Monday, August 31, 2009

123 million

40% of Americans can trace their ancestry to Ellis Island.

"the only Latin I know is Xavier Cugat"

Sunday, August 30, 2009

a place to stay in Oxford

Oxford lectures on iTunes here.

Image source here.


Cold Harbor, 1864

An eight-year-old Ulysses S. Grant [1822-1885] buys a horse, p.25
"Papa says I may offer you twenty dollars for the colt, but if you won't take that, I am to offer twenty-two and a half, and if you won't take that, to give you twenty five." It would not require a Connecticut man to guess the price finally agreed upon.
U.S. Grant's Memoirs is regarded as the nineteenth century's most important work of American non-fiction.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

on bullfrogs

"Motionless and indifferent as they appear, they are ready to leap upon their prey at any instant."
- Henry David Thoreau [1817-1862] died at 44 almost unknown.

Image source here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Patron Saint of Cooks

St. Lawrence Market, Toronto, is not unlike Budapest's Central Market.

Depression's Evolutionary Roots

Scientific America reports here that depression is not a malfunction, but a mental adaptation that brings certain cognitive advantages. Also expressive writing promotes quicker resolution of depression, and they suggest that this is because depressed people gain insight into their problems.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

zooillogical art

French-living, Sudan-born zartist: Hassan Musa. More here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

middling management

Munich Opera House

"Being an executive does not require very developed frontal lobes, but rather a combination of charisma, a capacity to sustain boredom, and the ability to shallowly perform on harrying schedules. Add to these tasks the 'duty' of attending opera performances."
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan, pg. 166

Image source here.

contempt for forecasting

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio [1571-1610], The Fortune-Teller, c.1598-1599.

"We have always been suckers for those who tell us about the future. In this picture the fortune-teller is stealing the victim's ring."
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan, p.164

An earlier reference to Caravaggio here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

physically elegant swimmers

"When asking around about the comparative physical elegance of athletes, I was often told that runners look anorexic, cyclists bottom-heavy, and weight lifters insecure and a little primitive."
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan, pg.110

Image source here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


"The next time someone pesters you with unneeded advice, gently remind him of the fate of a monk whom Ivan the Terrible put to death for delivering uninvited [and moralizing advice]. It works as a short-term cure."
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan, pg.27

Friday, August 21, 2009

greek fireworks

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Optical illusion source here.


"History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's dam is the history we made today."
- Henry Ford [1863-1947]

An earlier reference to Ford here.


"Give light and people will find the way."
- Ella Baker [1903-1986]


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

the farthest ever seen

RIM is Fortune's fastest growing company

Research in Motion (RIMM)
Headquarters: Waterloo, Canada
Market Cap: $41.3 billion

3-Year EPS Annual Growth Rate: 84%
3-Year Revenue Annual Growth Rate: 77%
3-Year Total Return Annual Rate: 45%

Price/Earnings: 20.4

Full story at Fortune.

An earlier reference to RIM here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"let me see what I wrote so I know what I think."*

"All that we are not stares back at what we are." And, "Art is born of humiliation."
- W.H. Auden [1907-1973]

A reference to Jacques Louis David here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

the masses are the force of nature

Eugène Delacroix [1798-1863], La Liberté guidant le peuple, 1830

The people inspired dread, fear, respect.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

affinity for those who didn't fit in

At the Moulin Rouge, 1895

An earlier reference to Toulouse-Lautrec here.

on not being a victim

"Things happen. People get hit by cars. People can have health issues. You can have unfortunate things happen. I think the most important thing is to do the pragmatic thing and move on."
- RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie [born 1961] on a recent $600 million intellectual property settlement.

An earlier reference to Balsillie here.

the man with the memory who couldn't think

Jorge Luis Borges [1899-1986]

"Without effort, he had learned English, French, Portuguese, Latin. I suspect, nevertheless, that he was not very capable of thought. To think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract. In the overly replete world of Funes there were nothing but details, almost contiguous details."
- Jorge Luis Borges, Funes, the Memorious, 1942

An earlier reference to memory here.


Nathaniel Hawthorne[1804-1864]

"In fact, the more you look, the more reasons writers give for being writers. Many writers say that they become writers because they simply could not do anything else. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote: 'I don't want to be a doctor, and live by men's diseases; nor a minister to live by their sins; nor a lawyer to live by their quarrels. So I don't see there's anything left for me but to be an author.' T.S. Eliot, who had been a boxer in college, noted: 'I was too slow a mover. It was much easier to be a poet.' And George Bernard Shaw pointed out a practical advantage of the writing life that still holds true: 'My main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably.'"
- Alice W. Flaherty, The Midnight Disease, pg. 214

Friday, August 14, 2009

hasn't regretted the journey

"We wouldn't be the people we are today if we weren't who we were yesterday. Whatever problems and mistakes we've made ... that makes us human. It helps us to learn."
- Yusuf Islam formerly known as Cat Stevens [born 1948]

world's largest ethnic group

Han Chinese constitute 20% of the world's population ; 1.3 billion people.

Image source here.

fluid lines over vivid colour

Ming Dynasty bowl, 16th century

For 5000 years, Chinese have consistently favored fluid lines over vivid colour.

An earlier Ming Dynasty reference here.

Image source here.

last suppers

More Death Row prisoner final meal requests here.


[video of Elon Musk temporarily unavailable]

An earlier reference to Tesla Motors here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

welfare painter

Carlos Enriquez, 1926

"We always had this dream that she would be recognized and that she'd be able to get some money, but it really did not work out that way."
- Alice Neel's [born 1900] lawyer son Richard, who said that there are very few people who are as right-wing as he is, and that there were very few people who were as left-wing as he was as a kid.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

elephant ears

If i... from Tim Brown on Vimeo.

"If I had the ears of an elephant, what would music sound like?"

oldest, slowest

Kentucky's Woodford is one of America's oldest distilleries.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Food is life, life is food."

Keith Floyd [born 1943] here.


"Some comedians love their characters. I don't fall in love with mine. In fact, I get tired of them very fast. You have to be willing to throw it all away."
- John Belushi [1949-1982]

Monday, August 10, 2009

in the moment

"You can double real quick and halve real quick."
- RIM cofounder Jim Balsillie [born 1961] on simplification and humility. Initial investors realized a 30,000% return.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

preacher poem

John "Thunderbolt" Doherty
Clock uncoils the working day; and he wakes up feeling his youth has gone away.
From 1974's Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

An earlier reference to Eastwood here.

"Don't worry about the horse being blind, just load the wagon."

In 1969 as the 32 year-old headcoach of the Oakland Raiders, John Madden [born 1936], imposed three simple rules which may or may not have contributed to his team winning the fastest ever 100 games and 1976's Super Bowl. Madden's career winning percentage is the highest in Canton's Football Hall of Fame:

1. Be on time
2. Pay Attention
3. Play like hell

Football and dementia link here.

Won the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix

The sound of a Ferrari 412T2 here.

An earlier reference to Ferrari here.

Welsh Kiss

Combat Jujitsu: Head-Butt -- powered by

Friday, August 7, 2009

social value

The Riveter, 1938

Ben Shahn's [1898-1969] theme was that human beings and their talents were as important to preserve as natural resources.

Source here.

10 years

Richard Pryor [born 1940], regarded as the greatest stand-up comedian of all time, said that no matter how funny you are, it takes 10 years on stage to develop the timing to become great.

Nonetheless more people are attempting careers as stand-up comics because a recession provides "good cover" for someone interested in making the kind of career change that might be considered idiotic at other times. Story here.

Malcolm Gladwell [born 1963] determined that it takes 10,000 hours to shine at anything.

It is common for lawyers to bill 1,800 to 2,000 hours or more per year.

38th parallel

Image source here.

An earlier reference to North Korea here.

The Life of Churchill

An earlier reference to Churchill here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

new world

A 35 year old Gore Vidal at home circa 1960

"They didn't leave England to flee persecution; they left to persecute."
- Gore Vidal on the Pilgrims paraphrased by Stephen Fry

An earlier reference to Vidal here; to Fry here.


"At the time we were all convinced that we must talk and talk and write and publish as quickly as possible, and as much as possible, and that this was all necessary for the good of mankind. And thousands of us, contradicting and abusing one another, published and wrote with the aim of teaching others. Failing to notice that we knew nothing, that we did not know the answer to the most basic question of life—what is good and what is evil—we all spoke at the same time, never listening to one another. At times we indulged and praised each other in order to be indulged and praised in return, at other times we grew angry and shrieked at each other, just as if we were in a madhouse."
- Leo Tolstoy [1828-1910], A Confession, p.24

An earlier reference to Tolstoy here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

chilli grenades

Indian scientists are to put one of the world's hottest chilli powders into hand grenades. Story here.

An earlier reference to Indian chilli here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Google's CEO

McKinsey interviews Eric Schmidt here.

An earlier reference to Google here.

world's biggest companies

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Make perfect your will

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

The lot of man is ceaseless labor,
Or ceaseless idleness,which is still harder,
Or irregular labour,which is not pleasant.

- T. S. Eliot [1888-1965], excerpts from Choruses from the Rock, 1934

An earlier reference to T.S. Eliot here.

Largest rebuilding project.

Georges-Eugène Haussmann [1809-1891]

Why was Paris rebuilt?

1. To bring more light and air to improve health.
2. To help business.
3. To create barricade-proof boulevards.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

business acumen

Mickey Goldmill
What the hell is that? I trained you to be a fighter, not a billboard.
I'm doin' it for a friend.
Mickey Goldmill
What do you get out of it?
Paulie gets three grand, I get the robe.
Mickey Goldmill
Sylvester Stallone's [born 1946] Oscar winning screenplay here.

Buy your own robe here.