31.12.09

Dubai Skyline

You all know how I love cityscapes and skyscrapers, so this should have been obvious. Of course, hit HD and enjoy! (There's even a 1080p version available, but it appears you have to watch it on YouTube's site...)

29.12.09

UPular

Is it that obvious I've been out of school for the past week? Haha.
Check out an awesome mix-mash of UP, Pixar's great movie this year. It's fun.

UPDATE: Apparently, Disney Pixar is actually supporting Pogo's remix! Yay!

28.12.09

Time to Fire the TSA

Joel Johnson from Gizmodo writes a piece about the failed TSA experiment and why it needs to go.
Excerpt:
There is no other way to interpret it: The TSA is saying clearly that they can't prevent terrorists from getting explosives on airplanes, but by god, they'll make sure those planes only explode when the TSA says it's okay.

I want our government to prevent terrorism and to make flights safer. But we are spending billions of dollars and man-hours to fight a threat that is less likely to kill a traveler than being struck by lightning. In the last decade, according to statistician Nate Silver, there has been "one terrorist incident per 11,569,297,667 miles flown [the] equivalent to 1,459,664 trips around the diameter of the Earth, 24,218 round trips to the Moon, or two round trips to Neptune." (Sadly, this does mean that in the future we can expect one out of every two round-trip flights to Neptune to be hijacked.)
I have to say I agree. I fly to random places, and I've been through the sketchiest security checkpoints to ridiculous ones (I misplaced my Swiss Army knife into my carry-on instead of checking it in, got through security just fine, but try flying through Miami right after 9/11--every bag we packed was thoroughly checked). I have never felt safer or unsafe, mostly inconvenienced, annoyed, and most importantly, misled. TSA wants passengers to feel safe--this is its whole charade. But what happens when passengers feel safe, but really aren't safe?
If you haven't checked out some of my older postings on the topic, there's some interesting stuff in them (also included are links to the original articles which prompted my postings):
-Our Security in the Homeland
--The Things He Carried (Atlantic)
-Tuesday Update Strikes Back!
--TSA "behavior detection" is wrong more than 99 percent of the time (BoingBoing)

It doesn't work. Let's move on.

26.12.09

Skhizein - Amazing French Animated Short


A well animated short with a very intriguing plot. This was in the International Short Film competition for Sundance 2009. Bien fait, Jérémy Clapin.

23.12.09

Brett's Brain: China Wrecked the Copenhagen Deal

Brett shares a fantastic link:
Mark Lynas, guardian.co.uk: How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room
China's strategy was simple: block the open negotiations for two weeks, and then ensure that the closed-door deal made it look as if the west had failed the world's poor once again. And sure enough, the aid agencies, civil society movements and environmental groups all took the bait.
America and the West definitely need to start forming a stronger strategy for China...

Stem Cells Cure Blind Man

Welcome future.
Can I just shout two somethings right now? First, stem cells. STEM CELLS! Second, isn't it quite interesting that this happened in England? IN ENGLAND you blimey scoundrels who paint state-run medicine as the antithesis to innovation. Just saying.
UPDATE: I want to clarify that I'm not blatantly correlating state-run health-care with innovation, especially in the research field--I'm merely trying to silence the claim that a single-payer system would *inhibit* innovation. And while we're all free to draw our own conclusions, I would like note that in my observations, the US hasn't produced or furthered a new technology in health-care that has been extremely notable in a long time.

The Fight Against Movie Talkers

Completely agree. I have become a pretty good shot with popcorn and concession packaging.
6-Inch Voices, Or Group Humiliation
I know I'm coming off rude already. The occasional quiet comment to the person beside you, that's totally fine by me. But If I can hear you from over two seats away, chances are, you need to shut the **** up (throughout life, possibly, but definitely in the theater).
It's Time for Us to Fight Back Against Movie Theater Talkers

rRan

20.12.09

Climate Change, Evolution, and What We Sound Like

It's always an interesting task to me to characterize a language. Example: what does Xhosa sound like to you? (Clicky?) Finnish? (guttural perhaps?) Estonian? (drunken finnish)
I think I find it interesting because Albanian initially sounded (I think, if my memory isn't failing me) very "k-ish." Haha, I don't know if that makes sense, but I heard lots of "kuhs" and "chuhs" in the language I couldn't understand. But now that I can speak it, I can't hear what I used to. Instead, I hear words and things and objects and actions (if you speak another language, perhaps that makes sense to you?)
So, it was to my absolute delight to hear what English might sound like to foreigners in this uncanny and delightful Italian video from the 70s. The first time I heard this, my mind WAS trying to understand it, and not to mention that this video is just plain hot:


To wrap up, I read two AMAZING articles: one on evolution/human history, and one on climate change (it's actually more about making a change, but climate change is the centerpiece). I thought they were well written and in general represented a viewpoint that I highly agree with (especially about making a change) and I thought I'd share it all with you! They're very fantastic and not too long. Here are some excerpts:
See, humans today may look pretty different from one another but, genetically speaking, there's not much diversity at all within our species. In fact, chimpanzees, which look pretty much the same from one individual to the next, are much more genetically diverse than we are. To scientists, that suggests that humans have come through a genetic bottleneck--a point where our numbers shrunk dramatically, and a relatively small population had to rebuild the species.
"How Shellfish Save the Human Race" - BoingBoing
But if you look at the impact of those emissions reductions in the scope of the world, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if I make the decision not to fly. That's not gonna stop the plane. The plane's still flying. Even if the ski industry eliminated all our emissions, we're still out of business by 2050 or 2100 because of the climate.
So what do you do? You gotta fix the whole system.
...
They want me to do rinky dink stuff like bamboo foors and recycling, and I tell them it doesn't matter, that their personal actions don't matter because the problem's too big. That pisses people off — they get mad at me and say every little bit helps. But every little bit doesn't help because the problem's too big. If everyone who was so inclined did every little thing from the Prius to the bulb, we still wouldn't solve this problem. It's gotta be a global mandate, not a voluntary thing. My day is full of people getting furious at me. Last week I had to send the FBI some death threats I was getting about calling the governor of Utah willfully ignorant on climate. This is war. This is a combat situation. and it's gonna hurt people the way wars hurt people. I like to say, we're gonna have to break things and hurt people to make this happen. Just being straightorward and truthful about these things instead of glossing and deluding people is incredibly valuable.
...
What if I said, you know what, I can't justify being here at this five star hotel. I'm gonna go to the peace corps and work on putting photovoltaic installations in Samoa. What have I done? I've essentially made myself powerless. I've changed this from being about climate to being about me personally.
"What a Luxury Ski Resort is Doing to Solve Climate Change" - BoingBoing

17.12.09

And Finals Were Done

Yes. I have finally finished the semester from Hell. 19 credit hours compressed into 3 days a week. Major ugh. But I'm done, and I screamed and yelled at the top of my lungs the whole car ride home from my last final.
I got home, and I was shaking because I was so relieved, so, naturally, I came to find a most fantastic video. It's so interesting and makes me feel insignificant and yet at the same time, a wielder of fantastic power. Take a look. (Turn on HD and fullscreen this baby!)

6.12.09

The Future Is Coming!!

I remember, I think, seeing this at Tomorrowland in 1998 on our family vacation to Disneyland. I thought it was funny then, and I think it's hilarious now. But it also reminds me that there was a time when peoples' imagination for the future was running rampant, and the sciences that were known then (I love the "push-button interface"), while being simplistic, opened their eyes for so much more. Do we still have that love for innovation? If not, what's getting in our way?

5.12.09

Babies

All right, so I'm really excited to become an uncle (any day now!!) But even so, I think this documentary would have been appealing to me anyways. It looks very well done, and the subject matter is, well, not so infantile.

2.12.09

OK Go - WTF?

You gotta love playing with the strobe effect. We do this sometimes with our live video switcher when we're setting up campus video events and have 6 screens going. It's quite fun. Lovely and colorful video again (even one shot again perhaps?) continues to show that OK Go has figured the music video thing out.

1.12.09

Reading is fun!

Beautiful!

29.11.09

East vs. West



I thought this was an especially telling piece. Makes you question our own perceptions of ourself as a nation.

[via Newsweek. Good and short read.]

25.11.09

So Easy to be Ignorant


Check out all of Ms. Palin's lies in her book here!

22.11.09

MLS Champs!!!

Awesome and amazing.
Real Salt Lake won Utah's first professional title today, beating out the LA Galaxy 1-1 (5-4), once again taking the game into penalty kicks! It was a tough first half, seeing LA score off a perfect lead-in from David Beckham to Landon Donovan who sent a crisp cross over to Mike Magee who drilled it home. However, after the second half started, RSL took over the game, leading possession 87%-13% at one time. A hard fight in the box--and some lucky bounces--led to RSL capitalizing on their domination as Robbie Findlay drilled one with his left stick under keeper Donovan Ricketts' stretched arms.
RSL continued their domination into both periods of overtime, maintaining a 75%-25% possession lead over LA. As time dwindled and RSL saw many of their chances just miss, we knew we had Rimando to seal the deal.
PKs were very reminiscent of last weeks, and Robbie Russell put in the game winner after we saw Landon Donovan sail his over the crossbar and Rimando block 2 more PKs (that's a total of FIVE this postseason!)
It was amazing. They deserved it. They showed that they were the better team for at least 95 minutes. Everything--their composure, their hustle, their possession--paid off while they made their own luck.
Congrats RSL!! We love you!


ps-let it be known, November 22 will forever be RSL day!

14.11.09

Eastern Conference Champions!!!!!


Real Salt Lake defeated Chicago Fire today, 0-0 (5-4), to win their first conference championship, and earn their first berth into the MLS Cup Final!!! It was a super exciting win, going into PKs and all, although the other 120 minutes truly showed Real deserved it.
So, here's a congratulations to them! Now I gotta figure out if I can make it to Seattle next Sunday...

Cirque du Soleil...

...is obviously something I've GOT to check out someday...

9.11.09

The Magic of H20

Makes complete sense, but it's still quite neat. This is probably the best (on most non-cliche) use of high-speed photography I've ever seen.

8.11.09

History of Male Friendship


I ran across this today, and I have to agree with many of the ideas presented. As I was working yesterday, facilitating a distance education class in social work, this very idea was presented, so I figured the double contact with the subject was a good indicator that I should share. First a little intro:
...men used to enjoy much closer bonds with each other than they do today. In the 19th century, men felt completely free show their buddies physical affection and tell their friends just how much they meant to them without any fear of being called a “fag.” It was only in the first half of the 20th century, when homosexuality started being analyzed, written about, and denounced, that men started to feel self-conscious about whether or not their actions might be construed as being “gay.” Some modern men still can’t get emotionally or physically close to other men because they don’t want others to think they’re a “homo.”
No matter your stance on the morality of homosexuality, men today should feel secure enough in their sexuality not to care if they come off as “gay” to others.

(Emphasis mine. The actual "History of Male Friendship" article can be found here.)
It's interesting to me that in this author's examination, an emphasis is placed on the American male friendship. I have to concur. From my experiences abroad (which might be construed as limited), it almost seems as if Americana represents a backward culture of fear. Perhaps other cultures have never allowed this analysis of homosexuality, perhaps these cultures have already plowed through it. I just don't know...any thoughts?

7.11.09

Improv Anywhere: Lunch, the musical

I love Improv Anywhere. I also really respect what they do. This time they've gone above and beyond, and they even got some awesome NBC equipment to help them. Check it out:


[via Gizmodo]

Tip for the Week

Just read this tip, which I think is most fantastic.
A simple tweezer session might free your hands of wood slivers, but sometimes they're just too tiny, or too many, to try and remove with micro-surgery. If you're fiending for a fix, try applying some glue to the afflicted skin, then peel it off to take the splinters with it. That's one of the more powerful splinter fixes, but you might be able to get away with a banana peel or bath and pumice stone to pull out those ugly little remainders of your latest wood project.

[via Lifehacker]

2.11.09

Sigur Rós - Glósóli

Just came across this. It is beautiful. Absolutely up there with my favorite music videos.

25.10.09

Friends

I love my friends, and I feel like I'm very bad at expressing my gratitude and appreciation for them. I started thinking of them the other day, and to my comedic delight (and surprise), I realized that a great majority of my friends' names are either nouns themselves or homophones of nouns (obviously not proper nouns...that would make this whole post stupid)...check it out:
Chase (a chase)
Lance (like for skewering people)
Max (this is for the math geeks...a max, as in a local or global max)
Brad (a brad, you know, for paper)
Abby (an abbey)
Phil (it works better as a verb, but fill is also a noun)
Mike (mic - short for microphone!)
Mat (self-explanatory)
Derek (oil-derrick anyone?)
Jon (haha...a john)
...even Albanians!
Stela (actually means star in Italian, so stretchy, but whatev)

Anyway, kinda crazy, but funny, I thought...

22.10.09

Italian Motorcycle Display

This is exactly what the great neo-realist films remind me of...I'm surprised I haven't seen this as a scene in one of them...

19.10.09

A Fantastic Look at Marriage and Divorce Trends in the US

Pew Research Center has released a very interesting interactive map. What intrigued me most was to see that the average divorce rate in the country hovers around 9-12%. I had imagined it to be much higher with all the talk of the "alarming" number of divorces happening nowadays...

18.10.09

Three Crazy Cool Physics Experiments

Check them out:
Electromagnetic Black Holes...on Earth
RFID in Pictures (if you don't know what RFID is......it's the way cards can wirelessly open doors, it's the way you can pay for your TRAX ticket by credit card without swiping, and it's the reason why US (and other) passports should be kept closed at all times)
Table-top Black Holes

12.10.09

Monday Update!


So, it looks like Lance and I made it to New York without any problems. I hope you all had a few laughs reading the tweets we put up. It was a long drive, but very doable. Maybe I'll do it again soon, now that I have even more reasons to come out this way!
We'll have some good times here in NY, and I'll be back to Salt Lake on Wednesday night. We're just waiting a for the girls to return before we spend our Columbus Day in Manhattan.
There's been a lot of stuff in the past few weeks that I've been meaning to post, and I figure while I'm waiting here, I should get them out.
First of all, tech excitement: Google Wave. What is Wave? It's a revolution of some sort. Check this short video out:


This is probably one of my favorite photographs and one of my most favorite art projects I've seen in a long while. How do you photograph a redwood tree, and make it look good? Plenty of issues involved, although most are alleviated with the same techniques used for architecture photography. The biggest problem though, is the close proximity of other trees. Here's how one guy is doing it, check it out: Biggest, Tallest Tree Photo Ever. And speaking of photography...digital still cameras are making a wave in the motion picture industry. (A Canon 5d Mk II was the primary camera used in this doc...if that doesn't mean anything to you, I'm sorry.) Also, don't miss the hardest photos to capture in nature.

For those who liked The Beatles: Rock Band video I posted a while back, this is also a must-see. All about the artwork behind the game. More videos too!!!

Time Telescope- I'm in an optics class right now, so this is fantastically interesting to me: Cornell researchers have developed a "time telescope." I quote:
Using the method, they were able to shift a 24-bit light pulse from 2.5 nanoseconds to 92 picoseconds in length without losing any information -- delivering the it to its destination 27 times faster than traditional fiber optics.

This is absolutely incredible. (And no, it does NOT mean that the info was traveling faster than light, Lance and Max.) Along similar lines, NASA is also innovating existing tech. NASA's always wanted 3d printers to develop: it's cheaper to create spare parts in space by printing them, rather than shipping, but until recently, the process has still be kinda sketchy (although there has been some great successes in current 3d printing, like printing a usable handcuff key). NASA, however has now developed an electron-beam printer, which would revolutionize manufacturing--even here on Earth:
Normally an aircraft builder might start with a 6,000-pound block of titanium and machine it down to a 300-pound part, leaving 5,700 pounds of material that needs to be recycled and using several thousand gallons of cutting fluid used in the process.
With EBF3 you can build up the same part using only 350 pounds of titanium and machine away just 50 pounds to get the part into its final configuration. And the EBF3 process uses much less electricity to create the same part.

How's that for green innovation?
And don't forget the Best of Hubble!

If you like documentaries, you should check out SnagFilms. You will definitely find something you should watch! If you don't like documentaries, you're crazy. And regardless of whether you like or not, everyone who hasn't seen Man On Wire, had better.

Here's a great article about how we can make warfare...a little less deadly. I'm a very strong advocate of peace, if you know me, but I also understand that war is, regrettably, sometimes unavoidable. However, there's no reason why this can't be our first option, instead of throwing billions of dollars of munitions, killing millions of people.

And finally, for my friends who are system admins or system supporters or anyone who likes to have a lot of digital tools with them at all times: NirSoft Launcher. Check it out.

Other random stuff:
Minimalist Movie Posters
Hammer v. Feather on Moon
Cardboard Sculptures of Media Machines
Shepherd Fairey and Creative Commons

It's a lot, but I've been a lazy poster this semester!!!

9.10.09

Road Trip!

Lance and I have left on a short-long little road trip to New York! I won't have internet to update what's going on all the time, but I do expect to have cell reception, so I will posting updates and what-nots on twitter.
My twitter name is zoti_soli, and you can find updates here: http://twitter.com/zoti_soli
If you are a twitterer, follow me and you can receive updates as well!

6.10.09

Help the Tower!


Just got this e-mail from a professor of mine:
Our friends at the Tower Theatre are in a bit of trouble. They are taking donations as small as $5.

Help the Tower!
Ever wanted to be more involved in your film community? Now is your chance to really make a difference.
Upon starting the 4:30 digital screening of the film Afghan Star last Friday, the Tower's digital projector shorted out and is now beyond repair. The machine was purchased in 2000 when the lumens, or strength of light power, were based on one chip and not extremely bright. Since then, technology in this field has made a vast improvement and current available projectors have potential to give us festival quality projection. We are so close! Still, we need your help to make it possible! So join in by making a contribution today and be directly invested into providing film access at the Tower Theatre for many years to come.

We're raising money through Facebook Causes, if you're not a member of Facebook it only takes a few seconds to sign up and start helping!

Click here to visit the cause page and DONATE!

We're trying to reach the goal of $8,500 in only four days, so please help now! All donations are tax deductible and every little bit helps!

For those of you who don't know, the Tower is one of the oldest operating theatres in Utah. It is entirely funded by the Salt Lake Film Society, is one of the favorite local theaters, maintains a library of the most beautiful and obscure films in Salt Lake, and is a site for the Sundance Film Festival. If you can, do donate!

1.10.09

CCTV

No, it doesn't stand for closed-circuit television--although I find much humor in the acronym. Central China Television has created an awesome little ad. It's nice to see some creativity thrive in socialistic countries, proves some of the critics wrong.
Plus, it's good to see Chinese CGI used as CGI, and not substituted for the real thing.

25.9.09

TED this week

My favorite TEDTalks from the week:




24.9.09

Where did the 70s go?

I miss straight-up entertainment. And disco. And hippies. And...funny thing, I never even lived it!

[Read]

20.9.09

What Is Freedom?

A question I've often wondered about. I don't think we, as a people, define the word very well anymore, especially after the "freedom fries" debacle. I liked this little excerpt.
On the face of it, more choices are an unmitigated good thing. Americans especially prize having as many choices as possible. Before the turn of the 19th century, freedom was defined as self-sufficiency, the freedom to own your own land and tools, and eke out a living with your own hands. As consumerism became a dominate force in the culture, freedom was redefined to mean the freedom to choose, to choose between different items and lifestyles, to choose things we believed fit out tastes and personality more than others. This was the beginning of defining ourselves by what we buy, instead of who we are and what we do, but that is another discussion for another day.

(emphasis mine)
[Art of Manliness]

17.9.09

Global Crime

Next time you doubt the reality of a Bond film...watch this!



I love TED!

14.9.09

Roger Federer

There's a reason he's the best in tennis right now.


In other news, RIP Patrick Swayze.

Big Bang

I promise to be more judicial in the physics-related posts, but I found this to be quite...spiritual.

11.9.09

Math in Movies

I'm so glad this topic actually got a little national exposure at boston.com! It's very surprising how many writers include mathematical theory (whether intentionally or not) in their scripts.
The typical moviegoer pretty much thinks one thing: Batman better show up now. But the mathematician immediately recognizes the Joker’s trap as a variation on the classic problem of the prisoner’s dilemma, where two individuals, each isolated in a prison cell, are given a choice: betray their friend and go free, or cooperate by saying nothing, and be given a short prison sentence. If each betrays the other, however, they will get a longer prison sentence.

Read it here at boston.com
Oliver Knill, Department of Mathematics at Harvard University also has put together a slur of scenes about math from movies, here. And another resource here.

How Animation Works

Haha!

9.9.09

Healthcare

I hope everyone had a chance to read or listen to President Obama's speech tonight.

It's why so many aspiring entrepreneurs cannot afford to open a business in the first place, and why American businesses that compete internationally -- like our automakers -- are at a huge disadvantage. And it's why those of us with health insurance are also paying a hidden and growing tax for those without it -- about $1,000 per year that pays for somebody else's emergency room and charitable care.
...
There are those on the left who believe that the only way to fix the system is through a single-payer system like Canada's -- (applause) -- where we would severely restrict the private insurance market and have the government provide coverage for everybody. On the right, there are those who argue that we should end employer-based systems and leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own.
I've said -- I have to say that there are arguments to be made for both these approaches. But either one would represent a radical shift that would disrupt the health care most people currently have. Since health care represents one-sixth of our economy, I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn't, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch.
...
You see, our predecessors understood that government could not, and should not, solve every problem. They understood that there are instances when the gains in security from government action are not worth the added constraints on our freedom. But they also understood that the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little; that without the leavening hand of wise policy, markets can crash, monopolies can stifle competition, the vulnerable can be exploited. And they knew that when any government measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom, and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter -- that at that point we don't merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves.

Transcript is here.

7.9.09

Cymatics

TED is cool.
Cymatics are cool.
Learn about the field of study in this awesome TEDTalks video!


2.9.09

Why Widescreen Wins

When I was in the air from Los Angeles to Lima, Peru, I was impressed with the entertainment catalogue that LAN (the airline) offered. I went through the list of movies, mentally noting exactly which ones I would watch. As I started my first movie, my gut wrenched with horror and disgust when I realized that the entire catalogue had been pan-and-scanned.
What is pan-and-scan? It's redirecting the film with a different aspect ratio in order to eliminate the block boxes above and below movies. To me, pan-and-scanning is even worse than Clean-Flicksing a film. It nearly completely eliminates "art" from "entertaining arts," and I believe it is one of the contributors to a growing impatience in films. It brings the focus entirely on "action" (instead of development and exposition), leading people to believe if a movie isn't full of "action," then it's boring and lackluster, all the while inhibiting the film's ability to stretch the viewers concentration and to encourage the maximization of sensory input and understanding.
I must admit, I think our generation is more accustomed and willing to watch movies in their original aspect ratio. Thank goodness Blu-ray basically forbids the use of pan-and-scan, but after explanation after explanation, I still get asked why I would buy/rent/watch ONLY widescreen movies, even if my screen is square and rather small. I found a visual explanation that hopefully shows a little better exactly how much pan-and-scan cuts out of a picture.
Enjoy (in HQ!).

31.8.09

Shadowland

Alright, I suppose I turned a lot of you off with my recent foray into dimensional analysis (or something like that), so I thought I'd post something that took me back to days when my imagination was allowed to roam free. I like.


28.8.09

More Dimensions!


So....I'm intent on understanding and making all of you understand the dimensions we live in. I just think it's a fascinating topic and really is one of the funnest crazy things to think about when you're really bored. I like how boingboing.net described it:
Thinking about dimensions other than the three we're used to can rattle one's mind. That's why it's usually left to stoned conversationalists and theoretical physicists.

NewScientist is this week's source for our dimensional enjoyment. It talks about a good number of dimensions, and even the bizarre ones like 0, 1.5, and 10, and it's a great resource, so check it out!

100 Years of Magic

So, I think I'll borrow Justin's recent declaration: I'm obligated to like this.
And I do.




Absolutely fantastique.

25.8.09

IG Torture Report

The Inspector General's Torture Report has been released (of course with its myriad of redactions), and I agree with Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald: every American should know what was done in our name.
It's sad, but an important looking glass into the tactics used in Iraq.
Good read, and he's even summarized the report for lazy American viewing/reading.
What every American should be made to learn about the IG Torture Report

Personas


A very interesting web app from MIT called Personas has captured my intrigue today. Using public data, it creates a graphical representation of who "you" are (obviously if you have a common name, the information it provides could still be an interesting representation of something else). Click the image to see mine.
Check it out here: Personas.

18.8.09

He may have a problem.

Brett relates:
Ok, I had a half self-commitment to not post any more about Glenn Beck for awhile, but this Daily Show clip was too good. I'm sorry.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Glenn Beck's Operation
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show

Full Episodes
Political HumorSpinal Tap Performance



[via Brett's Brain]

TENth Dimension!!!

So, a while back I emailed to some close friends and family what I found to be an extremely good description of the fourth dimension. I don't think people understand it, and some of you have no desire to, but I find it very spiritual.
Needless to say, one of my favorite blogs enlightened me yet again with a look into all the known dimensions, 1-10. So, if you thought that time was an odd dimension (Donnie Darko anyone?), wait until he starts talking about five, six, seven, eight and nine. Ten, well, ten's just everything...a bunch of infinites, you may say...so it's just one of those things you're not supposed to comprehend.
Anyway, good listen, although a bit winded even if I say so myself.




[tenthdimension.com via BoingBoing]

10.8.09

Stairs



Must...go...to...India...
[via kottke.org & Smoont]

5.8.09

CARS

So, I got an email today. It was a forward, which of course, usually goes straight to my trash, however, whenever I think the forward is full of misinformation, I usually read it over quick and if I find that I was right, I usually try to kindly correct the misinformation. Often, I probably don't come off as kind, but I hope everyone would realize that my intentions are.
So, I got this one today:
Subject: Fwd: Please take the time to look at this story about Cars.com (Stay away)
Be sure and watch this. Very frightening.
Subject: Cars.gov (Stay away)
Please watch this. You will not believe what can happen to you.
This is a must see... some really amazing things the government has pulled of
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqfuZ7hiap0
And Pres. Bush got criticized for the FISA wiretaps???

The video is from the Glenn Beck program. If you have ever looked at that program with a level head, you'll admit that he vies for his audience on pure sensationalism. Given his recent embarrassment, I'm surprised even FOX keeps him around.
Focusing on the email again, I want to address a few things. First of all--just to get it out of the way--FISA wiretaps were done illegally and without consent. Period. There is no comparison.
Now, Glenn takes us on a Willy Wonka tour of CARS.gov. For those unaware, CARS.gov is the interweb's portal for information about the so-called "Cash for Clunkers" deal that you may have heard of. However, Glenn starts misleading right from the start. First of all, he doesn't even show you the consumer side of the website: the side that you will reach by going to www.CARS.gov, but rather, he takes you to the dealer website. Second of all, the link he claims to click (isn't it interesting that they don't give a clean shot of the site so you can read it?) doesn't exist. Heck, Glenn can't even get the rumored warning to come up on screen!
Huh? The entire argument that the government forces you (the consumer) to agree to anything is moot if the consumer (you) never sees the alleged agreement. Seriously, Glenn? I do have to give him props though: he did cover his back by saying "the dealer has to go to the website," then went on to twist that into making people believe that the consumers must go.
So, this leads to two possible conclusions: either the website he was on is dealer specific and has to do with a system of receiving rebates directly from the government (which would technically make it a federal computer, bound to the same rules and regulation that all other federal computers are bound to, namely controlled surveillance), or Glenn Beck elaborately created a look alike website and completely lied to his audience--an easy task that was old in High School.
Which is it?
In the end, CARS is a great program for getting our gas guzzlers off the road and helping the auto industry get back on their feet with the added benefit of diverting the money to consumers/citizens instead of corporations. If you can, use it!

30.7.09

I Am a Material Boy, Oh Oh!

So, I'm an 80s child, so for some reason, I feel like I'm supposed to be *extremely* knowledgeable when it comes to 80s culture. I am, however, not.
Fact is, I barely remember watching He-man on TV, and although I loved those screaming fluorescent pants my mother made me, I'm pretty sure I only ever owned one pair. Care Bears were awesome, I remember Smurfs, and I know now that there were some pretty great movies made then (Ghostbusters/Indiana Jones/Back to the Future is what I'm talking about...not all that Stallone crap).
Sure, we had a compact disc (yes, also an 80s invention) with MC Hammer's "Can't Touch This," and I am pretty sure somebody in our house wore polka dots. I can remember a few things: girls LOVED banana clips, shoulder pads were a fad, MacGyver rocked my Sundays, and my Wayfarer look-alikes were suh-WEET...when I was 4.
But let's face it: I don't know who Corazón Aquino is (TIME's Person of the Year the year I was born), I never even knew who Ronald Reagan was during that decade, and I don't even get the joke about how David Squier dying by a stroke.
However, for all of the times 80s music was awful, some of it was actually really artistic. But, hindsight is not only 20/20, it also leads to some pretty awesome creations. So, that was my lengthy introduction to Scott Bradlee covering--in ragtime, no less--some of the most popular 80s hits:

21.7.09

Inheritance in Salt Lake...FINALLY!!

I've known for a while that The Inheritance of War would be playing in SLC, and Ashley just sent me the info for the screening:
The Salt Lake City Film Festival is coming up (Aug 14-16) and slated to play at the SLC Library on Friday the 14th is "Billy was a Deaf Kid" at 11 AM and "The Inheritance of War" at 1:30 PM. "Reserved to Fight" follows at 3:00. All screenings at the Library are FREE so invite everyone to come.

I'm also going to throw a shout out to "Hi My Name is Ryan" which plays Saturday 7PM at the Tower Theater. It is a very funny doc about an eccentric teenager from Arizona

www.himynameisryan.com
www.billywasadeafkid.com
www.theinheritanceofwar.com

For those of you unaware, The Inheritance of War was filmed and directed by a dear friend of mine, Ashley Karras. It premiered at the Palm Springs Film Festival, and has played in various festivals around the country: LDS Film Festival [Orem, UT], Las Vegas Film Festival, Foursite Film Festival [Ogden, UT], and GI Film Festival [Washington, D.C.]. (If I missed any, Ash, let me know!) Now that it's finally in Salt Lake (and FREE!!!), I expect a good showing!
Comment if you'd like to come or would like more info.

16.7.09

Saving the World, and, the Moon


For those of you who aren't aware, today is the anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch. The JFK Library has a an awesome website recreating the event in real-time. I wish I was alive to witness it myself, and I look forward to the day when we can get off our lazy butts and go there again. But in the meantime, this is WAY cool. Check it out at www.wechoosethemoon.org.
Another cool thing: NASA has, this time *with* help from Hollywood, gone and restored the moon footage from the Apollo 11 landing. While it's certainly not HD, it looks pretty good given the circumstances. Here it is.
Lastly, while the moon is exciting, so is our Earth, and I read an awesome and intriguing article about "20 Bold Schemes That Could Save the World." It's an interesting read on many levels, so...check it out!

10.7.09

Sour Music Video

This has to be one the most creative music videos I've ever seen!

[UPDATE: I prefer Vimeo, because YouTube is just plain not classy, but seeing as they removed the music vid from Vimeo, here YouTube is saving the day. Sorry for those who it died on.]

>

9.7.09

Apple, Postal Service, and Salt Lake City?

So, I was reading (twice, actually) today about RIM's (the maker of Blackberries..the phone) complete ripoff of an Apple ad, and that reading led me to read about Apple's own ripoffs...which have themselves been numerous at times.
So as I got into the Apple ripoffs, I was reading how Apple ripped off The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" music video, and I like that song and was intrigued as to why that music video would have images of a microprocessor plant. As I was watching along, the video goes into space, and the camera zooms into the earth a la "Burn After Reading" or a simple Google Earth transition.
What totally took me off guard, however, was just exactly *where* they zoomed in. Can you guess?
It was Salt Lake City! Not only that, but it just *happens* that they zoom in right where the Delta Center--ahem, EnergySolutions Arena is now. Which leads me to believe that they either digitally altered, or they got the satellite image from before 1991 when the arena was built. (Due to other shadows and etc., I'm actually leaning toward the latter.)
Anyway, check it out. The magic begins at about the 3:12 mark if you're indifferent or impatient.


View Larger Map

29.6.09

Michael Jackson, 1958-2009

Ten years ago, I never would have written this post. But since then I've learned (and am still learning) to greatly appreciate art when I see it, and along with that comes the appreciation of artists.
Michael Jackson is arguably the best pop singer, the best dancer, and the best performer. Ever. You might argue, but it's like arguing that Michael Jordan wasn't the best basketball player ever. Sure, players might come along and outdo him and create more hype, but nobody will be better than him simply because he did it first and did it unlike any other. Jackson is the same.
For all his follies, he knew how to entertain. The chance of another like him is highly unlikely. Even though I don't love his music, I can appreciate the value it has. I actually was contemplating buying tickets to his comeback tour in the UK next year. Oh well.
One thing I notice: he's in complete control of EVERY aspect of his performances and he's Here's a video to remind you just how entertaining he could be (remember to hit the HQ button once it starts playing):

Also, a video that shows a glimpse of possible inspirations:

Haha! And Philippine inmates at Cebu rehearsing a tribute dance of thriller!

27.6.09

Wonderful Storm


My friend took this great pano of a full rainbow during the amazing storm we had tonight. Loved it.
Played racquetball for a few hours today, it's no fun to play in a construction zone, and especially not a good idea to try to cut your wrist off by keeping it in your safety lanyard while jumping down into the court and getting your racquet stuck on the way down.
Meals were free for me today...Abby made us amazing oatmeal cookies which served as breakfast, Lance informed me of the free food at work before I left campus at lunchtime, and Daddy took the entire fam out for dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory.
Went to the Oquirrh Temple open house...I must say it is one stylish temple.
Had a soccer game get canceled due to the lightning that almost KILLED ALL OF US.
Decided to go to Vegas next weekend.
And last but not least, learned that you must stir Italian Cream Sodas for the full effect, even if the syrup at the bottom tastes heavenly.

25.6.09

Opening Up the Oscars


I just read today that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be expanding the Best Picture race. Instead of 5 nominations, there will be 10.
?!
That was what I first thought, and I was almost as sad about this as I was about the death of Kodachrome earlier this week. (That almost brought me to tears, though...might warrant a future post.) However, now I'm just kinda torn. I don't know that I don't like it, but I don't know that I do. To me, it makes the Best Picture category much less prestigious, but at the same time it opens the nominations to foreign and independent films as well as documentaries (foreigns and docs are allowed now but never get the nominations because they have their own categories).
At worst, I think this is the way for the Academy to 1)appease the public by allowing popular films to be nominated (of course, without a chance of winning) and 2) increase ticket sales of nominated movies. At best, well, at best it could open the competition up (at prestige's stake).
Anyway, what do you all think?

23.6.09

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

Well, actually, this post is focusing on trains. Have I mentioned how super excited I was when the High Speed Rail plan was announced a few months back? Well, I am. This rail network is a national project that our population is yearning for.

I was thinking about this particularly this weekend while I was camping in the Uinta Mountains. We toured the Flaming Gorge Dam, and I couldn't help but wonder why there has been no national infrastructure, environmental, or, what I call, "USA" projects in the last three decades. Unless I'm mistaken, what have we done since going to the moon? What have we done since building a national freeway system? What have we done since the water conservation projects in the 60s and 70s? What have we done since the national park movement? *Where has the innovation gone?*
Those of you who have heard me rant, you know that America stands as a land of innovation in my mind. The power of innovation in this country is more powerful than the power of (so-called) freedom. Innovation brought about the concept of democracy--of freedom. And now where has it been? Private innovation has continued, sure, but what about public innovation?
But I digress.
This is a topic you'll read about often from me, but today it's more of an intro to a sadder topic.
In 1963, America learned a painful lesson when Pennsylvania Station, an architectural treasure that Senator Daniel Moynihan described as “the best thing in our city,” was torn down and replaced with a dreary complex that includes an office building and Madison Square Garden. The rail station, to this day the nation’s busiest, was moved underground into a claustrophobic warren of artificially lit passageways and bleak waiting rooms.

Check out these beautiful stations that were demolished and replaced with fugly projects. Good and short read.

Blogs and Stuffs

I found a new blog that I like. Rather, it's a political live journal, not updated frequently, but it's a nice liberal read every once in a while. It's left-leaning, I'll warn you now, but it offers some very interesting points.
Here's the link to pfarley's livejournal.
(He also has a link to the Bush Administration's scandals, in list form. Interesting read, for posterity's sake at least.

Alice in Wonderland: Burton Style


Perhaps as a great follow-up to the Beatles' post, I saw these production stills and thought they'd make a great post. Tim Burton has the most fantastic art team, and he himself is just an incredible visionary for fantasy productions. Plus, this is a great example of all the reasons I love Johnny Depp as an actor. Can't wait for the film to come out.
[via BoingBoing and ComingSoon.net]
[Update: here are the pics again, sorry for the downtime. As always, click for hi-res.]

15.6.09

The Beatles

OMG.
The Beatles Rockband intro is the most delicious short on The Beatles' history. Ever. Check it out. And make sure to click the HQ button once it starts playing.

3.6.09

Answers


Sometimes, it's best not to plan. I've tried to convince people this for a while, and those who know me really hate me for it. But I can honestly say this trip wouldn't have been half the trip if we had planned it. Anyway, I don't want to spend too much time updating everyone, but we spen the last few days in a small German village known as Marsberg. Lovely, and very homely.
We're now in Köln (better known as Cologne...a small city you may have heard of before) and the day was fantastic.
Tomorrow we leave for Stuttgadt, then Saturday it's back to home...
The people are amazing, and I absolutely love it over here.

Here are the answers I promised in my comment:
-Nay, the ping pong table was found about a 10 minute walk away from the temple. However, as is evidenced at my house, a ping pong table isn't ENTIRELY necessary to play ping pong, Brad, so you could still get away with it...
-Yes, Teryn, I still do and will probably always remember the 8k meters we ran down(that is 8000 meters for those unfamiliar with the metric system)

Oh. So I guess there really weren't that many questions to answer. Oh well...

30.5.09

Frankfurt

The library is about to close, so here are some pictures until I can write more.

27.5.09

Leaving Home, Part Two

This was always meant to be a two-part series...
Getting out of the country this second time was a much smoother experience. My ride's car didn't suffer from bad battery and a flat tire, nothing really bad happened to me the night before leaving, and although I've been a little anxious since I haven't had any time to think about this trip, I have been rather calm since we left.
After a long flight, we got to Frankfurt and succesfully navigated the S-Bahn here to get to Friedrichsdorf, the city the temple is actually in. However, we had no idea where in Friedrichsdorf the temple was, so we just started walking. I navigated the best I could with my incredible memory of Google Maps, and a half hour later we arrived at the harder-than-it-should-have-been-to-find temple. It's incredible to see this one in real life.
Today has been the big day for many who came. We've had endowments and sealings for these couples, and it's truly been an incredible feeling. A lot of people have come, including the Lusho family, Brother and Sister Cunaj, Brother and Sister Rrokaj, the Isufi family (including all three kids!) and many others from Tirana and Durres.
We're here at the temple for another 3 days, and I really hope that my friends take advantage of the opportunity they have.
Last night, a friend of ours that lives in Frankfurt came and picked us up and took us around the city at night. It was beautiful...quite incredible. Saturday we plan on leaving to Berlin, but who really knows? We'll keep you updated.

15.5.09

Up and Away!

So, I will come out and apologize right away for not having any pictures. I somehow decided not to bring my camera cables...anyway...we're having a blast!
Yesterday was our last day in Moralillos for our project. I don't think I've become attached to a people as quickly as this village, except perhaps Albania. They were the most accepting and loving people, and they were happy! We did our work and got so close to them. As my job was to document it, I tried to get as involved with the people (because people are what good documentaries are about) and the children were fantastic. I still see their smiling faces as I struggled to pull my spanish out of the bag and communicate with them. They were great.
Before we got on our plane in Iquitos, we took a boat ride on the Amazon. Absolutely fantastic. That's all that can describe it! After a 5 hour weather delay in Lima, we finally made it 12,000 feet higher in Cuzco, which has also been fantastic.
I will write more details when I get home...we're going to Machu Picchu tomorrow at 5.30a, so I better hit the hay.
Hope you are all well, and know that I'm safe and feel safe (which are two different things, of course) and that the people are great.
Ciao!

9.5.09

Leaving Home, Part One


Well, finals have come and gone (and actually went quite well in their own right), and in less than 11 hours I will be in the air making my way to Peru. I'm absolutely thrilled, but I just wanted to reflect on how this past week has gone and some feelings I've had.
First of all, without too much commentary, I was lucky to find donors to pay for my whole end of the project, which was quite the blessing. We are also going to Machu Picchu, so we had to pay for that portion of the trip. Unfortunately, the preparatory medical costs for this trip (vaccinations, prescriptions, etc.) cost about the same amount as the Machu Picchu trip. So, that was a heart-wrenching reach for the wallet this week. But at least I will be healthy, right?
Second, as I was preparing and packing today, I was testing all of my electronics and I plugged in my Vixia to charge it up, and it wasn't charging. I was not at all happy, but soon figured out that a little pin in the charging jack on the camera was pushed through, effectively crippling the charging abilities of the camera. No bueno, since I'm in charge of documenting this project. So I spent three hours meticulously opening the camera to see if it was something I could jury-rig, knowing that the warranty wouldn't get me a camera in time for the trip. I did as much as I could, and I thought I had fixed it, but to no avail. So now if my warranty doesn't hold through, I'll eventually have a $1000 brick on my desk. But at least it still records fine, right?

I had three sound projects due on Wednesday...I had somehow misplaced my CF card with all the project files on it, so I didn't get that turned in this week. Luckily I found the card today, too bad I leave tomorrow and have no time to turn it in. But at least Steve's a nice guy and will work with me, right?
So many other things are going wrong right now, it's made me really wonder why I do what I do. Why am I risking myself and my equipment going to build toilets for a village? Why am I strangling myself fiscally to visit some of my best friends in Frankfurt? Why do I take 19 credit hours and work 25+ hours every week? Sometimes it all seems so silly to me. What is it that drives me? What's the point?
And yet, I think that's why I insist on it. I couldn't handle *NOT* pushing myself to my physical, mental, fiscal, and spiritual limits. I learn more in two weeks abroad than in years of school and work. I experience so much; so many feelings race through my heart that sometimes I wonder if this is the only way left to experience the gamut of emotion in a world that is turning benign.
Maybe that's it...maybe I just want to feel...

Anyway, airport at 9. See you all later.

29.4.09

Play For Change

A little intro:
This cover of Stand By Me was recorded by completely unknown artists in a street virtual studio all around the world. It all started with a base track—vocals and guitar—recorded on the streets of Santa Monica, California, by a street musician called Roger Ridley. The base track was then taken to New Orleans, Louisiana, where Grandpa Elliott—a blind singer from the French Quarter—added vocals and harmonica while listening to Ridley's base track on headphones. In the same city, Washboard Chaz's added some metal percussion to it.
And from there, it just gets rock 'n' rolling bananas: The producers took the resulting mix all through Europe, Africa, and South America, adding new tracks with multiple instruments and vocals that were assembled in the final version you are seeing in this video. All done with a simple laptop and some microphones.


Check out Playing for Change.

22.4.09

Critical Consumption

Brett brings this to light:
Mark Tomasky: Did an Obama judicial nominee really express a preference for Allah over Jesus?
Naturally, it's all a lie, but as I said, even I was shocked at how rancidly despicable a lie it was.

Read the post; it's worth at least skimming or keeping in mind if someone comes to you with such a story. My general rules of thumb for judging any story that sounds absolutely infuriating:

1) If it sounds absolutely ridiculous that such a thing could happen, a relatively (and often absolutely) small amount of research will usually debunk the claim or weaken it significantly.

2) Rule 1 applies 100 times over if it comes from fringe groups and people who need attention in order to maintain their lifestyle. This includes for practical purposes all explicitly political Christian groups (unfortunately), Fox News, leftist groups (Democracy Now, CODEPINK, and the like), and professional non-elected political personalities (Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, Michael Moore, Naomi Klein, Ralph Nader, etc.).

3) If it is in a chain-email, it is a lie 95% of the time.

4) These rules (especially the first two) don't hold a tragic proportion of the time to claims about the Bush administration. You should still be skeptical though.

I would expand on rule number 3 to say that if it's in a chain-email, it should be disregarded, even if there is any truth to it. Chain e-mail should never be trusted, unless you know everybody who it was sent to for at least three generations.