Craftsmanship

Just two quick examples of extremely high quality work done by hand that caught my attention.

This guy makes all mahogany bicycles by hand. If you search around his site you can see the plys before they're worked and finished (hat tip: Steve U.)


Solid marble, carved by hand, 2.5 tons... original article here (hat tip Dan M.).


Picturequote

"Herodotus (and many other intelligent Greeks) always retained a great respect for Cyrus and the characteristically Persian qualities that he embodied... one day a rich and influential Persian came as a spokesman for the people... and suggested that since Persia was now the most powerful country in the world, it would be a good idea if they were to emigrate from their poor and mountainous country and occupy some rich and fertile lowland.

Cyrus did not think much of the suggestion; he replied that they might act upon it if they pleased, but added the warning that, if they did so, they must prepare themselves to rule no longer, but to be ruled by others. 'Soft countries,' he said 'breed soft men. It is not the property of any one soil to produce fine fruits and good soldiers too.' The Persians had to admit that this was true and that Cyrus was wiser than they; so they left him, and chose to live in a rugged land and rule rather than to cultivate rich plains and be slaves." (p 43. Bradford, Ernle. Thermopylae, The Battle for the West. Da Capo Press, 1980.)

That's why people live in Chicago.

This however, is the Brooklyn Brdige in NYC.


Backlog of Readings

Now every time I post one of these obnoxious lists I'll point out the best article, or at least the one's that you can't skip.

Required Reading
- This is a great (and lengthy) article by Malcolm Gladwell on brain damage and football. Kind of glad I never played.

Google says they overpaid when they purchased YouTube to the tune of 1 billion (they paid 1.65 billion for the site). Best part, they knew they were doing it.

According to Krugman the Fed, even under really rosy circumstances, won't raise rates for at least 2 years.

Ever hear of Conservapedia? They're hilarious, but now they've outdone themselves. They're going to rewrite the Bible to "remove the liberal bias."

New York City made a law requiring restaurants to show calorie counts on menu items. Oddly, the new law doesn't seem to be changing the amount of calories that people purchase in any given transaction.

New theories on altruism vis a vie termites.

A Nobel in medicine this year went to three scientists who discovered telomerase, an enzyme that allows a cell to divide perpetually without dying. It has implications for future cancer research.

Krugman says healthcare reform will happen.

Google's Android OS is about to tip
. By the end of the year it'll be available on 12 phones.

Ugh, this wasn't even half of my list... more later.

Shopsin's



A few weeks before going to New York I watched a documentary called I Like Killing Flies about a small breakfast and lunch spot in lower Manhattan. It's run by an guy named Kenny Shopsin who has a very unique, almost ineffable personality. The best description I can give of him is that he's just very honest about himself and others - a quality I find lacking in most people. Combine that with the fact that he's very nice yet blunt and you get Kenny Shopsin:



Just before I went back to Chicago I caught an F train to the Essex St.-Delancy stop and ate breakfast at Shopsin's located at 120 Essex Street. They've changed storefronts since the documentary was made. The place had seating for maybe 15 people tops.

I actually met Kenny Shopsin too. He sat about five feet to my left conversing with customers (which seemed more like friends who ate there a lot) the entire time I ate. He was really nice and fun to talk to. Apparently his brother is an architect who teaches at Pratt... which is funny because just hours before I spoke with a friend who told me that he's starting a sort of environmental architecture program at Pratt in the Fall. Crazy stuff. It's only once you start talking to people, anyone really, that you find out how similar we all really are.

Anyways, the menu (1,2) is huge and really original. I had the Iliana which consisted of a egg and cheese omelet, mangoes, guacamole, chips, and refried rice. It was really good.

New York's "Green" Street Vendors


A green street vendor at 84th Street and Park Avenue.

A while ago I read that New York was going to issue another 1,000 street vendor permits, in addition to the already 3,000 that they issue, to "green" carts that would peddle produce exclusively. To be honest I thought it was a bad idea. They were controlling where they could set up shop, the number of permits available, and the good to be sold. I suppose specifying the good to be sold, in this case produce, is fine, but the rest just seemed like a bunch of bureaucratic hassle and piecemeal economic development.

Wow was I wrong. Why doesn't Chicago have these things? I don't care what silly bureaucratic nonsense has to go down. When I was in NY I ate more fruit and less crap because I could pick up two apples and two oranges for $2 right before I hoped on #2 train in Harlem everyday (too many twos?). Harlem - fruit? There have been entire chapters in prominent books devoted to the fact that getting produce to city dwellers is a problem. Especially if they're poor.

Naturally, the grocery stores complained and of course they have a point, but here's mine. I live in a city and when I go grocery shopping I generally have to carry it home. I don't like to go shopping for groceries too often so I buy a limited amount of fruit due to its weight and perishablility. Thus, by placing fruit strategically on my walking routes my diet and well being were improved.

Monday Reading

Dave Homcy. Beautiful surf photography.

Mike Rowe, of Dirty Jobs, at TED explaining how he is often wrong.

Coolest riddle ever
? An eccentric owner of an apartment building in Manhattan built clues and riddles into an apartment that is taking its newest owners years to solve.

Google's Android free open-source operating system is beginning to find it's way into a new generation of netbooks.

Band Aid-style calorie tracker. Quite possibly the greatest dieting invention ever or the worst thing to ever happen to anorexics.

(I guess I posted this a few days late.)

Wall Street - Aloof

Disclaimer: This is really more of a rant than proper commentary.

Aloof: detached, having no need, desire, or much (if any) awareness of other people and social relationships.

This piece from the New Yorker is worth the somewhat longer than normal internet read. It's about the workers of Walls Street
and why they're pissed about the fact that the rest of America wants to see them get a pay cut.

"He [Obama] knows that you can’t live in New York on $75,000.”

Seriously? You need to realize that you're just a privileged human being who happens to work hard. Do you deserve double or maybe even triple salary because you work 80 hours a week? Maybe more because of the cost of living in NYC? Sure, but $742,000? Seriously, fuck you. Don't tell me that it's your birth right because you went to an Ivy League school and work all hours of the day. There are maybe a dozen living people who deserve the gross domestic product of an African nation as their take home salary. There are people who work just as industriously and take as much risk as you do who make $8 an hour. You are not special.

I understand the need to compensate people for what they contribute to society and our economic system, but no one deserves that much. Especially when you would be jobless if it weren't for the government, or perhaps more properly the tax payer. I even understand why they fight for their viewpoint so endearingly. I get that it brings with it security and a lifestyle that is hard to give up, but wake up. The huge salaries of Wall Street attracted the brightest, hardest working, greediest people in the country. There was fierce competition and innovation and it went unchecked. No one blew any whistles when it got out of hand because no one wanted to lose their high paying job, and don't tell me "we didn't know." I know people who work there. They all knew that what they were doing was unsustainable and had dire consequences. In the mean time you collectively ruined the American and by proxy the world economy.