Charles Pillsbury III

Geek. Dad. Writer?

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Archive for April, 2008

Odzou! (or however you spell that word)

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During my high-school years I participated in a mission trip to Monument Valley Utah (”Go Ye!”) to help put a roof on a school and fix up some other services in Navajo country. Which is way to point out that I have a special affinity for the Navajo people and hope that this situation gets rectified soon.

Satellite provider OnSat recently shut off internet service to the Navajo nation, leaving the entire reservation without access vital to education, government, and other services. OnSat claims it did so because the federal government failed to pay about $2 million it owed, which OnSat in turn pays to a subcontractor for satellite time.

[From Internet goes dark at Navajo reservation - Boing Boing]

*Oh, and Adzou, or however you spell it, supposedly means B.S. in Navajo (we asked somebody this while we were there because several of our my friends and I enjoyed playing the card game of the same name).

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April 18th, 2008 at 6:34 pm

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My son plays the violin

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I more knee-jerk parent might say that this whole report is rubbish because MY son plays violin and he’s not girly. Look at me not jerking my knee.

But Victoria Rowe, who has completed a PhD on gender in music, says children don’t develop a firm idea about “male” and “female” instruments until about six years old.
Some research suggests boys prefer “cool” instruments while leaving classical music to the girls.
“This may be connected with boys liking to pick up their music in social and informal ways, learning by picking up tips from their peers, rather than by attending weekly lessons with a teacher.
“Certainly it’s likely that peer pressure is responsible for many of the instrument choices made by boys and girls.
“And it’s somehow easier for a girl to cross over into ‘boys’ territory and play a trumpet than for a boy to take up the flute.”
The report says girls are more open to taking “male” instruments as they get older, and the fact that some of the world’s leading performers buck the trend suggests there is much more fluidity in the professional world.

[From BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Why don't girls play guitar?]

Brass tacks are that the report is right. At a professional level things aren’t as gender sequestered. But at the young age when you pick up your instruments for the first time you’re more likely to see boys playing drum or guitar than girls, and more likely to see girls playing flute or violin.

My son has taken violin lessons for 5+ years (Alicia will correct me if that range is wrong, I can’t remember a time he wasn’t playing) and his teacher always has a much higher number of female students than she does male. That doesn’t mean the violin is a girly instrument, but the report talking about informal ways of learning would also tie into the violin. You can be a mediocre guitar player and still be playing real notes and real chords and maybe something that passes as a real tune. But a violin is an instrument with no frets, you have to have your fingers just right or you’re likely to get a shoe thrown at you. I’m very pleased my son has taken violin (and shows a fair amount of talent if not dedication to practice) because he has developed a better ear than I did from playing piano as a kid. He can pick out theme songs to movies and TV shows on his violin, which amuses his sister, and anything that doesn’t provoke her to bite somebody is probably a good thing.

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April 18th, 2008 at 7:16 am

Posted in Blog Entry, Jakisms

Let the record show it was the Guardian that came up with that headline.

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While the headline is maybe a bit of a stereotype (and the type of bad joke headline I would usually write), this little journal from a Maasai traveling to London for a marathon is very interesting.

The marathon is easy. There are no lions

Six Maasai warriors will run the London Marathon tomorrow to raise money for a well in their village. Isaya, 24, is their chief. This is a diary of his week in London, the first time he has left Tanzania

[From The marathon is easy. There are no lions | Athletics | guardian.co.uk Sport]

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April 18th, 2008 at 6:09 am

Posted in Misc

Cultural/Health catch-22

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I understand that there are a lot of ethical considerations in a case like this:

A mother who urgently needs a kidney transplant has branded the system which denied her the organs of her dying daughter as “ridiculous”.

[From BBC NEWS | UK | England | Bradford | Mother denied daughter's organs]

And I can see both sides here.

A) mom has just lost daughter, and now strangers have her daughters organs when she needs them too.

B) if you just let people chose who their organs go to when they die you could have coercion and killing.

C) the daughter’s kids now face losing both mum and grand-mum.

E) If somebody needed the organs more than mum did, do we let them die instead?

There are more things to consider to be sure, but those are the ones that popped up just based on reading that article.

Somewhere John Stossel has an interesting piece on the lack of a free market for human organs. I think the thesis is summed up as “if I’m dirt poor and have an extra kidney, why shouldn’t I be able to sell it to the highest bidder and lift my family out of poverty if that’s a risk I’m willing to take?” Which brings a whole new realm of ethical considerations to ponder

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April 18th, 2008 at 4:15 am

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How can you afford to live there?

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Another Boing Boing find. This one is a nifty mapping tool of affordability for housing + transportation costs. It would be better if you could plug in some of your own numbers, but the theory is that they take a look at both housing and transportation costs for a bunch of metro areas and tell you which neighborhoods are actually more affordable. That is, if you’re saving $150 on mortgage by living in the ‘burbs but spending an extra $250 on gas it may not be the better place for you.

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April 18th, 2008 at 4:04 am

Posted in Misc

Link: ‘Star Wars’ Goes Urban – Cinematical

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Mudge sent me this. Great little gallery of these pictures with Star Wars characters inserted into urban environments.

Tooling around online today, I came across these images from French photographer Cédric Delsaux. Basically, what he’s done is take Star Wars characters and vehicles, then lays them down in these dark, cold, desolate urban environments.

[From 'Star Wars' Goes Urban - Cinematical]

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April 17th, 2008 at 9:06 pm

Posted in Misc

Wall-E Featurette (for however long it lasts)

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The clip is 4 minutes, but these sort of things have a way of getting pulled down pretty quickly.

“He’s one of the oldest living things on the earth, but he’s also the most innocent and he’s a romantic.” I think I finally realized why I love Wall-E so much. “There’s something about Wall-E’s persistence, his tenacity, that I think makes him really appealing in that sense and you root for him,” director Andrew Stanton says. “He senses that there’s something more to life. He’s not going to give up and he’s going to persevere to the point that he’s willing to follow her when she’s returned back into space.”

[From New Four-Minute Featurette for Wall-E « FirstShowing.net]

I’m an unabashed Pixar fanboy. They make great movies my kids can enjoy, I can enjoy, even my WIFE can enjoy, and all without trying to make the jokes for the adults be “adult” jokes.

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April 17th, 2008 at 8:54 pm

Posted in Blog Entry, Misc

Pining for the fjords

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With a lousy start to the 2008 Braves season it was great to read this article in ESPN Magazine and remember how good Maddux was when he pitched here.

when Brad Penny and Maddux were teammates on the Dodgers, during the last two months of 2006, they had a conversation one day that led Penny to reach a stunning conclusion: This guy knows my stuff better than I do. It was eerie, really, how easily Maddux dissected Penny’s repertoire and suggested ways to maximize it. Penny, figuring he’d take advantage of the situation, asked Maddux to call a game for him against the Cubs. And so, on the night of Sept. 13, Penny glanced into the dugout before every delivery and found Maddux, who signaled the next pitch by looking toward different parts of the ballpark. Penny threw seven scoreless innings with no walks and beat the Cubs 6-0. “Maddux probably won’t tell you that story,” Penny says. He’s right.

[From ESPN - ESPN The Magazine]

I’m pretty sure he’s going to pass up Clemens on the all time wins list, and this makes me happy. Not as happy as if the Braves would win the World Series (or even a 3 game series against anybody but the Mets) this year, but still… happy.

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April 17th, 2008 at 4:45 pm

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Vindication for Charles

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…who feels that it’s a travesty that we have left behind the days of men waiting in the waiting room while the women labor, although for different reasons than Dr. Odent proposes:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/femail/article.html?in_article_id=559913&in_page_id=1879

–Alicia

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April 16th, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Posted in Blog Entry

Close to home?

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April 16th, 2008 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Misc