Endless Curiosity

May 17, 2010

Why do I bother?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 7:50 am

There are two interesting articles in the NY Times today. Well, there are probably quite a few, but I’m just going to talk about two of them.

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May 8, 2010

Out of Sheer Rage

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 4:34 pm

During the recent Conference on World Affairs here at C.U. Boulder, I helped with a panel called Writing-The Process. I remember only two things that the panelists said, one of them being that Stuart Schoffman highly recommended the book Out of Sheer Rage, by Geoff Dyer. Schoffman spoke so highly of it that I bought it and read it on my recent trip to Costa Rica.

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April 4, 2010

Be Faithful to your Obsessions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 7:57 am

I heard the quote “stay true to your obsessions” in an interview about the writer J.G. Ballard and was drawn to it. However, I rarely take what I hear at face value and almost always look it up. The true quote from Ballard is:

My advice to anyone in any field is to be faithful to your obsessions. Identify them and be faithful to them, let them guide you like a sleepwalker.

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April 3, 2010

The lonely tree in the forest

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 9:55 am

I haven’t written for several months, largely because it all seemed so pointless and there are so many other things to do with my time. “Everyone” writes a blog because they want their views heard, but that rarely happens; most readers are family and close friends. “Several studies indicate that most blogs are abandoned soon after creation (with 60% to 80% abandoned within one month, depending on whose figures you choose to believe) and that few are regularly updated.

Hardly surprising. By June 2008, Technorati was indexing 112.8 million blogs, and supposedly the blogosphere is doubling about once every 6 and a half months, which, since there have been about 3 sets of 6.5 months since June 2008, would put the current number of blogs at somewhere around 900 million blogs. Hard to believe, but even if the number is a mere fraction of that there’s no way most blogs have much of a readership.

I have definite views about what’s happening in the world, but the sad fact is that talking or writing about them changes very little – basically nothing. A few people can influence by talking – Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly – but they are generally preaching to the choir of the struggling white males who think their problems are the fault of immigrants, liberals, the French, and so on. But for most of us, we need to take action, and not just personal action, but political action.

So I figured there’s little point in sharing my views in a blog. It’s a bit like being the tree in the forest that falls alone – does anyone hear?

I decided to focus on my books and to move to a website rather than a blog. So I duly bought a web domain and paid for two years of hosting, but have done nothing with it. So I’m still here at the blog site, at least for the foreseeable future.

The only reason I’m writing is that I heard a great quote from the author J.G. Ballard which inspired me to write something down, but I’ll leave that for another day.

December 30, 2009

Person of the Decade: Osama bin Laden

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 12:46 pm

It’s hard to imagine anyone who has more responsibility for the events of the last decade than Osama bin Laden. George W. Bush runs second, but he only gets his place in history because of bin Laden.

If it hadn’t been for bin Laden, Bush would not have had the opportunity to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. If he hadn’t been a “War President” and thus able to cower a cowardly and compliant Congress , Bush would probably not have been able to cut taxes for the rich. It’s unlikely he would have won a second term, and thus we probably wouldn’t have had the financial crash and resulting recession, which is causing untold suffering to Americans.

Flying would be easier and we wouldn’t be wasting countless hours and dollars waiting in security lines. Instead of getting ever deeper into debt, there would be more money available to solve the seemingly unsolvable problems facing this country – you know, things like healthcare, infrastructure, education. Sure, there would be political differences about the best way to solve the problems, but taking money out of the equation does complicate things.

Of course, choosing bin Laden as Person of the Decade would be highly unpopular, which is why I doubt any major magazine or newspaper is going to do it. But in terms of influence and impact on the people of the world, it’s difficult to see that anyone had more than Osama bin Laden.

December 26, 2009

CPF: Groupthink

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 8:06 am

Kishore Mahbubani’s first systemic failure is Groupthink. I’m not sure I agree with him, but I’ll first let him describe his idea.

The first systemic failure America has suffered is groupthink. Looking back at the origins of the current financial crisis, it is amazing that American society accepted the incredible assumptions of economic gurus such as Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin that unregulated financial markets would naturally deliver economic growth and serve the public good. …. In short, the financial players would regulate ­themselves.

This is manifest nonsense. The goal of these financial professionals was always to enhance their personal wealth, not to serve the public interest. So why was Greenspan’s nonsense accepted by American society? The simple and amazing answer is that most Americans assumed that their country has a rich and vibrant “marketplace of ideas” in which all ideas are challenged. Certainly, America has the freest media in the world. No subject is taboo. No sacred cow is immune from criticism. But the paradox here is that the belief that American society allows every idea to be challenged has led Americans to assume that every idea is challenged…

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Conceiving the Possibility of Failure (CPF)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 7:41 am

I read an interesting article in The Wilson Quarterly called Can America Fail. No, I’d never heard of the magazine either and can’t remember how I found it – some link from somewhere. But I rather like the full title: The Wilson Quarterly – Surveying the World of Ideas. Here’s what the article is about:

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December 2, 2009

Think it’s bad here? Try Pakistan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 3:59 pm

It’s easy to think that things are bad over here: serious recession, high unemployment, endless war, problems with healthcare reform, yada, yada. Sometimes it’s good to look at how other people have it to realize how good things are here.

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November 24, 2009

We’re Fucked

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 5:45 pm

Well, we’re fucked. Cowardice seems to be in the air. I just watched The Reader last night, which is a story about cowardice. And now Obama is showing himself to be a huge coward, fearful of being labeled soft on terror or some such thing. From Yahoo News:

War-weary Americans will support more fighting in Afghanistan once they understand the perils of losing, President Barack Obama declared Tuesday, announcing he was ready to spell out war plans virtually sure to include tens of thousands more U.S. troops.

Perils of losing? We sure as hell aren’t going to “win” because we don’t even know what winning means. Not only that but the Taliban will simply outwait us.

So Obama will pour a few more hundreds of billions of dollars down the drain while the U.S. continues to suffer.

Take a look at this little time-lapse display of unemployment figures over the last (almost) 3 years – bear in mind that the October figures are worse again. Press the Play button to see the colors change.

October 30, 2009

A Pilot and his Dog

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 7:50 am

Okay, a pilot and his/her dog, to be politically correct. Travel Insider has a lovely comment about the recent case of the two pilots overshooting their airport because they were, ahem, inattentive.

There is a probably fictitious account of certain airplane engineers who claim that all the cockpit crew needs to consist of is one pilot and a dog. The dog is there to bite the pilot if he touches anything and the pilot is there to feed the dog.

September 10, 2009

Health Care and What We Eat

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 7:22 am

I love coming across ideas I hadn’t thought of before. There’s so much talk about the cost of health care and how we need change: Too many unnecessary tests and procedures. Too many expensive me-too drugs. Too much fear of being sued by patients. Payment for procedures rather than results. New expensive medical technology that must be paid for.

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June 11, 2009

Nukes don’t kill people; people kill people

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 6:03 am

So what’s with this obsession with Iran and nukes? I thought the mantra was “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”.

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April 19, 2009

Opting out of Cookies

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 9:58 am

You know those little cookies that web sites leave on your computer? Many of them are used to more effectively target ads that appear on web sites you visit. If you’d prefer that web sites do NOT place cookies on your computer, you can opt out at this web site.

Of course, who knows if it really works.

April 15, 2009

Tears rolling down my cheeks

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 10:41 am

I just watched this video of Susan Boyle and am sitting here with tears rolling down my cheeks. It is one of the most incredibly moving things I’ve seen. It also helps that the song is from Les Miserables, which is for me the best and most moving of all the musicals.

If this video doesn’t bring tears to your eyes you are a cold, heartless person, seriously in need of therapy 🙂

If you press Play it will tell you that the video is disabled by request. Click on the black area and it will take you to YouTube.

If this confuses you, just click here.

There’s a longer video that shows Susan before and after the performance. You can watch this by clicking here.

March 19, 2009

Income distribution

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 5:46 am

Everyone has different talents and abilities, and we reward people accordingly. Some people make more than others. Fair enough. Where it gets weird is when that differential keeps increasing. There’s nothing wrong with someone making 10 times as much as someone else. But when that 10 times becomes 11 times next year, 12 times the year after, and so on, things start to become weird. Of course, that’s what’s happening with the super-rich in America and the rest of us. To me it’s especially troublesome because while I have no problem with people actually earning more than others, most of the super-rich get most of their income from not working – i.e., from investments. Anyway, here’s a wonderful article that shows income distribution and how it’s changed over the years.

March 18, 2009

No whining allowed

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 11:59 am

So what’s with all the whining about Obama increasing taxes on the rich? Here’s a chart showing the top marginal tax rate for about the last 90 years. Greed, sheer greed is what I say. It’s not even as though that extra money buys more happiness for the super-rich. Just  pathetic, useless greed. What’s wrong with these people?

tax_rate-chart

AIG bonuses as unreasonable compensation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 5:51 am

Most people are pretty pissed off at the $165 million in bonuses that AIG is handing out, and Congress and the President are making all the right noises. But will they take action, or is their outrage calculated, knowing that our attention span is short? It seems the latter because while expressing outrage, at the same time they are coming up with excuses why they can’t actually do anything about the bonuses. Well, think again. Aaron Zelinsky has a brilliant idea. Money quote:

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner should direct the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to challenge the AIG bonuses as unreasonable compensation under the Internal Revenue Code. Finding the AIG bonuses to be unreasonable compensation would render them nondeductible for federal tax purposes, and would strengthen potential shareholder derivative suits to recapture The Great AIG Giveaway.

March 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 9:15 am

Would you like to unify all your phones so that if someone calls you all your phones ring? Or have a single voice mail box? Or be able to make cheap international calls from your cell phone? Or be able to listen in while someone leaves you a voice message? Or have voice messages converted and sent to you as text messages?

All this will soon be available with Google Voice. Great article here.

March 12, 2009

THE $2 TRILLION SOLUTION?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 12:07 pm

This is such a brilliant idea! Wow! It’s probably got some downside, but so does not doing it 🙂

Why don’t we sell memberships in the United States of America (a member becomes a citizen after a short period), the cost is $1 million per approved person and we’ll take up to 2 million people (probably won’t even notice them).  I think that’s $2 trillion (plus all the other wealth and productivity they bring with them).

Taken directly from Andrew Tobias’ blog.

March 10, 2009

Yay! Tax Season

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicolarose @ 7:21 pm

This is my second year doing my own taxes (OK, well last year my dad helped me… and this year I’m thinking of hiring someone) but still, I’ve noticed that of these two years I’ve never been so stressed out as during the exciting gloomy Tax Season. Who knew taxes could be so awful?! Well, actually, I think everyone knows, but I apparently feel like it’s only me.

I know, I know. Taxes help  rebuild our roads, give money to our cities, help schools, parks, etc. etc. Yup, I’m all for all those things. They’re great. I’m not actually saying that I mind paying all the taxes (well…um…OK, yes I am). But what I’m really saying is that I hate the process of filing my taxes! The government has records of all our (legal) paychecks and wages earned, so I personally believe that they should just deal with our 1099’s for us. Can you imagine all the extra time you would have if you didn’t have to worry about them?!

In fact, I think if I wasn’t spending so much time stressing out my poor dad (and myself), I would actually be productive- and hey, maybe making  more money to spend on our dwindling economy. Now don’t we all think that’s a good idea?

I’m sure most of you  have already dealt with the burden of tax season this year and are breathing in a deep sigh of relief right about now that you’ve already completed yours. Well if not, welcome to my club. I think it’s time to protest and declare, “I’m not doing my taxes this year!” On the count of three let’s all tear up our tax paperwork and go spend some money.

Yup, that is my new year’s resolution. Although, on second thought, if I had just spent all this time doing my taxes instead of writing this, I might be done. Oh well.

March 9, 2009

Why strong, bossy states will be necessary

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 12:06 pm

I wasn’t planning on writing a blog entry, but I’ve just been reading Rootless Cosmopolitan, the latest entry being an article by Gavin Evans called Confessions of a Teenage Marxist. In the latter part  of the article, Evans predicts that the State will become increasingly important because of what he calls a paradox ingrained within capitalism:

For close on two decades, this evolving form of globalised capitalism was the only game in town. But then, wouldn’t you know, it turned out there was indeed a paradox ingrained within it. I’m not talking simply about the fissure exposed by the current economic crisis, nor about the contradictions that Marx had obsessed about, but rather, something far more fundamental: the very thing that made capitalism so strong and vibrant – its immense capacity for innovation, expansion and growth – turned out to be the source of its most profound challenge. The reason for this is that the more we produce, the more the earth protests, which in turn could destroy the capacity for production and for life.

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March 1, 2009

The trouble with electing judges

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 11:03 pm

I don’t know if you’ve read John Grisham’s book, The Appeal, so I won’t spoil the ending. Suffice to say that it’s about the buying of elected State Supreme Court Judges by corporations with the money to put into their campaigns. Grisham is clearly very, very troubled by the corruption of justice that this leads to.

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February 28, 2009

Republicans clueless about Jobs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 2:13 pm

It’s fascinating the way that the Republicans complain about Obama and the recovery plan, saying that it won’t create jobs. Like they have a clue.

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February 27, 2009

Obama’s Speech

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 5:37 am

Ok, now I regret it, I didn’t watch the speech. A friend sent me a link to an opinion piece by Peggy Noonan in the WSJ which I thought was pretty amazing. A Republican speechwriter praising a Democratic President. The article was titled Obama Dons the Presidential Cloak, and start with “A mysterious thing happened in that speech Tuesday night. By the end of it Barack Obama had become president.”

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February 26, 2009

Ignorant or Dishonest?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 1:00 pm

I received an email from a friend that contained a “letter” making the rounds – A Letter from a Granddad.

The letter starts something like this: Dear Susan, The election of Obama comes down to this. Your grandmother and I, your mother, and other productive, wage-earning tax payers will have their taxes increased and that means less income left over. Less income means we will have to cut back on basic purchases, gifts and handouts.

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February 23, 2009

Cool women drivers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 7:48 pm

Here are some amazing videos of women drivers (or so the video says). Some obviously are, but some drivers you never see. One amazing segment is of a woman trying to park a car, until a man in frustration parks it for her. Not that I have anything against women drivers you understand – some of my best friends are women.

Oscars 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — nicolarose @ 2:28 pm

Hello All! I’m very glad to be a new blogger…

Hope everyone watched the Oscars (Academy Awards) last night. As a fan of all the award shows, regardless if I’ve seen any of the nominated movies or not (and apparently last night I hadn’t seen many of them), they always interest me. The fashion is what’s more important, although I guess the show itself is alright.

Last night had a few good moments (Robert Pattinson anyone?!) like Ben Stiller acting as Joaquin Phoenix while presenting with Natalie Portman, Penelope Cruz asking if anyone has ever fainted on stage, and Kate Winslet calling out to her dad in the audience.

Although by far the best part of last night was being allowed to have an excuse for knowing all the gossip. This meant not feeling guilty when someone asked me a question about who gets to be in attendance, who Ben Stiller was acting as, what would happen to Heath’s Oscar if he won, and of course who was who and what they were wearing!

For a list of the winners- Click Here!

But more importantly, for all the fashion-Click Here!

February 22, 2009

My daughter, the new blogger

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 5:04 pm

My daughter has been complaining that I don’t post about interesting things like the woman who gave birth to 8 babies. So I offered her the opportunity to blog here. I’m sure the number of readers of this blog will now skyrocket.

February 21, 2009

The Size of Our World

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 5:52 pm

I came across this great graphic showing the size of the Earth relative to the other planets, then the planets relative to the Sun, and the Sun relative to other stars.

February 15, 2009

Conference on World Affairs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 9:25 am

I’m sitting here with about 120 people putting together the program for the 2009 Conference on World Affairs at CU Boulder. Reading through the topics that our 100 or so panelists want to talk about, I’d like to hear pretty much all of them talk. That’s always the problem with the Conference – there are too many fascinating panels to attend. That’s also the great thing about the Conference – there are so many fascinating panels to attend.

It will be held April 6-10 and information about the panels and panelists is online. Although there’s no schedule up yet since that’s what we are working on now. Keep checking back. In a few weeks printed programs will be available. Pick one up and then attend as many panels as you can. They are great.

February 14, 2009

More About…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 6:28 am

I went to hear Gary Marcus speak on what a kluge the human brain is. He’s a great speaker and it was a fascinating talk. The talk was sponsored by The Humanist and the Council for Secular Humanism. While I was there I picked up their respective magazines. I was reading Free Inquiry, the magazine of the latter organization, and came across two things that pertain to previous posts here.

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Acting Against their Interests: our Nation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 6:03 am

Well, the invasion of Iraq is an obvious example, but I don’t even want to go there. So let’s look at Afghanistan instead. Of what interest is Afghanistan to us? It has nothing we want. Sure, it harbored Bin Laden but that was 8 years ago and we weren’t paying attention. President Bush was told in his Daily Brief on August 6, 2001 that Bin Laden was determined to strike in the U.S. And the FBI was warned about Arabs who were learning to fly commercial jets but were not interested in learning how to land them. But that was then.

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February 13, 2009

Compound Interest and the Population Problem

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 6:01 am

If in 1492 Christopher Columbus had placed a single penny in a 6 percent interest-bearing account and instructed someone to remove the interest every year for safekeeping, when he retired 515 years later in 2007, his retirement fund would be worth 32 cents.

But if he had placed the same penny in the same interest-bearing account but left the earned interest to compound — earning interest upon the interest — his retirement fund in 2007 would be worth $107,775,640,215.56 (almost $108 billion). That is from a single penny deposited!

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February 12, 2009

Darwin – 200 today

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 2:09 pm

Today is the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin. Amazingly, this many years  after Darwin’s birth, evolution is still rejected by much of the world.

Richard Dawkins describes evolution as “a big idea, arguably the most powerful idea ever.” Daniel Dennett calls evolution “the greatest idea ever to occur to a human mind.”

But in last year in this country a Gallup poll found that only 14% of people agreed with the proposition that “humans developed over millions of years”. Things are looking up though as only 9% agreed in 1982.

Here’s a great little easy-to-read article about Darwin.

Do you make less than $1.6 million a year?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 1:34 pm

You loser.

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February 11, 2009

Evolution in our own Back Yard

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 8:35 am

Gary Marcus has an opinion piece article in the Wall Street Journal today:
Forget About Survival of the ‘Fittest’: Evolution usually makes do with ‘good enough.’

Marcus will be speaking at CU Boulder this Friday (February 13) at 6 p.m. in the Wolf Law School building (on Kittredge Loop Dr., off Regent Drive). The talk will be about his book, Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind.

February 7, 2009

Public acceptance of evolution

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 4:23 pm

Here’s an interesting chart showing public acceptance of evolution. The United States ranks just above Turkey, with less that 50 percent of people believing that evolution is true. God help us.

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February 6, 2009

Why do people act against their own interests?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 3:07 pm

I was pondering this question in the shower this morning. Everywhere I look I see people acting against their apparent interests, and I thought this would make a moderately interesting series of blog posts. So this is just a teaser 🙂

February 5, 2009

Increase your sales of DVDs by 23,000%

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 5:36 pm

Apparently Monty Python has “started a YouTube channel with tons of their sketches streaming for free. The included links to their DVDs at Amazon. The result was a whopping 23,000% increase in sales.”

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Rendition: Power and Torture

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 12:04 pm

I watched the movie Rendition yesterday on DVD, and had a definite roller-coaster of emotions. Sometimes I despised the abuse of power shown by people such as Meryl Streep. Sometimes I despised the abuse of religion as shown by the people who organized the suicide bombers. Sometimes I despaired over the attitude that one American dead is worth moving mountains over but that tens or hundreds of non-Americans dead is an inconvenience or an irrelevancy.

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February 3, 2009

Ignorant and Free?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 2:06 pm

If you saw the movie Control Room, Josh Rushing was the Marine captain they interviewed who gave some very thoughtful answers. Even if you didn’t see the movie, Josh Rushing was still the Marine captain they interviewed who gave some very thoughtful answers 🙂

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February 2, 2009

Those Thieving Banks

Filed under: Economics, Uncategorized — Alec @ 1:53 pm

From the economist Dean Baker:

These executives bankrupted their banks and brought the economy down with them. They belong in an unemployment line not collecting multi-million dollar paychecks in their designer office suites.

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January 31, 2009

Nice guys finish 4th, or is it 2nd, or ?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 7:05 pm

It’s actually difficult to know where Shawn Crawford finished in the Beijing Olympics 200m sprint. Was it 4th? or 2nd? or 3rd? Does giving away your medal change your position in the record books? And what will happen in the Court of Arbitration for Sport? Inquiring minds want to know.

More on Jan 28 Inauguration Photo post

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 7:01 pm

You probably didn’t even bother looking at the amazing 1.474 gigapixel photo I mentioned on January 28, in which case you probably don’t care how it was made. But just in case you did and you do, here’s how.

Watching the Growth of Walmart Across America

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 6:55 pm

I came across this web page that has an animated visualization of the growth of Walmart. The number of stores is shown in the upper left and the year in the lower right. Walmart just explodes in the South East. You can compare this with the growth of Target.

January 28, 2009

Great Inauguration Photo

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 2:25 pm

Here’s an amazing photo of Obama’s inauguration you can zoom into, with lots of pre-defined zooms. Fun to play with.

January 26, 2009

Sell 10 books and go to Jail

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 7:14 am

Sounds like something from Monopoly. Go straight to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Although in this case it’s an Australian author living in Thailand who self-published a novel that sold fewer than 10 copies. Now he’s in jail for 3 years. All because of a weird Thai law that makes it a crime to criticize the Thai Royal Family.

Thank God we have a First Amendment here in this country that allows us to criticize those in power. Remember Lord Acton’s quote? “Power Corrupts, Abolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.” That’s why it’s so important to have a free press and serious investigative journalism to keep the powerful in line by monitoring and reporting on their actions. Oh, whoops.

Moving to Canada

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 7:05 am

Damn, I live in the wrong place. Up in Canada Winston Blackmore has had 26 wives and 108 children…. um, on second thoughts, perhaps not such a great idea after all. I’ll stay where I am.

January 23, 2009

Perfect Exercises

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 1:54 pm

Everyone (okay, maybe not everyone, but lots of people) want to be stronger and fitter. People join health clubs and gyms, work out with weights and machines, do lots of different exercises. But some of us hate the idea of doing lots of exercises, and don’t particularly like going to the gym. For people like this there are only two exercises that you really need to do. One for the upper body and one for the lower body.

Push-ups are the perfect upper-body exercise. Hindu squats are the perfect lower-body exercise. With these two, you really don’t need more. And if you are like me and prefer activities that focus on the lower body (cycling, hiking and skiing in my case), you can even dispense with the push-ups 🙂

Here’s are some simple instructions for Hindu squats, some still photos, a video, and this is the authoritative site.

And if you want to do push-ups, I can’t think of a better place to start than 100 Pushups

January 21, 2009

Pogo and the Enemy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 9:27 pm

“We have met the enemy and he is us” – Pogo

Mark Slouka has written a fascinating article in the latest issue of Harper’s Magazine where he acknowledges that we have a new and far better administration. But he then points out that he’s much less certain about us. He gives the following examples.

My neighbor, a high school teacher living about an hour outside New York City, wants to torture a terrorist. He’s worried because he believes that Osama—excuse me, Obama—cares more about terrorists than he does about us. He’s never heard of the Spanish Inquisition. Another neighbor—an actual plumber, actually named Joe—wants Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tossed out of the high school library. Joe came by recently. Did I want my kids learning how to curse and kill dogs and commit adultery? he asked. I said that my kids already knew how to curse, and that I hadn’t realized that killing dogs and committing adultery were things you had to learn. He showed me the book. He and his wife had gone through it with a blue highlighter and highlighted the words “crap,” “shit,” and “damn” every time they appeared, on every page. They’d written to Laura Bush about it, and received a supportive letter in return, signed by the first lady. “You’re a teacher,” he said. “Don’t tell me you support this kind of filth.” I asked him if he’d read it. Well, no, he said, but he knew what it was about. He didn’t really go in for reading, himself, he said.

Read Full Article

January 20, 2009

This Land is Your Land

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 6:14 pm

Here’s a video of Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen singing Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land at the Obama Inaugural Celebration concert at the Lincoln Memorial, complete with the two “subversive” verses that are usually cut out. Here are the two verses.

As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

Chorus

In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

Update: YouTube has removed the video below – apparently it violates some HBO copyright. However, you can still see it here, with quite a bit more information about the song. You even get to see Barack Obama in the audience. It’s a really moving video, especially if you read the article and the comments.

And while we are at it, here are some reactions to the inauguration from other parts of the world, and an analysis of the speech from the U.K.

What a speech

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 10:47 am

What in incredible speech Obama gave. Almost every word was a repudiation of the Bush Administration policies. I felt almost sorry for Bush when the cameras cut over to him, looking very uncomfortable as he attempted to smile.

What is equally incredible is that Obama’s speechwriter, Jon Favreau, is 27 years old. Here’s a good article about Favreau from the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper (not that you care, but my cousin’s husband – cousin-in-law? – is the Editor of the Guardian).

The article finishes with this paragraph: “Favreau then went away and spent weeks on research. His team interviewed historians and speech writers, studied periods of crisis, and listened to past inaugural orations. When ready, he took up residence in Starbucks in Washington and wrote the first draft. The end result will be uttered on the steps of the Capitol.” I didn’t realize it took so long and so much work to write a good speech – must be why I’m not a speechwriter.

Here’s a transcript of the speech. I’m sure there will be plenty of analysis of the speech, and I suspect some of the foreign analyses will be more interesting. Here’s a real-time analysis of the speech and the inauguration events.

Let the partying begin! And if you are one of the few people who didn’t watch the inauguration and speech, here it is.

Endless fun

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 6:17 am

There’s this web site where you can endless fun looking through their slightly off-kilter e-cards. They do the usual thing of wanting you to enter the recipients email address and your address but I hate giving addresses out. So I just copy the larger image using right-mouse, Copy Image, then paste this into an email (depending on the email system you may need to save then attach the image).

Here’s a sample.

get-back-together

January 17, 2009

Going to hell?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 4:44 pm

Personally I believe that now is a better time to be alive than the past, but since I love this writer and her wonderful outrage, I have to provide a link to her article, Top 10 Signs the World is Going to Hell. Her introduction: “Seriously, every time I get an idea for a good post topic lately, I hear about something even more fucked up before I get a chance to write it. I can’t keep up with all the fucked up shit going on in the world right now … if I did, I’d be spending so damn much time writing for this site, I wouldn’t have time to go to work. So, I figure I’ll just do a quick roundup of all the bullshit, instead of trying to write a fucking novel about each and every one…”

Patrick McGoohan, RIP

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 4:34 pm

For those of you who never saw the great BBC series, The Prisoner, just skip this post. For those of you who loved the show, its star, Patrick McGoohan, died a few days ago on January 13th. Here’s a short but interesting obituary, “Patrick McGoohan RIP: The Prisoner Finally Escapes“. And if anyone wants to see The Prisoner, the entire series is available to watch here.

January 1, 2009

New lease of life for this blog

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 12:00 am

Well, I did kill this blog, but decided to resurrect it, with a new name, as a web site for the two books I’m working on. Oh, and with the occasional blog entry.

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