Thursday, October 26, 2006

Squeezebox: great music, easy access

that's me, trying to kiss my newest music gadget, the squeezebox. the squeezebox can wirelessly connect to your computer, or directly to the internet, and stream music. you connect the squeezebox to some speakers and you've got a sweet setup.

it comes with a fantastic remote, and so i was sittin back on my bed, browsing the internet world of music. first i found an all 80s radio station, then i jumped to a dance station out of amsterdam. then i wanted to do more directed exploration, so i used the remote to key "justin timberlake" into the radio's pandora interface, and it made me a JT station. oh, and there's a software interface for your computer (both offline and online) so you can configure your music tastes from your computer, as well as from the device directly.

now, i've only had this for an hour or so, but i'm already loving it.

what inspired me to buy this slick little device? pandora. if you haven't seen pandora, you really need to check it out. pandora's musicologists have characterized tens of thousands of songs, and so you enter a band or song into their system and it will connect you with similar songs. you create "stations" around your favorite bands or songs.

UPDATE: i just encountered two small downers. after 90 days, to continue the pandora connection i need to pay $36 annually. that's actuallly not that much money, but still.. the other thing is that pandora seems to limit the number of skip-to-next-tracks i can do in an hour. that's annoying. still, i'm enjoying myself. it brings me back to the day when my sister had a stereo in her room, and sometimes i'd go in and just put in a cd and browse that or the radio. except now i have a lot more options, and can do directed exploration, not just random wandering.

Monday, October 23, 2006

sketch comedy: elephant larry

one of my roommates from college, neal, was in a sketch comedy troupe at school. when some of his peeps graduated and movd to nyc, they formed their own sketch comedy group called elephant larry (i wonder if they chose that name partly because it would google well). i like their work and so wanted to let all my the readers know about them.

anyway, neal told me his friends were recently invited to film a sketch in la with john landis, the director of animal house and blues brothers. impressive stuff. a few other sketch troupes were also invited. anyway, you can see their sketch called "Tall Cop, Short Cop" here (note that the link has been a bit flaky... stupid jibjab). the sketch starts a bit slowly, but gets quite funny.

i also found some of their stuff on youtube. i think this commercial is the best:

ah japan

i was browsing around flickr and saw this sunset in tokyo.

i really enjoyed japan, and wish i was there longer. i remember doing karaoke with halldor in hakodate -- i actually have a video of halldor in action singing "it wasn't me" by shaggy.

but that video is not online, and couldn't be without halldor's consent, so instead i'll give you the original video. just imagine replacing shaggy in this video with an icelander named halldor.

Friday, October 20, 2006

nobel peace prize, bangladesh and global warming

i've been reading about the nobel peace prize winner mohammad yunus. in case you didn't know, dr. yunus started the grameen bank, a bank for the poor in bangladesh. he pushed the idea of microcredit. i actually saw him give a talk a while back, and it was very inspiring. here are some quotes from speeches he's given:

We believe that poverty does not belong to a civilized
human society. It belongs to museums.


All human beings have an innate skill - survival skill. The
fact that poor are still alive is a proof of their ability
to survive. We do not need to teach them how to survive.
They know this already.

--Dr. Mohammad Yunus

i was reminded of this because of the startling thing larry brilliant said about global warming when speaking at berkeley months back. he lauded dr. yunus' work but stated that it could literally be washed away by the rising sea levels due to global warming. the picture below gives a sense of this scary possibility. follow this link for more.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pie Eating Contest at Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

we went to the half moon bay pumpkin festival this past weekend. the traffic getting there was horrible but it was worth it, just to see small children compete in a pie eating contest. watch this video, and see the boy 2nd or 3rd from the left bang his head into the pie. watch the little girl at the right devour the pie.

these kids are amazing. i would've completely flopped in this activity (and hence i didn't engage in the adult pie-eating contest).

now to get me some pumpkin pie...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

malcolm gladwell on predicting hit movies

i was at the new yorker festival last weekend and malcolm gladwell spoke about predicting hit movies. i'm not sure how you feel about mr gladwell (my friend niniane is none-too-impressed with him), but whatever you think, he's a fantastic storyteller.

i wasn't going to post about this until wednesday, because that's when the new yorker is posting the video of gladwell's presentation online (scroll to the bottom of the new yorker page), but then i saw that the article is actually online, scanned in by the company that gladwell is talking about in his article. if you read my blog, you know how annoyed i am with the new yorker not making their material more readily available, so here i am, happy to point you to it.

very briefly, gladwell is writing about a group of people who believe they can predict the amount of money a movie will make, just by analyzing the screenplay and feeding some data into an elaborate computer program. they actually do quite well, supposedly. the talk is amazing, and i haven't read the article yet, but you should read it just to learn about mr pink and mr brown, two movie analysts who are very serious about reading screenplays:
Mr. Brown couldn’t remember a single script he’d read where he thought there wasn’t room for improvement, and Mr. Pink, when asked the same question, could come up with just one: “Lethal Weapon.” “A friend of mine gave me the shooting script before it came out, and I remember reading it and thinking, It’s all there. It was all on the page."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

convict smooth talks his way out of arrest

hi all,

i want to post about my experience at the new yorker festival, but i haven't gotten around to writing it up. instead, i just want to post this video, which is rather amazing. the man being questioned by the police officer in this video had just escaped from a high-security prison a few hours earlier. he had escaped from prison numerous times, and is essentially an escape expert (he's also a convicted murderer). anyway, the video is worth watching, especially to see how smooth the convict is, and how dumb the cop is.