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Current Topic: Miscellaneous

Reflections on the Buying and Selling of Affordable Indulgences
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:19 pm EDT, Jul  6, 2008

Here, for the foreseeable future, Starbucks remains the "affordable indulgence" Schultz has always described.

Having refused the poor what is necessary, they give the rich what is superfluous.

Perhaps the most powerful way in which we conspire against ourselves is the simple fact that we have jobs.

Now 12,000 partners had suddenly learned what betrayal really was. Surely, I surmised, they'd be venting on starbucksgossip.com, the website largely of, by, and for Starbucks employees.

In 1876, a man named Henry Wickham smuggled seventy thousand rubber tree seeds out of the rainforests of Brazil and delivered them to Victorian England’s most prestigious scientists at Kew Gardens. Those seeds, planted around the world in England’s colonial outposts, gave rise to the great rubber boom of the early twentieth century -- an explosion of entrepreneurial and scientific industry that would change the world. The story of how Wickham got his hands on those seeds -- a sought-after prize for which many suffered and died -- is the stuff of legend. In this utterly engaging account of obsession, greed, bravery, and betrayal, author and journalist Joe Jackson brings to life a classic Victorian fortune hunter and the empire that fueled, then abandoned, him.

Rule No. 1: Betray your employer before your employer betrays you.
Rule No. 2: Remember what you are selling.
Rule No. 3: Hide your motives. Or, specifically, minimize the appearance of financial interest.

For some, the new era of lightweight, lightning-fast software design is akin to a guerrilla movement rattling the walls of stodgy corporate development organizations. "They stole our revolution and now we're stealing it back and selling it to Yahoo," said Bruce Sterling.

Dick’s novels, reread, invite us to pick one page and draw a thick line across it, separating the novel into before and after the protagonist learns (or believes he has learned) what’s really going on: often we realise, far into the after portion, that we may never know.

America will be a more secure country once it discards the notion that ... [ Read More (1.2k in body) ]


The silence of the concrete dinosaurs
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:57 am EDT, Jun  9, 2008

Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion. Some would say this is exactly the kind of music people would pay good money to be able to silence. By invoking emotionally volatile imagery, The Forever War, Science Fiction Version, reads exactly like Chinese propaganda. Remember: You can't beat the Axis if you get VD. Also, beware the temes.

Although we weren't meant to suffer this much, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about. We must subvert the status quo, and we must reconsider the necessity and wisdom of the blanket, indiscriminate classification.

What we have here is a family of concrete dinosaurs, making an epic journey of neurodiscovery. Despite the tendencies of the 'uneducated', at some point, they will come to recognize the value of loitering -- not to be confused with The Forever War, Real World Version.

A recap of the last thirty days.


This is not the time for object lessons in temptation and fascination
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:24 am EDT, Apr  6, 2008

It is tempting to keep uncovering facts, all of them interesting.

I don't wear a hijab, nor am I Muslim, but textiles fascinate me.

Do not try to teach a child any lessons on an airplane.
This is not the time to square off about limit setting.
This is a time for distraction and entertainment.

Two adults and one cat do not need two, identical lasagna pans.
It is tempting to ponder why I own two, but this is not the time.

It is tempting to opt for baby blue rather than bright blue with black,
because it seems like a softer combination, but that looks like business wear.
There's nothing wrong with that, but it's not fashion, darling.


Foreign Policy: Seven Questions: Waiting for a Cyber Pearl Harbor
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:09 am EDT, Apr  3, 2008

Chinese hackers are growing increasingly bold in probing critical U.S. defense networks. But former U.S. counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke tells FP that if the United States waits for a dramatic, 9/11-style attack on its critical infrastructure to act, it will be missing the real threat.

Foreign Policy: Seven Questions: Waiting for a Cyber Pearl Harbor


A Conversation with Jason Hoffman
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:23 pm EST, Feb 20, 2008

A systems scientist looks at virtualization, scalability, and Ruby on Rails.

A Conversation with Jason Hoffman


In wake of debacle, and with considerable fanfare, relentless ugliness is declared new partner of choice
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:28 pm EST, Feb  2, 2008

Who would have thought the ultimate three-girls-in-the-city flick would premiere not in the flapper-fast 20s, the satin-slouch 30s, or the shoulder-pad 40s, but in the white-glove, bullet-bra 50s? In 1959, with considerable fanfare, Twentieth Century Fox premiered The Best of Everything, a title it took seriously. The movie was in CinemaScope, of course, as were all major Fox films after 1953, and the color was by DeLuxe. Indeed, "deluxe" was the operative word ...

Where some moviegoers might have seen relentless ugliness, I saw a profound beauty.

Cisco's proven competence in networking makes it our partner of choice."

Young people sought Elvis's cafe as refuge from the relentless ugliness that pervaded most public gathering places.

“Finalizing a new partner would be my first priority as the new CEO,“ Singh said. “I intend to establish GE Money as the partner of choice to both consumers and business partners.”

The relentless ugliness of the industrial age, the telegraph wires and smokestacks and steel trusswork, unnerved him. How could he be true to the contemporary world without allowing its mess and banality to infect his art?

Telecom Egypt has a decades-long tradition of being the partner of choice to all Asia-Europe submarine cable systems, by providing the infrastructure for crossing from Red to Mediterranean Seas.

He was a relentless boozer, a sucker puncher and a chippy chaser, and the sum of his personal ugliness overwhelmed whatever good he did for the New York Yankees.

chippie-chaser (also chippy-chaser) 1 [late 19C-1930s] a well-dressed loafer who spec, pursues young shopgirls and even schoolgirls. 2 [1920s+] a devot... [ Read More (0.5k in body) ]


Mucking About in a Vast Series of Tubes, Secretively Slapping Together a Post
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:22 pm EST, Jan 28, 2008

Last week the Federal Reserve announced the biggest cut in overnight lending rates in more than two decades. Congress, not to be outdone, is slapping together a massive deficit spending package aimed at giving the economy an emergency booster shot.

The CIA and the Pentagon didn't want other agencies mucking about in their computer networks; other agencies sought to maintain exclusive relationships with certain industries.

Indeed, al-Qaida, a secret and secretive organization, would be much more immune to Israeli retaliations than is Hamas, a generally pragmatic organization.

Naturally, the helpful Garbage Pail Kids want to assist, so they all steal some sewing machines and begin slapping together nightclubbing dresses for teen whores.

We must trust the richness of children's ideas, the report says, not impose our own. Case studies in the report emphasise exploration, experimentation and "mucking about with things".

The Israeli explanation for this rather casual approach to security is that the facility was so secret, not even the Syrian Army knew about it, hence the lack of defensive measures. Michael acidly suggests, “this reactor was so secretive that nobody in Syria knew about its existence. Only the Israelis knew.”

Employee engagement is one of the biggest issues facing any leading food or non-food retailer. The specific challenges for Mr Schultz were set out in a recent book, Punching In, by Alex Frankel, who worked as a trainee barista in a San Francisco Starbucks outlet in 2005. He recounts a chaotic introduction to the company, with no time to read the extensive spiral binders of training information, and a feeling that the employees were simply "slapping together" an overly expensive beverage, without any of the "romance and theatre" Mr Schultz says is at the heart of its brand.

"Well, one day I was mucking about in the shower, trying to make someone laugh by undermining the point of jokes."

Why are secret societies so secretive?... [ Read More (0.6k in body) ]


The 2007 Feltron Annual Report
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:08 pm EST, Jan 16, 2008

This one's for the lovers of great information design.

Definitely check this out if you are a fan of Edward Tufte ("Beautiful Evidence") or Richard Saul Wurman ("Understanding USA").

People who like to mail out chatty year-end newsletters should follow this lead for next year.

The 2007 Feltron Annual Report


Big Fans of Bridging the Gap between Desirements and Touch Points
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:48 pm EST, Jan  1, 2008

For our final touch point this year, I'd like to share a quick story with you -- one that you may or may not know.

It serves as a touch point for various kinds of winter sports, such as cross-country skiing, fishing and cycling down the snow covered slopes.

"I think this is kind of lame, myself," he said. "It's kind of curling but not really curling, you know? It doesn't have the energy of curling. I'm not a big fan of it at all."

Their intuitive consumer touch point bridges the gap between the TV and Internet worlds through the "tagging" or "bookmarking" of TV content and moves both platforms towards addressability and accountability.

Brady, on the other hand, successfully bridges the gap between football’s sexually diverse fans, attracting both straights and gays, without getting caught in the crossfire of sexual politics.

He acknowledges that big-picture thinking about genetics and biotechnology is not part of an average Canadian Anglican's life. But related issues of disability are a touch point with most.

"It's a little bit slow for me. The balls get really fluffy and it plays extremely slow. I am not a big fan."

"It’s simpler to pull plans that are set rather than have to create out of whole cloth at the last second."

Mars, however, stands out as a chocolate maker caught in the crossfire of all the changes.

Here are ten reasons why Santa’s Service Oriented Architecture is exemplary: ... the SOA bridges the gap between the executive office (Santa) and staff (elves) to execute on common goals. ...

In addition to the 787's next-generation passenger amenities and substantially improved fuel efficiency, the plane also serves as a touch-point in the aerospace battle between Boeing and Airbus.

"They have a ... [ Read More (0.5k in body) ]


Timeless Smarminess Is From Heaven
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:03 pm EST, Jan  1, 2008

In general, they say, it's best not to overdo something -- unless it's toile, which is "timeless," Sharkey says, and meant to be used all over the place.

Confetti was available for sale, which was meant to be "thrown all over the place" at midnight. This "confetti trashing" was a big hit last year and "everyone seemed to have a good time."

Your train of thought has definitely left the station.

Say what you will, but the Wii's demand will fade and people will be left wondering where all the exciting games are. Suffice it to say, this thing will forever be known as the fad of 2007.

Suffice it to say that with house prices sliding like children at recess and the pace of foreclosures almost certain to escalate in 2008, the sector's severe drag on the overall economy is unlikely to wane.

This train of thought prepares you for understanding that the small gang of AARP card-carrying grizzled faces and white mustaches that waits just on the other side of the windowless door, despite their flannel shirts, foam hats and belt buckle trophies, is gay.

Say what you will about the guy's music, but John Mayer's blog is actually kind of funny.

This is so mind-blowingly ridiculous I'll leave all of the smarminess to you guys to wipe up in the comments.

Say what you will about the smarminess of your average Starbucks ("And what might I get started for you?" "Well, something you'll finish, I hope."), the soy lattes are from heaven.

Costume designers Alisha Engle and Mark Spain are also top notch. "Our costumes are from heaven," Anderson sighs. "The detailing is beautiful. The women who sold donuts wear these exquisite red wooden shoes and we have people with doublets and things. The worst thing about being a playwright is that I don't get a costume!"

... [ Read More (0.3k in body) ]

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