Thursday, December 31, 2009
More tragedy than comedy in Alex Beam's fictional Boston Globe column from December 31, 2019: "10 years on: Tiger finds religion, Harvard goes under, and all human knowledge disappears - temporarily".

Happy New Year, see you next decade!

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posted by Josh at 12:43 PM | 0 comments
Most people won't care, but I read this and was dumbfounded: "Venom's Secret Co-Creator Steps Out Of The Shadows".


Venom, of course, being one of Spider-Man's newest but most popular villains.


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posted by Josh at 6:27 AM | 0 comments
Interesting thoughts in this SI article about adding a third baseball team to New York: "You can't blame the Mets for being cautious".

(If you want to skip the junk about the Mets, scroll down to the part titled "The rich get richer").

Hey, if it takes the Yankees down a peg, you know I'm all for it ...

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posted by Josh at 6:27 AM | 0 comments
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Aw junk! I forgot to mention this - yesterday was the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of my great-great-great grandfather William Hall.

I have to wonder what Windham, Maine looked like on December 29, 1809 ...

UPDATE: Yes, I know it was technically Windham, Massachusetts in 1809.

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posted by Josh at 6:23 PM | 0 comments
I love statistics. I love baseball.

But baseball statistics confound me.

I'd never heard of WAR until yesterday. WAR is "Wins Above Replacement" - how many wins a player contributes to a team beyond what a replacement player would have contributed.

Confused yet?

Sounds like you need: "Everything you always wanted to know about: WAR".

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posted by Josh at 2:52 PM | 0 comments
Very interesting article in yesterday's Los Angeles Times: "USC offers America 101 for foreign students".

This class pretty much combines History and pop culture ... two of my favorite things.

Wonder if it's available on iTunes U? I'd take that class ...

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posted by Josh at 8:40 AM | 0 comments
This is a pretty clever list from Foreign Policy:

    On this day in 1999...

    Lou Dobbs was a respected, middle-of-the-road journalist.

    The prospect of achieving Middle East peace seemed imminent.

    Beltway pundits believed Al Gore and George W. Bush were centrists who would govern similarly.

    You could meet your loved ones at their arrival gate.

    There were more than 2 million Christians living in Iraq.

    Osama bin Laden was living with his family in a compound in Kandahar.

    China's GDP was $1.4 trillion, half of Germany's.

    Israel still had troops in Lebanon.

    Nobody had ever heard of Somali pirates.

    Something called Inktomi was the world's largest search engine.

    Everybody was clamoring for the new file-sharing program Napster.

    We worried Y2K would bring the global banking infrastructure to its knees.

    Illinois State Senator Barack Obama campaigned for a spot in the House of Representatives.

    First Lady Hillary Clinton campaigned for a spot in the Senate.

    Wasilla, Alaska, Mayor Sarah Palin considered running for state-wide office.

    India had fewer than a billion citizens.

    Strongman Slobodan Milosevic still ruled in Yugoslavia.

    The human genome had not yet been mapped.

    The Concorde flew between Paris and New York.

    Alan Greenspan was widely heralded as the world's greatest financial thinker.

    Boris Yeltsin was preparing to step down and make way for the young pragmatist Vladimir Putin.

    The Dow Jones closed at 11,484. (Today, it's at 10,545.)

    The United States had a record federal budget surplus.

Souce: "Food for thought..."

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posted by Josh at 8:38 AM | 0 comments
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Uh-oh. Hadn't heard this before - the Detroit, um ... pants ... bomber spent time in Dubai: "Abdulmutallab Spent 2 1/2 Months in Dubai".

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was studying in a master's degree program at the Dubai campus of the University of Wollongong of New South Wales, Australia.

Imagine if he'd been at AUD in the MBA program a few years ago ...

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posted by Josh at 3:14 PM | 0 comments
We drove by Jin Asian Cuisine in Saugus, Mass this weekend on the way to Grandmother’s house. (It’s on the way over the river and through the woods, you know). You might know it as Weylu, or East Manor, or New East Manor, or even just "that elaborate Asian restaurant on top of the hill in Saugus on Route 1".

But whatever you call it, it’s apparently closed.


I noticed the barricades in the driveway, which was confirmed in today’s Boston Globe: "The kitchen is closed".

It’s funny, I still think of it as the "new" restaurant ... and this article says it opened in 1989.


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posted by Josh at 1:16 PM | 0 comments
I heard this story on NPR last week but forgot to link to it: "NH pop. exceeds Maine for 1st time since 1800".


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posted by Josh at 12:55 PM | 0 comments
Another author has weighed in on what to call this lost decade.

Paul Krugman from the New York Times says we should call it "The Big Zero".

Hey, it's still better than "the naughties".

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posted by Josh at 11:41 AM | 0 comments
A fantastic end-of-the-decade review, and my thoughts exactly on Rudy Giuliani: "The End of the 00s: The Most Disturbing Sense Of Gratitude".

Key quote:
    This is one of the very grimmest things about remembering that grim, grim day. For the rest of my life, I think, whenever I see Rudy Giuliani’s face on the television or in a magazine or wherever, along with all the anger and disgust and other appropriately negative emotions, I will remember again, and feel a sense of gratitude. And that sucks.

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posted by Josh at 10:46 AM | 0 comments
Monday, December 28, 2009
History and art together - awesome!

"Picturing the Past 10 Years".

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posted by Josh at 10:49 AM | 0 comments
Thursday, December 24, 2009
To everyone who celebrates Christmas, Merry Christmas!


posted by Josh at 9:06 AM | 0 comments

Yes it is.

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posted by Josh at 9:05 AM | 0 comments
Nothing much new to note in this New York Times article: "Iger’s Pay at Disney Slips by 28%" except the term "golden coffin".


    The Disney board has also decided to end a perk allowing for posthumous payments to the heirs of top executives should they die on the job, a controversial benefit known in financial circles as a "golden coffin." Disney will not renew the benefit when current contracts expire, according to the filing. The move follows investor complaints.

I assume this would most recently apply to Frank Wells.

I wonder if we can find a list somewhere of all of the "golden coffin" payees?

Saldy I don't think Roy O. Disney would count - he retired just before his death on December 20, 1971.

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posted by Josh at 8:50 AM | 0 comments
I love numbers. I’m weird, I know, but I love sifting through them, finding raw data, making connections.

Which is one of the reasons I love the decennial Census of Population and Housing.

Needless to say I’m eagerly anticipating the 2010 Census.

I was poking around on the website the other day and found an interesting report - the Frequently Occurring Surnames from Census 2000.

Apparently in the US there are seven last names that are held by a million or more people (Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Miller and Davis). They account for 4 percent of the population – one in every 25 people. The name “Smith” alone is held by 2.3 million people - .9 percent of the population.

So I had to look up names I am related to - “Hall” (one of my grandmothers’ maiden names) is number 30, and “Edwards” is number 53.

No other names in the immediate families make the cut, although following closely to “Edwards” is “Nguyen” at number 57.

Isn't this interesting? And just think about the changes that 2010 will bring ...

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posted by Josh at 8:44 AM | 0 comments
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I love articles about how temporary workers are bad for the economy, and they all should be hired full-tim: "Is Your Job Permanent?"

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posted by Josh at 10:28 AM | 0 comments
Wow, this is kind of scary, this article estimate that 20 to 30 percent of the worldwide flash memory goes to Apple.

Corner on the market much?

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posted by Josh at 7:35 AM | 0 comments
Wow, so apparently last year Foreign Policy listed the Large Hadron Collider destroying the universe in a black hole as one of their top 10 Worst Predictions for 2009: "Can we say that the LHC isn't going to destroy the world yet?".

Sometimes the crazy things I think are backed up by science!

Although it didn't happen, which is still probably a good thing ...

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posted by Josh at 7:33 AM | 0 comments
I'd never heard this (although I don't know much about Portland, OR): "Portland: The Town that was Almost Boston".

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posted by Josh at 7:30 AM | 0 comments
Monday, December 21, 2009
Hey look, companies are hiring lots of temps! Who knew?! "Labor Data Show Surge in Hiring of Temp Workers".

Key paragraph: "In the past, temps who do well have often been offered regular employment, with higher pay and benefits. Given the uncertainties about this recovery, companies are not doing that now, and temps, as a result, are less likely to spend as freely as regular employees or to qualify for credit, generating less demand than permanent employment would."


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posted by Josh at 1:05 PM | 0 comments
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Frank Rich has a terribly harsh essay in yesterday's New York Times on how Tiger Woods sums up this year / decade of illusions and fakery.

He touches on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, Enron, Barry Bonds, Eliot Spitzer, Wall Street, Ted Haggard’s megachurch, and more.

Oddly one connection he never makes, even after paragraphs about both Enron's fakery and Accenture's ditching of Woods as spokesperson, is that the two are (albeit tenuously) connected. Accenture had been part of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm that dissolved due to its role in the Enron scandal.

Either way, it's a fascinating read of what was quite a decade: "Tiger Woods, Person of the Year".

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posted by Josh at 2:30 PM | 0 comments
Is this "science"?


But it is interesting, and kind of amusing.

Check out this New Scientist blog comparing cats and dogs: "Dogs vs cats: The great pet showdown".

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posted by Josh at 2:17 PM | 0 comments
I'm still interested in what people are calling the decade between 2000 and 2009 (see Not "The Aughts"?).

Apparently BBC World News America has a name for it ... The Noughties.

Nope, I don't think I can't get behind that.

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posted by Josh at 2:15 PM | 2 comments
posted by Josh at 2:11 PM | 0 comments
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I wanted to write a few words about the passing of Roy E. Disney the other day. While working at what was then known as Walt Disney Feature Animation I had many encounters with Walt's nephew, at screenings or meetings for the new movies. In fact, my last desk at the company was right around the corner from his ceremonial office, located in the rotunda of the Sorcerer's Apprentice hat.

The Feature Animation Building in 1995 (Photo: Peter Aaron / Esto).

I guess could tell you how this multi-billionaire, who will go down in history as the savior of the Disney empire in both the 1980s and the 2000s (read Storming the Magic Kingdom and DisneyWar and you'll see what I mean) would always be early for meetings. How he'd wander around the halls an hour before his meeting, just chatting to the artists. I could tell you how he was genuinely interested in the proceedings of the movies, while so many of the "creative" executives would rush about with no regard to the artists who come up with and draw the movies we were all there to make. And how they were always late to meetings. Always.

No, instead I want to tell you about the first time I ever saw Roy E. Disney in real life.

It was in 1990 (or perhaps 1992). My family was at Walt Disney World in Florida at what then was the Disney-MGM Studios theme park. The brand-new Disney-MGM Studios theme park, back when there were real animators for Feature Animation in the Magic of Disney Animation attraction.

Needless to say my brother and I loved that tour from the very first minute we stepped in the building. We were just a pane of glass away from real Disney animators!

My brother (left) and me (right) back in 1990 (Photo: My Mom).

As we walked through the tour spying down into the fishbowl of animation desks the host said, "And in the back there you'll see Roy O. Disney, Walt Disney's brother".

"Oh my G-- wait ... what?"

Now, as we all know, Roy O. Disney was Walt Disney's brother, but he passed away on December 20, 1971, mere months after Walt Disney World in Florida opened to the public.

And we also all know that he was Walt's older brother, so by February of 1990 he'd have been pushing 97 years old.

But the man in the fishbowl did not look a hundred years old.

Or dead.

So I did what any meek thirteen year old kid from Maine would have done in my shoes ... I walked right up to the host with the microphone and told him, no, you're wrong. That is Walt's nephew Roy E. Disney, Walt Disney's brother passed away on December 20, 1971 mere months after Walt Disney World in Florida opened to the public and were he alive today Roy O. Disney would have been pushing 97 years old.

The host wasn't impressed.

But looking back I think that was the first time that I realized I have a ridiculous knowledge of all things Disney, more so than even Disney theme park hosts.

And we're not just talking the guy loading kiddies onto the Mad Tea Party tea cups ride or the one selling freeze-pops in Fantastyland - this guy worked in air conditioning. This guy had a tie and blazer. He must have been somebody.

I always wanted to tell Roy that. I almost wrote him a card when he started the Save Disney campaign, but I never did.

Sure, I had more personal interactions with Disney once I worked at animation - but that day in 1990 will always stick in my mind as a pivotal point in my Disney career, before I even had a Disney career.

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posted by Josh at 3:12 PM | 0 comments
So I mentioned last month that Stephen King's new book, Under the Dome is set in a town based on Bridgton - where Liz grew up and where my brother lives now (see Stephen King's Under The Dome).

Well on Wednesday night he had a booksigning in town, a signing so large it took up the entire movie theater.

Of course, my folks and brother went, and of course my brother mugged for the camera and got on NECN.

Check out the video below. Note he uses a joke similar to mine about his little green house ...

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posted by Josh at 3:03 PM | 0 comments
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
posted by Josh at 5:02 PM | 0 comments
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I forgot to mention this last week - in response to my theory that Lewiston/Auburn should become the capital of Maine my aunt-in-law sent me a photocopy of this article, "How Augusta became and stayed the state capital" written by State Representative Neil Rolde and delivered before the Kennebec Historical Society in Commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Maine State House on February 24th, 1982.

I wish it was online (I can't seem to find it anywhere) but for more info on the capital and the political intrigue and machinations behind it, check out this article on the state website, "A Brief History of the Maine State House".

Of course, I stand behind my L/A theory.

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posted by Josh at 9:29 AM | 0 comments
Friday, December 11, 2009
Sweet! The only thing I love more than Christmas music is free Christmas music!

Apple's iTunes Store has 20 free tracks in their iTunes Holiday Sampler. You'll need the most recent version of iTunes to download it, but hey, that's free too!

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posted by Josh at 1:26 PM | 0 comments
I have long lamented the decline of Time Magazine. Part of that might be my ongoing maturity, but I honestly think it's slipped further each year into the inconsequential and even sophomoric.

And now they're doing it to Harvard Business Review.

I know, I know, that sounds uppity and snooty, but I don't care. I find it to be a fantastic magazine full of long, insightful articles about business trends, research and other geeky but cool issues.

Well, it was. Now it'll be HBR Lite: "Livening Up a Staid Magazine".

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posted by Josh at 9:10 AM | 0 comments
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Dubai made the cover of BusinessWeek this week, and it's not wholly negative: "Why Dubai Matters".


So hey, that's something.

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posted by Josh at 6:50 AM | 0 comments
Continuing the Maine Map Week I started on Monday, I found another fun fact the other day.

I went to Google Maps to see how far Portland was to Fort Kent, Maine up at the very top of the state. Turns out by their calculations it's 314 miles, driving time of about 5:54.

View Larger Map

This got me wondering how far other places are from Portland.

So I typed in the generic "New York City" - found out they're ... 314 miles away as well.


View Larger Map

We're smack-dab in the middle of Fort Kent and New York.

I mentioned that to Liz, and she said something to the effect of, "not just geographically - we can get by in either society, too." But she said it much better than that.

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posted by Josh at 6:50 AM | 0 comments
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Finally! An article about Dubai in the Wall Street Journal that's not about their crushing debt!

"Dubai Faces Higher Terrorism Threat In 2010".

Oh crap.

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posted by Josh at 7:26 AM | 0 comments
20091203_prep_no_elves.pngFor real this time.

My friends Stevie and Kevin directed it, and my buddy Chris came up with the idea. It's going to be funny.

Prep & Landing.



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posted by Josh at 7:26 AM | 0 comments
20091208_woods.pngYesterday I was only half-reading an article in Foreign Policy about Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and I got a downright laugh-out-loud moment.

The article, primarily about Berlusconi's alleged Mafia ties, also mentions his marital infidelity. But how do they do it?

"... Referring to Berlusconi's pending divorce after he allegedly pulled a Tiger Woods".


Foreign Policy, cracking jokes. I love it.

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posted by Josh at 7:25 AM | 0 comments
Monday, December 07, 2009
I am so glad that we moved last weekend. Saturday night we had about four inches of snow in Portland, our steps our slippery, the lawn is white - it just would have made the move oh so much more difficult.

Man is it's nice to be all tucked away in the new place, blanketed in snow.

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posted by Josh at 6:51 AM | 0 comments
Over the weekend I read an article about the new Androscoggin Riverlands State Park here in Maine. It lead me to their website, where I read this:

    Located within an hour of 50% of the State’s population, the park will not only serve the Lewiston-Auburn area and Androscoggin County, but residents in the broader region, including primarily Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Kennebec and Oxford Counties.


I've long been interested in why Augusta was chosen as the capital of the state. Well, I get it, it's fairly centrally located geographically, especially for Bangor, Aroostook County, etc. But it's pretty far for folks in Southern Maine to travel.

After reading this statistic, I think that Lewiston/Auburn should be the capital. Doesn't it seem more important to find the mean center of population than the geographic center of area?

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posted by Josh at 6:51 AM | 0 comments
Friday, December 04, 2009
20091204_redclawale.pngSo tonight Portland gets professional basketball - the Maine Red Claws take on the Springfield Armor tonight at the Expo.

I'm more interested in next Thursday's launch of
Red Claws Ale from Gritty McDuff's.

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posted by Josh at 7:17 AM | 0 comments
20091204_mapleblondie.pngI know very little about snowboarders, and very little about Olympians but apparently Hannah Teter is one, and she has a charity where she sells hemp shit, mostly because she is a snowboarder from Vermont with lots of free time.

Either way, all of these things are right up Ben & Jerry's alley, so they've just invented a new flavor for her: Hannah Teter's Maple Blondie.

Check out the description though - maple ice cream with blonde brownie chunks and a maple-caramel swirl.

Hippie-dippie snowboarder aside, that sounds interesting to me ...

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posted by Josh at 7:13 AM | 0 comments
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Okay, okay, likening the National Broadcasting Company, our nation's first major broadcast network, to these failures isn't quite right. But still, I find it sad if after 83 years they drop the NBC moniker from the company name.

Check out: "Comcast Could Drop the NBC Name".
posted by Josh at 2:55 PM | 1 comments
Why am I so interested in this Comcast / NBC-Universal deal? I just am so into the numbers as well where this takes content distribution.

But this New York Times article is more about the clash of cultures. Specifically Philly and NYC versus Hollywood. Look at this quote:

"For nearly six months, only a small cadre of G.E. and Comcast executives knew about the deal — nobody at NBC was ever told — and it had not leaked. On Sept. 30, several hours after the talks were disclosed to a tiny group of executives at NBC, the blockbuster talks appeared on, a Hollywood news site."

For the rest of the article, check out "In Secret Meetings, Comcast Wooed G.E. and Won NBC".
posted by Josh at 10:29 AM | 0 comments
If you like media deals and the numbers that make Hollywood tick, check out "The NBC Universal Sale, by the Numbers".

The bottom line? The new NBC Universal joint venture is valued at about $37 billion.
posted by Josh at 9:00 AM | 0 comments
20091203_prep_no_elves.pngSo you probably already knew this, but President Obama's televised speech on Tuesday bumped all of the regularly scheduled television shows, such as the new Christmas special Prep & Landing, which I guess is technically called Lanny and Wayne the Christmas Elves in Prep & Landing.

It now will premiere next Tuesday at 8:30 pm on ABC.


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posted by Josh at 7:02 AM | 0 comments
I meant to mention this yesterday, but I was swamped with moving stuff.

Wednesday was the 150th anniversary of the hanging of white abolitionist John Brown (he of John Brown's raid fame).

I love history, especially United States history, because of two simple reasons: everything's a matter of perspective, and everything's interconnected.

Was John Brown a martyr? A hero? A terrorist?

I guess that depends on what side of the Mason/Dixon line you lived in 1859.

One this is for sure, he was a prophet. His last writing would certainly come true: “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”

And blood there would be.

So did Brown start the American Civil War? Technically no. But his actions polarized the country even more. They also inadvertently helped the soon-to-be Confederate States; after the raid the Southern militias grew in strength and organization, and became a ready made army when the war began.

Yep, I love history.
posted by Josh at 7:01 AM | 0 comments