Thursday, November 29, 2007

Middle-East Mess

I am on an excellent mailing list that sends me a flood of good information on the "situation" in the Middle-East (If you want to join it, write it in a comment which will then be emailed to me and I'll put you on). These cartoons are from the Center for American Progress Fund.

Democracy Now is an excellent resource for this topic. The latest show includes talks by Noam Chomsky and Archbishop Tutu on the Annapolis conference. There's even an interlude with Hendrix's performance of the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock. Start the video at 9 minutes to skip the current headlines. If you don't like RealAudio get the Real Alternative, it works well with Media Player Classic (not Windows Media Player) and you get it in the download.

Geist giddiness

Geist is one of my favourite reads. In addition to publishing the witty and intelligent Geist Atlas, pure bliss for $25,

each issue contains a number of well written articles that frequently cause me to pause at their beauty and ingenuity. The latter applies to Okay, So If the Seventies, Then What? Check out a few entries:


pierced ears

conceptual art

The Joy of Sex


elephant pants


pierced nose

post-modern art

safe sex


Elephant Man


pierced genitals

Day Without Art

The Joy of Cooking

physically challenged

elephant garlic

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Good Old NG Reliability

The latest issue of National Geographic has a story about modern day Bethlehem. After having seen a photo essay on Bethlehem, I was impressed with the quality of the reporting and the fact that the magazine, especially since it is published in the U.S., did not sidestep the issue. Here are some stills from the essay, the first is of the gate and the second is of a once thriving boulevard now split in half (for other essays and video tours go here).

Here is a cool map that sums up much of the issue:

If you want to support Palestine in a non-political way (my preference, since my views are mixed) Zaytoun Olive Oil and Canaan Fair Trade sell organic/fair trade olive oil from Palestine.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bovine Humour

Both the Uncyclopedia and TheCapitol have collections of "you have two cows" statements. Although many are very cheesy and the Uncyclopedia's use of terms like Cowtegory and Politicowl offputting, I find some very funny (I guess its due tomy economics' background on which they are based). Here are a few of my favourites:

Socialism: You have 2 cows; you give one to your neighbour.
Communism: You have 2 cows. The state takes both and gives you some milk.
Fascism: You have 2 cows. The state takes both and sells you some milk.
Nazism: You have 2 cows. The state takes both and shoots you.
Bureaucracy: You have 2 cows. The state takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away.
American Corporation: You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyze why the cow has dropped dead.
Chinese Corporation: You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity, and execute the newsman who reported the real situation.
Iraqi Corporation: Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. You tell them that you have one. No one believes you, so they bomb you and invade your country. You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of a democracy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mozilla bliss

Years ago I left the relatively obscure but satisfying browser-world of Opera (over the years it has developed unparallelled compatibility with hand-held devices) to support Firefox, a browser with much press and a gaining share against the Windows-embedded Explorer. I still can't believe America did not arrive at this conclusion (as the EU did) in its anti-trust case. A distaste for Outlook's control also formed this decision as I gladly switched to Thunderbird, Firefox's compliment. Despite incorporating a number of add-ons (Adblock Plus and FoxyTunes, although I now frequently use the first-class iTunes Companion widget, are my favourite), the Candian-English Dictionary, and the Google Canada Search Engine to Firefox, until yesterday, I had not done the same for Thunderbird. The need for reminders to check my budget status (I am a chronic over-spender) led me to ReminderFox. With this add-on every time I open Thunderbird a frame pops up with the reminder, "Today's reminders: ...; Upcoming reminders: December 1 BUDGET". You can modify it to suit your necessary level of annoyance. From searching for this program I found Signature Switch, which not only allows me to turn on or off my signature, but also to choose from many. My favourite is the Fortune Cookie which randomly selects from a number of signatures. This program requires some HTML know-how, but can be relatively easily figured out by consulting the fragmented help-pages (my only criticism).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Iraq bits

Of course, American foreign policy has much to be desired. Here's a couple of items to add some levity to the situation.

This video shows the way that Humvees rule the streets of Baghdad. Unfortunately, only a tantalizing bit of dialogue is included, "There's a guy just picking his nose, not a fucking care in the world."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Gracenote and Joseph Arthur

Gracenote, the famed and incredibly extensive database of music that a number of programs including iTunes uses, has produced a new feature: Music Maps. Click on a region of the globe and find out the current top artists and albums (based on the number of times they are looked up by applications from that region). Unfortunately Canada, that great country of mine, is not broken up by province like the U.S. but you can get a good idea of what those segments with computers or similar devices (jukeboxes) are listening to.

Today I just discovered Joseph Arthur via his song A River Blue on the Serve2 (Fighting Hunger and Poverty) album. Given that he is such a great artist I feel somewhat ashamed that I have not heard of him previously. I downloaded a few free tunes and listened to his new album Nuclear Daydream. I also downloaded a recent concert featuring most of the songs as well as a number of others. The concerts cost $9.99 (less in Canadian $, ha!) and are available in MP3, AAC, and FLAC. In addition, nearly all the proceeds go directly to the artists. The sound quality of each concert varies widely so preview them before downloading.

After watching M.I.A's creepy Best Story Every on The Hour, I checked out some of her music. The track Paper Planes combines the haunting but jolting sounds of a gun firing, the gun being cocked and a cash register ringing. The clever mixing of these sounds provides an social commentary on its own which underpins the song's verses. Brilliant but disturbing.

Steve Tilley

I came upon a column he wrote in 24HRS.CA on November 2 which was hilarious: "The closest I've ever come to experiencing gadget sex is when I was oohing and aahing over a robot dog at a Sony product showroom in Tokyo and it tried to hump my leg." He continues that if gadgets could mate he would have the Sony Ericsson W580i and the HTC Touch do so to produce the ultimate cell-phone, "I would happily get some scented candles, a Barry White album and a nice hotel room [for them]." He ends this entertaining review with, "They come from different worlds, these two phones, and their ill-fated love would probably end in tears. But man, they'd have some great looking kids."

I would have liked to provide a link for this review but the 24HRS.CA website is centred on the latest issue and one can only find random access to their back issues through Google. Their search sucks and did not return the above article neither did the link provided on the print version for his blog work. The site definitely needs some work.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Recently I have come across a number of great designs. MILK is a very innovative desk in which a fish tank, trash can and iPod housing can be incorporated. In the case of this product the website design is just as clever as the product. Check it out. Mobelform has developed a number of lines of very clever convertible furniture; my favourites are the Doc which converts from a couch to bunk beds and the Nuovoliola which is similar to a Murphy bed, but has a couch in front of it when it is closed and a shelf which remains horizontal while the bed is pulled down. The k500d is a table with a built-in leaf. They also have well designed T.V. stands such as the Periscope that allows for remote-controlled height adjustment. The Histoire d'o is a circular rotating bed with a built-in unit on one side that is drool-worthy. I really recommend viewing the Flash animations for these products.

In Vancouver the Danish Way of Living exhibition at 142 Water Street has a number of profound designs: the Yoga chair (with side table and stool) designed by Erik Magnussen is fashioned from a single piece of tubular steel and Arne Jacobsen's egg chair is a whimsical version of the original. The exhibition also features lamps, household accessories, carpets and jewellery.

Political web

The Internet as a relatively unregulated domain provides some brilliant resources (and satires) for the U.S. political landscape. The Democratic Candidate Mashup is an excellent example of the versatile offerings of the Internet. This resource allows the user to select two candidates and compare their opinions via video interviews on the issues of Iraq, Health Care, Education, and my favourite, The Bill Maher Grill.

Of course, satire remains a favourite prong of attack and the offerings range from the strangely satisfying Falling George Bush Screensaver to the brilliantly conceived Lil' Bush (click the link and look under Lineup; the site also has a number of shows including a favourite of mine, Corner Gas). This show is only available on-line so they don't have to pull the punches; the premise is that Bush created this show to distract the populace from his policies. A favourite scene from the latest episode is when Cheney dies and goes to hell only to out devil the Devil. Satan returns him to earth so that he can rule his domain and return it to a less sinister level of evil. Remember the Transformers have nothing on Bush, only he can transform a surplus into a debt and a lost election into a win.


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