Posts Tagged ‘Netflix

25
Apr
14

4.25.14 … “Work worth doing.” I like that …

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, quotes, happiness,  The Happiness Project: “Work worth doing.” I like that.

Years ago, when I was a lawyer, I clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor – which was one of those rare, amazing, once-in-a-lifetime work experiences. There are many reasons that I don’t regret law school and my years as a lawyer before becoming a writer, and the chance to work for Justice O’Connor is one of them.

The other day, I was on the phone with the Justice. We were talking about her terrific new site, iCivics, which teaches children about civics, and she’d also visited my website.

“I can tell you what I believe is the secret to a happy life,” she said.

“What’s that, Justice?” I asked. (Sidenote: when you speak directly to a Justice, you address him or her as “Justice” – e.g., “Justice, the cert petitions are here.” This, I always thought, must act as a frequent reminder to them about the value they are supposed to embody!) “What’s your secret?”

“Work worth doing,” she answered firmly.

via The Secret to Happiness, in Three Words, According to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor « The Happiness Project.

Justice John Paul Stevens, marijuana , gay marriage, The Two-Way : NPR, , Six Amendments:  A lot covered here … “he considers himself a conservative.” 

Stevens’ comments are perhaps not particularly surprising. Stevens was, after all, considered part of the court’s liberal wing.

But he was appointed by President Gerald Ford and he considers himself a conservative. Also, just years ago a pronouncement of this kind would have been a bombshell.

Just think back to 1987, when President Ronald Reagan nominated Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg to the high court.

Nine days later, after Ginsburg admitted that he had smoked marijuana, he asked Reagan to withdraw his nomination.

The 94-year-old Stevens has been making waves recently with a new book, Six Amendments, in which he proposes six changes to the U.S. Constitution.

Among them: the banishment of capital punishment, a limit on the amount of corporate money that can be pumped into elections and a curb on the individual right to bear arms.

Scott also asked Stevens about gay marriage. Stevens says that the dramatic shift in public opinion on that issue gives him confidence that “in due course when people actually think through the issues they’ll be willing to accept the merits of some of my arguments.”

Much more of Scott’s conversation with Stevens will air on Weekend Edition Saturday. Click here to find your NPR member station. We’ll add the as-aired interview to the top of this post on Saturday.

via Retired Justice John Paul Stevens: Marijuana Should Be Legal : The Two-Way : NPR.

“It’s certainly not easy to get the Constitution amended, and perhaps that’s one flaw in the Constitution that I don’t mention in the book,” he said during a wide-ranging interview with USA TODAY in his chambers at the court. Noting his book’s half dozen proposed amendments, he mused, “Maybe I should have had seven.”

Even at 94, he said, “it’s amazing how many interesting things there are to learn about the world.”

via Former justice Stevens wants to change Constitution.

Pangea, 250 Million-Year-Old Piece Of Africa Found In Southeastern US, Brunswick Magnetic Anomaly:

Scientists have known for some time of the presence of a strange band of magnetic rock that stretches from Alabama through Georgia and offshore to the North Carolina coast, but its origin has been debated. The ribbon of rock is buried about 9 to 12 miles below the surface. According to a new study published in the journal Geological Society of America, the fissure, known as the Brunswick Magnetic Anomaly, was created hundreds of millions of years ago when the crusts of Africa and North America were yanked apart like stitches in a piece of cloth.

“There was an attempt to rip away Florida and southern Georgia,” geologist Robert Hatcher, of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, told Discovery. “So you have a failed rift there … There are pieces of crust that started in Africa.”

Crustal rocks keep records of Earth’s magnetic field. The magnetism is stored by minerals, particularly strongly magnetic minerals like magnetite. Scientists can discover important information about plate tectonics, the large-scale motion of Earth’s outermost shell, by determining the source of distinct striped magnetic anomalies – kind of like studying the fingerprints left behind at a crime scene.

Scientists have attributed the Brunswick Magnetic Anomaly to a belt of 200 million-year-old volcanic rocks that were formed around the time the Atlantic Ocean was shaped. The location of the magnetic anomaly is thought to mark the point where North America separated from the rest of the supercontinent Pangaea.

via 250 Million-Year-Old Piece Of Africa Found In Southeastern US, Larger Portions May Still Be Discovered.

Beijing’s Subway Stops, Literally Translated,  China Real Time Report, WSJ, kith/kin, China Bike Trip 2007:  Our bike guides in China referred to one town where we stayed as “safety alarm town.” After reading this blog post and looking at the Beijing Subway map, I’m thinking “safety alarm town” was an accurate translation of the town’s name!

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Earlier this month, a map of Hong Kong’s MTR system with stations’ Chinese names literally translated into English made the rounds on the Internet, featuring such gems as “Permanent Security” (Heng On) and “Bamboo Basket Bay” (Shau Kei Wan).

That map got us at China Real Time wondering about the literal translations of Beijing’s subway station names. We couldn’t fit all 200+ stations, so we narrowed it down to some with the best translations.

It was hard to come up with a good methodology, but in the end we opted to essentially plug individual characters into Baidu translate and see what came out.

Many of the stations, particularly those on Line 2, are named after the capital’s old city gates. Qianmen is, literally, the Front Gate, while Andingmen is the Stability Gate and Tiananmen, which marked the entrance to the Forbidden City and now makes up two stops on Line 1 (east and west), is the Heavenly Peace Gate.

Others are named after the landmarks that dotted the city in its idyllic days before it was built up into endless ring roads of traffic: Dirt Bridge (Tuqiao on the Baotong line off Line 1), Peony Garden (Mudanyuan on Line 10), Cattail Yellow Elm (Puhuangyu on Line 5).

The origins of some other stations remain somewhat of a mystery to us at CRT: Puddle of Accumulated Water (Jishuitan on Line 2), Smooth Justice (Shunyi on Line 15) or Cholera Camp (Huoying on Line 8).

Readers, do you have any insight into how some of the more unique station names came about, or did we miss any notable literal translations? (See the actual Beijing subway map here.) Let us know in the comments.

via Beijing’s Subway Stops, Literally Translated – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend 2014 Calendar of Events, “SEASONAL COOKING: SPRING’S BOUNTY”, CHEF CHRIS HALL of Local Three Kitchen & Bar in Atlanta, kith/kin, Warm Asparagus Salad, Seared Diver Scallop and Spring Pea Risotto, Mint Strawberry Rhubarb Soup:  What a treat!  And everything was divine!! And I have the recipes if you are feeling adventuresome.  Very good!!

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THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2014

“SEASONAL COOKING: SPRING’S BOUNTY” COOKING DEMONSTRATION WITH CHEF CHRIS HALL of Local Three Kitchen & Bar in Atlanta, hosted by culinary expert, cooking instructor and food writer Heidi Billotto – Thursday, April 24, 10:00am at the Sub- Zero/Wolf Showroom at The Design Center, 127 West Worthington Avenue, Suite 180.

Join Chef Hall as he explores the bounty of spring with you and demonstrates the thinking behind and execution of a spring menu. Chef will be cooking: Warm Asparagus Salad; Frisee, Parmesan, Farm Egg, Sourdough, Bacon Vinaigrette; Seared Diver Scallop; Spring Pea Risotto, Roasted Mushrooms, Mint Strawberry Rhubarb Soup; and Vanilla Creme Fresh, Cornbread “Croutons”

via Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend 2014 Calendar of Events

Poem in Your Pocket Day 4.24, Shel Silverstein:  

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Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day . . . Celebrate with Shel Silverstein! Print this poem from WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS, carry it in your pocket, and share it with as many people as you can.

Buzz Aldrin, First EVA selfie:

@NASA I believe I get to claim the first EVA selfie from space during my Gemini 12 spacewalk orbiting Earth 17,000 mph. Best. Selfie. Ever.

via Buzz Aldrin’s photo “@NASA I believe I get to claim the first EVA selfie from space during my Gemini 12 spacewalk orbiti…” on WhoSay.

Dinah Fried, “Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals”, Monkey See : NPR:

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Du Maurier’s feast is just one of 50 tableaux collected in Fried’s new book, Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals. It’s full of photographs, all shot from above and each one of food — literary food, to be exact. From the watery gruel in Oliver Twist to a grilled mutton kidney in Ulysses to intricate “salads of harlequin designs” in The Great Gatsby, the book is a tribute to the tastes of authors and their readers.

via Interview: Dinah Fried, Author Of “Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals” : Monkey See : NPR.

Netflix, real TV, Neflix own ‘cable channel’:

The offer is limited to those who are both a customer of the three cable companies and a subscriber to Netflix. In addition, the technology requires a cable-provided TiVo box. Although consumers can currently buy TiVos from retail stores that come with the Netflix app, until now cable-provided boxes lacked the Netflix functionality. In order to make the deal possible, Netflix said it had to negotiate with some of its content partners to allow streaming on cable boxes. All Americans with service from one of the three cable companies will be eligible for the offering beginning Monday, company officials said.

via Netflix to become real TV and get its own ‘cable channel’ next week.

The Sound of Music Live!: I’ve held back posting this because it was so bad, but I need a place to store the link in case I forget. What were they thinking. 😦  The Sound of Music Live!.

10
Jan
13

1.10.13 “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Theodore Roosevelt, quotes, joy:

via Theological Horizons, centered at the Bonhoeffer House.

Netflix, Cable, “Hit”, tv, pop culture:

The basic question is almost a moral one: Is a “hit” a show that a lot of people watch, or one that is a business success for its maker? The former is a measure of absolute reach and cultural influence. (Though that’s not cut-and-dried either — people log millions of hours watching Wheel of Fortune a year, but that doesn’t mean it has proportionally deep cultural influence). The latter is, well, what determines whether a show stays on the air.

And that became a complicated question long before Netflix. I say this a lot, but it bears repeating: no one makes money from the physical act of your watching a show. They make money because advertisers will pay for ads because you’re watching (in which case your value depends on your demographic worth to advertisers). Or — with the rise of HBO and Showtime — because you subscribe to their service. Or — as digital media have multiplied — because you pay to download the show or watch it on demand or on DVD, or buy ancillary soundtracks and iTunes downloads.

Thus we live in an era of cable “hits” that have a couple of million viewers and network TV “bombs” that have twice the total audience. We have programmers like HBO and Showtime that keep shows around because of calculations that are as much art as science: because they lend an aura of prestige, or because, though overall ratings are low, they bring in a viewership that otherwise would never watch the channel at all. If a mere million people watch a show on Starz, but every one of them subscribes to Starz solely to get that show, that show is a hit.

It’s all a fascinating change — and, I’ll bet, a challenge for companies like Netflix that have to promote shows without the phenomenon of buzz building over time through weekly airings. How will you know, in this new environment, if a new show is a hit or not? Maybe simply by seeing whether they ever make another episode of it.

via Netflix, Cable and Redefining the ‘Hit’ | TIME.com.

London Underground, 150th anniversary, Tube:  I love the Tube!  Happy birthday!

Events are taking place to mark the 150th anniversary of London Underground.

On Wednesday night, a steam train recreated the journey of the first underground train, carrying people three and a half miles from Paddington in west London to Farringdon, just outside the City.

Although it was only seven stops, it was an instant hit, attracting 40,000 people on its first day.

via BBC News – London Underground celebrates 150th anniversary.

Illustrated Six-Word Memoirs,  Brain Pickings:  What would mine be?

In 2006, Larry Smith presented a challenge to his community at SMITH Magazine: How would you tell your life’s story if you could only use six words? The question, inspired by the legend that Hemingway was once challenged to write an entire novel in just six words, spurred a flurry of responses — funny, heartbreaking, moving, somewhere between PostSecret and Félix Fénéon’s three-word reports. The small experiment soon became a global phenomenon, producing a series of books and inspiring millions of people to contemplate the deepest complexities of existence through the simplicity of short-form minimalism. The latest addition to the series, Things Don’t Have To Be Complicated: Illustrated Six-Word Memoirs by Students Making Sense of the World, comes from TEDBooks and collects dozens of visual six-word autobiographies from students between the ages of 8 and 35.

via Illustrated Six-Word Memoirs by Students from Grade School to Grad School | Brain Pickings.

Maira Kalman, Brain Pickings, favorites:  So searching a favorite blog and found several posts about one of my favorites … Brain Pickings | Maira Kalman.

 …

My favorite font is Bodoni, so I used it as my daughter’s middle name.

via In My Home Office: Maira Kalman – WSJ.com

Google Earth,  Chicago, Hidden Farms, urban agriculture:

Whether it’s stalks of corn in the backyard, tomatoes in a container on the front porch, or cucumbers in the community garden, “it’s all part of one big thing … increasing local food production,” says Billy Burdett of Advocates for Urban Agriculture. Urban agriculture “in a lot of cases is the best and even only option for folks to have access to healthy, locally grown food.”

via How Google Earth Revealed Chicago’s Hidden Farms : The Salt : NPR.

03
Oct
11

10.3.2011 … Travel Insights … I-85 ATL to CLT …

travel, travel insights, billboards:

  • Gasoline in SC has gone up 7-10 cents since yesterday (with the exception of the $2.929)  … and down 7-10 cents in Charlotte since yesterday … very strange.
  • I think the 16 ounce ribeye at Flying J in north Georgia has been advertised for $9.99 for 100 years.
  • Billboards are more religious and/or politically conservative in SC than any other place I travel.  Do liberals ever “advertise” on billboards
  • What happened to the HOV lanes?  Now they are express toll lanes requiring a Peach Pass …

Amanda Knox, Twitter, LOL:  I am sure she will be happy to get home … but the twitter world is cruel … Fleet Street Fox – ‘Her Life Was Hanging in the Balance’: Top 9 Tweets About the Amanda Knox Verdict – TIME NewsFeed.TwitterLockerbie Bomber, Abdelbeset al-Megrahi, dying secrets:

The truth about the bombing of a PanAm airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 will come out “one day, and hopefully in the near future,” the only man convicted the bombing told Reuters in an interview aired Monday.

“In a few months from now, you will see new facts that will be announced,” Abdelbeset al-Megrahi told Reuters. “I don’t want to speak about that because there are people who are looking after that themselves.”

Al-Megrahi’s comments come about five weeks after CNN’s Nic Roberston visited al-Megrahi’s home, where his family said he was in a coma and near death from terminal prostate cancer.

At the time of his late August visit, Robertson found al-Megrahi in a metal hospital bed, attached to an IV drip and cared for by an elderly woman that the family said was his mother. He was, Robertson said, “paper-thin, his face sallow and sunken.”

“Clearly he is in a better condition than when I saw him a month ago,” Robertson said Monday.

via Convicted Lockerbie bomber says truth will eventually come out – CNN.com.

Netflix, tv, business models:  That’s interesting … ” TV Shows make up at least half of Netflix streaming now.” … definitely is the case at my house.

Netflix may dominate the streaming video market, but theres some surprising good news for Hulu from the MIPCOM conference in Cannes. The streaming video audience seems to be moving firmly in the direction of catching up on television rather than watching movies. Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos revealed the information at the conference during a joint keynote address with Miramax CEO Mike Lang, telling the audience that “50% and sometimes 60% of viewing is TV episodes now.”The subject came up when Netflixs move into television production was being discussed; not only has Netflix bought the rights to David Finchers remake of the British drama House of Cards, but the company will also be involved in a new series called Lilyhammer, starring Steven Van Zandt. “That can be mis-perceived as Netflix giving up on movies, which its not,” said Sarandos, “Its just consumers saying what they want.”

via TV Shows Make Up at Least Half of Netflix Streaming Now – Techland – TIME.com.

LOL, fads, planking:  Saw this on Facebook … When Parents Text

DAD: So answer me this… If a person planks in the woods does it matter?

hot chocolate, Ghirardelli Chocolate eat off, Hot Chocolate 15/5K , philanthropy:  Philanthropy made fun …

Sunday at the Bucktown 5K, the super team was out in full effect, with their first fund raising task, a Ghirardelli Chocolate eat off.  For $5, people were given 50 pieces of Ghirardelli Chocolate, if they were able to get all 50 pieces of the chocolate goodness into their mouth, they were entered into a raffle for a free Hot Chocolate 15/5K entry and received a free Hot Chocolate race hat!  The line was huge with people stepping up to take the challenge, eat some great chocolate and help out The Ronald McDonald House.

I have been to a lot of races and have seen a lot of things, but this one little booth had one thing that you don’t see a lot of at events, laughing, smiling, cheering and plain old fun.  It was cool to watch.  Check out the image gallery below to see some of the fun.

via Hot Chocolate Hits The Road! | Pace of Chicago.

Starbucks, Great Recession, jobs, private sector, microfinancing:   You go for it, Starbucks!

Starbucks is not hiring baristas or opening any new stores. (After all, they just finished closing 700 branches.) In a matter of speaking, the 40-year-old corporation is adding another tip jar to its counter, one that collects donations for a new jobs fund they’ve set up with Opportunity Finance Network, a national network of community development financial institutions that offer loans to low income business owners. The program, Create Jobs for U.S.A., is not dissimilar to Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong campaign. Donate $5 to the fund and you get a red, white and blue wristband that reads “Indivisible”.

Yes, Starbucks is criticizing the government. “Businesses and business leaders need to do more; we can’t wait for Washington,” the company’s CEO Howard Schultz told Reuters in explaining the coffee company’s inspiration for the program. “I have no interest in politics or political office. I’m just doing this as a private citizen trying to make a difference.”

The microlending technique is the same one they’ve been using for years to support the coffee farmers in third world countries from whom they buy its beans. Starbucks has been operating microlending and microfinance services in countries like Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Ethiopia since at least 2004. These types of programs have been shown to both benefit poor entrepreneurs and provide returns for the banks that offer the loans. (Create Jobs for U.S.A. does not bill itself as a not-for-profit project.) However, Starbucks has also drawn criticism in the past for putting its own interests ahead of those of the business they support.

via Starbucks Plans to Save the U.S. Economy – Business – The Atlantic Wire.

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.

21
Sep
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9.21.2011 … Jane Austen and Christian Ethics … at FPC Wednesday nights … I am happy …

Jane Austen, FPC, Wednesday Connect:  Loved the first seminar on Jane Austen and Christian Ethics  at Wednesday Connect … join us for two more!

Jane Austen and Christian Ethics – Jane Austen’s novels are to be read and enjoyed for their own sake. The world she depicts, however, is narrated in clear moral terms. During this three week course we will look at three of Jane Austen’s novels to examine the nature of self-knowledge, “happiness,” and the “constancy” such a life calls us to embody.

via http://www.firstpres-charlotte.org/FirstNews/fn.20110911.pdf

Mount Tambora, natural disasters, Indonesia, history:  “A dragon sleeping inside the crater, that’s what we thought. If we made him angry — were disrespectful to nature, say — he’d wake up spitting flames, destroying all of mankind.”   … 1815 …

So, the 45-year-old farmer didn’t wait to hear what experts had to say when Mount Tambora started being rocked by a steady stream of quakes. He grabbed his wife and four young children, packed his belongings and raced down its quivering slopes.

“It was like a horror story, growing up,” said Hasanuddin, who joined hundreds of others in refusing to return to their mountainside villages for several days despite assurances they were safe.

“A dragon sleeping inside the crater, that’s what we thought. If we made him angry — were disrespectful to nature, say — he’d wake up spitting flames, destroying all of mankind.”

The April 1815 eruption of Tambora left a crater 7 miles (11 kilometers) wide and half a mile (1 kilometer) deep, spewing an estimated 400 million tons of sulfuric gases into the atmosphere and leading to “the year without summer” in the U.S. and Europe.

It was several times more powerful than Indonesia’s much better-known Krakatoa blast of 1883 — history’s second deadliest. But it doesn’t share the same international renown, because the only way news spread across the oceans at the time was by slowboat, said Tambora researcher Indyo Pratomo.

In contrast, Krakatoa’s eruption occurred just as the telegraph became popular, turning it into the first truly global news event.

Tambora is different.

People here are jittery because of the mountain’s history — and they’re not used to feeling the earth move so violently beneath their feet. Aside from a few minor bursts in steam in the 1960s, the mountain has been quiet for much of the last 200 years.

Soon after the ice core findings, scientists started studying Tambora in earnest.

In 2004, Icelandic vulcanologist Haraldur Sigurdsson and a team of American and Indonesian researchers uncovered remnants of a village in a gully on Tambora’s flank that had been pulverized in the fast-moving pyroclastic flow.

Sigurdsson heralded it as a “Pompeii of the East,” and local researcher Made Geria says archaeologists have expanded the dig every year since then.

No one expects a repeat of 1815 just yet — it takes much more than 200 years for that type of huge pressure to build up again, said de Boer, who teaches at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

The present activity could be part of the birth of Tambora’s so-called child, he said, a process whereby magma still being pushed upward from the original massive blast forms a new volcano in its place.

But that’s little consolation for those confronted with the mountain’s new burst of activity.

Like Hasanuddin, teenager Malik Mahmud has heard the stories.

“Tens of thousands of people, animals and rice fields disappeared,” the 15-year-old said, adding that a veil of ash blocked out the sun for years.

“There was no life here,” he said quietly from the village of Doropeti, 9 miles (15 kilometers) from the crater. “I know that from my parents.”

via History’s deadliest volcano comes back to life in Indonesia, sparking panic among villagers – The Washington Post.

food- restaurant:  Why do you choose a restaurant?  I think that it is combination of food and x factor.

But my class in Food Entrepreneurship this semester is forcing me out of the kitchen and into the dining room. The class focuses on the restaurant as the pinnacle of food business.

Restaurants are important. The best ones are reserved for special occasions, and our memories of birthdays and anniversaries are made there. Think about the best meal you’ve ever had out. Does that not stick with you? I was 18 when I ate the best meal of my life, on a tiny patio in Arles, France. I can remember the vegetable gratin and rosé like it was yesterday. But while it’s natural to wax nostalgic this way, our professor reminds us that restaurants have two basic goals: to make money and to feed people. He has identified four basic reasons one chooses a restaurant.

1. The food: From the taste of the dishes themselves to the way each ingredient is sourced.

2. The service: For this one, I think about my favorite bartender, or the owner who brought me edamame hummus while I waited for a table.

3. The design: From David Rockwell-designed wall fountains to easily accessible parking.

4. The X-factor: This can be anything from shrimp-flipping hibachi cooks to sheer exclusivity.

Maybe the best restaurants have all of these things going for them, but more often than not, just one is enough.

The more I think about this, the more true it seems. My family eats at this tiny Italian restaurant in North Newark almost religiously. It has a screen door, awful wine selection, and waitresses who are abrupt at best—but the food is astounding. There are family-style bowls of hand rolled cavatelli with house-made pot cheese and the world’s most perfect Chicken Savoy. Nothing else matters.

What’s your favorite restaurant? What is it about that place that brings you back, either literally or through memory? And does that reason (or reasons) fit into my professor’s list, above?

via Food Studies: The Four Reasons People Choose a Restaurant – Food – GOOD.

2011 London Riots,  moral decay, culture v. religion:  Does religion really improve culture and prevent moral decay and such evidence of moral decay as rioting?  Read on …

Nearly 200 years later, the Tocqueville of our time, Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam, made the same discovery. Mr. Putnam is famous for his diagnosis of the breakdown of social capital he called “bowling alone.” More people were going bowling, but fewer were joining teams. It was a symbol of the loss of community in an age of rampant individualism. That was the bad news.

At the end of 2010, he published the good news. Social capital, he wrote in “American Grace,” has not disappeared. It is alive and well and can be found in churches, synagogues and other places of worship. Religious people, he discovered, make better neighbors and citizens. They are more likely to give to charity, volunteer, assist a homeless person, donate blood, spend time with someone feeling depressed, offer a seat to a stranger, help someone find a job and take part in local civic life. Affiliation to a religious community is the best predictor of altruism and empathy: better than education, age, income, gender or race.

Much can and must be done by governments, but they cannot of themselves change lives. Governments cannot make marriages or turn feckless individuals into responsible citizens. That needs another kind of change agent. Alexis de Tocqueville saw it then, Robert Putnam is saying it now. It needs religion: not as doctrine but as a shaper of behavior, a tutor in morality, an ongoing seminar in self-restraint and pursuit of the common good.

One of our great British exports to America, Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, has a fascinating passage in his recent book “Civilization,” in which he asks whether the West can maintain its primacy on the world stage or if it is a civilization in decline.

He quotes a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, tasked with finding out what gave the West its dominance. He said: At first we thought it was your guns. Then we thought it was your political system, democracy. Then we said it was your economic system, capitalism. But for the last 20 years, we have known that it was your religion.

It was the Judeo-Christian heritage that gave the West its restless pursuit of a tomorrow that would be better than today. The Chinese have learned the lesson. Fifty years after Chairman Mao declared China a religion-free zone, there are now more Chinese Christians than there are members of the Communist Party.

China has learned the lesson. The question is: Will we?

via Reversing the Moral Decay Behind the London Riots – WSJ.com.

James Taylor, Italy Tour – March 2012:  I would go … but I would rather see him in NC..

JAMES TAYLOR and BAND TOUR ITALY — MARCH 2012!!

On March 6, 2012, in Napoli, James and his legendary band will begin a series of unforgettable concerts in Italy. Starting today, the JamesTaylor.com Store has your presale tickets!

Seats are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, so visit the Store immediately in order to get the best tickets!

The full calendar of upcoming tour dates can be seen on the Schedule page.

via James Taylor Newsletter.

Google+:  Already a failure?

So young, so promising. It was in its prime, and stood to reap the rewards of all of Facebook’s flaws—and in a weird twist, made Facebook copy Google+ for some of its newest “changes.”

But the fact of the matter is, public posts on Google+ have decreased 41 percent since the social networking service launched a few months ago. Even Larry Page, you know – Google’s CEO – last updated one month ago. And I thought something was wrong with me when I forced myself to post something on Google+ so my friends didn’t think I’d virtually disappeared.

via Why Have People Stopped Posting on Google+? – Techland – TIME.com.

food, foodies, DC, places:  Culinary capital … I wish them luck. I have never lived in a clinary capital, but I think it would be great fn.

It’s “Change Season” in D.C. — a peculiar phenomenon that recurs on a regular four-year schedule. Funny thing is, all those politicos calling for “change” in the culture of Washington haven’t a clue how much the nation’s capital is already changing.

Meaningful change has already come to Washington.

For one thing, we eat differently, and better. No slap at the Monocle — for decades the place to eat on the Hill (literally), but today we don’t only have change. We have choice.

Just ten years ago, buildings were designed so residents wouldn’t have to look down on the 14th street corridor. Now, it’s the hottest restaurant district in the city and young professionals are clamoring to move there. New culinary playgrounds — like the H Street corridor — continue to blossom even in the areas once decimated by the riots of ’68.

D.C. is undergoing a transformation. Some call it a renaissance. The flow of people towards the suburbs has reversed course. The transient city par excellence is putting down roots. No longer do foreign hirelings reckon D.C. as a four-year hardship posting. We’ve become the place where young people flock to start their lives. And with them comes a whole new cast of creative thinkers, movers and doers — many of whom discover a natural affinity with the wide world of gastronomy.

Bold new restaurant concepts supplant stodgy steak houses. Foragers graze the streets of Mt. Pleasant. And culinary entrepreneurs bring dynamism to the market with novel concepts that broaden the scope of ambition. This change exemplifies the new Washington. Problem is, this change is in no way all-encompassing.

To honor the history and tradition of this city, we need to ensure that progress of the dining scene extends to everyone who calls the District home. People across the city are working on food access with great urgency. D.C. Central Kitchen is stocking corner stores with fresh produce as part of their recently launched Healthy Corners Program. Less known chefs like Teddy Folkman are working tirelessly at after school cooking programs to empower young students through food. And Bread for the City is growing food on its roof to line its pantry shelves. This change is just as important as the opening of a new three-star restaurant as we work to become a great twenty-first century food city.

The District is quickly becoming a culinary capital. The characters who are driving this movement — pushing food forward in a town once known for only rum buns, Old Bay and half-smokes — are part of a broader narrative of renewal that few outside “this town” rarely hear.

So while the rest of the nation fixates on their quadrennial obsession with bringing change to Washington, those who actually call this city home know that change has arrived. Change that improves people’s lives, creates new jobs, and tastes good too.

via Nick Wiseman: Transforming D.C. Into a Culinary Capital.

Wrigley Building,  Chicago, architectural icons: I just hope they don’t try to change the name!.

A joint venture including investor Byron Trott and the co-founders of Groupon Inc. confirmed Monday that it has bought the Wrigley Building on Michigan Avenue.

Mr. Trott’s firm, Chicago-based BDT Capital Partners, is leading an investor group that includes Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, Groupon investors and directors, and Zeller Realty Group, a Chicago-based office landlord.

“The Wrigley Building is an iconic Chicago asset in a premier Chicago location on Michigan Avenue and is a meaningful symbol of the city’s rich history and growth,” Mr. Trott, managing partner and chief investment officer for BDT Capital Partners, said in a statement. “We are committed to the success and re-development of this architectural treasure to ensure that it remains a vital part of Chicago’s future economic progress.”

via Wrigley Building purchase announced | News | Crain’s Chicago Business.

science v. religion,faith and spirituality, God,  evolution:  I have no problem with the two.

I see no conflict in what the Bible tells me about God and what science tells me about nature. Like St. Augustine in A.D. 400, I do not find the wording of Genesis 1 and 2 to suggest a scientific textbook but a powerful and poetic description of God’s intentions in creating the universe. The mechanism of creation is left unspecified. If God, who is all powerful and who is not limited by space and time, chose to use the mechanism of evolution to create you and me, who are we to say that wasn’t an absolutely elegant plan? And if God has now given us the intelligence and the opportunity to discover his methods, that is something to celebrate.

I lead the Human Genome Project, which has now revealed all of the 3 billion letters of our own DNA instruction book. I am also a Christian. For me scientific discovery is also an occasion of worship.

via Can You Believe in God and Evolution? – TIME.

9/11, follow-up:  This kid remembers where he was … and it changed his life forever.

Until the second plane hit, few knew that a terrorist attack was under way. Most were still hoping it could have been a terrible air-traffic-control mistake. But, somehow, I didn’t. I knew it was terrorism from the first moment. I knew it because what I did that morning had been something of a premonition. I had been reminded of war. I had been reminded too of tremendous patriotism and valor. And I wasn’t worthy of any of it.

There was no reason at all for me to suspect that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda were behind the attack, nor any reason to suspect that it was motivated by Islamic extremism. Yet in my social cowering — feeling like my entire class was judging my morning escapade — I instinctively concluded in the depths of my consciousness that whoever performed these attacks probably looked more like me than anyone else in the room. And now I was a target.

The following months of high school were occasionally intimidating. I was not Muslim, I was not Arab, but I looked close enough to the part to serve as the punching bag for a few of my community’s less tolerant citizens. The most frustrating name-calling came when other groups who used to be the target of such ethnic scorn (Hispanic and African-American kids) would snarl their turban-teasing remarks as a means of countering any advance I made in the classroom or on the playing field. I needed a community. I needed an identity. So when I received the phone call from an Army recruiter, I asked to meet him for coffee, whereas most Indian kids went back to their math books. He told me to think about West Point.

It amazes me that it has been only 10 years since that horrific morning. That day changed the trajectory of my life so greatly, I can’t imagine where I would be had it not occurred. Ten years later, I’m a West Point graduate, a captain in the U.S. Army and a combat veteran who served 12 months in Kandahar. I wear a Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge proudly on my uniform. And 10 years later, I’m still overcome with guilt. Not for what I did on 9/11, but for who I was. I am guilty that it took the death of 3,000 people for me to change my outlook on the blessings of this country.

via Class of 9/11: How a School Prank Helped Change My Life – TIME.

Food – Chinese, Jewish culture, Pastrami Egg Rolls:   I just thought they ate it at Christmas because that was all that was open.  🙂  I loved this story!

The question as to why Jews are drawn so irresistibly to Chinese food is one I’ve often wondered about. Eddie Glasses (who gets his nickname from sporting all sorts of outlandish eyewear) could have attached himself to the Italian masters, or the French, or even gone off in some other exotic direction like Moroccan or Indian. But his existence as the Ultimate Jewish Chinese-Food Nerd has a kind of dynamic inevitability. Put any two Jews together, and we are likely to start arguing over who has the best scallion pancakes. Schoenfeld had the good fortune and intellectual curiosity to devote himself to some of the midcentury titans of Chinese cuisine — the cooking teacher Grace Yu, the restaurateur David Keh, the chefs T.T. Wang and “Uncle Lou” (Lo Hoy Yen) — and learn everything he could. So he gets the last word, which is a very Jewish thing to want to get. But why Chinese food?

The two groups have neither linguistic nor religious nor geographic commonalities. They aren’t known for intermarrying or for intermingling. Both groups are famously insular, and tend to regard themselves as chosen peoples. And yet, there’s a connection. There are lots of jokes about it. There’s even a restaurant in Los Angeles called Genghis Cohen. But the inroad made by Chinese food has been so profound that even sacred dietary laws are routinely broken for this cuisine. A Jewish household that wouldn’t countenance a single bacon bit at home will consume industrial quantities of spare ribs, roast-pork fried rice and shrimp dumplings. So what gives?

So here is my best guess. The thing to remember about Chinese food is that, besides being cheap, it is eminently suited to take out; at least three-quarters of the Chinese food I ate growing up was at home. And Jews love eating at home. We are intensely familial, home-loving and nuclear; and given that our own food is both bad and laborious (endlessly braised brisket, spattering latkes), Chinese food — varied, fatty and festive — is a better alternative in part because it’s always at hand. It’s a cheap lift; you can think of it as Jewish Prozac. And, beyond this, there is an even greater power of Chinese food in our lives, a sentimental tradition in a secular world. The China Teacup in Brooklyn Heights, where Schoenfeld used to eat as a kid, or Ling-Nam in West Miami and China Land in Atlantic City, N.J., my own egg-roll academies, have been serving essentially the same food for generations. The takeout menu currently on my refrigerator looks just like the one my father had on his, the one he used to stand there gazing at with a mix of puzzlement (maybe ribs and egg foo yong?) and something like adoration. I think that we, as a people, prize comfort above all else, both emotionally and physically. To sit in the living room with a plate of lo mein and half an egg roll is about as safe and stable as life gets for us. That, more than anything else, accounts for our odd abiding love of the most foreign — most domestic — of cuisines.

via Pastrami Egg Rolls and the Jewish Love of Chinese Food – TIME.

Life is stranger than fiction, astronomy,Tatooine, Star Wars:  Scientists found one planet with two stars, a ‘Star Wars’ World.  “When two elephants are waltzing, it could be very difficult for mice to tiptoe safely under their feet.”

The Star Wars movies weren’t especially big on subtlety. Their heroes and villains were cartoonishly one-dimensional, the aliens were grotesquely alien, and the action was over the top. One scene in the first film was a notable exception, though. It showed a sunset on Tatooine, Luke Skywalker’s home world — with not one, but two suns sinking in tandem toward the horizon. The essential strangeness of that image made it quietly but profoundly clear that you were visiting an utterly foreign world.

When astronomers actually began finding such worlds almost two decades after that first Star Wars movie, though, they didn’t waste much time looking for places like Tatooine. Double-star systems are very common in the Milky Way — in fact, solitary stars like the sun are in the minority. But it wasn’t clear, said theorists, that planets could form and survive in their vicinity: when two elephants are waltzing, it could be very difficult for mice to tiptoe safely under their feet.

via One Planet, Two Suns: Scientists Find a ‘Star Wars’ World – TIME.

smileys, emoticons, history:  Never thought about who or why the smiley emoticon was created.  Thank you, computer geeks!

Yes, I am the inventor of the sideways “smiley face” (sometimes called an “emoticon”) that is commonly used in E-mail, chat, and newsgroup posts.  Or at least I’m one of the inventors.

By the early 1980’s, the Computer Science community at Carnegie Mellon was making heavy use of online bulletin boards or “bboards”.  These were a precursor of today’s newsgroups, and they were an important social mechanism in the department – a place where faculty, staff, and students could discuss the weighty matters of the day on an equal footing.  Many of the posts were serious: talk announcements, requests for information, and things like “I’ve just found a ring in the fifth-floor men’s room.  Who does it belong to?”  Other posts discussed topics of general interest, ranging from politics to abortion to campus parking to keyboard layout (in increasing order of passion).  Even in those days, extended “flame wars” were common.

Given the nature of the community, a good many of the posts were humorous (or attempted humor).  The problem was that if someone made a sarcastic remark, a few readers would fail to get the joke, and each of them would post a lengthy diatribe in  response.  That would stir up more people with more responses, and soon the original thread of the discussion was buried.  In at least one case, a humorous remark was interpreted by someone as a serious safety warning.

This problem caused some of us to suggest (only half seriously) that maybe it would be a good idea to explicitly mark posts that were not to be taken seriously.   After all, when using text-based online communication, we lack the body language or tone-of-voice cues that convey this information when we talk in person or on the phone.  Various “joke markers”  were suggested, and in the midst of that discussion it occurred to me that the character sequence 🙂 would be an elegant solution – one that could be handled by the ASCII-based  computer terminals of the day.  So I suggested that.  In the same post, I also suggested the use of  😦  to indicate that a message was meant to be taken seriously, though that symbol quickly evolved into a marker for displeasure, frustration, or anger.

This convention caught on quickly around Carnegie Mellon, and soon spread to other universities and research labs via the primitive computer networks of the day.  (Some CMU alumni who had moved on to other places continued to read our bboards as a way of keeping in touch with their old community.)

So the message itself, and the thread that gave rise to it, are here.  The exact date of the smiley’s birth can now be determined: 19 September, 1982.  It was great to have this message back just in time for the 20th anniversary of the original post.

So, the smiley idea may have appeared and disappeared a few times before my 1982 post.  I probably was not the first person ever to type these three letters in sequence, perhaps even with the meaning of “I’m just kidding” and perhaps even online.  But I do believe that my 1982 suggestion was the one that finally took hold, spread around the world, and spawned thousands of variations.  My colleagues and I have been able to watch the idea spread out through the world’s computer networks from that original post.

via Smiley Lore 🙂.

students, design,  rural poor, globalizaton, International Development Design Summit: Putting our smarts to work!

The scene is vibrant and chaotic. A village grandmother who had never before seen the city turns the crank of a device constructed to extract oil from the seeds of a moringa tree. Other people crowd around tables to check out a mosquito-repelling, battery-powered lantern housed in an old plastic water bottle; farming implements fashioned out of treated bamboo; and a mobile-phone-based platform for providing farmers with information on crops and markets.

These are the fruits of the International Development Design Summit, a monthlong event conceived by Amy Smith, a senior lecturer in engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which has for the past five years brought together students, lecturers, engineers, farmers, mechanics, and other practitioners from around the world to collaborate on developing products, services, and business models to serve the rural poor. Here, students from Pakistan, Cambodia, Tanzania, Ghana, and the United States work side by side with artisans, teachers, and village chiefs who hail from other countries and from surrounding villages, soaking up a very different sort of education.

While the technologies themselves are neither earth-shattering nor elegant (teams have only five weeks to conceptualize, design, build, and refine their products), what’s innovative about the summit, its organizers say, is its emphasis on design as a collaborative and creative process. It assumes that the farmers and chiefs in the villages for which these products are destined have at least as much to add to the designs as do engineers with Ph.D.’s.

via Students Design Low-Tech Ways to Help Improve Lives of Rural Poor – Global – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Redbox: I do love Redbox … a business that seems outdated but delivers a product when, when and at a price point people want.

SHARE IT WITH A HUG & YOU COULD WIN!

There’s a ton of ways to share your love for redbox,

but if you do it this way, you might win a big prize:

via Redbox – Show Your Love.

Netflix, mea culpa:  My bad … but the change stays …

I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation.

It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming, and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. I’ll try to explain how this happened.

For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us) because they are afraid to hurt their initial business. Eventually these companies realize their error of not focusing enough on the new thing, and then the company fights desperately and hopelessly to recover. Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly.

When Netflix is evolving rapidly, however, I need to be extra-communicative. This is the key thing I got wrong.

via http://blog.netflix.com/2011/09/explanation-and-some-reflections.html

 Proteus, direct feedback, business culture “FedEx Day”: I think I need a FedEx Day at home!

Q. Any other unusual things about your culture?

A. One other thing we do is called FedEx Day.  Pretty much anyone can apply for FedEx Day, or any group of people.  The deal is that you can take the whole day and go off and do something, but it’s FedEx, right?  So it has to absolutely, positively be delivered overnight.  And you can break it down, because maybe you want four FedEx Days, but there has to be a deliverable for every day.  That’s also terrific because it’s everything from very simple little things — like improving the layout of the desks in the area — all the way through to fairly important things.

via Andrew Thompson of Proteus, on Direct Feedback – NYTimes.com.

apps, Nike BOOM: 

Nike BOOMBy Nike, Inc. View More By This DeveloperOpen iTunes to buy and download apps.

Description

Nike BOOM syncs your music to your dynamic training workouts, with the world’s most elite athletes and coaches motivating you along the way. Choose your type of workout, length of training, best workout music and favorite Nike athletes—then get to work.

via App Store – Nike BOOM.

chocolate bars, Paris, food- drink:  Another thing to add to my list … chocolate bars … but I think I will stay away from hot chocolate with an oyster emulsion.

On the menu at Jean-Paul Hévin’s new Paris chocolate bar: hot chocolate with an oyster emulsion.

Autumn visitors to Paris may feel that nothing beats a traditional chocolat chaud, but the city’s chocolatiers have been experimenting on the old tea room favourite, with surprising results

Preparation gets underway at Un Dimanche à Paris

The bartender raised his eyebrows as I placed my order: “Not many people ask for that.” I was perched at Jean-Paul Hévin’s new chocolate bar, a modern gold-and-brown space where Parisians come to indulge in thoroughly adult versions of a traditional children’s drink. From the long menu I had chosen hot chocolate with an oyster emulsion, a mysterious concoction whipped up in the laboratoire at the back.

When the plain white cup arrived, the soft-spoken waitress advised me not to stir the pearly blobs of what looked like sea foam into the hot chocolate, in order to appreciate the contrast. The first couple of sips went down easily, the iodised taste bringing a welcome saltiness to the intense chocolate. But then I encountered my first lump: either a piece of oyster or some jellied reconstitution. The bartender threw me a sympathetic glance as I pushed the cup aside.

Hévin might have gone one step too far with his oyster drink, but he is one of several Paris chocolate makers who are reviving the art of chocolat chaud à l’ancienne, hot chocolate so thick it pours like custard. If Italian hot chocolate relies on starch to obtain this texture, the French prefer a simple mixture of milk, chocolate and/or cocoa powder and sometimes cream. For Parisian chocolatiers, what counts most is the quality of the chocolate, which often comes from the celebrated Valrhona factory in the Rhône Valley.

For many Parisians and even more foreigners, the Holy Grail of hot chocolate is still the chocolat chaud à l’africain served at the Belle Epoque tea room Angelina. It’s certainly hard to find this drink served with more ceremony: here, it comes with water to cleanse your palate, a bowl of whipped cream to complement its pudding-like richness, and a dense almond financier. The best in town? Probably not, but if you can’t resist a brand name, it’s still worth experiencing at least once.

via The Food Section – Food News, Recipes, and More.

self-curation, happiness:  My clips and comments are my self-curation. 🙂

I read an excellent novel this weekend, Dana Spiotta’s Stone Arabia. Like any good novel, it’s about many things, but in particular, it made me think about the issue of self-curation.

In his “Chronicles,” the character Nik elaborately archives his work in music and an alternate autobiography. He tells his sister Denise, “Self-curate or disappear.”

As I was reading, I realized: I suffer from archive anxiety. Partly about my actual life, which is why I’ve adopted resolutions such as Keep a one-sentence journal and Suffer for fifteen minutes. They help me chronicle my life.

But for me, the greater worry is the archiving and curation of my observations — not my actual life, but my intellectual life. Even though taking notes on my reading and thinking is one of my favorite things to do, it’s also burdensome: it takes up a lot of time, and I worry about whether I’ll be able to find what I want later and whether I’m making good use of my materials. So much wonderful material! I want to write book after book after book, to think it all through.

Reading Stone Arabia has made me consider this theme of “self-curation” in a different light.

via The Happiness Project: Do You Think About “Self-Curation”?.

2012 Presidential Election, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry :  Republican front-runners are from different worlds and appeal to very different parts of the GOP.

One was born into a privileged family in a tony Michigan suburb; the other, onto a flat expanse of West Texas dirt with no indoor plumbing. One spent his youth tooling around his father’s car factory; the other, selling Bibles door to door so he could afford to buy a car. One excelled at Harvard University, simultaneously earning law and business degrees and swiftly climbing the corporate ladder; the other, his hope of becoming a veterinarian dashed when he flunked organic chemistry at Texas A&M University, joined the Air Force.

After what was widely considered an unfocused and bloated campaign in 2008, Republican Mitt Romney is returning to the presidential sweepstakes with a more tightly knit team that he hopes will keep him on point.

Where Mitt Romney is obedient and cautious, Rick Perry is bombastic and spontaneous. If they had attended the same high school, they probably would have hung out at opposite ends of the hallway. Their relationship today is said to be frosty, if there is one at all.

“In every single possible way, they come from different worlds,” said Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, who advised Romney in his 2008 race but is unaffiliated in the 2012 race. “You can see the playbook pretty clearly here: It’s populist against patrician, it’s rural Texas steel against unflappable Romney coolness, conservative versus center-right establishment, Texas strength versus Romney’s imperturbability, Perry’s simplicity versus Romney’s flexibility.”

via Republican front-runners Mitt Romney, Rick Perry come from different worlds – The Washington Post.

college admissions, Middlebury College:  I am not sure I would want my essay “on stage!”

College applicants – and, in some cases, their advisers, friends and parents – spend incalculable time poring over the personal statement.

But once an essay is submitted, students rarely revisit it, burying those Microsoft Word files full of personal insights, goals and vulnerabilities within a series of “College Application” folders.

Not so students at Middlebury College.

Since the early ’90s, the college’s “Voices of the Class” program has brought to life the admissions essays of freshmen, with upperclassmen acting them out during new student orientation.

The program was fashioned by Matt Longman, a residential dean of the college and a Middlebury alumnus himself who oversees the show’s execution each year.

Some 20 years ago, as the college was considering introducing formal diversity workshops to its orientation, Mr. Longman spoke up and suggested something less institutional. “Why don’t we try something that lets the students’ own voices speak to each other?” he asked.

“I’d always been a big proponent of reading application essays closely because they provide such a wonderful, behind-the-scenes, in-depth picture of what really matters to people,” Mr. Longman said, praising the breadth and creativity in applicants’ writing and experiences.

Middlebury listened. Each year since, the school has mined fresh material from its admitted students, formally incorporating 10 to 20 essays into an orientation week performance.

via Your Admissions Essay, Live on Stage – NYTimes.com.

Dar Al-Hijrah,  Imam Abdul-Malik:  Tough job … but needs to answer obvious questions.

But having defended Dar Al-Hij­rah for so long, Abdul-Malik knows what they’re really asking: What exactly is going on at this mosque? Is this a breeding ground for terrorists?

It is a suspicion that nearly all Muslim institutions have faced to some degree since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. But none more so than Dar Al-Hijrah.

via Imam serves as public face of an embattled mosque – The Washington Post.

Pearson Foundation, business ethics:   Free trips for sale!

In recent years, the Pearson Foundation has paid to send state education commissioners to meet with their international counterparts in London, Helsinki, Singapore and, just last week, Rio de Janeiro.

The commissioners stay in expensive hotels, like the Mandarin Oriental in Singapore. They spend several days meeting with educators in these places. They also meet with top executives from the commercial side of Pearson, which is one of the biggest education companies in the world, selling standardized tests, packaged curriculums and Prentice Hall textbooks.

Pearson would not say which state commissioners have gone on the trips, but of the 10 whom I was able to identify, at least seven oversee state education departments that have substantial contracts with Pearson. For example, Illinois — whose superintendent, Christopher A. Koch, went to Helsinki in 2009 and to Rio de Janeiro — is currently paying Pearson $138 million to develop and administer its tests.

At least one commissioner, Michael P. Flanagan of Michigan, who went to Helsinki, decided not to participate in future trips once he realized who was underwriting them.

“While he does not believe those trips are unethical, he did see that they could be perceived that way, and for that reason he chose not to attend,” said Mr. Flanagan’s spokesman, Martin Ackley.

Mark Nieker, president of the Pearson Foundation, dismissed any ethical concerns about providing free trips to people his corporate cousin is pitching for business. “We categorically refute any suggestion or implication that the partnership is designed to enable Pearson ‘to win contracts,’ ” he said in a statement. Rather, Mr. Nieker said, the trips are “in pursuit of educational excellence.”

But Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a centrist group, compared the practice to pharmaceutical companies that run junkets for doctors or lobbyists who fly members of Congress to vacation getaways. “If we want that kind of corruption in education, we’re fools,” he said.

via Pearson Sends Education Commissioners on Free Trips – NYTimes.com.

60-Second Video Tips, Test Kitchen, tips:  useful …

60-SECOND VIDEO TIPS Test kitchen wisdom distilled into super quick video clips

via 60-Second Video Tips | The Feed.

women’s issues, women’s progress:  You’ve come a long way, baby … at least in some areas … in some places.

Just over a decade into the 21st century, women’s progress can be seen—and celebrated—across a range of fields. They hold the highest political offices from Thailand to Brazil, Costa Rica to Australia. A woman holds the top spot at the International Monetary Fund; another won the Nobel Prize in economics. Self-made billionaires in Beijing, tech innovators in Silicon Valley, pioneering justices in Ghana—in these and countless other areas, women are leaving their mark.

But hold the applause. In Saudi Arabia, women aren’t allowed to drive. In Pakistan, a thousand women die in honor killings every year. And in Somalia, 95 percent of women are subjected to genital mutilation. In the developed world, women lag behind men in pay and political power. The poverty rate among women in the U.S. rose to 14.5 percent last year, the highest in 17 years.

To measure the state of women’s progress, Newsweek ranked 165 countries, looking at five areas that affect women’s lives: treatment under the law, workforce participation, political power, and access to education and health care. Poring over data from the United Nations and the World Economic Forum, among others, and consulting with experts and academics, we measured 28 factors to come up with our rankings.

via Newsweek Tracks Women’s Progress Around the World – The Daily Beast.

Moses, manna, Bible, tamarisk:  I never heard of  tamarisk –  “the honey-like deposits of the tamarisk to package and sell as “bread of heaven” souvenirs to tourists; some chefs use it in cooking! The shrubs sap crystallizes and falls to the ground”

The word “manna” means “What is it?” For centuries, people who live in the Sinai peninsula have gathered the honey-like deposits of the tamarisk to package and sell as “bread of heaven” souvenirs to tourists; some chefs use it in cooking! The shrubs sap crystallizes and falls to the ground; over 500 pounds of this manna is deposited on the Sinai peninsula each year. Loaded with carbohydrates and sugars, manna isnt tasty – except to the ants, who in fact consume whats on the ground by mid-day. Was this the “bread from heaven”? If so, is this manna any less a gift of God? God provides, often in simple, mundane ways.

via eMoses – manna – from heaven?.

‘The Playboy Club’, tv, review:  Controversy might make me watch it … just once.

This of course is so preposterous on so many levels that it is almost not worth attacking. But I worry (as someone who was an adult in the 1960s) that young people will see The Playboy Club and think that this is what life was like back then and that Hefner, as he also says in his weird, creepy voice-over, was in fact “changing the world, one Bunny at a time.”So I would like to say this:1. Trust me, no one wanted to be a Bunny.2. A Bunny’s life was essentially that of an underpaid waitress forced to wear a tight costume.3. Playboy did not change the world.Incidentally, the weird, creepy voice-over is probably my favorite thing about The Playboy Club, and I was disappointed to read that it might not continue after the first episode. Not that I am planning to watch it again. Although you never know. Before she became a feminist and did change the world, Gloria Steinem wrote a famous piece about being a Bunny, and made clear how shabby and pathetic life was at a Playboy Club. She recently called for women to boycott the show. I am currently boycotting so many television shows that I may not have time to boycott another.

via In Case You Were Planning to Watch ‘The Playboy Club’… – The Daily Beast.

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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