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Steve Jobs dies

I remember my uncles had put a multicolored Apple sticker on their fridge when they lived downstairs. I didn’t know what it was for as an 8 year old.
I remember being confused what “delete” meant when I was using a computer for the first time in my life, as an 8th grader– it was a Macintosh II.
I am old enough to remember when Apple was insignificant– but even then Steve Jobs was a story to read. Along with Gates and Allen, his was an inspiration to a child growing up wishing there was an alternative to the boredom of schools! As many people have probably already written again today, the man who started Apple was again at the head of its resurgence and has engineered the fantastic reputation that it has today. The world has seen someone amazing go today– and his death from cancer highlights how many more amazing people we need to keep working on the important things in life. Crazy people, as a famous ad campaign would say.

Death! clock

So on my birthday, I figure it’s only appropriate to look up how many I will have– it seems I’ll die just shy of one on 2073! I could swear last year they told me I was going to die on 2075, but I suppose the degradation of the environment etc…

Kissing!. . . during a riot

So apparently this has/is “going viral” aka being talked about often, but still– there is this shot of a couple in passionate embrace amidst riots in Vancouver and it’s really just hot. The photographer Richard Lam who took it is still unsure whether they were kissing or hurt–I’m not sure there’s much room for debate there. What I’m really surprised about is where are the OTHER photos of this? I can’t believe in this day of continuous camera/phone recording that there are no other photos of the event itself, poor quality as they may be.

"don't worry about them"

It’s a great-looking shot, and really, I’d never want to be with anyone that couldn’t lose themselves to me that much! I am, though, convinced this is someone’s art project. Look at those legs! And even from this far away the fellow looks too ruggedly handsome to’ve just been spending the evening at a hockey game with his hot Spanish girl– no, this screams art/social project and I’m just waiting to find out who!
Your thoughts?
-r-

 

Woman jailed in Saudi for driving

Rabab sent me this comic and I thought it was at once very funny and terribly depressing. It really brings home the point about perspectives, and the relativity of right/wrong and therefore the importance of tolerance for multiple perspectives. That having said though, there are many many “traditional” viewpoints which  I find are really due for being called out as belonging to a different age and time, and not given the excuse to hide behind “religion” or “culture” or “tradition.”

For example, a Saudi woman was recently jailed (and is still in jail, despite ongoing protests) because of this video she posted of herself driving. This is so ridiculous that I can’t even express the ridiculousness…

[yframe url=’www.youtube.com/watch?v=opZDtyec4u0&NR=1′]

Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Rememberance Day in Israel

It happens every day on military camps, but it’s quite startling to watch traffic stop in the real world to commemorate anything. I suppose when your country is founded practically because of a particular tragedy, things are a bit different. If only people would spend more time contemplating the real reasons behind this terrible event, or how to prevent it from repeating only with different characters involved…

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeozUSWdoQA&feature=related’%5D

Reliability charts: not what you think

I found this graph the other day of J.D. Powers’ Vehicle Dependability Study and was quite astonished at where some brands showed up.  Before one gets excited because their favorite brand is higher or lower on this chart, one has to consider THE most important element here– WHO SAYS THIS?

The answer is, the consumer. So, the question is not what did some panel of experts visiting Lincoln dealerships/ mechanics find, but how many errors did Lincoln customers report in the first 100 days of ownership of their vehicles. So let’s look at it:

it's not what you thinkSo amazing that Lincoln is the best made car, isn’t it? Wait– no, this means that Lincoln OWNERS report the least problems. Given that most Lincoln owners are geriatrics unlikely to notice any problems until their car is on fire, I’m mostly surprised this has not been the situation for years now! Lexus is predictably high up, but Jaguar? There’s a brand that still regularly gets the stick for being “unreliable” because of a reputation it earned back in 1982. Too bad, because modern Jags have been pretty nice for a while now. Mercedes has more recently had a reputation for being less reliable thanks to its crop of late 90s Chrysler-era cars. Many insiders have pointed out their more recent improvements, though, hinting at the brand’s intention to reach the high standards of their earlier vehicles. As an owner of a 1993 car, I can’t say HOW many times I use my Mercedes that I talk about how well put together everything feels. Even compared to my BMW of the same year, and most certainly compared to modern Japanese econoboxes.

All that being said, I like seeing this graph as a rough estimation of where some companies are falling / rising. But in the end it always makes me wonder: who really pays proper attention to what this says? As in– it is SO riddled with the unpredictability inherent in the demographics of who buys certain cars.  For example, I KNOW most buyers of Toyota Corollas consider a vehicle that is moving forwards and backwards to be in perfect running order: they will not report a rattle, or a slight variation in rpms, or a door that doesn’t quite “thunk” properly. On the other hand, the owners of a Porsche or a Volkswagen, or an Audi are far more likely to discern very small flaws in their vehicular operation which then they are more likely to complain at the dealership etc. about. So that makes it more impressive when Porsche is up top, but not that distressing when Mini is not. Similarly one might think Hyundai is making better vehicles nowadays (and they are, compared to 10 yrs. ago for sure), but people who are going to buy Hyundai’s probably wont think it’s much of a big deal if the wind noise inside is high, or if the radio emits a squeak! So there it is, another statistic, just for the fun of it: 80% of drivers actually never learned anything after the first year of their driving career!

Cheers,
-r-

Kuwait Events: Hala February Festival

The Hala February festival or Hala Festival is an annual event that takes place in Kuwait during the month of February. This year it coincides with the beginning of the National Day 50/20 celebrations. That means 20 years since the liberation from Iraq and 50 years since independence from the British. “It is also a time when parched sands of the desert transform into a magical green carpet covered with blossoming, colourful flora. The arrival of migratory birds and seasonal animals during this time add further colour, elegance and beauty to the desert,” according to the government website. All this means it should be quite a special month with many cultural events showcasing art and folklore, music, and of course since it’s the middle east– shopping events (prizes, sales etc.).
The celebration has already started with the re-enactment of the battle freeing Qurah Island (the first to be freed by the US/coalition forces during Operation Desert Storm in 1991).

photo : Eric Guzman

The more publicly accessible part of the festivities begin on Friday, January 30 at the carnival area on Salem Al-Mubarak Street, according to a member of the Higher Committee and Head of the Media Affairs Committee of Hala February Festival Walid Al-Saqobi (and Kuwait Times). He also said that this time around, there is even greater than usual participation by embassies, state bodies, and private sector institutions in the events; there is going to be considerable media coverage and live broadcast from several locations and venues, via KTV I and other channels.

Hala Festival Kuwait 2010(courtesy Arab Times)

I’ll hopefully have some photos on here from the festivities. If you can make it out, let me know what you thought!

Cheers,
-r-

Red Panda

When they think Panda, most people think large, furry, black, and white. Adorable as Giant Pandas are, though, there are other pandas that are equally awesome, and unfortunately endangered.

Distantly related to the larger, better-known black-and-white giant panda, the red panda is a solitary creature found in the mountains of Nepal, Myanmar, and central China. Photograph by Mark W. Moffett

Meanwhile, these guys just made their public debut the other day, after a harrowing summer of fighting through infancy. On the cuteness meter, there is no disappointing.

baby red panda
The Assiniboine Park Zoo gave the media a glimpse of two infant Red Pandas that were born in the facility in mid-June. Zookeeper Janice Martin holds one of the cubs on Thursday, September 2, 2010. (Winnipeg Sun)

According to National Geographic’s article, “The red panda has given scientists taxonomic fits. It has been classified as a relative of the giant panda, and also of the raccoon, with which it shares a ringed tail. Currently, red pandas are considered members of their own unique family—the Ailuridae.
Red pandas are endangered, victims of deforestation. Their natural space is shrinking as more and more forests are destroyed by logging and the spread of agriculture.”
The National Zoo in Washington and the Brooklyn Zoo in New York both have Red Pandas–and there are apparently 800 or so of these lovely creatures in zoos worldwide. Hope you can get to see one!

Cheers,
-r-

Google Images gets new look

In case you haven’t searched for an image today, Google Images has a new look! There are several differences, the major two being what shows on the inital search, and what shows when you click on the picture itself.

I like the first change. When you search for an image now, many more show up on the same page, with less gaps inbetween. While it looked a bit cleaner with the white-space, I’d rather have more efficiency per page when I’m trying to look something up quickly. When you hover on an image, it also blows it up just a bit larger, making it easier to see. Also along the same easier-to-see-more lines, the pages now scroll from one “page” to another– which, of course leaves it no longer as a page, but instead views the whole thing like one continuous webpage. Why even bother leaving a page number if it’s just going to be one continous list of images going down?

The second change on the other hand…I just don’t quite get! When you click on the image of your choice, previously it would open up the website containing the image and have a bar above which you could see the image in thumbnail form. Then you could blow it up. But now, the “thumbnail” is at a much higher resolution– something like 500 x 600 or so, pasted on top of the site. Here’s the kicker, though–after it loads this too-large thumbnail, the image then GOES BLURRY!! Now this is completely  and entirely confounding to me. Why–after already loading a clear image–would you have it go blurry?

At this point you have the option of clicking to see the full-size image or pressing the “X” button to reveal the webpage behind the image. But seriously–blurry? AFTER spending the time to load? Not cool.

So there it is. I’m sure many people will complain, and then eventually everyone will likely get used to it and accept the new look for what it is! At this point I’m complaining–a little bit.

Cheers,
-r-

EDIT: So it seems this blurring phenomenon was temporary. I have no idea why it was happening here, but I tried multiple computers and it was all the same. I did notice that when I was trying this, the new images format had not yet been launched for google.com.kw, so maybe that had something to do with it. So that’s a big improvement. Still, the popup is a bit clunky.