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January 28, 2006

'Oprah in 2008'

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She'd win.

The headline above is also the headline of an editorial in today's Washington Post.

Forget Hillary v Condi and all that: Oprah's candidacy would be electric.

Here's the editorial.

    Oprah in 2008

    Oprah Winfrey for president?

    Well, maybe not.

    But it's tempting to consider a draft-Oprah movement after she demonstrated a talent so missing here in the capital city: the ability and willingness to admit error and apologize.

    We don't propose here to go through the details of the saga of the partly fictitious "memoir," "A Million Little Pieces" -- either you're familiar with those details by now, or you're never going to care -- but rather to salute Ms. Winfrey for her actions on Thursday.

    Two weeks ago she had suggested, disturbingly, that it didn't much matter whether the book was true or not.

    This week on television she said she had "made a mistake" and was "deeply sorry."

    She added: "To everyone who has challenged me on this issue of truth, you are absolutely right."

    Maybe that doesn't sound like it was hard to say.

    But we who live in the land of shifting rationales and weak excuses, of "I take full responsibility for what my subordinates did" and of "If I offended anyone who misinterpreted my remarks, I'm sorry" -- we know better.

    A little Winfrey candor would go a long way.

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Before you start to cluck and moan and say Oprah's not qualified, that she doesn't know anything about foreign policy, yadda yadda yadda, consider this: Ronald Reagan, back in his acting days with Bonzo and all, wasn't exactly what you'd call a latter–day incarnation of Disraeli, Talleyrand or Bismarck.

January 28, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

World's Most Technical Brownie Cutter

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A lot of midnight oil and prototyping went into the development of this new kitchen tool, called the Perfectkut™.

From the catalog and website:

    Cut An Entire Pan Of Brownies Or Lasagna In One Motion!

    Stainless Steel Slicer Includes Baking Pan

    With a simple press, this multi-blade slicer cuts a whole pan of brownies, lasagna or other baked goods into 12 equal portions.

    Dishwasher-safe, stainless-steel slicer comes with a 9" x 9" baking pan.

    When not in use, unit folds to only 1/2" thick for compact storage.

$24.95 here.

January 28, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Kevin Kelly's Master Class

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He doesn't advertise it; you don't even know you're enrolled until you're already deep into the introductory course.

I realized just today, now that Kevin (above) has taken a sabbatical from his superb Cool Tools website/newsletter to finish a book, that I have gained much from my interactions with him, via email, over the past year or two.

I've submitted numerous items to him for his consideration for publication in Cool Tools, most of which never made the cut.

But that's beside the point.

Kevin's no–nonsense, pithy comments and questions have taught me how to better approach everything I deal with in the process of creating bookofjoe, and his lessons are most useful outside the blogging space as well.

Let me try to summarize Kevin's approach to information.

1) Don't just tell me about it — demonstrate why it is so with concrete examples

2) Don't exaggerate or amplify beyond what is already there

3) Show the bad along with the good

4) Be brief and clear

That's one tasty glass of Kool–Aid he mixes up in his editorial kitchen.

And I guarantee you there are hundreds of other writers out there who would tell you the very same thing.

All possible power to Kevin Kelly!

January 28, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BusBike — Genius surfaces in Rio de Janeiro

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I was utterly wowed by a short item in the new (February 2006) Wired magazine about this sensational concept invented by 28–year–old Brazilian Marcos Alves.

It's a regular city bus equipped with 16 stationary bicycles (above).

Wrote Diego Oliveira de Assis, "For about $30 a session, you can hop aboard, choose a machine, and pedal away while enjoying a scenic tour of the city."

If I were in Rio I'd be up on one of those bikes in a Brazilian minute.

This idea has — pardon my choice of words — legs.

Why not offer buses fitted out with treadmills with computer workstations and satellite internet?

This post gets sent instanter to Tom Niccum and Dr. James Levine, the two men leading the treadmill bandwagon in its nascent phase.

Here's the full story as it appears in Wired.

    A Gym With a View

    How do you burn calories in Brazil?

    Ride the bus.

    The Bus Bike is a regular city bus equipped with 16 stationary bicycles.

    For about $30 a session, you can hop aboard, choose a machine, and pedal away while enjoying a scenic tour of the city.

    Marcos Alves, 28, came up with the concept after realizing that people who can afford a gym don't always want to be cooped up in one.

    He now runs three round-trips through Rio de Janeiro, where his vehicles are turning heads.

    "There was this guy coming at us on a bike, and he was so amazed that he hit the sidewalk and fell," Alves says.

    "We stopped the bus to help and offered him a free ride."

********************

Huh.

I wonder if the two guys who run Starlight Express, a local company which tricks out buses with BMW seats and internet access and all and runs non-stop trips between Charlottesville and New York City, might consider trying this concept out here in central Virginia.

First mover advantage can be huge, men: get on with it.

[via Diego Oliveira de Assis and Wired magazine]

January 28, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I'm a Sprint Ambassador!

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Hey, joe — are your eyes closed?

Why?

'Cause you must be dreaming.

But I'm not — I have proof.

A few weeks ago I was just moseying along on my treadmill at 0.7 mph doing something close to nothing when an email came in inviting me to become a Sprint Ambassador.

What's that, I wondered.

I read the email.

It said that I'd been selected to use the brand–new Sprint Power Vision™ Network as well as the Sprint Music Store™ and receive live TV broadcasts with Sprint TV™, gaming and more.

To try all this wizardry out they'd send me a brand–new Sprint Power Vision™ Model A920 Samsung phone (above and below) — free.

And provide unlimited access to all their content for the next six months — free.

Along with letting me have unlimited phone calls to/from anywhere during that time along with the usual tricked–out phone features, i.e., 1.3 megapixel flash camera, IM, web and email, etc.

What's the catch?

None that I could see: all they asked was that I give them feedback if and when I felt like it via their supersecret Ambassador website.

No, I can't tell you any more than that — Dick Cheney made me promise and Michael Hayden make me pinky–swear.

Anyway, I signed up online, figuring that'd be the last I'd ever hear from Sprint.

They said within the next week or two I'd receive my phone.

A month passed and nothing happened but then yesterday there was a FedEx box on my front doorstep containing the phone and all the accessories.

There was the usual thick manual and all sorts of stuff about how to activate the phone, you know, the usual nonsense you go through at the cellphone store that takes a couple hours.

I don't have time for that kind of stuff so I figured I'd just bag the whole thing and send it back to them but then, just for the heck of it, I decided to see what would happen if I tried to use the phone.

No chance of it working right out the box, right?

I mean, you've gotta enter all that stuff, passwords, networks, put in SIM cards and whatnot — right?

I looked all over the phone for the On/Off button but couldn't find it.

No surprise that.

I looked in the 248–page manual and right there, on the very first page of the 5–page–long table of contents it said, "Turning Your Phone On and Off — Page 24."

w00t!

On page 24 it said, "To turn your phone on, press and release END."

No wonder I couldn't figure it out on my own: I'd been pressing the green "TALK" button.

Obviously to power up you'd push the red END button — right?

They don't give the name TechnoDolt™ out lightly.

Anyway, I pushed the red END button and all kinds of stuff started to happen: a picture of a satellite dish came on and started rotating around, icons flashed and disappeared, and then stuff stopped happening on the screen.

So I figured what the heck, let's go for it, and I dialed the number of my best friend, down Texas way.

The numbers appeared on the unbelievably crisp, sharp screen in beautiful colored digits.

I pushed TALK and the phone started ringing and I'll be darned if my bud didn't pick it up and sound as crisp and clear as if he were on a wired phone next door.

I give Sprint a 9.5 (the 0.5 deduction is for forcing me to use the manual to find out how to turn the phone on) for execution in the first maneuver of what will be a most interesting program of tricks, to be executed in the coming weeks and months.

I may even try to post to bookofjoe from this phone if I can figure out how — wouldn't that be a riot?

I'm stoked!

The message here is that technology doesn't have to be torture: cellphones can work right out of the box and so can computers.

But only if the people selling them to us care enough about hoi polloi to make that possible.

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Real soon now — not.

January 28, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Blue Light Special — 'You want a blue suit, turn on a blue light'

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That crack about the blue suit came from a New Orleans lawyer I had the great pleasure of working with some years back.

Louisiana law is a different discipline entirely from that practiced in the other 49 states.

Anyway.

This device has nothing to do with K–Mart: it's your very own revolving warning light.

From the website:

    3-in-1 Revolving Warning Light

    Be seen, not heard

    For towing, driving very slowly, hauling a load, snow-plowing... you get the picture.

    Light has 3 interchangeable colored lenses (blue, amber and red) to fit your needs.

    10' cord fits your lighter socket.

    Heavy-duty magnetic base.

    Friction drive for silence.

    6"H x 4.75"D.

    Weighs 1 lb.

    Note: check local laws about acceptable colors.

$12.97 here (bail not included).

January 28, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Don't mess with Texas: Houston bans horses from city's medians and the Greater Houston Horse Council says, 'Just a cotton–pickin' minute — the horse has the right of way in the state of Texas'

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Last year, "in response to complaints by homeowner associations that pay serious money to landscape medians and then find shrubs, flowers and sprinklers trampled by renegade riders," wrote Sylvia Moreno in the January 22 Washington Post, "an ordnance banning horse riding on medians was passed with virtually no discussion."

Well, guess what?

There's plenty of discussion now.

Robert Crowe explored the issue in depth in a story which appeared in the January 17 Houston Chronicle, and follows.

    Riders Rearing Up Over New Horse Restrictions

    The ordinance forbids them from meandering on city's esplanades

    John Vela's favorite equestrian trail cuts straight down the middle of one of Houston's busiest streets.

    As traffic whizzes along Irvington, Vela and his riding partners saunter along the grassy median between the four-lane traffic.

    "We ride here because this is where we live," said Vela, 47, who lives and keeps horses in northeast Houston. "I don't understand why anyone wouldn't want us to do that."

    Last month, urban cowboys such as Vela were surprised to learn that their tradition of riding on esplanades, or grassy medians, had quietly been banned by the City Council.

    "I was absolutely incredulous," said Darolyn Butler, a board member of the Greater Houston Horse Council, which is lobbying the City Council to repeal or amend the ban.

    "I think the ordinance was passed with good intentions, but there's a great deal of ignorance about how many horses actually traverse the Houston area."

    The ordinance, introduced by Councilwoman Toni Lawrence, makes it a Class C misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500 for anyone caught parking a vehicle or riding a horse on esplanades.

    Trail rides associated with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo are not affected because horses typically stay on roadways.

    Lawrence did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

    But some of her constituents, who lobbied for the ban, say someone had to stop horses from trampling landscaping and sprinkler systems on Antoine in the Inwood area of northwest Houston .

    "This isn't Dodge City, so I'm sorry. But the cowboys can't do as they please anymore," said Charles Crain, president of the Inwood Forest Community Improvement Association.

    Starting in 2001, neighborhood volunteers raised about $155,000 to beautify the esplanades with landscaping and irrigation systems.

    "I'm the type of Texan who finds it appalling that Texas Independence Day is not a holiday anymore," said Crain, 60, who grew up in Houston.

    "But, I can't empathize with cowboys who destroy our esplanades. Also, it's dangerous to ride on a busy street like Antoine."

    Daphne Tumlin, chairwoman of the beautification committee for Greater Inwood Partnership, was influential in beautifying the esplanades and lobbying for the riding ban.

    She said she would not object to the City Council amending the ban so it would only cover esplanades that have been adopted by a civic association.

    "It's a non-issue if you have nothing on your esplanades," she said.

    "The horses can go anywhere if you have barren esplanades."

    City spokesman Patrick Trahan said Mayor Bill White hopes a compromise can be reached.

    "The mayor is all for Houstonians having opportunities to ride horses; it's part of the culture of Houston," he said.

    "There are problems when some riders are not considerate, but there is room for discussion on the issue."

    Marcia DuBois, a veterinarian and Greater Houston Horse Council board member, wonders why the council did not debate the issue before voting on it in December.

    Lawrence had initially pushed for an ordinance to prohibit parking on esplanades on 43rd Street near the Oak Forest neighborhood.

    She later added the ban on horses.

    "With Houston being such a horse town, historically, I can't understand how City Council could pass the ordinance without any debate," said DuBois.

    Greg Ryden of the Oak Forest Homeowners Association said the new ordinance hasn't stopped people from parking on 43rd.

    State law still gives horses the right of way on major thoroughfares, Butler said, who added that most states — especially Texas — have not restricted horses since the days when they were more numerous than automobiles.

    "Especially in Texas, which is kind of the last bastion of horse freedom," she said.

    Pete Gibbs, a Texas A&M University animal science professor, estimates the Houston area has one of the highest concentrations of horses in the country, with between 150,000 and 200,000.

    It is not uncommon to see horses in backyards or in small stables in Vela's neighborhood near West Little York or areas like Acres Homes and parts of the south side.

    "People forget this is Texas, but we still ride horses in the city," Vela said.

January 28, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bungee Chair

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From the website:

    Studio Office Chair

    Cushy job.

    Bungee-style cords, a gas lift, rolling casters and a swivel spin make this executive chair worth the ride to the top.

    Strong elastic black cords give firm, cushioned support and lessen fatigue.

    Black-on-black cords, powder–coated steel frame, casters and neoprene detailing mean business.

    • Steel frame

    • Elastic cord seat and back

    • Gas lifting mechanism

    • Neoprene accents for comfort

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23"W x17"D x 35-39"H (17.5-20.75"H seat).

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$179 here.

Prefer something with a little more designer panache?

No problema.

British designer Tom Dixon will be happy to sell you you his Rubber Band Chair (below) for $195.

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Details here.

Note, though, that Tom's chair is a one–trick–pony: you sit in it and that's that.

No swiveling, rolling around, rocking or falling over backward and making a fool of yourself.

January 28, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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