Archive for June, 2012


America In Decline: 10 Reasons You Should Start Studying Mandarin TODAY

[ 3 Comments ]Posted on June 28, 2012 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

The decline of the American Empire will be hard for some of us, but I for one welcome our new Chinese overlords. And the opportunity to brush up on my Mandarin.

A long time ago, I managed a Chinese restaurant for a couple of years, and found myself quickly adopted as a sort of Honorary Asian. I have to say, I honestly feel much more at ease with a lot of the cultural vibe of Chinese people than that of most American people. I won’t bore you with all the reasons why; but this will certainly come in handy in the impending econopocalypse. Someone observed back in the late 90′s that if China kept buying US treasury bonds at the rate they were, they’d own them all by 2018. But as a result of our self-destruction as a country over the last fifteen years or so, this has become kind of a moot point. China is now routinely discussed as a possible replacement for America as the world’s next superpower. The US dollar as the global standard for currency exchange is no longer a de facto assumption, and the trade balance between the US and China is… well…let’s just say that if the two countries were Facebook friends, their status would say they’re “In a relationship, but it’s complicated”. But I’m not here to get granular about the specifics of China and the US in relation to global finance, I’m here to help ease you into the future, by pointing out in broad strokes the things that have made it more or less inevitable that soon we’ll all be celebrating the New Year in February, buying our groceries with Yuan, and speaking Mandarin. At least the smarter of us will be speaking Mandarin, anyway. You’re much more likely to end up in management that way. So if you need to bone up and take things beyond the “ni hao” and “xie xie” stage, they say Fluenz Mandarin language software is the latest and greatest. But it’s also almost 400 bucks (about 2500 Yuan), so you might want to check out the trusty old Rosetta Stone, at a mere 150 bucks (or 950 Yuan). Anyway, below are the things we did to ourselves, and the reasons you may just want to sign up for that Mandarin class NOW. Read the rest of this entry »

Beneath the Surface of Microsoft Surface

[ Comments Off ]Posted on June 19, 2012 by admin in Technology

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

It’s the interface, stupid. And what Microsoft is doing may be bigger than you think.

Last week, some words came out of my mouth that you don’t hear coming from my mouth too often. They were “I’m really excited about this new Microsoft product!” Strangely, I wasn’t referring to Microsoft’s new Surface tablet. I had no idea it was coming. I was actually referring to Windows 8, but the announcement of the new Microsoft hardware just validated the things I was saying to a friend about why Windows 8 had me worked up. The funny thing is, I’m not really that excited about Windows 8 itself. I’m no Microsoft Fanboy by a long shot. I’m still running XP, because when I use a computer I really prefer ignoring the OS so I can just get work done. And glassy swooping windows don’t help me get work done. I even turn that stuff off on my beloved MacBook. And I don’t feel like battling with Linux. No, what I’m excited about is the fact that Windows 8 and a viable Windows tablet (don’t forget, they’ve tried this before) will probably push a paradigm shift I’ve personally been waiting for for almost a decade. And I think a lot of tech industry writers are really missing a beat here on the significance of what Microsoft is doing, by zeroing in separately on the device or the OS as focal points, rather than looking at the whole shift that is occurring. It’s similar to how the industry got wowed by the iPad or Kindle, while failing to notice the genius of where the real change was taking place, which was in the control of content. No, I think there’s a bigger shift afoot thanks to Microsoft’s new direction. Read the rest of this entry »

Occupy Uranus – The (ahem) End of the World As We Know It?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on June 7, 2012 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Okay, enough asstrological wisecracks. This summer begins a series of exact transit hits between Uranus and Pluto. When these planets have transited in the past century, we got the revolutionary 60′s and the rollup to World War II.

One fun thing about the world ending is that there are so many ways it can happen. I’ve always been into edgecrafting things, so I found myself utterly dissatisfied with the basic Mayan 2012 scenario. That’s why I early this year, I suggested more interesting possibilities like Chicken Shawarmageddon. I also happen to dabble in astrology (a potentially embarrassing fact I’ve previously shared here  and in my Astrology 101 piece), which meant that the revolution and protest of 2011 was no surprise to me. In fact I was predicting it a full year early. That’s probably why I haven’t gotten rich off my astrology skills. Anyway, events are in fact moving along more or less as one would expect when Uranus is squaring Pluto. The two planets began their little square dance in early 2011, coming within 5 degrees of squaring each other for the first time in January, around the time of the Egyptian uprisings. Pluto switched between retrograde and direct motion in short bursts until July, when it got in closer square with Uranus. The two planets remained in a close retrograde orb until Pluto broke away and went direct on September 17, 2011, which interestingly was the first day of the OWS occupation of Zucotti Park. Who knows, maybe the planners did this on purpose. A lot of them are old hippies, you know. In any case, this motion of Pluto pulled the two planets into a wider orb, reaching their greatest separation around the end of December, when they were about 7 degrees apart. You can blame Occupy fizzling on cold weather, I blame it on Uranus and Pluto. In any case, the two have been zooming back together since then, and will have their first transit “hit” (one of several) on June 26. We’re already seeing flareups of revolt and unrest around the world; most recently in Quebec, and prior to that, the May Day protests around the world that were most vigorous in Europe, where austerity is being shoved down the masses’ throats by an affluent elite. We’re also seeing things like (so far failed) attempts to recall leaders in the US, where the battleground again is over the working person fighting to retain their dignity while deceitful and affluent politicians legislate it away through things like union-busting, “emergency manager” acts, and teacher layoffs and pay cuts. So those are the planets involved, and some events that have occurred recently in the real world and their dates, but what is the supposed meaning of the phrase “Uranus square Pluto”? Read the rest of this entry »