Monday, September 28, 2009

RIP Lucy

(click to enlarge. From

This afternoon the Wall Street Journal reported that Lucy Vodden, the inspiration for Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, has passed away:

Lucy Vodden (née O’Donnell), who was the inspiration for the Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” has died, following a long battle with the autoimmune disease lupus. The British housewife — whose passing was announced by the St Thomas’ Lupus Trust charity — was 46.

Vodden first achieved pop culture fame as a tot, when John Lennon’s son Julian drew a picture of her in nursery school in 1966. He took the picture home to his pops, explained it as “That’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds,” and a song legend was born.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wake of the Flood

Yesterday's intense rains in Atlanta were the capstone to a week of flooding estimated to have caused $500 million in damages in the metro area. Please visit Hope ATL to help a cause totally focused on assisting families displaced by the storms.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


(click image to enlarge and to view attribution)

Thanks to Nick on Facebook for this amazing map of the Contiguous United Sated Visualized by Distance to the Nearest McDonald's. This goes out to my significant audience of geographers!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Better Breathing in Planes

This week's Economist features an article about new technology addressing air quality in airplanes. Great news for all travelers and, supposedly, cost effective for the airlines as well.

A new development could help passengers and crew breathe more easily. This week two British firms—BAE Systems, a defence and aerospace giant, and Quest International, a small producer of equipment used to sanitise the air in hospitals and nursing homes—announced that they had successfully adapted Quest’s technology for use in aircraft. They make bold claims for AirManager, their new system. It can be fitted during a routine overnight service and uses less power than a light bulb, but is capable of zapping just about all the bacteria, viruses and other biohazards in cabin air—as well as destroying chemical contaminants and pollutants. And it also removes nasty smells.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Taiwan Is Back!

Taizo Ishida offers a great perspective on the new spirit in Taiwan in today's Matthews Funds Asia Weekly:
We are sensing the streets of Taipei. There is an optimism and hope I detected in my discussions with company managers. The recent and frequent dialogue between Taiwan and China seems to be partly to credit for the excitement—foreign investment flows have been increasing over the last few quarters, and Taiwanese who have been living overseas are looking to return to Taiwan. During this recent trip, a business contact I met told me that Taipei businessmen in Shanghai prefer to have their families remain in Taipei, where the quality of life (including the air, water and education) is better than that of Shanghai, rather than relocate as ex-patriates. With the more open airline policies of President Ma Ying-Jeou’s administration, many of these businessmen now “commute” between the two cities as the travel time is only 45 minutes by air. There may always be setbacks to cross-strait relations, however, dialogue between the two sides seems to be moving in a positive direction.

I’ve long thought that Taipei lacked the sparkle of other major Asian cities, and could use some urban development and beautification tips from its Tiger cousins. Well, it just so happens that a revitalization program is now quietly underway in Taipei to enhance national competitiveness as a tourist destination. I think this suggests that faith and confidence has returned, and that an old Tiger is sharpening its claws.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Challenges of the Senior Shopper

This morning's WSJ features an interesting article about a Kimberly-Clark program that aims to orient retailers on the challenges faced by older consumers.

As the article highlights: The number of adults aged 65 and older will reach 71.5 million people by 2030, twice their number in 2000 and representing nearly 20% of the total U.S. population.
As baby boomers turn 65 years old beginning in 2011, they are expected to spend an additional $50 billion over the next decade on consumer products in the U.S.

This is a huge transition in the U.S. consumer landscape, but the demographic tidal wave is already hitting Japan.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Connecting the News Dots

Take a look at Slate's new News Dots page.

Quicksand for news junkies, the News Dots function graphically traces the connections between news stories in a six degrees of separation type format. Wow!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Music Bits - Matuto

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Matuto, Ropeadope's newest release, features Clay Ross presenting Brazilian folk music through the lens of Bluegrass inspired Jazz. I will let the Musicologists explain the details, but the result is a fun soundtrack for fall.

Enjoy a sample above and then visit Ropeadope for a name-your-own-price download (please be generous).