No wonder every smart person I know would like to work there

Via Beyond Robson (the Vancouver equivalent of BlogTO) I read this story today:

Google Gives All SF Homeless Free Voicemail

Google has made an announcement that could help hundreds of homeless people in San Francisco get back on their feet. Every single homeless person in the city will be given a life-long phone number and voicemail, should they choose to accept it, NBC11’s Lisa Bernard said.

More details here at Google’s blog. Google does this using GrandCentral, a technology they acquired a while back. I’ve played around with it some, and my brother’s a big fan.

Anyway, I’m sure some people will read this and laugh/sneer, saying “Don’t you think there’re things that homeless people need more than voicemail?” Well, yeah, of course there are, but Google can’t provide those things directly, so it’s doing this. Good for them.

By the way, $5 says this came out of a 20% time idea.

[tags]google, grandcentral, homeless, san francisco, project homeless connect[/tags]

"Make art…make art."

BlogTO is single-handedly trying to kill me, listing the best places to buy chocolate in Toronto. Of course, I was already aware of them, especially JS Bonbons and Soma, but those pictures are making me hungry.


Quick thoughts on the Oscars: for the first time in quite a while I have no problem with any of the winners (or rather, with who didn’t win). Also, it’s a good thing “Falling Slowly” won best original song, ’cause if it’d lost to one of those Disney songs from Enchanted I’d have flown to L.A. and burned the Kodak theatre to the motherfucking ground.

Watch the performance (and acceptance speeches) here at Cinematical.


I just finished reading Incendiary (indigo) and need a new book. Fortunately I own about 60 that I haven’t read yet.

[tags]blogto, chocolate, soma, js bonbons, oscars, falling slowly, once, incendiary[/tags]

Bling When You're Minging

Definitely the most confusing headline I’ve read all day: Dustin the Turkey plucked to represent Ireland at Eurovision. OK then.


Today’s been a great Sunday, for one simple reason: I have done dick all. Having finished my marketing assignment yesterday, I decided today would be a rest & mental health day. I took it easy all morning and watched a movie (After The Wedding, a pretty good Danish drama) while Nellie slept, then went to have some brunch at a nearby pub. Brunch turned into a veggie burger and three beers each, and now we’re home finishing up the last little errands before Nellie starts her annual Oscar freak-out. I had a nap (this is a freakish occurrence; I never nap) on the couch before we called my niece for her birthday. I ate some ice cream. That’s as exciting as it got today.

Lazy Sunday = awesome.

[tags]dustin the turkey, eurovision, oscars, academy awards, after the wedding[/tags]

"I am Shiva, the god of death."

Quite an abnormal Saturday so far: Nellie was a) up before me, and b) up before 7AM. While I slept for another half hour she was off picking up breakfast & dinner from St. Lawrence Market and returning the movie we watched last night. We wanted to see Michael Clayton (imdb | rotten tomatoes) before the Oscars tomorrow night as it was only best picture nominee we hadn’t yet watched. It was very good, and shied away from convention just enough to be interesting but not weird, but I wouldn’t call it great. It wasn’t on the same scale as, say, There Will Be Blood or No Country For Old Men, but it’s definitely better than Atonement (which was described perfectly by Johanna Schneller in today’s Globe: “I’m not a big fan of Atonement. To me it’s like a local news anchor, handsome but hollow.”) and more typically-Oscar, so it’s hard to argue that it shouldn’t be on the list.

Still, all in all, what a list of best picture nominees. Atonement wasn’t awful by any stretch, it just didn’t wow me; in any other year it’d probably be a strong nominee. In that same Globe article when Elizabeth Renzetti lists a few recent best picture nominees — “Fatal Attraction, Working Girl, The Prince of Tides, in the name of all that’s holy” — you realize just how good a year for movies 2007 was.

[tags]michael clayton, st. lawrence market, academy awards, oscars[/tags]

"It would be Wolfmother instead of Wolf Parade, Darkness instead of Lightning Bolts"

I like this recent development of traditional media linking out to local event sites for more in-depth coverage. It’s especially helpful in cases where user-generated content (like all the photos of this week’s fire on Queen Street) is better and/or more plentiful than the professionally-gathered stuff.


I don’t know what it says about the internet (or, erm, me) that, just by reading her blog at NPR, I’ve developed a crush on Carrie Brownstein, a gay woman I’ve never met. I sense this could be difficult relationship.


I can feel myself getting sick. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since everyone around at work is sick, but c’mon…I was just sick. Super crazy mondo sick. Hell ass balls sick. I cannot be sick again, not with an assignment due Monday and work running somewhere north of murderous. I cannot. I shall not.



[tags]blogto, toronto star, carrie brownstein, cold season[/tags]

So I says to Mabel, I says…

It sucks seeing your weekend disappear before it even arrives. I’ve been working too late every night this week to get anything done on my marketing assignment, which is due Monday, and that means I’ll have to knock the whole thing off this weekend. I hope it’s not long. Or difficult. Or worth much.


For the second game in the row the Canadiens came back from a big deficit, even taking the lead in the third period, but they gave up two quick goals and lost to the Penguins. What they are doing is not good for my heart, people.


All these wacky hours is also hurting my music-listenin’. Right now this is what I have waiting in the music inbox:

  • annuals . be he me
  • devotchka . little miss sunshine soundtrack
  • duke spirit . neptune
  • ladyhawk . shots
  • rebekah higgs . rebekah higgs
  • siberian . with me
  • sigur ros . hvarf-heim
  • sigur ros . svarf
  • silver mt zion . 13 blues for thirteen moons
  • sons and daughters . this gift

[tags]canadiens, penguins, annuals, devotchka, duke spirit, ladyhawk, rebekah higgs, siberian, sigur ros, silver mt zion, sons and daughters[/tags]

Custer's last stand? That was an ice cream shop down the street.

I’m so wiped right now that my brain has nearly shut off, making this Washington Times op-ed piece by Susan Jacoby particularly relevant:

“The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson offered that observation in 1837, but his words echo with painful prescience in today’s very different United States. Americans are in serious intellectual trouble — in danger of losing our hard-won cultural capital to a virulent mixture of anti-intellectualism, anti-rationalism and low expectations.

Jacoby’s new book, on this topic, was also covered in the New York Times recently:

Ms. Jacoby, whose book came out on Tuesday, doesn’t zero in on a particular technology or emotion, but rather on what she feels is a generalized hostility to knowledge. She is well aware that some may tag her a crank. “I expect to get bashed,” said Ms. Jacoby, 62, either as an older person who upbraids the young for plummeting standards and values, or as a secularist whose defense of scientific rationalism is a way to disparage religion.

That Times article also contains a hilarious and horrifying account of what prompted her to write the book:

The author of seven other books, she was a fellow at the library when she first got the idea for this book back in 2001, on 9/11. Walking home to her Upper East Side apartment, she said, overwhelmed and confused, she stopped at a bar. As she sipped her bloody mary, she quietly listened to two men, neatly dressed in suits. For a second she thought they were going to compare that day’s horrifying attack to the Japanese bombing in 1941 that blew America into World War II:

“This is just like Pearl Harbor,” one of the men said.

The other asked, “What is Pearl Harbor?”

“That was when the Vietnamese dropped bombs in a harbor, and it started the Vietnam War,” the first man replied.

At that moment, Ms. Jacoby said, “I decided to write this book.”

Oh dear.

In the Post op-ed Jacoby lists the three influences she feels contribute to the dumbing of her country:

[T]he triumph of video culture over print culture (and by video, I mean every form of digital media, as well as older electronic ones); a disjunction between Americans’ rising level of formal education and their shaky grasp of basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism.

I agree (enthusiastically) with her on the last two, but I’m unconvinced of the first. Changing the media and method by which we take in information certainly changes how we learn, but I don’t know if that means we learn less. Learning certainly becomes different. Does switching from print to video mean trading concentration for multi-tasking? Maybe. Does it make you dumber, on average? I doubt it.

I’ve always considered the shift away from books a symptom, not a cause; the dumber you are, the less likely you are to read. Maybe it’s chicken-and-egg, or maybe I’ve read it wrong. In any case, even if it’s as Jacoby says it is, this point is less troubling to me than the anti-rationalism / anti-intellectualism point she makes, largely because it’s (as she mentions in the Post) it’s become a major factor in politics.

And with that, I’m off to read a few hundred news snippets and watch some podcasts.

[tags]susan jacoby, dumbing of america[/tags]

Let's call it a (huuuuuuuuge) comeback

I didn’t get home from work tonight until 8:30, and by the time we finished eating and watching The Wire it was 9:45. I figured there wasn’t much left of the Canadiens/Rangers game so I flipped it on. The score was 5-4 New York with about 12 minutes left. The Canadiens seemed to be pressing hard though, and a few minutes later they scored to tie the game. Hooray! But, uh…whoa. Sure, I’d expect a big reaction to the tying goal, but the Montreal fans were going cuckoo bananas. I went to TSN and checked out the box score…holy crapmonkey. The Canadiens were down 5-0 in the second period, and came back to tie the freaking game.

Better than that: they won the game in a shootout on a highlight reel goal by Saku Koivu. The fans were going out of their minds.

At first I was angry for missing such an incredible game, but let’s face it: when the score was 5-0 New York I’d have had to turn off the TV anyway, so I don’t imagine I’d have seen most of the comeback anyway. I’m just glad they won.

[tags]montreal canadiens, new york rangers[/tags]