to “deliver entertainment and information into any place, even a neighborhood that may be overlooked or discounted.”

In an effort to demonstrate the expanding opportunities of network coverage, installation artist Aaron James created a pop-up theater designed to play videos directly from users’ smartphones when connected.

The original location of the space existed at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan but has since been moved to a garage space in downtown Detroit.

The 500 square foot cinema space is built of galvanized steel fence pipes and according to James, “is based on the assumption that the Internet can potentially deliver entertainment and information into any place, even a neighborhood that may be overlooked or discounted.”

via Aaron James’ smartphone powered pop-up cinemas « Out ‘N Front.

college, purpose, rethink, kith/kin:  Great article and makes you really think about the purpose.  Also shout out for Joni and Bob’s daughter’s choice St. John’s.  Other than  that he bashes everyone!

1.  Most colleges are organized to give an average education to average students.

Pick up any college brochure or catalog. Delete the brand names and the map. Can you tell which school it is? While there are outliers (like St. Johns, Deep Springs or Full Sail) most schools aren’t really outliers. They are mass marketers.

Stop for a second and consider the impact of that choice. By emphasizing mass and sameness and rankings, colleges have changed their mission.

This works great in an industrial economy where we can’t churn out standardized students fast enough and where the demand is huge because the premium earned by a college grad dwarfs the cost. But…

Back before the digital revolution, access to information was an issue. The size of the library mattered. One reason to go to college was to get access. Today, that access is worth a lot less. The valuable things people take away from college are interactions with great minds (usually professors who actually teach and actually care) and non-class activities that shape them as people. The question I’d ask: is the money that mass-marketing colleges are spending on marketing themselves and scaling themselves well spent? Are they organizing for changing lives or for ranking high? Does NYU have to get so much bigger? Why?

The solutions are obvious… there are tons of ways to get a cheap, liberal education, one that exposes you to the world, permits you to have significant interactions with people who matter and to learn to make a difference (start here). Most of these ways, though, aren’t heavily marketed nor do they involve going to a tradition-steeped two-hundred-year old institution with a wrestling team. Things like gap years, research internships and entrepreneurial or social ventures after high school are opening doors for students who are eager to discover the new.

The only people who haven’t gotten the memo are anxious helicopter parents, mass marketing colleges and traditional employers. And all three are waking up and facing new circumstances.

via Seth’s Blog: The coming melt-down in higher education (as seen by a marketer).

Eleanor Roosevelt, quotes, history, kith/kin:  Molly visited Geneva this summer and learned much about Eleanor Roosevelt and Universal Declaration of Human Rights which she also studied and wrote on last year.  I love this quote …

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Although she had already won international respect and admiration in her role as First Lady to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt’s work on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would become her greatest legacy. She was without doubt, the most influential member of the UN’s Commission on Human Rights.

via Eleanor Roosevelt Biography.

9/11, WSJ 9/12/2011:  I just remember for the next few days being stunned … reading everything I could to figure how why … and how.

Wall Street Journal (@WSJ)
9/5/11 2:19 PM
Here’s a complete copy of The Wall Street Journal on September 12, 2001:http://t.co/vWL5rwL

“You Made A Difference” campaign, teachers, kudos:  As I said the other day, there are many I need to thank.

In recognition of Labor Day, we’d like to draw your attention to a new campaign that focuses on the work that teachers do, and the ubiquity of their influence.

The “You Made A Difference” campaign is an effort to let teachers know how they have made a difference in former students’ lives by allowing those former students to thank their teachers by writing a note or uploading a public video to Facebook or YouTube. The campaign was launched by HuffPost Education blogger Scott Janssen, who in June wrote a post arguing that Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake’s Bad Teacher movie wrongly blames the plight and failure of American schools on poor performing teachers.

The post received impassioned responses, and the “You Made A Difference” campaign was born, set in motion, Janssen says, by HuffPost readers. Videos so far have come from entertainment show “Extra” host Jerry Penacoli, comic strip “Speed Bump” creator Dave Coverly and Grammy Award winning producer Narada Michael Walden, just to name a few.

Here are just a selection of videos from the initiative. You can see more on YouTube or submit your own through Facebook.

via ‘You Made A Difference’ Campaign Thanks Teachers.

twitter, HuffPost:  So how many twitter feeds do they follow … and only 7.

Short and Tweet, our weekly series, brings you the newsiest, most buzzworthy tweets of the past seven days. What’s in store this week? Beyonce set off a tweeting frenzy, Wikileaks dumped a massive cache of unredacted cables, Rep. Joe Walsh criticized President Obama and more.

About Short And Tweet: Some tweets make news, and some of those tweets break news. HuffPost Tech’s weekly feature of the top newsmaking tweets of the week showcases both.

via Short And Tweet: The Top 7 Tweets Of The Week.

Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market, food, health, diet, social justice: “To Casey—who plans to add five more buses to his fleet, fanning them out to schools, health clinics, and senior homes—food is a matter of social justice.

But Casey, 45, a grant administrator and father of two young boys, had an idea. With a few other local activists, he raised $40,000 from investors and used it to gut an old municipal bus (purchased from the city for $1). He christened his new wheels Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market. “My goal is to be like the ice cream man, but with fruits and vegetables,” Casey says. “We want people to get as excited about grapes in January as they are about Popsicles in July.”

So far, it’s working. On a recent Monday morning, a crowd of about 70 stood on a street corner in the pounding rain, waiting for their produce to pull up. With its cheerful red siding, the Fresh Moves bus was visible from blocks away. Once inside, customers stocked up on organic tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, collard greens, and more—all priced affordably thanks to a partnership with an organic distributor.

To Casey—who plans to add five more buses to his fleet, fanning them out to schools, health clinics, and senior homes—food is a matter of social justice. “Recently, I watched a 14-year-old boy eat his first apple ever,” he says. “Too often we’re looking for the holy grail, but sometimes it’s the little things, like giving a kid something affordable and healthy to eat.”

via Farmer’s Market on a Bus – Fresh Moves Bus – Oprah.com.

Coca-Cola, sustainability, recycling, design: Only an idea …

coke bottles

It’s pretty ballsy to redesign one of the planet’s most iconic shapes and completely blow it out of the water. Last we checked, Coke’s bottles were some of the most recognizable objects on earth, and so powerful when it came to branding that in 2008, Coke transformed the capsule-like two-liter bottle into the same sexy curves. But dare we say design studentAndrew Kim has created a concept that’s equally powerful, all in the name of sustainability.

via What’s the Square Root of Sustainability? This Coke Bottle | Fast Company – StumbleUpon.

marketing via social networks, Vail:  Bold …

One of the hardest things to do for any company that wants to innovate is to willingly cannibalize a profitable line of business. And yet that’s exactly what Vail Resorts will do this winter when it starts providing photos to its guests for free.

The vacation photo industry is big business. Whether you’re at a marathon, an amusement park, or a resort like Vail, there are always company photographers around to take your picture–crossing the finish line, for example, or going down a water ride–which the company will then sell you for wildly inflated prices. A photo at Vail, for example, costs $35.

And now Vail is saying goodbye to all that. Or at least to a portion of it.

Earlier this year, we told you about EpicMix, Vail’s new system that lets skiers at its six resorts track their ski days and collect online badges for various feats, like skiing certain trails or accumulating a certain amount of vertical feet. Now Vail is adding something new to customers’ EpicMix accounts: digital copies of the photos taken by its hillside photographers.

The photographers will have devices to scan guests’ RFID-enabled lift tickets. Guests can ask then pose for pictures, or request action shots, and the photos will automatically be uploaded to the skiers’ EpicMix accounts (which are also linked to the RFID chips in the lift tickets). Skiers can then either keep the photos there, or post them to Facebook or Twitter.

“Photo sharing has gone crazy,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz tells Fast Company. “To the extent that we can make it easy for our guests to share photos–that is the holy grail of social media.”

Katz says the move is a risk. The company’s photo business brings in a tidy profit. Not as much as lift tickets or food, of course. But more than a rounding error. Meanwhile, data proving the ROI of having customers post about their experiences on places like Facebook remains elusive.

Granted, Vail will only be posting low-resolution versions of the photos to EpicMix. Customers will still have to buy the high-resolution versions if they want nice-looking prints.

But Katz says it’s intuitive that the new program should return results.

“The holy grail of social media is to get your most loyal and most passionate consumers to start becoming advocates for your product,” he says. “The question is: How do you authentically get your consumers to go out and broadcast for your brand?”

Last season, the approximately 100,000 Vail guests who activated their EpicMix accounts posted about 275,000 updates–like the badges they’d earned–to Facebook and Twitter.

“We think the photos will take that and multiply it geometrically,” Katz says.

via Vail Cannibalizes Its Own Photo Business In The Name Of Sharing | Fast Company.

vacation, leaders:  haven’t read Ms. Kanter’s article … but this summary was pretty good and very valid … makes me rethink my exhausting vacations I drag my husband on. 🙂

Rosabeth Moss Kanter has an excellent post up on the HBR Blog titled Should Leaders Go on Vacation? Recently, I’ve seen plenty of commentary in the popular press (especially Fox News articles) about the inappropriateness of leaders taking vacation. Kanter does a nice job of dissecting the dynamics around leaders going on vacation and suggests the leader address five questions in the context of the vacation.

What is the vacation narrative?

What is the vacation timing?

What is the rest of the team doing?

Are there continuity, backup, and contingency plans?

What is the vacation symbolism?

I’m a huge believer in the importance of vacations for leaders, entrepreneurs, and everyone else. I work extremely hard–usually 70+ hours a week. This is simply not sustainable, at least for me at age 45, over a period of time longer than about three months. I eventually burn out, get tired and cranky, become less effective, and get sick. Vacations are a way for me to recharge, build my energy back, explore some different things, spend extended and uninterrupted time with the most important person in my life (Amy), and just chill out. This vacation usually takes the form of a Qx Vacation that is off the grid which is now well known to everyone who works with me.

Amy and I ordinarily spend the month of July at our house in Homer, Alaska. While this isn’t “a vacation”, it’s a change of context that has become a very important part of our routine. I work while I’m there, am completely connected and available, but have a very different life tempo. And–most importantly–zero travel.

This summer we spent July in Paris. We both love Paris and went there to just “live.” We rented an apartment in the 8th, ran in the local park, shopped at the Monoprix down the block, ate lunch at all of the nearby restaurants, and had some amazing meals out. But mostly we just hung out, worked remotely, and spent time together.

I’ve had a fantasy about renting a house in the Tuscan countryside and spending a month in Tuscany for many years. We decided to do it this summer and we turned our month in Alaska into two months in Europe. However, rather than travel around and be tourists, we just lived. We had plenty of friends visit, but we spent the days exercising (I ran a lot), reading, writing, and working.

I plan to write at least one post about what I learned in my “summer in Europe” after I return to the U.S. next week. It has been an amazing experience, especially since I was completely connected to my regular work, yet was able to observe a lot of activity from a distance and reflect on what I really thought was going on.

In the mean time, if you are a leader, entrepreneur, or anyone else, I hope you read Kanter’s post and think hard about both the value of time away and the expectation-setting around it. Life is short–make sure you live it.

via Reinventing Vacations For A Mobile Era | Fast Company.

Great Recession, changes: I took nearly 50 years to forget the Depression … and I am the result.  I wonder if our children are getting the same lessons that their grand parents and great grandparents learned in the 20’s and 30’s.

Americans are saving more, paying down mortgages, reducing credit card debt, moving to cheaper housing, working at unpalatable jobs and postponing retirement.

“This underscores the increasing numbers of people who believe they have to take bigger, more long-term action,” said Michelle Peluso, global consumer chief marketing and Internet officer for Citibank parent company Citigroup.

More people say the economy has changed forever how they think about and handle money. A survey done by Peter D. Hart Research Associates for Citibank shows more people believe the economic realities of life have changed foreve — 57 percent in the survey released on Aug. 31, up steadily from 51 percent nearly a year ago.

Three and a half years after the Great Recession began and in the middle of a tumultuous summer as Congress haggled over the nation’s debt crisis and the economy continued to crawl, consumer confidence plunged in August to its lowest level since April 2009. And while personal spending was up, the data show much of the increase went to pay for higher-priced gas and food.

The price of gasoline is up 35 percent — about a dollar a gallon — from a year ago.

“When you are paying $25 more a week in cash for gasoline, that’s coming right out of your income,” said Britt Beemer, president of America’s Research Group, a Charleston, S.C., analysis firm that tracks consumer spending.

via Consumers permanently committing to thriftiness, saving – Chicago Sun-Times.

US Postal Service, changes, end of an era:  My post office has let go  7 of 17 carriers.  My mail now arrives at after 6 pm.

Already, the threats from the USPS have mounted up: Closing one in 10 USPS locations—that equals about 3,700 jobs for those keeping score at home. Canceling Saturday delivery and slashing one-fifth of its workforce—again, the numbers are staggering at 120,000 workers. But the biggest threat came from the postmaster general, Patrick R. Donahoe, who tells the Times, “Our situation is extremely serious. If Congress doesn’t act, we will default.”

Closing down shop? That’s the reality facing the agency. The USPS already owes over $9 billion and with revenues continually shrinking due to high internet usage for everything from correspondence, catalogs and bill payments and costs still pushing higher, there’s no light at the end of the postal service tunnel. The agency has handled 22% fewer pieces of mail the past year versus five years ago, and experts predict that figure only to worsen.

Cue the politicians. With labor unions at the heart of the issue—USPS contracts include a no-layoffs clause for a staff that enjoys a screaming-great healthcare benefit package and accounts for 80% of all USPS expenses, far outpacing the ratio for the UPS (53%) and FedEx (just 32%)—Congress will continue the debate on what to do with the government-monitored agency on Tuesday.

via Canceled Mail: Could the U.S. Postal Service Really Close? – TIME NewsFeed.

Apple, bungles:  I can’t believe they did it again!

San Francisco police officers helped Apple Inc. investigators look for a missing iPhone prototype that was left in a city restaurant in July, the police chief said, the second time in two years the company has lost an unreleased smartphone.

Police Chief Greg Suhr told the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/oOfTi1 ) that four plainclothes officers accompanied two Apple investigators who searched a San Francisco home for the iPhone prototype.

Apple employees who contacted the department asking for help finding a lost item conducted the house search after asking the resident’s permission, and the officers did not enter the home, according to police.

Apple tracked the smartphone to the home using GPS technology, but the gadget wasn’t found there, said Lt. Troy Dangerfield.

Apple officials have declined to comment on the case.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company is reportedly planning to release a new version of its popular iPhone this fall.

The SF Weekly newspaper reported that Sergio Calderon, who lives in the home, said he believed all six people were police officers and would not have let the two investigators inside if he knew they worked for Apple.

via San Francisco police help search for lost iPhone  | ajc.com.

Netflix:  I, too, begrudge them!

We can’t begrudge anyone who feels Netflix is no longer the great deal it used to be, but the loss of Starz and the circumstances surrounding the split, serve as a stark reminder of the tough realities that prompted Netflix to raise its prices in the first place.

Under the current, soon-to-expire agreement with Starz, Netflix paid $30 million per year for the right to stream the movie channel’s content. Negotiations to renew that contract reportedly broke down even after Netflix offered a $300 million-a-year deal. Starz reportedly insisted that Netflix introduce a tiered subscription service so subscribers who wanted to see Starz movies and TV shows (including Sony and Disney films) would have to pay more than $8 a month. Evidently Netflix refused to hike subscription prices more than it already had.

Netflix has seen tremendous growth since its launch, attracting more than 25 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. But the breakdown of the Starz deal is a reminder that success comes at a cost, in the form of increased competition and soaring licensing fees demanded by studios.

via Netflix Shows It’s on Your Side – TheStreet.

college, statistics:  Another area where we have bungled our  global advantage …

4. Only 0.4 percent of undergraduates attend one of the Ivy League schools. This confirms my long-held belief that way too much attention is paid to these eight institutions.

[Read about the Ivy League earnings myth.]

5. Twenty three percent of full-time undergrads, who are 24 or younger, work 20 hours or more a week.

6. Asian students (12 percent) are the least likely to work 20 or more hours a week.

7. About 9 percent of students attend flagship universities and other state institutions that conduct intensive research.

8. Seventy three percent of students attend all types of public colleges and universities.

9. Just 16 percent of students attend private nonprofit colleges and universities.

via 20 Surprising Higher Education Facts – The College Solution (usnews.com).

college, technology:  I never saw a clicker until I dropped my oldest off at Boulder. 🙂

As soon as the handheld gadgets called “clickers” hit the University of Colorado at Boulder, Douglas Duncan saw cheating.

The astronomy instructor and director of the Fiske Planetarium was observing a colleague’s physics class in 2002, when the university introduced the electronic devices that students use to respond to in-class questions. He glanced at the first row and saw a student with four clickers spread out before him. It turned out that only one was his—the rest belonged to his sleeping roommates.

The student was planning to help his absentee classmates by “clicking in” for the sleepers to mark them present. The physics professor had to tell the student that what he was doing was cheating.

Clickers—and the cheating problems that accompany them—have become a lot more common since that day, many instructors say. Today, more than 1,000 colleges in the United States use the devices, which look like TV remotes.

At Boulder alone, about 20,000 clickers are in use among the university’s 30,000 students. In addition to using them to take attendance, professors pose multiple-choice questions during class, students click answers, and software instantly projects the responses as charts at the front of the room. Particularly in large classes, that lets instructors assess student comprehension in a matter of seconds.

But the system can be abused. Students purchase remotes and register the devices in their names. Those who choose not to attend large classes can simply ask friends to bring along their clickers and get whatever credit the instructor assigns for showing up.

And he, like Mr. Bruff, believes that the devices have real advantages. The interactivity of clickers outweighs the hassle of monitoring students and keeping of fresh batteries on hand, Mr. Hamilton says.

By specifically outlining for students how clicker cheating violates academic honor codes, Mr. Bruff says, universities can clarify the situation for students and bolster professors’ positions. “The instructor can point to the honor code—the university has decided that this counts as cheating, so it’s not just me being a tough guy. It’s that this is commonly accepted as inappropriate,” he says.

That kind of clarity works, says Mr. Duncan. At Boulder, the student-enforced honor code takes a strong stance against all forms of cheating. It’s one reason that, since the first physics class he watched, he has used clickers for nearly a decade and has caught students cheating only twice.

“You need to make very, very clear with the students,” he says, “what is considered legitimate.”

via Cheating Is Now Only a Click Away, So Professors Reduce Incentive – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

9/11, natural disasters/acts of God:  I agree the impact can be far worse and more widespread … but intentional acts of terrorists have a very different psychological impact on our nation than natural disasters.  Does it change how we feel when we refer to natural disasters as “acts of God”?

Paul Stockton, the Pentagon’s point man for security in the homeland, plans for the kind of apocalyptic events that could forever change the lives of millions of Americans. Assistant Secretary of Defense Stockton, a lifelong academic who speaks passionate jargon, calls them “complex catastrophes” with “cascading effects,” and, like Sept. 11, 2001, these new tragedies could have gut–wrenching social and political consequences. Yet the horrors he’s preparing for are far bigger than 9/11: tens of thousands of people killed, the economy devastated, national security gravely compromised. And the terrorist who will be responsible for these atrocities is Mother Nature. Stockton’s yardstick for cataclysms is not “worse than 9/11,” it is “disasters even more severe than Hurricane Katrina.”

via Time to Brace for the Next 9/11 – The Daily Beast.

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), US House of Representatives , politics:  Just read the whole thing …

The reason is that Cooper is the House’s conscience, a lonely voice for civility in this ugly era. He remembers when compromise was not a dirty word and politicians put country ahead of party. And he’s not afraid to talk about it. “We’ve gone from Brigadoon to Lord of the Flies,” he likes to say.

I first heard him lament the state of Congress during one of those “get Elizabeth Warren” hearings held earlier this year. When it was Cooper’s turn to question her, he turned instead to the Republicans. “This Congress is viewed as dysfunctional,” he said, “and this alleged hearing is one of the reasons why. It too easily degenerates into a partisan food fight.” He pleaded with the junior members to change their mean-spirited ways before they became ingrained.

With Congress back in session this week — and the mean-spirited wrangling about to begin anew — I thought it would be useful to ask Cooper how Congress became so dysfunctional. His answer surprised me. He said almost nothing about the Tea Party. Instead, he focused on the internal dynamics of Congress itself.

To Cooper, the true villain is not the Tea Party; it’s Newt Gingrich. In the 1980s, when Tip O’Neill was speaker of the House, “Congress was functional,” Cooper told me. “Committees worked. Tip saw his role as speaker of the whole House, not just the Democrats.”

via The Last Moderate – NYTimes.com.

home economics, science, education, health, kith/kin, St. Anne’s Diocesan College (Hilton SA):  Molly took home ec in SA. She said it was fun and more like science.  As a matter of fact she learned some of the same information that she learned in her AP bio class and learned to cook a few things.

Today we remember only the stereotypes about home economics, while forgetting the movement’s crucial lessons on healthy eating and cooking.

Too many Americans simply don’t know how to cook. Our diets, consisting of highly processed foods made cheaply outside the home thanks to subsidized corn and soy, have contributed to an enormous health crisis. More than half of all adults and more than a third of all children are overweight or obese. Chronic diseases associated with weight gain, like heart disease and diabetes, are hobbling more and more Americans.

In the last decade, many cities and states have tried — and generally failed — to tax junk food or to ban the use of food stamps to buy soda. Clearly, many people are leery of any governmental steps to promote healthy eating; Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity has inspired right-wing panic about a secret food police.

But what if the government put the tools of obesity prevention in the hands of children themselves, by teaching them how to cook?

My first brush with home economics, as a seventh grader in a North Carolina public school two decades ago, was grim. The most sophisticated cooking we did was opening a can of pre-made biscuit dough, sticking our thumbs in the center of each raw biscuit to make a hole, and then handing them over to the teacher, who dipped them in hot grease to make doughnuts.

Cooking classes for public school students need not be so utterly stripped of content, or so cynical about students’ abilities to cook and enjoy high-quality food.

A year later, my father’s job took our family to Wales, where I attended, for a few months, a large school in a mid-size industrial city. There, students brought ingredients from home and learned to follow recipes, some simple and some not-so-simple, eventually making vegetable soups and meat and potato pies from scratch. It was the first time I had ever really cooked anything. I remember that it was fun, and with an instructor standing by, it wasn’t hard. Those were deeply empowering lessons, ones that stuck with me when I first started cooking for myself in earnest after college.

In the midst of contracting school budgets and test-oriented curricula, the idea of reviving home economics as part of a broad offensive against obesity might sound outlandish. But teaching cooking — real cooking — in public schools could help address a host of problems facing Americans today. The history of home economics shows it’s possible.

via Revive Home Economics Classes to Fight Obesity – NYTimes.com.

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9.2.2011 … a little pomp and circumstance … CLS seniors march in their gowns … encouraged to give back …

Charlotte Latin School, Fall Convocation, Seniors, kith/kin:  Being a high school senior is a special time.  CLS does a great job of focusing and celebrating its seniors.

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Justice Clarence Thomas, Ginni Thomas, Constitutional Law, The Supreme Court, The Tea Party, health care reform:  I read a review of the New Yorker article the other day, which was very good.  The article, although very long, is also very good … read it if it interests you.

It has been, in certain respects, a difficult year for Clarence Thomas. In January, he was compelled to amend several years of the financial-disclosure forms that Supreme Court Justices must file each year. The document requires the Justices to disclose the source of all income earned by their spouses, and Thomas had failed to note that his wife, Virginia, who is known as Ginni, worked as a representative for a Michigan college and at the Heritage Foundation. The following month, seventy-four members of Congress called on Thomas to recuse himself from any legal challenges to President Obama’s health-care reform, because his wife has been an outspoken opponent of the law. At around the same time, Court observers noted the fifth anniversary of the last time that Thomas had asked a question during an oral argument. The confluence of these events produced the kind of public criticism, and even mockery, that Thomas had largely managed to avoid since his tumultuous arrival on the Court, twenty years ago this fall.

These tempests obscure a larger truth about Thomas: that this year has also been, for him, a moment of triumph. In several of the most important areas of constitutional law, Thomas has emerged as an intellectual leader of the Supreme Court. Since the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in 2005, and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in 2006, the Court has moved to the right when it comes to the free-speech rights of corporations, the rights of gun owners, and, potentially, the powers of the federal government; in each of these areas, the majority has followed where Thomas has been leading for a decade or more. Rarely has a Supreme Court Justice enjoyed such broad or significant vindication.

via The Thomases vs. Obama’s Health-Care Plan : The New Yorker.

book clubs, opportunities:  I have pasted the whole article.  What a great opportunity!

Randall: An exceptional book club

Sometimes when you least expect it, life opens a door you never dreamed you’d enter. It’s enough to make you want to wake up each morning just to see what will happen next.

Anything is possible as long as you keep waking up.

Some months ago, a reader of my column (a man I’ve not met but hope to do so) sent me a story from The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer by columnist Kay McSpadden, about an unusual book club that meets each week at the main branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Book clubs are not often called “unusual.” But Turning Pages is exceptional for two reasons: First, most of its members are homeless. Some are housed. Others are in “transition.”

Second, and just as rare, is a very pregnant woman in a purple dress and high heels — a self-described community volunteer who read two years ago about a similar program in Boston, and saw no reason why it couldn’t happen in Charlotte.

Candace Curlin Vance is the kind of friend you want on your side in a fight — fearless and tireless. And, as the folks at Turning Pages have learned, you can count on her to have your back.

Also, she talks faster than most normal people can think, which is handy for getting publishers to donate books.

The same reader who sent me that story suggested to Candace that Turning Pages ought to read “Birdbaths and Paper Cranes,” a collection of columns I published 10 years ago that includes stories set in my home state of North Carolina.

Candace wrote at once to ask how she might obtain 25 copies.

I replied that the book is out of print and, unfortunately, I didn’t have 25 copies. She thanked me anyhow, and that was that.

The next day I found two big boxes of books I didn’t know I had. When I told Candace, she laughed. As a woman of faith and persistence, she has often seen “no” turn into “yes.”

And that’s how I ended up flying to Charlotte last week to meet the members of Turning Pages, who had just finished reading, of all things, my book.

We sat around a big table — different races, genders, backgrounds and walks of life — talking, laughing, eating biscuits from Bojangles’, drinking sweet iced tea. It was very Southern. I never felt more at home.

They asked excellent questions, offered insightful observations and convinced me they’d actually read the book.

One woman, now housed after years of living on the streets, presented me with a gift, a blue-and-white-spattered painting.

“It’s called ‘Falling Water,’ ” she said, smiling. “I signed my name on the back so it will be worth something someday.”

Little did she know how much it was already worth to me.

Afterward, when we’d eaten all the biscuits, shaken all the hands and gone our separate ways, I asked Candace about the future of Turning Pages.

“It’s my baby,” she said. “I really want to see it continue.”

But with another “baby” on the way (her first child is due in October), she hopes someone will step up to fill her high heels.

So do I.

Reading is the great equalizer. A book never asks who we are or what we do or where we sleep at night. It asks only that we read and try to understand.

When we come together with open hearts and open minds to discuss what we’ve read, we discover that we are more alike than we are different.

We create community, a sense of belonging, a sense of home.

We turn the hopeless “no” into the “yes” of possibility.

Anything is possible, as long as we keep reading. Just ask the readers of Turning Pages.

via Randall: An exceptional book club | ScrippsNews.

Michael Vick, second chances, prayers:  I believe in second chances.  But with that kind of money he could so easily fail again.  Prayers …

Vick said that experience and maturity have taught him patience. “You never know what’s going to happen. You just live in the moment and take advantage of the opportunities you’ve been given. You know what kind of talent you have, you know what you can do. You just have to be patient and that’s something I’ve learned over the years and unfortunately while I was away. Everything in life happens for a reason and it taught me patience and I think that’s part of the reason I’m here today. Being patient.”

And Vick knows that the way others see him may never change. It isn’t easy to get past what he did. “I’m just trying to be the best person I can be. I can’t control what people think, their opinions, their perception. That’s personal and that’s for them. The only thing I can control is what I can control and that’s trying to be the best person I can be, the best citizen I can be, the best father I can be. I think that speaks for itself. That’s not by force, that’s by choice. Some things may never change. I may never change in certain facets of my life, but it is what it is.”

via Michael Vick, the $100 million man, says, ‘I never thought this day would come again’ – The Early Lead – The Washington Post.

Romare Bearden, Charlotte NC:  One of my favorite artists.  I love the recognition he is getting on the anniversary of his 100th birthday.

Romare Bearden Turns 100

Charlotte Native and well-known artist Romare Bearden would have been 100 years old this Friday, and to celebrate the artistry and influence of this world-renown, critically praised Charlottean, we’ll be joined by a panel of Bearden experts who will talk about his life, his influences, his art and his legacy here and elsewhere.

via WFAE 90.7 FM.

9/11, New World Trade Center:  Worth watching the interactive to see the future of the 9/11 site.

Ground Zero Now – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney : “Scorched earth runs in the family.”  Again, I think he may be senile.

 WHY is it not a surprise to learn that Dick Cheney’s ancestor, Samuel Fletcher Cheney, was a Civil War soldier who marched with Sherman to the sea?

Scorched earth runs in the family.

Having lost the power to heedlessly bomb the world, Cheney has turned his attention to heedlessly bombing old colleagues.

Vice’s new memoir, “In My Time,” veers unpleasantly between spin, insisting he was always right, and score-settling, insisting that anyone who opposed him was wrong.

A person who is always for the use of military force is as doctrinaire and irrelevant as a person who is always opposed to the use of military force.

Cheney shows contempt for Tenet, Colin Powell and Rice, whom he disparages in a sexist way for crying, and condescension for W. when he won’t be guided to the path of most destruction.

He’s churlish about President Obama, who took the hunt for Osama bin Laden off the back burner and actually did what W. promised to do with his little bullhorn — catch the real villain of 9/11.

via Darth Vader Vents – NYTimes.com.

books, digital age:  It’s not over until it’s over …

But let’s not overdo things. Let’s not lose sight of the data we have, and let’s not invent data when we only have anecdotes. And finally, let’s not forget the wonders this new world opens up. Being able to download a book to read instantaneously wherever you are is a thing of wonder, after all (and there is some anecdotal suggestion that people are coming back to books via new digital platforms).

For authors, the chance to reach out to readers, instantly and effectively, is changing the way titles are marketed and delivers a glorious independence that comes with having your own digital presence to curate and to shape. There are new creative opportunities offered by interactive technologies. There is the chance to play in a world where books and stories can be either the private, cherished experience of old or a public, shared conversation with other readers from across the world.

via The death of books has been greatly exaggerated | Books | guardian.co.uk.

Video Time machine, apps:  What year would you pick?

Pick a year and watch specific categories including TV, Music, Advertisements, Trailers, Video Games, Sports, and more!

via App Store – Video Time Machine.

Hurricane Irene, natural disasters, Waffle House, the Waffle House Index: The “Waffle House Index!”

When a hurricane makes landfall, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency relies on a couple of metrics to assess its destructive power.

First, there is the well-known Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale. Then there is what he calls the “Waffle House Index.”

Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions.

The mobile command center, above, went to Havelock, N.C., during Irene.

“If you get there and the Waffle House is closed?” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has said. “That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.”

via Waffle House Index Measures Hurricane Recovery – WSJ.com.

Life Above All, movies, South Africa:  Adding it to the list.

Life, Above All is the moving story of a 12-year-old South African girl, Chanda (stunningly played by newcomer Khomotso Manyaka), who’s forced to care for her younger siblings while trying to find her mother, who has fled their home in a village near Johannesburg in the face of local prejudice and rumors.

The powerful drama tackles the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa head-on, not just in medical and health terms, but in showing how superstition and gossip can create an atmosphere of secrecy and shame that makes dealing with the issue even more difficult.

(In many ways–its strong, young female protagonist, the way it portrays a small, rural community’s fears and secrets, the sense of hope it still manages to foster–Life, Above All may remind viewers of last year’s Winter’s Bone.)

Based on Allan Stratton’s 2004 novel Chanda’s Secrets, the film is directed by Oliver Schmitz, who was born to and raised in South Africa by German parents. Life, Above All is also the acting debut of 14-year-old Khtomosto Manyaka who was noticed by talent scouts during a choir performance at her high school in Elandsdoorn, South Africa.

via Interview: Life, Above All’s Star Khomotso Manyaka and Director Oliver Schmitz | Redblog.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, lists:

This is the second year in a row that Facebook’s Zuckerberg takes home the crown, which I guess makes him slightly less “new establishment.” Just “establishment” should do.

In any case, keep on winning those magazine awards, Zuck. They’re worth more to you than the errant billion stuffed in your mattress, though I hear $10,000 bills are actually quite soft.

via Mark Zuckerberg is Totally the Establishment, Man – Techland – TIME.com.

libraries, librarians:  I wish I knew one well to nominate.

The award invites library users nationwide to recognize the accomplishments of librarians in public, school, college, community college and university libraries for their efforts to improve the lives of people in their community.

via The ‘M’ Word – Marketing Libraries: Who Loves Their Librarian??.

Caiaphas, ossuary, archeology, history, Biblical figures:

An ancient burial box recovered from antiquities looters three years ago contains a mysterious inscription that could reveal the home of the family of the figure Caiaphas, who is infamous for his involvement in the biblical story of the crucifixion of Jesus.

The burial box, also called an ossuary, was discovered in 1990, but the inscription was just recently verified as legitimate (and not the result of forgers trying to increase an artifact’s value) by Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv University and Boaz Zissu of Bar Ilan University. The box is made of limestone, is covered in decorative rosettes and has an inscription.

In the Bible story of Jesus’ crucifixion, a Jewish high priest named Caiaphas is said to have organized the plot to kill Jesus.

What is special about the inscription on this ossuary is that the deceased is named within the context of three generations; the inscription also includes a potential residence.

via Ossurary turns up new clues to Caiaphas – CBS News.

green, electric cars, electrical vehicle charging stations, Davidson NC: Filler Up!

Electric vehicles could become a viable option for motorists in the coming years, but not without a place to charge up. Add South Main Square to the list of places to plug in. Thanks to a federal stimulus grant awarded through the state of North Carolina, the South Main Street shopping center is getting one of the region’s first electric vehicle charging stations.

“It’s Davidson’s first electric vehicle charging station that will be available for public use,” said Kathleen Rose, who owns South Main Square and also runs the Project for Innovation, Energy & Sustainability (PiES), a “green” business incubator based there. Ms. Rose worked with Raleigh-based Praxis Technologies to bring the charging station to Davidson.

via Drive an electric? Fill ‘er up at South Main Square | DavidsonNews.net.

9/11 anniversary, Where Were You When?:  

Sept. 11, 2011, will mark the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Washington Post wants to know how the attacks may have affected your life and your views. In what ways do the attacks still resonate? How have the attacks affected your way of seeing the world? We’ll take your submissions and consider using them as part of an anniversary project on the impact of Sept. 11. Please include your age, as well as where you lived when the attacks occurred and where you are now.

via Sept. 11, 2001, anniversary: Share your story – Checkpoint Washington – The Washington Post.

Bones:

literary locations, Book Map, Google Maps:  Where would I like to go?

Ever wish you could visit the locations in your favorite novels?

In our new Book Maps feature, we will interview an author or biographer about locations in their book. We will also create a special Google Map about the interview so you can take a walking or driving tour through the book in real life. Email GalleyCat if you have other Book Map suggestions.

For our first installment, we asked Joe Woodward to share the places where novelist Nathanael West lived and worked in Los Angeles in the 1930s. Woodward took us on a book tour of Alive Inside the Wreck: A Biography of Nathanael West. The Google Map is embedded above–click on the blue pins for more details about a specific location.

via Book Map: Nathanael West & Los Angeles – GalleyCat.

food, recipes, lamb, rosemary:

The new Minimalist videos will return next week. For now, here’s one from 2008 with an elegantly casual recipe for lamb and figs grilled on rosemary skewers.

via Grilled Lamb on Rosemary Skewers – Video – The Minimalist – NYTimes.com.

The new Minimalist videos will return next week. For now, here’s one from 2008 with an elegantly casual recipe for lamb and figs grilled on rosemary skewers.

social networks, Newseum, twitter: I found this one on twitter …
Newseum (@Newseum)
9/1/11 3:59 PM
Great infographic on the development of social networks.http://t.co/5gtWh9p

However, the great writer who has really been portrayed this way most frequently in recent times is one who hasn’t yet been visited by the jaunty Gallifrean: Jane Austen. Both in the film Becoming Jane and the TV movie Miss Austen Regrets, Austen was depicted as a waspish cynical tomboy, clever with words if not so clever with men: a sort of Regency Sue Perkins. In the TV movie, there was a greater stab at complexity, as the character grew bitter with age – an Elizabeth Bennett who never nabs Mr Darcy – but in both there was, I would hazard, an incipient underlying sexism, based on the notion that Austen’s work was underpinned by her own failures in love.

Because here’s the thing about Jane Austen. She was a very great genius. She is possibly the greatest genius in the history of English literature, arguably greater than Shakespeare. And her achievement is not that much to do with love, although that was her subject matter. It’s to do with technique. Before her there are three strands in English fiction: the somewhat mental, directly-reader-addressing semi-oral romps of Nashe and Sterne and Fielding; the sensationalist Gothic work of Horace Walpole and Ann Radcliffe; and the romances of Eliza Haywood and Fanny Burney.

However great these writers are, none could be read now and considered modern. When Austen gets into her stride, which she does very quickly with Sense and Sensibility, suddenly, you have all the key modern realist devices: ironic narration; controlled point of view; structural unity; transparency of focus; ensemble characterisation; fixed arenas of time and place; and, most importantly, the giving-up of the fantastical in favour of a notion that art should represent life as it is actually lived in all its wonderful ordinariness. She is the first person, as John Updike put it: “to give the mundane its beautiful due”, and her work leads to Updike as much as it does to George Eliot.

I have no idea how a mainly home-educated rector’s daughter came by all that, but I know that imagining her as a kind of acerbic spinster flattens out this genius. It becomes all about the subject matter and not at all about the huge creative advance her work represents. When the Tardis does land in Hampshire in 1815, I imagine there will be witty banter between Jane and the Doctor and some men in britches; if it’s still David Tennant there might even be some flirtation, perhaps a sad, chaste goodbye. But what there should be is a moment when he says “I’m 900 years old, I’ve got a brain the size of a planet, and I’ve still no idea how you single-handedly created the modern English novel”. At which point Jane Austen will rip off her bonnet to reveal the tiny figure of Davros, king of the daleks, sitting in a small glass dome in her skull.duhduhduhduhduh, duhduhduhduh, duhduhduhduhduh,weeeoooo…weee-weeooo…

via David Baddiel wonders what Dr Who would make of Jane Austen – Times Online.

Jane Austen: 

All of them point to Austen’s inimitable humor, incisive observations of human nature and unwavering moral stance that make her works still relevant two hundred years later today.

via Why We Read Jane Austen.

Children’s/YA literature, Gretchen Rubin:  This list has quite a few that I am not familiar with …

If you want some ideas of books to read, for a group or just for yourself, here are a few of my favorites. It pains me to list so few! But this is a good start.

Because they’re already so widely known, I’m not going to list some very obvious ones, like the Harry Potter books, the Narnia books, the The Lord of the Rings books, or my beloved Little House books.

The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman

The Silver Crown, Robert O’Brien

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

Half Magic, Edward Eager

The Second Mrs. Gioconda, E. L. Konigsberg

Black and Blue Magic, Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Gone-Away Lake, Elizabeth Enright

Graceling, Kristin Cashore

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, Peter Cameron

Greengage Summer, Rumer Godden

This list represents a big range — some are meant for ten-year-olds, some for seventeen-year-olds. But they are all so good that they can be enjoyed by an adult.

via The Happiness Project: Looking for Some Reading Suggestions in Children’s or Young-Adult Literature?.

Manitoba, Canada, polar bears, travel:  I think I would like to see the polar bears.

The iconic polar bear is a must-see for every wildlife lover and Churchill, Manitoba is the best place in the world to see them! Each fall, hundreds of polar bears naturally migrate through this cozy northern town and it is easier than you think to get there. Don’t miss out on these special offers for October and November, 2011 which include limited-time* promotions.

via Travel Manitoba: Polar Bears.

fashion, coats:  Glad we are moving away from the puff stuff.

But the fall runway collections made a fairly convincing case for rethinking the role of outerwear in our wardrobes. Designers like Vera Wang, Alexander Wang and Joseph Altuzarra put parkas front and center in their shows, while hybrid styles of bombers, blanket coats, ponchos, peacoats, toggle coats and toppers appeared just about everywhere else. It was as if the fashion world was making a collective stand against those ubiquitous puffer jackets that make most of us look as if we’re wearing bubble wrap. “You can have on whatever you want underneath, but this year the coat is the statement piece,” said Tanya Spivey, the executive vice president for design and merchandising at Andrew Marc, a division of the apparel conglomerate G-III that makes coats for companies like Calvin Klein, Cole Haan and Kenneth Cole. That said, there are a lot of coats to sort out. And since it has been a while since some common outerwear lingo has been put to use, here is a little refresher course.

via A Field Guide to Outerwear – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.




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