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Previous Entries

» The world's most powerful blogs, Starbucks gets caught stealing from the tip jar, Look out! Cyclists!
» Shopping cart races, that's a lot of home-grown terror, turning urine into fertilizer
» The TED conference, can a billionaire be 'exploited,' Cambodian oldies
» Oceans in rough shape, schools for social justice, the copyright battle over Harry Potter, looking back at Wired
» Guerilla tree planting, mocking Ahmadinejad, inadvertantly funny headline and Goo goo ga joob
» Weekend links: Bikes can do anything, chopstick accessories, Mom, where do blog posts go?
» Weekend links: Googlemaps as art, Bill Nye, a billboard I could like
» Reimagining Rosie the Riveter, cellphones in Africa, Nike tries to go green
» Death of the mall, why women's magazine covers hurt your eyes
» Weekend links: Dickensian drinks; coats for the homeless; very pretty (and smart) magazines
» Weekend links: Extra large winter storm edition
» Weekend links: The advertising edition
» Weekend links: Our beautiful blue planet, Stars go green, leafblower hockey and an event
» Weekend links: Brijit, Guardian ponders its eco-impact, one clever ad
» Weekend Links: Tracking whales, media concentration, free Booker books
» Weekend links: Bikes to Rwanda, biodiesel jet, algae as biofuel
» Weekend links: Parking ain't free, more songs about biking and food?, wither the BookMobile?
» Bush kills Nelson Mandela (sort of), NFB film library in danger, farms of the future
» Weekend links: Lost socks? make toys!, damn young'uns and the online journalism awards
» Weekend links: Bears!, William Gibson, Futbol

May 18, 2008

China in Africa, urban renewal in Baghdad, guilt about fish

Posted by ron at 01:18 PM ET | Comments (0)

Forget the old colonial powers. The country with surging interests in Africa is China. Photographer Paolo Woods has this fascinating photo essay on Chinese experts who work in Africa.

That's a nice looking golf course... just watch out for the mortars, and the suicide bombers and the friendly fire. The U.S. has big plans for the Green Zone.

Montreal author Taras Grescoe talks about the coming fish crisis (some say it's already here).

Canada is a world leader in fancy-schmancy racing bikes. Who knew!

More entries on: Weekend Links

May 04, 2008

Weekend links: Posters from 68, dissecting a legendary magazine cover, talking to Moshe Safdie

Posted by ron at 11:16 AM ET | Comments (0)

This edition of weekend links is an homage to everyone's favourite decade: the 1960s (Blame the Boomers and their mythmaking machine)

The Hayward Gallery in London (that's UK sadly, not Ont.) is showing this great exhibit of posters from the 1968 student movement in France. Further proof that revolutions, failed or not, need good graphics. Click on the red gallery tab for a bunch of posters.

While we're on the topic of 1968, the New Yorker writes about a copyright fight over a board game by French theorist Guy Debord, one of the key figures in the 68 uprising.

The Post-car culture blog talks to architect Moshe Safdie (he of Habitat 67) about the rise of carsharing and the possibilities for a post-car city.

Finally, Design Observer magazine profiles George Lois designer of some of the most iconic covers of the 1960s. Like this one:


More entries on: Weekend Links

April 27, 2008

Vancouver: City of Literature, presidential typography,

Posted by ron at 11:20 AM ET | Comments (1)

A group of Vancouver's literati is gunning to get that city the honour of UNESCO World City of Literature. Mmmm, nice try Vancouver. While we love you and your pretty mountains and plentiful trees, not to mention excellent sushi, we don't really think you're the most literary city in Canada. We'll let Montreal and Toronto fight it out for that honour. Also, do you think you'll stand a chance against Amsterdam?

Excuse us while we geek out on typefaces. A couple of weeks back, The LA Times looked at the typefaces of the U.S. presidential candidates. Ever wonder why those Obama signs looked so good? Blame it on Gotham, the typeface. The makers of the nerdilicious film Helvetica talk about Obama's type. The New York Times dissects McCain's choice of typeface (Optima, if you were wondering).

Apparently it's eerily appropriate. Here's designer Michael Bierut on the font:


When I saw John McCain's Optima, the first thing I thought was that it's the same font used for the carving of all the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Maybe this is a coincidence, but even if so, it's certainly very apropos.

And now, a pair of affable Scottish guys playing "Blitzkrieg Bop" on the ukulele:


More entries on: Weekend Links

April 13, 2008

One cool bookstore, the Chinese intelligentsia, best comedy ever

Posted by ron at 05:40 PM ET | Comments (0)

We do love a good bookstore and Holland's Selexyz Dominicanen is our kind of store. The store is housed in a 13th century Dominican monastery. It kind of reminds us a bit of that Umberto Eco novel The Name of the Rose.


Foreign relations expert Mark Leonard raises an interesting point about rising power China.


We are used to China's growing influence on the world economy—but could it also reshape our ideas about politics and power? This story of China's intellectual awakening is less well documented. We closely follow the twists and turns in America's intellectual life, but how many of us can name a contemporary Chinese writer or thinker?

His article gives us an introduction to the massive world of the Chinese intelligentsia.

Click on this next link only if you've got a lot of time. Nerve.com and IFC pick the 50 greatest comedy sketches (complete with links!)

More entries on: Weekend Links

March 30, 2008

Poor Mexican emos, news on a shirt, one angry author, what's the Eiffel Tower wearing?

Posted by ron at 11:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Mexican emos are being targeted for attacks. We're not talking about light-hearted jabs or mockery but full-on assault. There's even a dark homophobic element underneath the whole thing. From the article:

Most of all, however, the assailants target the emos for dressing effeminately, still a provocative act for many in a macho Mexico. "At the core of this is the homophobic issue. The other arguments are just window dressing for that," said Victor Mendoza, a youth worker in Mexico City. "This is not a battle between music styles at all. It is the conservative side of Mexican society fighting against something different."

Author James Howard Kunstler, noted urbanist and environmentalist, has a blog that includes a podcast and other missives. This week's podcast is apparently a doozy.

A couple of NYC design students are putting news on t-shirts.


The Shirt Project provides 5 diagrammatic tees [a year] detailing a story that’s making news – for example, one charts the correlation between the declining US dollar and sunspot activity, while another points to just how little of the sun’s energy we’re actually utilizing.

If sex sells should vegans and veganism use it to sell the lifestyle? Discuss...

The Eiffel Tower is getting a hat for its 120th anniversary, sadly it's not a beret. Nonetheless, it is jaunty and tres chic.

More entries on: Weekend Links

March 23, 2008

The world's most powerful blogs, Starbucks gets caught stealing from the tip jar, Look out! Cyclists!

Posted by ron at 12:51 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Guardian gives a list of the 50 most powerful blogs in the world. These blogs are SO powerful they can overthrow nations (probably not), change the economy (highly unlikely) and uhm, kill lots of your free time (yep).

40 years ago Robert Kennedy gave a speech which outlined flaws with the idea of the gross national product, the measuring stick for economic growth. The GNP (nowadays we use GDP as the measure, but it's not any better) is flawed. But things might be changing.

Starbucks outlets in California got caught pinching tips and giving it to shift supervisors! The company will have to pay around $100-million . Some poor baristas will actually be getting thousands of dollars in tips!

Now that spring is here and the weather is getting warmer, and the ice and snow is slowly (very slowly) melting remember, watch out for cyclists!

Video via Transport for London's website.

More entries on: Weekend Links

March 16, 2008

Shopping cart races, that's a lot of home-grown terror, turning urine into fertilizer

Posted by ron at 01:13 PM ET | Comments (0)

Every year a gaggle of Chicagoans run the Chiditarod, a shopping cart race around downtown Chicago geared at raising money and collecting goods for the food bank.

The ACLU reports that there are almost a million names on the U.S. terror watch list. That's one terrorist for every 300 Americans. The group also points some of the SNAFUs on that list, people like Senator Ted Kennedy, a couple of other political representatives, prominent authors and anyone named Gary Smith.

A couple of designers show off a machine that turns urine into fertilizer. Untreated urine being dumped into oceans and other bodies of water is a huge cause of algae blooms that unfortunately kill marine life.

Finally, forget mangling that Bon Jovi song. Try PowerPoint Karaoke instead.

From the article:

"In the hands of the wrong person [PowerPoint] and any presentation software becomes a dangerous weapon, a means of torture and incredible torments," says Holm Friebe, who invented PowerPoint Karaoke as part of the German artists' group Zentrale Intelligenz Agentur.

But in a bar, with a beer, PowerPoint becomes more Monty Python, less "Catch-22." Instead of being victimized by someone who insists on reading aloud Every Single Bullet Point in a grim death march to the final corporate-logo slide, you have a presenter who is just as lost as you are, if not more so. The playing field is leveled; the inmates are running the asylum.

More entries on: Weekend Links

March 02, 2008

The TED conference, can a billionaire be 'exploited,' Cambodian oldies

Posted by ron at 01:12 PM ET | Comments (0)

I'm extremely jealous at anyone who got to attend the TED conference in California this week. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a conference started in the 1980s that brings some heavy-hitting thinkers into the same building and lets them chat. Think the Nobel prize with fewer Swedes (not that there's anything wrong with Swedes).

This year's speakers include human rights expert Samantha Power, mycologist Paul Stamets (cooler than it sounds!), and undersea explorer Robert Ballard.

Boing Boing has been liveblogging the event but videos and podcasts are available.

J.K. Rowling has said that she feels exploited by an author's efforts to create an unofficial encyclopedia based on the Harry Potter universe. We agree with Nathan Whitlock on the Quillblog, and we're pretty sure that unofficial primers and encyclopaedias existed well before Harry Potter. There's a whole cottage industry of Star Trek inspired books for example. Also, it's odd to see a billionaire claim that she's being exploited.

Dengue Fever, an LA-based band, is rediscovering Cambodian oldies. From NPR:


During the Vietnam War, American and British pop music was broadcast in Vietnam on the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network. Those broadcasts reached neighboring Cambodia, as well. And there, the sounds of Western radio inspired a hybrid of American pop and traditional Cambodian styles.

Sadly, the Khmer Rouge banned most Cambodian rock during its brutal regime. But Dengue Fever is trying to bring this music back to life.

Finally, for all of those who had a hard time with gendered nouns in French - pretty much anyone who studied French - native French speakers have problems with them too.

Weekend Links will be on vacation, see you in two weeks.

More entries on: Weekend Links

February 17, 2008

Oceans in rough shape, schools for social justice, the copyright battle over Harry Potter, looking back at Wired

Posted by ron at 01:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

Scientists have released this map of the world's oceans and it doesn't look good.

Human activity has left a mark on nearly every square kilometer of sea, severely compromising ecosystems in more than 40% of waters.

The Nation has got this great article on how a few alternative schools in the U.S. are working at merging social justice and education.

The battle is raging over Harry Potter. Should fans and other writers be allowed to riff on the Potterverse? Lawyers from Lawrence Lessig's Fair Use Project think so and argue that an iron-grip on creatity actually harms the arts.

Finally, Wired magazine turns 15, and this blogger takes a look back at the first issue. Ah, the halycon days before broadband and wireless.

More entries on: Weekend Links

February 10, 2008

Guerilla tree planting, mocking Ahmadinejad, inadvertantly funny headline and Goo goo ga joob

Posted by ron at 05:28 PM ET | Comments (1)

Before we start this week's links, a little note. George Murray, editor of Bookninja, a blog I love and check frequently, just wrote to say that some jerk hacked into his blog and did some serious damage.


Someone somehow got in to the site, created a new admin account and disabled all our anti-spam software, which allowed the site to be flooded with porn and casino spam....

I am looking for help. If any of you are, or know, a power user for php or WordPress and can help me get things sorted out, please email me here or at the editors@bookninja.com address.

We hope there's a very hot place in hell for this malicious little hacker. One with a very slow internet connection and lots and lots of spam.

On to the links!

A group in the Netherlands has this how-to-guide to guerrilla tree planting. The group is trying to raise awareness of illegal logging.

The Onion spoofs the Friars' Club tradition of roasting celebrities. In the Onion's crosshairs is everyone's favourite gay-bashing, holocaust denying world leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The joke is a bit prurient but this is a pretty funny headline.

Finally, U.S. environmentalists want to get the pacific walrus listed as an endangered animal. Like its friend the polar bear, the walrus' habitat is also being threatened by rapidly declining polar ice.

More entries on: Weekend Links

February 03, 2008

Weekend links: Bikes can do anything, chopstick accessories, Mom, where do blog posts go?

Posted by ron at 12:50 PM ET | Comments (0)

Environment Canada scientists have apparently been 'muzzled' by the Conservative government. Apparently, a couple of scientists have been saying things that caught managers and politicians by surprise.


t says all media queries must now be routed through the federal government, where "media relations will work with individual staff to decide how to best handle the call; this could include: Asking the program expert to respond with approved lines; having media relations respond; referring the call to the minister's office; referring the call to another department," the presentation says.

Google and Specialized came up with a contest that asked inventors to come up with their best pedal-powered machines. The results are pretty astounding. I'm a big fan of the water filtering bike.

We have real mixed feelings about this story. Remember Michael Vick, the footballer that got sent away for running a dog fighting operation and torturing some of the animals to death. A TV show will apparently be following the rehabilitation of some of the dogs. While we're happy that Vick's dogs might get a second chance at a nicer life, we're also a bit disturbed that the whole thing is being turned into fodder for TV. Sigh.

A group of Chinese crafters and environmentalists want you to stop using those disposable chopsticks! To convince you, they'll knit an ultra-adorable carrying case for your chopsticks. There's no reason why a savvy DIYer couldn't do this for other disposable utensils. Say no to plastic forks and knives?

Finally, for all of those kids who ask where do blog posts go once you hit publish, Wired has this infographic.

More entries on: Weekend Links

January 27, 2008

Weekend links: Googlemaps as art, Bill Nye, a billboard I could like

Posted by ron at 10:34 PM ET | Comments (0)

Sigh, repression in Burma continues. Burmese poet Saw Wai has been put under arrest for a love poem he recently wrote. Turns out he hid an anti-government message in his poem "February 14." The Guardian has the scoop:

The eight-line poem in Burmese is about a man broken-hearted after falling for a fashion model, whom he thanks for having taught him the meaning of love. But if read vertically, the first word of each line forms the phrase: "Power crazy Senior General Than Shwe."

OK. Sorry about the downer. Eco-blog Treehugger interviews science personality Bill Nye.

A group of artists have reimagined scenes from the Bible using googlemaps.

Finally, a billboard that I could like.

More entries on: Weekend Links

January 20, 2008

Reimagining Rosie the Riveter, cellphones in Africa, Nike tries to go green

Posted by ron at 03:03 PM ET | Comments (0)

Earlier this month the Library of Congress partnered up with photosharing site Flickr. They've put up thousands of images to be tagged by the online community. Boing Boing found this amazing image that could have very easily inspired the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster of the 1940s.

If you love archival photos be sure to check out the giant Flickr set.

PSFK looks at whether the $100 laptop will actually work in the third world. They point out that in many developing countries the cellphone, not the computer, is the de rigeur device.

Also, what happens to your cellphone after you're done with it.

Designer Jeff Staple (real name Jeff Ng) is trying to drag Nike kicking and screaming into actually having some environmentally positive business practices. The end result is the Nike Considered project. Next, labour practices. Sooner or later they'll actually make those sweatshops, you know, less sweatshopy.


More entries on: Weekend Links

January 05, 2008

Death of the mall, why women's magazine covers hurt your eyes

Posted by ron at 07:44 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Economist has this piece about the decline of American shopping malls. Some of the problems: oversaturation, changing demographics (suburbs are getting poorer or becoming more diverse), online shopping.

Some culture jammers are lopping off the heads of plastic mascots and photos in ads. I'd like to think this is a culture jam, but it could just as easily be an add for Sweeney Todd!

Women's Wear Daily has this article on what makes a blockbuster cover for a fashion mag (toilets are a big no-no, and always use that wind machine, and oh, yeah, photoshop). Wow... no wonder I blackout everyt ime I go near a magazine stand.

Michael Pollan (author of the Omnivore's Dillema) gives his 12 commandments of good eating. Two more than Moses (and God). Who does he think he is. Plenty of food for thought *groan*

Finally, this essay salutes indexers. What? You didn't think the index in that 3,000 page tome on the life of Tommy Douglas did itself, did you?

More entries on: Weekend Links

December 23, 2007

Weekend links: Dickensian drinks; coats for the homeless; very pretty (and smart) magazines

Posted by ron at 09:48 PM ET | Comments (0)

We ran into this great roundup of drinks inspired by Charles Dickens novels on the Guardian's book blog. Perfect for those year end parties. Cheers guv'ner.

Toronto ad company Taxi are creating coats for the homeless which will be distributed across North America in 2008.

From Torontoist:


The waterproof, windproof, and plentily-pocketed coat serves as a lightweight jacket during not-too-cold weather, can fold into a backpack during decent weather, and—when you fill the pockets up with newspaper—converts into a super-warm jacket that was tested (in a meat locker, no less!) to be effective up to -29° celsius.

We know that wedding season is months away BUT we also know that you got to start planning that sucker soon. So, if any of you were lucky enough to be proposed to (or know some lucky lovers) point them to Ethical Weddings. Which finds suppliers that are eco-friendly, cruelty-free, etc.

We end this post with two magazine roundups...

The UTNE reader has posted its list of winners for the 2007 Independent Press Awards.

magCulture, a British magazine blog, has its roundup of notable achievements in the magazine world for 2007. I read this blog often to get a glimpse of the great stuff going on in the magazine world outside of North America.

Weekend links will be taking a week off for the holidays but will see all of you soon in 2008. Have a happy holidays and a great rest of 2007.

More entries on: Weekend Links

December 16, 2007

Weekend links: Extra large winter storm edition

Posted by ron at 02:17 PM ET | Comments (1)

With most of Toronto paralyzed by a doozy of a winter storm I'm bringing you an extra large package of links this week:

While, most of us probably aren't thinking about cycling right now, Ontarians are getting a bit of a break when they buy bike stuff. Queen's Park has removed the 8% PST on bike gear.

But it's not all good news on Treehugger. Arthur Erickson's stunning Graham House (really look at the photos, the site is amazing!) is under threat by developers. Sigh.

Google has released its 2007 Zeitgeist. Popular searches this year, iPod and Facebook (duh!) but can someone tell me what badoo is?

Planning on buying a game console this year? Well Greenpeace wants you to think about all the e-waste and packaging that that new wii (or PS3) is going to create.

Washington D.C.'s Newseum has this neat tool that lets you look at newspaper front pages around the world. Sadly, Canada is very under-represented.

Finally, while we're normally against whale hunts, this one intrigued us. The Inupiat Inuit in Alaska have been hunting whales for 1,000 years and are limited to 22 whales a year. The hunt also makes up the bulk of the band's food supply. Photographer Jonathan Harris documents the hunt online with dozens of photographs....

More entries on: Weekend Links

December 09, 2007

Weekend links: The advertising edition

Posted by ron at 01:59 PM ET | Comments (0)

Advertising is a pretty ubiquitous part of modern life sometimes it's good:

Like this artist who took the subject lines from spam e-mails and turned them into some pretty gorgeous art.

Sometimes it's ugly: Like when advertisers invade your head space.

And other times it's just plain funny. Like when Greenpeace reminds you that sunlight doesn't come out your rear (use a compact fluroescent instead!)

We also want to wish a belated 10th anniversary to our literate friends over at Taddle Creek.

More entries on: Weekend Links

November 17, 2007

Weekend links: Our beautiful blue planet, Stars go green, leafblower hockey and an event

Posted by ron at 03:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Japanese space agency has these beautiful photos and video of an "earth rise" taken from their satellite Kaguya.

For musicians with an eco-conscience, going on tour must come with a twinge of guilt. All that driving around can't be good. Well one band we like, Toronto/Montreal indie-pop sweethearts, Stars, is carbon offsetting their tour. This makes us love Torquil, Amy and the gang just a little more.

Of course, for every good thing there's got to be some guy with a harebrained idea... like leafblower hockey. Yep, hockey, with leafblowers. The Star reports on a new league in Toronto:


Fans call it extreme air hockey.

The unconvinced say it blows.

Promoters claim it will become the new national sport, drawing fans to outdoor hockey rinks where elite athletes wearing ear protectors battle for domination of the wiffle ball in the adrenalin-charged game of... leaf blower hockey.

That is right folks, you heard it here first.

Heh. Stand too close to those leafblowers and you won't be hearing much for long.

Finally, our friends over at Descant is celebrating their new literary program Now Hear This with an event this Monday. We wrote about NHT in a previous issue.

More entries on: Weekend Links

November 04, 2007

Weekend links: Brijit, Guardian ponders its eco-impact, one clever ad

Posted by ron at 09:51 AM ET | Comments (1)

Cory Doctorow from Boing Boing reports on a bank in Delhi run by street kids. The kids get to save a bit of money (which otherwise would be squandered or worse stolen) and learn valuable skills.

Let's face it long-form magazine articles are pesky. I mean c'mon we all know everyone buys magazines for charticles and pretty photo spreads (and all those perfume ads). Brijit is a site that takes long-form mag articles and boils it down to 100-word summaries. I get a feeling I'll be reading this a lot in the coming months.

The Guardian, arguably the best left-leaning newspaper in the English-speaking world, ponders its own environmental impact.

Finally, the Wooster Collective point out this cheeky little ad on a drawbridge in Amsterdam.

More entries on: Weekend Links

October 20, 2007

Weekend Links: Tracking whales, media concentration, free Booker books

Posted by ron at 08:08 PM ET | Comments (1)

First the bad news you already know, the mainstream media is an awfully concentrated place, with most of the stuff you watch owned by the same batch of people. Case in point, this chart and article done by U.S. lefty mag the Nation.

Now, bad news you don't know. Apparently emo-pop band Death Cab for Cutie are a risk to the safety of the U.S. A hard disc containing the next album by Death Cab guitarist Chris Walla was confiscated at the Canada-U.S. border. It must be all those angst-fuelled lyrics and Ben Gibbard's high-pitched voice.

Not to be a complete downer, here's a Greenpeace google map mashup that lets you track whales in almost real-time. Just think of all of those whales, swimming around, munching on krill and herring and what not. There, feel better?

No, well, what about the fact that you'll be able to download every book on the Booker shortlist. That includes this year's winner The Gathering by Anne Enright. The story of a brother's suicide forces a woman to weave through her family's troubled past.... hmm, on second thought, I'll stick with the whales.

More entries on: Weekend Links

October 13, 2007

Weekend links: Bikes to Rwanda, biodiesel jet, algae as biofuel

Posted by ron at 03:51 PM ET | Comments (2)

Every single time I see an abandoned bike in Toronto I'll think of this project that sends bikes to Rwanda.

This week on the frontier of biofuels... The first biodiesel jet takes flight!
What about using algae... to fuel the plane?

Finally, can we turn some of those shipping containers into homes?

More entries on: Weekend Links

October 06, 2007

Weekend links: Parking ain't free, more songs about biking and food?, wither the BookMobile?

Posted by ron at 01:43 PM ET | Comments (0)

There's lots of great links this week so let's get to it.

Shawn Micallef on the Spacing blog points out this article about the very high cost of parking. No, we don't mean the $5 an hour you pay in Downtown Toronto or Vancouver.

In other traffic related news, the Guardian has a bike blogger! Even better, he writes about David Byrne of the Talking Heads on cycling in the Big Apple.

The Quillblog lets us know that Conrad Black is signing copies of his latest book via LongPen, the contraption championed by Margaret Atwood that lets authors sign books remotely.

Finally, if you have lots and lots of cassette tapes lying around here's a DIY project for you.

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy that Fall weather.

More entries on: Weekend Links

September 21, 2007

Bush kills Nelson Mandela (sort of), NFB film library in danger, farms of the future

Posted by ron at 09:51 PM ET | Comments (1)

George W. Bush has made a lot of gaffes in his time as president but this one is mind-bogglingly bad. At a Thursday press conference W. blurted out this classic line...

"I heard somebody say, Where's Mandela?' Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas,"

So in one fell swoop he had a dead dictator killing a very alive hero and former world leader. Wow.

CP reports that the NFB archives are slowly falling apart and haven't been digitized.

Presenting, the urban farms of the future, a multi-storey building that includes rooftop gardens, incubators and more.

Finally, what do Brian Mulroney and O.J have in common. Nothing, that we know of... but Amazon seems to think otherwise.

More entries on: Weekend Links

September 15, 2007

Weekend links: Lost socks? make toys!, damn young'uns and the online journalism awards

Posted by ron at 09:26 PM ET | Comments (0)

An ingenious solution to a common modern clothing problem, the missing sock. Make a toy dog! When you're done, donate them to kids who'll give them a home. You don't even have to spay or neuter them.

Ah the eternal battle of young vs. old captured on video.

Atlantic Monthly writer Michael Hirschorn thinks there's too much quirkiness out there. I for one can't get enough and would like to record a video complaining about Michael Hirschorn.

Finally, the finalists of the 2007 Online Journalism Awards are here. Think of it as the Pulitzers for the web set.

More entries on: Weekend Links

September 07, 2007

Weekend links: Bears!, William Gibson, Futbol

Posted by ron at 09:45 PM ET | Comments (1)

The above items have absolutely nothing in common except for the fact I find them entertaining.

Author William Gibson's new book has been getting pretty good press, but the folks at Boing Boing calls this Washington Post interview one of the best they've read.

We have to admit that we're not big soccer fans but we can get behind the Homeless World Cup. Teams made up of homeless and formerly homeless from all over the world get a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent their country. According to organizers more than 70% of participants find homes, get off drugs. We bet that all of them make new friends and gain a lot of dignity. Inspiring.

Finally, from the duo who brought you Monkey Portraits.... Bears! These are probably not Colbert-approved.

An extra link this week. Our friends over at Spacing have expanded their blog into our second-favourite city, Montreal!

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September 02, 2007

Weekend links: Eat local challenge, shopping hurts the environment, can you name a living composer?, meet the directors of the 11th Hour

Posted by ron at 11:50 PM ET | Comments (0)

We hope you're all having a good long weekend. Let's get right to the links:

Now that Fall is just around the corner, all those tasty crops should be coming to market soon. What better time to eat local. A bunch of bloggers and foodies challenge you to eat food grown as locally as possible.

Don't be fooled by so-called green products. All that stuff you buy still has to come from somewhere, which means it has an impact of some sort. It took a study to figure this out?

The New Music Box asks a good question.... We like living authors, living film directors but what about living composers?

Finally, Treehugger interviews the directors of the 11th Hour.

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August 24, 2007

Friday Links: A little peace and quiet, eat it Wal Mart, one in four American adults don't read

Posted by ron at 10:44 PM ET | Comments (1)

Walkmans, CD players and iPods are all pretty great inventions, how else are we going to kill an hour each day on the subway?

But wait, isn't it all a little much? This article thinks that all these iPods, mp3 blogs and downloading has meant the death of silence and maybe even music itself.

When will companies learn that Facebook groups advertising products can backfire. Wal-Mart hasn't, the bulk of the messages on this Wal-Mart sponsored discussion board are pretty anti Wal-Mart. The photos are pretty hilarious.

A Washington Post writer has coined the word 'cutility,' what happens when simple objects are given cutesy additions. We personally like our definiton of 'cutility'; Cute objects that make us bang our heads against the wall in frustration (ie. A flying furball that escapes our reach).

Finally, one quarter of adult Americans didn't read a single book last year. Sigh.

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August 18, 2007

Weekend Links: Can't fight the moonlight, master of nations and chickens coming home to roost

Posted by ron at 11:01 AM ET | Comments (6)

We start this week's links with a cheesy Leann Rimes reference. We're sorry but we couldn't resist. But we hope you read on about the Civic Twilight Design Collective's idea for streetlights that sync up with the phases of the moon. The award-winning idea cuts down on light pollution and power use and just looks plain beautiful.

I know that many people don't care too much about the circus that is the U.S. Presidential race (only 15 months until Nov. 2008!) but we know you like crafts and politically-inclined crafts even more. I say we bring this idea to Canada when Harper calls that election.

Paper almanacs are for chumps (except the Farmer's Almanac, that's just cool.) Why would you buy a book that'll be out-of-date in a matter of months when you can use the database over at NationMaster.

Finally, the chickens (and bunnies and ducks) come home to roost. Omlet, A British company has created a cute little home for your hens and roosters called the Eglu (awwwww). Sadly I live in a condo, so no Eglu for me.

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July 28, 2007

Weekend links: Congrats Ryerson Review, A $100 laptop for Xmas (sorta), mini guerilla gardening

Posted by ron at 07:46 PM ET | Comments (5)

First of all, we'd like to congratulate our friends over at the Ryerson Review of Journalism. The students and instructor Bill Reynolds took home five awards from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication student magazine contest. Yay.

Guardian columnist and climate change warrior George Monbiot rails against the rise of green consumerism. To him it's just a way for us to consume just as much as we did before, this time without all of that nagging guilt.

The people behind the very cool $100 laptop project might make their revolutionary gadget available by Christmas. The crank-powered laptop would be marked up to about $300-$500. We just hope that some (or all) of this money helps get these laptops into the hands of children around the world.

Finally, there's nothing like a little guerrilla gardening to make us happy.

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July 21, 2007

Weekend links: When animators go on strike, Houston goes green (sort of), We love books and trees!

Posted by ron at 05:49 PM ET | Comments (3)

Boing Boing pointed us to this footage of a 1941 strike by Disney animators. Neat.

Houston has negotiated a contract to ensure that a third of that city's power comes from wind! Yes, you read that right. Houston, Texas. Now if they could only cut down on that sprawl and all those suburbs we'd have ourselves a green mecca.

Where was this prof when I was at university? Ron Hammond, a professor at Utah Valley State College, is saying no to expensive textbooks. He's culled together reading materials from journal articles and articles available online. He estimates it'll save the average student $900 a year. With all of the great stuff online now this makes sense, almost too much sense.

Finally, it's pretty clear that we love books. But we also really love trees and kind of feel guilty about all of the damage that our bibliophilia causes. Well a company called Eco-Libris wants to assuage some of our guilt. The company plants a tree for a minimal pledge, call it book-offsetting.

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July 13, 2007

Friday Links: Birdies, cross-country SmartCar ride, kids do the most awesome things

Posted by ron at 08:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

Everyone loves birds, right? Well, what could be better than recycled birdhouses. These guys make birdhouses out of recycled materials

A couple make a trip from Halifax to Vancouver in a Smart car. Total diesel used, just 337 litres!

We're not a big fan of bottled water for many reasons. Apparently eco-conscious New Yorkers have stopped buying the stuff in restaurants and as a result restaurateurs are losing money. To counteract that they're gussying up tap water with things like charcoal filters and carbonation. We're not sure about the environmental impact of all this, but are intrigued.

Reality TV is pretty vapid most of the time but Kid Nation seems fascinating. A group of children are plopped into a ghost town and asked to form their own government, make their own decisions and get along. Apparently they do!

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July 07, 2007

Friday links: One really cool timeline, LED stoplights and greening your computer

Posted by ron at 01:18 PM ET | Comments (0)

This week's installment is a little late. I blame this very cool flash map that tells you the history of the Middle East from 3000 BCE to today, all in about 60 seconds.

Here in Toronto, one of my favourite neighbourhoods gets turned into a pedsetrian zones on Sundays during the summer. This little gem of an idea has spread to a few other parts of the city. If you're interested in spreading this idea elsewhere maybe you should check out this little manual from BEST.

Taiwanese traffic lights are going to be converted to LEDs. Saving power (up to 85%!) and hopefully lasting longer. Yes, red still means stop.

Finally, if you're reading this you're probably on a computer. This blog post looks at how you can green your computer by saving power.

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June 30, 2007

Weekend links: Library drill teams, down with billboards, make your own award

Posted by ron at 07:37 PM ET | Comments (10)

We love libraries, all those books! But every once in a while we get impish and think, "man wouldn't it be fun to race book carts? Or play games of jenga with the books?" Apparently there's a competition for people like me.

There is one mysterious quote here:

"It's all about the image that librarians are stodgy, stern, always shushing," said Caroline Langendorfer of Madison, Wis., a competitor in the previous two world championships. "Cardigans. Hair buns. I love shaking up [that] stereotype."

Uhm. I find librarians really awesome (and dare I say it, hot!). But what do I know, I'm a geek.

The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO site! Worldchanging looks at the state of sustainable transportation in our nation's capital.

Sao Paulo is cracking down on billboards! Even Beijing is staging a takedown of outdoor advertising. So when is it our turn?

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June 22, 2007

All hail Edward Tufte, can marketers be good?, idea stock exchange

Posted by ron at 10:17 PM ET | Comments (3)

In the hands of Al Gore Powerpoint is a force for good but in the hands of thousands of middle-managers everywhere the ever-present Microsoft program is downright insipid and evil. Professor Edward Tufte would probably agree with me. Read this New York magazine article to find out more about the design guru.

Marketing guru Seth Godin asks do marketers have to be so evil? No, and they should be taken to task when they are.

We've heard of the marketplace of ideas but that's a metaphor, right. Then someone goes out and makes this "stock exchange of visions." What's next a cornerstore of cogitation? mall of musings? Seriously though, there are some great thought exercises here. A number of thinker pose big questions like "what if humans disappeared from the planet?" and what will the global economy look like in 2050?

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June 16, 2007

Friday links: Buying land to save it?, Development 'porn'?, Help McSweeney's and a classic redone

Posted by ron at 11:02 AM ET | Comments (5)

It's an old idea but one that's worth re-exploring: buying land to save it.

American multimillionaire and North Face founder Douglas Tompkins bought up huge chunks of Argentina earlier this month. Tompkins says he wants to prevent these ecologically sensitive areas from being developed and exploited by corporations. He even intends to eventually turn them over to the Argentinian government as nature reserves.

But Tompkins has also been accused of ignoring the rights of natives and locals who live in the area, some even accuse him of trying to gain control of the significant water resources in the area. We think there must be a way for philantropist and eco-activists like Tompkins and forward thinking governments to work together. The potential for ecological preservation is much too great to let disputes be a permanent stumbling block.

Late last week, Boing Boing posited a very interesting question., "Why are most of the images of the third world being taken by first world photographers?" It brings up any number of issues of race, neo-colonialism, representation and indigenous empowerment.

The Yes men strike again. Their latest prank has shades of Soylent Green and A Modest Proposal. It'll bring a (mischievous) smile to your face.

McSweeeney's, one of our favourite indie publisher, needs your love and your help.

Finally, we rediscover this 80s classic.

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June 08, 2007

Friday Links: Not for all the planes in the sky, green skyscrapers and Katrina in comics

Posted by ron at 10:58 PM ET | Comments (0)

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Seattle-based artist Chris Jordan has created a series of works we like very much. He represents abstract statistics in gorgeous visuals. We're not talking charts and graphs here.

Below is a detail of a piece that envisions 11,000 jet planes (about the number in America every eight hours). Wow.

When people think green most people don't think skyscrapers. After all, what's so green about steel girders and glass panes? Here are ten buildings that might change your mind.

Smith magazine has a beautiful web comic on Hurricane Katrina.

Finally, if you got a few books lying around (and we have tons!) maybe we should consider recreating this little book distribution scheme from London.

(Plane contrails by Chris Jordan)

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June 02, 2007

Friday links: Greening books, biofuel blowback, grey water grey water everywhere

Posted by ron at 10:43 AM ET | Comments (0)

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We love our books but let's face it. With all that paper and printing they're probably not all that green. Well, with the help of the Green Guide Girls maybe publishing can change their ways. Some publishers already have.

Maybe those biofuels aren't such a good idea after all. AP is reporting that robust German biofuel initiatives might be driving up the price of beer as fewer farmers plant barley. A harbinger of things to come? We hope not.

The Grey Water guerrillas are a group that seek to use "grey water" (the water we've used for washing, cleaning, etc.) more efficiently. They teach people how to build small water reclamation projects but also raise awareness of the insidious movement to privatize water. Turns out they also have a book with a very snappy title (Dam nation)

Finally, the National Magazine awards want you to help them pick the best Canadian magazine cover of the last 30 years.

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May 25, 2007

Friday Links: What does a billion trees look like? Giant inflatable rats and Happy 100th Rachel Carson

Posted by ron at 11:14 PM ET | Comments (0)

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The United Nations Environment Programme is announcing a program that would see a billion trees planted in 2007. We're not sure how feasible that is, really. As of this blog post UNEP had planted just over 14 million trees. It's almost June!

New York City union activists have enlisted an ally in their fight for labour rights.... a giant 12-foot tall inflatable rat (let's call him Larry). Larry has been around since 2002 but we think it's about time that some of our unions use him. CAW, CUPE, what do you think?

Americans (or at least New Yorkers) discover poutine. Sadly they still haven't learnt how to spell "quebeqois." Also, "embarassing but adored" is how we describe the Barenaked Ladies.

Finally the Environmental Protection Agency runs an intergenerational contest celebrating the centenary of Rachel Carson's birth.
The EPA writes:

Ms. Carson wrote that she would endow every child with "a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life." However, "if a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in."

Sadly the contest is only open to Americans. But the thought is something that all of us can take away.

Photo of giant rat from Flickr.

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May 19, 2007

Long Weekend Links: Zero footprint calculator, more ads on TV and hopscotch

Posted by ron at 06:44 PM ET | Comments (0)

Toronto's Mayor David Miller was at the C40 Large Cities conference and unveiled a zero footprint calculator with Ron Dembo, CEO of zerofootprint. It will be live soon but you can try it out.

TV networks have been whining about decreasing ad revenues for a long time now. As more of us Tivo, download and tune out of television all together ad revenues will decrease. Well, the CRTC wants to help out Canada's broadcasters by giving them the ability to set how much advertising shows up on tv. We kind of think the ads are a huge part of the reason why people are tuning out and showing more of them will undoubtedly endear these companies to their viewers.

The most adorable taxi initiative ever. Instead of putting ads on them schoolkids get to paint art on New York City's cabs. This is going to be a one time thing for the centenary of cabs in NYC.

Why would anyone wash away a children's hopscotch game? Apparently some overzealous Ottawa city staffers did and councillor Clive Doucet responded by encouraging citizen hopscotch brigades to chalk up the sidewalks.

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May 12, 2007

Friday Links: Oh how we wish it were true, reality TV meets magazine and Happy Mother's Day!

Posted by ron at 12:57 AM ET | Comments (7)

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One half of the duo of delusion stepped down from his position of power today. But man, do we wish this CNN screen grab was true. Sadly it's just a typo.

Opinions on graffiti might vary, but man do we dislike corporate graffiti. Here's hoping this idea takes off.

We're partially frightened but also very curious about this idea from the U.K. Take a few D-list celebrities and make them run a People/US Weekly style magazine. So bad it's good?

Finally, happy Mother's Day. Send your mom a card and help other moms in Africa. It might just beat sending her flowers. You should probably still give her a call though.

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May 04, 2007

The Webbys, Spinal Tap and Saturday is going to be a great day!

Posted by ron at 10:19 PM ET | Comments (0)

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Ah, we remember when the Webbys were a little niche award, this year David Bowie is going to be at the gala in June. We want to draw your attention to two winners:

Greenpeace's Green your apple site won a Webby for activism. Their site tries to take Apple to task for using toxic materials in its products and for generating so much e-waste. It looks like it worked.

We make money not art is one of the better contemporary art blogs out there. Site creator Regine skews towards the high-tech and the off-kilter so those looking for nice landscapes and still-lifes of fruit will be sorely disappointed.

In case you forgot.... Saturday is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!

Faux band Spinal Tap are reuniting for Al Gore's Live Earth concerts. We're sure they'll turn it up to 11. We also hope the midget stonehenge will be there.

Today would have been Jane Jacob's 91st birthday. Here in Toronto, it's officially Jane Jacob's day. Tomorrow guides all over Toronto will be giving tours of various neighbourhoods. Not in Toronto? Well, there's no reason why you can't start one in your city. Every city has great neighbourhoods and hidden stories, isn't time you discovered them?

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April 28, 2007

Friday Saturday Links: lifetime supplies, Spadina bus, public radio idol

Posted by ron at 05:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

Apologies for the lateness of this week's Friday links. Sometimes 24-hours in a day just aren't enough. So without further ado.

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We've always been curious what a lifetime supply of carrots looked like and thanks to a UK documentary we know. Nick Watts, a British documentary maker, compiled basic statistics and tried to represent them physically. We're kinda worried about the girl in this photo. That carrot-jenga sculpture doesn't look too stable.

If you lived in Toronto during the 1980s you might remember the Shuffle Demons' song "Spadina Bus". Well relive the saxophone goodness in all its glory. A perfect addition to that "commuting" playlist on your iPod.

fridaylinks.gifWe were intrigued when we read about taqwacore, or "Muslim punk." Apparently the term was coined by novelist Michael Muhammad Knight in a book and somehow sprung to life. One taqwacore band are the Kominas from Boston (or Bostonstan). Say what you want about the music, you gotta have some affection for a band whose slogan is "Keeping it sunni side up since 2005"

Finally a reality show for A/V nerds. Public Radio Talent Quest! "Do you have what it takes to be public radio's next great host? Do you have that most elusive of qualities - hostiness?" says their website. Oh they're also giving away US$70,000. Sadly it's only open to Americans. CBC are you taking notes....

Oh, finally, it's Workers Memorial Day everyone. Have a great weekend.

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April 20, 2007

Happy Earth Day, what Stephen is reading and a salute to the student journalists of Virginia Tech

Posted by ron at 12:27 AM ET | Comments (0)

fridaylinks.gifSome of us here at This think that everyday is Earth Day, the rest of us try to act a little more green around April 22nd. There are events all over the country, and if you can't make it, there are tons of things you can do at home or at work.

Cities everywhere are in love with Richard Florida's "Creative Class" friendly ideas. Vancouver is no exception. But with rising costs and gentrification is there anything Vancouver can do to actually be supportive of artists and other creative types? The city wants your input.

The greenest places in Canada are our small towns. First it was Leaf Rapids, Man.'s garbage bag ban. Now it's Wolfville, N.S.'s support of fair trade and local agriculture. Way to go. Big cities are you taking notes?

Author Yann Martel decides to go all Oprah on Stephen Harper and send him a book to read that "has been known to expand stillness" every two weeks. His first title is Tolstoy's Death of Ivan Ilych.

Finally, I was stunned to hear of the events at Virginia Tech. But as a former student journalist, I want to send a special salute to the writers, editors and photographers at Virginia Tech's student paper, The Collegiate Times. Student journalists often get derided for being amateur, or irrelevant, in your case the very opposite is true. May the coming days be full of peace and happier memories.

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April 12, 2007

Radioactive Shortstops, Goodbye Coke and more Typewriter Geekery

Posted by ron at 11:20 PM ET | Comments (0)

It seems that everyone these days is carbon offsetting; paying a third party to neutralize the carbon emissions that a certain activity would create (ie. by planting trees).

The Cincinnati Reds just recently announced that they went carbon-neutral for their opening day game against the Chicago Cubs.

On the flip side are the Toronto Blue Jays who are carbon neutral but very very nuclear. We say rename them the Isotopes and be done with it!

The University of Guelph becomes the first university in Canada to boot out Coca Cola when their beverage contract expires later this year! The students criticized the company for its environmental abuses in India.

If you weren't in Toronto to see the last Rheostatics show CBC Radio 3 is streaming the ENTIRE SHOW here.

Streetcars in Montreal, yes please.

Finally, excuse us while we geek out on typewriters.

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April 06, 2007

Friday Links: A rapper, creepy pencils and a whole lot of poets

Posted by ron at 09:29 AM ET | Comments (4)

Hi I'm Ron Nurwisah, This Magazine's Arts Editor. This is the debut of Friday Links, where I pick a handful of links that have piqued my interest this week. Without further ado.

Toronto rapper K'naan has the best life story of any Canadian artist, hands down. He left Somalia in the early '90s, didn't speak a word of English and learnt how to rap. Well he got good at it, really good. So good in fact that the BBC's Radio3 awarded him a world music prize.

Back in 2005, we interviewed Canadian poet, professor and typewriter historian Darren Wershler-Henry about his new book the Iron Whim. Well it seems that a little magazine reviewed his book quite favourably this week.

Hey Keith, snort this! Artist Nadine Jarvis has created a very creepy project. She'll turn someone's cremated remains into 240 pencils, enough for a lifetime of morbid writing.

Finally, this year's Griffin Poetry Prize gets announced. I feel guilty about this because I don't read enough poetry. Maybe it's time I started.

Until next week, happy browsing. If you have a neat link please send it along to arts[at]thismagazine.ca.

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