The power of writing and other things

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Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) retweeted this post on Twitter and I must agree with him.

Okay, this is good, funny, REAL writing: "On Breasts, Identity, and Refusing to Hate Ourselves"

Amazing how much power women's bodies have.

Roger also pointed out this video:

This is the Bechtel Test that people are always referring to. How many of *your* favorite movies can pass it?

Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale

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It's amazing how fast Bobby McFerrin gets the audience to sing an unknown song with no words spoken at the World Science Festival 2009:

Another clever creative

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American Airlines wanted to advertise its direct flight from NYC to Sydney, Australia.




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What one person does with an index card while waiting for the coffee to brew in the morning.


Anyone who knows me "knows" that I do not do witty anything while the coffee brews (actually that's while I make my morning latte). It's best just to ignore that you see me in the kitchen unless, of course, you're closely related enough that you give me a kiss on the cheek.

As for conversation, not the best time.

I don't know how she does it.

Leopard seal feeds photographer

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This is just cool.

Sometimes life is really surprising.

[via boing-boing]

Creative Appreciation Break

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One of the graphic design / web design people that I keep an eye, Veerle Pieters, on is on Flickr and posted a picture of her contribution to the Traveling Moleskine which is a moleskine (one of several) that was handed off to artists/creative people. Each was told to fill in one or more pages and pass it onto another creative person. At the end of September they're all supposed to be returned to the person who started the project and they're going to have a party and display of all the artwork. In the meantime, some scans of the Traveling Moleskines are up on Flickr.


This one by Sylvie Van Hulle struck me as particularly beautiful and it led me to her blog where she posts her sketches and watercolors along with some notes and commentary. Here's some of her work on Flickr. I think you'll like it.

A creative book intro

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Here's an interesting way to introduce a new book -- via Cory Doctorow at Boingboing.

From Jeffrey Carver's website:

"The prologue to my SF novel Sunborn (Tor Books), [is] narrated to an animated video sequence drawn from a slew of NASA images from Hubble, Chandra, etc. In the case of this particular prologue, the astronomical images actually do reflect the story of one Deeaab, explorer from across the brane-boundary. I think it's pretty cool, which is not entirely bragging, as the real video wizardry was done by a fellow named Adam Guzewicz. Created for a local arts festival, I decided to see if it might be an interesting way to introduce a book to new readers."

The book can be downloaded as an ebook from his website or purchased via Amazon or your local bookseller.

How many myths did they bury in 'Milk Medusa gets married'?

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Sarah Haskins gets it. Too bad that the advertising - branding types don't.

via @randomdeanna

For those who read in bed

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If you're a Kindle owner, xkcd has invented what you need for the ultimate read-in-bed-and-fall-asleep experience. Check it out.

Yes 1 or 2 kids can make a difference

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Here's a wonderful story about 2 girls who made a huge difference in their community.

Think one or two people can't make a difference?

Then you don't know about Amanda Huhman and Libby Burks.

The two animal lovers double-handedly rallied an entire community to support a cause they believe in. Because of their efforts, the deteriorating, crammed-full Central Missouri Humane Society won a nationwide shelter-makeover contest Monday worth up to $1 million in cash and services.

Did I mention yet that Amanda and Libby are 13 years old? [...]

The seventh-graders, who have been volunteer dog-walkers and kitty-cuddlers at the shelter since age 9, got it into their heads in January that their coming-apart-at-the-seams shelter was the perfect candidate for the Zootoo makeover contest they read about in a magazine. They approached the shelter director to get her blessing and then they got to work.

The rest, as they say, is history.

But that's not to suggest it was easy.

By the time the girls had learned about the contest, conducted by Zootoo, an online community of animal lovers, it had already been going on for months. Late-starter CMHS was in 859th place in mid-January.

The article goes on to outline all the girls did and their activities could serve as a guide for any successful community effort.

Is there a chance this could have happened without the efforts of the two girls? "That's a big, fat, absolute no," [shelter director] Forister declares. The two teens were a compelling catalyst who presented a case in ways officialdom couldn't.

The girls are "personable and professional," says Forister, and "their enthusiasm was absolutely infectious." [...]

Forister regards all that has happened in four short months as an object lesson for parents ... for the world, really. "If a child wants to do something she's passionate about, supporting that effort and watching it bloom can bring unimaginable reward."

Way to go girls. Congratulations to you and to your parents who gave you a terrific foundation of values and support from which to act.

The Secret to Happiness, According to Justice O'Connor

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Here's an interesting post by a former law clerk of Justice O'Connor.

Daily Routines

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An interesting look at the daily routines of writers, artists and assorted other creatives and charismatic leaders.

Her Morning Elegance

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It's delightful.

Her Morning Elegance
Directed by: Oren Lavie, Yuval & Merav Nathan
Featuring: Shir Shomron
Photography: Eyal Landesman
Color: Todd Iorio at Resolution
© 2009 A Quarter Past Wonderful

"Her Morning Elegance" written and produced by Oren Lavie, from the Oren Lavie album The Opposite Side of the Sea
© 2009 A Quarter Past Wonderful/Adrenaline under license from Tuition

Thanks Dove

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I watched this all the way through 3 times in a row. I thought the digital touchups at the end were most interesting. It should be required viewing for all young American girls.

Cold is beautiful

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This photoblog post reminds me of Wisconsin winters. There is beauty and if you're dressed for the weather, you can even stand to be out in it and enjoy it. Though I do have to say that standing outside for 5 hours during cross-country ski races waiting for my kids to come in did stretch the comfort end of it a little.

Bored in the print shop

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Looks like they were bored in the print shop. [via]

Two more immigrants living the American dream

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Totally frivolous and yet not. Here's this morning's interviews with the two immigrant designers who were surprised to see Michelle Obama wearing their designs yesterday.

From Jason Wu, 26 year old designer whose creation will now reside in the Smithsonian alongside other first ladies' inaugural ball gowns:

The fact that Obama discovered Wu by herself and called him to design a ball gown made the moment special, he said.

"That's so magical," Wu told Vieira. "As an immigrant, that's such an important thing to me. I'm living a dream that so many people have."

Here's some perspective from fashion insiders about Michelle's choices.

Largehearted Boy

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Ran across this website, largehearted boy, while googling for a solution to something else.

It's a blog focused on music and dvds and includes among other things, weekly lists of free and legal music releases to download, dvds to be released, etc. I found it via this post which mentions all the places that he's been written up.

Looks like a good place to spend a few hours.

NORAD Tracks Santa

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NORAD tracks Santa. Too bad this wasn't around when my kids were awaiting Santa.


And the history of this 50-year tradition:

Last year, NORAD's Santa tracking center answered 94,000 calls and responded to 10,000 e-mails. About 10.6 million visitors went to the Web site, which can be viewed in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese and Chinese.

NORAD's holiday tradition can by traced to 1955, when a Colorado Springs newspaper printed a Sears, Roebuck & Co. ad telling children of a phone number to talk to Santa. The number was one digit off, and the first child to get through reached the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor.

Col. Harry W. Shoup answered.

Shoup's daughter, Terri Van Keuren, said her dad, now 91, was surprised to hear that the little voice on the other end thought he was Santa.

"Dad thought, `What the heck? This must be some kind of code,'" said Van Keuren, 59.

Shoup, described by his daughter as "just a nut about Christmas," didn't want to break the boy's heart, so he sounded a booming "Ho, ho, ho!" and pretended to be Santa Claus.

Enough calls followed that Shoup assigned an officer to answer them while the problem was fixed. But Shoup and the staff he was directing to "locate" Santa on radar ended up embracing the idea. NORAD picked up the tradition when it was formed 50 years ago.

Standing in someone else's shoes ... almost literally

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Swedish scientists have demonstrated one of the brain's more unusual abilities: the brain, "when tricked by optical and sensory illusions, can quickly adopt any other human form, no matter how different, as its own."

The technique is simple. A subject stands or sits opposite the scientist, as if engaged in an interview.. Both are wearing headsets, with special goggles, the scientist's containing small film cameras. The goggles are rigged so the subject sees what the scientist sees: to the right and left are the scientist's arms, and below is the scientist's body.

To add a physical element, the researchers have each person squeeze the other's hand, as if in a handshake. Now the subject can see and "feel" the new body. In a matter of seconds, the illusion is complete. In a series of studies, using mannequins and stroking both bodies' bellies simultaneously, the Karolinska researchers have found that men and women say they not only feel they have taken on the new body, but also unconsciously cringe when it is poked or threatened.

In previous work, neuroscientists have induced various kinds of out-of-body experiences using similar techniques. The brain is so easily tricked, they say, precisely because it has spent a lifetime in its own body. It builds models of the world instantaneously, based on lived experience and using split-second assumptions -- namely, that the eyes are attached to the skull.

The article goes on to discuss possible therapeutic applications, using results developed from virtual reality studies to outline what might be possible.

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