Archive for May, 2010

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There’s An Elephant In The Room

[ Comments Off ]Posted on May 26, 2010 by admin in Politics

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

The GOP’s mascot is an excellent symbol for the dysfunctional oblivion of America these days.

There’s a big elephant in the room we call America, and it’s making me a little uneasy. Although I joked recently that a monkey would be the perfect mascot for the American voter, it had never struck me until today how appropriate the GOP’s mascot is if you can pause and view the nation as one big dysfunctional family. After one of the most self-righteous and elitist administrations of my lifetime gutted the economy and destabilized the world in general with their clearly ill-conceived agenda, we now have to listen to former Bush buttboys like Karl Rove implying that the BP spill in the gulf is somehow “Obama’s Katrina”, as if a man-made and Bush-enabled catastrophe can somehow be compared to a hurricane and a shockingly inept and profoundly unqualified FEMA director. And this is just the most recent glaring example of the self-deceit of a typical GOP supporter these days. Don’t get me wrong, I hardly define myself as a Democrat; what makes me even crazier is that this kind of self-delusion seems to cross all party lines when it comes to economics. Have you noticed that as huge segments of the global economy skid into the ditch, what mostly is going on is that people in general and the media in particular keep acting like somehow the trillions in imaginary money that the world is loaning itself is somehow going to materialize later in some magic fairy bank of the future? To me it feels like the global economy is a cartoon character that just skidded off a cliff and hasn’t fallen into the abyss because it hasn’t looked down yet.

Offshore Wind Power Project Coming To Great Lakes

[ Comments Off ]Posted on May 25, 2010 by admin in Clean & Green

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Stop with all your hot air about the gulf oil spill. Sell your car and put all that wind to use more positively.

If you live in America, the next time you’re looking at depressing photos of the oily black sludge washing up on the coasts and in the wetlands of Louisiana, look for your reflection in the oil slick. It’s probably there. And after you ponder YOUR part in the latest tragedy, try visualizing this: instead of black oil spewing from the bottom of the ocean, picture rows of gracefully twirling white turbine blades supplying the same energy. I’m pretty excited that alternative energy is finally becoming a reality; Texas expects to derive 20% of their power from non-petrol sources by 2030 (and they’re WAY ahead of schedule) , Horns Rev off the coast of Denmark has been generating offshore windpower since 2002, there’s a plan for Cape Cod to generate 75% of the area’s power from wind by 2012, and as someone who currently lives in the Great Lakes area, it’s exciting to see that an offshore windpower project is being launched on Lake Erie. Especially since it’s such an amazing example of turning things around; at one point in time, Lake Erie was so filthy that it was joked that walking on it was safer than swimming in it. And wouldn’t it be awesome if the state best known for building gas-guzzlers became a haven for cutting-edge clean tech? After all, they say there’s over 300 Gigawatts waiting to be exploited here.

Technology Lends A Hand

[ Comments Off ]Posted on May 24, 2010 by admin in Technology

Monday, May 24th, 2010

A handy roundup of the latest in (ahem) digital technology.

I have a confession to make. I’ve never really enjoyed being an organic life form. The whole process is so dirty and oily and smelly and, well…ORGANIC. I’ve always assumed that I’ll live long enough to transfer my body to a plasteel replacement and live forever. So I’m always keeping an eye on robotic technology, and usually bitching about it. I was a little impressed by this BBC News video though, which demonstrates a hand that not only responds to the users intentions to move it, but provides tactile feedback as well. Called the SmartHand, and developed by a team of European, Israeli, and Icelandic scientists, the hand is expected to find wide use for those who have lost a hand and been forced to make do with the crude claws and prosthetics that were the only option available prior to the last couple of years. As I tried to get a finger on the pulse of robot hand technology in 2010, I realized there’s so much going on this field that it’s hard to get a grasp on all the recent developments. There are two distinct fields of development going on though; devices that are designed as prosthetics, like the SmartHand featured in that BBC link or the iLimb (made by BeBionic), or devices that are amazingly sophisticated, but certainly not something you’d stick on the end of your arm, like Ishikawa Komuro Labs’ amazing high speed robot hands, or Shadow Robot Company’s dainty CyberGlove. More clips below. Read the rest of this entry »

Why I’ll Probably Never Ask You To Marry Me

[ Comments Off ]Posted on May 23, 2010 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Oscar Wilde said that “Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence”. Me, I’m just waiting for Sandra Bullock to call.

Some of us don’t have time for this crap.

It was H.L. Mencken who said “Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who would want to live in an institution?”, which may have something to do with my seemingly eternal unmarriedness. If – as I am – you’re over thirty-something and not married, there are two extreme poles that you may have gravitated toward. On the one hand, you may be forlorn and fill your evenings scouring Facebook for lost loves, and for new ones. On the other, you may be self-deluded into an ecstatic sort of glee with the freedoms you have, taking an irrational pride in your golf swing or bitchin’ pilates skills while you chuckle smugly at your grumpy married friends. I don’t meet too many people in between. Which seems to be one of the sad side effects of marriage in western culture. Thanks to decades of Disney and family television, many of us dream of a magical world in which you find romance and stability in the same partner, and in a very consumer-like fashion are eventually disappointed and return the product for a refund. But the fact is that our narrow perception of what marriage means is just that – a narrow perception. This Psychology today piece tidily rounds up the history of marriage in the west, and if you put the pieces together, it paints a pretty amusing picture wherein the wealthy historically got married for completely unromantic reasons and had all the real fun on the side, and then convinced the peasantry that marriage was sacred so they didn’t get too rowdy. Thank God we have such amazing technology at our fingertips these days, and may finally escape this con perpetrated for centuries by the ruling class. Yes, Facebook can predict who you’ll be dating next week, and mathematics can tell you when you’ll get divorced. If we can just find an algorithm for making the bit in between more fun, we’ll be all set. Me, I’ll get married if Sandra Bullock ever gets around to asking me, but for now, here are some quotes that sum up a lot of what I think about marriage… Read the rest of this entry »

Bell Gardens – Hangups Need Company

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on May 22, 2010 by admin in Music

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Members of the groups Stars Of The Lid and Furry Things get together to form the immaculately anachronistic pop group Bell Gardens.

If you enjoy perusing the meandering sub-genres of current indy pop, you might be intrigued by Bell Gardens’ new EP “Hangups Need Company” (available on vinyl as well as digital). Bell Gardens features members from ambient act Stars of the Lid, which is what first drew my attention. I fell in love with Stars of the Lid mainly because their music sounds so much like some of my own music (listen to “On The Eve” and “Redshore” from that link for comparison). Don’t look for the same ethereal ambient stylings in Bell Gardens’ music though; while they themselves reference the Beach Boys’ Cuddle Up, Jack Nitzsche’s We Have To Stay, and Bobby Vinton as influences, I can confidently say they lifted pages straight from Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother and the entire gestalt of obscure 60′s folk psychedelia. The songs have a strangely comforting honesty that’s created by – as they put it – “mainly live instrumentation, thinking about what was available in studios from the 50s to the mid 70s”. If I had heard “Hangups Need Company” without knowing who it was, I would be certain that it was some lost pop treasure from the late 60′s. The videos they’ve made available so far (see below) capture a sort of David Lynch vibe with their quirky and surreally anachronistic images. Read the rest of this entry »

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