Saturday, July 31, 2010

Japanese influenced pastry

Pâtisserie Sadaharu Aoki, Paris

precariousness of reason

"Do not glory in your state, if you are wise and civilized men; an instant suffices to disturb and annihilate that supposed wisdom of which you are so proud; an unexpected event, a sharp and sudden emotion of the soul will abruptly change the most reasonable and intelligent man into a raving idiot."
- Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization, pp.211-212

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Madhouse

Francisco de Goya, The Madhouse, c. 1812-14

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

landscapes of an embattled mind

"Living with lunatics, he wrote, paradoxically took his mind off of his own state and the frightening unpredictability of [epileptic] fits. 'For although there are some who rave and howl a great deal, there is much true friendship here. They say that we must tolerate each other so others may tolerate us ... and we understand each other very well.' In between attacks then, van Gogh seemed possessed by clarity and strength. So the phenomenal sequence of paintings achieved at the Arles hospital, and especially at St Rémy, with their convulsive bucklings and writhings, the cartwheeling stars, rocks heaving in sinuous arabesques, the cyclonic rush of brushstrokes through the quaking cypresses, should not read as documents of descent into lunacy."
- Simon Schama, Power of Art, p. 334

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The decision

US Presidents

A ranking of US Presidents by wealth and job performance here.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Oxford University, founded 1096

"Of the 85 institutions that are still around from 500 years ago, 70 are universities."
- John Sexton, New York University

when it becomes something else

Venetian Canal, 1913

"The smartest painter follows his brush."
- Artist George Gallo [born 1956] quoting John Singer Sargent [1856-1925]

Saturday, July 24, 2010

humans wasting their lives

Hieronymus Bosch, Ship of Fools, [1490-1500]

Ralph Lauren's daughter sells candy

Friday, July 23, 2010


"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry."
- Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, 1929


"Germany in 1940, as New York University professor Clay Shirky points out in his provocative book Here Comes Everybody, was not the invincible power 'etched in communal memory.' Germany teetered near bankruptcy; its army was smaller and its tanks inferior to France's. So why did the German blitzkrieg succeed? Because its tanks were equipped with technology the French tanks lacked: radios. These radios allowed Panzer commanders to share intelligence and make quick decisions, leaving French commanders standing still and guessing while German tanks moved in concert. Even if the French had radios, Shirky writes, the Germans held another advantage: 'The French regarded tanks as a mobile platform for accompanying foot soldiers. The Germans, on the other hand, understood that the tank allowed for a new kind of fighting, a rapid style of attack ...' The technology advantaged Germany, but so did a superior strategy that allowed Germany to prevail."
- Ken Auletta, Googled: The End of the World as We Know It, p.295

Thursday, July 22, 2010


A Met interview here.

last words

James Madison's last words were: "I always talk better lying down." He drank a pint of whiskey daily and died at the age of 85.

under the influence

B.J.: What do we drink to this time?
Hawkeye: How about to inactivity? The mother of inebriation.

keep your watermelon cool

Read about it here.

stuck rigorously to what optic nerve reported

The Music Lesson [1662-65], Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, by Jan Vermeer [1632-1675]

the Internet records everything and forgets nothing

The digital age is facing its first existential crisis: the impossibility of erasing your posted past and moving on.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Just 10% of Napoleon's forces survived the Russian campaign.


Aldous Huxley

"Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no big brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppressors, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think ... Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism."
- Neil Postman cited in Googled: The End of the World as We Know It, pp. 267-268

expand your vision

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-1882]

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


"What are we saying when we say someone has ‘gone out of their mind’? The thing about going out of your mind is that the mind is still there; you can go back. You haven’t lost your mind. You’ve just gone out of it. The Russians use the same phrase. The Russian adjective meaning ‘crazy’, which is the same as the noun for ‘insane person’, is sumasshedshy, literally ‘who was going out of their mind’. Sofia Andreyevna Tolstoy, wife of Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, did go out of her mind at the family estate of Yasnaya Polyana in 1910. She didn’t lose her mind. She went back to it later, and lived another nine years. But she did lose her husband, who ran away from her and died of pneumonia in a rural stationmaster’s house a few days later."

Read the complete London Review of Books article here.


"Al Gore who has had a ringside seat at the management of both Apple and Google, said that he deeply admires the founders of each company, but 'a genius' like Steve [Jobs] comes along only once in several generations. Jobs has demonstrated his genius over a longer period of time than [Larry] Page and [Sergey] Brin, he believes, and has also benefited from something the Google founders lack: 'Steve has the great if painful experience of failing, and coming back.' The wisdom that comes from failure has not yet punched Page and Brin."
- Ken Auletta, Googled: The End of The World as We Know It, p. 219

Monday, July 19, 2010


Collaborate on projects and get paid:


Henri Cartier-Bresson’s picture of the rush to retrieve gold from a Shanghai bank on the eve of the communist takeover in 1948.

Ferrari Bike

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Hank Azaria earns $400,000 per episode of The Simpsons, which involves a total per episode time commitment of about six hours.

frozen peas

Saturday, July 17, 2010

'I write like'

Check which famous writer you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers.

Any text in English will do: your latest blog post, journal entry, comment, chapter of your unfinished book, etc. For reliable results paste at least a few paragraphs (not tweets):

World #1

"Going from failure to failure is sometimes a key part of success."
- Venus Williams

Friday, July 16, 2010


"... more than rigor, management discipline, integrity or even vision -- successfully navigating an increasing complex world will require creativity, which emerged as the number one leadership competency."
- 2010 IBM CEO study press release here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

How Twitter Began


"Often wrong, never in doubt."
- Marc Andreessen [born 1971] has six residential satellite t.v. receivers which cost him $2500/month.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Bust by Malvina Hoffman

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; 'Tis dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.”
- Thomas Paine [1739-1809]


"Churchill maintained a 24 hour buzz. These days people that drink that much ... are encouraged to attend meetings."
- Jed Bartlet

Regarded as Australia's best restaurant

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

colliding skins, textures

Seattle's Experience Museum represents varying musical genres.


"I think one of the insidious lessons about TV is the meta-lesson that you’re dumb. This is all you can do. This is easy, and you’re the sort of person who really just wants to sit in a chair and have it easy. When in fact there are parts of us…that are a lot more ambitious than that. And what we need, I think—and I’m not saying I’m the person to do it…is serious engaged art, that can teach again that we’re smart."
- David Foster Wallace in an interview.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A place to buy food in München

Since 1770:


New York City, 1978


Haiti, David Levene

Thursday, July 8, 2010


The fourth President of the United States, James Madison, drank a pint, which is equal to 16 shots, of whiskey daily.

An earlier reference to Dylan Thomas here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rent A Laowai

A new trend is taking place in China that involves Chinese businessmen “renting” white actors in order to appear attractive to other businesses.

The practice emerges from the Chinese concept of “face”, also known as a positive public image.

This allows Chinese businessmen to boost their image and show that they hold international appeal within the business world.

Businesses that hold an international appeal are seen as attractive to investors and boost credibility. The firms hire the actors on an hourly, weekly or monthly rate.

Once the white “actors” accept the job, they may require them to sit in on meeting (and pretend to understand as little Chinese as possible) or attend an event. The language barrier makes it easier for them to avoid discussing details that might blow their cover.
The practice extends to white females as well, where they can pose as employees, business partners or girlfriends.

Jonathan Zatkin, an American actor was paid $300 to fly to the grand opening of a jewelry store, and make a short speech where he claimed how "wonderful it was to work with the country for 10 years." The individuals who get the gigs are not always actors.
Some are English teachers, or other foreigners in China looking to make an extra income.

A number of times actors are asked to act as if they don't speak English as they accompany Chinese businessmen.

This is also big business not only for the actors, but the agencies that hire them. One company Rent A Laowai (translation: rent a foreigner) posts classified ads looking for actors to pose as businessmen.

The positions do have there risks, one actor was involved in a company that swindeled millions of yens out of clients-he was in hot water when they pointed him out as the culprit. Chinese employment experts believe that this practice will be a passing fad, but in the meantime white foreigners in China are still in demand.

Source here.


There was a time when I could outperform all but the most hardened imbibers, a generous slug or 10 of Mr. Walker's amber restorative being my tipple of preference. It was between the Tel Aviv massacre and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I now restrict myself to no more than a couple of bottles of halfway decent wine for elevenses, and then a couple more as an accompaniment to luncheon, with Mr. Gordon's gin firmly ensconsed in the driving seat for the remainder of the day. As an enthusiastic participant in the delights of Mr. Dionysus, I offer no apology for passing down these simple pieces of advice for the young.

Never drink before breakfast unless the day of the week has a u in it. Martinis go surprisingly well with Corn Flakes, while a medium-dry sherry remains the perfect accompaniment to Mr. Kellogg's admirable Rice Krispies.

It's much worse to see a woman drunk than a man. I don't know why this is true but it is, it just is, I don't care what you say, it just is and you can take that from me and anyway that's not what I said.

And finally. If, like me, you are, like me, a professional scrivener, like me, never ever ever drunk while written an article column piece ever. It is, perforce, something I never don't.

- From Christopher Hitchens' Diary.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010


"I've had a life with rocks in my shoes."
- Chuck Close, who builds rather than paints

Monday, July 5, 2010


Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals
Photographs by Christopher Payne, Essay by Oliver Sacks

This coffee-table collection of industrial-therapeutic dishabille—70 abandoned asylums in 30 states, photographed over six years—is as gorgeous and meditative as it is harrowing. Between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, nearly 300 palatial mental-health institutions—the result of Dorothea Dix’s humanitarian pleas and Thomas Story Kirkbride’s enlightened plans—dotted the U.S. countryside, bucolically housing half a million souls. By the 1950s, however, psychotropic drugs, court decisions, and policy-based deinstitutionalization had begun to radically reshape the mental-health landscape. Today, all but a handful of these “monuments to civic pride, built with noble intentions by leading architects and physicians who envisioned the asylums as places of refuge, therapy, and healing,” have been abandoned or repurposed. What remains, writes Sacks in the book’s introduction, are “ruins” that “offer a mute and heartbreaking testimony both to the pain of those with severe mental illness and to the once-heroic structures we built to try to assuage that pain.” Each of Payne’s elegiac prints—whether of magisterial facades or peeling interiors, in muted color or matter-of-fact black and white—captures the sense of loss that lingers.

From The Atlantic

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Twelve Vital Dates in World History*

1. 4241 B.C. — The Introduction of the Egyptian Calendar
2. 543 B.C. — The Death of Buddha
3. 478 B.C. — The Death of Confucius
4. 399 B.C. — The Death of Socrates
5. 44 B.C. — The Death of Caesar
6. ? B.C. — The Birth of Christ
7. A.D. 632 — The Death of Mohammed
8. 1294 — The Death of Roger Bacon
9. 1454 — The Press of Johannes Gutenberg [at Mainz on the Rhine] Issues the First Printed Documents Bearing a Printed Date
10. 1492 — Columbus Discovers America
11. 1769 — James Watt Brings the Steam Engine to Practical Utility
12. 1789 — The French Revolution

* According to Will Durant in The Greatest Minds And Ideas of All Time

Saturday, July 3, 2010

25 million books sold

"There was a crime. There was a victim. There is punishment."
- Rusty Sabich in Presumed Innocent

cliff face camping

Friday, July 2, 2010