12/27/09

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.

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12/20/09

Stollen, Barb style ...

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Season of darkness, season of lights ...

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The stollen time of year ...

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

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12/18/09

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.

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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.

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12/17/09

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 H√łeg, Smilla’s Sense of Snow
Martin Cruz Smith, Gorky Park
Tom Rob Smith, Child 44

12/14/09

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.

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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.

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12/13/09

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.

12/11/09

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.

12/6/09

Turning duck liver into foie gras ...

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

12/5/09

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 ...

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12/2/09

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?

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12/1/09

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.