Archive for February, 2011

Empty Two-Fifths

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

I just saw a Bloomberg article has a fun fact about Dubai:

In the next two years, tens of thousands of new properties will come onto a market where about 40 percent of homes and offices are empty.

For more, check out: “Dubai Can’t Break Building Addiction With Glut of Properties Still Growing“.

Disney Video Sociology

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

So we watched a Walt Disney World planning video last night.

Actually I should say I sprung a Walt Disney World planning video on Liz last night.

The sad part is that it was pretty hokey; even my own interest was waining, so I couldn’t fault Liz when I saw out of the corner of my eye that she had picked up her iPhone and started scrolling through something more interesting.

So I quickly turned it into a sociological experiment: I pointed out that one of the video’s hostesses spoke perfect English, with just a hint of a Mediterranean accent. Was she Greek? Turkish?

The iPhone went to the coffee table. Liz was back in the game.

We determined that her parents emigrated to Canada sometime around the Lebanese Civil War in 1975 when she was young, like say 6 years old.

Liz was hooked. We investigated each time they used African American actors. Asian American actors. Grandparents. Honeymooners.

It’s actually a pretty interesting experiment, because every actor’s casting was a clear choice, likely debated by a team of experts and executives and marketing people.

Toyota Hates Lincoln

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Happy Presidents Day!

Or, if you’re Toyota – “Happy Washington’s Birthday”.

Does anyone else think that’s weird?

Where’s Abraham Lincoln?!

Maybe the fact that Saturday was the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of Jefferson Davis as the President of the Confederate States of America had something to do with it?

That the company’s division responsible for Toyota’s engineering design and development, R&D, and manufacturing activities in the U.S., Mexico and Canada is headquartered in Erlanger, Kentucky?

Or that, of the ten manufacturing locations in the United States, seven are in the South?

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing, North America, Inc. (Erlanger, Kentucky)
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama, Inc.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, Inc.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia, Inc.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi, Inc.
Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.
Bodine Aluminum, Inc. (Missouri & Tennessee)
TABC, Inc. (Long Beach, California)
Canadian Autoparts Toyota, Inc.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Inc.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing de Baja California, S. de R.L. de C.V.

And let’s face it, there were plenty of Southern Sympathizers in Indiana. While the state stayed Union, I think several counties seceded.

So clearly, Toyota, as a southern company, hates Abe Lincoln and has moved to erase him from their advertising, and thus, American media.

Happy Presidents Day.

(And yes, I realize that “George Washington’s Birthday” is the official Federal holiday, but honestly when was the last time you ever heard someone call it that?!?)

Majority Rule?

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Interesting new bill proposed by Republican Senator Thomas Saviello: LD 607 (SP 187) “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Require the Governor To Be Elected by a Majority Vote“.

No way this passes, but I have to mention it because yesterday I received my “Maine’s Majority” stickers in the mail:

Order yours today!

Road Debris on LA Freeways

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Wow, another reason not to live in LA: “Road debris means a commute paved with peril.”

Dunk in Dubai

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Part of me thinks that it’s funny that there are 61 Dunkin Donuts locations in the UAE and none in Los Angeles.

Apparently a new one just opened at Uptown Motor City in Dubai: “Dunkin’ Donuts opens new Dubai outlet“.

John Lewis’ Quote

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

I’m sure you saw that President Obama bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom yesterday, but a quote from this article really got to me: “Obama lauds Medal of Freedom recipients“.

“Generations from now, when parents teach their children what is meant by courage, the story of John Lewis will come to mind: an American who knew that change could not wait for some other person or some other time,” Obama said.

The Georgia congressman said the award was even more special coming from Obama.

“If someone had told me that one day I would be standing in the White House and an African-American president would be presenting me the Medal of Freedom I would say, ‘Are you crazy? Are you out of your mind?’” he told reporters afterward. “It’s just an impossible dream.”

Also nice that Bill Russell and Maya Angelou were recognized, as well.

Zecharia Sitchin was Right?!

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Holy shit they just found Nibiru!

Check out: “Up telescope! Search begins for giant new planet“.

If you grew up thinking there were nine planets and were shocked when Pluto was demoted five years ago, get ready for another surprise. There may be nine after all, and Jupiter may not be the largest.

The hunt is on for a gas giant up to four times the mass of Jupiter thought to be lurking in the outer Oort Cloud, the most remote region of the solar system. The orbit of Tyche (pronounced ty-kee), would be 15,000 times farther from the Sun than the Earth’s, and 375 times farther than Pluto’s, which is why it hasn’t been seen so far.

(Nibiru, for those of you who aren’t tinfoil hat enthusiasts, is the planet from which extraterrestrial who visited the Babylonians originated, at least, according to looney tunes Zecharia Sitchin).

Maine To Get NRA Plate?

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Check out the new bill from Augusta: “An Act To Establish a National Rifle Association License Plate“.

This would be the first plate in Maine to give money to a private group.

North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee have NRA plates.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Tiger Chokes and Spits

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Oh Tiger!

Did you see this from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic over the weekend? “Tiger Woods may face censure from European Tour for spitting on 12th green“.

How far you’ve fallen …

Apple iPhone Nano?

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Oh boy I hope the Wall Street Journal is correct on this one: “Less-Pricey iPhone in the Works“.

Although we did just buy a year-long subscription to MobileMe …

Might as well …

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Ten Years of California Adventure

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Wow! How did I miss this today? It’s February 8th!! Today’s the tenth anniversary of Disney’s California Adventure theme park!

Here’s the Orange County Register story on it: “Disney park makes impact over 10 years“.

Personally I think the park has its shortcomings – it was cheap from the start, quite frankly – so it’s nice that they’re now investing in renovations and additions. However, I always though that the park had a certain charm to it. I really became quite fond of it in my last few years in California.

At the time it opened I was living in Burbank, and although I had gone to an Employee Preview day in January (see My thoughts on Disney’s California Adventure) I still decided to make the drive down to Orange County on that first Thursday night.

I also wrote about that trip (see Only in California!).

Ten years later I still like my opening:

Imagine an event so special, it’s only taken place seven times over the past 46 years. The next three times it happens, it won’t even be on North America. And I live only 34 miles away from it.

Yesterday, Disney’s California Adventure opened.

Yesterday, I drove down to Anaheim after work.

I mean, c’mon, who knows where the next Stateside Disney Theme Park is going to be? And I’m sure as hell not going to Tokyo DisneySea in 2001, Disney Studios Paris in 2002, or Honk Kong Disneyland in 2005! But I’m here now, so I figured I’d go for it.

Prescient really, as there hasn’t been a new park in the US since!

There hasn’t even been a new one since Hong Kong, and Shanghai Disneyland is still four years out.

Anyway, I took a roll or two of photos that night, too. Here’s one of the Sun Icon fountain, one of my favorite Disney subjects. Sadly it’s on the chopping block and will be removed in the renovations.

Anyway, happy birthday, California Adventure!

Made in the USA

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Interesting article about manufacturing in the USA in this week’s Sunday Boston Globe: “Made in the USA“.

Key quote:

Americans make more “stuff” than any other nation on earth, and by a wide margin. According to the United Nations’ comprehensive database of international economic data, America’s manufacturing output in 2009 (expressed in constant 2005 dollars) was $2.15 trillion. That surpassed China’s output of $1.48 trillion by nearly 46 percent. China’s industries may be booming, but the United States still accounted for 20 percent of the world’s manufacturing output in 2009 – only a hair below its 1990 share of 21 percent.

“The decline, demise, and death of America’s manufacturing sector has been greatly exaggerated,” says economist Mark Perry, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. “America still makes a ton of stuff, and we make more of it now than ever before in history.” In fact, Americans manufactured more goods in 2009 than the Japanese, Germans, British, and Italians – combined.

Our move to a service economy from a manufacturing economy is clear, and maybe it’s not a bad thing …

Tubular Rail

Friday, February 4th, 2011

I’m going to punish you with some funky transit. It’s from a few months ago, but I just saw it now. It’s called “tubular rail”. Check out: “What The Rail?!?!

Key quote:

In this vision for an alternative train type, there is no track. Stanchions, 100 feet apart, house rollers that propel the train as it passes. The train doesn’t fall even as it’s nose is suspended unsupported in the same way that a pencil on the edge of a tabletop won’t begin to tip and fall until more than half of it is dangling past the precipice.

Nobody would ever build this, but dang is it kind of cool.

Prototype iPad 2

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Not to be too much Apple, but apparently one of their execs made a little mistake this week.

He (or she) brought a prototype iPad 2 … to a room full of reporters.

Check out: “Unreleased Apple iPad spotted at news event“.

Key quote:

A Reuters eyewitness saw what appeared to be a working model of the next iPad with a front-facing camera at the top edge of the glass screen at a press conference to mark the debut of News Corp’s Daily online paper in New York on Wednesday.

A source with knowledge of the device confirmed its existence, adding that the final release model could have other features. News Corp and Apple declined to comment.

The next version of Apple’s popular tablet computer is expected to be announced in the next few months.

So was this a shrewd plan, or a total goof?

iPhone Web Usage

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

This is fascinating – 2% of all web browsing in the world is done on iPhones or iPads!

Check out: “Apple’s iOS Breaks 2% of All Browsing on The Web, Over 5% in U.K./Australia“.

Iconic Images

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Watching Al Jazeera English’s live streaming coverage of the riots in Egypt, I find myself waiting for the iconic image. You know, the one that’ll be on the cover of international newsmagazines, and then end up in history books someday.

That got me to thinking of other images from civil unrest past.

Boston in 1770:

Engraving by Paul Revere

Harpers Ferry, Virginia in 1859:

Illustration from Harper's Weekly

Birmingham, Alabama in 1963:

Photograph by Bill Hudson

Kent State University in 1970:

Photograph by John Filo

Tiananmen Square in 1989:

Photograph by Jeff Widener

Los Angeles in 1992:

Screenshot from KTLA

Seattle in 1999:

Photography by Steve Kaiser

Egypt Riots

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

We’re taking the snowday today to watch streaming footage of the Egypt demonstrations on Al Jazeera English. Crazy footage.

It’s amazing to see Tahir Square not just devoid of cars, but packed with people. When we were there in April of 2008 it was wall to wall cars, day and night.

I actually just pulled out my journal from out trip. Apparently I didn’t write one of the stories down, though, so it might be a little off, but here goes:

Steve, Liz and I took a taxi home from dinner one night, and got an English-speaking driver. He was chatty, as most taxi drivers are, regardless of locale, and at one point motioned to his glove compartment. He said he had a gun in there, and if he ever saw President Mubarak he would shoot him.

He seemed pretty serious.

It was startling to hear, but made sense with all of the stories we were hearing of rising food prices and rampant unemployment. The people’s desperation was palpable.

Trying to imagine that city now, almost three year later, sadly these riots make perfect sense.