Sunday, May 31, 2009


"If way to the Better there be, it exacts a full look at the Worst."
- Thomas Hardy [1840-1928]


Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Tough times don't last, tough people do."

Gregory Peck who played Atticus outside his Universal Studios Hollywood office, 1963.

"They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions...but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."
- Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird [1960], Chapter 11, spoken by the character Atticus.


Buy Truehope EMPowerplus here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

He did not like to paint.



I've grown a goitre by dwelling in this den —
As cats from stagnant streams in Lombardy,
Or in what other land they hap to be —
Which drives the belly close beneath the chin :
My beard turns up to heaven ; my nape falls in,
Fixed on my spine : my breast-bone visibly
Grows like a harp : a rich embroidery
Bedews my face from brush-drops thick and thin.
My loins into my paunch like levers grind :
My buttock like a crupper bears my weight ;
My feet unguided wander to and fro ;
In front my skin grows loose and long ; behind,
By bending it becomes more taut and strait ;
Crosswise I strain me like a Syrian bow :
Whence false and quaint, I know,
Must be the fruit of squinting brain and eye ;
For ill can aim the gun that bends awry.

Come then, Giovanni, try
To succour my dead pictures and my fame ;
Since foul I fare and painting is my shame.

Source here.

Over his lifetime Michelangelo earned about 50,000 large gold florins. In 2009 a typical university professor earns the equivalent of 40-60  large gold florins per year.


Media workers are the heaviest drinking professionals in England, consuming the equivalent of more than four bottles of wine or more than 19 pints of beer a week, as explained here.

Image source here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

duke of london

"Through luck and self confidence he was promoted to the only job at which he was ever any good."
- Regarding Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Gallipoli. Norway. He had been a total failure before his 'finest hour.'

An earlier reference to Churchill here.


“Happiness is not in another place, but in this place…not for another hour…but this hour.”
- Walt Whitman [1819-1892], Leaves of Grass


Jim Lambie's colourful tape installation, Tate Liverpool

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody [1846-1917] American scout, Indian fighter and showman. America's first cultural export.

"To be in the company of someone like that."
- On one occasion Cody killed 16 buffalo with 16 shots; clients paid extravagantly for the peripheral perceived associated prestige.

surf club

GM is expected to file for bankruptcy by the weekend. From 1954 through until the late 1970s, GM enjoyed a 54% market share, which has slid to a low of about 16%.

An earlier reference to Cadillac here.

You realize if we played by the rules right now we'd be in gym?

The house featured in 1986's "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is for sale here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Date With Your Family

"These boys greet their dad as though they are genuinely glad to see him."

Negro Soldier

This WWII film was designed to compel blacks to fight the Nazis. More than twenty years later U.S. minorities were finally granted the right to vote in 1965.

Know Thyself

Sunday, May 24, 2009


"The more back you go, the more forward you go."
- Tony Bennett [born 1926] on the importance of historical study to his singing and painting.


Fast Company's "100 Most Creative People in Business" here.

late bloomer

"Everything came late to him. A soldier at 33. My father at 40. A Senator at 50. President at 60."
- Bess Truman in 1995's Truman.

An earlier reference to Truman here.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

ordinary people

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez [1599-1660], The Luncheon, c. 1617

An earlier reference to Velázquez here. An earlier reference to wine here.

offered everything, accepts nothing

Francisco de Zurbarán [1598-1664]

death is the beginning

El Greco [1541-1614], Burial of Count Orgaz, 1586


Roger Ballen [born 1950], Dresie and Casie, Twins, Western Transvaal, 1993

5 Factor Model

Mapping the Big Five Personality Traits.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009


"Cigars, scotch whisky, cognac, champagne from 7am to 3am." One of his valets, Roy Howells, wrote in his book, Simply Churchill, "It took me a little while to get used to the fact that in two days his cigar consumption was the equivalent of my weekly salary." Source here.

An an earlier cigar reference here. An earlier Churchill reference here.

motivated to make people happy

"You have to make mistakes to grow." "Enjoy the trip to the party as much as the party."
- Frank Gehry [born 1929]

Messenger Lectures

Historical Amnesia

"[In 1629, John Winthrop's] Massachusetts Bay Colony created its Great Seal. It depicted an Indian with a scroll coming out of his mouth. On that scroll are the words 'Come over and help us.' The British colonists were thus pictured as benevolent humanists, responding to the pleas of the miserable natives to be rescued from their bitter pagan fate."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

where the finest interns stay

An earlier reference to Washington, D.C., here.

watch it later

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

greatest war photographer

In The Falling Soldier, Robert Capa [1913-1954] captured Republican Federico Borrell García's death in the Spanish Civil War.

An earlier reference to the Spanish Civil War here.


"The rule of my life is to make business a pleasure and pleasure my business."
- Aaron Burr [1756-1836] who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel regarding an affair of honor on the morning of July 11, 1804.

An earlier reference to Hamilton here.


Alexander Hamilton [1755 or 1757 - 1804] was an orphan from the West Indies and the Founding Father most opposed to slavery.


Creatives abroad

Creativity and the expat life here.

Monday, May 18, 2009


With Rain from takcom™ on Vimeo.

Stressed Out

Interactive map here.


Elvis Costello
When I was quite a young man I dove into the rock-n-roll life head first and when I emerged I couldn't recognize myself so much. Not physically. I had lost some of my moral bearings. Only moments before I had stood off to the side of such debauchery like a disapproving little prude. 
Rufus Wainwright
A songwriter needs to go to the dark side. It's necessary to put yourself in harm's way. And it's a great challenge to come back. The challenge is not to stay there. You go to the next level when you redeem yourself. 

outsourcing strengthens America

Fareed  Zakaria explains:
The Atlantic Monthly writer James Fallows spent a year in China watching that manufacturing juggernaut up close, and he provides a persuasive explanation—one well understood by Chinese businessmen—of how outsourcing has strengthened American competitiveness. Most Americans, even management experts, have not heard of the "smiley curve." But Chinese manufacturers know it well. Named for the U-shaped smile on the simple 1970s cartoon of a happy face, ☺, the curve illustrates the development of a product, from conception to sale. At the top left of the curve one starts with the idea and high-level industrial design—how the product will look and work. Lower down on the curve comes the detailed engineering plan. At the bottom of the U is the actual manufacturing, assembly, and shipping. Then rising up on the right of the curve are distribution, marketing, retail sales, service contracts, and sales of parts and accessories. Fallows observes that, in almost all manufacturing, China takes care of the bottom of the curve and America the top—the two ends of the U—which is where the money is. "The simple way to put this—that the real money is in the brand name, plus retail—may sound obvious," he writes, "but its implications are illuminating." A vivid example of this is the iPod: it is manufactured solely outside the United States, but the majority of valued added is captured by Apple, Inc. in California. The company made $80 is gross profit on a 30-gigabyte video iPod that retailed [in late 2007] for $299. Its profit was 36 percent of the estimated wholesale price of $224. [Add that to the retail profit if it was sold in an Apple store.] The total cost of parts was $144. Chinese manufacturers, by contrast, have margins of a few percent on their products.
The Post-American World, p.186

Friday, May 15, 2009


Cracking the Maya code here.

British Empire India

"All work done by 10am. The rest of the day for sport."

Thursday, May 14, 2009


"The state between total concentration and sleep."
- Tom Hanks on where he's at.


The Torment of Saint Anthony by Michelangelo, believed to be his earliest known work, painted when he was about 12 circa 1487–88. Story here.

An earlier reference to Michelangelo here.

What makes us happy?

Article here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

on the impact of the financial crisis

"Business has definitely slowed down."
- Sirron Norris [born 1973]

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

jazz age intellectual

City Lunch Counter, 1929

Walker Evans [1903-1975] molded reality to fit his personal vision.  


Man Ray [1890-1976], Sleeping Woman, 1929

Man Ray thought photography was an instrument for exploring dreams, desires, the unconscious mind.

An earlier reference to Man Ray here.


"Largely in preparation for the 2008 Olympics, Beijing is building six new subway lines, a 43-kilometer light-rail system, a new airport terminal [the world's largest of course], 25 million square kilometers of property, a 125-kilometer 'green belt,' and a 12-square-kilometer Olympic Park. When looking at the models of a new Beijing, one inevitably thinks of Albert Speer's grandiose plans for postwar Berlin, drawn up in the 1940s; in fact, Albert Speer Jr., the son, also an architect, designed the 8-kilometer boulevard that will run from the Forbidden Palace to the Olympic Park. He sees no real comparison between the transformation of Bejing and his father's designs for Hitler. This is 'bigger,' he says. 'Much bigger.'"
- Fareed Zakaria, The Post-American World, p.90

An earlier reference to Speer here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mad Pride

A look at a mini-movement of mentally ill patients who are largely casting aside both diagnoses and medication here.

Zheng He

In The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria explores China's missed opportunity:
In 1492, as everybody knows, Christopher Columbus set sail on one of the most ambitious expeditions in human history. What is less well known is that eighty-seven years earlier a Chinese admiral named Zheng He began the first of seven equally ambitious expeditions. Zheng's ships were much bigger and better constructed than those of Columbus, or Vasco da Gama, or any of Europe's other great fifteenth and sixteenth-century seafarers. On his first trip, in 1405, he took 317 vessels and 28,000 men, compared with Columbus' 4 boats and 150 sailors. The largest vessels in the Chinese fleet, the "treasure ships," were over four hundred feet—more than four times the length of Columbus' flagship, Santa Maria—and had nine masts. Each required so much wood that three hundred acres of forest were felled to build a single one. There were ships designed to carry horses, supplies, food, water, and, of course, troops. The smallest vessel in Zheng's flotilla, a highly maneuverable five-masted warship, was still twice as large as the legendary Spanish galleon.
The Chinese ships were constructed with special woods, intricate joints, sophisticated waterproofing techniques, and an adjustable centerboard keel. The treasure ship had large, luxurious cabins, silk sails, and windowed halls. All were constructed on dry docks in Nanjing, the word's largest and most advanced shipbuilding port. In the three years after 1405, 1,681 ships were built of refitted at Nanjing. Nothing remotely comparable could have happened in Europe at the time.
Size matters. These massive fleets were meant to "shock and awe" the inhabitants of the surrounding area, making clear the power and reach of the Ming dynasty. On his seven voyages between 1405 and 1433, Zheng traveled widely through the waters of the Indian Ocean and around Southeast Asia. He gave gifts to the natives and accepted tributes. When encountering opposition, he did not hesitate to use military might. On one voyage, he brought back a captured Sumatran pirate; on another, a rebellious chief from Ceylon. He returned from all of them with flowers, fruits, precious stones, and exotic animals, including giraffes and zebras for the imperial zoo.
But Zheng's story ends oddly. By the 1430s, a new emperor had come to power. He abruptly ended the imperial expeditions and turned his back on trade and exploration. Some officials tried to keep the tradition going, but to no avail. In 1500, the court decreed that anyone who built a ship with more than two masts [the size required to go any distance at sea] would be executed. In 1525, coastal authorities were ordered to destroy any oceangoing vessels they encountered and throw the owner in prison. In 1551, it became a crime to go to sea on a multimast ship for any purpose. When the Qing dynasty came to power in 1644, it continued this basic policy, but it had less faith in decrees: instead, it simply scorched a 700-mile-long strip of China's southern coast, rendering it uninhabitable. These measures had the desired effect: China's shipping industry collapsed. In the decades after Zheng's last voyage, dozens of Western explorers travelled to the waters around India and China. But it took three hundred years for a Chinese vessel to make its way to Europe—on a visit to London for the Great Exhibition of 1851. 

Art math

Source here.

climate adaptation

Pot and Mental Illness

Chronic Stress + Cannabis = Mental Illness among those genetically predisposed. As explained here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Drinking Nations

god of wine

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio [1571-1610], The Young Bacchus, 1596

"The young god is peering at us from over his glass of wine. Wine is the symbol of his power, and its surface ripples with movement as he offers it in his outstretched hand...He is no traditional god. From his drunken red cheeks, dark hands and dirty fingernails, to the sensual intent of the eyes and lips, he is a very worldly god, human even. [The model is taken to be a male prostitute.] The incredibly frank earthiness is one of Caravaggio's greatest innovations and achievements." 

An earlier reference to wine here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

and scotch

"Do the next right thing. As opposed to 'do the next thing right.' Optimism is not about great results. It's that you'll come back and try again."
- Bill Murray [born 1950] explaining to Michael J. Fox [born 1961] his key to happiness.

Fast Food Makes You Fat

Source here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mnemonic verse of English monarchs

First William the Norman
Then William his son
Henry, Stephen, Henry
Then Richard and John
Next Henry the Third
Edwards One, Two and Three
And again after Richard
Three Henrys we see
Two Edwards, Third Richard
If rightly I guess
Two Henrys, Sixth Edward
Queen Mary, Queen Bess
Then Jamie the Scotsman
Then Charles whom they slew
Yet received after Cromwell
Another Charles too.
Next James the Second
Acceded the Throne
Then good William and Mary
Together came on
Not till Anne, Georges Four
And Fourth William all passed
Came the reign of Victoria
Whose longest did last
Then Edward the Peacemaker
(He was her son)
The fifth of the Georges
Was next in the run
Edward the Eighth
Gave the Crown to his brother
Now God's sent Elizabeth
All of us love her.

Source here.


Telly Savalas [1922-1994] was in England and made a video about Birmingham here.

enron once made the list

Source here.

I forget

19th century psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus [1850-1909] developed  the "Ebbinghaus Curve of Forgetting." It revealed that the average person immediately forgets 56 percent of new material learned. Within one day, the percentage climbs to 66. Within one month, we've lost 80 percent of what we've learned. 

Source here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

birth of western art

Joseph Benoît Suvée [1743-1807], Invention of the Art of Drawing, 1791

Pliny the Elder’s legend attributes the first portrait drawing to Dibutade, the daughter of a Corinthian potter, who used chalk to trace the outline of her departing lover’s shadow onto a wall.

Source here.


Oscar Wilde died in Paris at the age of 46 of meningitis here, in a duel to the death with hotel room #16's wallpaper on November 30, 1900.

View Larger Map

An earlier reference to Wilde here.

creative minds

Salvador Dali and Man Ray photographed by Carl Van Vechten, Paris, 1934

the links between mental illness and creativity here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Apache Warrior

Edward S. Curtis [1868-1952], Portrait of Geronimo, 1905.
Curtis's photographs of American Indians have become iconic images of what many believed at the time to be a vanishing race. In 1906, Curtis was offered $75,000 to produce a 20-volume study of the Indians of North America by JP Morgan. The 20 volumes were to contain 1,500 photogravures. Curtis produced 40,000 photographs and 10,000 wax cylinders of recorded music and stories from over 80 tribes. 
Source here.

Geronimo was a symbol of untamed freedom of the American West. The Apaches were the last Indians to surrender. "No one was their friends except their legs." At one time they ran 80 miles a day to elude American forces.

In 1905, an 80-year-old Geronimo led President Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural procession.

An earlier reference to Roosevelt here.


Connectomics aims to map the atlas of the brain, as the Economist explains here.