serendipity and the intertubes, Israeli women forced to take cultural step back, a better kind of capitalism

If I was on Bravo with James Litpton would I say serendipity was my favorite word. It is one of my favorite words and other than used ironically it does not lean itself well to everyday conversation. I keep an eye out for it. It is like spotting a favorite bird species or a silver fox darting across the road. That was cool. IN SEARCH OF SERENDIPITY

One day in 1945, a man named Percy Spencer was touring one of the laboratories he managed at Raytheon in Waltham, Massachusetts, a supplier of radar technology to the Allied forces. He was standing by a magnetron, a vacuum tube which generates microwaves, to boost the sensitivity of radar, when he felt a strange sensation. Checking his pocket, he found his candy bar had melted. Surprised and intrigued, he sent for a bag of popcorn, and held it up to the magnetron. The popcorn popped. Within a year, Raytheon made a patent application for a microwave oven.

Serendipity does not mean blind luck.  There has to be some knowledge called upon that can take such events and turn them into something. In the full article what the authors and others have called sagacity or acumen, the sudden realization of new insights. If Spencer could do that in one moment with a melted chocolate bar and the great Alexander Fleming could do it with his observations on bacteria eating mold, then billions of people on the internet would have a virtual serendipity machine. In digital fashion there would be some sizable percentage of inter-tubes surfers who would have their popcorn moment. If only a larger percentage of humans would realize that potential. It turns out netizens are not built that way, especially with so much served up on a platter made just the way our habit prone psyches like it.

To some degree, the hopes of the internet’s pioneers have been fulfilled. You type “squid” into a search engine, you land on the Wikipedia page about squid, and in no time you are reading about Jules Verne and Pliny. But most of us use the web in the manner of that Parisian student. We have our paths, our bookmarks and our feeds, and we stick closely to them. We no longer “surf” the information superhighway, as it has become too vast to cruise without a map. And as it has evolved, it has become better and better at ensuring we need never stray from our virtual triangles.

Google can answer almost anything you ask it, but it can’t tell you what you ought to be asking.

Shockingly in comparison to the net, TV and newspaper front pages are better engines of some degree of serendipity. The regularly show you things you had not expected. Which leads to curiosity about the new information.

Wander into a bookshop in search of something to read: the book jackets shimmer on the table, the spines flirt with you from the shelves. You can pick them up and allow their pages to caress your hands. You may not find the book you wanted, but you will walk out with three you didn’t.

So why are on-line book sellers like Amazon and Powells so successful. We tend to love not having to go through too much hassle, or we love efficiency or if we can be a little lazy about book shopping we will be – that’s in general. “To update the Rolling Stones, you can always get what you want. But you may not get what you need.”

early 1900s roller coaster beware of pickpockets

While obvious to many that many Islamic countries and U.S. cultural conservatives need to embrace the 21st century and modernity, Israel is Moving Backwards on The Roles of Women

At a time when there is no progress on the Palestinian dispute, Israelis are turning inward and discovering that an issue they had neglected — the place of the ultra-Orthodox Jews — has erupted into a crisis.

And it is centered on women.

“Just as secular nationalism and socialism posed challenges to the religious establishment a century ago, today the issue is feminism,” said Moshe Halbertal, a professor of Jewish philosophy at Hebrew University. “This is an immense ideological and moral challenge that touches at the core of life, and just as it is affecting the Islamic world, it is the main issue that the rabbis are losing sleep over.”

The list of controversies grows weekly: Organizers of a conference last week on women’s health and Jewish law barred women from speaking from the podium, leading at least eight speakers to cancel; ultra-Orthodox men spit on an 8-year-old girl whom they deemed immodestly dressed; the chief rabbi of the air force resigned his post because the army declined to excuse ultra-Orthodox soldiers from attending events where female singers perform; protesters depicted the Jerusalem police commander as Hitler on posters because he instructed public bus lines with mixed-sex seating to drive through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods; vandals blacked out women’s faces on Jerusalem billboards.

Public discourse in Israel is suddenly dominated by a new, high-toned Hebrew phrase, “hadarat nashim,” or the exclusion of women.

black and white sea coast rock island

If you like chill out music that is a bonus with this video. While I like the music well enough the video is amazing. It is like watching a photographers folio in motion graphics. The colors and lighting are both retro and modern. Elmara

More Than One Kind of Capitalism

The problem of anti-social corporate behavior, behavior which though legal, seriously harms the public interest (for example, the environment, human rights, the public health and safety, the dignity of employees or the welfare of our communities), is a serious problem which so far both political parties have largely chosen to ignore.

There are many ways to make money, but some companies make money while damaging the public interest and others make money without damaging it.  Until now, politicians on both sides of the aisle have been prone to ignore the latter.  This no doubt has something to do with the billions of dollars the abusers spend each year on lobbying and financing political campaigns.

This election seems to be shaping up as a referendum on scorched earth capitalism versus a more humane capitalism.

photographers wallpaper


Menu Design in America: 1850-1985, 100+ Years of Printed Menu Art