Looking Back to 2008 (2): World News

I found it tremendously good news that with their second attempt Earthrace succeeded to circumnavigate the world with bio fuel in a record time. See their Blog for the day to day coverage of this adventure.

As I said in my prior post I’ll try to be as concise as possible when pondering 2008 and will be spilling my thoughts over several posts.

I enjoyed the year tremendously, despite the economic crisis.

Three most important worldnews Items of 2008 to my view:
I tend to stay away from most of the news. That may change in the near future, as (according to Alltop) I’m now a respected news source for The Netherlands.

  1. A new President for the USA
    I believe Mr. Obama will put the USA again on the map where it belongs: A Super decent Super Power as a role model. His choice of ministers gives a strong impression of his will to bridge differences rather than to enhance them. This maybe wishful thinking from a guy who grew up in the “Polders” (i.e. reclaimed land) with our famous “Polder Model” (i.e. endlessly discussing the differences until almost everybody agrees to a solution).
  2. The Olympics in China
    The Olympics did a tremendous job for China to make it more visible in the world as it should be. I particularly liked the impressive and impeccable organization of the spectacle including rockets to keep the rain away in stead of the students. I love the new Herzog Meuron “Knotted Olympic Stadium” I have a feeling the authorities have become a little more relaxed about freedom of speech partly because of the protests by the athletes and the press. I was proud to see my own small country The Netherlands ending relatively high in the medal count.
  3. The bankruptcy of the financial institutions
    I have always learned from my forebears that you shouldn’t trust bankers, although they are usually immaculately dressed. Almost all have proved a tremendous lack of due diligence. The bailing out of the financial institutions may be wise to prevent 1929/30 alike situations, but I have a strong feeling we have to get rid of all bankers. Kick all incompetent dummies out. Let’s start fresh from zero, scratch, zilch. Let banks be led by sensible diligent housewives who know how to flip a dime three times before spending it and who I trust not to spend anything on derivative nonsense. I’m not even talking about the hedge fund managers and the like: Back in the 60ies to 80ies we used to call them corporate raiders. In fact they are mere buccaneers or even thugs. Although I strongly disagree with the ideas behind Guantanamo Bay, I believe that’s a place they belong while their fortunes should be confiscated and used to curb the losses in bailing out the economy. I’m not a communist and neither a socialists, but the lesson of 2008 is that most financial guys have crossed the line and we (and particularly our “leaders”) all stood there and let them do it. I hope 2009 will be give us much more of “Back to Basics”. Let’s throw the greed out of the window!

What is your view?

Looking back to 2008 (1): A Tribute to Jerry Pournelle

While pondering and writing about 2008 for this Blog

I more and more realize how many UFO’s (Un Finished Objects) I have lying around. That’s one of the reasons I ceased making lists of New Year’s Resolutions, as I tend to forget about them as soon as I have jotted them down. Moreover, usually I take care of them on the run. In my case New Year’s resolutions would not be serious.

There are so many subjects I want to touch looking at 2008, that I’ve decided to spread my thoughts over several posts.

One of my UFO’s was to write a tribute to Jerry Pournelle.

The photo here shows him at the introduction of Sir Richard Branson’s Spaceship One in 2004. See for more photos Damer.

Jerry Who?
Jerry Pournelle is a Science Fiction writer who, in many cases together with his good friend Larry Niven, has produced many Science Fiction titles.
In addition Jerry was a column writer for a Computer Magazine, Byte.
Thirdly he is a Blogger as the French use to say “avant la lettre” i.e. long before the words “Blog” or “Blogger” even existed.

Why Jerry Pournelle?

Much of what I know of computing I learned from Jerry’s numerous humorous columns “Computing at Chaos Manor” in Byte, a former US printed magazine that I liked very much and subscribed to. For reasons I still cannot grasp it ceased somewhere in the 90ies. I take it that even Jerry doesn’t grasp the reasons and politics behind it. Maybe the publishers really believed paperless society had become true in those days: Quot Non. Byte bits and pieces can still be found online at Byte.com. Jerry wrote the column for more than 20 years since 1979. He still does online at Chaos Manor Reviews.

When we moved to The Hague, I started with Windows 95 in fall 1996. I tried to hook up an old 286 with a newer 486. I got stuck in the middle. I shot an e-mail to Jerry and I gracefully got a return e-mail pointing me in the right direction. It saved me a tremendous amount of time sorting the problem out. Then as now computing is nothing Zen. I will never forget that. I felt really proud the great man himself took the time to answer my e-mail. Never since we have had contact until recently I found the e-mail and archived it (I actually don’t know how to find it and in that respect relate to Jerry very much for coining his column “Chaos Manor”. It would be a perfect description of my office/study here in The Hague). I found his site on the web and saw he was still alive and kicking, albeit suffering a kaleidoscope of medical problems at his current age in the mid 70ies. I’ll e-mail him for the second time of my life to inform him of this tribute.

I have always liked Jerry’s style and hands down approach of computing. Until recently when he defected to a MAC, he kept defending Microsoft and its operating systems although he disliked it maybe even more than I do. I do believe that as Jerry describes in his adventures with his new Mac, I should stick to Microsoft’s systems.

Last year I was at WTM in London and found a bank of Macs in the press room. I tried one of them to update this blog. I succeeded to have it hung even quicker than I’m usually was able having my own systems hung here at my own Chaos Manor. Although I am glad that with the current HP machinery I have less glitches. This year in the WTM press room they were back to banks of windows computers. XP machines for your info. That says a lot in favor of XP, yet.

Some lessons I learned from Jerry apart from computing:
1) Once and for all, no matter how busy you are, try to answer e-mails.
2) On the internet: Share as much as you can. Be generous!
3) If you want to be a good writer, look at what Jerry wrote about that subject.

Hey Jerry, thanks for all your lessons an take care in 2009 especially with your health!

Dutch Design (38): Pimp your Mini Rooftop

Probably you all have seen the Ipod design for the Mini Rooftop. I Love it!

You might also know Mini offers an on line tool to Design Your Own Mini Roof Top. Unfortunately it is not possible to add your own image or logo in this tool. In the USA there is another Mini site: Roofstudio. However, I cannot get it working even after downloading the correct shockwave version to check if you can add your own design….I’m yet too busy to try it in photoshop, but I might.

Anyway, a Dutch Mini Website Top of Mini has held a competition for designers up to the age of 30 and recently announced the winners. I would like to share a few with you that I particularly like, some of them are winners, some not:

The winner and also my first choice is the one with the typical Checkered Dutch linnen or cotton pattern known under the name “Boerenbont” (i.e. something as “Checkered Farmer’s” see for more info in English Babylon). I don’t doubt this pattern is known elsewhere, as Dutch Merchants seem having it introduced almost everywhere. I certainly do like the association with the checkered flag that was used on many original Mini.

My second choice is the Knitted Dutch Flag. I have already predicted that in the direct future we are on out way back to knitting under the present economic down slide.

My third choice is the Google Map Mini. Almost impossible to make a stronger statement. Satellites know to find you.

Talking about maps: This one is very Dutch with a map of The Netherlands 1:300,000 on its roof.

Also very Dutch is this Delft Blue tiles design. Delft Blue is still an very touristy item for Dutch export. The Royal Delft Factory is worth a visit and attracts many visitors annually. And do you see that when you click? There is also a Marcel Wanders collection for sale.

There is also a Traffic Jammed British Flag nicely referring both to the British legacy of the Mini and the horrible daily Dutch traffic jams.

There are many more, but maybe another time.

via Design.nl Dutch Design on the Road

Dutch Design (37) : Marcel Wanders Designed Mondrian Miami Southbeach open

Recently the $200 million 335-room and condos hotel Mondrian Miami South Beach opened during Art Basel. Its design is by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders.

The Hotel site of the Mondrian starts wit the same video you can find on Youtube:

Luckily you can skip the intro. I do not like video’s on a Hotel website as a starter. First and foremost I like photos and lay out plans of rooms. For one reason or another the photos on the Mondrian Miami hotel site are still images from the design stadium…no real photos yet.

The video is part interview with Marcel Wanders. IMHO he should take some English presentation lessons.

An extensive interview in Fastcompany‘s online magazine gives more insight about Marcel Wanders, Fast Company’s designer of 2008.

Off course the opening party was enhanced by the Happy Hour Chandelier about which project I reported earlier here

I wonder Wanders, why didn’t he built on the name Mondrian? The Dutch Style Icon that was the inspiration for Morgan’s first Mondrian Hotel in L.A. Then maybe the plain outside of this Hotel at least could have been a bit more … flamboyant…or flashy

Before the LA Mondrian became a Morgan Hotel Group Hotel, it was family owned and featured a real Mondrian painting that inspired its name…probably lost underway…..

Merry Christmas

Santa brought us a new Asus EEE Netbook and a Delft blue Santa for our Santa collection. So your humble writer can add posts when on the road. In addition he can upload photos while on the road and even crop them to fit in here. I hope it enhances the possibilities of writing more interesting stuff for you.

Merry Christmas to you all!