Thursday, April 28, 2011

Harper's Vision Explained 

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Yorker DVD of the Week: Martha 

Fassbinder's weird and whacky melodrama, "Martha" is Richard Brody's DVD pick of the week. If I hadn't known this was supposed to be high camp, I might have dismissed it as just severe German craziness. Yet if you watch it as an operatically melodramatic absurdity, then the hilarity ensues. I'm sure I laughed as much as I gasped while watching it. Angela and I referred to it for month's afterwards evoking phrases like "pig entrails in Burgundy sauce" or, "I have a present for you." or simply saying "Helmut" in a thick German accent (try saying "Hell-moodt" and not laugh). Rather than blather on about it, just watch this clip and decide whether you might like it or not (it ain't for everyone).

By the way, knowing this movie will make you a number one movie smarty pants and if you like it, you might also enjoy a Fassbinder t-shirt (pictured below). It's one from a series that re-imagines German film directors as heavy metal bands.

Labels: ,

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hello, I'm a Mac 

A few years ago I was driving home from a late night hockey game. At that hour, the streets near Spadina Road and Dupont (for non-Torontonians, North of Bloor, Spadina Avenue becomes Spadina Road) are pretty much abandoned, except for this Asian guy I see riding his bicycle loaded with overstuffed bags (like a scene straight out of Beijing, this guy is riding a bicycle completely overloaded like Juan Valdes' mule, after midnight in January — I see him every week). That's beside the point.

My real point is, on this particular night, I realized what a huge cliché I was. There I was, wearing, what I like to think of as a very hip, vintage racing jacket (Johnson outboard motor sports in metallic gold - very 1970s), a "trucker-style" baseball cap (which, in truth, I only wear after hockey because I need to cover my head but don't want to wear a wool tuque), listening to what was then a huge Moby hit (mix of dance/house/pop/electronic - verification needed), and driving a Volkswagen Golf GT (2.0L, totally kicks the ass of anything else in it's class). It's like I just walked out of marketer's hand book.

There you have it. I'm an over-educated Mac user, who works as a designer in the "tech-sector", drives a VW Golf, wears vintage duds (ironically or otherwise), drinks French-press fair-trade coffee, listens to popular yet progressive music, prefers galleries and museums over monster truck rallies, prefers pubs over bars, only drinks locally brewed beers, chooses organically raised beef, local produce when possible, performs some level of physical activity 2-3 times a week and believes mistakenly, beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am a unique individual.

This Mac-vs-PC Infographic however, begs to differ. Not only does it reinforce every PC vs Mac cliché, it drives home the point that Mac users see themselves as unique and different but really are just all the same. Of course, there's a slight problem here. The graphic is the result of a questionnaire from a Web site where almost 25% of respondents didn't even identify themselves as either a Mac or PC type person. So you're really focusing on a subset of a subset; only 75% of people that use identify themselves with their computer of choice. As a caveat, I've tried before and found it pretty useless. It reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer starts taking Movieline calls only to ask callers in a robotic voice, "why don't you just tell me what movie you'd like to see?" when he can't decipher their push button prompts.

In the end, I don't think this shows the difference between PC and Mac users as much as the difference between Mac users and everyone else. Only 10% of respondents said they were Mac people and really PC users are made up of users of Microsoft, HP, Dell, Sony etc. (though that's not shown). Mac users typically work in fields of creative media such as art & design, music, film, and writing because either the device lends itself to those applications or it is marketed that way. People who work in those fields probably do tend to be more liberal or have particular tastes. The keyword is "tends". I believe the difference between my "tendency" to do something and my likelihood, while not fundamentally huge, is still an important distinction. Despite the adage that you can't judge a book by its cover, it turns out you probably can judge a user by their MacBook.

Labels: ,

Friday, April 22, 2011

IBM's Wilson 

Alex Trebec spots Wilson $5000 and his competitors applaud his ineffectual effort.

Image of IBM's first and less successful attempt at an artificial intelligent agent appearing on Jeopardy.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Spring Quarterly Sextodecimo 

Download Playlist (84.2 MB) - if you're using iTunes, import the playlist which is included as an XML file.

This quarter's sextodecimo has an unfair advantage over every playlist ever created; it contains Curtis Mayfield's Move On Up, one of the greatest recordings of the Twentieth Century. Are there any recordings from any previous centuries? It doesn't matter, Curtis Mayfield slays them all.

Track Listing

Market Research, My Friend - 30 Rock1
Code Monkey - Jonathan Coulton
Morning Mr Magpie - Radiohead
Feel it All Around - Washed Out
Daniel - Bat for Lashes
Celestica - Crystal Castles
Before Your Birthday Ends - Suckers
the only mistake* - joy division
Fields - Via Tania
California Stars - Wilco & Billy Bragg
Chasing Pavements - Adele
Does Not Suffice - Joanna Newsom
The Wild Hunt - The Tallest Man on Earth
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Bob Dylan
Strt Srns - Wise Blood
Go Do - Jónsi
Move On Up - Curtis Mayfield
To the vibrator with him - Lloyd Chester2

Footnote 1: Not-so-hidden television dialogue track
Footnote 2: An additional not-so-hidden archival radio track

Labels: ,

Saturday, April 09, 2011

It Really is OK 

Image via Secret Holiday

Lately, a lot of things seem to be spiralling uncomfortably, like a little bit of a cosmic/karmic vertigo. I know, as Louis CK says, "Everything's amazing and nobody's happy." but when I saw this image, I thought, "Yes, little banner, you're right." I think this little flag reassures us the real truth that "It is OK" and "It will be OK" and we will be OK. Think of this as your mantra, your slogan and a motto to live by, "I'm OK, You're OK, It's OK."


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Of Sound Mind & Body 

Famous Health Studio
image via The Commons on Flickr

How would you like to improve your memory, linguistic ability, executive brain function (tasks that allow you to focus, multi-task and switching tasks quickly), reduce your chances of dementia by 30%, offset the aging of your brain by 10 to 15 years, and have a bigger brain? Who wouldn’t? What’s the answer? Ginko Bilboa? Kiwi? Seaweed wraps? Fish oil? Nope. Exercise; and not even a lot. Mild exercise, just enough to break a sweat, for about 30 minutes, three or four times a week is all that’s needed.

Last Saturday's Quirks & Quarks on CBC had a fairly in depth segment called Exercise and the Aging Brain. I'd read on the New York Times that exercise aids new brain cell growth but this CBC radio program is more detailed and nicely concise.

Exercise helps the brain with three major areas:
Blood flow: exercise increases blood flow, oxygen & nutrient supply to the brain.
Glucose Metabolism: exercise improves the efficiency of glucose use, metabolizes and transports glucose to brain tissue.
Growth Factors: exercise increases the production of growth factors to the brain which stimulates neurogenesis (production of new brain cells).

If you can withstand Bob Macdonald’s goofiness you may hear something that will help you for the rest of your life. Listen to the segment here.

Or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and listen to the entire show.

Mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body).


Monday, April 04, 2011


image via Velo Orange (in other words, no, that's not my bike pictured above)

I ordered these Elkhide Sewn-on Bar Covers ages ago (probably over a year) from Velo Orange but I've never had the courage to sew them on until yesterday. I was worried I'd screw it up royally. I did screw it up, but just a little bit and I can live with the consequences. I'm pretty sure I only paid $24 for the kit but I see on their site it's now sold for $36 (how long ago did I order these things anyway?) It's probably the sweetest customization I've ever added to a bike. For all my hand-wringing it only took about hour per side (or less) and because the leather is so supple it was very easy to work with. Now I just need to find some of the recommended "Neatsfoot Oil" to protect the leather from the elements. I have to say, the handle bars look so good, I'm really tempted to buy one of those highfalutin, fancy pants saddles to go with it. I don't know why? I'm not even sure I'll be keeping this bike much longer. Maybe I just feel like the bike deserves a little TLC as it really is the reason I started riding more in the first place. Bicycle customization seems like some kind of slippery slope/gateway drug to much more expensive habit of buying and fixing up lost dogs of the mechanized type.


Friday, April 01, 2011

Seen in March

Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter image via

March seemed to be about pugilists of all kinds; gang members, Roman soldiers, prosecutors, politicians and professional fighters. Maybe you'll find something worth renting in this list.
Read more »

Labels: ,