Thursday, April 19, 2012

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio...

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Container Ship Pollution

It's not enough that we're filling our oceans with plastic to the tune of Texas sized gyres on both the Atlantic and Pacific ocean, but now a report comes in that finds just one single large container ship emits as much pollution as 50 million cars. That's difficult to wrap one's head around.

Then consider that there are 57 such ships now navigating trade around the globe.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tesla's New Promise

Though they're struggling to survive, Tesla is managing to provide one of the most exciting new cars made in America.

According to Tesla: "With a 300-mile range and 45-minute QuickCharge, the $49,900 Model S can carry five adults and two children in quiet comfort – and you can charge it from any outlet, without ever stopping for gas. World’s first mass-produced electric vehicle offers performance, efficiency and unrivaled utility, making it the only car you’ll ever need."

But sleek lines and an aggressive stance are only part of the appeal for me. The interior is beautiful, with a huge touch panel dominating the center dash and a single panel glass ceiling. At pennies per mile, and a move away from oil, this is a bargain. Some argue that with electricity, we're trading one horrible source of pollution for another. In truth, nearly half of America's electricity comes from coal burning plants.

However, moving to electricity is simply the first step in dismantling the supply chain of carbon emitting power. Switching a relatively small number of plants over to new green technologies (once they become viable) will be a much easier task compared to the one we now face.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pandora Radio

Pandora Radio is an interesting experiment that has broadened my music horizons since I discovered it.

The internet "radio station" gains that name not because it broadcasts over radio signals. It streams music just like any other internet based on-demand application. However, it does not allow the user to randomly select tracks from a playlist. This has facilitated a licensing strategy that fits within Pandora's business model, and actually encourages long term listening.

But what is perhaps most interesting about Pandora is not how the music is played, but how it is selected. With Pandora, you create your own channels, by selecting either a genre or an artist. Selecting an artist, the channel will start with a track by that artist. From there on out, the music is selected by a sophisticated software algorithm.

After the initial track, selections are drawn from the Music Genome Project, a database of music where songs are classified by up to 500 attributes, or genes. A hoard of musicians and critics have been enlisted in an ongoing effort to classify music using this criteria. The genes of each song can then be compared for similarity with other songs. This allows for an automated system of track selection with surprisingly fruitful results. Furthermore, the system is interactive, allowing a listener to indicate which tracks they like or dislike, and Pandora Radio will use these preferences to weight future track selection.

Pandora is available on most operating system platforms, as well as several mobile devices. I've been enjoying it on my iPhone lately. Through it, I've found more great music than just about any other source on the internet. And when a new artist or track is discovered, Pandora Radio features links to music retailers for instance purchase.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Neuroscience of Dance

Scientific American has published a fascinating article on dance and the latest research on the brain aimed at understanding how, and even perhaps why, we dance. The article describes in detail both the questions asked by the research team, as well as novel approaches to identifying the areas of the brain involved with various rhythmic activities.

Their research points to areas of the brain specialized to detect rhythm, as well as to coordinate body dynamics to a beat. Instead of just coordinating various areas of the brain, dance has specific regions dedicated to its expression.

Over hundreds of thousands of years, rhythm has been so central to our existence that our brain has evolved around it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Eight Verses of Training the Mind

By thinking of all sentient beings
As more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel
For accomplishing the highest aim,
I will always hold them dear.

Whenever I'm in the company of others,
I will regard myself as the lowest among all,
And from the depths of my heart
Cherish others as supreme.

In my every action, I will watch my mind,
And the moment destructive emotions arise,
I will confront them strongly and avert them,
Since they will hurt both me and others.

Whenever I see ill-natured people,
Or those overwhelmed by heavy misdeeds or suffering,
I will cherish them as something rare,
As though I'd found a priceless treasure.

Whenever someone out of envy
Does me wrong by attacking or belittling me,
I will take defeat upon myself,
And give the victory to others.

Even when someone I have helped,
Or in whom I have placed great hopes
Mistreats me very unjustly,
I will view that person as a true spiritual teacher.

In brief, directly or indirectly,
I will offer help and happiness to all my mothers,
And secretly take upon myself
All their hurt and suffering.

I will learn to keep all these practices
Untainted by thoughts of the eight worldly concerns.
May I recognize all things as like illusions,
And, without attachment, gain freedom from bondage.

Credit: RigpaWiki

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Delille's 2003 Delight: D2

Sip by sip, D2 is simply an impressive bottle of wine. It starts off with berry flavors, I actually taste cherry... Then within a few seconds, pepper becomes dominant on the palette. And as the flavor fades, it's the warmth of oak and a hint of almond that linger.

D2's complexity is owed to the fact that it's a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. But this complexity also contributes to the wine's scarcity. For a specific vinyard, it is not always possible to produce grapes of consistent quality year after year. But when a wine is based on four different grapes, the odds are stacked against the ability of a winery to make more than one year with the same characteristics.

So, if you can manage to find a bottle of Delille's D2, don't pass it up. You'll thank me.