Page 1 news ... BBC weds iTunes ...

Here’s a first update on what’s on page 1 of my iPod Touch (photo left). With over 100K of apps available and 435 currently in my library on my computer, choosing which little programs to keep on the iPod Touch and then giving just 20 apps page 1 status is an interesting, if microscopic, question of personal and social perceptions. (And what’s a blog for if not microscopic personal perceptions?) Today’s new entry is the NPR News app (photo right), which can be used to read the well written stories, listen to them live, and create a playlist for later listening while working or walking. A great app design combines high function and form, both serving the purposes of great content. This one has it all.

photo-1.sxJQklFRnNla.jpg​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ photo2.kziXYwMh22UZ.jpg


Stollen, Barb style ...

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​With thanks to Gen and Naren for hosting a terrific holiday gathering! Ah, yes, and that’s a fabulous lebkuchen cake Gen whipped up in the upper left.


Season of darkness, season of lights ...


The stollen time of year ...

More than you ever wanted to know about stollen is here (image source); nice article here.



Reflecting on a great graphic ... and a losing campaign ...

Not my time of year I guess. Watching the health care reform peter away yesterday reminded me of an informational visual by Charles Minard, celebrated by Edward Tufte, depicting Napolean’s retreat from Russia, plotted against the temperature.

Link to larger image.

One good graphic leads to another ...

Last year The Economist listed the graphic below, along the one by Minard, now above, as one of the best three graphics created. Interestingly it’s by Florence Nightingale. Quite modern in look. And coincidentally I finished an Anne Perry novel about a Nightingale nurse just yesterday. Nightingale’s graphic depicts the seasonal frequency and causes of death of soldiers in the Crimean War at her hospital.



My top ten crime novelists this year and any year ...

A friend asked for some recommendations yesterday. So here’re my all time favorites, listed lightest to darkest as to their tonality, with one book title for reference purposes. Maybe later I will annotate this list. Do start with Camilleri: His are lovely little books, wonderfully written and translated.

Andrea Camilleri (Sartarelli), The Terracotta Dog
Christopher Fowler, The Water Room
David Liss, The Coffee Trader
C. J. Samson, Revelation
Michael Dibdin, Blood Rain
Vikram Chandra, Sacred Games
Michael Robotham, Suspect
Peter Høeg, Smilla’s Sense of Snow
Martin Cruz Smith, Gorky Park
Tom Rob Smith, Child 44


Finding what's beautiful as we approach the shortest days of the year ...

Gran Torino has that elegiac beauty consonant with the season. Over his career Clint has moved from representing the most naive heroes in American film to some wonderful attempts to see our heroes as fallen folk who enter heaven a dog’s breath before the gate closes.


If there were no such thing as calories, wouldn't we eat donuts everyday? ...

As it is, we make them just for Hanukkah. And then just the holes.



Listening to a Neil Sheehan interview ...

Years ago I sat next to Neil Sheehan on a flight to DC. Ashamed to say, he expressed more interested in my work than I did in his. Very nice guy. Here’s an interview on his new book.


Coffee ... the healthy drink ...

“Coffee not only perks up energy and helps sharpen the mind, it has been shown to lessen the severity of a heart attack or stroke and protect against certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, liver disease and gallstones. There’s also evidence that coffee may help stop a headache, boost mood and even prevent cavities. And a study presented this week at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research conference in Houston, Texas shows that men who drink coffee on a regular basis have an added benefit—a significantly decreased risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer....The men who drank the most coffee (six or more cups per day) were nearly 60 percent less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer and 19 percent less likely to develop any form of prostate cancer than men who drank no coffee.” SOURCE
I interpret this to mean I have 120% less chance of any illness whatsoever.


Turning duck liver into foie gras ...

And here are some more attempts at making tooth decay palatable.


A well-named entertainer ...

Cape Breton's Natalie MacMaster is, in fact, master of celtic tunes and dance, both. And she can do them together. These videos highlight her talents at each.

Finding an acorn ...



Let me see, what are we paying for cellphone use? ...

Today I received a video/audio feed from Chris in Germany on my iPod Touch. Free app. Free feed using wifi. My Touch does not have a camera, so Chris receives audio only. But it’s rumored that Apple will put a camera in the iPod Touch next year. I’m guessing the telcos are threatening/pleading with Apple not to do this. Eh?



Tracking the wild beeb ...

It’s a beautiful thing: podcasting. Radio when and where you want it. I track perhaps fifty programs; I listen to maybe ten regularly; the others I watch to see if the topics catch my interest.

Of these, the BBC programs are the most valuable. The BBC is to consumer content what Apple is to consumer tech: everyone else should just stand back and let it handle the whole thing. Among its audio programs, Andrew Marr’s Start of the Week is the one that I never miss and most relish. Now, if the BBC would only let us, as in US, subscribe.


Post transaction scammers

I don’t use this blog for rants; I prefer to do that in comments section right next the writer’s piece. But this online retailer scam is breathtaking in its breadth and audacity. Here’s the short of it and links to the article and the congressional information.

Article summary and link:
“Ever wonder if those last-minute offers on e-commerce sites for coupons and savings are actually legitimate? According to the Senate Commerce Committee, they are actually coordinated efforts to dupe consumers – to the tune of $1.4 billion.

“The committee on Tuesday released a report that slammed online marketing companies Affinion, Vertrue, and Webloyalty for selling unfamiliar membership programs to consumers who are in the process of buying products on trusted Web sites.

“Entering the e-mail address actually signs consumers up for membership programs through companies like Affinion, Vertrue, and Webloyalty, but many consumers do not read the fine print that explains this arrangement. Credit card information is pulled from the original purchase page. [Emphasis added!] Most do not know they have agreed to these services until the monthly charges show up on their credit card statements; most between $10 and $20.”

Congressional report key finding and link:
*Using aggressive sales tactics to enroll consumers in unwanted membership clubs is a billion-dollar business. Affinion, Vertrue, Webloyalty and their e-commerce partners have earned over $1.4 billion in revenue by using aggressive tactics to charge Internet shoppers for club membership programs. Since 1999, Internet consumers have been enrolled more than 35 million times in Affinion, Vertrue, and Webloyalty‘s membership clubs. In June 2009, there were 4 million Internet consumers currently enrolled in these three companies‘ membership programs.“

Partners Paid Over $10 Million (and link):
Columbia House
Fandango FTD
InQ Intelius 
Redcats USA 
US Airways 


Saving a shot from Zurich, at night ...

Photoshop filters are great. But then the height of my photographical ambition is a great postcard.


Why Google's work is interesting and useful ...

My grandfather shows up in a Google search in a Google-digitized book on the Chicago Medical Society.

Why I froth on about Bryant and May ...

Christopher Fowler’s series about two aging London detectives is a treat to read, or listen to as I do. Much fun in Fowler’s knowledge of the city. I have high hopes of seeing Connery and Caine reprise their Man Who Would Be King film partnership playing these guys. From Fowler’s blog:
“Whenever I do a signing in a bookstore, there’s always someone in the queue who will say something like ‘Did you know there’s a statue of Mercury hidden on top of a fish shop near here?’ And I’ll set out to find it, and discover why it’s there. London’s peculiarities are peppered through all my books, and the most unbelievable parts of the stories are often the truest. I make up very little of the background material.”

Johnathan Livingstone Seagull with a twist ...

Kiwi style. Check out this video. Excellent!


Acquiring November light 5 ...

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Ex opere ...

Not sure how this came up last night.

Ex opere operato: From the work that is done. A term defined by the Council of Trent to describe how the sacraments confer the grace they signify. Trent condemned the following proposition: "That grace is not conferred 'ex opere operato' by the sacraments of the New Law" (Denzinger 1608). Literally the expression means "from the work performed," stating that grace is always conferred by a sacrament, in virtue of the rite performed and not as a mere sign that grace has already been given, or that the sacrament stimulates the faith of the recipient and thus occasions the obtaining of grace, or that what determines the grace is the virtue of either the minister or recipient of a sacrament. Provided no obstacle (obex) is placed in the way, every sacrament properly administered confers the grace intended by the sacrament. In a true sense the sacraments are instrumental causes of grace.

Ex opere operantis: From the work as it is done (by the worker). A term mainly applied to the good dispositions with which a sacrament is received, to distinguish it from the ex opere operato, which is the built-in efficacy of a sacrament properly conferred. But it may refer to any subjective factor that at least partially determines the amount of grace obtained by a person who performs some act of piety. Thus in the use of sacramentals or in the gaining of indulgences, the blessings received depend largely on the faith and love of God with which a sacramental is employed or an indulgenced prayer or good work is performed.

Acquiring November light ...

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"Regulation can never cure the disease of excessive risk."

Great quote in a helpful interview. Not that I don’t believe in regulation.
“You also can’t excuse Alan Greenspan for handing out free money to Wall Street every time the big firms screwed up over the past thirty years. It gave them incentive to double down on their risky bets until of course they double-downed so much the system blew up.” Charlie Gasparino


Gloucester fishing in the day of sail

My grandfather James Campbell fished out of Gloucester and Boston during the 1880s and 1890s, according to my cousins Jim Campbell and Father Louis, family memoirist. I found the photo below in Joseph E. Garland’s Gloucester on the Wind, credited to photographer Martha Rodgers Harvey, from this collection of photos of Gloucester’s fishing fleet in the days of sail. Compare with the painting by Winslow Homer, Gloucester Schooners and Sloop, dated about 1880.

Note from the revolution: ebook readers and applications

So, as noted yesterday, I need to revise the matrix on ebook readers. This gives me a chance to rave and rant briefly.
* On the rave side, in this revision, Stanza wins. And it is a winner. Try it on your ‘puter if you don’t own a ‘pod. Stanza’s ability to convert web documents into ebooks, with its bookmarking and annotation tools, is big. Bigger yet is Stanza’s lack of DRM, digital rights management, limits, which I scored heavily. Others might disagree with this weighting.
* Which leads to my rant about DRM. It’s simple: If I can’t sell a tune, book, film, app, whatever that I have purchased, then I don’t own it in the first place​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​; I am merely leasing its use. So all the DRM types out there are, for me, categorically wrong headed. This is particularly true of books, which we are used to giving, lending, donating, and reselling as part of any given book’s life cycle. Resale of property is an inherent trait of ownership. Those media vendors that mess with that piece will not succeed ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​finally. On the other hand, the first place (my guess is Amazon but why not eBay?), that lets me resell my s. And make a pile of geld.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


Note from the revolution ...

Today I revised and reposted a chart analyzing the current generation of ebook readers. Stanza, mentioned, is not a reader but an application for use on a ‘puter or ‘pod. Unnoted in my analysis is a terrific feature, whereby Stanza will pull in text from a website and recreate it as an ebook for use on ‘puter, ‘pod, or kindle. I have sized the screen shot below to my ‘pod. Note that the font size can be enlarged; this shot displays my preference. Anyway it’s a deal-maker ingredient for any ebook reader or app. (That said. I have to revise the chart again.)


Fontainebleau Forest with friends ...

We had a fine walk with Ruth Anne and Paddy on our visit to Féricy. My shot didn’t do it justice. See Claude Monet’s The Bodmer Oak, Fontainebleau Forest, 1865.

Lead like the great conductors ...

Jim Campbell published this link to a Ted Talk on Facebook.

“An orchestra conductor faces the ultimate leadership challenge: creating perfect harmony without saying a word. In this charming talk, Itay Talgam demonstrates the unique styles of six great 20th-century conductors, illustrating crucial lessons for all leaders.”

More on ebook reading devices and programs ...

Well the revolution is here. Maybe four ebook reading devices were announced in the last week. I think they are all trying to get positioned before the Apple Slate shows up in the spring. Here’s a revision of my analysis sheet. It’s not comprehensive; it includes the main contenders.


Home on the alpen range ...

On a brief stay in Zurich, I went looking for the relics of the Reformation. I think I saw echoes of the movement in the architecture. Solid, plain, rock of ages stuff. How big a leap is it, do you think, to the stolid, drab, breaking big rocks into little rocks architecture of the communist countries?



Justifiable clownicide ...

Zombieland is to zombie films ... as Gene Wilder is to Boris Karloff.

Update: Today I heard the film referred to as zom rom com. Excellent.


Easy Riders, Raging Bulls ...

The further along in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood the more the title begs the question whether saving Hollywood was a good idea. Here’s the pith from a review: “As the great '70s directors who dreamed they'd make the next ”Citizen Kane'' found themselves living it instead, Biskind reveals the human cost of such God-sized ambition.”


My ebook reader druthers ...

Just a draft ...

Yum ... Necco wafers and a Corby Kummer piece ...

One of my favorites ... wafers and writers.

“Necco wafers, a roll of which I try always to have in my jacket pocket, are just now changing from artificial flavors and neon colors to toned-down natural flavors and lovely, muted colors.”


Read.gov ... gorgeous reading renderings ...

An “exquisite corps” of literature online at The Center for the Book.



Just listen ...

Mark Goulston in a recent interview, on communication as “listening without memory or desire” and how to be compelling and not just convincing. Nice. I would rephrase it as "without resentment or desire."


To the hesitating purchaser ...

If sailor tales to sailor tunes,
Storm and adventure, heat and cold,
If schooners, islands, and maroons,
And buccaneers, and buried gold,
And all the old romance, retold
Exactly in the ancient way,
Can please, as me they pleased of old,
The wiser youngsters of today:

—So be it, and fall on! If not,
If studious youth no longer crave,
His ancient appetites forgot,
Kingston, or Ballantyne the brave,
Or Cooper of the wood and wave:
So be it, also! And may I
And all my pirates share the grave
Where these and their creations lie!

Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

Robert Newton's audio bit for the TV show. Awesome!
Robert Newton homage.
A "talk like a pirate" translator.


Dinner conversation ...

Wikipedia: Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Persian: رباعیات عمر خیام) is the title that Edward FitzGerald gave to his translation of a selection of poems, originally written in the Persian language and of which there are about a thousand, attributed to Omar Khayyám (1048–1123), a Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer.

A larger, wiser perspective from Drucker

"It is from this larger - and, yes, ultimately wiser - perspective that President Obama will make his decision.

"My intuition tells me that President Obama knows more about the big picture thinking side of modern management theory than General McChrystal knows. (Were General McChrystal to be a student of modern management theory, he might actually be able to see beyond the needs of the "department" he runs.) For this reason, I trust Barack Obama to be the Commander in Chief. And I do not harbor any "military resolving the Obama problem" fantasies like the people at Newsmax do."

Steven G. Brant: Why Obama Must Follow Drucker's (Not McChrystal's) Advice http://instapaper.com/zOpc537o


The old red, white, and blue star-spangled ...


Menkaura and his mummy? ...

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Years ago I bumped into this work at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, of Menkaura and his queen. I was struck by the humanness of her gesture of support and affection in what is royal portraiture.



A postcard from the river ...

Love these little apps. This one lets me create hand-tinted photos.

Big trees ... messing around with pano software ...

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Mariposa Grove near Yosemite. Combined seven shots using DoubleTake and then ran it through a Photoshop filter, Topaz Detail, to hide some of the blemishes.



America's best idea ... redux ...

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The National Parks is a six-episode series directed by Ken Burns and written and co-produced by Dayton Duncan.



Great olive oil ...

Light, nutty. Made from the juice of cold pressed Arbequina olives, grown in the Pyrenees near the French border, in Catalunya. Having searched around a bit, I find the Splendid Table Store as good a starting place as any to find good olive oil.


Grape gelly glue ...

Rebekah, Hannah, and I whipped up some grape jelly this week. Whipped is right. And whipped. And whipped. Left one cluster behind.


"Eat food that rots before it does" ...

Michael Pollan spoke here the other night and this could have been his quote. Actually it’s from John McDougall ages ago. When I googled that exact quote, it brought up just one link. What’s that event called? Anyway now there’s two.


The front jeans pocket is the new back jeans pocket ... coming soon ...

Starbucks is putting its menu and billing on an iPod/iPhone app. Can’t wait for buying generally to go ‘Pod, which replaces my wallet.