Posts Tagged ‘Wicked Start

12
Sep
11

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

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

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

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

via Elizabethtown :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article III, Section. 1:

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

via Separation of Powers Under the United States Constitution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Highlights of the President’s Economic Plan

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

Cost: $175 billion.

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

Cost: $70 billion.

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

Cost: $140 billion.

Extending unemployment insurance and new programs for jobless.

Cost: $62 billion.

TOTAL: $447 BILLION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Says Conway: “It’s a fun time.”

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

city v. country, health: Very interesting statistic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

via Why Some Languages Sound So Fast – TIME.

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

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

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

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

via The Kisses We Remember – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

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

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

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

via Speakeasy Dollhouse by Cynthia von Buhler — Kickstarter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 App Store – Photo Academy.

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

via Create stories using social media – storify.com.

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

Turn Your Blog Into a Book

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

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

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

Grow Your Social Capital Online

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

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

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

photography, DSLR, video lessons: 

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

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

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




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