Category Archives: Uncategorized

Remembering Lee Miller

Lee Miller looked like this as a young lady

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Not surprisingly, she became a model. And she was a celebrated model in the 1920’s, appearing in all the major fashion magazines. The usual. She had that flapper look.

But here is the thing.  Lee was not just a beautiful face. She went to Paris and got involved in the avant garde artistic movements of the day. Indeed the photographer Man Ray became rather obsessed with her. It was a wild time

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Lee went with all of the folks we now idolize, Picasso, Cocteau, all of them.

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And she began taking her own photos. She left Paris to marry a wealthy Egyptian, but it didn’t last. The second war came, and she became a war photographer.

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She went to the front lines, saw the war close up, and made an incredible visual record.

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The war took its toll on Lee.  She was there to bath Hitler’s private bath tub

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But her face reveals the cost of the experience

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She had difficulties. But it was not the end of her story. She married, and re-focused on cooking. She mastered the craft.

But did not talk about the past. After she passed on, her son found a huge treasure trove of her photos. He had no idea that they existed. As I said, she did not talk about that part of her life.

It is an amazing life story. One wonders why we haven’t seen this in cinema? Errr … that may be about to change. Kate Winslet may star as Lee.

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What do you think?


Not Cooking with Strega? Something is Amiss!

If you are wondering

Strega, meaning witch in Italian, was created in 1860 by wine merchant, Giuseppe Alberti, and his spice merchant father, Carmine Alberti, in the town of Benevento, “City of Witches” where according to legend, the world’s witches would gather annually to dance under the town’s huge walnut tree.

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It is a concoction that brings together a variety of spices

Made with more than 70 aromatic spices and herbs infused into a base distillate, this 100% natural mixture — with no artificial colors or flavors — is aged in ash barrels to meld and mellow the flavors. The mix of exotic spices and herbs include the worlds three most prized spices: saffron, which gives Strega its distinctive glistening yellow tint, vanilla and cardamom. Some of the ingredients come right from Italy: lavender, irises, orange and lemon peel as well as amazingly aromatic juniper from the Italian Alps and rare wild mint from the south. The rest are gathered from around the world: myrrh from Ethiopia, star anise from China, cinnamon from Ceylon, bitter orange peel from the Caribbean island of Curaçao.

If you are a tippler like me, you will want to give it a try. If not, you will want to cook with this.

Give it a whirl!

WkiiHouse and the Next Big Challenge for Architects

In the 20th century, architects spent a lot of effort designing big, big super buildings that would serve the needs of people living in cities. After all, for the most part, that is where the money has been.

But things might change in the 21st century. If — as some project — we will see a different pattern of income distribution due to adoption of basic income, and greater individual  autonomy, there will be less urgent reasons fir folks to move to cities. Cities won’t disappear, but we will see a rise of villages. Al Wenger posted on this the other day.

But to make that work, we will need a new type of architecture that suits the needs of those folks. The plans would be open source with tech to enable connections and efficient energy use.

Wikihouse is an effort to promote open source house design.

Very cool!

Roco Explodes! Sixer Fans Rejoice! Magic Fade!

The Sixers/Magic game started out ugly. The Sixers were imitating a high school grade school basketball team, missing shots, turning the ball over, and throwing passes into the seats.The Magic looked almost like an NBA team and raced out to a double digit lead. WTF!

But things didn’t stay that way. Roco exploded, hitting a fistful of threes, Embiid and Simmons did their things, and the Sixers went up, way up. By halftime, this game looked as if it was decided.

And it pretty much was. Relying on smothering defense, the Sixers were up 20 through most of the third and fourth quarters. Very important! That allowed the starters to take a rest. The best news, however, is that Roco found his range from 3. point land.

Onward to meet the Wizards tonight in a back to back game for the Sixers!

BTW, bad news for the Timberwolves – Jimmy Butler has a meniscus issue. Let’s hope it is a minor one.

John Taylor: “It’s So Expensive to be Rich!”

Does anyone still remember the 1980’s? It was the decade that brought Ronald Raegan to the White House. And it brought a fundamental shift in attitude in the US about wealth. The mantra spoken by Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street “Greed is good!” almost says it all.  I link to Gekko’s speech at the end of this post.

I say almost because the quote in the title of this post (It’s so expensive to be rich!”) also is relevant to  the ethos of that decade. The 80’s were not just about outrageous deal making. It was also about the ostentatious lifestyles of folks like Susan Gotfreund,  who made that statement. BTW, she took it from Malcolm Forbes. It was not enough to make bundles of dough, one was supposed to flaunt it.

John Taylor captured the cultural revolution of the 1980’s in his book “Circus of Ambition”. It is a fun book to read and it starts off with the fusion of money and religion in the person of Jerry Falwell Here is the opening. Enjoy!

In the summer of 1980, the reverend Jerry Falwell could feel that he had really arrived. During the week, his private jet logged as many as 5,000 miles as he flew back and forth across the country making speeches, holding rallies, attending board meetings, conducting prayer services, and giving interview after interview.

Journalists were morbidly fascinated by Falwell. He seemed to distill the sense of impending apocalypse that possessed so many of them at the end of the seventies, the feeling that the moral center was collapsing and that an age of hysteria and intolerance had begun. Falwell also made great copy. He denounced homosexuals as moral perverts. He discouraged his followers from watching “Charlie’s Angels” on television. He prophesied a nuclear holocaust in which blood would flow in the streets “up to the bridles of the horses”. His influence over his followers was so strong that he was believed to be personally delivering 25 million votes to the Republicans in the upcoming national elections.

This was, of course, an exaggeration. But the amount of money that Falwell made using religion was not exaggerated. Taylor paraphrases Falwell’s reaction to the adverse press that Falwell received when folks found out how rich he was.

Didn’t these people know? Money is the way God blesses people who put Him first. Money is a sign of God’s grace. Money is good.

Since then, we have gotten used to this idea. So much so that it is easy to forget that the wild 80s made greed cool.

And now, for Gordon’s famous speech. Enjoy!

Эколог: ожидает ли Тарту и Тартуский уезд статус Ээнекоски?

Non-Russian speakers of this blog, don’t panic. I am not converting from English. This is a translation of an article that I posted yesterday about an issue that is under discussion here in Tartu. It is intended for Russian speakers here who may be interested.

Эколог: ожидает ли Тарту и Тартуский уезд статус Ээнекоски? Добавлено возражение Маргуса Кохава

Tartu Postimees

8 февраля 2018 г., 16:23


Стремясь рассеять страхи, которыми сопровождаются планы построить под Тарту на реке Эмаыйги большой завод по рафинированию древесины, приводится одним из положительных примеров действующий в Ээнекоски (Финляндия), практически не дающий зловонных выбросов экологический завод по переработке биопродуктов. Тем не менее, публикации в интернете, найденные экологом Эриком Пуура, показывают, что порой жители этого финского региона бывают очень сильно обеспокоены деятельностью завода. Ожидает ли Тарту аналогичный статус, спрашивает ученый. Continue reading Эколог: ожидает ли Тарту и Тартуский уезд статус Ээнекоски?

Stories of Continuous Innovation

Can we accelerate the rate that innovation occurs in a given area?

In the old days, the answer was “nyet”. Innovation occurs in a serendipity manner. You are grateful when you get it, but you cannot predict how frequently it might occur.

We are beginning to see that the old wisdom is wrong. A variety of factors affect the rate of innovation in any area, and by working on those “factors”, we can nurture or retard the rate that innovation occurs.

For example, Steve Johnson spoke some years ago that great ideas emerge from social settings – conversations. In other words, there is a social dimension to innovation. Upgrading that social dimension speeds up the rate of innovation. Downgrading that social dimension and you slow it down.

Another example  – we know that ideas flow from perceived demand. The demand for cotton fabric in England —  that had to be imported from India at considerable expense — provided the basis for investing in steam engines to power manufacturing them in England.

And we know that perceived demand arises from a story. So, a company that commits to a large story (like Tesla trying to replace fossil fuel based transport) is more likely to commit to innovation than a company that is simply meeting demand as it exists now.

Henry Ford’s original vision for the automobile was to reduce the cost of rural transportation.  That was his story. When he succeeded  through his innovative assembly line production, Ford stuck to the vision that cars were essentially for the purpose of reducing the cost of transportation. The folks at GM understood that the vision could be much larger – cars as part of a  mobile lifestyle. They innovated to achieve that.  BTW, one could argue that GM stopped going down its innovation path when it achieved that mobile lifestyle, setting the stage for its own disruption by a larger vision still.

And that brings me to the idea of “continuous innovation”. By continuous, I mean innovation that is needed to match a vision of future demand as it evolves over time. Steve Jobs offers a compelling example with his vision for great design in mobile entertainment. That led him to commit to developing the Ipod (music), then the Iphone (talk and much more) and the Ipad (books, video, etc on a mobile platform).  Jobs  believed in the path, not just the individual products ad  hoc.

Al Wenger offers another example — MongoDB. check it out!

My point – in all of the above, you might notice that single firms and individuals tend towards limited visions. They only follow the innovation path so far.  Institutions that commit to finding paths (VC’s for example) can accelerate innovation by prusuing larger stories. But VC’s only plunge in (invest) when they see manageable risks. That means coming in at a relatively late stage of story development.

We can do better if we find institutions that promote those stories earlier. Greg Satell has a nice example of this in the quest to find more efficient energy storage.

Greg’s story is an example of an “innovation based ecology” – one that forms at the early stage of a given story and commits to its full realization —  to commercialization. From idea to capacity to demand, to prototype to business model. Interesting!