Archive for January, 2010

Our Dour Disposition

In Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s character tells the story of two elderly women at a Catskill mountain resort:

and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly.

There are a lot of people of Nordic descent in Minnesota, and we have a similarly grim outlook on life. Perhaps it’s because of the weather, or our Lutheran reluctance to enjoy life too much. Well, I let myself get a little carried away with the Vikings success and now I’m mad at myself for getting my hopes up that the Vikings would actually get back to the Super Bowl.

With a cold wind and snow in my face as I walked to the train this morning, I swore never to get my hopes up again.

Skål Vikings!

Wow – it’s been fun to watch the Vikings in these last two games. They trounced the New York Giants two weeks ago, 44-7 and did the same thing today to a much better Cowboys team beating them 34-3. Should it have been 30-3? Keith Brooking, linebacker for the Cowboys seemed to think so. He was upset with Favre for throwing his fourth touchdown pass of the game and running up the score. After the game, Brooking was quoted in the team’s official blog as saying:

“I just thought what happened at the end of the game was disrespectful, and it was classless, all the things that are in that category, I’ll throw out to the Vikings organization and whoever is over there calling the plays. It just wasn’t the right thing to do at that time, period.”

For 60 minutes, it’s the Vikings’ job to score points, the Cowboys’ to stop them. Embarrassing for Brooking to whine about get scored on, again. Not only is this the NFL, it’s the NFL Playoffs – and look out Saints, we’re going to come rolling in.

Google To Pull Out of China?

The blaring headline on the front page of the WSJ this morning is “Google Warns of China Exit Over Hacking.” Given that our next Fight Club bout is on Googled by Ken Autletta, I thought it was worth a Broken Spines comment.

Apparently, the Gmail accounts of 34 companies operating in China were hacked. Although only two accounts were compromised, most of these accounts appear to related to human rights activists with the implication being that the Chinese government was involved. So, Google stomps its feet and says it will no longer censor search results which it has been doing since they began operations in China in 2006. Furthermore, if the Chinese government doesn’t like it “we recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn.” Wow.

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered — combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the Web — have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. – Google spokesman

Is this the new way state-to-state conflicts will manifest themselves? Are the American and Chinese economies are so interdependent now, that corporate interests outweigh those of the state? Or is the Chinese intelligence service using Google and thereby making this a state issue? In any case, this is good fodder for our Fight Club bout – can’t wait!

Here are some other interesting factoids:

  • China is a tiny portion of Google’s revenue, but China is too strategically important to walk away from
  • Google market share is 29% compared with Chinese search firm Baidu’s of 61% of China’s 338 million web users
  • The head of Google’s China operations (a former Microsoft employee) recently left to start his own company

On a separate but related note, Google recently compromised it’s long held policy of not cluttering their main page with ads. Turns out they’re willing to use that prime space to promote their new phone.

Planes Land On Lake Calhoun

They were no Chesley Sullenberger. But, like Sully, they did land on water – just frozen water. Fox 9 news reports that the pilots landed and grabbed a burger for lunch only to find the park police citing them for operating aircraft on the lake.

Al Jazeera Could Be Our Best Ally

I was reading Thomas Friedman’s column about why the father of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be suicide bomber, was the most important and heroic figure in this whole mess. And then I read Robert Kaplan’s essay about why he loves Al Jazeera. It struck me that our best hope for bringing Friedman’s sense of shame to jihadist suicide bombers, their families and communities, is through Al Jazeera.

Can’t Wait to Get My Apple iSlate

There are lots of rumors swirling around, but apparently a 10″ iPhone-like tablet will be available in the spring. I haven’t jumped on board the Kindle wagon, but would jump at the chance to get an Apple iSlate. Below is a compelling example of what Sports Illustrated might be like on an iSlate:


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