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...)



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!


Time to Fire the TSA

Joel Johnson from Gizmodo writes a piece about the failed TSA experiment and why it needs to go.
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.


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.


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



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


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!)


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?



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.


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.


Reading is fun!