Archive for March, 2010

Burj Khalifa Construction Marvel

Friday, March 19th, 2010

I missd this from last Friday, the New York Times has an op-ed about Dubai and specifically the Burj Khalifa: “The Age of Concrete.”

Key quote:

From a technological standpoint, it’s profoundly impressive that a reinforced concrete frame has outperformed the steel of Taipei 101 — the previous record holder for height — by 1,050 feet. This achievement suggests a new era in structural engineering: the compressive strength of concrete has tripled in the last four decades, allowing concrete structures to be thinner, lighter and far, far taller.

Jefferson on Equality

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Looking up Thomas Jefferson after my post yesterday about Texas and education and that whole mess, I found something interesting regarding TJ and his writing of the Declaration of Independence:

[Congress] also altered his wording regarding equal rights. His original wording is here in blue italics: “All men are created equal and independent. From that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable.” Congress changed that phrase, increasing its religious overtones: “All men are created equal. They are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.”

Good to know.


Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Did you see that Fess Parker passed away today?

Reminds me of a story about Daniel Boone.

And no, this has nothing to do with Parker being a Disney Legend for playing Boone on TV.

It’s about a statue of Boone. Up until 1958 – my parents’ lifetime – there was a statue on the steps of the US Capitol Building of Boone stopping a tomahawk-wielding Indian from killing his frontier family.

Yes, on the steps of the US Capitol Building.

Tomahawk-wielding Indian.

My parents’ lifetime.

Photo in the public domain as a work of the Federal Government

When I first read about this years ago in a history book I thought it was a mistake. How insanely racist!

On the steps of the US Capitol Building!

For more, check out the wikipedia page for The Rescue.

Oh, and rest in peace, Fess.

Dubai News

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Dubai has been in the news quite a bit lately, and it’s not good: “Airline Crew Face Jail In Dubai Over Sexy Texts” and “British Couple Appealing Dubai Kiss Conviction” and “Dubai’s Moral Crackdown Is Kiss Of Death For Tourism.”

Don’t Mess With Texas

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Not sure if you’ve been following the story of the Texas board of education and how they’ve been throwing their conservative weight around with school book publishers. Things like asserting the Christian faith of the founders and lessening the role of Thomas Jefferson in the founding (he who coined the damned “separation between church and state”), pointing our flaws in the Great Society (damned Civil Rights, federal education funding and poverty war), playing up the violence of the Black Panthers, giving the Reagan Revolution more time … just a whole host of things with which I do not agree.

The New York Times has more on the subject: “Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change.”

To be fair, I’m not terribly familiar with Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address as President of the Confederacy, one document they want to elevate. So maybe that should be taught.

Although phrases such as “it is a gross abuse of language to denominate the act rebellion or revolution” and “the rights of person and property have not been disturbed” or “no intention or design to invade the rights of others” or “a desire to protect and preserve our own rights” might ring hollow to a student in the 21st century who was descended from those held in slavery.

Here’s an article from the Houston Chronicle written by a historian: “State education board keeps itself in the news.”

Key quote:

During the discussion, one participant argued that individuals in the guidelines should be limited to “correct historical figures.” I am uncertain what she meant by “correct,” but the suggestion has the ring of paternalism. At the very least, it undermines the purpose of critical thinking. Rather than have a state agency trawl through our past and provide a “correct” list, the guidelines should be seen as opportunities for the display of historical analysis and pedagogical skill.

The Gardner Heist

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

It was 20 years ago today that the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Back Bay Boston was broken into. In total thirteen works were pilfered. The thieves were never captured.

I haven’t been there in years, since sometime in college, but I heard there’s a whole expansion set to open in 2012. That’ll be something.

Ellis Leaving Press Herald

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Reporter / blogger Justin Ellis just announced he is leaving the Portland Press Herald as of March 31: “Early retirement comes to the NXT Desk.”

Ou friendship with Ellis started two and a half years ago when he wrote about our Dubai adventure in the paper (see Portland Press Herald). Fortunately for us it continued in person once we were back stateside.

It’s a shame that the Press Herald is losing the one writer who connects with, as he says, “the young people” – covering their culture, technology and local music. In this day and age the mainstream newspapers need all of the readers they can get, and, as the cliche says, “children are the future.” To lose that voice is unfortunate. It seems that papers need more writers who can bridge the gap between young and old, reporter and blogger, hip and stoic.

I really wanted to link to his November 6, 2008 article “An aspiration no longer out of reach” about the election of President Obama, but it’s archived now and behind the paywall. If you feel like coughing up the two bucks it’s a fantastic read.

Anyway, I’ll miss Ellis’ contributions to the Press Herald, but wish him luck on the next chapter.

Pirates Stay in Portland!

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

An hour ago WCSH reported Civic Center approves new deal with Pirates!

UPDATE: Apparently this was a done deal early enough for Steve Solloway to write about it in today’s Portland Press Herald? See: “Building a future for a building.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

If you’re Irish or not, I want to wish you all a very Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Now go drink some green beer like the Celts used to in 400 AD.

And watch out for the snakes.

Robert Foster’s Autobiography

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

I’ve been thinking about that new Disney book Project Future that I was telling you about yesterday (see New Disney Book).

I’m psyched for it, but there’s another book that I really want to read.

Sadly, it’s unpublished.

I swear I’ve talked about this before, but I can’t find the link. See, in the late 1960s when Walt Disney wanted to build what became Walt Disney World he sent a company lawyer to Florida to start buying up land.

And that lawyer, Robert Foster, wrote his story down.

From what I know it’s a story of pseudonyms and shell companies, determining who owned the land (and the mineral rights to said land) – probably all of the stuff in the new book above.

Sadly, Foster, who used the name “Robert Price” to keep his identity secret, never got his book published.

(And Foster/Price shouldn’t be confused with Harrison “Buzz” Price, whose Walt’s Revolution!: By the Numbers is a nerdy good read).

Foster/Price did, however, get a window on the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, USA as both “Foster” and “Price”, a rare feat.

Digital Archives

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Fantastic article about digital preservation in Monday’s New York Times: “Fending Off Digital Decay, Bit by Bit.”

Article about B&M Baked Beans

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Check out this Portland Press Herald article about the B&M Baked Bean factory right around the corner from our place: “Reporter spills the beans about factory where nothing is half-baked.”

Nice to see something still being produced in Maine.


Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

A month ago I mentioned my “mall dreams” (see I’m Up!).

Well I had one Monday night. I don’t remember the dream much, but I want to catalog it here.

I don’t remember much, but I was decorating a Christmas tree in a huge Macy’s-sized Disney Store.

Then the dream took a detour, and I was skiing, and my old boss was there … very odd.

Mini vs. iPad

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Yes, I’d like a Apple iPad when they come out in 18 days. But I’m wary of being an early adopter, especially on new Apple products. You might remember when Apple cut the price of the iPhone by $200 two short months after it came out. Plus sometimes new products have bugs, especially when they’re as new and untested as the iPad.

So I’ve thought up a more economical use of my $500.

Well, theoretical $500.

Take a Refurbished Mac mini 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, which happens to sell for $499 – the same price as the current iPad. Add a $20 cable you can hook this up to your television: instant home entertainment system.

For the past 3 1/2 years we’ve used our 5.5th Generation iPod to play movies and TV shows to our TV (see iPod, TV and Me). That’s fine, and works quite well, but only holds 30 GB of entertainment. The Mac Mini has five times that, plus external hard drives.

Also it would be a hub for all of our music, which right now reside upstairs on a hard drive out of reach. Sadly our laptop has nowhere near the space needed. But with a Mac Mini we could play the songs over our network; all of our music would be at our fingertips anywhere in the house.

So while, yes, I’d like an iPad, I think the Mac Mini would work better for us in the short run. I know eventually we’ll have gobs of cash with which to buy all of the neat toys our hearts desire, but for now …

First dotcom

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Missed this one yesterday – the first .com domain was registered on March 15, 1985.

Twenty-five years ago linked to a – you guessed it – now-defunct computer manufacturer.

My only question, if it was the only website on the internet, who went to it?

New Disney Book

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

How have I not heard of this book?!

If this were any more up my alley I would have written it! Check out this Orlando Sentinel article: “Talking With Chad Emerson: A ‘spy-like’ start for Disney.”

It’s out now, and affordable for someone’s birthday two weeks from today … (cough link cough).


Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Oh yeah, I joined Facebook over the weekend, so go find me if you’re into that stuff.

Les Otten Article

Monday, March 15th, 2010

The Forecaster has an interesting article about Maine gubernatorial candidate Les Otten. Even from the title I think you’ll get the gist: “Risky Business.”

NESN Spring Break

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Last month I made fun of a banner ad for NESN’s “Spring Break Live” starring Peter Gammons. How a sixty-five year old white guy in a suit doesn’t sell “Spring Break” (see Spring Break Live).

Over the weekend I saw this ad, and, while probably for a different program (no “Live”, no Gammons) it’s at least a little more like Spring Break:

At least they don’t have Tom Caron’s ugly mug in there …

Shermans Get a Window

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Robert and Richard Sherman are the songwriters behind a host of tunes from Disney movies such as Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats as well as theme park attractions such as It’s a Small World, Carousel of Progress (both the original and the 1975 revamp), Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, and my personal favorite, Journey Into Imagination.

Well yesterday they received the highest honor that a Disney theme park can bestow – a window on Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A.

Check out: “Songwriting brothers get window in Disneyland.”