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  • August 30, 2011

Steve Jobs:

Creativity is just con­nect­ing things. When you ask cre­ative peo­ple how they did some­thing, they feel a lit­tle guilty because they didn’t really do it. They just saw some­thing. It seemed obvi­ous to them after a while. That’s because they were able to con­nect expe­ri­ences they’ve had and syn­the­size new things. And the rea­son they were able to do that was that they’ve had more expe­ri­ences or they have thought more about their expe­ri­ences than other peo­ple.

 

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  • August 7, 2011

In my role as direc­tor of con­gre­ga­tional learn­ing at Temple Isaiah, I’ve been work­ing on ways to effec­tively use tech­nol­ogy to improve the learn­ing expe­ri­ence in the reli­gious school class­room. This post is the first in a series on ideas to make it hap­pen.

What is it?

AppletvhandApple TV is a box you con­nect (via HDMI) to a tv or pro­jec­tor, and you log it onto your wire­less net­work. Once it’s con­nected, the Apple TV can play YouTube and Vimeo videos and stream Netflix con­tent. Even bet­ter: Using a tech­nol­ogy called AirPlay, it can play music, videos, and photo slideshows from any com­puter (Mac or PC, as long as it has iTunes installed) or any iOS Device (iPad, iTouch, iPhone) on the same net­work. Also, cer­tain iOS apps take advan­tage of the same tech­nol­ogy to have video from the device (like a news video from the CNN app, or a radio seg­ment from the NPR app) dis­play via the Apple TV up on the attached projector/television.

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For the past sev­eral days, there’s been a lot of chat­ter on the inter­webs about a sug­ges­tion (which seems to have really taken off with this HuffPost arti­cle by Rabbi Jason Miller) that peo­ple boy­cott put pres­sure on Delta because “Delta will add Saudi Arabian Airlines to its SkyTeam Alliance of part­ner­ing com­pa­nies and would require Delta to ban Jews and hold­ers of Israeli pass­ports from board­ing flights to Saudi Arabia.” My col­leagues on UPGRD​.com, Matthew and Hunter, have offered thought­ful and thor­ough responses, as have pod­cast con­trib­u­tors Ben and Gary. Normally, I’d stay out of this to avoid the redun­dancy. But since I’m in the unique posi­tion of being an occa­sional UPGRD con­trib­u­tor and also some­one who works pro­fes­sion­ally in the Jewish com­mu­nity, I felt like I should jump in. Below is the sec­ond of two posts on the topic, both of which are cross-posted on my UPGRD​.com blog and on my per­sonal blog.

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This is amaz­ing.

Hot Dogs

by Christopher Walken

Do you enjoy eat­ing hot dogs? I hope you won’t be put off by my frank­ness when I tell you that I absolutely love them. In fact, I enjoy no food item more than a freshly-boiled hot dog. Now, I’ve done a lot of movies, and it’s true that I’ve worked with quite a few celebri­ties who did not share this opin­ion. I’m sorry to say that these peo­ple have always angered me.

There are two types of peo­ple in this world: those who eat hot dogs when­ever it is pos­si­ble to do so, and those who opt to do other things with their free time. Who do the lat­ter think they are kid­ding? What pas­time could be more reward­ing than the con­sump­tion of hot dogs? I haven’t yet found one, and I don’t expect to in my life­time. Unlike other foods, hot dogs can be eaten at any time, in any place, and it is not nec­es­sary to cook them. Now, I ask you: Why not eat hot dogs? They are deli­cious.

I carry a bag of hot dogs with me wher­ever I go. I eat them from the bag when­ever I get the urge, regard­less of the cir­cum­stances. When I make a movie, my hot dogs are my co-stars. If, in the mid­dle of a scene, I decide I want to con­sume a hot dog, I do so. I waste the director’s time and thou­sands of dol­lars in film stock, but in the end, it is all worth it, because I enjoy eat­ing hot dogs more than I enjoy act­ing. This both­ers some peo­ple. I was sup­posed to por­tray Batman, but when Tim Burton learned of my hot dog crav­ings, he asked Michael Keaton to wear the cape. To this day, I am peeved about this.

When we filmed The Dead Zone, I ate over 800 hot dogs a day. It was nec­es­sary. My char­ac­ter needed to come across as intense as pos­si­ble, and I found the inspi­ra­tion for that inten­sity in my intense love for hot dogs. The direc­tor, David Cronenberg, said that he would never work with me again. I kept eat­ing hot dogs when the cam­eras were rolling, and that seemed to bother him. I say fuck him. He doesn’t even like hot dogs.

I would like to end by empha­siz­ing once again that I really like to eat hot dogs. If any of you peo­ple dis­agree, I loathe you. I despise you. Not only that, but I also despise all your loved ones. I want to see them torn to pieces by wild dogs. If I ever meet you in per­son, I’ll smash your brains in with a fuck­ing bat. Then we’ll see who doesn’t like hot dogs.

Next week: My thoughts on Woody Allen, hot dog hater and shitty direc­tor.

Source: The Onion, some­time in the late ’90s, pre­dat­ing their cur­rent web archive.

(via Gruber, on American McCarver)

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  • June 30, 2011

This isn’t a town hall meet­ing on Parks and Recreation, but it feels a lot like one.

- Hunter (on the mis­han­dling of the “Delta hates Jews” PR mess)

I’m glad the man and his potty mouth have returned to reg­u­lar writ­ing.

For the past sev­eral days, there’s been a lot of chat­ter on the inter­webs about a sug­ges­tion (which seems to have really taken off with this HuffPost arti­cle by Rabbi Jason Miller) that peo­ple boy­cott put pres­sure on Delta because “Delta will add Saudi Arabian Airlines to its SkyTeam Alliance of part­ner­ing com­pa­nies and would require Delta to ban Jews and hold­ers of Israeli pass­ports from board­ing flights to Saudi Arabia.” My col­leagues on UPGRD​.com, Matthew and Hunter, have offered thought­ful and thor­ough responses, as have pod­cast con­trib­u­tors Ben and Gary. Normally, I’d stay out of this to avoid the redun­dancy. But since I’m in the unique posi­tion of being an occa­sional UPGRD con­trib­u­tor and also some­one who works pro­fes­sion­ally in the Jewish com­mu­nity, I felt like I should jump in. Below is the first of two posts on the topic, both of which are cross-posted on my UPGRD​.com blog and on my per­sonal blog.

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  • June 29, 2011

A designer knows he has achieved per­fec­tion not when there is noth­ing more to add, but when there is noth­ing left to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, on his 111th birth­day
(orig­i­nally via Carmine Gallo)

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  • June 28, 2011

Arash Markazi sums up how a lot of us feel:

I know the ter­ri­ble thing that hap­pened to Brian Stow on open­ing day, I know what’s hap­pen­ing on the field, I know what’s not hap­pen­ing in the stands. And I know what’s hap­pen­ing in the court­room. I know all this but I still go to the games because real­ity has always found a way of sus­pend­ing itself when I’m at the sta­dium. I still have the same feel­ing enter­ing the park­ing lot off Sunset Boulevard I did when I was a child with my father…

…Feelings such as that are deep-rooted. I’ve loved the Dodgers for as long as I can remem­ber. It’s a fan­dom that was passed on to me by my father, and I’m not about to throw it away now over a time period I hope to tell my kids about when I take them to Dodger Stadium some day. That’s why I can’t allow McCourt to change my feel­ings about the Dodgers and why I refuse to let him chase me away from a place that has given me so much joy over the years.

There is noth­ing com­pli­cated or con­flicted about my feel­ings for McCourt. I don’t like him, what he’s done. It doesn’t take me very long to come to this con­clu­sion and move on with my life. The truth is I don’t even think about him when I’m at Dodger Stadium. Even when I’m sit­ting in an almost-empty sec­tion of the sta­dium. He is the fur­thest thing from my mind as I watch the game with a Dodger Dog in my hands and Vin Scully in my ears. Maybe I’m cling­ing to mem­o­ries that will never be recap­tured and set­ting myself up for more heart­break but I can’t help it.

The Dodgers and Dodger Stadium still rep­re­sent some­thing spe­cial to me, some­thing more impor­tant than court cases, divorce set­tle­ments and los­ing streaks. Judging from the empty seats around me, this puts me in the minor­ity. But I can live with that. I’ve lived with this team all my life.

Amen.

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  • June 7, 2011

In light of the Weiner scan­dal, Jeffrey Goldberg com­ments on Jewish women:

I’m not going near the ques­tion of what Jewish women do or don’t do in bed, but suf­fice it to say that Jewish women are ter­ri­bly, and con­tra­dic­to­rily, stereo­typed by soci­ety, and, often, by Jewish men them­selves. Either they’re dark, hot-blooded sluts (a com­mon Wasps fan­tasy, by the way — some of my best friends are Wasps with Jewish women-fix­a­tions) or they are, as Weiner would have it, the frozen cho­sen. The truth, of course, is that all women are dif­fer­ent, but I’ve noticed a cou­ple of things over the years: 1) A great num­ber of Jewish women pos­sess an irre­sistible com­bi­na­tion of sex­i­ness, intel­li­gence, ambi­tion, and a deep capac­ity for love; and 2) Many Jewish men, the less manly-men, in par­tic­u­lar, are intim­i­dated by these super­star Jewish women…

…I know this sounds as if I’m adver­tis­ing for a Jewish woman, but, thanks to the great philo-Semite Malcolm Gladwell, I found the best one, thank you very much.

Jeez.

Seeing as he and I both man­aged to over­come our eth­nic pre­dis­po­si­tion to being intim­i­dated by strong Jewesses (in other words, I get where he’s com­ing from, I guess), it sounds to me like he’s brag­ging. (“Congressman Weiner rep­re­sents a cliché stereo­type, but check me out. I can han­dle the Jewish ladies.”)

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  • May 28, 2011

(cross posted to my upgrd​.com blog)

A part of me wants to write a long post ana­lyz­ing the prob­lems with CNNMoney’s “Best Frequent Flyer Programs.” I’m really tempted to go point-by-point in order to illus­trate just how stu­pid their rank­ings are. Their cri­te­ria are incon­sis­tent, their expla­na­tions for why cer­tain pro­grams are best ignore the fact that other air­lines offer sim­i­lar (or even bet­ter) perks, and they totally ignore the fact that the pro­grams avail­able from domes­tic-only* dis­count car­ri­ers don’t allow for inter­na­tional and pre­mium-class redemp­tion.

But truth be told, I’m actu­ally thank­ful for arti­cles like CNNMoney’s. For those of us who actu­ally want to get the most out of our miles — namely inter­na­tional pre­mium-class awards — it’s prob­a­bly bet­ter if peo­ple blow their miles on crappy domes­tic coach tick­ets. Sure… it breaks my heart that poor saps who don’t know bet­ter are blow­ing valu­able miles on tick­ets they prob­a­bly could buy out-of-pocket when they could be using the same amount (or just a bit more) to fly in lux­ury to exotic locales. But with a lim­ited quan­tity of high-value redemp­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties, I’m just as happy to have less com­pe­ti­tion for the seats. Every busi­ness trav­eler who insists on fly­ing Southwest (even though he could get bet­ter élite ben­e­fits and could use the miles to take bet­ter vaca­tions if he flew United or American or what­ever) is one less per­son I have to com­pete with for an upgrade, one less per­son to snap up that first class seat to Europe before me, one less per­son in the élite line at the air­port.

(And I’ll ven­ture a guess that if every­one used fre­quent flyer pro­grams to their full poten­tial,  those pro­grams would stop being so lucra­tive for the air­lines and great redemp­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties would get rarer.)

So sure… Southwest, Virgin America, and Jetblue have excel­lent FF pro­grams. Sign up now. Fly those air­lines exclu­sively. Enjoy your “A-list” sta­tus and your free coach flights from Oakland to Boise.


* Yes, I know that some of the “domes­tic-only” dis­count car­ri­ers fly to a hand­ful of loca­tions in Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. Whatever.

Amy Pohler at Harvard’s grad­u­a­tion:

As you nav­i­gate through the rest of your life, be open to col­lab­o­ra­tion. Other peo­ple and other people’s ideas are often bet­ter than your own. Find a group of peo­ple who chal­lenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life. No one is here today because they did it on their own…You’re all here today because some­one gave you strength. Helped you. Held you in the palm of their hand. God, Allah, Buddha, Gaga—whomever you pray to.

(the video of the whole speech)

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  • May 19, 2011

Doug Mataconis on Scott Walker’s move to end a pro­gram that allows gay cou­ples hos­pi­tal vis­i­ta­tion rights (or, to be more spe­cific, his attempt to stop defend­ing the laws of his state and the rights of his cit­i­zens in court against extrem­ist anti-gay hate groups):

I really have to won­der what kind of per­son would seek to pre­vent two peo­ple who are in a rela­tion­ship from mak­ing what­ever arrange­ments they want to allow the other to visit them in the hos­pi­tal, and what right the state has to tell hos­pi­tals that they can­not honor those requests.

Is the GOP hatred for gays so per­va­sive that they could really be this cold and heart­less?

Yup. Apparently, it is.

Or as Jed Lewison puts it:

Gee, gay-bash­ing is just so fis­cal con­ser­v­a­tive, isn’t it?

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  • April 21, 2011

From Dahlia Lithwick’s excel­lent d’var torah arti­cle, “The Fifth Passover Question: Who’s going to lead the Seder?

Passover is really the only Jewish hol­i­day in which most house­holds tap some layper­son to be pro­fes­sional clergy for a night, and—as my friend Lisa observed yesterday—it’s thus apt that this hol­i­day cel­e­brates one of the most reluc­tant lead­ers in all of bib­li­cal his­tory. Here is poor Moses, beg­ging to be relieved of the respon­si­bil­ity of Sherpa-ing his peo­ple from one dusty place to another—pleading unfit­ness, a speech imped­i­ment, and the absence of mean­ing­ful lead­er­ship qual­i­ties. And here we all are, thou­sands of years later, plead­ing unfit­ness, per­for­mance anx­i­ety, and the absence of mean­ing­ful lead­er­ship qual­i­ties.

Stop me if this is start­ing to sound famil­iar.

Maybe the real les­son of Passover is that nobody—in any generation—feels fit to lead a bunch of other peo­ple, but they do it any­way, because in the end some­body has to. Maybe it’s not just the story of the Exodus we are pass­ing down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, but the trick of lead­ing, when all you ever wanted to do was fol­low.

Hmm.

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  • April 13, 2011

Dear flight atten­dant,

It’s called a “mixed drink” because it’s sup­posed to be served mixed. If I wanted bloody mary mix with a vodka floater, I would have ordered it that way.

Sincerely,

- josh

(cross-posted to my mostly-neglected upgrd​.com blog)