Posts Tagged ‘Pottermore

15
Aug
11

8.15.2011 … ET has dry sockets, enough said …

cars, kith/kin:  My mom drove little cars … Opels … maybe that’s why I love the little guys.

With seven inches less wheelbase than a Mini Cooper and tipping the scales at 400 fewer pounds, the 500 is a mighty small car. Yet, I found plenty of room for my six-foot, two-inch frame inside, and the wee Fiat was relatively composed, quiet, and daresay refined on the highway. And the 38-mpg it returned at highway speeds wasn’t too shabby, either, especially compared to the Ford F-150 I’m assigned to drive next.

The 500 isn’t for everybody. There will continue to be a need for larger vehicles for families, contractors, and others. Some will likely insist on driving larger vehicles just because they can, as long as they can afford the fuel. But if the 500 is one example of what to expect as manufacturers work to meet upcoming mileage requirements, the future doesn’t look so bad. It proves that small and affordable doesn’t have to be boring. And down the road, it may be that the Sequoia will be the vehicle drawing looks at stoplights.

via Italian take-out: Fiat 500 is spicier than expected.

Great Recession, taxes v. spending, The Oracle of Omaha:  The Oracle has spoken …

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

via Stop Coddling the Super-Rich – NYTimes.com.

Normandy, France, D-Day, LIFE:  This is another good LIFE gallery. Before and After D-Day: In Color – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

history, The Civil War, war strategy:

Shortages led to inflation and, as the price of foodstuffs spiked, buying power steadily decreased, by about a sixth during the first year of the conflict. Increases in prices were especially marked in areas close to the front lines,where food distribution was directly affected by the fighting. A typical Southern family’s food bill was $6.65 per month at the time of secession, $68 per month in 1863, and $400 per month in 1864. Indeed, by the spring of 1863, prices for food and dry goods were going up about 10 percent a month. Butter that cost 20 cents a pound when secession was declared commanded seven times as much a year later — and up to 100 times as much in some locales, if it was available at all, during the last year of the war. Untenable prices led to outbursts of civil unrest and incidents, ranging from the looting of supply trains to bread riots in Richmond and other Southern cities.

Before the first summer of the war was over, Southerners had already begun to suffer the effects of shortages imposed by the conflict. Few could conceive, however, just how severe the privations they would ultimately have to endure would become in the months and long years that followed.

via Squeezing the South into Submission – NYTimes.com.

physical media, digital media:  I feel this way every time I go by a former Blockbuster.

The decline and/or demise of once mighty retailers such as Borders, Tower, Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Suncoast and Virgin Megastores is some of the most tangible evidence of an undeniable, inevitable truth: Physical media are starting to go away. Digital-music downloads and subscription services have already rendered CDs only slightly less quaint than LPs. Streaming video from companies such as Netflix and Amazon is starting to make DVDs — and even Blu-ray — look stale. I still buy more dead-tree books than I have time to read, but my instinctive response when I learn of a new one I might want to buy is usually “Is this available for Kindle?”

via Why I Already Miss Books: A Lament for Physical Media – TIME.

Harry Potter, Pottermore:  Anybody have a Pottermore Beta invite?  Pottermore Insider: Beta testing (and registering for October).

Professor Munakata, comics:  I may have to buy one of these!

Munakata

Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure was serialised last year in Japan and has now been now translated into English. Its star – a portly ethnographer-cum-archaeologist who solves crimes and explains civilisations – is already well known to millions of Japanese readers, who follow his exploits in a series of Hoshino Yukinobu-penned comics. Hoshino’s work is blend of science fiction and thriller, layered with a rich mix of western and Asian myth and history.

If that sounds a bit like Look and Learn, there are pages in the book that seem exactly so, as the professor elaborates on real events, artefacts and characters.

The professor is a staunch supporter of the British Museum. Photograph: British Museum

Munakata is also well-versed in the debate surrounding disputed objects such as the Parthenon marbles, the Rosetta stone, and the Benin bronzes. Meanwhile, the Lewis chessmen are key players in the story.

Munakata is against repatriating these objects, praising the British Museum’s history of collecting, and fostering public access. “I am one of many Japanese scholars,” he says, “who have benefited from that generosity.”

via The British Museum: marbles, murals… and manga! | Books | The Guardian.

religion, class:  Sounds interesting.

Throughout American history, from the antebellum days to contemporary times, class and religion have been repeatedly tied together. Dr. Sean McCloud at UNC Charlotte will join us to talk about his research on the intersection of religion and class across American History and talk about what he thinks the meaning of class is in today’s world, and why it’s important to insert the issue of class into religious study.

via WFAE 90.7 FM.

trains, Grand Central Station, Oyster Bar, NYC,  Le Train Bleu , Gare de Lyon, Paris:  One of my most memorable meals was at a restaurant at the Edinburgh train station … chicken cordon bleu … so I may have to try these two to compare “train fare.”

In praise of Grand Central Station’s Oyster Bar and Le Train Bleu at the Gare de Lyon in Paris, “grand invitations to a railway journey, however long or short.”

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

international relations, China, US, Pakistan: Peace is a long way off.

In the days after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Pakistan’s intelligence service probably allowed Chinese military engineers to examine the wreckage of a stealth American helicopter that crashed during the operation, according to American officials and others familiar with the classified intelligence assessments.

Such cooperation with China would be provocative, providing further evidence of the depths of Pakistan’s anger over the Bin Laden raid, which was carried out without Pakistan’s approval. The operation, conducted in early May, also set off an escalating tit-for-tat scuffle between American and Pakistani spies.

American spy agencies have concluded that it is likely that Chinese engineers — at the invitation of Pakistani intelligence operatives — took detailed photographs of the severed tail of the Black Hawk helicopter equipped with classified technology designed to elude radar, the officials said. The members of the Navy Seals team who conducted the raid had tried to destroy the helicopter after it crashed at Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, but the tail section of the aircraft remained largely intact.

via U.S. Aides Believe China Examined Stealth Copter – NYTimes.com.

apps, photography, kith/kin, random:  My mother always had me part my hair on the side because she said nobody’s face is the same  on each side.  I think I will avoid this app.

Artist Julian Wolkenstein is keeping a weblog of all the photos folks upload using the app. Here’s the odd thing: The pictures are utterly, completely, and totally frightening (which probably has a lot to do with the crappiness of camera phones). Half the people resemble aliens. The rest could pass for some combination of Jeffrey Dahmer and Herman Munster. Everyone’s rendered ugly in a similar way, and there’s something sort of beautiful about that.

via Crazy App: Which Side of Your Face Is Better Looking? | Co. Design.

02
Jul
11

‎7.2.2011 … Au revoir to Molly!

architecture, bridges, lists:  This one impressed me!

The Henderson Waves Bridge

The Henderson Waves Bridge in Singapore is Southeast Asia’s longest and highest pedestrian bridge.

via The World’s Coolest Bridges – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

George C. Ballas, weed wacker, inventors: RIP Mr. Ballas, inventor of the weed wacker.

George C. Ballas loved tending to his lawn with meticulous care, but the 200 or more trees crowding a two-acre expanse behind his house in Houston posed a problem: how to get around the bulging roots and manicure close enough to achieve the near perfection he desired.

Then one day in 1971 he took his car to a car wash and was watching those whirling soapy brushes sweeping the grime away. Aha! Could something like that trim the grass and slash the weeds around the trees, between the rocks and under the fences?

via George Ballas, Inventor of the Weed Whacker, Dies at 85 – NYTimes.com.

Leonardo da Vinci, lost paintings, art,  Salvator Mundi:  Doesn’t Jesus look like the Mona Lisa?

A Leonardo da Vinci painting lost for centuries, is now found.

The painting, called Salvator Mundi, or “Savior of the World,” went missing for most of the 17th through the 19th centuries, but was discovered in a private collection in the United States and sold to a consortium of art dealers around six or seven years ago.

Though the group suspected it was an original da Vinci, it is only now that scholars have confirmed it, ARTNews reports.

The oil on wood panel measures 26-by-18 1 / 2 inches, and depicts Jesus Christ with his right hand raised in blessing and his left hand holding a globe. Over the years, attempts at restoration, including overpainting, damaged the original work, turning it gray. It was painstakingly cleaned to restore the image beneath. There is speculation that an original offer to buy the painting for $100 million was turned down by the consortium and that it is now asking for $200 million. Members of the group have remained silent, however, as to the details of a potential sale.

The art will be exhibited in London’s National Gallery as part of a showcase of da Vinci’s work Nov. 9.

via Lost Leonardo da Vinci painting found after hundreds of years – BlogPost – The Washington Post.

owls, Myers Park, Charlotte, kith/kin, LOL:  Years ago we lived in Myers Park and yes, indeed, there were owls.  Our good friends and neighbor Herb (married to Lea) used to tell his toddler daughter that id she did not go to sleep the owl might come and get her … DSS would be after him these days!  Recently we had an owl on our basketball rim … for several hours … eery.

Here are two great stories about the in-town owls.

That haunting cry at evening – hoo-hoo-to-hoo-oo! – has the ring of the wild about it. Coming from high in Charlotte’s dense tree cover, it sends mice, chipmunks and small songbirds scurrying for cover.

Yet it’s music to the ears of many Charlotteans who live in old, long-established urban neighborhoods such as Myers Park, Eastover and Plaza-Midwood. To them, it’s a signal that “our owls” are about their nightly business of communing with a mate or warning off rivals.

In these in-town neighborhoods, barred owls have made themselves an integral part of the landscape. In spite of barking dogs, honking traffic and even helicopters whose rotors split the night air, some 300 pairs are estimated to be living within 10 miles of uptown’s Square at Trade and Tryon.

They and their fuzzy, big-eyed babies have become a living science lesson for neighborhood kids as well as a source of entertainment for adults.

”Everybody loves their owls,” says Rob Bierregaard of UNC Charlotte. “They’re very noisy. Every neighborhood knows they’re there.”

A nightly ritual for one Myers Park family, a neighbor says, is to head for the patio, take a glass of wine and listen to the owls.

“It’s almost as though they want our attention,” says Chanee Vijay, who lives near the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. She remembers once when an owl “was sitting on the nook of a tree maybe 10 feet up, not 4 feet from the sidewalk. And we’re all sitting there taking pictures of him . . . they’re used to getting oohed and aahed at.”

via Guess whooo? | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper.

Hundreds of barred owls are living in the graceful willow oaks of Charlotte’s older neighborhoods, but the man on the ground who tracked their habits for 10 years is leaving.

Rob Bierregaard, an ornithologist who taught at UNC Charlotte, became such a presence in the owls’ lives that many recognize his whistle.

A few years ago, he hung a nesting box high in a pine in Marsha Gaspari’s front yard on Hermitage Road. She said Nellie, who raised two owlets there, knew Bierregaard so well she once swooped down at the sound of him locking his car. He had won her affection by bringing her mice to eat.

The Owl Man is moving to Philadelphia, where his wife took a job and where he will write up his research. He discovered that the urban trees of Myers Park, Eastover and Dilworth suit barred owls just as well as old-growth forests.

When he trolled for the birds at dusk, whole families tagged along. His departure, Gaspari says, is the city’s loss.

About 300 owl couples live within 10 miles of uptown, and he named many of them: Billy the Kid and Paulita, King George and Wilhelmina, and Ned and Nellie, whose secrets he documented with a hidden camera in their nest.

via Who’s watching hoo? Charlotte’s Owl Man is moving on | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper.

Michael Vick, Nike, animal cruelty: From the comments on Facebook by my animal rights and animal rescue friends … there is one group that is not supportive of Vick or Nike.  I guess it is good that dog walkers are not big Nike wearers.

Michael Vick is back in Nike’s good graces.

“We have re-signed Michael Vick as a Nike athlete,” Megan Saalfeld, a Nike spokeswoman, confirmed to CNN in an e-mail.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback, who lost his lucrative endorsement deals after serving 20 months in a federal prison because of his involvement in a dogfighting ring, was the NFL’s comeback player of the year in 2010. He has been active in speaking out about against dogfighting

“Michael acknowledges his past mistakes,” Saalfeld said. “We do not condone those actions, but we support the positive changes he has made to better himself off the field.”

He signed a two-year deal with Unequal Technologies — his first since his return to the NFL — in January. He began wearing their equipment after injuring his ribs in a game against the Redskins.

via Eagles quarterback Michael Vick makes a comeback with Nike, too – The Early Lead – The Washington Post.

travel, North GA, Dahlonega GA, Atlanta, day trips, kith/kin, memory lane, lists:  Almost every fall, we all loaded into the wagon and went for a day trip to see the leaves … and Dahlonega was our destination.  Anybody else go on one of the day trips listed here?

Atlanta to Dahlonega, Ga. (66 miles)

This town has multiple claims to fame: It was the site of an 1828 gold rush (you can visit an old mine), boasts ultra-punishing bike trails (according to pros like Lance Armstrong), and has the state’s tallest waterfall (a 729-foot beauty) at Amicalola State Park.

via Road Trip Atlanta to Dahlonega | Parade.com.

J.K. Rowling, Pottermore, publishing, media:  One lucky literary agent.

UK literary agent Neil Blair will be leaving the Christopher Little Literary Agency, taking client J.K. Rowling with him. The Bookseller reports that Blair will be setting up his own firm, The Blair Partnership.

Here’s more from the article: “Blair’s current base is at strategic digital agency TH_NK’s offices in east London. TH_NK and Blair worked together to develop the Pottermore site, through which Rowling’s Harry Potter books will be sold exclusively as e-books, though it is not yet known if TH_NK will be involved in Blair’s new company.”

According to scotsman.com, freelance readers  convinced agency founder Christopher Little to sign the author in 1996.

via J.K. Rowling Follows Her Agent & Leaves Christopher Little Literary Agency – GalleyCat.

politics, US debt limit, Great Recession:  We were discussing this at dinner the other night … does that make us old?

The stand-off between congressional Republicans and the Obama administration over raising a legal limit on how much the nation can borrow has been filled with dire warnings about what will happen if the U.S. government fails to pay its debts.

In truth, it could be bad for the economy if global investors even begin to doubt the ability or willingness of U.S. officials to reach agreement on the debt ceiling. The U.S. government can borrow money more cheaply than almost any other entity on Earth, and that could change abruptly if investors conclude that the government is too dysfunctional to pay its bills on time. That would make it far more expensive for the federal government to service its existing debts, and increase interest rates across the economy.

These leaders have played an influential role in shaping the politics behind the debate over U.S. fiscal policy.

“Given that we’re not on strong economic footing to begin with, higher interest rates and dislocations in the financial markets would probably have very bad ripple effects,” said Raymond Stone, co-founder of Stone & McCarthy Research Associates, a group that studies the economy and bond markets. “You’re treading on dangerous territory when you play with the credit worthiness of the federal government.”

So what are the early warning signs? If the bond market starts to panic over the U.S. government’s creditworthiness, how would we know?

Discontinuities in the Treasury bill market.

A narrower spread between rates on Treasury bills and other forms of short-term credit.

Spikes in the credit default swaps market.

Higher volatility.

A narrower spread between Treasuries and near substitutes.

via How to tell if financial markets start to freak out about U.S. debt limit – The Washington Post.

technology, smart phones, batteries, Duke University:  Interesting.

If you ever get the sense that someone on the wifi network you’re using is hogging all the juice, you may be right. Not only does sharing wifi with others downloading large files interfere with your enjoyment of the latest viral video, but it can majorly drain your battery as well.

A new solution from a Duke University computer science graduate student could alleviate your frustrations and potentially double your battery life by allowing your wifi device to “nap” until more bandwidth is available. This means you might have to wait a couple minutes to watch your video, but that could be a productivity boon anyway.

via New Wifi Tech Could Double Your Phone’s Battery Life – The Washington Post.

apps, Penguin Classics, literature:  Another one for me.

Penguin Classics–publisher of lit guides, special editions, and classics ranging from The Odyssey to On the Road–is doing for iPhone book browsing what Urbanspoon did for restaurant searching.

The Penguin Classics app for iPad and iPhone, the publisher’s complete annotated listing (free in the iTunes store starting Tuesday), lists every Penguin Classics release searchable by author, title, newest releases, essentials, and more. You can search for books about art in the 7th century or check out the list of Pulitzer Prize-winning classics; if you’re using your iPhone, you can even shake your phone like you would Urbanspoon to find something new to read at random.

via Penguin Classics App Shakes Up Book Browsing With A Pub Quiz For Lit Lovers | Fast Company.

29
Jun
11

‎6.29.2011…in heaven … I’ll tell you about it tomorrow …

heaven, kith/kin: Almost perfect day visiting our South African exchange student and her family in the SC mountains at The Reserve. Sometimes the stars align and you know that you are supposed to be sharing time and place … Thank you Broadleys for sharing your daughter and for sharing your precious family time and beautiful place.

music, Genesis:  So our host loves his music … Follow You, Follow Me …

Pottermore, graphic art: This has the potential to be pretty cool …

chapter_six_intro.jpg 800×593 pixels.

24
Jun
11

‎6.24.2011 … Labyrinth walk #4 at Kanuga … very nice … happy camper, I mean junior counselor, is home … hail here now …

labyrinth walk,  Kanuga Conference Center:

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The labyrinth is a walking meditation, a tool that enables us, in the midst of the business of life, to be still, to focus our thoughts and feelings. Labyrinths can be found in cathedrals all over Europe and have been used by Christians for hundreds of years as a means of meditation and experience of the Divine Presence. The Kanuga Labyrinth is an exact replica of the one set in the floor of Chartres Cathedral.

To enter a labyrinth is like entering a cathedral. You sense the presence of The Holy.

It should be noted that there is a difference between a maze and a labyrinth. A maze has many entrances and many exits. It is a puzzle to be solved. The labyrinth has only one path that takes you to the center and back. It is a spiritual path.

There are now over 1,000 labyrinths across the United States, mainly in churches, but also prisons, hospitals, parks and retreat centers.

via Kanuga, Chapels: The Labyrinth.

JK Rowling, Pottermore, digital media:  Fascinating … she held back the digital rights to her books 13 years ago …

Ms. Rowling has made a bold move in going direct to consumers to sell her e-books, instead of relying on online retailers like Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc.’s iBookstore. Whereas publishers for other authors often own both the print and digital rights for books, Ms. Rowling owns the rights to the digital versions of the Harry Potter books herself. The digital rights aren’t held by her U.K. publisher Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, or by Scholastic Inc., which owns the U.S. print rights.

Now, Pottermore is Ms. Rowling’s next step toward keeping the franchise alive and vital beyond the book series.

Users can travel through the first book in the series—”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”—and Ms. Rowling will then gradually reveal the online ecosystem tied to the subsequent six books over the course of a few years. Digital editions for all seven books, however, will be available in October.

via Rowling Conjures Up Potter E-Books – WSJ.com.

music, kith/kin:  From e …

new york city 1982, 1983…listened to wanna be startin’ somethin’ on walkman while taking subway to smith barney office on wall street…chapel hill June 2011…listening to same song on mp3 player while taking bus to unc hospitals…

social networking, gender differences:  Intriguing article … I don’t get LinkedIn!  Women Still Don’t ‘Get’ LinkedIn, Says LinkedIn – Technology – The Atlantic Wire.

Gone with the Wind, literature:  “narrative vigor”  … I enjoyed this video essay on the literary merits of GWTW.  I personally sdon’t think it is “great” literature … but it is a great story.  Maybe that is what F. Scott Fitzgerald  meant by “narrative vigor.”

Margaret Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize in the spring of 1937, to the dismay of some critics and the delight of others. William Faulkner had expected to receive the award for his novel Absalom Absalom and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who never received the prize, would soon be working on the screenplay of Mitchell’s novel. On a warm night in May, Mitchell received news of the prize by phone, along with multiple requests for interviews. Hating publicity, she fled to a gospel concert at a small black church in Atlanta with her husband John Marsh, her publisher Harold Latham and her black housekeeper Bessie Jordan. The press scoured the city but never found her. It was a glorious night for Margaret Mitchell.

via PBS Arts : Pulitzer Prize Night.

Braves, baseball, Gone with the Wind, literature, Atlanta:  Hoopla!  I like corny things to get the fans to the ballpark … but this one seems wacky to me!!

If you’re going to the Atlanta Braves game on July 2, bring your glove and your hoop skirt.

The Braves, the Atlanta History Center and the Margaret Mitchell House are teaming up for “Gone with the Wind Night” to celebrate the novel’s 75th anniversary. Fans who show their July 2 Braves ticket stub at the Atlanta History Center or Margaret Mitchell House afterward will receive $5 off admission to either venue.

Fans who come to the game dressed as their favorite GWTW character on July 2 get $10 off Upper Box (regularly $18) or Outfield Pavilion (regularly $28) tickets. A Scarlett O’Hara impersonator will greet fans beginning at 4:30 p.m. and host GWTW trivia.

via “Gone With the Wind” night at Turner Field | The Buzz.

quotes, Bertrand Russell:

“Man needs, for his happiness, not only the enjoyment of this or that, but hope and enterprise and change.”
 Bertrand Russell

social networking, FBI, followup:  Just the other day, 6/21,  I posted about how the FBI was using social networking and lo and behold it worked!

On Monday, the FBI had announced a new television campaign aimed specifically at women, in the hopes of tracking down Greig.

Bulger is wanted in connection with 19 murders, while Greig is accused of harboring a fugitive; the two have been on the run together since 1995, according to the Associated Press. The FBI was offering $2 million for information leading to Bulger’s arrest.

via ‘Whitey’ Bulger Arrested: ‘Departed’ Mob Inspiration Nabbed in California – ABC News.

neuroscience, common chorus, music:  This is really fascinating.

Bobby McFerrin demonstrates the power of the pentatonic scale, using audience participation, at the event “Notes & Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus”, from the 2009 World Science Festival, June 12, 2009.

via YouTube – World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale.

tweet of the day, Wimbledon, culture, etiquette:  I hate to say it but I think the grunting is annoying.

Opinion on grunting players at #Wimbledon RT @alexabahou: Great pkg, haha! Grunting is part of the game! @johnsberman

3 minutes ago via HootSuite

via Good Morning America (GMA) on Twitter.

houses, US, real estate, trends, followup: Like I said, my children’s favorite house is our smallest.

David Brooks wrote about this trend in American real estate a decade ago, in an article called “Castle in a Box.” Brooks visited a new development of five-million-dollar tract mansions in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, where the front doors could be set for fingerprint or iris recognition, and motion sensors activated room lights.

In the past five years, McMansions along these lines have been cropping up all across suburban America. The houses tend to be similar: the two-story “lawyer foyers” when you walk in; the four-car “garage mahals” jutting out front; the altar-like spas in the master baths, with those whirlpool tubs that look so suggestively sexy before you move in but seldom get used afterwards.

via Back Issues: Big Houses: Lawyer Foyers and Garage Mahals : The New Yorker.

social media, privacy: Good question …

Nothing is anonymous or invisible. Will the recent cases make people more careful about how they behave? Will they keep their tempers in check at the post office, or stop telling strangers how to raise their children? How does this growing “publicness” affect civility, privacy rights and free expression?

via You’re Mad! You’re on YouTube! – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

Apple, piracy:  I would never think to film a movie with my phone … I would not make a good pirate.  So it is fine with me if Apple disables my ability to violate the law.

Apple’s recent patent for an invisible infrared sensor that would block piracy at concerts and movies has net neutrality enthusiasts rattled, but some patent bloggers enthused about the possibilities.

The SavetheInternet.com coalition, a group of some two million people devoted to a free and open Internet, want to send Steve Jobs an online petition, “Dear Apple, Don’t Shut Down My Phone Camera,” to ask that he reconsider the patent. The patent, which would enable a device’s camera to shut down during a movie or concert, applies to iPhones, the iPod Touch and iPad 2.

via Dear Apple, don’t shut down my phone camera – BlogPost – The Washington Post.

education, philanthropy, kudos:  Kudos, PoP!  And I hope you are successful in your worthy endeavor.

Pencils of Promise (PoP) is a non-profit organization that endeavors to bring the possibility of education to communities of underprivileged children. Braun and PoP believe that education is a basic human right, and that by building educational structures, it will bring self-sustainability and ownership to the areas.

It is with this philosophy that Braun partnered with Bieber to create the “Schools 4 All” initiative. PoP is an interactive organization that allows participation, not just donation.

That’s where Bieber comes in. Whoever can raise the most money with their fundraising page gets a special visit by the pop star himself at the school of the winner’s choice. Creating a page is easy: All you need to do is visit schools4all.org and get started.

via Justin Bieber and Pencils of Promise partner to make education dreams come true – What’s Trending – CBS News.

Phantom of the Fox, Fox Theater, Atlanta, news, random:  Didn’t know there was an apartment in the Fox?  What a cool place to live.

It’s official: Joe Patten — the longtime Fox Theatre resident affectionately known as “The Phantom of the Fox” — can remain in the apartment he’s maintained in the historic Midtown venue for more than 31 years.

The Fox announced today that a settlement has been reached in the dispute between Atlanta Landmarks, its owner and operator, and Patten, who helped save the theatre from the wrecking ball in the 1970s.

Patten, who’d renovated the apartment with $50,000 of his own cash since moving in in 1979, claimed the theatre’s board committed housing discrimination when it terminated his lifetime lease and asked him to sign an occupancy agreement — complete with several stipulations — after he experienced a stroke.

via ‘Phantom of the Fox’ won’t have to leave Midtown theatre | Atlanta News & Opinion Blog | Fresh Loaf | Creative Loafing Atlanta.

quotes, Frank Lloyd Wright:

“Where I am, there my office is: my office me.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

travel, Europe:  I think we bought at the top!

Did you put off booking a trip to Europe this summer after plane ticket prices skyrocketed?

Here’s your chance to be a little impulsive. A quick scan of Bing Travel this afternoon indicated that ticket prices to Europe this summer are dropping quickly. (I used July 14-July 21 as travel dates.)

A one-stop flight (with less than an hour-and-a-half layover) from Atlanta to London from US Airways is priced at $1087, one of the lowest prices since the beginning of this year (the highest was $1493). Fights to Paris on multiple airlines were priced at $1223 (they peaked at $1775 in March), with prices expected to drop as well. Amsterdam is down to $1312, Frankfurt at $1297 and Prague at $1237.

via Summer airfare to Europe quickly dropping | Atlanta Bargain Hunter.

2012 Presidential Election, politics, polling, statistics:  Very interesting …

In a new Gallup poll, 22 percent of Americans say they would not vote for a “generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be Mormon.”

That’s the same number since Gallup began asking the question back in 1967, when George Romney, father of Mitt, was running for president. However, as Gallup notes, 25 percent of Americans in 1959 said they wouldn’t vote for a Catholic, and one year later John Kennedy was elected president.

A few other tidbits:

– Democrats (27 percent) were more likely than Republicans (18 percent) to reject a Mormon candidate.

– Two-thirds of Americans said they would support a well-qualified presidential candidate who happened to be gay, compared to only 26 percent in 1978.

– Fewer than half — 49 percent — would support an otherwise well-qualified candidate who happened to be atheist. But that too has changed. In 1958, the first year it was asked, just 18 percent would have supported an atheist.

You hear a lot of people talk about how much America has changed, and they seldom imply it’s for the better. But in many ways the changes of the last 50 years have made this a much better, stronger and united nation.

via Most voters would back Mormon or gay, but not an atheist | Jay Bookman.

cities, bookshelf: I am reading a book on urban living now … and here is a discussion of several more that I could add to my bookshelf.  I”ll wait …

The key factor in determining whether a city is successful is how significant a cohort of the Creative Class it attracts. “It would be a mistake for cities to think they can survive solely as magnets for the young and hip,” the Harvard economist Edward Glaeser writes in his new book, “Triumph of the City” (Penguin Press; $29.95), by way of dismissing Richard Florida. For Glaeser, the key factor that makes cities successful is not the presence of the Creative Class but “proximity,” the way they bring people into contact, enabling them to interact in rich, unexpected, productive ways. Though Edward Glaeser considers Richard Florida’s celebration of cities sentimental and unrigorous compared with his own celebration of cities, the same trump card of hard-hearted rigor could be played against Glaeser. An odd, fascinating new book called “Aerotropolis” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; $30) predicts that, in the future, cities will reorient themselves around enormous airports.

via The City-Suburb Culture Wars and Globalization : The New Yorker.

twitter, lists: People should think before they tweet … Outrageous Tweets: A Short History – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

Jane Austen, zombie, genre, LOL:  There are people, including boys, reading Jane to better understand the Zombie takeoffs … LOL

Whoa! Pride and Prejudice? Darcy’s dip in the lake certainly was not written by Jane. Even Geek Mom knew that. So she went to the source to find out why pimply pre-pubescent boys would read a spinster’s 200 year-old-novel:

“If you’re wondering about that last one … well, as Nick, another of the boys in the group, explained, “It’s good to read to get the cultural references.” I suspect the allusions Nick was trying to understand involved the Undead, but hey, I’m not going to argue with anything that could get my kids to voluntarily pick up Jane Austen.”

They’re reading the original in order to understand Pride and Prejudice and Zombies??!!!! Ack! Guess that’s is better than endlessly playing World of Warcraft or hanging around the mall.

via Jane Austen Today: Will Banned Books Get Boys Interested in Jane Austen?.

food, places: Food is key to a sense of place … What do you crave from home?

Atlanta (me):  Henri’s PoBoys, Varsity onion rings, Greenwood peppermint ice cream with fudge sauce … they served it  the funeral reception of my kith uncle … a true Atlantan!

Cincinnati, OH – Graeter’s Mocha Chip Ice Cream ( Graeter’s peach is also divine.)

Southeast: CHCK-FIL-A!!!!! and “Hot Now” KrispyKreme doughnuts …

NJ – Philadelphia area – hoagies and cheese steak sandwiches

I’ve only been to the Bojangles’ in Union Station once since it opened, but I have to say, knowing it’s here, in the District, with a Cajun chicken biscuit and fries anytime I need, is soothing. It’s one of the things I think of when I think of home, in North Carolina. (And yes, I know they’re in Prince George’s, too, and yes, I have driven well out of my way to get to one. But I don’t have a car, so my options are limited.)

(Richard A. Lipski – WASHINGTON POST) It seems most people’s memories of their home towns are closely entwined with food, as we learn in Monica Hesse’s story of Manhattan transplants. They talk about missing cheap food, good Chinese takeout and bagels. (But they’re happy about the Shake Shack.)

A quick survey of my co-workers had everyone thinking about what they’d like to import

Anna’s Taqueria. (Eric Athas – The Washington Post) to Washington: Anna’s Taqueria for the Bostonians. Jack in the Box for the Californian. Bertman Ballpark Mustard for the Clevelander. A cherry limeade from Sonic for the guy who went to school in Kansas. Zapps’ potato chips for the New Orleanian. (At least now that she can get sno-balls here.)

No matter how much you like Washington, there’s still probably something you sometimes want to import. What would it be? Your answer doesn’t have to be food-related, though that’s the way our conversation went. What are you missing from your home town (or another city you called home for a while)? Tell us in the comments below or by using #DCWishList on Twitter.

via What you want imported to Washington (#dcwishlist) – The Buzz – The Washington Post.

music, generation gap, rant:  I found this amusing … no one wants to feel culturally insignificant!

… but is it . not distressing that parenthood and age, in combination, signify cultural insignificance?

via Immutable/Inscrutable., The New Yorker to One-Third of All Music Listeners in America: You Don’t Matter.

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‎6.23.2011 … Final day/night for MAD at camp as JC … I don’t think she will ever wash another dish. :)

music, kith/kin:  From Bob … “There are some voices that are simply meant to sing together. When these three sing together, it far exceeds any of them individually. I could listen to this song for hours.” YouTube – Crosby Stills Nash – Southern Cross.

Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Pottermore, media, followup:  I hope she can keep another generation enthralled (and I define that to mean a 7 year-old will persevere through a 700 page book!) … YouTube – JKRowlingAnnounces’s Channel ‏.

natural disasters, tornadoes, Louisville, kith/kin, prayers:  Why am I so touched when animals are involved …

At least five barns were damaged and horses were running loose Wednesday at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, after a powerful storm that spawned tornadoes blew through Louisville.

Officials have no immediate reports of injuries to humans or horses.

The National Weather Service says a tornado touched down near the famed track and the University of Louisville campus about 8:10 p.m. EDT. Though no races are run on Wednesdays, there was simulcasting of races elsewhere, so people were there, said track President Kevin Flanery.

via Tornado hits Louisville near Churchill Downs – Sports- NBC Sports.

Paris, Hotel de Nice, hotels:  I just loved the opening image for this small modest hotel …

 Accueil.

education, history:  I enjoyed this article and found that I agree … learning history “today involves the retention of decontextualized historical facts.” I learn best and my children learn best when we experience history and share those experiences.

We make much of bad test results and idiotic answers to civics questions from the young Americans Jay Leno stops on Los Angeles street corners. It’s fun, but it is also misleading. We are promoting what Paxton calls “the false notion that the biggest problem facing history students today involves the retention of decontextualized historical facts.”

He and Wineburg, both education professors, say we should decide what history is worth knowing and teach it well. “The thousand-page behemoths that we call textbooks violate every principle of human memory that we know of,” Wineburg said.

Emphasizing reading and devoting more school hours to comprehension of the language no matter what the topic might give us the skills to develop an interest in public affairs. Many critics say the subject of history has suffered because schools are giving more time to reading and math. Why then, asks Wineburg, were the students who were most improved on the NAEP history test in fourth grade, where the concentration on reading and math has been greatest?

Even if we haven’t remembered our country’s history so well in the last century, we have learned to appreciate it, and act accordingly. This July 4, that’s worth celebrating.

via Is knowing history so important? – Class Struggle – The Washington Post.

writing, blogging, social media, Jeff Elder:  A class … I am actually thinking about taking it …

OMG! Writing for social media??? LOL. Actually, there are many opportunities developing for writers to develop their craft on Facebook, blogs, even Twitter. The best part? You have a captive audience that is immediately engaged. As companies, nonprofits, small business and other groups launch web sites and social media sites, content is desperately needed.

via WRITING FOR SOCIAL MEDIA.

culture, kindness, Gretchen Rubin, blog posts of note:  Just the other day, I excerpted an article about what not to say to a person who is ill … and today I find this post from Gretchen Rubin about what to say/not to say to a person divorcing.  I think we all have problems with this and we are detached from our teachers … our families, our churches and we no longer learn how to handle being kind.  Isn’t that really what it is all about.

A while back, I read a New York magazine article by Katie Roiphe, The Great Escape, in which Roiphe discusses her friends’ reaction to the news of her divorce. Bottom line: she’s annoyed that they’re acting as though she’s going through some terrible tragedy, when in fact, she feels fine — if anything, she feels freed and relieved.

It’s an interesting article on many levels, but the thing that struck me was – zoikes! If I were her friend, I’m sure I’d be saying all the wrong things, too.

So what’s the right thing to say?

via The Happiness Project: Tips for talking to someone about an impending divorce: dos and don’ts.

cities, psychology, mental health:  I love big cities … maybe I am crazy!

This may come as no surprise to residents of New York City and other big urban centers: Living there can be bad for your mental health.

Now researchers have found a possible reason why. Imaging scans show that in city dwellers or people who grew up in urban areas, certain areas of the brain react more vigorously to stress. That may help explain how city life can boost the risks of schizophrenia and other mental disorders, researchers said.

Previous research has found that growing up in a big city raises the risk of schizophrenia. And there’s some evidence that city dwellers are at heightened risk for mood and anxiety disorders, although the evidence is mixed.

In any case, the volunteers scanned in the new study were healthy, and experts said that while the city-rural differences in brain activity were intriguing, the results fall short of establishing a firm tie to mental illness.

via Big city got you down? Stress study may show why  | ajc.com.

gender issues, Great Recession, workforce:  I think this is very interesting.  I wonder how this shift in workforce gender balance compares to WWII.

In part, labor experts pin this trend on a recession that disproportionately affected male-centered industries such as manufacturing and construction, but this tells only some of the story. Throughout the first decade of the new millennium, men moved toward being the minority in a number of professions they had long dominated.

This was particularly prevalent in professions requiring advanced degrees. Medical scientists, for example, who typically need a Ph.D. to work in labs or at pharmaceutical companies, experienced one of the biggest changes in gender makeup of any profession. In 2000, the majority of those who worked in the profession (54%) were men, but by last year just 46% of medical scientists were men.

Likewise, the percentage of male veterinarians declined from nearly 70% in 2000 to about 44% last year, making this the profession with the single greatest shift in the proportion of men to women, according to an analysis of the BLS data.

Much of the changing gender balance, experts argue, can be traced to the early 1970s, when more women began pursuing college degrees and full-time careers.

“Young women in elementary and middle school began to look around and realize that they were going to be in the labor force for a substantial part of their lifetimes and therefore needed to concentrate more on professions that were better investments,” said Claudia Goldin, a professor of economics at Harvard University.

via Behind the Rise of Women in the Work Force – TheStreet.

cities, lifestyles, culture, Baby Boomers, Brookwood Hills, Atlanta, Wilmette, Chicago, small house movement:  I loved growing up in a neighborhood where our home was no more than 2500 sq feet and the neighborhood was our yard.  My children’s favorite of their 3 homes is the smallest, our Wilmette home.  I think my generation, the Baby Boomers, have really gone awry on the big house status symbol.  A house does not make a home.  My daughter says she never wants a “big house.”

Places like Hilton Head, with water adjacency and nice climates, are in high demand, and land values are insane. In the case of Hilton Head, which was developed in 1970 on what had been a mosquito- and alligator-infested swampy barrier island, land value has leaped from nearly zero to now unaffordable. The first batch of houses built here might have been normal-sized, but in the ten years that I’ve been coming here on occasion, I’ve seen them replaced by new ones that are enormous. About five years ago, we rented a house right on the beach that was arena-sized. We loved being right on the ocean, so we asked the owner if we could reserve time for the next year. No, he said, it wouldn’t be possible; he was tearing the house down. Why? To build a bigger one on the same lot. We saw the finished product a few years later: it looked like a house with severe edema, swollen to bursting, built to the very edge of the property line.

My husband and I built our house in New York about five years ago, and right before we began, I fell under the spell of the small-house movement; I had dozens of Post-Its in my copy of “The Not-So-Big House” marking author Sarah Susanka’s recommendations for designing a house that was efficient and inviting without being pointlessly gigantic. It’s not really such a new idea. A few weeks ago, I stayed for a night in the Penfield House, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s an amazing place, with a jazzy sort of geometry. It’s also quite small (even though, as it happens, the owner, Louis Penfield, was six foot eight, and had actually wondered whether Wright could make a house that would work for a person his size). But the house is big enough. Everything is ingeniously designed to make use of all available space, and the floor-to-ceiling living room windows make it feel like there is only a thin skin between you and the outdoors, which gives the illusion of spaciousness. It’s a great house—that is, in the sense of the word “great” meaning an impressive accomplishment, rather than “large.”

Oversized houses, like oversized cars, seem to be a particularly American fixation. In many other countries, the land available is so limited and the cost of building so high that most people wouldn’t even consider building a Hilton Head-style jumbo. And the expense—in economic and environmental terms—of heating and cooling these places is vast. What’s funny is that these mega-mansions are so often located somewhere people go because they want to enjoy the natural environment. The house we had wanted to rent again had very little land around it when we rented it. Now, in its bulked-up state, the outdoor space is a narrow margin of sand and grass, not even wide enough to walk on.

via Free Range: The Too-Big House : The New Yorker.

reading, education, St. John’s College, Great Books Program, kith/kin:  St. John’s is a wonderful place.  My kith daughter is there and thrives.  Interesting is that she always loved to read (in contrast to this student) … but I think it is the type of education that suits a very gifted and creative mind.

As long as nobody had assigned the book, I could stick with it. I didn’t know what I was reading. I didn’t really know how to read. Reading messed with my brain in an unaccountable way. It made me happy; or something. I copied out the first paragraph of Annie Dillard’s “An American Childhood” on my bedroom’s dormer wall. The book was a present from an ace teacher, a literary evangelist in classy shoes, who also flunked me, of course, with good reason. Even to myself I was a lost cause.

Early senior year, a girl in homeroom passed me a brochure that a college had sent her. The college’s curriculum was an outrage. No electives. Not a single book in the seminar list by a living author. However, no tests. No grades, unless you asked to see them. No textbooks—I was confused. In place of an astronomy manual, you would read Copernicus. No books about Aristotle, just Aristotle. Like, you would read book-books. The Great Books, so called, though I had never heard of most of them. It was akin to taking holy orders, but the school—St. John’s College—had been secular for three hundred years. In place of praying, you read. My loneliness was toxic; the future was coleslaw, mop water; the college stood on a desert mountain slope in Santa Fe, New Mexico, fifteen hundred miles from home; I could never get into such a school; my parents couldn’t pay a dollar. And I loved this whole perverse and beautiful idea. I would scrap everything (or so I usefully believed) and go to that place and ask them to let me in. It felt like a vocation. It was a vocation.

In retrospect, I was a sad little boy and a standard-issue, shiftless, egotistical, dejected teen-ager. Everything was going to hell, and then these strangers let me come to their school and showed me how to read. All things considered, every year since has been a more intense and enigmatic joy. ♦

via Salvatore Scibona: “Where I Learned to Read” : The New Yorker.

Camp Illahee, kith/kin, end of an era:  As MAD  is ending her session as a JC, I am sad.  Nine years at Illahee have been a wonderful experience for her and something she will always cherish.  If you want a recommendation for an all girls camp, please contact me.  It has truly been a “heavenly world.”

In the Cherokee language, Illahee means “heavenly world.” This idea expresses the very best of what campers, counselors and staff create for a remarkable few weeks every summer.

For ninety years, Camp Illahee has given girls the opportunity to explore their interests, seek new adventures and forge friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

via Camp Illahee | A Summer Camp for Girls in Brevard, North Carolina.




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