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May 8, 2009

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada


I watched this film last night.

You will like it if:

• You like anything with Tommy Lee Jones or Barry Pepper or Melissa Leo or January Jones

• You're curious to see what Tommy Lee Jones's first directorial effort looks like

• You like rambling, discursive films where not a whole lot happens

• You enjoy movies shot along the Mexican-Texas border

• You like long films (121 minutes)

Me, I'm five for five so it was a most enjoyable experience.

May 8, 2009 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Solar Mini Clip Fan


7.3cm (3") Ø.




I guess it all depends on what you're comparing it too.


$10 (batteries not  included. See, it's solar powered so instead of chemicals it employs photons... oh, never mind.).

[via my7475 and geekalerts]

May 8, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What's your HQ?


HQ stands for Happiness Quotient and it's how they judge the value and effectiveness of government programs and policies in Bhutan (above and below).

Seth Mydans wrote about it in a story which appeared in yesterday's New York Times, and follows.


Recalculating Happiness in a Himalayan Kingdom


If the rest of the world cannot get it right in these unhappy times, this tiny Buddhist kingdom high in the Himalayan mountains says it is working on an answer.

“Greed, insatiable human greed,” said Prime Minister Jigme Thinley of Bhutan, describing what he sees as the cause of today’s economic catastrophe in the world beyond the snow-topped mountains. “What we need is change,” he said in the whitewashed fortress where he works. “We need to think gross national happiness.”

The notion of gross national happiness was the inspiration of the former king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in the 1970s as an alternative to the gross national product. Now, the Bhutanese are refining the country’s guiding philosophy into what they see as a new political science, and it has ripened into government policy just when the world may need it, said Kinley Dorji, secretary of information and communications.

“You see what a complete dedication to economic development ends up in,” he said, referring to the global economic crisis. “Industrialized societies have decided now that G.N.P. is a broken promise.”

Under a new Constitution adopted last year, government programs — from agriculture to transportation to foreign trade — must be judged not by the economic benefits they may offer but by the happiness they produce.

The goal is not happiness itself, the prime minister explained, a concept that each person must define for himself. Rather, the government aims to create the conditions for what he called, in an updated version of the American Declaration of Independence, “the pursuit of gross national happiness.”

The Bhutanese have started with an experiment within an experiment, accepting the resignation of the popular king as an absolute monarch and holding the country’s first democratic election a year ago.

The change is part of attaining gross national happiness, Mr. Dorji said. “They resonate well, democracy and G.N.H. Both place responsibility on the individual. Happiness is an individual pursuit and democracy is the empowerment of the individual.”

It was a rare case of a monarch’s unilaterally stepping back from power, and an even rarer case of his doing so against the wishes of his subjects. He gave the throne to his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who was crowned in November in the new role of constitutional monarch without executive power.

Bhutan is, perhaps, an easy place to nimbly rewrite economic rules — a country with one airport and two commercial planes, where the east can only be reached from the west after four days’ travel on mountain roads.

No more than 700,000 people live in the kingdom, squeezed between the world’s two most populous nations, India and China, and its task now is to control and manage the inevitable changes to its way of life. It is a country where cigarettes are banned and television was introduced just 10 years ago, where traditional clothing and architecture are enforced by law and where the capital city has no stoplight and just one traffic officer on duty.

If the world is to take gross national happiness seriously, the Bhutanese concede, they must work out a scheme of definitions and standards that can be quantified and measured by the big players of the world’s economy.

“Once Bhutan said, ‘O.K., here we are with G.N.H.,’ the developed world and the World Bank and the I.M.F. and so on asked, ‘How do you measure it?’ ” Mr. Dorji said, characterizing the reactions of the world’s big economic players. So the Bhutanese produced an intricate model of well-being that features the four pillars, the nine domains and the 72 indicators of happiness.

Specifically, the government has determined that the four pillars of a happy society involve the economy, culture, the environment and good governance. It breaks these into nine domains: psychological well-being, ecology, health, education, culture, living standards, time use, community vitality and good governance, each with its own weighted and unweighted G.N.H. index.

All of this is to be analyzed using the 72 indicators. Under the domain of psychological well-being, for example, indicators include the frequencies of prayer and meditation and of feelings of selfishness, jealousy, calm, compassion, generosity and frustration as well as suicidal thoughts.

“We are even breaking down the time of day: how much time a person spends with family, at work and so on,” Mr. Dorji said.

Mathematical formulas have even been devised to reduce happiness to its tiniest component parts. The G.N.H. index for psychological well-being, for example, includes the following: “One sum of squared distances from cutoffs for four psychological well-being indicators. Here, instead of average the sum of squared distances from cutoffs is calculated because the weights add up to 1 in each dimension.”

This is followed by a set of equations:

= 1-(.25+.03125+.000625+0)

= 1-.281875

= .718

Every two years, these indicators are to be reassessed through a nationwide questionnaire, said Karma Tshiteem, secretary of the Gross National Happiness Commission, as he sat in his office at the end of a hard day of work that he said made him happy.

Gross national happiness has a broader application for Bhutan as it races to preserve its identity and culture from the encroachments of the outside world.

“How does a small country like Bhutan handle globalization?” Mr. Dorji asked. “We will survive by being distinct, by being different.”

Bhutan is pitting its four pillars, nine domains and 72 indicators against the 48 channels of Hollywood and Bollywood that have invaded since television was permitted a decade ago.

“Before June 1999 if you asked any young person who is your hero, the inevitable response was, ‘The king,’ ” Mr. Dorji said. “Immediately after that it was David Beckham, and now it’s 50 Cent, the rap artist. Parents are helpless.”

So if G.N.H. may hold the secret of happiness for people suffering from the collapse of financial institutions abroad, it offers something more urgent here in this pristine culture.

“Bhutan’s story today is, in one word, survival,” Mr. Dorji said. “Gross national happiness is survival; how to counter a threat to survival.”


[via Jerry Young]

May 8, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

[via Jerry Young]

May 8, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

tweetbeep — because more is never enough


Hourly updates.


You snooze, you lose.

May 8, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SMUJ Anti-CCTV Lotion


Now available to the general public for the first time ever.

"Those seeking to evade the increasing intrusiveness of the Surveillance Society can now gain a measure of anonymity that is a little more subtle than the constant wearing of hoodie and balaclava. SMUJ does exactly what it says on the biogdegradable bottle. As well as being an organic, odourless, non-greasy moisturiser, a dab of SMUJ reduces any attempt at image capture, including CCTV, to an indecipherable blur, in the manner of those bystanders on Google Street View. This is owing to the inclusion of Obfu5 K8, a mysterious and sophisticated 'physiognomic obscurant'. What this means, simply, is that techno-snoop is thwarted by bio-baffle."

[from James Ferguson's "Pat Pending" feature on page 53 of today's Financial Times "How To Spend It" magazine]

May 8, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Panera Cinnamon Raisin Bread — Episode 2: R.I.P.



Alas, it's true: reader Mike Harney's comment (above) of this past Sunday says it all.

I just purchased a loaf of the aforementioned bread and can confirm the the unfortunate change.

I headlined my original post, Episode 1 on January 21, 2006, "Panera Cinnamon Raisin Bread — Attention must be paid."

From that post:


While I was fiddling around I got hungry so I ordered a loaf of their cinnamon raisin bread to snack on while I played.

I had them slice it for convenience, which I'd never do if I were taking it home 'cause it jumpstarts the deterioration of the loaf, what with all the additional exposed surface area.

But you knew that — didn't you?

But I digress.

Hey, that bread was good!

The raisins are fresh — plump and moist; the cinnamon is heady; but best of all is a kind of jammy sticky stuff swirled throughout the loaf.

On the web page for the bread


it says molasses is the secret sauce but whatever it is, it makes the bread sublime, crunchy within wherever your mouth happens to find this sweet treat.

Bonus: the top of the bread is covered with confectioner's sugar.

I ate half the loaf before I got out of there.


That was then.



is now.

Note the absence of the "... swirl of cinnamon, sugar and molasses" of days gone by.


May 8, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Isaac Mizrahi for USA Today


The irrepressible designer, never one to turn down a challenge, accepted USA Today's dare: transform a stack of newsprint into an elegant garment.

There's a video of Mizrahi at work here.

May 8, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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