Inside Voice, Nerdery, Vancouvering

2 New Year’s Resolutions: Gymnastics and Drawing

Welcome, 2012.

I have 2 new things I’d like to do with you: gymnastics and drawing.

Gymnastics? Yes. I’d like to try out gymnastics, again.

Last time I was taking any gymnastics I was in the 5 to 7-year-old range, so it’s  return to youth, to recess, to trying to do something new with the body.

I’ve done a little searching and the options in adult gymnastics are scarce. Most are geared towards high-level gymnasts who want to keep training and stay in shape. I am not one of those.

I am an amateur looking to try gymnastics for 1 to 3 months. I have taught myself handstands with low consistency but can’t master the cartwheel. I’d like to be able to do a handspring and to feel comfortable with my body upside down and flipping.

Best option thus far seems to be Phoenix Gymnastics.

And drawing?

Yes. I am a terrible drawer. I have some difficulty with stick figures. Flowcharts I can must in a tortured fashion but I need some basic skills: shape, perspective, composition, scale. The fundamentals.

The search is on for a class. If you have anything to suggest, please let fly.

And all the best in 2012.

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Inside Voice, Nerdery, Vancouvering

An Inventory of the Most Dangerous Cars and Drivers in Vancouver

For the past decade I’ve been driving in Vancouver. During that time I’ve accumulated a goodly amount of knowledge about the drivers and cars on our city’s streets, and which ones that you need to watch the fuck out for.

As a public service, I now present my personal observations in a collection available for peer review and scrutiny: an inventory of the most dangerous cars and drivers in Vancouver.

The Most Dangerous Cars

It goes without saying that a few types of cars are dangerous. Cabs, of course, have no karma. Avoid them because you know they will screw you six ways to Sunday.

Models and Colours

  • Toyota Corolla — champagne is worst, followed by white.
  • Toyota Camry — like Jim Morrison’s lyrics: wandering, wandering. Again, light colours are worst.
  • Minivans — the zepplins of the road these cocoons of distractions and cup holders make side and rear visibility difficult. Their blind spot is everywhere not directly in front of them. Stay back or pass quickly.
  • Honda Civic — sometimes dangerous, sometimes not. Look for additional telltale signs, listed below.

The Most Dangerous Drivers

  • Cell phone users
  • Parents with babies and / or pets in the car
  • Those who rely on back-window mirrors or rear-view cameras
  • Those with beepers that signal when they back up (nanny sirens)
  • Hat wearers of a certain vintage
  • Those who refuse to use the indicators
  • Lazy turners who cut corners short
  • Anyone looking for a parking spot

Additional Signs of Danger

Sometimes cars that don’t match the make or colour of the ones above or without the driver attributes above can still be a hazard to your health on the road.

But like poisonous snakes and berries, telltale signs reveal their danger.

I’ve collected a list of some of the most obvious signs to watch for below, from roughly most dangerous and most obvious, to less dangerous and less obvious. If you have additions, please add them. This is public service in action.

  • Student Driver cars — need I say more?
  • Learner and New driver stickers — as above but slightly less deadly.
  • The rear-window tissue box — always foretells erratic turns.
  • Dash-mounted cartoon characters — the distraction of all that cuteness bobbing on springs must be why they’re wandering lanes.
  • Out-of-province license plates — particularly from Alberta. They’re gawking, lost and looking for parking for the steam clock or the sign to Stanley Park.
  • Car co-op and car share programs like Zipcar — these folks don’t drive much and don’t own that car they’re driving.
  • Rental cars — see both items above. Rental cars combine at least one of those elements.
  • Loaner cars from auto body shops — proof they’ve already cracked up a car.

Now please, add your findings so we can make the world a better place.

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Findings, Nerdery, Stories

Ernest Hemingway Quotes of Hard-Won Wisdom

Been thinking a lot about Hemingway quotes of late. Collected a few particular favourites here, below.

If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at 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 that it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.

— A Farewell to Arms

Never mistake motion for action.

The shortest answer is doing the thing.

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.

All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.

The first draft of anything is shit.

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.

In our world of excess and super abundance of words, entertainment, distractions and information, the spareness and clarity is refreshing.

Each quote a refreshing breath of hard-won wisdom.

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Findings, Inside Voice, Nerdery

A model for creating great advertising: inheritance, product, pretending

A model for understanding the key ingredients of great advertising: inheritance, product, pretending.

Have I’ve spoken to you about this before?

If so, now I’m following up with some early-stage draft ideas. If not, here’s the background.

I’m working on a bit of a model for creating great advertising.

My idea is that great advertising emerges from 3 things: an inheritance, a product and pretending. The image above presents a conceptual model.

The idea rose from reading this post by Russell Davies on pretending.

When adverting can hit the middle of this model, it succeeds. Big time.

The trouble is: everyone has their own version of the above model in their head. That’s what makes good advertising so tough to do.

Everyone has their own frame of reference (inheritance), usage patterns (product) and imagination (pretending). So everyone’s experience of the advertising is different.

Okay, that’s assumed. But can this model help us understand the ingredients needed to get beyond that unique experience and to a common experience?

That’s what I’d like you to help me with.

I’m trying to work out some clever, salient things to say that make sense of this idea and this model. I’d love to hear what you think about the model overall and about how useful it is.

Best,
James@adhack.com

(and comments way below too!)

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Findings, Inside Voice, Nerdery

The great game of Moral High Ground

Ask Metafilter asks: What clever relationship “hacks” have you come up with?

Stuck on an island replies:

At last it is time to reveal to an unwitting world the great game of Moral High Ground. Moral High Ground is a long-playing game for two players. The following original rules are for one M and one F, but feel free to modify them to suit your player setup:

1. The object of Moral High Ground is to win.

2. Players proceed towards victory by scoring MHGPs (Moral High Ground Points). MHGPs are scored by taking the conspicuously and/or passive-aggressively virtuous course of action in any situation where culpability is in dispute.

(For example, if player M arrives late for a date with player F and player F sweetly accepts player M’s apology and says no more about it, player F receives the MHGPs. If player F gets angry and player M bears it humbly, player M receives the MHGPs.)

3. Point values are not fixed, vary from situation to situation and are usually set by the person claiming them. So, in the above example, forgiving player F might collect +20 MHGPs, whereas penitent player M might collect only +10.

4. Men’s MHG scores reset every night at midnight; women’s roll over every day for all time. Therefore, it is statistically highly improbable that a man can ever beat a woman at MHG, as the game ends only when the relationship does.

5. Having a baby gives a woman +10,000 MHG points over the man involved and both parents +5,000 MHG points over anyone without children.

My ex-bf and I developed Moral High Ground during our relationship, and it has given us years of hilarity. Straight coupledom involves so much petty point-scoring anyway that we both found we were already experts.

By making a private joke out of incredibly destructive gender programming, MHG releases a great deal of relationship stress and encourages good behavior in otherwise trying situations, as when he once cycled all the way home and back to retrieve some forgotten concert tickets “because I couldn’t let you have the Moral High Ground points”. We are still the best of friends.

Play and enjoy!

The great game of Moral High Ground

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Findings, Nerdery

Rumours, Belief and How Human Culture Trumps Technology

This Internet thing was supposed to help inform people — universal access to inexhaustive information.

But, that’s not quite what’s happened or happening.

So far, more than half a dozen lawsuits have been filed alleging that Obama is not a “natural born” citizen. One plaintiff, an Army reservist from Georgia, argued in court that he couldn’t be sent to fight in Afghanistan because the military lacked a Commander-in-Chief. In a poll released over the summer, twenty-eight per cent of the Republicans surveyed said that they did not think Obama was born in the U.S., and thirty per cent said that they were unsure, meaning that fully half took birther ideas seriously enough to doubt the legitimacy of their government. When a video of the woman in red was posted on YouTube, it quickly went viral; within a few weeks, it had received some eight hundred thousand hits.

That such a wacky idea should be so persistent is, to put it mildly, disquieting. Here we are, quadrillions of bytes deep into the Information Age. And yet information, it seems, has never mattered less.

According to Cass R. Sunstein, the situation was to be anticipated.

The Things People Say — Rumors in an age of unreason by Elizabeth Kolbert documents the built in biases we have for information gathering, belief development and social reinforcement.

“The acquisition of knowledge is, as Sunstein points out, a social process: it is shaped by language, by custom, and, since the Enlightenment, by certain widely accepted standards of evidence and rationality.”

Except the Internet makes it more possible than ever to filter the information we receive and compound “group polarization.”

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Findings, Nerdery

The Economics of Buying Local

Why buy local? Infographic information on where your money goes if you spend it with a local company.

Buying from local merchants means $.73 of every dollar stays in your community’s economy. Buying from an outlet of a non-local merchant means only $.43 of every dollar stays in your community’s economy.

Ever dollar spent therefore provides either $.30 contributed in bonus to your local economy, or $.30 that goes somewhere else.

Buying from non-local merchants may save you a small amount of money today. But it impoverishes you and your neighbours tomorrow.

And when you’re impoverished, price becomes the most important factor in purchase decisions. Then you’re way more likely to buy from a non-local merchant. The cycle continues and worsens.

It’s like the opposite of compounding interest: compounding deficit.

And once you get beyond the simple economic benefits of buying local, these additional 10 effects weigh in favour of supporting local businesses (in this case, in Grand Rapids, Michigan).

1. Significantly More Money Re-circulates In Greater Grand Rapids.

When you purchase at locally owned businesses rather than nationally owned, more money is kept in the community because locally-owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses, service providers and farms. Purchasing local helps grow other businesses as well as the Greater Grand Rapids tax base.

2. Non Profits Receive Greater Support.

Local business owners donate more to local charities than non-local owners.

3. Unique Businesses Create Character & Prosperity

The unique character of Grand Rapids is what brought us here and keeps us here. Our tourism businesses also benefit.

4. Environmental Impact Is Reduced.

Local businesses make more local purchases requiring less transportation and usually set up shop in town centers rather than on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.

5. Most New Jobs Are Provided By Local Businesses.

Small local businesses are the largest employers nationally.

6. Customer Service Is Better.

Local businesses often hire people with more specific product expertise for better customer service.

7. Local Business Owners Invest In Community.

Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.

8. Public Benefits Far Outweigh Public Costs.

Local businesses require comparatively little infrastructure and more efficiently utilize public services relative to chain stores.

9. Competition And Diversity Leads To More Consumer Choices.

A marketplace of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.

10. Investment In Greater Grand Rapids Is Encouraged.

A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.

Originally found on PSFK, who found it on Local First.

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Findings, Nerdery, Stories

Placenames in Books Through History

Where a book is set is important. Settings can reinforce the centre of power or they can undermine it — the empire seeing itself or being seen from outside.

And places matter to how a story can be told too. Stories have an inheritance if they’re honest. They come from a place, a time and a culture.

The following maps, generated from Google Books, show the names of places in books over the years.

Placenames in books in 1800

Placenames in books in 1800


Names of geographic locations in books in 1830

Names of geographic locations in books in 1830


Names of geographic locations in books in 1860

Names of geographic locations in books in 1860


Names of geographic locations in books in 1890

Names of geographic locations in books in 1890


Names of geographic locations in books today.

Names of geographic locations in books today.

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