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Showing posts from July, 2010

The City & The City by China Miéville (Book Review)

The City & The City refers to two overlapping and interspersing cities -- Beszel and Ul Qoma -- somewhere in Europe. Despite the proximity of the cities, that at times is so tight that part of a street may be in Beszel while the rest is in Ul Qoma, it is both law and custom that people observe only the environs of their city and "unsee" the other city. So, if they are in Beszel, they only see Beszel buildings, streets, and people, just as people in Ul Qoma only see people and places that are in Ul Qoma. To do otherwise is to commit breach, a serious crime enforceable by a secret power that mandates the perception of Beszel and Ul Qoma as distinct cities.

If this all sounds confusing, I submit that it is probably due to my inability to capture what Miéville has done in this novel, which is to take a speculative premise that completely jars against our expections and sense of what should be, and make it work and flow.

We are introduced to Beszel and Ul Qoma through Inspect…

Randy's a Dandy

After sharing the Buffalo and Cleveland post that compared sports failures between the two cities, I wanted to follow up with something positive. I've been tossing some ideas around when a co-worked forwarded me this great clip from the 1978 NBA All-Star game featuring Randy Smith (a former Buffalo Brave) going on a tear and hitting shot after shot. When I saw this, I knew immediately this was what I wanted to post.

Enjoy!

Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky (Book Review)

Cognitive Surplus continues where Here Comes Everybody ends and examines how excess free time and the adoption of social media are transforming us from consumers into collaborators.

We've had surplus free time for a while, Shirky contents, at least since the postwar boom. However, because we spent so much of this excess time watching television, the surplus was mostly used for consumption. It has only been in recent years, with the emergence of online social networks, that we're beginning to see our cognitive surplus applied beyond consumption, to all manner of sharing and collaborative creation.

It's worth noting here that the application of our cognitive surplus to social networks is instrumental. It won't by definition produce output of higher quality. You will instead get everything from Wikipedia to Napster to millions of blogs and Twitter posts. But because the Internet has removed the barriers to entry for amateurs creating and sharing content, the pool of conte…

Buffalo and Cleveland: Let’s Make a Pact!

I'm a Buffalo sports fan, but I found myself acutely disappointed when LeBron James choose the Miami Heat over the Cleveland Cavaliers. You see, it's not easy being a Buffalo sports fans, with the Bills' four Super Bowl losses and the Sabres' inability to win the Stanley Cup. I've always felt that the only fans who truly understand the continual disappointment and ache of no championships are Cleveland sports fans.

So, somewhere along the way, I've become a stand-in Cleveland fan, and I always cheer for Cleveland teams to win when they make the playoffs (excepting on the rare occasion when the Browns and Bills meet in the post-season, when I root for the Bills). This year was no different, and I really thought it was the Cavs' year and LeBron would lead them over the top.

It was obviously not to be, though. But the Cavs' loss to the Celtics and LeBron's decision to play for Miami got me thinking about other famous sports letdowns and disappointments…

10 Reasons Why Independence Day Is the Best Holiday

Earlier this year, I gave ten reasons why Memorial Day is my favorite holiday. I stand by that list, but, in full disclosure, I really like Independence Day too, almost or even as much as Memorial Day. To flush this out, I decided to make a case for Independence Day as the best holiday of them all. Don't worry, I won't do this for every holiday.

Note: As with Memorial Day, I'm aware that Independence Day (on the Fourth of July) is a U.S. holiday, but I know other countries have similar holidays, so I figured people everywhere can relate. I also tried to pick qualities that aren't specific to America. If anything, they're more season-specific.
Here's the list: It's a holiday for everybody. Almost everyone gets off work on Independence Day and most businesses are closed. It makes the day feel extra special and celebratory, and there are only a few holidays where this is the case.It's affordable. Unless you're hosting a giant party, you won't spend a …