A Former Best Half Hour Of The Day Melted Further, For Reflective Fun

We recently noted two days in a row that it might be good to take half an hour or so each day to reflect; hinting that there is general tendency to not allot enough daily time for reading, for important ideas, etc.. Of course, sometimes when one reads such a thought, in hindsight it can sound heavy and dull and self-important and, well, probably boring.

Cheer up. The cartoon editor of the New Yorker insists on it, and he is good at getting his way:

I just finished a fascinating blog post by Joshua Rothman called “What College Can’t Do.” There are so many insightful points in the essay that it wouldn’t make sense for me to cite just a quote or two. Continue reading

Nothing To Laugh About, But We Cannot Help Ourselves Every Now And Then…



True, we sometimes share doom and gloom, but sparingly. We attempt here to balance it with a note on Deniers (we share full text here, but please click through to the original so the author and publication receive proper benefit):

I accept that changes in climate are causing ocean updrafts that draw killer sharks into the atmosphere and then drop them on populated areas, but I don’t believe human activity is the cause.”

“Out here in Oklahoma, we have the same problems that the rest of the country is experiencing, with wind-borne sharks crashing through billboards and attacking folks on their way to work and so on. We have yet to see a single study, however, that connects any of these shark conditions specifically to our local fossil-fuel industries.”

“Tree-ring studies done on petrified wood from Utah reveal six-inch-long fossilized teeth of the Megalodon, the largest shark in the history of the earth, embedded in the trunks of ponderosa-pine trees more than three hundred thousand years old—trees that lived a thousand miles from the nearest ocean! So tell me: did my S.U.V. cause that?” Continue reading

Monkeying around in Cardamom County

Monkey mischief at the Periyar Tiger Reserve, neighbor of Cardamom County

I have never had to take monkeys into consideration when gardening before.

I am at this jungle-like Raxa Collective property in Thekkady, India. I am here to work as an intern to help with creating a more farm-to-table relationship in the restaurant at Cardamom County. There is an organic garden here that is already providing the restaurant with a decent percentage of their staple foods. However, we face a little problem with some main ingredients such as tomatoes, eggplants, and actually anything sweet that we might like to grow such as grapes or pomegranates.

Monkeys. Continue reading

Something In The Air

A Greenpeace protest juxtaposed the drowning of some of the world's most iconic structures with Cancun, Mexico's, rising skyline. Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

A Greenpeace protest juxtaposed the drowning of some of the world’s most iconic structures with Cancun, Mexico’s, rising skyline. Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

After this recent story, we maybe are just more aware of this theme and watching for it, or else there is something sticky about it:

Climate Change: A Time For Humor, A Time For Action

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Go Ahead, Laugh About Climate Change

climate-change-comedy-290I am not 100% certain that laughter is an antidote to anything, but every now and then it seems like the only option. HOW TO LAUGH AT CLIMATE CHANGE, by Michelle Nijhuis, had its intended effect on me:

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Brown University Keeps Giving

Ackerman-290We have a tradition of honoring Brown University from time to time because of the many gifts to the world that come from that place. The letter to the Editor (the New Yorker‘s) below is one of those. Why? Mainly, just because. It is about the quality of writing, in this case. If you read it and do not feel it is worthy, no problem. Tempting to think one must have read the original piece to appreciate the letter in full, but not really. Professor Ackerman has simply written the perfect pithy paragraph:

Re “All the Letters That Are Fit to Print,” April 10th online: Of course, I am delighted with Andrew Marantz’s piece about me. But I have three small bones to pick. First, he quotes me as saying, “I then decided that I would probably live longer if I was less fat.” He also says I speak “hypergrammatically.” So I certainly hope I said, “if I were less fat.” Continue reading

A Monkey Story

monkeyI love monkeys like I love elephants. I can sit and watch them for hours, they’re so interesting and intelligent. If you get a chance, you should try it some time!

Here’s a story about an experience I had with monkeys in my home town of Nilambur:

The city of Nilambur had lots of monkeys roaming around. They used to come into the city and our houses in search of food. This might sound sinister, but actually the way they came around was hilarious: they’d form a line and march towards the city gate, cross it, and then enter neighborhoods as a group. The problem was, they created havoc! They destroyed all the crops and stole objects that took their fancy,  making a mess of the whole place. My grandmother lost many of her blouses, and since she got very upset, my grandpa decided to keep a dog, named Tommy, just to scare the monkeys away.

I didn’t see the following incident personally, but the way Grandpa told the story, we used to laugh out loud and ask to hear the story over and over again. Continue reading

Crossing the Borders of Cuisine or Who Is General Tso Anyway?

NYTimes reporter Jennifer 8. Lee talks about her culinary mission for the origins of familiar Chinese-American dishes, that in many cases aren’t really either one and in others have combined to form a new cuisine.

Let me present the question to you: If our benchmark for Americanness is apple pie, you should ask yourself, how often do you eat apple pie, versus how often do you eat Chinese food..If you think about it, a lot of the foods that Americans think of as Chinese food are barely recognizable to Chinese. For example, I took a whole bunch of fortune cookies back to China, gave them to Chinese to see how they would react. Continue reading

A Hint Of Evil, And Laughter May Be The Only Antidote

Thanks to this HBR Ideacast we had the opportunity to listen to the author of this book discuss its core message(s). Anyone who has looked at a few Dilbert cartoons can pretty well figure out that its author is not what you may think a typical MBA is. About 10 minutes into the podcast, the most remarkable statement, worthy of your attention, begins:

DAN MCGINN: So you’re saying management really doesn’t matter?

SCOTT ADAMS: I think it’s certainly something you can do wrong. So avoiding doing it wrong is the big thing. And I think if you’re a bit of a psychopath or sociopath, I don’t know the exact definitions of those, you know, if you push people to think that you being happier, and you as the manager making more money, and you as the company making more money is more important than the employees’ own personal life and their health, then you’re a great manager. And you absolutely can do great things. And you’ll probably be able to reproduce that wherever you go. Continue reading

Prehistoric Hemispherical Face-Off

Robert Krulwich/NPR

Wondrous prehistory, thanks to Robert Krulwich:

This is the story of two continents doing battle, North America versus South America. It is also a biological mystery.

For a very long time, North America and South America were separate land masses. The Pacific Ocean slipped between them, flowing into the Caribbean. The Isthmus of Panama was there, but it was underwater. The two continents didn’t touch.

As a result animals on both continents, especially mammals, evolved independently. They didn’t, couldn’t, interbreed. And yet, both North and South America had mountains, plains, long lazy rivers, deltas and supported similar forms of mammalian life. In fact, when biologists look back at the fossils, they found almost mirror like populations. Continue reading

Innovation, Collaboration & Illustration

Thanks to the man who, without fail, coaxes a smile with another New York Times blogpost keeper:

After spending the first 15 years of my life drawing and painting analog, I first dabbled in computer-generated graphics in the mid-1980s on a Sinclair ZX81, followed by an Amstrad CPC664. “Drawing” with these machines meant entering strings of binary code to manipulate ASCII codes into something vaguely resembling images. Continue reading

“3 idiots”: a Bollywood must-see

3 idiots

One of the most memorable weeks of my childhood was during a summer holiday in Mauritius spent with my brother and cousins with no adult available to take us to the beach. We kept going back and forth to the video store because all there was on television were Bollywood movies with no subtitles. Since then I’ve been pretty biased against Bollywood movies, there’s only so much Shannen Doherty direct-to-video one can take, you know? So when I met friends from Bombay, I asked them for an outstanding Bollywood movie. They said: “You’ve got to see 3 idiots“. That same night a friend from Tanzania wrote on his Facebook wall: “Make your passion your profession.! #The 3 Idiots.” So it was written in the stars, I had to see this movie.

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Iceland In The Air

Lopez Williams, courtesy of FSG.

Lopez Williams, FSG

Our daily scanning of magazines, blogs, news websites, etc. for inspiration led us to the conclusion recently that Iceland has captivated a lot of minds.  We do not know why, but it is popping up everywhere.  For example, this portion of a wonderful post on Paris Review‘s website about a recent event at Scandinavia House:

…It’s a young crowd, trendy, expectant, giddy even, though I’m surprised to see so many empty seats. It turns out Scandinavia House closed their RSVP list weeks earlier, almost immediately after announcing the event, grossly botching the numbers and no doubt needlessly turning away scores of would-be attendees. But it’s no matter to those of us here—in fact it makes the evening feel all the more intimate. Continue reading

Sticky Science Reporting

Thanks to Mr. Krulwich for pointing this out:

In a cluttered, noisy world with so many distractions, it’s yet another way to stop people in the middle of their day and make them say, “Really?” Science intimidates people. Yet we’re all curious. The sly goal here is to poke folks with a good question, and then say, “You want to know the answer?”…

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Tidy Up

© Die Post  Swiss Post has asked Ursus Wehrli to create a tidied up stamp – the stamp is NOW available at every Swiss post office.

© Die Post Swiss Post has asked Ursus Wehrli to create a tidied up stamp – the stamp is NOW available at every Swiss post office

There is an entertaining video from five years ago of this comic artist presenting his “work” and a book review from 18 months ago on Trendland that is worth a look because it presents an excellent sampling of Ursus Weherli’s images, and you can decide relatively quickly whether you want more or not (one purpose of a book review, well fulfilled in this case:

Organizational skills aren’t usually something you look for in an artist, but in Ursus Wehrli‘s case, they’re definitely something of value…

His most famous image is likely this one below, but the stamp above commissioned by Swiss Post shows an evolution of sorts, which you can see after reviewing the images in that book review.  It also shows an idea, a concept, on a roll.  Where did it come from?  Where is it going?


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If You Happen To Be In Brooklyn

Your public servants are hard at work, innovating at the intersection of waste, love and water.  Make a Valentine’s Day reservation with your romantic counterpart to visit this spot in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, as per the press release:

Department of Environmental Protection Announces Second Annual Valentine’s Day Tours of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

For Those Seeking an Alternative Valentine’s Day Experience, a Tour of the Greenpoint Plant Will Both Educate Visitors on the Essential Wastewater Treatment Process and Provide Breathtaking Views of the City from Atop the Famous Digester Eggs

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Things You Do Not Need To Know, But What The Heck

If you are a fan of these fun prizes, click the image of the book to go to the publisher’s site:

Marc Abrahams, the founder of the famous Ig Nobel Prize, offers an addictive, wryly funny exposé of the oddest, most imaginative, and just plain improbable research from around the world. He looks into why books on ethics are more likely to get stolen and how promoting people randomly improves their work, to what time of month generates higher tips for Vegas lap dancers and how mice were outfitted with parachutes to find a better way to murder tree snakes in Guam.

Abrahams’ tour through these unlikeliest investigations of animals, plants, and minerals (including humans) will first make you laugh, then make you think about the globe in a new way. Continue reading