Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Comparing and contrasting flowers


Two female gardeners…
Daisy: Guess.

Lily: A hibiscus.

Daisy: Nope. Looks a little similar I suppose. It’s a Solandra maxima.

Lily: Pretty.

Daisy: And poisonous, it’s of the nightshade family.
Model for comparing and contrasting two similar flowers...

Pansies and petunias are popular spring and summer flowers.

Pansies were originally wildflowers of Europe and western Asia. They like sun and well-drained soils. They don’t like excessive heat. The name comes from the Latin “pensare” (also French “pensée”) meaning ‘thought’..

Petunias are flowering plants originally from South America. They like sunshine, dry atmosphere and moist soil. They flower in spring and summer. The name originates from a Guarani word for ‘tobacco’.

Both pansies and petunias are easy to grow. There are many hybrids and many colors.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Passive and Participatory Museums

Don't TOUCH the exhibits!
What are museums for?
Ricky: There is a scene near the beginning of Night at the Museum when a school party is passing through and the curator comes storming out.

Befana: Angry?

Ricky: Livid. He shouts at the kids, “Don’t touch the exhibits! Don’t you KNOW what museum MEANS?” And then to the teachers, “CONTROL your young!”

Befana: Obviously not one of those interactive museums.

Museums have changed. They were musty fusty places where visitors passively peered at artifacts under glass. Now museums encourage participation. It’s about John Dewey’s “experiential education” and encouraging visitors to see objects in new ways. Short YouTube movie here about passive vs participatory museums.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Dubrovnik 1991

An authentic voice…
The war? I have eleven years old at that time. My sister she went get fish at the market, and the aircraft come, we hear four booms, and my sister, she only have seven years, she sees the pilot, she comes home, she is crying. We stay four days and one night my father takes us to a boat, it is a storm, we go to Dubrovnik. I remember I drank some reddish tea, it was horrible seas, everyone was throwing up that stuff. In Dubrovnik, people say it is safe, it is UNESCO, it has walls. We stay there 40 days. But we are running often into shelters, there is little water, it is not hygienic, a month we do not wash hair. My sister is sick, she has a rash, the doctors don’t know, perhaps it is the war, we go to Split. She’s OK now. My father comes home, yes he is also OK. The house, it has no roof but we clean it, it is usable, slowly my father rebuilds, he grows grapes now. We used to go to Montenegro but my parents not now, they will not go. It is hard for them. But for me, I have eleven years old at that time. I can forgive. But for some they cannot easily forgive.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Postcard from Dubrovnik

Breakfast on the sea wall…
Dario: I have to write to my parents. They’re pre-internet, still postal.

Beatrice: (reads) Huh. “Sunny. You’d love it here.” Why don’t you actually TELL them something?

Dario: Like?

Beatrice: Like: “It’s an old walled city on the Adriatic. There's a dozen museums stuffed with stories. Documenting its times of prosperity, its fleets, its culture. And times of being captured by Venice, by Napoleon, and then being slow to make the leap from sail to steam when people like Babić and Pavlović sailed away to new lives in new worlds.”
How to write a postcard? A little light history, a hint of the epic, and a link to those you’re writing to, with names they know.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Elementary: Escalation of Holmesian Eccentricity

Classical quirks become postmodern madness…
Lucy: You’re playing him too extreme. He was eccentric, not psychotic.

Jonny: What can I do? It’s the media driving it. The original Holmes was only in print. The readers created their own Holmes. On film, Basil Rathbone played a fairly civil Holmes, Jeremy Brett sharpened his peremptory eccentricities. Then Robert Downey and Benedict Cumberbatch really upped Holmesian quirks to manias. Now TV ups the ante.

Lucy: So we’re doing a post-modern Holmes and Watson?

Jonny: Precisely. We can’t go back. Holmes’ genius exists with borderline personality disorder, Watson develops cerebrality and reins him in sometimes.

Conan Doyle’s original Holmes was eccentric. But recently the vogue to outdo what went before has become almost outrageous. Robert Downey’s 2009 Holmes was antisocial and depressive, Benedict Cumberbatch’s 2010 Holmes was sociopathic and with a touch of Aspergers, Jonny Lee Miller’s 2012 Holmes has a superiority complex and ADHD. Where will it end indeed?

Friday, May 1, 2015

White Rabbit (with Bamboo Ears) Selling Shoes (with Irony)

“Shoes make me happy.
I’m superficial.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Shoes, common sense and gratuitous consumption

Imelda is walking funny…
Amy: Shoes giving you grief?

Imelda: I’m breaking them in. They’re good shoes, a good brand. But the heels are a bit high.

Amy: I can see that. I have a friend who wears sensible shoes. Low heels. They’re Dutch shoes. There’s something about the Dutch.

Imelda: Yes. Sensible people?

Amy: No-nonsense. Down to earth. Full of common sense. Gerzond verstand. Opposite of superficial.

Imelda: Oops.
A Dutch proverb: “Common sense is not necessarily the most commonplace quality in the world. Gezond verstand is niet noodzakelijkerwijs de meest verspreide kwaliteit ter wereld.” Especially when it comes to shoes. But beyond common sense, Amy might also be baiting Imelda on her gratuitous consumption.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Lion's Game and 9-11

On improbable premises…
Philippe: The airliner has no radio communication with the tower on approach, it lands and stops at the end of the runway.

David: So?

Philippe: Well, the fire department opens a door and finds that everyone, pilots, attendants, passengers, has passed out.

David: Could a plane land completely on autopilot?

Philippe: It’s not impossible, but very, very unlikely.

David: I couldn’t read a book starting from an impossible premise like that.

Philippe: But the suspense is relentless. DeMille specializes in such plots.
A predictable plot provokes yawns.
An outrageous event occasions gasps.

Ironically, Nelson DeMille in researching “The Lion’s Game” (2000), had heard from New York’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in 1999 something even more outrageous. They predicted even then that …”jets would be flown by suicide pilots into the World Trade Center.” Le fait est étrange que la fiction.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Simpifying into Three Types...

Great leaders are 
almost always great 
simplifiers, who can 
cut through argument, 
debate and doubt, 
to offer a solution 
can understand.
Colin Powell
Reductio ad..?
Branson: Why is it that people who like to simplify often divide people into three groups?

Powell: Do they? Who do you mean, “they”?

Branson: Malcolm Gladwell did it in The Tipping Point. Mavens, connectors and salesmen.

Powell: I see your point. I just ran across some postings on Quora by people who like to divide others into “puzzle-solvers”, “tool-users” and “storytellers”.

Branson: I’ve seen that distinction before. It popped up in an obscure academic book in German containing a reference to Jerome Bruner. So you say others claim it as their own paradigm? It happens. Anyway, what’s magical about three? 

Powell: Indeed. Why not four or five? Some home in on “seven”. “Seven Habits….” But I think three has a pedigree of simplicity and authority. The triple, the trio, the triangle. The tripod, the triathlon, the trinity.


Mavens: Connect us with new information. They have knowledge, social skills and an ability to communicate.
Connectors: Know large numbers of people and provide introductions. They have active social networks of over 100 people.
Salesmen: Good at persuading others. They are charismatic people with charm and negotiation skills.

Puzzle-solvers: Tend to minimize emotional and social context of thinking.
Tool-users: Focus on tools to make changes in the environment.
Storytellers: Use narratives to show causal and consequential relations.