Song of the Day: Brandi Carlile’s “Wherever Is Your Heart”

Embedded above and on YouTube here: Brandi Carlile’s “Wherever Is Your Heart.”

Here’s more about Carlile. The song is from her album released earlier this year called “The Firewatcher’s Daughter.

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Video: Italians Try to Pronounce Wojciech Szczesny’s Name

With the recent signing of goalkeeper Petr Cech — see my previous post and bold prediction — it looks like Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny is heading to AS Roma on loan.

This tweet from football writer James Horncastle alerted me to an excellent video in which Roma fans try to pronounce their new Polish goalkeeper’s name.

The video is embedded above and online here.

For the record, here’s how you say his name:

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The 10* Most Beautiful Movies Ever Filmed

Embedded above and on YouTube here: “Top 10 Most Beautiful Movies of All Time,” by CineFix.

Interesting roundup. I will admit to not having seen number one. Will have to change that.

*Though many more than ten are featured.

(Via Kottke.)

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Economist Special Report on Singapore: Complacency Could be Biggest Threat

This week’s Economist has a special report on Singapore.

From the intro, called “The Singapore exception”:

Singapore is, to use a word its leaders favour, an “exceptional” place: the world’s only fully functioning city-state; a truly global hub for commerce, finance, shipping and travel; and the only one among the world’s richest countries never to have changed its ruling party. At a May Day rally this year, its prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, asserted that “to survive you have to be exceptional.” This special report will examine different aspects of Singaporean exceptionalism and ask whether its survival really is under threat. It will argue that Singapore is well placed to thrive, but that in its second half-century it will face threats very different from those it confronted at its unplanned, accidental birth 50 years ago. They will require very different responses. The biggest danger Singapore faces may be complacency—the belief that policies that have proved so successful for so long can help it negotiate a new world.

There are also pieces on “land and people,” politics, the social contract, the economy, inequality, business and finance, and Singapore’s “foreign policy and national identity.”

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Ann Friedman’s Visual Guide to Dealing with Criticism

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Journalist Ann Friedman created this excellent graphic, which she calls the “Disapproval Matrix.” It helps determine how you should deal with criticism based on who’s giving it.

As she writes:

The general rule of thumb? When you receive negative feedback that falls into one of the top two quadrants—from experts or people who care about you who are engaging with and rationally critiquing your work—you should probably take their comments to heart. When you receive negative feedback that falls into the bottom two quadrants, you should just let it roll off your back and just keep doin’ you.

Sounds like good advice to me.

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By Me: Commercial Drone Startups Are Taking Off Here in Asia

The story begins:

Half a dozen men gathered around a workbench in a government building one morning as Tack Wai Wong, an engineering expert clad in a crisp white shirt and gray trousers, took his place at the front of the table.

“Once upon a time all of this was military technology,” said Mr. Wong, 50 years old, as he ran his fingers along the rotors of one of several small unmanned aerial vehicles spread out before him. “Now you can make drones yourself.”

The workshop was aimed at teaching people in this tightly controlled city-state how to fly drones safely—and maybe even hatch ideas for commercial applications.

The U.S. is a hotbed for commercial drone startups, and the Federal Aviation Administration in February proposed long-awaited rules for drones that will likely make their use even more widespread in the country.

But drone startups are increasingly taking flight across Asia. They are using the crafts to locate faulty solar panels in Singapore, prospect land in the Philippines, map plantations in Thailand and more. While companies also use such applications in other parts of the world, entrepreneurs here are working with cooperative governments in some places, taking advantage of lax regulations in others, and providing services that appeal to local markets in new ways.

There’s also a slideshow and, embedded above, a video (narrated by yours truly).

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142 Photos from the ‘Blade Runner’ Model Shop

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Open Culture:

Blade Runner, you see, represents perhaps the high water mark of the now seemingly lost art of miniature-based practical visual effects. Most everything in its slickly futuristic yet worn and often makeshift Los Angeles actually existed in reality, because, in that time before realistic CGI, everything had to take the form of a model (or, farther in the background, a matte painting) to get into the shot at all. You can take an extensive behind-the-scenes look at the blood, sweat, and tears involved in building all this in a gallery showcasing 142 photos taken in the Blade Runner model shop.

And:

Partisans of these sorts of techniques argue that miniatures remain superior to digital constructions because of their perceptible physicality, and perhaps that very quality has helped keep the look and feel of Blade Runner relatively timeless. Plus, unlike CGI, it gives die-hard fans something to hope for. If you dream about owning a piece of the film for your very own, you theoretically can; just make sure to do your homework first by reading the threads at propsummit.com, a forum about — and only about — Blade Runner props.

There’s more from io9:

A massive gallery of behind-the-scenes Blade Runner slides has been uploaded to the internet, revealing a teeny, tiny world of space blimps and flying cars, all crafted with special care and beautiful attention to detail.

Very cool.

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It’s Coming Down

Following my recent posts on the Confederate flag in South Carolina:

It’s officially coming down.

Gov. Nikki Haley has signed a law to remove it after the state House and Senate approved the bill. Our story:

The Confederate flag is scheduled to come down Friday morning after more than half a century on the state Capitol grounds, lowered in a solemn ceremony and placed in a nearby museum.

A beaming Gov. Nikki Haley signed a historic bill Thursday, paving the way for the flag’s removal and capping a whirlwind push to take down a divisive symbol that has been a part of the state’s political landscape for decades.

“Today, I am very proud to say, ‘It’s a great day in South Carolina,” she said, flanked by hundreds of people, including three former governors, a bipartisan coalition of legislators and onlookers eager to bear witness to a day some thought would never come. She signed the bill with nine pens, one for each of the families who lost a loved one in the June 17 church shooting that prompted the soul searching that is now bringing the flag down.

Meanwhile, embedded above and on YouTube here: a powerful speech Republican Jenny Horne made late in the deliberations.

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Apple Music’s Beats 1 isn’t Just Radio on the Web

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Dawn Chmielewski, writing over at ReCode:

Zane Lowe’s debut on Apple’s Beats 1 radio reminded me of what has been missing from my iTunes music collection: Personality.

The former BBC Radio 1 DJ played to my anticipation, spending a long radio minute talking about how he selected the first song to be played on Beats 1 — a release from the rock band Spring King from Manchester, England, that’s little known beyond its fan base but whose track “City” has gradually built momentum. The sort of thing, Lowe said, that’s needed to kick this whole thing off.

“Just like that! To 100 countries right now, broadcasting on Apple Music,” said Lowe, his voice bristling with a kinetic energy. “To the early adopters. To those hungry for music. From town to town, city to city, into the unknown we go.”

I felt swept up into a global music party, as Lowe ticked off the location of listeners tuning in from London, Antwerp, Seattle, Munich, Helsinki, Barcelona, Denmark, Miami. The music selections were as diverse as the geography, as Lowe played tracks from Gallant, a soul singer from Los Angeles, followed by Slaves, a punk band from Kent, Jack Garratt, a British pop singer, and an exclusive first broadcast of Pharrell Williams’ new single, “Freedom.”

Listening to the inaugural broadcast of Apple’s livestreamed radio, I felt part of some larger, shared music experience. Judging from the conversation on Twitter, I wasn’t alone, as the music cognoscenti remarked on the song selection and delivery, and picked up on the subtext of Lowe’s “We Salute You” tribute to AC/DC, whose catalog has not been available on streaming services until now.

YES.

I’ve been Tweeting about this. I agree.

Of course, broadcasting radio over the Internet isn’t new — just ask Russ Hanneman of “Silicon Valley” — but a few components make Apple’s endeavor unique.

Namely: the size of the audience, Apple’s “ecosystem,” and round-the-clock DJs.

The sheer number of people listening to Beats 1 on their iOS devices means, as Chmielewski writes, that you’re part of a wider audience, which means you can interact with DJs and fellow listeners on Twitter, for example.

And having the tunes play on your iPhone means if a song you’ve never heard comes on, you can easily click through (even if the screen is locked) and favorite it, add it to a playlist, view the album (and, of course, buy it).

But for me, the most compelling component is the DJs themselves. I’ve come across more new artists I’m interested in during the first week or so of Apple Music than I typically would in several months listening to Rdio, a music streaming service I’ve used for a couple of years now.

The difference: On Rdio, which lacks human DJs, I’d usually explore various artists but gravitated to those I knew, typically playing the same music over and over.

But I’m drawn to the Beats 1 station on Apple Music, often hear songs I wouldn’t normally listen to repeated a few times — just like in the old days of radio — and they grow on me, for instance.

Here are a few links for more reading:

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Exclusive by Me and a Colleague Yesterday: GrabTaxi Raises New Funds

The story begins:

More cash is pouring into the increasingly competitive ride-hailing business in Asia, fueling local competitors to global market leader Uber Technologies Inc.

Southeast Asia-focused ride-hailing app GrabTaxi is getting an infusion of over $200 million in fresh capital in its latest fundraising round led by U.S. hedge fund Coatue Management LLC, according to a person familiar with the situation. The investment values the company at over $1.5 billion including the fresh capital from the latest fundraising, according to the person.

Existing investors in the company, including Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. and Tiger Global Management LLC, are also participating in the round, the person said. It is possible that GrabTaxi could increase the size of the round with the inclusion of additional investment in coming weeks, the person said.

GrabTaxi is among a crop of local competitors in Asia that have sprung up to battle with global ride-hailing market leader Uber across the region. Local competitors in Asia include China’s Didi Kuaidi, which is raising $2 billion in funding, India’s Ola and Easy Taxi. Uber itself is raising funds specifically for its China unit.

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