04. 1.2009

Jenny Holzer's Protect Protect Show

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The currently ongoing retrospective of Jenny Holzer at the Whitney Museum, entitled "Protect Protect" is a dizzy display of control over text and messaging. The show contains two sections. The first half contains pieces which are a continuation of Holzer's now famous explorations of slogans and marketing communication. Brightly glowing LED signs broadcast messages such as "Abuse of Power Comes As No Surprise" in her work "For Chicago." At first glance the signs seem like not much more than the signage in New York delis which display the current jackpot of the state lottery. However, the subversive phrases make the viewer feel uneasy. The signs are often embedded into the wall, allowing the text to hang in the air above the viewer.

Much of her recent work, which comprises the second half of the show, uses text from declassified documents made public from the ACLU and the National Security Archives. The work of blown up military documents uses otherwise unaltered text and images that have been partially blacked out because what lies beneath was deemed too sensitive for the public. The pieces of enlarged photocopies offer an interesting and poignant contrast to the hi-tech LED signs. The connection between the two halves is the use of the simplest of forms and material to convey caution and danger.

Posted by Ray    Category: culture | current affairs | design | entertainment
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03.28.2009

Goodbye, newspapers. Hello, GlobalPost

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There's nothing like beginning the day in a comfy chair with good coffee and a good newspaper. But finding a decent morning paper that's actually made of paper is increasingly possible only in a few fortunate places.

What's more, paper papers are shrinking even in those places. My beloved Washington Post, for example, is abandoning its separate business section and folding some business news into its main news section. That's bound to mean not only fewer business articles but less newsprint news overall. Even newspaper lovers like me will be getting all our news online before long.

Enter GlobalPost, the first serious grown-up news organization to appear in a very long time. It employs dozens of experienced journalists around the world and is filled with free news and features that usually are comparable in quality to those put out by major established news organizations. It also has a unique business model, which you can read about here and here.

GlobalPost, invented and run by real journalists, explains itself this way:

Continue reading "Goodbye, newspapers. Hello, GlobalPost"

Posted by Tam    Category: culture | current affairs | on the web
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03.25.2009

FDA warns against weight-loss products containing undeclared drugs

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The US Food and Drug Administration has added to its list of dozens of weight-loss products - available in stores and online - that contain undeclared pharmaceutical ingredients.

The new naughties contain drugs like fenproporex, an amphetamine derivative not approved in the US, and fluoxetine, better known as Prozac, the antidepressant. This extra stuff can produce unpleasant and even dangerous effects.

Here's the FAQ on the list of products plus the contaminants and their effects.

Posted by Tam    Category: body | culture | current affairs | eat/drink | shopping
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03.24.2009

Seattle newspaper closes print production; goes online-only

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Seattle's Post-Intelligencer has just become the largest newspaper to switch to a solely online format. From now on its readers won't get newsprint-covered hands but will be at risk of eye strain instead.

Seeing how many media outlets have closed down during this economic downturn, it's great that the paper is able to keep going at all - and I'm a huge supporter of online publications. But it's sad when a change in content delivery is forced, rather than chosen.

Do you still buy your local paper, or given the cost to the environment of traditional publishing, are you happier reading it online?

Posted by Diane    Category: culture | current affairs | on the web
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03.24.2009

More on the Mars rover: vote for Amelia!

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I just checked out the NASA effort to get the public involved in the project to send its new rover to Mars and have hot news about why you should vote to name the rover.

Eight out of the nine name choices are borrrrrrring, but one is highly vote-worthy: Amelia. They don't explain, but presumably this is in loving memory of the daredevil pioneering pilot Amelia Earhart, who died in a Pacific plane crash some 70 years ago.

Ladies, it's the least we can do. You have until March 29. Vote for Amelia!

Posted by Tam    Category: contests | culture | current affairs | on the web | polls & surveys | science
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03.21.2009

Who is the protector of the Internet?

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Here’s a snippet of conversation between two friends chatting on Gtalk :

Lady1 : Hi there, how are you?
Lady2 : Hi! Not doing so fine you know – the weather’s quite gloomy today and I have loads of unfinished laundry to handle. Life’s soo.. tough! How are you doing yourself?
Lady1 : I have promised to attend a friend’s book-release party tonight and haven’t got a thing to wear. Gotta go shopping now, but feeling soo.. lazy. How true - it is a tough life!

If only these ladies knew how much tougher it is to work behind the scenes to keep that conversation going. Meet John Rennie – the "protector of the Internet". The title is perfectly befitting of Rennie and his crew, as they spend their lives braving the rough waves of the North Atlantic Ocean, repairing thousands of miles of undersea cables that carry web and phone traffic across the world. And you thought your job was tough.

A truly great read from Popular Science on the one indispensable service that all computer users take for granted.

Posted by kanchana    Category: culture | on the web
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03.19.2009

Go anywhere with Métro, the free guide to transport everywhere

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There you are in a strange town, like Chicago - or Brno. How do you get around? There's always a taxi, of course. But public transportation is not only cheaper, it often gives you a much better sense of the city and its people. Armed with Métro, you'll always be prepared to get around a new city.

Métro is an amazing accomplishment, a free guide to public transport systems - subway, bus, tram, elevated, suburban systems, ferries, etc, etc--in some 400 cities worldwide. It runs on your PDA (Palm or PocketPC) or your Smartphone and is updated frequently so you can always keep track of station closings and construction annoyances.

The Palm version, which I've been using for years, provides station searches, a station list for each line, hours of operation, places of interest and tourism info, color coding, a contacts list keyed to the proper station for each, and even a choice of routes (fastest or fewest connections).

Continue reading "Go anywhere with Métro, the free guide to transport everywhere"

Posted by Tam    Category: cell phones | computers | culture | devices | on the web | portable media | software
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03.13.2009

Would you like to zoom around town on a shared scooter?

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I know I would! A design for communal electric scooters for use around towns is the brainchild of Australian Anton Grimes of the University of New South Wales.

The scooters could be retrofitted to existing lamp posts and poles, and come with a helmet and a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour. It's inspired by cycle schemes in places like Paris, Copenhagen and Montreal but the scooters take up less room (and are just more fun, let's face it).

Continue reading "Would you like to zoom around town on a shared scooter?"

Posted by Diane    Category: cars | culture | current affairs | design | eco
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03.12.2009

Thinking about drinking: help with alcohol

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If all be true that I do think,
There are five reasons we should drink;
Good wine--a friend--or being dry--
Or lest we should be by and by--
Or any other reason why.

That wry commentary on the human love affair with alcohol seems to have come down to us from the 17th century, attributed variously to Brit churchman Henry Aldrich and French poet Jean Sirmond. You may not know--or care--why you or someone you love drinks, but perhaps you're worried that the drinking is excessive.

If so, here's a new free US government site that wants to help. Rethinking Drinking tries be everything you ever wanted to know about booze and more. What counts as a drink? Is a particular person's drinking pattern risky? Is that "lite" beer lite in alcohol as well as calories? How strong is that mixed drink?

The Rethinking Drinking site is also full of tools, like calculators to figure out a person's drinking pattern, drink sizes, and alcohol calories, plus tips to help handle urges to drink, cutting down, even quitting. There are also links to other resources and free publications. Raise a glass to the taxpayers for this helpful free service!

Posted by Tam    Category: body | culture | eat/drink | on the web
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03.11.2009

Google Health: social networking with medical records of friends and family

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Finally got around to checking out year-old Google Health, prompted by release of its new feature: you can now share your medical information with anyone you like. That includes family members, caregivers, doctors and other medical folks. Google stresses that the site is secure and private; they say the info you decide to share can be edited only by you and will be available only to those you designate.

Google Health also has a splendid feature that permits your medical records to be updated automatically by health care providers. Unfortunately, it's quite limited at present. Only a dozen or so providers link to the site and provide auto-updates for the moment. Among them: Quest Diagnostics, MinuteClinic, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and Cleveland Clinic.

Here are the links you'll need to explore Google Health:

About Google Health

Take the tour

Google blog announcement of the new Google Health features

Health-care blogging doc John D. Halamka, who calls Google Health "a disruptive technology"

Posted by Tam    Category: body | culture | on the web
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