7. Old Christmas Traditions; New Christmas Toys

Dec-20-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: xkcd looks at popular Christmas songs, and finds it’s all the Boomers’ fault. Brilliant research. Meanwhile David Sedaris has a very funny 15 minute monologue on the Netherlands strange traditions. A wonderful site (Thanks, Wilder!) called Know Your Meme will let you look up the latest trends and their history (look at what they do with the hip new phrase “yolo” for further enlightenment!) And David Pogue lets you find new gadgets under $100 to buy yourself  your beloveds, if you’re still searching.

* Xmas Tradition xkcd

* Six to Eight Black Men David Sedaris  YouTube

* December 21st, 2012  Know Your Meme

 Learn about why some people have been predicting the end of the world on 12/21/12 for over 56 years, and who the authors were who popularized the story.

* David Pogue’s 12 Days of Gadgets

Why can’t somebody invent a little beeper for your key ring? If you walk away from your smartphone (iPhone, Android phone or BlackBerry), your key chain beeps to alert you.

And it could work the other way, too. If you leave your keys somewhere, the phone beeps to alert you as you walk away!

That’s exactly the point of the Cirago iAlert Tag



12. Quotes of the Week

Dec-20-2012 | Comments Off

* “The way to be happy is to find something that requires the kind of perfection that’s impossible to achieve and spend the rest of your life trying to achieve it.” Winston Churchill (Thanks, Diana!)

* “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”   A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh



7. Wouldn’t it be Great if There Were no Hypothetical Questions?

Nov-30-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: The brilliant online comic, xkcd, has been running a sequence of hypothetical questions, and we link to two recent examples. And the Quora question opens the door to some wonderful late night discussions.

If you could experience a month in the mind of any fictional character, which mind would you choose? Why?  Quora

* “If you carry a penny in your coin tray, how long would it take for that penny to cost you more than a cent in extra gas?” xkcd

But gas money isn’t the only cost attached to a penny. Let’s consider some of the others.

Suppose you found it on the ground on the way to your car. How much did it cost you to pick it up in the first place?

How much is your time worth? This obviously depends on a lot of things and varies from time to time and person to person. But for a broad estimate, I sometimes use a ballpark value of $10/hour—which is somewhere between the US minimum wage and the average wage—but you can adjust up or down to fit your preference.

If your time is worth $10 an hour, a penny is worth 3.6 seconds. If spotting and picking up a penny takes you more than 3.6 seconds, it’s a loss.

…But on the other hand, burning calories is exercise, which is good for you. Crouching to pick up that penny is equivalent to two or three seconds on an exercise machine. What’s that worth?

Well, one study suggests that 15 minutes of moderate exercise per day adds three years to your life expectancy (with smaller improvements in mortality rate for progressively more daily exercise). It’s a tremendous oversimplification, but a crude back-of-the-envelope estimate suggests each calorie burned adds something like 30 seconds to your life—or 12 seconds per penny.

But wait—if it only takes a couple seconds to pick up a penny, but it pays back 12 seconds, then you could game the system by repeatedly dropping a penny and picking it back up …

* Today’s topic: Lightning xkcd

Before we go any further, I want to emphasize something:

I am not an authority on lightning safety. I am a guy who draws pictures on the internet. I like when things catch fire and explode, which means I do not have your best interests in mind. The authorities on lightning safety are the folks at the US National Weather Service.

Ok. With that out of the way …




5. Followups

Oct-12-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: What have we got? A delightfully scathing speech from the Aussie PM, Julia Gillard, follows up on last week’s gender issue. Books are better, thanks to the demise of the publishing industry. A detailed review of David Byrne’s book on music establishes that he’s more than just another talking head, and a truly lovely photo arrives a little late for our autumnal photo spread.

* Gillard Labels Abbott A Misogynist – YouTube (via boingboing)

Australian PM Julia Gillard rose in Parliament to address a motion from the leader of the opposition Tony Abbott to dismiss the Speaker of the House for sending sexist text messages. She proceeded to unload on the smarmy shitheel opposite her for fifteen solid minutes, setting out his record of awful, misogynist garbage. 

* It’s Hard Out Here   Tremble the Devil

Traditional publishing never worked, it was an industry ruled by chance and blind luck. Its demise will be the best thing that’s ever happened to authors as the royalty system is rearranged and bureaucratic fat is removed from the system.

* “How Music Works” by David Byrne – review The Observer

Ever against the grain, the now 60-year-old Byrne explores a whole symphony of argument in this extraordinary book with the precise, technical enthusiasm you’d expect from the painfully bright art school-educated son – born in Scotland, raised in the States – of an electrical engineer, occasionally mopping his fevered brow in the crestfallen manner of a 19th-century poet. The title is perfectly chosen. Music doesn’t just work because of its effect on the senses; every aspect of its sound and construction has an emotional impact, right up to the way it’s distributed, even marketed, and the machines on which it’s consumed. It’s fascinating.

Even before you hear music, Byrne points out, it has been shaped by the environment it was designed to be heard in, and by the equipment employed to make or record it. Much of the slow, stately western music of the middle ages sounds the way it does because it had to work within the four-second reverberations of stone-walled cathedrals (Bach’s was more agile because he mostly wrote on a small church pipe organ). Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby capitalized on the arrival of the microphone as it allowed them to reach their predominantly female following with a whisper not a shout.

Arena rock of the early 70s evolved as a way of reaching the back of the sonically unsuitable sports stadia that the expanding market now required its bands to perform in. Talking Heads themselves fashioned their angular funk partly because it suited the acoustics of CBGB, the box-like New York club that launched them. Byrne no longer plays at Carnegie Hall, he explains, because it’s designed for opera and thus deadens his current brand of highly percussive “groove music”.

* A Wall Of Fall   Flickr



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